Harry Browne’s Contributions to Liberty

I recently listened to a podcast on the Tom Woods Show.  Tom Woods interviewed Jim Babka, one of the founders of DownsizeDC.org.  I am a strong supporter of both men and their work.

The entire podcast is great, but I was especially thrilled listening to the segment when they discussed Harry Browne.  One thing Tom Woods mentioned is that many of his young listeners are probably not too familiar with Harry Browne.

It is hard to believe that he passed away over 9 years ago, but Harry Browne was such a great influence on me in many ways.  He shaped my thinking in investments and he made me more of an optimist in terms of hope for a more libertarian future.  I was lucky to meet Harry in person one time in 2004.

I was already somewhat libertarian when I became familiar with Harry Browne.  But he brought me over the edge on foreign policy and I have been strongly anti-war since about 2003.  It was Browne’s writings and talk show that convinced me of a non-interventionist foreign policy.  I listened to him frequently in 2002 during the run-up to the Iraq War.

I was sympathetic with American intervention when it supposedly involved helping people under a brutal dictator or when a weaker group of people were being abused or slaughtered by another group.  Browne made the point that any individual should be free to help others in any way they want, whether it is donating money or taking up arms and going overseas.  But nobody should be forced to pay for it or be forced to fight.

I also quickly realized that things were not clean cut.  It was not usually good vs. evil.  It was more often evil vs. evil.  Or sometimes it was just the U.S. government completely lying about the situation.

Harry Browne wrote some magnificent books and I also remember always looking forward to his new articles.  I really do miss him and I wish he could have been alive to see the great success that Ron Paul had in 2007/ 2008.  The libertarian movement is a lot bigger now than it was in the early 2000s.

I can’t emphasize enough just how much of an impact Harry Browne has had on the libertarian movement.  He was one of the few people who reached a relatively wide audience (for those days) and taught them how to be principled while also selling the message.

Ron Paul has created more libertarians than probably anyone in human history.  It was mostly from his 2007/ 2008 presidential campaign.  But we can’t ignore that this likely would not have happened – or at least to the degree that it did – if there had not already been a core base of hardcore libertarians.

When people first discovered Ron Paul, they needed somewhere to go for more information.  They needed books and articles to read.  They turned to places such as the Mises Institute, LewRockwell.com, and even Harry Browne’s website.  They relied on books by hardcore libertarians such as Murray Rothbard, Thomas DiLorenzo, Tom Woods, and Harry Browne.  They also turned to some who were in some way part of the liberty movement such as Ayn Rand.

People such as Harry Browne helped lay the groundwork for what was to come.  Harry even impacted Ron Paul, as Ron Paul gave great praise to Harry and his work.

If you are a libertarian in your 20s, or if you are just relatively new to the libertarian movement, I would encourage you to read some Harry Browne articles.  You might want to even consider purchasing some of his books.

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