by Chris Rossini Economic Policy Journal
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This morning’s edition of “Morning Coffee with Murray Rothbard” covered the importance of educating the general public. High theory and scholarship are not be enough for liberty to carry the day. The importance of the free market needs to be understood by everyone.
The intention of this post is to further elaborate on this very important topic.
Let’s start with early Americans, like Thomas Jefferson, who knew that the spirit of liberty that took root in America would certainly be challenged (as it has been since day one):
“We are destined to be a barrier against the return of ignorance and barbarism.”
Ben Franklin echoed:
“It is in the religion of ignorance that tyranny begins.” Unfortunately, government has had a tight grip on the education process in America; and the ignorance of liberty is built-in to the curriculum. Fortunately, the Internet and home schooling have arrived, and will ultimately win the day.
Finally, the Liberty Bell’s inscription states what needs to be done to hold back the downward pull of tyranny:
“Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
Now let’s move forward to our times.
Here’s Ludwig Von Mises:
“If the small minority of enlightened citizens who are able to conceive sound principles of political management do not succeed in winning the support of their fellow citizens and converting them to the endorsement of policies that bring and preserve prosperity, the cause of mankind and civilization is hopeless. There is no other means to safeguard a propitious development of human affairs than to make the masses of inferior people adopt the ideas of the elite. This has to be achieved by convincing them. It cannot be accomplished by a despotic regime that instead of enlightening the masses beats them into submission. In the long run the ideas of the majority, however detrimental they may be, will carry on. The future of mankind depends on the ability of the elite to influence public opinion in the right direction.” and:
“Everything that happens in the social world in our time is the result of ideas. Good things and bad things…We must substitute better ideas for wrong ideas…Ideas and only ideas can light the darkness. These ideas must be brought to the public in such a way that they persuade people…Our civilization will and must survive. And it will survive through better ideas than those which now govern most of the world today, and these better ideas will be developed by the rising generation…I myself have full confidence in the future of freedom, both political and economic.” But what if the common man doesn’t latch on to sound ideas? Do we blame him alone?
We do not, Mises said:
“the fault is not theirs alone. It is no less the fault of the pioneers of the good causes in not having succeeded in bringing forward their thoughts in a more convincing form.” In other words, if you and I are passionate about liberty winning the day, but we are not doing our part to spread the ideas, a portion of the blame falls on us. Mises concluded;
“The favorable evolution of human affairs depends ultimately on the ability of the human race to beget not only authors but also heralds and disseminators of beneficial ideas.” Educate Privately
If we understand the importance of spreading ideas of liberty and free markets, what is the best method to do this work?
Well, we should first make sure that we don’t put the cart before the horse. We must first, with great intensity, advance our own understanding.
Leonard Read put it this way:
“If a person advances his own understanding of the true and the false, the understanding thus acquired will be sought by others. Reason recommends that a person get the horse before the cart; that first one must learn; that influencing others will take care of itself.” For a fantastic read (or listen) on this subject, do not miss Isaiah’s Job, by Albert Jay Nock.
Once we have a firm grasp, and we’re confident enough to spread the ideas of liberty and sound economics, should we seek to make a Glenn Beckian public spectacle? If we don’t have an attention grabbing charade, like a million man march on Washington, are we doomed?
Here’s Lew Rockwell:
“Why meet on enemy territory, where you have to get a permit to assemble or even to speak? [Where] peaceful, unarmed people were viciously harassed, violently arrested, and jailed in chains for dissing the little god in the white house. [Demonstrators are] surrounded at all times by heavily armed, paramilitary cops, who [keep] their weapons pointed in the direction of the crowd. How much better to meet, teach, learn, organize, and plan on private property? If you want a mass demo, rent a convention center or a farmer’s field or other private land. You say this won’t get you press coverage? The state media will always pretend you do not exist…We can and must ignore and circumvent them. A good first step: stay out of DC.” Dr. Albert Schweitzer also commented on educating others in private:
“A new public opinion must be created privately and unobtrusively. The existing one is maintained by the press, by propaganda, by organization, and by financial and other influences which are at its disposal. The unnatural way of spreading ideas must be opposed by the natural one, which goes from man to man and relies solely on the truth of the thoughts and the hearer’s receptiveness for new truth…” No Central Plan
Central Planning is a tool of the State.
Everyone acts as a cog in the wheel, taking orders, and operating on what Hayek called The Pretense of Knowledge:
Statists never learn.
It is no surprise that history is littered with the failure of one state after another. The believers in power keep trying to devise a way to make it work…with Constitutions, checks & balances, democracy, etc…but the failure rate remains at a firm 100%.
On the other hand, decentralization is the tool of Liberty. For liberty to emerge, we know not to look for an idol to worship, who will pass down the instructions. We are not cogs in a wheel, but creative individuals, using our own skills and talents to spread ideas in our own ways:
Who better than Lew Rockwell, to drive home this point, and the conclusion of this article:
“There is a reason we are born when we are. Everyone in this room dropped into this long trajectory we call time for a precise purpose. You were all given talents, unique talents. You have all been called to use those talents for something. For what? For doing right, promoting good, keeping evil at bay, advancing the well-being of society. To the extent that we enjoy prosperity and peace today it is because those who came before us did what they were supposed to do on our behalf.
Today, it is our turn, and we must bear the burden. We must do what is right, while we still have time. There is not a moment of our lives to waste. We must contribute whatever we can and however we can. Freedom is a rarity in the history of the world, and it comes about only when it has champions. Let us be those champions today, for as long as we are granted breath on earth.”
Reprinted with permission from Economic Policy Journal.