13 Good Things for Liberty in 2013
By Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
As 2013 draws to a close, let’s pause to recall some important developments for the cause of liberty – some of which you already know well, and others you’ll be hearing about for the first time.
Edward Snowden. After sitting on the Bush-era warrantless wiretapping story for 18 months, the New York Times revealed a portion of the surveillance activities of the US government in 2005. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now know that the National Security Agency’s spying activities vastly exceeded anything we heard about in the media.
The Snowden revelations served two functions from the point of view of public enlightenment. First, the regime in DC was once again exposed as untruthful, even sinister. But second, the bipartisan condemnation of Snowden on the part of the political establishment – both Nancy Pelosi and John McCain denounced him, unsurprisingly – reminds us that there is, after all, one party: the state party. Whatever cosmetic differences separate politicians otherwise, when push comes to shove, they rally to one another in the face of a truth-teller.
New President for the Mises Institute. At the end of 2013 the Mises Institute named Jeff Deist, former as chief of staff to Ron Paul, as its new president. Jeff is a significant figure in so many ways – smart, well spoken, principled, and knowledgeable about money, banking, the Fed, and indeed the entire edifice of Austrian economics.
“Ron Paul’s congressional staff viewed the Mises Institute as our intellectual home,” Jeff recalls. “We applied Austrian principles and scholarship to virtually everything Ron did as a member of Congress. I’m honored to join an organization Ron has enthusiastically supported from the very beginning, and excited about dedicating myself to furthering the Austrian message.”
Ron, for his part, says he’s thrilled that Jeff “is fighting for liberty again.”
Obamacare. Everybody knows about the Obamacare fiascoes – the useless website and “if you like your plan, you can keep it” chief among them. But what a disaster the rollout of this program has been for the regime, which hates nothing more than looking ridiculous and incompetent, and being the butt of the people’s jokes. Meanwhile, supporters of the president think they’re helping matters by casually pointing out that of course the president knew he was lying when he said people could keep health plans they liked; he had to lie to them in order to get this program passed.
It’s rare to encounter such refreshing candor from the political and media classes.
The Austrian School. Meanwhile, interest in the Austrian School continues to grow, and demands for our resources and services have never been greater. Our Austrian Economics Research Conference, which attracts the best scholars from around the world working in the Austrian tradition, promises to be among our best ever, with an illustrious list of named lecturers and scores of papers advancing the Austrian School in new and exciting ways.
The Great Deformation. David Stockman’s gripping book The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America is more than a devastating blow to the conventional narrative of the financial crisis and the geniuses who supposedly put things right. It is a sweeping, revisionist account of 20th-century US history, bristling with insights and little-known history. Imagine reading a book on 20th-century America without a systematic pro-Fed bias, and without the usual deference to the “great presidents.” I reviewed it for LRC. I urge you to read it.
The growth in peace and noninterventionist sentiment. Polls show the public growing war weary, and consistently less convinced of the need for the US government to involve itself in this or that part of the world. This wonderful result owes nothing to Obama and the so-called progressives who follow him.
The Obama years proved what most people had long suspected: the leftist so-called peace movement had been a trick all along. Their outrage was selective: only aggression perpetrated by Republican presidents was worthy of protest, or sometimes even of notice. To observe Obama’s supporters defend the Libya intervention, and try to show how very different it was from Bush’s interventions, was to be reminded of how many people seriously believe the real conflict in America is between the red team and the blue team.
You’d think the Democrats would have learned something when the crazed John McCain said he had more in common with Obama on foreign policy than with some members of his own party, but Obama voters turned out to be not nearly as far from McCain as they pretended to be.
So it is not to the Left that we may attribute this wonderful polling data. Once again, it’s Ron. Everyone suddenly sounded like Ron when the debate over the Syria intervention arose. And the neocons still can’t get a war going with Iran. Ron is winning, which means the cause of peace is winning.
Ron was the one who kept bringing up foreign policy again and again in the 2008 and 2012 primary seasons, and for decades before. His arguments ranged from the pragmatic to the intensely moral. Intervention itself is a good portion of the reason the US government is despised around the world. An open-ended policy of intervention will contribute to the country’s financial ruin. Intervention could well result in the triumph of even less friendly regimes than before.
Today, who can doubt even one of these statements, for which Ron was pilloried not so long ago?
Ron was the only candidate in recent memory to speak of the human toll of the US war machine. Dead Iraqis don’t vote, and the constituency one must appeal to in a GOP primary has not distinguished itself by a profound concern for the fate of enemy civilians, so Ron took this stance on principle alone. This, and not meticulously parsing his words to please the general public, is how Ron secured himself a place in history.
And incidentally, how many times can a man be vindicated in his lifetime? Ron predicted the housing bubble and collapse on the House floor all the way back in 2001. (His opponents, by contrast, were oblivious to the very end – Herman Cain gave the economy a clean bill of health just one week before the Panic of 2008 set in.) Ron warned about government surveillance and the curtailment of civil liberties, and was told he was being paranoid. Today, even right-wing radio is outraged at revelations of what the NSA has been doing. And Ron said the foreign policy of McCain would be counterproductive, not to mention enormously expensive in terms of money and lives. In 1974, Ron was speaking out about the Fed, and where its evils would lead. Today, Ron is joining our board.
No one in his right mind denies any of this any longer.
The ongoing militarization of the police. Whether it’s SWAT attacks, no-knock raids, military-style equipment, or the centralization of crime control, the militarization of the police has spooked people across the ideological spectrum into action. It’s such a talked-about issue these days that we’ve made it the theme of 2014’s Mises Institute event in Houston. (Join us on January 18!) People are especially waking up to the routine dog-shooting—even puppies in crates—by the police.
The Ron Paul Channel. This year witnessed the launch of still another Ron Paul initiative: the Ron Paul Channel. Of all his current projects, this is the one dearest to his heart. Here is unfiltered, 100 octane Ron Paul. It’s Ron’s take on the news, plus guests whom the mainstream would rather ignore. And the channel is about to expand to welcome new contributors and programming, all chosen and guided by Ron.
The Ron Paul Homeschool Curriculum. In tandem with the book, Ron’s homeschool curriculum was announced this year. Ron said in a recent interview with the Mises Institute, “The curriculum I’ve designed, and which I refer to in the book, is more than just history and economics. It’s math and the sciences, it’s literature, it’s writing, it’s public speaking, it’s learning how to start your own business, and above all, it’s learning how to learn. All of these are skills that will serve a young person well. If a substantial number of libertarian young people have these skills, I believe things begin to change.” Check out Ron’s column “Why This Homeschool Curriculum Matters to Me.”
The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. Ron was especially pleased this year to be able to found an organization dedicated to peace and international understanding, and opposed to the juvenile propaganda of the Bush/Obama axis of evil. The Institute’s executive director is the brilliant Daniel McAdams, who advised Ron on foreign affairs and civil liberties issues from 2001 until 2012. Daniel and his colleagues keep us informed about the state of the world from a noninterventionist perspective. But my favorite part of the Institute’s website is “Neocon Watch.”
Ron and Daniel hope to sponsor a summer school for students who support peace and oppose the war machine.
The School Revolution: A New Answer for Our Broken Education System. Ron also found time to publish another book this year, this one on how to carry the Ron Paul Revolution forward. Education, naturally, is the key. Technology has pushed costs lower than before, and is mounting the greatest challenge to the existing education bureaucracy ever posed. We have a critical opportunity to seize, and Ron lays it out step by step.
The Tom Woods Show. Tom Woods, whom you may know from his books, his public speaking, or his YouTubes, now has a weekday podcast that covers a vast array of topics. If there’s an argument against libertarianism, you can bet Tom has a show in response to it. Here are the first 65 episodes, one of which is an interview with me.
Thanks for making 2013 another great year for Liberty! Happy New Year!