Gary North, a prolific libertarian writer, has written two pieces recently on the future. In the first one, he says that we are not on the road to serfdom, but on the road out of serfdom. In the second piece, he says that our kids will have it better than us. I like his optimism and I wish more people had it.
I find that the majority of people who are new to the libertarian movement are pessimistic. In fact, I could say that even the majority of older libertarians are pessimistic. They think we are at the breaking point. They think that if things aren’t turned around immediately and dramatically, that we will be in full-fledged tyranny, if we aren’t there already.
I am relatively young, but I have been a libertarian much longer than most of the young Ron Paul supporters. I was a child of the Reagan era. I had libertarian leanings as a child and into young adulthood. I really became interested at about the age of 25. It was about 9 years ago at the age of 28 that I became a more hardcore libertarian. If anything, I have become even more radical since then.
I heard Harry Browne give a speech in 2004 on the prospects of liberty. He said that he doubted that one in a hundred libertarians understood this one simple thing in our fight for liberty: that human nature is on our side. The natural state of human beings is not to live under tyranny. Most people want choices in their lives and they want liberty.
In 2004, there weren’t a lot of libertarians. But from everything I have read, there were far more libertarians in 2004 than there were in 1954, 1964, or 1974. I can safely say that there are far more libertarians now than there were 8 years ago. In fact, I’d venture to guess that the number has at least quadrupled.
I think Gary North has it right. Barring something disastrous event like a nuclear war, the next generation should be better off. I warn people about the next several years and the economic trouble ahead. But long term, I am an optimist. With technology and the free flow of information, I don’t see how the libertarian movement can be stopped at this point.
There may be certain areas where we are less free in America today. We have the TSA at airports. Business regulation is probably as bad as it has ever been. There are surely other examples, but there are also examples of where we are more free.
There is no more slavery in America (although we could argue that we are all slaves to the state). With the internet, the news media is no longer monopolized by a small number of networks. While there are wars going on, there is no full draft as we saw during many past wars. The top tax rate is far lower now than it was during much of the 20th century.
If there are two things that really symbolize our hope for liberty, it is free speech and guns. They are both related to the first two amendments to the Constitution. While there are gun laws and restrictions, most Americans can own guns. Not only that, but a large portion take advantage and do own guns. Americans may not be armed to the teeth like the Swiss, but there are tens of millions of American households that have firearms.
As far as speech, we are as free as ever. That is why I think the best hope for liberty starts in America. While I can’t say that free speech is 100%, it is pretty close. Just use google and you can see for yourself. I laugh when I hear people talk about how great the Founding Fathers were and how they defended all of our liberties. Have these people never heard of the Alien and Sedition Acts? If Barack Obama tried to do what John Adams did, he would have a revolution on his hands. Of course, with the internet, there would be no way to enforce the Sedition Act today, unless the government tries to arrest 50 million Americans.
While there are no guarantees, I think we will move toward liberty over the next few decades. Technology will help a lot. The current group of Ron Paul supporters will help a lot.
It is ironic because there are many Ron Paul supporters who are pessimistic, not knowing that the libertarian movement has grown by leaps and bounds because of them. Yet, it is because of the Ron Paul supporters that I am so optimistic.