Martin van Staden

Libertarian Jurisprudence & Free Market Economics


Martin has a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree from the University of Pretoria and is pursuing a Master of Laws (LL.M.) from the same institution. As of 2018, his thesis title is “In Favorem Libertatis:¬†Individual Self-Determination as Recognised and Protected in the Doctrine of Subjective Rights”.

Libertarian Legal Theory

Martin’s principal interest is ‘Libertarian Legal Theory’, a term popularized by American attorney and editor of the Libertarian Papers, Stephan Kinsella. While he did touch upon this in his senior thesis (below), Martin is interested in eventually formulating a coherent treatise on libertarian law, based on libertarian principles and the Roman-Dutch legal tradition.

Some core texts in Libertarian Legal Theory include The Law by Frederic Bastiat, The Ethics of Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard, The Constitution of Liberty and Law, Legislation, and Liberty by Friedrich von Hayek, and Freedom and the Law by Bruno Leoni.

Social engineering

In 2014 he authored “Assorted Fallacies and Institutionalized Hypocrisy”, which is available on, laying the groundwork for his senior thesis on using the law as a tool for social engineering. In the essay, Martin focused on the South African legal academia’s overt support or naive ignorance of this use of the law, especially in light of South Africa’s Apartheid past.

In 2016, his last year of law school, Martin wrote a follow-up in the form of his senior thesis, titled “South African Law and Social Engineering”. It can be accessed on here. In that paper, Martin compared the political doctrines of pre-1994 Separate Development (‘Apartheid’) and post-1994 ‘Transformation’, which is ostensibly a departure from Apartheid thinking, but in fact a continuation thereof. The Free Market Foundation, Martin’s current employer, warned against permeating South Africa’s 1996 Constitution with provisions providing for social manipulation:

The Rule of Law

As of June 2019, Martin has worked for the Free Market Foundation of South Africa (FMF) as its Head: Legal Policy and -Research. He was a legal researcher between January 2017 and June 2019. In this capacity, he Martin works predominantly in the FMF’s Rule of Law Project, which is chaired by former judge of the Supreme Court of South Africa, Rex van Schalkwyk.

Martin handing over a signed copy of his book to journalist Paul Pereira. Image: Paul Pereira.

In his time at the Rule of Law Project, Martin has authored several submissions to the South African government on proposed legislation; such as the controversial Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill, 2016 and the Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill, 2017. Both submissions include Libertarian Legal Theory and an aversion to social engineering, but focus on the Rule of Law.

Martin is the author of the FMF book, The Constitution and the Rule of Law: An Introduction, which was published in February and launched in March 2019. Former judge Van Schalkwyk contributed the foreword.

Martin is also the author of an essay in the book¬†Igniting Liberty: Voices for Freedom Around the World, titled “The Rule of Law as Applied Libertarian Jurisprudence”.

The Rule of Law and Libertarian Legal Theory are both sides of the same coin. Libertarian Legal Theory provides the content and the principles of just law, and the Rule of Law provides for the procedure and process of just law. Without the Rule of Law, Libertarian Legal Theory is ineffective and useless, and without Libertarian Legal Theory, the Rule of Law is at worst potentially tyrannical, and at best redundant.