The Libertarian Revolution Is Upon Us
by Jacob G. Hornberger
In Cuba it is a grave criminal offense to question or challenge the principles of the Cuban Revolution. People are permitted to call for reform of Cuba’s socialist economic system but are not permitted to advocate replacing it with a free-market, private-property system. I learned this first-hand several years ago when I visited Cuba to do research on Cuba’s socialist economic system and on the effects of the U.S. embargo on Cuba.
At my request, Cuban officials scheduled interviews with officials in various think tanks and foundations at the University of Havana. All the people with whom I met were extremely courteous. All but one of the groups maintained the same official line — that Cuba’s socialist system was fantastic.
The people at one foundation, however, spoke differently. They talked in terms of free market principles. Obviously, I was intrigued and eagerly accepted their invitation to go out to dinner with them and their spouses. It turned out that the members of this particular group were libertarians, at least in the economic sense.
The next day a member of the group invited me to his residence. I was stunned to see on his book shelves books by Mises, Hayek, Friedman, and many other advocates of the free market. I asked him whether that it was illegal to have those books.
He responded that as long as people operated within the socialist paradigm, everything was fine. So, the free-market group would carefully couch its proposals in terms of reforming the status quo, not replacing it.
Later, I was asked to deliver some remarks to the foundation. Mindful of the severe criminal sanctions attached to criticizing Cuba’s socialist system, I proceeded to instead share some thoughts about the system in the United States.
I began with education. I told the group that in my country the government controls the educational system and that, not surprisingly, it was an absolute mess. I said that the only solution was one that we libertarians advocate — a free market in education. Unfortunately, I said, all too many Americans could not give up their attachment to the state in this important area of life.
I proceeded to talk about Medicare and Medicaid, explaining what a disaster government-provided health care had proven to be. Again, I explained that American libertarians were fighting for a free-market health care system.
After those two points, the members of the audience were smiling. They could see that I was criticizing Cuba’s socialist system by criticizing America’s socialist programs.
Here in the United States, no one is put into jail for challenging the Franklin Roosevelt economic revolution that took place in the 1930s. But it is considered a super no-no to do so. In fact, that’s one reason why American statists resent libertarians so much: we expose FDR’s revolution for what it was and we openly call for replacing it with a free-market system. We don’t get embroiled in the reform game, one in which statists battle each other over how best to reform the various socialist programs.
Of course, statists, both conservatives and liberals, hate the fact that we libertarians challenge their paradigm rather than help them reform it.
Ever since the New Deal, the state has used its educational system to inculcate into the minds of American children the notion that FDR’s New Deal saved America’s free enterprise system with reforms. Thus, by the time they graduate from high school, virtually no one has any idea of the true revolutionary nature of what Roosevelt did.
Under FDR, the primary mission of the federal government became taking care of people. That’s what the welfare state is all about. It was an idea that originated among German socialists. It constituted a direct rejection and abandonment of the principles of economic liberty on which America had been founded — a way of life in which people kept their own money and were responsible for their own maintenance and their own charitable decisions.
Thus, most Americans today have absolutely no idea that they are living under an entirely different economic system than that which Americans lived under for the first 100 years of our country’s history. Income taxation, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, foreign aid, education grants, and other welfare-state transfer programs. None of them existed prior to FDR’s revolution.
For decades, statists have lived the life of the lie. Even worse, they have inculcated a lie within the minds of their children and their grandchildren. The notion has been that as long as people believe a lie and a false reality, it won’t make any difference.
But it does make a difference. When people live a life of the lie or a life that denies reality, there are inevitably going to be bad consequences, both for the individual and for society.
Enter the libertarians. Unlike so many of our fellow citizens, we have broken through the lies and the deception. We know what FDR did. We understand the nature of his revolution. We know what it did to our country and we’re not afraid to say it. The New Deal wasn’t a reform that saved free enterprise. It was a conglomeration of fascism, socialism, interventionism, and mercantilism that fundamentally changed our nation’s economic system, for the worse.
Needless to say, the fact that an ever-increasing number of people, especially young people, are calling themselves libertarians has got statists deeply concerned. And concerned they should be because once the scales of deception and unreality fall from a person’s eyes, it is extremely difficult to put them back on.
Moreover, statists know that as the ranks of libertarians continue to grow, the phenomenon causes other people to explore what all the excitement is about.
No doubt some statists wish they could do what Castro does — put people into jail for challenging America’s socialist revolution. Absent that, they just keep hoping that libertarians will just remain silent, in the hopes that more people won’t discover the truth. It won’t happen. The libertarian revolution is upon us and it’s growing.