Martin van Staden

Libertarian Jurisprudence & Free Market Policy



Libertarian Autobiographies
The Constitution and the Rule of Law
Igniting Liberty
The Real Digital Divide
Custodianship and Constitutionalism
Framework of Constitutionalism

Libertarian Autobiographies

Book coverLibertarian Autobiographies: Moving Toward Freedom in Today’s World was published by Palgrave Macmillan (Springer Nature) in September 2023, and contained dozens of autobiographies by classical liberals and libertarians from around the world.

The compilation was edited by Profs Jo Ann Cavallo and Walter E Block.

Martin was honoured to have been approached to submit an autobiography, titled ‘Law, Voluntaryism, and Being Libertarian in Uninviting Africa’. In this contribution, he recounted his journey from socialism to progressivism to liberalism, his work in the think tank space in South Africa, his interest in libertarian legal theory, and the thriving voluntaryist scene at the southern tip of the dark continent.

The Constitution and the Rule of Law

In his first law book meant for a general readership, Martin explains what ‘the Rule of Law’ is all about and how it may (and should) find expression in South Africa by operation of section 1(c) of the Constitution of South Africa. This section provides that South Africa is founded on the supremacy of the Constitution and the Rule of Law.

The Constitution and the Rule of Law: An Introduction also explores how a strict application of the Rule of Law doctrine could solve some of South Africa’s most pressing problems. The Rule of Law and its implications for South Africa’s ailing education system, the scourge of corruption, and the State’s affirmative action policies are only some of the topics Martin addresses.

The foreword to the book was written by the former Judge of the Transvaal Provincial Division of the Supreme Court of South Africa and author of Panic for Democracy and One Miracle is Not Enough, Rex van Schalkwyk.

“The work is also a salutary warning to aspirant law-makers,
and those who would assist in repairing a system, broken but not yet destroyed.”

– Rex van Schalkwyk, Foreword

The book was published by the Free Market Foundation in February 2019.

Click here for a review of the book by journalist Ciaran Ryan.

Igniting Liberty

Igniting Liberty: Voices for Freedom Around the World was published by Champion Books, a publisher owned by Being Libertarian LLC, in February 2019. It is a compilation of exclusive essays from international writers on various timely libertarian topics. Larry Sharpe, the 2018 New York gubernatorial candidate for New York, wrote the foreword.

Martin was an editor, along with Adam Barsouk, and a contributor to the book, having authored two essays:

  • “The Rule of Law As Applied Libertarian Jurisprudence”
  • “The Politics of Race and Property in South Africa”

In the first essay, Martin makes an argument for why libertarians should adopt the doctrine of the Rule of Law as a distinctively-libertarian method of limiting the power of government. In the second essay, Martin explores the history of property acquisition and ownership in South Africa as well as the contemporary narrative around it, and recommends that a strict application of private property theory would go a long way to solving the problems associated with land ownership.



Despite South Africa’s troubled history and turbulent present, higher education in this country has been of a quality and standard which the rest of Africa could only hope to achieve within this century. International experts and intellectual pioneers have walked and currently walk the halls of South Africa’s universities, but with the radicalisation of campuses under the #FeesMustFall banner, this success story stands to be undone.

Fallism: One Year of Rational Commentary is an edited compilation of articles and essays written by contributors to the Rational Standard since more or less the time when the #RhodesMustFall movement sprung to life, through to the end of 2016, when #FeesMustFall managed to shut down most of South Africa’s premiere universities before the fourth quarter had truly begun. While it represents a diversity of views, the common thread throughout the text is an opposition to irrationality and the politicisation of higher education.

The Rational Standard published Fallism in 2017. African Students For Liberty generously funded the book.

The Real Digital Divide


South Africa has had a tumultuous history since apartheid central planning ended in 1994. Unemployment has skyrocketed and economic growth has recently come to a virtual standstill. However, one of South Africa’s few success stories has been its ICT industry, which is widely regarded as being of first world quality, with 98% mobile coverage and the recent speedy rollout of fibre. The South African government, however, with its new telecommunications policy, stands to reverse this progress, by seeking to re-introduce a monopoly into the sector and placing burdensome obligations on an industry which has only now begun to see a healthy proliferation of small and emerging service providers.

In 2017’s The Real Digital Divide: South Africa’s Information and Communication Technologies Policy, the authors tell of the success of the ICT industry and how government regulations should not act as a barrier to what has become the most viable vehicle for socio-economic transformation in South Africa.

The Free Market Foundation is an independent public benefit organisation founded in 1975 to promote and foster an open society, the rule of law, personal liberty, and economic and press freedom as fundamental components of its advocacy of human rights and democracy based on classical liberal principles. It is financed by membership subscriptions, donations and sponsorships.


Custodianship and Constitutionalism (forthcoming)

In 2004, the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act came into operation. The MPRDA had the effect of expropriating all privately-owned minerals in South Africa and vesting them in the ownership of the State. The Constitution of South Africa at the time required compensation to be paid in the event of expropriation, but none was forthcoming under the MPRDA. This was the reality. The fiction that government created, however, was that the State did not acquire ownership. Instead, all the people of South Africa became the equal owners of the country’s mineral wealth, and the State acts merely as a ‘custodian’, diligently managing the property on behalf of the people. The Constitutional Court in the case of Agri SA v Minister for Minerals and Energy, agreed with the government’s fiction rather than the factual reality.

Is the material welfare of the South African people advanced by having the State in control of all minerals? What has happened since the MPRDA came into law clearly indicates the answer to this question as being ‘no’.

In his second law book, Custodianship and Constitutionalism: Authentic Transformation Through Mineral Ownership, Martin challenges the legal theory underlying the MPRDA, the poor draftsmanship and legality concerns in the MPRDA and other mining legislation, and the conclusion in the Agri SA case. He comprehensively critiques the idea that the State must be the owner of minerals and explains in detail where the Constitutional Court went wrong. He does this from the perspective of the supremacy of the Constitution and the Rule of Law, and the imperative of transforming property rights from the State-centric system of Apartheid to a post-Apartheid free society of owners.

Framework of Constitutionalism (upcoming)