Liberty is not Inevitable, Even in America

Liberty does not flourish because America is great. America was great only as long as liberty flourished. We forget that at our peril.

As authoritarianism and totalitarianism begin to envelop America, many complacently say: “America is great. She will survive this.” It’s America, after all.

But why? How? When there’s no widespread or deeply cultural attachment to liberty, a society cannot remain free.

We saw what happened with the election of 2020. We saw what happened with 2 solid years of COVID fascism — which could return the next time someone sneezes. We can only imagine what’s coming next, especially with the possible development (so we’re told) of nuclear war with Russia. And then there’s China.

The opposition to what has been going on in the last two years in America has been shockingly minimal. It has been easy for those in power to suffocate any and all opposition. Witness what happened in Canada. Truckers silenced, gone, bank accounts frozen. Even their supporters silenced, bank accounts frozen. You had better believe the same can happen here, and will probably happen, at some point.

A free country is only as great as the people who inhabit the country, and who are willing to stand up for it. Lighting up your Facebook page with a flag of the Ukraine means nothing if you tolerate mask and vax mandates, censorship, rigged elections, hyperinflation, wealth redistribution, freezing of private bank accounts, and gun confiscation.

We will only be free as long as we deserve to be free — and as long as we want to be free. If most of us let it slip away … that’s on us.

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason

The Healthcare Road to Serfdom

by Scott McPherson

COVID-19 hysteria has done more to embolden the power-mad than a massive terrorist attack. Once content to whisper among themselves about the danger of “too much freedom” (any amount, in the final analysis, being too much for them), they slither out of the shadows now to champion every new idea or policy that treats people like bees in a hive. “Mask up,” “lock down,” and “do your part,” these self-proclaimed drill sergeants bark, like propagandists for the Politburo.A government with the power to tax one person to pay for another’s healthcare needs will eventually assume the authority to make people’s healthcare decisions, even the most personal ones.
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Nothing about this is surprising. Those who see in every crisis (real or imagined) an opportunity to expand the size and scope of government power are acting just as we might expect. Authoritarians finally have a very large number of people scared to death over a healthcare “crisis,” so it’s natural for them to push for more policies that control our personal healthcare choices. The left has finally come out for total control.

Half a century (at least) of government interfering in healthcare was all prologue. Individual choice has been steadily eroded by socialist and regulatory healthcare programs like Medicare, Medicaid, licensing laws, price controls, prescription drug coverage, and innumerable mandates imposed on health-insurance providers. Obamacare claimed the power to fine people just for choosing to not have any health insurance at all. One state, Vermont, created a universal healthcare system for its residents (that crashed and burned, naturally). All of this came about because government was going to “fix” healthcare. Now it’s going to fix you.

According to a recent Heartland Institute/Rasmussen poll, an alarmingly high percentage of the population and a majority of Democrats are prepared to jetison the final remnants of personal healthcare freedom in the name of “public health.” Fifty-eight percent of Americans said they oppose a federal vaccine mandate, but over half of those on the political left (55 percent) think it’s a great idea. Additionally, 59 percent of Democrats want the unvaccinated to be “confined to their homes at all times, except for emergencies, if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine.” The decision of individuals and families to get or refuse vaccines has long been held sacrosanct, even on the left. Today, they want you placed under house arrest.

This Stalinist mindset is oozing out to infect other freedoms as well. Almost half of Democrats (48 percent) “think federal and state government should be able to fine or imprison individuals who publicly question the efficacy of the existing COVID-19 vaccines on social media, television, radio, or in online or digital publications,” 45 percent want the “unvaxxed” forced into “designated facilities,” and 47 percent want them subjected to a “government tracking program.” The poll didn’t ask if malcontents should be forced to wear a gold star or tattooed for easier identification, but 29 percent of Democrats do think parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids should have them taken away.

This is crazy on steroids. And don’t think it ends here. A large amount of COVID-related “stimulus” funding has gone to schools to support draconian masking policies, push vaccines, enforce “social distancing” requirements, and generally scare the younger generation right into shackles. Totalitarians have long known that the best way to create compliant citizens is to catch them young. A very disturbing video from Canada, which has slid completely into leftist tyranny, shows pupils, asked about the unvaccinated, reveling in the idea of calling the police and using the government to “cut everything from them little by little until they submit and get vaccinated,” while the adoring studio audience goes wild with applause. One commentor dubbed these students, appropriately, the Hitlerjugand. A poll released by Maru Public Opinion revealed that over a quarter (27 percent) of Canadians would like to see people jailed for refusing the jab.

When CNN interviewed Dr. Peter Hotez, director of the Center for Vaccine Development, on December 28, he accused two U.S. senators – Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) – of “anti-science aggression” (whatever that means) for merely questioning the efficacy of the COVID vaccine. He literally called them “killers.” Meanwhile, Democrats are cheerleaders for actual aggression through policies that will inevitably lead to clashes between citizens and government agents. Fines and imprisonment for people who “publicly question the efficacy of the existing COVID-19 vaccines on social media, television, radio, or in online or digital publications” don’t just violate people’s right to speak freely; they will be imposed by a (fully funded) policing agency backed by the full force of government. An editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune (January 15) called for a “mass vaccination campaign” in Utah that would forbid the unvaccinated from going “well, anywhere” – to be enforced by the state’s National Guard. Armed soldiers on the streets of America, keeping people locked in their homes. What could possibly go wrong!

All this insanity has its roots in government command and control. A government with the power to tax one person to pay for another’s healthcare needs will eventually assume the authority to make people’s healthcare decisions, even the most personal ones. Repealing mask and vax mandates is important, but we should understand that such a “return to normal” is far from ideal. It still leaves government in control of our most basic healthcare choices, through myriad programs and no shortage of other mandates. Repeal all the laws that give bureaucrats power in the healthcare arena, and when the next “crisis” erupts, Americans will have a principled foundation on which to stand and demand that government keep its snout out of healthcare altogether.

Inalienable Rights Trump Viruses

Famed, and usually honest, attorney Alan Dershowitz says Congress, not the President, has the final authority on vaccine mandates.

I don’t agree. Congress does not have the right to force medical treatment on individuals any more than a federal bureaucracy. Our individual rights are INALIENABLE. End of story.

*****************

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene on GETTR:

Super jabbed and vaxxed AOC has #covid.

Was that from all the unvaccinated Republican men she said want to date her? 
Really it’s because covid vaccines don’t actually stop anyone from getting sick with Covid-19.

“But muh mandates!” Biden cries.

Anyway, hope she feels better and too bad she spread covid all around the beautiful Florida freedom zone.

Good thing Gov Ron DeSantis believes in saving lives with monoclonal antibodies and doesn’t dole it out based on racism.

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Reason

Taking Back Our Liberty in 2022

For those of us who value liberty, these past two years have been a bad dream. It seems like we fell asleep in early 2020 and woke up in 1984! They said that if we just put on a mask and stayed home for two weeks, we’d be able to return to normal. The two weeks came and went and instead of going back to normal they added more restrictions. These past two years have been a story of moving goalposts and “experts” like Anthony Fauci constantly contradicting themselves.

Early on, in April 2020, I warned in an article titled “Next in Coronavirus Tyranny: Forced Vaccinations and ‘Digital Certificates,’” that the ultimate goal of the “two weeks” crowd was to force vaccines and a “vaccine passport” on Americans.

My concerns were at the time written off as just another conspiracy theory. But less than a year later that “conspiracy theory” became conspiracy fact. I am not happy about being right on this. The introduction of vaccine passports was from the beginning my worst nightmare. The idea that you must “show your papers” to participate in society is a concept that is totally opposed to a free society. It is inhuman.

The history of these past two years is that the worst ideas have been adopted by force and anyone questioning those ideas has been suppressed by force. We learned recently that Dr. Fauci and the director of the National Institutes of Health conspired to deliver a “quick and devastating take-down” of the esteemed scientists behind the Great Barrington Declaration. Were the Great Barrington scientists horribly wrong? Fauci and his boss could not have cared less. They were not interested in a debate. Their only goal was to shut down any opposing views. That’s not science. It’s ideology, politics, and probably self-interest.

As my son Rand said on a recent Liberty Report, thousands of people died because Fauci refused to consider the proven effectiveness of natural immunity against Covid. He and his colleagues were determined to deny any outpatient treatments and insisted on vaccines as the only way out. Now, as we see the vaccines performing so poorly versus natural immunity, their whole strategy lies in tatters. Will anyone apologize to the relatives of all those who died?

When we look back at these two years, hopefully one thing that will be remembered is how the institutions of state power have all lost their credibility. They have been exposed as frauds and worse.

In a recent massively popular Joe Rogan interview with Dr. Robert Malone – inventor of the mRNA technology that is the backbone of the “vaccines” – Malone discusses the disturbing concept of mass formation psychosis, where fear and manipulation are used to drive a society mad in the service of a group of elites with an agenda. We saw it in Germany in the 1930s.

As Charles Mackay wrote in the 19th century about the madness of crowds, humans go insane in groups but recover one at a time.

What is to be done to defeat tyranny in 2022? We must continue to tell the truth. The truth is winning and the liars are losing. One by one their lies are being exposed. But it is not an easy task. Each of us in 2022 can do a little something to promote truth. Do what you can. The rewards are great!

Ron Paul

The Men Who Wanted to be Left Alone

The most terrifying force of death comes from the hands of Men who wanted to be left Alone. They try, so very hard, to mind their own business and provide for themselves and those they love. They resist every impulse to fight back, knowing the forced and permanent change of life that will come from it. They know that the moment they fight back, their lives as they have lived them, are over. The moment the Men who wanted to be left alone are forced to fight back, it is a form of suicide. They are literally killing off who they used to be. Which is why, when forced to take up violence, these Men who wanted to be left alone, fight with unholy vengeance against those who murdered their former lives. They fight with raw hate, and a drive that cannot be fathomed by those who are merely play-acting at politics and terror. TRUE TERROR will arrive at these people’s door, and they will cry, scream, and beg for mercy… but it will fall upon the deaf ears of the Men who just wanted to be left alone.”

– Author Unknown [shared by Richard Ruggerio on Facebook]

The Economic Foundations of Liberty

Animals are driven by instinctive urges. They yield to the impulse that prevails at the moment and peremptorily asks for satisfaction. They are the puppets of their appetites.

Man’s eminence is to be seen in the fact that he chooses between alternatives. He regulates his behavior deliberatively. He can master his impulses and desires; he has the power to suppress wishes the satisfaction of which would force him to renounce the attainment of more important goals. In short: man acts; he purposively aims at ends chosen. This is what we have in mind in stating that man is a moral person, responsible for his conduct.

Freedom as a Postulate of Morality

All the teachings and precepts of ethics, whether based upon a religious creed or whether based upon a secular doctrine like that of the Stoic philosophers, presuppose this moral autonomy of the individual and therefore appeal to the individual’s conscience. They presuppose that the individual is free to choose among various modes of conduct and require him to behave in compliance with definite rules, the rules of morality. Do the right things; shun the bad things.

It is obvious that the exhortations and admonishments of morality make sense only when addressing individuals who are free agents. They are vain when directed to slaves. It is useless to tell a bondsman what is morally good and what is morally bad. He is not free to determine his comportment; he is forced to obey the orders of his master. It is difficult to blame him if he prefers yielding to the commands of his master to the most cruel punishment threatening not only him but also the members of his family.

This is why freedom is not only a political postulate but no less a postulate of every religious or secular morality.

The Struggle for Freedom

Yet for thousands of years a considerable part of mankind was either entirely or at least in many regards deprived of the faculty to choose between what is right and what is wrong. In the status society of days gone by, the freedom to act according to their own choice was, for the lower strata of society (the great majority of the population), seriously restricted by a rigid system of controls. An outspoken formulation of this principle was the statute of the Holy Roman Empire that conferred upon the princes and counts of the Reich (Empire) the power and the right to determine the religious allegiance of their subjects.

The Orientals meekly acquiesced in this state of affairs. But the Christian peoples of Europe and their scions that settled in overseas territories never tired in their struggle for liberty. Step by step they abolished all status and caste privileges and disabilities until they finally succeeded in establishing the system that the harbingers of totalitarianism try to smear by calling it the bourgeois system.

The Supremacy of the Consumers

The economic foundation of this bourgeois system is the market economy in which the consumer is sovereign. The consumer, i.e., everybody, determines by his buying or abstention from buying what should be produced, in what quantity and of what quality. The businessmen are forced by the instrumentality of profit and loss to obey the orders of the consumers. Only those enterprises can flourish that supply in the best possible and cheapest way those commodities and services which the buyers are most anxious to acquire. Those who fail to satisfy the public suffer losses and are finally forced to go out of business.

In the precapitalistic ages the rich were the owners of large landed estates. They or their ancestors had acquired their property as gifts (feuds or fiefs) from the sovereign who with their aid had conquered the country and subjugated its inhabitants. These aristocratic landowners were real lords, as they did not depend on the patronage of buyers. But the rich of a capitalistic industrial society are subject to the supremacy of the market. They acquire their wealth by serving the consumers better than other people do, and they forfeit their wealth when other people satisfy the wishes of the consumers better or cheaper than they do.

In the free-market economy, the owners of capital are forced to invest it in those lines in which it best serves the public. Thus ownership of capital goods is continually shifted into the hands of those who have best succeeded in serving the consumers. In the market economy, private property is in this sense a public service imposing upon the owners the responsibility of employing it in the best interests of the sovereign consumers. This is what economists mean when they call the market economy a democracy in which every penny gives a right to vote.

The Political Aspects of Freedom

Representative government is the political corollary of the market economy. The same spiritual movement that created modern capitalism substituted elected officeholders for the authoritarian rule of absolute kings and hereditary aristocracies. It was this much-decried bourgeois liberalism that brought freedom of conscience, of thought, of speech, and of the press and put an end to the intolerant persecution of dissenters.

A free country is one in which every citizen is free to fashion his life according to his own plans. He is free to compete on the market for the most desirable jobs and on the political scene for the highest offices. He does not depend more on other people’s favor than these others depend on his favor. If he wants to succeed on the market, he has to satisfy the consumers; if he wants to succeed in public affairs he has to satisfy the voters. This system has brought to the capitalistic countries of Western Europe, America, and Australia an unprecedented increase in population figures and the highest standard of living ever known in history. The much-talked-about “common man” has at his disposal amenities of which the richest men in precapitalistic ages did not even dream. He is in a position to enjoy the spiritual and intellectual achievements of science, poetry, and art that in earlier days were accessible only to a small elite of well-to-do people. And he is free to worship as his conscience tells him.

The Socialist Misrepresentation of the Market Economy

All the facts about the operation of the capitalistic system are misrepresented and distorted by the politicians and writers who arrogated to themselves the label of liberalism, the school of thought that in the 19th century crushed the arbitrary rule of monarchs and aristocrats and paved the way for free trade and enterprise. As these advocates of a return to despotism see it, all the evils that plague mankind are due to sinister machinations on the part of big business; what is needed to bring about wealth and happiness for all decent people is to put the corporations under strict government control. They admit, although only obliquely, that this means the adoption of socialism — the system of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. But they protest that socialism will be something entirely different in the countries of Western civilization from what it is in Russia. And anyway, they say, there is no other method to deprive the mammoth corporations of the enormous power they have acquired and to prevent them from further damaging the interests of the people.

Against all this fanatical propaganda there is need to emphasize again and again the truth that it is big business that brought about the unprecedented improvement of the masses’ standard of living. Luxury goods for a comparatively small number of well-to-do can be produced by small-size enterprises. But the fundamental principle of capitalism is to produce for the satisfaction of the wants of the many. The same people who are employed by the big corporations are the main consumers of the goods turned out. If you look around in the household of an average American wage-earner, you will see for whom the wheels of the machines are turning. It is big business that makes all the achievements of modern technology accessible to the common man. Everybody is benefited by the high productivity of big-scale production.

It is silly to speak of the “power” of big business. The very mark of capitalism is that supreme power in all economic matters is vested in the consumers. All big enterprises grew from modest beginnings into bigness because the patronage of the consumers made them grow. It would be impossible for small or medium-size firms to turn out those products that no present-day American would like to do without. The bigger a corporation is, the more does it depend on the consumers’ readiness to buy its wares. It was the wishes (or, as some say, the folly) of the consumers that drove the automobile industry into the production of ever-bigger cars and force it today to manufacture smaller cars. Chain stores and department stores are under the necessity to adjust their operations daily anew to the satisfaction of the changing wants of their customers. The fundamental law of the market is: the customer is always right.

A man who criticizes the conduct of business affairs and pretends to know better methods for the provision of the consumers is just an idle babbler. If he thinks that his own designs are better, why does he not try them himself? There are in this country always capitalists in search of a profitable investment of their funds who are ready to provide the capital required for any reasonable innovations. The public is always eager to buy what is better or cheaper or better and cheaper. What counts in the market is not fantastic reveries, but doing. It was not talking that made the “tycoons” rich, but service to the customers.

Capital Accumulation Benefits All of the People

It is fashionable nowadays to pass over in silence the fact that all economic betterment depends on saving and the accumulation of capital. None of the marvelous achievements of science and technology could have been practically utilized if the capital required had not previously been made available. What prevents the economically backward nations from taking full advantage of all the Western methods of production, and thereby keeps their masses poor, is not unfamiliarity with the teachings of technology, but the insufficiency of their capital. One badly misjudges the problems facing the underdeveloped countries if one asserts that what they lack is technical knowledge, the “know-how.” Their businessmen and their engineers, most of them graduates of the best schools of Europe and America, are well acquainted with the state of contemporary applied science. What ties their hands is a shortage of capital.

A hundred years ago America was even poorer than these backward nations. What made the United States become the most affluent country of the world was the fact that the “rugged individualism” of the years before the New Deal did not place too serious obstacles in the way of enterprising men. Businessmen became rich because they consumed only a small part of their profits and plowed the much greater part back into their businesses. Thus they enriched themselves and all of the people. For it was this accumulation of capital that raised the marginal productivity of labor, and thereby wage rates.

Under capitalism, the acquisitiveness of the individual businessman benefits not only himself but also all other people. There is a reciprocal relation between his acquiring wealth by serving the consumers and accumulating capital, and the improvement of the standard of living of the wage-earners who form the majority of the consumers. The masses are in their capacity both as wage-earners and as consumers interested in the flowering of business. This is what the old liberals had in mind when they declared that in the market economy there prevails a harmony of the true interests of all groups of the population.

Economic Well-Being Threatened by Statism

It is in the moral and mental atmosphere of this capitalistic system that the American citizen lives and works. There are still in some parts of the United States conditions left which appear highly unsatisfactory to the prosperous inhabitants of the advanced districts that form the greater part of the country. But the rapid progress of industrialization would have long since wiped out these pockets of backwardness if the unfortunate policies of the New Deal had not slowed down the accumulation of capital, the irreplaceable tool of economic betterment.

Used to the conditions of a capitalistic environment, the average American takes it for granted that every year business makes something new and better accessible to him. Looking backward upon the years of his own life, he realizes that many implements that were totally unknown in the days of his youth and many others that at that time could be enjoyed only by a small minority are now standard equipment of almost every household. He is fully confident that this trend will prevail also in the future. He simply calls it the “American way of life” and does not give serious thought to the question of what made this continuous improvement in the supply of material goods possible. He is not earnestly disturbed by the operation of factors that are bound not only to stop further accumulation of capital but may very soon bring about capital decumulation. He does not oppose the forces that (by frivolously increasing public expenditure, by cutting down capital accumulation, and even making for consumption of parts of the capital invested in business, and, finally, by inflation) are sapping the very foundations of his material well-being. He is not concerned about the growth of statism that wherever it has been tried resulted in producing and preserving conditions which in his eyes are shockingly wretched.

No Personal Freedom Without Economic Freedom

Unfortunately, many of our contemporaries fail to realize what a radical change in the moral conditions of man the rise of statism and the substitution of government omnipotence for this market economy is bound to bring about. They are deluded by the idea that there prevails a clear-cut dualism in the affairs of man — that there is on the one side a sphere of economic activities and on the other side a field of activities that are considered as noneconomic. Between these two fields there is, they think, no close connection. The freedom that socialism abolishes is “only” the economic freedom, while freedom in all other matters remains unimpaired.

However, these two spheres are not independent of each other as this doctrine assumes. Human beings do not float in ethereal regions. Everything that a man does must necessarily in some way or other affect the economic or material sphere and requires his power to interfere with this sphere. In order to subsist, he must toil and have the opportunity to deal with some material tangible goods.

The confusion manifests itself in the popular idea that what is going on in the market refers merely to the economic side of human life and action. But in fact the prices of the market reflect, not only “material concerns” like getting food, shelter, and other amenities, but no less those concerns which are commonly called spiritual or higher or nobler. The observance or nonobservance of religious commandments (to abstain from certain activities altogether or on specific days, to assist those in need, to build and to maintain houses of worship, and many others) is one of the factors that determines the supply of, and the demand for, various consumers’ goods, and thereby prices and the conduct of business. The freedom that the market economy grants to the individual is not merely “economic” as distinguished from some other kind of freedom. It implies the freedom to determine also all those issues that are considered as moral, spiritual, and intellectual.

In exclusively controlling all the factors of production, the socialist regime controls also every individual’s whole life. The government assigns to everybody a definite job. It determines what books and papers ought to be printed and read, who should enjoy the opportunity to embark on writing, who should be entitled to use public assembly halls, to broadcast and to use all other communication facilities. This means that those in charge of the supreme conduct of government affairs ultimately determine which ideas, teachings, and doctrines can be propagated and which not. Whatever a written and promulgated constitution may say about the freedom of conscience, thought, speech, and the press and about neutrality in religious matters must in a socialist country remain a dead letter if the government does not provide the material means for the exercise of these rights. He who monopolizes all media of communication has full power to keep a tight hand on the individuals’ minds and souls.

What makes many people blind to the essential features of any socialist or totalitarian system is the illusion that this system will be operated precisely in the way that they themselves consider as desirable. In supporting socialism, they take it for granted that the “state” will always do what they themselves want it to do. They call only that brand of totalitarianism “true,” “real,” or “good” socialism the rulers of which comply with their own ideas. All other brands they decry as counterfeit. What they first of all expect from the dictator is that he will suppress all those ideas of which they themselves disapprove. In fact, all these supporters of socialism are, unbeknownst to themselves, obsessed by the dictatorial or authoritarian complex. They want all opinions and plans with which they disagree to be crushed by violent action on the part of the government.

The Meaning of the Effective Right to Dissent

The various groups that are advocating socialism, no matter whether they call themselves communists, socialists, or merely social reformers, agree in their essential economic program. They all want to substitute state control (or, as some of them prefer to call it, social control) of production activities for the market economy with its supremacy of the individual consumers. What separates them from one another is not issues of economic management, but religious and ideological convictions. There are Christian socialists (Catholic and Protestant of different denominations) and there are atheist socialists. Each of these varieties of socialism takes it for granted that the socialist commonwealth will be guided by the precepts of their own faith or of their rejection of any religious creed. They never give a thought to the possibility that the socialist regime may be directed by men hostile to their own faith and moral principles who may consider it as their duty to use all the tremendous power of the socialist apparatus for the suppression of what in their eyes is error, superstition, and idolatry.

The simple truth is that individuals can be free to choose between what they consider as right or wrong only where they are economically independent of the government. A socialist government has the power to make dissent impossible by discriminating against unwelcome religious and ideological groups and denying them all the material implements that are required for the propagation and the practice of their convictions. The one-party system, the political principle of socialist rule, implies also the one-religion and one-morality system.

A socialist government has at its disposal means that can be used for the attainment of rigorous conformity in every regard, Gleichschaltung (political conformity) as the Nazis called it. Historians have pointed out what an important role in the Reformation was played by the printing press. But what chances would the reformers have had if all the printing presses had been operated by the governments headed by Charles V of Germany and the Valois kings of France?1 And, for that matter, what chances would Marx have had under a system in which all the means of communication had been in the hands of the governments?

Whoever wants freedom of conscience must abhor socialism. Of course, freedom enables a man not only to do the good things but also to do the wrong things. But no moral value can be ascribed to an action, however good, that has been performed under the pressure of an omnipotent government.

Ludwig von Mises

Raising a Standard to Achieve Liberty

One of the things that distinguish libertarians from non-libertarians is that we libertarians know that we are not free. Non-libertarians are still convinced that they are free. That’s one reason why non-libertarians are befuddled by libertarians. When they ask us what we are all about, we sometimes respond that we are about bringing liberty to America. That befuddles them because in their minds, America is already a free country. Making the case for liberty enables us to find more people who understand liberty and who passionately want it. Making the case for reform doesn’t do that.
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Until I was in my late 20s, I was a non-libertarian. Having attended public schools, where I dutifully recited the Pledge of Allegiance, I had no doubts that I lived in a free society. When I was around 28 years old, a friend of mine from junior high school gave me a book entitled A Time for Truth by William Simon, who served as Treasury Secretary under President Reagan. The book emphasized the importance of restoring liberty to America. I told my friend that while I enjoyed reading the book, I couldn’t understand Simon’s point about restoring liberty to America. As Americans, we already were free, I said.

One day in the late 1970s, I walked into the public library in my hometown of Laredo, Texas, looking for something to read. I came across four little different-colored books entitled Essays on Liberty, volumes 1–4. I took volume 1 off the shelf and began perusing it. 

It was a true Road to Damascus experience. As I began reading those essays, the layers of indoctrination that encased my mind began cracking apart. I recognized that something big was happening to me. I was discovering that I wasn’t free after all. I was realizing that I had been lied to from the first grade on up. I had discovered libertarianism. 

I checked out all four books and took them home. I pored over them, reading and rereading them. I then began looking for other works written by the authors. 

I later realized that I had not only discovered libertarianism but had also, at the same time, learned three important methodological principles for advancing liberty.

Over the years of advancing liberty, I have heard some libertarians saying that libertarians need to do a better job of convincing people to become libertarians. I have listened to many lectures in which libertarian speakers teach libertarian phraseology that is designed to convince people to become libertarians.

Long ago, I concluded that that methodology for advancing liberty is fundamentally flawed. I don’t think it’s possible to convince people to become libertarians.

The reason I came to this realization is because I found it impossible to convince family members and close friends to become libertarians. They were either conservatives or liberals (i.e., progressives
or leftists). No matter how much I tried to convince them of the morality and merits of libertarianism, they continued steadfastly hewing to their overall philosophy, even if they did agree with me on one or more specific libertarian positions.

I finally figured that if I was unable to convince people who were close to me to embrace libertarianism, the chances of convincing people who were not close to me were exceedingly small.

In 1952, the libertarian thinker Frank Chodorov stated in his book One Is a Crowd: “The purpose of teaching individualism, then, is not to make individualists but to find them. Rather, to help them find themselves.”

Chodorov, I firmly believe, hit it right. Our job as libertarians is not to make libertarians but rather to find them — or to help them find themselves.

There are certain people in life who are naturally inclined to libertarianism. I don’t know what it is that attracts some people and not others to libertarianism. Maybe it’s part of our DNA. Regardless, there is no doubt that when some people learn about libertarianism, they take to it like a duck to water. Others want no part of it.

Therefore, I believe that our job as libertarians is to find the people who are naturally inclined to libertarianism but haven’t yet realized it — in other words, people like us. We are looking for the type of person I was before I walked into that public library in Laredo. We are looking for the “natural” libertarian whose mind has been encased in a thick layer of false indoctrination and who is prepared to have that encasement of indoctrination shattered. We are looking for the person who becomes fascinated, even passionate, about libertarianism after he discovers it. 

A critical mass 

Why is it important to find such people and to help them discover their inner libertarianism?

I happen to be one of those libertarians who have not given up on achieving freedom. Yes, I am very mindful of the condition in which we find ourselves here in the United States. Ever since I founded The Future of Freedom Foundation in 1989, the situation regarding liberty has gotten worse and worse with each passing year. 

And every libertarian knows that things are still getting worse today. Federal spending and debt are totally out of control. The Federal Reserve is printing money like there was no tomorrow, which is being reflected in soaring prices of food and automobiles, among other things. The welfare state way of life is more solidified than ever, with most Americans irrevocably committed to retaining and even expanding Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, and other welfare-state programs. The COVID-19 pandemic has solidified central planning in American life. The national-security establishment isn’t about to let go of its vast money and power within the federal governmental structure. The war on terrorism is now turning inward on the American people themselves, with more massive violations of civil liberties certain to come. While there have been some improvements in the drug war at the state level with respect to marijuana, the federal government continues to wage the war with extreme ferocity.

Moreover, everywhere we look, there is a crisis. Foreign policy. Fiscal policy. Monetary policy. The drug war. Immigration. They all have a common denominator — the welfare-warfare state way of life that modern-day Americans have embraced.

None of this can end well. On the horizon is a major domestic crack-up involving a voracious bankrupt federal government. If U.S. officials succeed in involving the United States in more foreign wars, the crack-up will be even more aggravated. And it is sure to come with a massive crackdown on the American people. 

A paradigm shift

But nothing is inevitable. It is entirely possible for life to turn on a dime tomorrow. 

What would it take to cause that to happen? 

It would require a critical mass of people who know that they are not free, who understand what is required for freedom, and who want above all else to be free. 

How many people are required to reach that critical mass? It is impossible to say, but my hunch is that the number is significantly less than a majority. Sometimes, when one or two people want to change the philosophy of a company, they begin by enlisting a few more people who become knowledgeable and passionate about the change. They continue adding to their numbers until they reach a critical mass, which is oftentimes less than a majority. Faced with the knowledge, passion, and commitment of that critical mass, the rest of the company simply shifts to the new paradigm. 

I believe that the same thing can happen with a nation. Some unforeseen catalyst can occur, one that can bring that critical mass to the surface and enable the paradigm shift to liberty to occur. 

Of course, it’s entirely possible that such a catalyst will never occur. But one thing is certain: If libertarians give up on trying to achieve that critical mass owing to the daunting odds facing them, they will be unable to seize on the opportunity should such a catalyst take place, Thus, libertarians must continue advancing libertarianism not only because it is the right thing to do but also because it’s the only chance for actually achieving liberty in the short term.

So, the question naturally arises: How do we achieve that critical mass of people who know they are not free, who understand what freedom is, and who are passionately committed to achieving it. 

The first part of methodology is finding those people who are naturally inclined to libertarianism, as we discussed above. 

The power of ideas

The second part of methodology is by introducing sound ideas on liberty into the marketplace of ideas. 

I’m willing to bet that most libertarians discovered libertarianism indirectly, by hearing someone give a speech, by reading a book, by participating in a discussion, by watching a convention or debate on television, or by reading something on the Internet. In other words, they weren’t buttonholed by a libertarian who was trying to convert them to libertarianism. 

Recall how I discovered libertarianism — by discovering a set of books in a public library. Those four books I discovered had been published by The Foundation for Economic Education in the 1950s. If someone had asked Leonard Read, the founder and president of FEE, the extent of FEE’s success with those books, he naturally could not have said, “They will be discovered 20 years from now in a public library by a young lawyer in Laredo, Texas, and will change the course of his life.” By simply introducing the ideas on liberty in those books into the marketplace without concern of how they were going to impact people, they ultimately found their way into my mind and changed the course of my life. 

That’s the power of ideas. It is impossible to predict where they are going to end up and how they are going to impact people’s lives.

Adhering to libertarian principles

But there is one important condition to this process, which raises the third methodological principle for advancing liberty. That condition is that the ideas on liberty that we introduce into the marketplace must be sound ideas — that is, ideas that strictly adhere to libertarian principles. 

That raises what I consider is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving liberty in the short term — an obstacle within the libertarian movement itself. That obstacle is that the libertarian movement is dominated by libertarians who advance reform of the welfare-warfare state rather than advance liberty. 

In order to achieve freedom, it is necessary to identify what it is that is preventing people from being free. Once such infringements on liberty are identified, it is then necessary to remove them. If all that we accomplish as libertarians is a reform of infringements on liberty, we will have accomplished nothing insofar as freedom is concerned. At best, we will have improved our lot as serfs in the welfare-warfare society, but that’s not freedom.

Reforming slavery

The power of ideas

The second part of methodology is by introducing sound ideas on liberty into the marketplace of ideas. 

I’m willing to bet that most libertarians discovered libertarianism indirectly, by hearing someone give a speech, by reading a book, by participating in a discussion, by watching a convention or debate on television, or by reading something on the Internet. In other words, they weren’t buttonholed by a libertarian who was trying to convert them to libertarianism. 

Recall how I discovered libertarianism — by discovering a set of books in a public library. Those four books I discovered had been published by The Foundation for Economic Education in the 1950s. If someone had asked Leonard Read, the founder and president of FEE, the extent of FEE’s success with those books, he naturally could not have said, “They will be discovered 20 years from now in a public library by a young lawyer in Laredo, Texas, and will change the course of his life.” By simply introducing the ideas on liberty in those books into the marketplace without concern of how they were going to impact people, they ultimately found their way into my mind and changed the course of my life. 

That’s the power of ideas. It is impossible to predict where they are going to end up and how they are going to impact people’s lives.

Adhering to libertarian principles

But there is one important condition to this process, which raises the third methodological principle for advancing liberty. That condition is that the ideas on liberty that we introduce into the marketplace must be sound ideas — that is, ideas that strictly adhere to libertarian principles. 

That raises what I consider is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving liberty in the short term — an obstacle within the libertarian movement itself. That obstacle is that the libertarian movement is dominated by libertarians who advance reform of the welfare-warfare state rather than advance liberty. 

In order to achieve freedom, it is necessary to identify what it is that is preventing people from being free. Once such infringements on liberty are identified, it is then necessary to remove them. If all that we accomplish as libertarians is a reform of infringements on liberty, we will have accomplished nothing insofar as freedom is concerned. At best, we will have improved our lot as serfs in the welfare-warfare society, but that’s not freedom.

Reforming slavery

Think back to 1850 Alabama. Suppose a group of reform-oriented libertarians said, “Slavery is here to stay. There is nothing we can do about it. It is a permanent feature of American life. It’s in the Constitution. We have to remain credible. Therefore, we are going to advance reform of slavery rather than freedom.” They then proceed to endorse laws that limit the number of lashings that can be administered to the slaves, shorten the work day, and provide for better food and healthcare.

The slaves would undoubtedly be appreciative to the reform-oriented libertarians for the improvement in their lives. But they would know that such reforms were not freedom. For freedom, the entire structure of slavery would have to be dismantled.

Would that be difficult? Undoubtedly. But not impossible. By reaching a critical mass of people opposing slavery, a paradigm shift toward freedom could take place.

But how would we arrive at that critical mass? By finding people who are naturally predisposed to liberty and who would passionately want to join us. 

How would we find such people? Not by making the case for slavery reform, because all that would accomplish is finding people who are naturally inclined to reforming slavery but, at the same time, keeping it intact. Instead, we would need to make the principled case for liberty in order to find the people who, after hearing such a case, would then want to join us in our quest to end slavery.

Going back to my own personal experience in that public library, if those four books I discovered had advocated reform of the welfare-warfare state under which we live, there is no possibility that I would have become a libertarian. Breaking through the many years of indoctrination that encased my mind required the power of pure, unadulterated libertarianism.

In other words, suppose those four books had advocated things like Social Security “privatization,” health-savings accounts, school vouchers, tax reform, regulatory reform, welfare reform, monetary reform, CIA reform, military reform, surveillance reform, drug-war reform, healthcare reform, getting libertarian-leaning conservatives appointed to public office, and other reforms advocated by reform-oriented libertarians.

None of those reform measures would have had the power to break through the wall of indoctrination that encased my mind. The most they would have done was to convince me of how reform could improve life in America. But reform wouldn’t be freedom. 

Making the case for reform necessarily entails assuming the continued existence of the programs, departments, and agencies that will be reformed. Obviously, that is a much easier sell than making the case for liberty because it doesn’t challenge people’s world view. It allows people to continue favoring their welfare-warfare paradigm, albeit in some reformed fashion.

What made those four little books so powerful was that they advocated liberty, not reform. They made the principled case for identifying and removing infringements on liberty, which necessarily meant dismantling, not reforming, the enormous panoply of welfare-warfare state programs that have come into existence and that prevent us from being free.

Making the case for liberty enables us to find more people who understand liberty and who passionately want it. Making the case for reform doesn’t do that. Making the case for reform finds people who want reform, not people who want to be free.

Suppose a reform-oriented libertarian appears before a Rotary group of 100 members and makes the case for reform. He might get, let us say, 20 people who are interested in his ideas on reform.

Suppose the following week, a liberty-oriented libertarian appears before a Rotary group and makes the case for liberty — that is, the dismantling of the entire welfare-warfare state part of the federal government, including Social Security, Medicare, the CIA, the NSA, and the vast military-industrial complex, and restoring a limited-government republic to our land. 

Let’s assume that the liberty-oriented libertarian is able to find only two people who are intrigued and want to know more about libertarianism. 

Which libertarian has done more to advance liberty? The liberty-oriented libertarian! By finding two more liberty-oriented libertarians, he has brought us closer to the critical mass of libertarians needed to achieve the genuinely free society. By finding 20 reform-oriented libertarians, the reform-oriented libertarian has simply added to the number of people who wish to reform the welfare-warfare state system while keeping it intact.

Summing up, liberty is attainable in the short term. In fact, we might be closer to the critical mass needed to achieve a genuinely free society than we can ever imagine. To reach that critical mass entails finding more libertarians who are as inclined toward liberty as we are. To find them, we must continue making the principled, uncompromising case for liberty.

This article was originally published in the August 2021 edition of Future of Freedom.

This post was written by: Jacob G. Hornberger

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.

The GOP’s Future is Liberty Populism

The GOP needs a liberty-centered, populist revolution. Republicans such as Sen. Rand Paul, Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Rep. Thomas Massie have become some of the most prominent voices of the party during the embrace of this mindset. If Republicans center their populist momentum on liberty, they will see victories as they have never seen before.

In 2008 and 2012, the Republican Party was upturned when a controversial congressman named Ron Paul took center stage as one of the top candidates for its presidential nomination. A former Libertarian Party nominee, Paul began to share opinions that leaned far away from the establishment Right. The Texas congressman had anti-interventionist positions in foreign policy, critiqued his Gov. Rick Perry for high tax rates in Texas, and said that the country had failed in terms of fighting the eternal drug war the GOP had championed for decades.

He may not have won the nomination in either of the years he ran, but it seems as if the lasting impression he made on the party carried over into the party’s primary in 2016 when a man named Donald Trump shared sentiments that were popular with voters but very unpopular with his primary counterparts. The similarities between Paul and Trump may not seem significant, but the debates revealed how they equally affected the shift in their party’s mindset.

Both were anti-war, criticized former President George W. Bush despite the critique being unpopular, and did not say they would vote for the GOP nominee if they failed to win the primary. While Paul appealed to the Tea Party movement of the late 2000s to early 2010s, Trump embraced the populist ideology of 2016. Trump won the GOP primary while Paul helped set a candidate such as Trump up to be the dominant ideologue.

Both men’s contributions to the party get attributed to how they positioned their ideologies to appeal to the masses. Trump made the elite the media, the “swamp” in Washington, D.C., and even other Republicans he shared the stage with. Years ago, Paul said similarly, “The moral and constitutional obligations of our representatives in Washington are to protect our liberty, not coddle the world, precipitating no-win wars, while bringing bankruptcy and economic turmoil to our people.”null

The GOP is now combining both of these men’s approaches to conservatism. The path forward to win elections and decrease federal government authoritarianism is one of populism based on liberty. Most no longer want to be in endless wars, such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, voters realized the amount of power both the federal and state governments have over their people is far too intrusive. Social issues are beginning to mean far less to conservatives in terms of governmental legislation. However, they still practice social conservatism themselves and fight for policies that support family values. While the Republicans may care less and less about marijuana, they have begun to care more about abortion and tax policy issues. The Republican Party is changing and for the better.

However, conservatives have now got to be careful about countering the dangers of other mindsets that center on populism. Over the last couple of years, some conservatives have embraced economic populism concentrated on higher taxes for the elite class, a higher federal minimum wage, and even universal healthcare. Positions on these issues from the economic populist Right are far more similar to a socialist such as Sen. Bernie Sanders than even a populist conservative such as Trump. Taking all of the financial criticisms that the far Left already deals with and growing the federal government’s power is not the way forward for the GOP. Republicans can take how Trump and others appealed to the masses in their campaigns without being economically socialist.

Kenny Cody is the chairman of the Cocke County Republican Party in Tennessee, as well as a columnist for Newsmax.com .

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