Is there cause for optimism in this era of ever-increasing government? The Ludwig von Mises Institute’s Jeff Diest thinks so. Excerpt:
If you believe the state is harmful rather than benevolent; if you believe that the state threatens individual rights and property rights, rather than protects them; if you believe that the state decreases our chances for peace and prosperity; if you believe, in sum, that the state is an overwhelming force for ill in our society, a force that makes all of us far worse off, why in the world is it unrealistic to work toward its elimination?
Notice that the charge of being unrealistic, impractical, or overly idealistic is never applied to medicine or crime prevention. Nobody says to the cancer researcher, “you should be more realistic, cancer and infectious disease will always exist. Why not just work on making the common cold a bit less severe?” Nobody says to the criminal investigator, “gee, organized crime and violence are just part of human nature, it’s useless to try to prevent them. Maybe you should just focus on reducing bike thefts.”
So why should we be apologetic or timid or less than fully optimistic in our fight against the state? We should not. Like the cancer researcher, like the crime fighter, we should be bold, we should be optimistic, and we should be vigorous in our opposition to government. We should be every bit as certain as Murray Rothbard was in the eventual success of our mission.
Note that Mr. Deist pushes the libertarian ideal a bit farther than most; personally, I’d be happy if the people in the Imperial City would not only remember that our Constitution exists, but also actually try reading it.
I’d also like to see some semblance of a moral society as well. Now, when a lot of folks talk about morality, they link it in with religion; the two may at times be complimentary but they are not inextricably linked.
When I think of a moral society, I think of a society in which (for example) I am not required to labor longer and harder, to pay an increased tax burden, for no other reason than to shelter some of my fellow citizens from the consequences of their own poor decisions. There is a word for such involuntary servitude, and it’s not a pretty one. But we accept it, as a matter of course, in our modern, increasingly statist society.
There are things that are the legitimate functions of a national government; the military, border security, foreign trade and so on. Sheltering my fellow citizens from the consequences of their own bad decisions is not one of those legitimate functions. The requirement that I do this reduces my own individual liberty by forcing me to labor longer and harder, not for my own benefit, but for the benefit of others.
Remember John Galt’s oath? “I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.“
So propose liberty, and make the case for optimism. After all, despite the state and its depredations we still lead magnificent lives compared to virtually every human who ever walked the earth — kings and queens included. If we let the state make us unhappy or pessimistic about our future, we will have failed not only our children and grandchildren, but our ancestors as well.
He is correct here; these days it is popular to hear folks wax rhapsodic about the “good old days,” and television programs like Game of Thrones glorifies a medieval lifestyle that, in reality, was horrible for almost everyone, with even the nobility living in unspeakable filth, with double-digit infant mortality, a shocking number of women dying in childbirth, and plagues rampaging unchecked with horrible regularity.
But we can do better. We should. Deist is partly correct, technology will continue to push us farther down the road, but it will take more than that; it will take the rediscovery of liberty.
Because make no mistake, most of us have lost the concept.