Life, liberty…and other forgotten lessons

“The liberty movement here is flourishing,” the young man enthused from across the table.

“And the time to deliver that message is now. Look at what’s happening across the border, in Venezuela. An excellent example of how NOT to run an economy.”

We were meeting with a local book publisher. Our “man in Colombia” has 700 titles in his catalogue, most of them pertaining to libertarianism and Austrian School economics.

“We’ve got Hazlitt… Hayek… Rothbard,” he ran through a roster of thinkers unknown to 99% of American and Australian economics majors. “And of course, the greatest of them all…”

And here, your grateful editor was presented with a roll of Ludvig von Mises lapel stickers…

“C’mon! Everybody needs a Mises on their jacket!” he encouraged. “The collectivists, they have their ridiculous Che Guevara memorabilia. We can’t let them win the battle of ideas.”

Our friend is right… and on multiple counts. In meaningful swaths of Latin America, for instance, the idea of freedom appears to be catching on.

Individuals – particularly younger individuals –bore witness to what the older generations went through in days gone by, the pains they suffered under collectivist regimes and military strongmen.

Many of them want no such past in their future.

We recall our own shock when, five or six years or so ago, we attended a Mises Economics conference in Sao Paolo, Brazil. At least half the attendees were under 30 years of age. They were enthusiastic, bright-eyed and optimistic about the future.

It was encouraging to be in the minority.

“All over the continent,” our friend continued, “people are coming to realize that government control of the economy doesn’t work. What starts off with the best of intentions invariably goes the way of Venezuela.”

It’s a pity the “developed West” – America, the UK, Canada, Australia, etc. – still have this lesson in front of them.

Joel Bowman for International Man


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