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30 April 2011

Hope For Liberty In Our Time?

Jacob Huebert has written a good article at the Mises Institute putting into perspective the true timeframe for the fight for freedom: generations. He points out that true change leading to leadership can really only begin with ourselves. To paraphrase Ghandi, we have to be the change we want to see in the world. A couple of highlights:

What we can do to advance liberty is to work first and foremost on the one unit of society we're actually capable of improving: ourselves. Each of us can learn more about liberty, learn more about history, learn more about Austrian economics. We can learn to improve ourselves in every respect, especially in our speaking and writing skills so we can then pass the things that we learn on to others.

But I know some people will still say, "Okay, that's fine, but how do we get a libertarian society? How can we get rid of the state?"

The answer is that we have to keep doing our never-ending job of self-improvement, and we have to be patient.

Someday — we don't know when — the existing Leviathan will collapse, just as the Soviet Union collapsed. Nothing lasts forever — especially not a socialist or fascist government. When that day comes, however it comes, if we've done well in spreading our ideas, there will be a natural aristocracy of libertarian leaders ready to help rebuild society on a better foundation.

This could be many years from now, and my guess is that it will be well after our lifetimes. Or it might not happen at all. That's just reality.

And it's nothing to be upset about. There are many good things that might happen in the future that we're going to miss out on because we happen to have been born in this particular time period. Think of all the advances in technology that will probably happen someday that none of us will get to see: interplanetary travel, human lifespans extended to hundreds of years, the holodeck from Star Trek, and, of course, at long last, flying cars. Do you sit around all day being bummed out about that? No! You enjoy the stuff you do have, and you're glad you don't live in some previous century when you would have had it a lot worse.

It should be no different for liberty. There's no reason why we should expect progress in this area to be faster or easier than progress in other areas. Getting a whole society to change its mind about some of its most fundamental beliefs is really difficult — especially when all the world's governments, which have all the guns and all the money, are working hard against you.

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