In this concise and elegant work, first published in 1952, Bertrand de Jouvenel purposely ignores the economic evidence that redistributional efforts sap incentives and are economically destructive. Rather, he stresses the commonly disregarded ethical arguments showing that redistribution is ethically indefensible for, and practically unworkable in, a complex society.
A new introduction relates Jouvenel's arguments to current discussions about the redistributionist state and draws out many of the points of affinity with the works of Buchanan, Hayek, Rawls, and others.
After reading this insightful and charming classic, no one can believe that there are any arguments left for the redistributionist. De Jouvenel devastates every claim for either logic or morality in their position. . .
—Henry G. Manne, Dean, School of Law, George Mason University
Bertrand de Jouvenel
Bertrand de Jouvenel was born in Paris in 1903; he traveled widely, becoming an astute observer of British and American institutions. Later in life, he was an author and teacher, first publishing On Power in 1945. Jouvenel died in 1987. Among his other books, besides The Ethics of Redistribution, are Sovereignty: An Inquiry into the Political Good (1957) and The Pure Theory of Politics (1963).