After Ron Paul: taking that train to liberty

One of my favorite writers in the world, Butler Shaffer has a new post today. The entire post is a great read and I recommend it, but I would like to comment on a few passages that happen to be in perfect alignment with my own thinking today about the liberty movement after Ron Paul passes from the political scene.

I have read far too much back-biting and recrimination among lovers of liberty lately and the following passage is a wonderful mirror of my own thinking:

My friend – the late Karl Hess – had an interesting metaphor with which to address the question of how libertarians might act to promote their philosophy. Recognizing that there will be all kinds of approaches people might take – from engaging in peaceful demonstrations, to running for public office, to writing op-eds or letters-to-the-editor, or teaching, or writing articles and/or books – we ought to be supportive of any efforts, consistent with peace and liberty, to which different people are attracted. “Imagine that you are boarding a train and want to proceed to a destination of ‘total liberty.’ There are some people who will ride with you all the way, but others who will be more comfortable getting off early; going as far as they feel like going.” Karl went on to point out that as long as the other passengers are going in the direction of liberty – and not trying to reverse the direction of the train – the rest of us should welcome their support.

I realize that there are many young people (and older ones too) that are economically illiterate and have never studied the full richness of Austrian Economics. They often say things that make me want to bang my head on a wall someplace; but they will learn (I hope), but even if they don’t I welcome them to the liberty movement as long as freedom and liberty are their main concerns. Even worse, many have never read “The Ethics of Liberty” (free on-line) by Murray N. Rothbard. Without reading this book explaining the entire Rothbardian system of political philosophy one is left adrift trying to answer questions that foes of liberty often use on you. This is the one book on libertarianism that is a must read. Do it soon.

As Ron Paul passes from the political scene it is well worth noting that he came up with nothing new in all his days in public life other than to stand steadfast for his beliefs. Even this was not really new, but a reflection of the way politicians conducted themselves in the early days of the Republic. Dr. Paul espoused Ludwig von Mises and his economic insights. As Mises was a Classic Liberal, so was Dr. Paul. The ideology of libertarianism began centuries before Dr. Paul came on the scene to help revive the spirit of the 18th century ideology.

Butler Shaffer points out:

Anyone who believes that Ron Paul has simply dreamed up an ideology that young people find attractive has no understanding of what is transpiring in this movement. Ron has tapped into an energy source that could be likened to a Rupert Sheldrake “morphogenetic field.” At both a conscious and unconscious level, tens of millions of people throughout the world are sharing in the spontaneous eruption of opposition to the dehumanizing, oppressive, violent, and destructive nature of the corporate-state systems that exploit human beings for institutional ends. Peace, liberty, private property ownership, and respect for the inviolability of the individual, are qualities insisted upon by growing numbers of persons, not only in America, but elsewhere in the world.

Ron Paul did not invent this mobilization of the human spirit, nor will the energies subside after November’s elections. If members of the established order look upon this movement as a “fad” that will disappear when Ron Paul retires, they are sadly disillusioned. The question before us, however, has to do with how this energized spirit will find expression in the following months and years. How will those whom I affectionately refer to as “the kids” advance the cause of peace and liberty when there is no presidential campaign to attract them?

Some people believe that Ron Paul set back the cause of liberty by being a very good politician. I don’t espouse that idea myself, but I understand that some people who see politics as continually feeding legitimacy to the US Empire could feel that a Ron Paul was strengthening the Empire by getting so many young people involved. That is the topic of a long post I’ll do some other day.

But what happens next? What happens when Dr. Paul is not campaigning in the middle of a presidential race? How do we keep the spirit of rebellion against the status quo alive and moving forward? For me it is education of the young: they need to know the evils that the government is doing daily and they need to know that the State is Man’s Biggest Enemy. We need to answer them when they yell that we “have to have the State” or else we will perish from the chaos unleashed.

Dr. Shaffer:

Those who are drawn to libertarian sentiments and ideas are generally in agreement that there is no definitive answer to the question of how free men and women will live. When people ask me the kinds of questions about “how will streets be provided for?,” or “how will children be educated?,” or “how will the impoverished be cared for?,” I respond: “I don’t know. I suspect that in a society of free people, there will likely be many different ways in which such services will be provided.” F.A. Harper stated the matter quite succinctly: “the man who knows what freedom means will find a way to be free.” We ought not be surprised to imagine that, in a society of unqualified liberty, millions of people will find a multitude of ways of living. Uniformity and standardization do not characterize the nature of life.

Dr. Shaffer is right of course; but there are very good examples of multitudes of societies in the past that worked well with little or no government as we know it today. We can use these examples to answer many of the questions that people ask when we say that the State must be downsized to the vanishing point.  Some people always ask, “how do we prevent an invasion from some evil State that enslaves us”? How about reading “Chaos Theory” by Bob Murphy which is a book on private defense and private law. Excellent choice to answer the question of “invasion of the freedom snatchers”. It is a small book made up of two essays and can be had for $2.99 on Amazon for your Kindle or other e-reader.

The entire point of Anarcho-Capitalism is that free markets and liberty lead to the greatest increase in the wealth of all people possible; but more importantly it leads to the greatest happiness since man was ‘born free’ and must have liberty to really live. Murray N. Rothbard spent a lifetime writing about liberty and freedom: be sure to read as much of his work as you can. But at the least, read “The Ethics of Liberty”.

Go; make a difference in the world. Learn liberty; and then teach it to others. And do most of your teaching by example.


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