Martin van Staden is a jurist and author who has worked for the Free Market Foundation since January 2017. He currently serves as the Head of Legal Policy and Research. Martin has presented oral evidence to the Parliament of South Africa, written books and multiple articles, and appeared on television and radio on topics of public policy, jurisprudence, and economic policy. He has a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree from the University of Pretoria and is pursuing a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree from the same institution. His approach to public policy is from a libertarian (or classical liberal) perspective.
Martin 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, both published in 2017. He is a co-author and editor of Igniting Liberty: Voices for Freedom Around the World, published by Champion Books in 2019. He is the sole author of The Constitution and the Rule of Law: An Introduction, which was published by the FMF in 2019.
A passionate writer, Martin is the Editor in Chief of the Being Libertarian (BL) group of publications, which includes the Rational Standard (RS) and Think Liberty (TL). Martin also co-founded the South African libertarian community Facebook page known as South African Libertarian (SAL). SAL’s blog was later transformed into RS, of which Martin was the Editor in Chief before RS merged into BL. He joined BL, a growing international hub for diverse opinions within the liberty movement, in late 2015 as its chief editor, and established its Editorial Board. BL, RS, and TL are products of Being Libertarian LLC, of which Martin is a director.
His articles have appeared in publications such as Business Day, De Rebus, The Witness, The Star, The Saturday Star, City Press, and Rapport, as well as online publications like CNBC Africa, Daily Maverick, Netwerk 24, Rand Daily Mail, Cape Messenger, Huffington Post, Politicsweb, TechCentral, and at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has also been interviewed on television (such as Al Jazeera, eNews Channel Africa, SABC, 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.