John Hospers

American philosopher and politician (1918–2011)

John Hospers (9 June 191812 June 2011) was an American philosopher and politician. In 1972 he became the first presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, and was the only new party candidate to receive an Electoral College vote in that year's U.S. Presidential election.

If each human being is to have liberty, he cannot also have the liberty to deprive others of their liberty.


  • Racism is a particularly pernicious form of collectivism. Persons who cast racial slurs on others are not considering the individual merits or demerits of the person slurred; they may not know the individual at all, except that he is a member of some racial group (Jews, blacks, Ital ians, etc.). Though the person’s individual qualities may be quite different from many other members of the group, all this is ignored: all they know or care is that he is a member of that group.

Libertarianism: A Political Philosophy for Tomorrow (1971)


Los Angeles: CA, Nash Publishing, 1971

  • Liberty (or freedom) is the absence of coercion by other human beings.
    • p. 10
  • If each human being is to have liberty, he cannot also have the liberty to deprive others of their liberty.
    • p. 13
  • A fascist is a student who, seeing the representatives of a chemical industry recruiting on campus, cries, ‘Let's chase the bastard off! We have the right to free speech but he doesn't!’
    • p. 39
  • The greater the hold of government upon the life of the individual citizen, the greater the risk of war.
    • p. 411-412

The Libertarian Alternative (1977)


Chap. 1, “What is Libertarianism”, Chicago: IL, Nelson-Hall, 1977

  • Government is the most dangerous institution known to man. Throughout history it has violated the rights of men more than any individual or group of individuals could do: it has killed people, enslaved them, sent them to forced labor and concentration camps, and regularly robbed and pillaged them of the fruits of their expended labor. Unlike individual criminals, government has the power to arrest and try; unlike individual criminals, it can surround and encompass a person totally, dominating every aspect of one's life, so that one has no recourse from it but to leave the country (and in totalitarian nations even that is prohibited).
    • p. 12
  • The only proper role of government, according to libertarians, is that of the protector of the citizen against aggression by other individuals. The government, of course, should never initiate aggression; its proper role is as the embodiment of the retaliatory use of force against anyone who initiates its use.
    • p. 12
  • Beware: the Government Is Armed and Dangerous.
    • p. 12