Robert S. Taylor, Exit Left: Markets and Mobility in Republican Thought (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), xiv + 130 pp.
How can citizens best protect themselves from the arbitrary power of abusive spouses, tyrannical bosses, and corrupt politicians? Taylor’s new book, Exit Left, makes the case that in each of these three spheres the answer is the same: exit. By promoting open and competitive markets and providing the information and financial resources necessary to enable exit, we can empower people’s voices and offer them an escape from abuse and exploitation. This will advance a conception of freedom, viz. freedom as non-domination (FND), that is central to contemporary republican thought. Neorepublicans have typically promoted FND through constitutional means (separation of powers, judicial review, the rule of law, and federalism) and participatory ones (democratic elections and oversight), but Exit Left focuses on economic means, ones that have been neglected by contemporary republicans but were commonly invoked in the older, commercial-republican tradition of Alexander Hamilton, Immanuel Kant, and Adam Smith. This book’s revival and revision of commercial republicanism will enlarge republican practice by encouraging greater use of market mechanisms, even as it hews closely to existing republican theory.