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Linz's New Book
Is Edward Snowden a hero?
Hell yes! His actions were moral.
Hell no! Put him away for treason.
Yes and no. It's a grey area.
Other (please specify)
Total votes: 24
What Is to Be Done?
Submitted by Ed Hudgins on Fri, 2013-10-04 01:08
[Note from Linz—I've lifted this post from Ed Hudgins' thread below because I thought it deserved a thread of its own. Ed agrees. It's his response to Michael Moeller's and my prompting him to be specific as to what he'd recommend a freedom-lover *do* in today's context.]
Linz – Let me give you a bit of a long response, as your inquiry deserves. For concrete actions, I’d start with a reminder that there are no silver bullets that will fell the enemy. The degeneration of our culture and politics is a process that has played out over decades and will only be reversed over time.
I’ve been taking concrete actions for decades, as have thousands of others who favor individual liberty and, to a lesser extent, a culture of reason. The battles must be fought by many soldiers on many fronts: in the media, classrooms, think tanks, discussion threads, and ballot boxes.
No individual actor or action has been perfect in the battle. Rand herself and a lot of Objectivists have been critical of Ronald Reagan. While he was not perfect, he did hold back government expansion on some fronts. And with Maggie Thatcher, he did as much as any individual to contribute to the demise of communism. Heroes both!
As important, Reagan helped change the terms of the public debate, arguing that government is not the solution but, in so many cases, the problem. And a generation of now-aging activists worked for him and were inspired by him.
So I offer as a first concrete action that we target young people. They will carry on the fight in the future. Without them on our side, there is no future.
Students for Liberty has grown in a little over six years from a group of dozens to a group that attracted over 1,200 to its annual international conference and are putting on something like 15 regional events this fall; I’m speaking at two of them, Will Thomas at one, David Kelley at three or four.
Young Americans for Liberty has seen similar growth.
These young people are smart, thirsting for knowledge, passionate, and activist. Many came out of the Ron Paul movement. I have issues with Paul’s analysis of Islamists and think a lot of the young people are naïve on this matter. Then again, you think I’m naïve!
But these young people focus on economic freedom and individual liberty.
In the future, these young people will be the journalists, public policy analysts, political activists, teachers, and scholars. And they’ll be voters!
Are we Athens?
But let me offer an analysis and an analogy that point to some promise.
Athens during its Golden Age was wasting its blood and treasure in the Peloponnesian War. And the democracy got out of control, with demagogues whipping up the ignorant. The Athenians killed their best generals and engaged in other destructive behavior. (At least the Athenians taught America’s Founders about the virtues of a republic versus an unlimited democracy.) And the Athenians lost the war.
But that period also saw the flowering of philosophy, drama, art, history, and much that formed the basis of our civilization.
I need not review here the degenerate aspects of our culture and politics today—paralleling Athens’s—on this discussion board where they are so well discussed. But we have also seen in recent decades an explosion of entrepreneurial energy and activity from the information and telecommunications revolution. I call your attention to inspirational examples in the book Abundance by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, which I review here. There are revolutions occurring in many more sectors that get little or no attention in the media that feeds on bad news: “if it bleeds, it leads.”
I saw Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker the other day and will be doing a view of his book “Better Angels of Our Nature” which argues that things are far, far better than what we see on the news. I suspect I’ll disagree with him on some points. But he urges us to consult the evidence, not our gut feeling, and I shall do so.
Roark and Galt?
The entrepreneurs highlighted by Diamandis hold special promise.
First, they respect the power of human reason, which gives them an almost infinite capacity to change the world for the better.
Second, they understand that individuals matter, that they are the driving force behind human progress, not government bureaucracies.
Third, they love their work and productive achievement. I’ve often quoted Steve Jobs when he said “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
And fourth, they know that their efforts help to create a world as it can be and should be.
These are individuals with the spirit of Howard Roark. But they still need the politics of John Galt.
So here’s my second suggestion for concrete action: target these entrepreneurs with our message. Today, few if any are probably Objectivist friendly; Steve Davis of SpaceX, who has a cameo in Atlas Shrugged is a fan. There are probably more that are libertarian-leaning; I know some of these as well. But, as I’ve said, cultural and political chance is a process.
I will be reporting from time to time on my efforts on this front.
How’s this for the start of “meaningful dialogue?!”
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