What can an individual do if he wants to Live Free?
If you are reading this you probably are already convinced that you have inalienable rights endowed by your Creator to your Life, Liberty and Property. In order for the State to stop violating your Natural Rights you’ll need others to stop supporting the Socialistic programs that prey upon us. But the question is how do you convince others of that?
Voltaire answers that question:
“We must cultivate our own garden. When man was put in the
garden of Eden he was put there so that he should work, which proves that man
was not born to rest. “
The only way to advance the cause of Liberty is by each of us individually improving our knowledge of the Freedom Philosophy and improving our ability to relay that knowledge to others.
Leonard Read wrote extensively about how to advance the cause of Liberty. He even devoted and entire book called “Elements of Libertarian Leadership”. In it he echoes Voltaire’s idea that each individual should tend to their own garden first. If we want Freedom to grow in this country our first task is to give it fertile ground in our own mind.
“”When many of us can expose the fallacies of socialism and explain the principles of freedom with the ease and facility of adding two plus two, that’s when freedom will be an assured way of life!” Leonard Read
Leonard Read throughout his years at FEE wrote over 20 books. He wanted to explain the Freedom Philosophy in as many different ways as possible because he never knew how someone would come to embrace the ideas of Liberty. There is no way any one can tell what will spark the change in thought which turns a particular Socialist into an advocate of Liberty. That is why Leonard Read continued throughout his life to deepen his understanding of the Freedom Philosophy through reading, writing and talking about it. In “Elements of Libertarian Leadership” he explains the importance of each of us who love Liberty do the same.
”No person can do more than attend to his own improvement and thus rise to the position where others will draw on him, call on him, invite him into counsel. This do-it-yourself project is one’s only practical means of becoming valuable to others.” L.R.
If you want others to learn you must teach. To teach you must know. That is the essence of Libertarian leadership.
“No person will knowingly seek light from one who has no light.” L.R.
Each of us should seek to become a Beacon of Liberty for those who are seeking a better understanding of the concepts of Individual Liberty, Free Markets, and Property Rights. You can’t force what knowledge you have gained upon others but you can improve how you articulate that information to them once they seek your counsel.
“If we show improvement, all those with an affinity for freedom who are within our range will be attracted to the improved offerings.” L.R.
In order to show improvement and attract others to the cause of Liberty, Leonard Read stressed the need for Libertarian Leadership. But it’s not the political organized type of Leadership. He explains that only the individuals can effect change and that change must begin with himself.
Leonard Read broke down his take on Libertarian Leadership into Three Levels. The first level is one that takes the least effort and is the minimum action needed by an individual to help stop the rising tide of Socialism.
THE FIRST LEVEL – Achieve that degree of understanding which makes it impossible to join in or support in any manner whatsoever any socialistic proposal – in short refrain from ideological wrongdoing .
To uphold freedom effectively, one must be able to identify and understand local socialism. L.R.
The First Level one of non action and non participation in actions that violate the Natural Rights of others. The next two levels require that an individual deepen their understanding of the Freedom Philosophy and improve upon how they articulate that information to others.
THE SECOND LEVEL-Achieve that degree of understanding and exposition required to point out socialistic fallacies and certain principles of freedom to those who come within one’s own personal orbit. L.R.
This stage is about becoming proficient with the ideas of Freedom. At this level an individual is able to without thinking relate the ideas of Freedom to others as easily as reciting the alphabet.
“To really know a subject is to be able to speak or write it as easily as replying ”49″ to the query, “What’s 7 x 7?” L.R.
During this stage it is important also not to “inflict” your new-found information upon others. This is where a lot of us including myself have attempted to “teach” others who do not want to be taught. Have you ever been talking to family and friends and they have this blank look on their face as you rattle off the latest attempt by a Socialist politician to steal more money from taxpayers? If they are not ready and willing to learn you can never force “enlightenment” onto them. Just as no one can force it upon you.
“Indeed, no person can gain access to the mind of another until the other lets him in” L.R.
Once individuals progress at this level they must be careful not to be fooled into thinking they’ve arrived” because they know everything about the Freedom Philosophy. This arrogance is more akin with the know-it-all-ness of the Central Planners of Socialism than those who advocate for Liberty.
None of us will ever “arrive”. We all are on a life long journey to understand and share what we’ve learned about Freedom. The search for truth never ends. If we stop searching, learning and improving we will never progress to the next level and that is what is truly needed for widespread acceptance of the Freedom Philosophy
THE THIRD LEVEL-Achieve that degree of excellence in understanding and exposition which will inspire others to seek one out as a tutor of the libertarian philosophy. This is the level attained by the creative thinker, writer, talker, the level at which the power of attraction comes into play. L.R.
A perfect example of someone who attained this level was Ayn Rand. Her epic ”Atlas Shrugged” has inspired and continues to inspire countless readers to delve deeper into the ideas of Individuality and Liberty.
Once you become someone who others come to for a deeper understanding of Liberty, than they will learn and grow and someone else will in turn come to them to do the same. In this way the amount of folks who embrace the Freedom Philosophy will grow exponentially and as a result the politicians elected and the government we live under will reflect this ideological change.
“I heartily accept the motto, “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe—”That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have” Thoreau
Our first step for limited or no government is to prepare ourselves for government that governs least or not at all. This we can only do by improving our understanding of Freedom and improving how we convey that understanding to others. Each of us can “act upon this rapidly and systematically” because it involves the betterment of no one else but ourselves.
“Every significant movement in history-good or bad-has resulted from influential ideas held by comparatively few persons.” L.R.
Once a person has reached the Third Level of Libertarian Leadership his opinions and ideas can become influential.
”Here, then, is the key question: What constitutes an influential opinion? In the context of moral, social, economic, and political philosophy, influential opinion stems from or rests upon(1) depth of understanding, (2) strength of conviction, (3) the power of attractive exposition. These are the ingredients of self-perfection as relating to a set of ideas. Persons who thus improve their understanding, dedication and exposition are the leaders of men; the rest of us are followers, including the out-front political personalities.” L.R.
Just think about the legacy of individuals like Locke and Bastiat, Rothbard and Rand, Read and Mises or all the other individuals you have learned from. They dedicated their lives to improving their understanding of Liberty and improving their ability to articulate that which they learned to others. Their teachings stand the test of time. They reached the third level of Libertarian Leadership and they developed influential ideas opinions which changed the world.
What is needed today are individuals who dedicate themselves to the relentless pursuit of truth and self-improvement like the above mention individuals. Who will be the Rand, Read and Rothbard of this generation? No one knows. But those who love Liberty should take up that challenge and have the attitude that Voltaire did:
“Do well and we will have no need of ancestors”.
Voltaire doesn’t mean to reject the past but he recommends not living upon the past achievements of others. We who love Liberty should recognize that we are the men and women of our time, of the here and now. It is our responsiblity to “do well” in regards to our understanding of the Freedom Philosophy and how we convey that knowledge to others. If we ”do well” our “influential opinions” may inspire the next ideological shift toward Liberty in this country.
In two hundred years from now, who will those who love freedom be quoting? They maybe quoting you along side Locke, Rand and Read. Hopefully by then we will have achieved a True Free Market Society where the Natural Rights of Individuals to their Life, Liberty and Property is sacrosanct and free from any State intervention. Even if you’re not quoted 200 years from now how awesome is it to think that even if you only achieve the first level of Libertarian Leadership you are helping that Future of Freedom become reality.
I am far from achieving the Thrid Level of Libertarian Leadership. I don’t know if I’ll ever make it there. But while I attempt to reach it, I will rely upon “making current, what is excellent” by mining the past works of the great Libertarian thinkers who have lived before me. It’s hard to go wrong quoting anything from the likes of John Locke, John Stuart Mills, Milton, Jefferson, George Mason, Thomas Paine, James Otis, Frederic Bastiat, Albert Jay Nock, Franck Chodorov, Henry Hazlitt, Isabella Patterson, Rose Lane Wilder, Henry David Thoreau, Lysander Spooner, Ayn Rand, Leonard Read, Ludwig von Mises, or Murray Rothbard.
If you don’t have time to read Leonard Read’s book “Elements of Libertarian Leadership” you can catch the essence of the book in a lecture he gave back in the 1970′s entitled “How to Advance Liberty” (which I stole for the title of this article) that is now on You Tube.
This lecture helped changed my focus from political action to learning and self-improvement. It’s worth taking a look.
Leonard Read’s 1 hour lecture about advancing the cause of liberty.
“America’s greatest need (the world’s greatest need) is for thousands of creative thinkers, writers, talkers-individuals who can, within their own circle of acquaintance and activity, serve as sources or wellsprings of the libertarian philosophy” L.R.
This is the only way an individual can advance the cause of Liberty!!!
And that’s my take