On the matter of Dalrymple and French Book Shops

Some have questioned or criticized this website over the past few days for posting this short essay by Theodore Dalrymple, where he made, to my mind, an interesting argument about the variety of book shops still evident in small towns and villages in France. Such book shops are not, in Dalrymple’s judgment, as nearly abundant in his native Britain despite its more open book market. France, he noted, has a law mandating that book retailers cannot charge under a certain price for books. Could this, strangely, be the reason why there are more French book retailers, and more variety and diversity of them, than there are in Britain?

For what it’s worth, I disagreed with the post, but like almost everything Dalrymple writes I find myself provoked by his arguments, to say nothing of his incredible and evident talent as a writer. Of course, this goes without saying that we have featured posts by Sanford Levinson and others that have posed questions and made arguments critical of positions commonly advanced in libertarian and conservative circles. However, beyond my own disagreements with Dalrymple’s post, and the responses that have predictably materialized, Law and Liberty’s purpose is to spark conversation and debate on what is the lawfulness of law and the support it gives to liberty and limited government. This in my mind opens the site: its blog, books section, debate forum, and podcasts, to a wide group of thinkers and voices who are interested in the subject of liberty and responsibility and its vital relationship with the law. You might even say that it is positively Millian.

Those who have been regular readers during this our quite successful first year will know that we are broad in approach and willing to consider an array of books and subjects in law and political philosophy. We also try to reignite foundational debates that might give us better leverage in thinking about current problems. For example, the current debate at the Liberty Forum over the common law and the Constitution fulfills this role well.

So join us, we aren’t an echo chamber. We are here to consider in an online format, in the capacity of thinking about law, the principles of a society that is led by freedom and responsibility.

Richard Reinsch, editor of Law and Liberty