Martin van Staden is a South African libertarian, lawyer, and public policy commentator. Having obtained his LL.B (Bachelor of Laws) degree from the University of Pretoria in 2016, Martin has worked at the Free Market Foundation (FMF) as a legal researcher since January 2017.
He is a co-author and editor of Fallism: One Year of Rational Commentary, as well as the principal co-author of The Real Digital Divide: South Africa’s Information and Communication Technologies Policy, an FMF monograph.
A passionate writer, Martin is the chief editor of two publications.
He joined Being Libertarian, a growing international hub for diverse opinions within the liberty movement, in late 2015 as its Editor in Chief, and established its Editorial Board. Being Libertarian is a product of Being Libertarian LLC, of which Martin is a director. Martin writes a weekly column, The Chief’s Thoughts, for Being Libertarian.
Martin also co-founded the South African libertarian community Facebook page known as South African Libertarian (SAL). SAL’s blog was later transformed into the Rational Standard (RS), of which Martin is also the Editor in Chief. The Rational Standard is a product of Rational Publications (Pty) Ltd, of which Martin is a director.
His articles have appeared in publications such as Business Day, DeRebus, The Witness, The Star, The Saturday Star, and Rapport, as well as online publications like CNBC Africa, Rand Daily Mail, Cape Messenger, Politicsweb, and at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has also been interviewed on television (Al Jazeera, eNews Channel Africa, Business Day TV, kykNET), radio (such as Talk Radio 702, Radio Rosestad, SAFM, O.FM, Classic FM, Jacaranda FM, and Pretoria FM) and podcasts (The Renegade Report, Dirk Scheepers Program, TouchCentral, and Revolution Report Live).
Martin’s interest in politics originated in his sense of human decency. Having grown up in post-Apartheid South Africa, Martin bore witness to the few instances of interracial distrust between blacks and whites. His fierce opposition to racism led him down the path of progressivism (‘liberalism’ in the American sense), favoring personal freedom but a strong government presence in economic affairs to correct the imbalances caused by Apartheid.
Rebelliously, Martin proudly called himself a socialist through much of high school, where he was surrounded by generally conservative Afrikaner teachers and peers. He has, however, consistently been and remains to this day, a dogmatic individualist.
It was only during Martin’s first year at the University of Pretoria that he reconsidered his political values. Then still a proud socialist, Martin for the first time met other, real socialists. The collectivism, and, moreover, inherent violence of socialism led to ideological introspection. It was only when Martin decided to read a chapter of Murray Rothbard’s The Ethics of Liberty, however, that he became a libertarian. This transformation did not occur ‘overnight’, but instead ‘overhour,’ as he entered the UP Law Library that day as a socialist, and exited it as a libertarian.
Martin is not an admitted attorney or advocate of the High Court in South Africa. His interests are primarily in legal theory, jurisprudence, and public policy, rather than legal practice. He has an LL.B law degree from the University of Pretoria.