Barry, Norman, “The Tradition of Spontaneous Order,” Literature of Liberty. See, in particular, the Bibliography.

This bibliographical essay traces the intellectual history of spontaneous order in both economics and the law. Barry’s essay is a thorough and informative survey of this central topic. Barry also makes an elegant and subtle distinction: The evolution of laws, commonly cited as analogous to that of markets, differs from that of markets precisely because laws lack the equivalent of a price system to convey information and feedback to the widespread participants. Hence a common-law legal system may be less likely to iterate in on an equilibrium than a freely-developing market system An extensive bibliography is included.

See also: “Readers’ Forum: Comments on ‘The Tradition of Spontaneous Order’ by Norman Barry”.


Hayek, Friedrich A., “The Use of Knowledge in Society,” American Economic Review, 1945

In F. A. Hayek’s seminal article, he illuminates the real role of markets—the coordination of knowledge and information without anyone being in charge. Hayek argued that markets process more information than could possibly be mastered by a mastermind or even a mastermind working with a computer. It’s one of the most eloquent expositions of how decentralized, unorganized individuals individual decision-making can outperform a central planner.


Hayek’s insights formed the basis of Leonard Read’s whimsical look at uncontrolled order and the role of markets in coordinating knowledge, “I, Pencil.” Reading both side by side is a fascinating look at economic rhetoric.


Mises, Ludwig, Human Action

In 1949, Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) published Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, a classic work on how market and non-market participants acquire information, form expectations, and interact with others. We are pleased to present the 4th revised edition of this great work.

See also bring two related articles from The Literature of Liberty. Both articles contain extensive bibliographies, along with overviews of the Classical Liberal rebirth, emphasizing the contributions of Hayek and Mises: “F. A. Hayek and the Rebirth of Classical Liberalism,” and a The Literature of Liberty editorial, “Ludwig von Mises, Money, and the Fall and Rise of Classical Liberalism in the 20th Century.”

See also these other works by Ludwig von Mises: