October 2, 2019 | by Bryan Cheang Print

Young people around the world today are gravitating to socialist ideas. This isn’t a big secret, and is widely reported by numerous publications and channels. Of course, what they are attracted to isn’t Maoist-Stalinist state socialism (at least that’s what they say); rather, they embrace a constellation of ideas that focus on environmentalism, eradicating inequality, and greater recognition for marginalized identity groups. 

This is the set of ideas that my new book Free Market Humanitarianism: a Primer, addresses. Written primarily for youth and college-aged students in mind, my book dedicates a chapter to each of the following five topics: inequality, third world poverty, environmentalism, social identity, and LGBT rights. I argue that for social justice to truly be achieved, market institutions and policies are absolutely non-negotiable. 

Drawing from political economy concepts, I also blended specific case studies to illustrate the power of “Free Market Humanitarianism,” which comprise the four principles of individual self-responsibility, the rule of law and limited government, free exchange and choice, and permissionless innovation. 

My goal in writing this book is to capture what it means to be truly humanitarian. This word typically conjures up images of philanthropy, charity, and volunteerism. Aid groups. Charities. Oxfam. The United Nations. Yet, the dictionary simply defines humanitarianism as “a concern for human welfare.” I explain in the book that the most powerful for social change is intellectual activism, rather than direct action. As previous free-market humanitarians like Adam Smith and Hayek have shown, ideas change the world for the better. Consequently, free-market think tanks like those under the Atlas Network should rightly be considered the leading humanitarian organizations today.  

The book is best suited for intellectually curious youth concerned about the impact they have in the world around them. Educators, parents and other “second-hand dealers of information” will find this highly useful for outreach purposes. In fact, I wrote this book to contribute to the current social discourse in Singapore where the Adam Smith Center is based. Social justice ideas are on the rise amongst university students, and a pro-liberty voice is sorely needed to show that markets are not profane, but intimately humane. 

With a foreword by Atlas Network’s Dr. Tom Palmer, the book has been positively reviewed by Professor Deirdre McCloskey, a prominent economic historian and advocate of humane liberalism. She writes: 

“Free markets are sweeter than governmental coercion. One would think such a proposition would be obvious, but it is not to either left or right, both entranced by tough-guy measures. This book by Bryan Cheang is an eloquent plea for a humane and therefore liberal society. Peaceful trade, not state violence, is the path to human flourishing.”

The book is available on Amazon and may be obtained here

Bryan Cheang is the Founder of the Adam Smith Centre, Singapore’s first and only pro-market organization.