July 20, 2012
“Fanaticism and self-righteousness are rooted in self-hatred, self-doubt, and insecurity,” wrote the longshoreman philosopher, Eric Hoffer in 1951. In The True Believer, the book he’s most renowned for having written, Hoffer asserts that "a passionate obsession with the outside world - or the private lives of others - is an attempt to compensate for a lack of meaning in one’s own life." Hoffer was seeking to explain why people follow lunatics like Adolph Hitler... but his words explain why people follow the obvious falsehoods in today’s political climate, too. Hoffer died in 1983 having spent much of his life observing the working class from among its ranks. We founded the Laissez Faire Club so the ideas of great writers like Eric Hoffer don’t go missing in the ash heap of history; that the passion for living as free people doesn’t succumb to the will of the political class. It’s a struggle every generation faces... ours is no different. Today’s offering from the club is a new work. And is equally full of aphoristic wisdom as any writing Eric Hoffer did. As you’ll discover below today’s author was revered as “royalty” only a week ago in Las Vegas. I bring up her work in the context of Mr. Hoffer because in many ways she’s his contemporary equivalent, from the details of her private life to the authority from which she dispenses her wisdom. Cheers, Addison Wiggin President, Laissez Faire Books P.S. Please enjoy Doug French’s review of Wendy McElroy’s new book The Art of Being Free... then discover how you can get today’s most cutting edge ideas on the economy, finance and freedom - economic or otherwise - FREE every Friday. Freedom as Art by Douglas French There were plenty of big names speaking at FreedomFest in Las Vegas last week. There were TV talking heads like Steve Forbes and Andrew Napolitano. Famous entrepreneurs like John Mackay came. Tea Party star Rand Paul attracted vast attention. But it was an unassuming woman, a brilliant author who rarely leaves her rural home in Canada, who stole the show. Wendy McElroy has been part of the freedom movement for decades. She is -- quite simply -- libertarian royalty. Many recognized her and her status, including event organizer Mark Skousen. At the final ball, to which she humbly thought she was not invited, she was swept up, put at the head table and given rounds of applause. Ms. McElroy spends her time thinking and writing, leaving the yakking to others. But as she delivered her speech as part of Laissez Faire Club Day at FreedomFest, you could have heard a pin drop. The audience could feel her passion and sincerity. Liberty for Wendy McElroy is not theory, but real life. It is a state of mind and heart. For McElroy, everything in life begins with the individual. If a person has control of his or her person and property, that’s freedom; if not, it’s slavery. Hers is a clear and sophisticated voice for liberty that will thrill you in her outstanding new book, The Art of Being Free: Politics Versus the Everyman and Woman. Laissez Faire Club members will receive McElroy’s great book today. It can be yours, too, if you sign up right now for $10 a month or just $75 a year. Don’t miss out. You can also purchase in hardcopy. This is not a book about stirring up the Tea Party or political strategy. As the title denotes, politics is the enemy of the people. Real liberty lovers don’t play political games. The games will imprison you. “I am not into electoral politics as a way to change society, so I don’t think in terms of competing with Republicans or Democrats,” McElroy told an interviewer. “I believe that lasting change comes from transforming the hearts and minds of people -- freedom comes one person at a time -- and the pulling of a lever every four years doesn’t have much to do with that process. I believe in grass-roots activism to improve the daily realities of people, not in electing politicians to positions of power. A politician has never improved my life, has never made me freer.” After reading Ayn Rand’s We the Living at age 15, a year later McElroy escaped to the relative safety of the streets and was immediately confronted with a harsh Canadian winter. She was able to secure a low wage job and began building a life for herself. This book is not the musings of a sheltered, out-of-touch academic. McElory’s clear and sparkling pose pushes the reader along at a furious pace -- from theory, to everyday issues, to a discussion of the people who embody freedom and finally to a discussion about moving from an unfree world to a freer one -- always with an eye for the rights of the individual. While government seeks to protect children from exploitation with child labor laws, McElroy explains that these laws relegate some children to lives of homelessness and crime. Those on the “left” and the “right” claim that public schools are required to educate the masses. It does no such thing. At best, children receive training that leaves them unmotivated and unquestioning. At worst, they are impoverished by the lies and hypocrisies they are told. As government wages a destructive war on the drugs it deems illegal, it partners with the American Medical Association to form the therapeutic state. Some view a passport a symbol of freedom; McElroy sees these documents as total government control. The author is likely the only feminist speaking out for the rights of fathers and ex-husbands. She considers the payment of alimony slavery. She makes the trenchant point that fathers owing child support payments are denied due process and are essentially relegated to debtors’ prison. What America has come to is that the average American is likely breaking three federal laws a day, leading the “land of the free and home of the brave” to resemble a police state. What McElroy’s heroes have in common is their bravery in standing up to the state. Thoreau chose jail over war taxes. La Boetie said “no” to the state. Voltaire’s words created a backlash. Garrison fought slavery to the end, and R.C. Hoiles never abandoned his principles, while still owning and operating a successful newspaper empire. For example, the heroic Orange County Register owner was one of the rare few who championed the cause of Japanese-Americans who were oppressed during World War II. Ms. McElroy challenges the reader to examine when and how he or she will withdraw consent to the state. For example, “Would you steal from or harm an innocent person if a state agent commanded you?” she asks. We know how Thoreau would answer, as well as McElroy’s other freedom fighters. What would you do? Ms. McElroy believes we all should search our souls and determine where we will draw the line. She urges us to plan for a further heightening of the police state. Think through your limits, so you can act accordingly when confronted face to face with state terror, and “you should pay a price as soon as possible because it costs less overall,” McElroy writes. “It will never be easier for you to consider this question than right now, in privacy and comfort.” We must plan not just for our safety, but also for our self-respect. At what point do we allow the state to strip us of our consciences so that we will willingly do the state’s bidding and aggress against our neighbors? Will we all be institutionalized by state power and bureaucracy? Our learned behavior being to obey and conform, with the end result a deadening of the human soul. Can you say “no”? Will you say “no”? Let Wendy McElroy show you how. Sincerely, Douglas E. French Senior editor The Laissez Faire Club Douglas.E.French@gmail.com Facebook @ doug.french.9 Twitter @ DouglasFrench1 P.S. Here are some key passages from The Art of Being Free: Freedom I do not believe freedom or justice are august concepts to be immortalized in awe-inspiring statutes. Freedom and justice belong on the streets and in the gutters, because that is where real people live as they rush from home to work, from work to pick up their children. I want a theory and reality of freedom that is based upon and within the average working person. Since childhood, one of my favorite quotations has been a passage from Louisa May Alcott’s novel Little Women. The character Jo reads aloud from a short story she has written: “And the good fairy said, ‘I won’t leave you money or pretty dresses, but I will leave you the spirit to seek your fortune from your own efforts.’” If La Boetie is right: If freedom is a natural human urge, then nature herself argues the logic of not cooperating with tyranny. There is something within both man and beast that resists the tension of a leash. Rather than break the tension by attacking whomever holds the reins, La Boetie told people to just let the tension go slack. Refuse both violence or submission. Simply say no. In that word, freedom lives. Rights Civil and economic rights are not separable. Both are human rights and dependent upon each other. It makes no sense to tell a free man that he has freedom of speech, but no similarly unrestricted right to use his own labor to make goods that he can freely sell. Both acts are peaceful expressions of his own body. Being able to use his tongue to speak out is no more sacrosanct than being able to use his hands to contract labor on his own terms. Slavery Chattel slavery was driven from North American soil almost 150 years ago. A more subtle form of slavery has arisen. Politicians declare themselves to be protectors of individual rights, but governments at all levels -- local, state and federal -- claim an ever-increasing percentage of society’s money and liberty. The government is assuming the role of thief and slaveholder. Your property and the exercise of your faculties and time are not mere societal niceties; they are your life. Social Change The main advantage of a decentralized system of decision-making may well be its ability to adjust constantly and quickly to shifting circumstances. Where social engineering demands a stable future and a godlike knowledge of the present, spontaneous order recognizes and embodies the inevitability of change and the inadequacy of human knowledge. Thinking We should yank theory out of academia and throw it back into the streets, where it belongs. It belongs there, alongside truth, because that is where injustice happens, it is where the marketplace feeds people, it is where those who struggle are seeking answers to why the world is falling apart. Theory and principles were never meant to be the playthings of an elite class who tell the masses that they are too ignorant to understand sophisticated concepts like justice, economics or even their own self-interest. Justice, economics and the public good must be fed through their own elite understanding and regurgitated in understandable form. Yet the elites do not even know what the price of bread is. The more clearly you think, the freer and richer life will be. Standing up for yourself can be frustrating and unpleasant. The world can brutalize people intellectually as surely as it does physically. For friendship and solace, for knowledge and companionship, it is not possible to say enough about the benevolence of books. Politics We are lied to as a matter of policy by politicians who vow on Bibles and the Constitution to protect our interests. It is in their interest to have us believe the economy is going through a little burble, but otherwise, it is just peachy. And for them, I am sure it is. I am sure their children don’t lack for medical care, the best food, new shoes... These people tell the lumpenconsumeriat, “Pay no attention to that printing press behind the curtain, so that you don’t understand that the inflated U.S. currency has rendered every dollar you possess worth only a fraction compared with a few years ago.” Medical Reform Monopoly, legal privileges, the rise of PPPs, the use of tax dollars to create disease and eliminate competition, the peddling of pharmaceuticals through government agencies... these issues must be prominent in any productive discussion of the medicalization of everyday life. If the discussion focuses on corporate greed, then the therapeutic state will have merely entered a new phase... Passports The passport has grown into what is arguably the single most powerful tool of totalitarian America, second only to law enforcement itself. It no longer pretends to protect individuals; not a single terrorist has been apprehended as a result of passport checks. But it does cement the totalitarian state. The mandatory passport should be reviled and rejected as an abuse of human rights and common decency. A nation that requires one cannot be free. Police The goal of a police state is not the free flow of civil society, but the polar opposite: social control. The goal of a police state is to preserve and augment its own political power. Because civil society considers government to be its servant, rather than its master, civil society constitutes a direct threat to the police state. Thus, the two are at war with each other and cannot coexist. This characteristic distinguishes the police state from limited government: It wages war upon civil society, upon peaceful expression and behavior. In doing so, it wages war on individuals. Elitism One of the political beauties of libertarianism is that it is a populist ideology. It deals with fundamental rights that are possessed by all human beings; it defends everyone’s life, liberty and property equally. It says to the poorest, most-disadvantaged person in society, “You have the same due process rights as a billionaire.” Libertarianism is a profoundly nonelitist. It is profoundly the politics of the everyman. The State The state can still disappear. For many people, the state disappears in the conduct of their private lives with family and friends, in which the bonds of affection and trust have nothing whatsoever to do with government law. When they read bedtime stories to their children, plan a birthday party for a relative or simply have a cup of coffee with a friend... here the state is nowhere to be seen. P.S. This is a book that will change the way you view the world. It will challenge you and inspire you. Don’t delay, enroll in the Laissez Faire Club and absorb McElory’s great insights today. However, receiving this great book for FREE just scratches the surface of what you’ll receive when you become a member of the Club. All the benefits are laid out for you right here. Of course we sell this book. A book you can’t buy from Amazon. But instead of purchasing the book, for today only, you can claim a copy of the e-book absolutely free. In return, all I ask is that you agree to try membership to the Laissez Faire Club. The free e-book of The Art of Being Free is just the first of many benefits you’ll claim when you become a member to the club. Before you click, however, it’s important to note that this trial won’t set you back the normal membership fee. For today only, we are offering you a steep discount. Why? Laissez Faire Books is very proud to release this beautiful e-book version of The Art of Being Free and we want you to not only enjoy McElory’s wonderful book for free, but enjoy all the benefits of the Lassiez-Faire Club for an additional 25% off. Act today. Tomorrow, you’ll have to join the dozens of readers who’ll have to pay for their own copy. But today... you can join the Laissez Faire Club... save a bunch of money... and claim a free e-book. That’s why I urge you to click here to claim your free copy.
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