The following story is part of Walter Block’s Autobiography Archive.
Isn’t it curious how so many individuals arrive at more or less the same place by following their own path? And this in an egalitarian age where to think for yourself is anathema? How can this be?
For me, the path began with a purely emotional contemplation of Jesus in the Stations of the Cross posted in our parish church. I was seven, an impressionable first grader who liked to interpret pictures, and ask questions. Although I had no words for it at the time, I saw Jesus as a radical individualist who turned his back on both the reigning political government, and on the religious establishment, to preach his own insight into the nature of reality. He put his life on the line for the truth, and he paid the price. This emotional understanding, however childlike in simplicity, became the foundation of my thinking.
As I have related elsewhere, I stumbled across Thoreau at the age of ten, and my vague notions of independence and individualism began to acquire a secular tone, and even a sense that action was possible. This did not correlate with my school experience, however, where I almost instinctively resisted authority, and refused to march in lockstep with my peers, either physically or intellectually. This attitude spelled disaster on the university level and, sure enough, I wasted seven years searching for the right finger to point out the right path to knowledge, not training.
I discovered Atlas Shrugged in a drugstore during a brief sojourn in Denver in 1965, my twenty-fifth year. Here was the finger, and there was the path. I read everything Rand wrote, and everything she recommended, an ever widening circle of literature that came to include von Mises, Hazlitt, and Rothbard. The world was finally making sense to me, and then in 1972 I met Galambos.
For better or worse, Andrew J. Galambos was a master salesman, and a compelling lecturer. Although I didn’t like the man, or completely trust him, I listened to him for six years (on tape), and I read every book he recommended. From him I learned that government could be conceptually divided into what I now call political, or government by force and fraud, and economic, or government by voluntary participation in institutions selling security and justice.
A decade after I dropped out of the Galambos school, I began to write about my own interpretation and possible application of the multifarious ideas of social organization that I had learned. Seven years later, I published Atlantis, A Novel about Economic Government, which has come to be called by some a description of a libertarian society. Actually, I never paid attention to the word, libertarian, while I was writing it, so this designation was purely serendipitous.
I never expected to find a web site like lewrockwell.com either, and I was surprised and delighted when I did. Here the libertarians gather to share their thoughts, and their experiences. I never guessed there were so many! Each an individualist, yet each caring deeply about community, about civilization, about honor, truth, security, and justice, and about the elimination of force and fraud. And by so many different paths did we arrive here! Isn’t it curious?