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How We Achieve Freedom

An important question naturally arises: How do we achieve freedom given the current circumstances under which we are living in America? I think most every libertarian would acknowledge that when it comes to liberty, America is a seriously bad shape.

Moreover, both conservatives and liberals, as reflected by presidential candidates Donald Trump and Joe Biden, are fiercely committed to the welfare-warfare state way of life, which is antithetical to the principles of liberty. And no matter how bad things get, conservatives and liberals become more determined to maintain the iron grip of the welfare-warfare state on American life, under the guise of protecting “freedom” and “national security.”

Moreover, the libertarian movement is now filled with people who have made peace with either the welfare state (especially with respect to Social Security and Medicare) or the warfare state (especially with respect to the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA) or both and have committed their efforts to reforming, not repealing, them. Moreover, in large part the libertarian brand has become nothing more than a libertarian-conservative hash, and the libertarian movement has become nothing more than a revolving door for conservatives who have become disenchanted with the conservative philosophy or the conservative movement

So, what hope is there for freedom under these bad circumstances? Should we all now just accept that freedom is impossible and become welfare-warfare state reformers?

One thing is for sure: the road to freedom lies not in reform measures, which necessarily leave infringements on liberty intact. The road to freedom lies in making the case for liberty, which necessarily entails repealing infringements on liberty.

In the late 1800s, Americans were living under a system that had no income taxation, Social Security, Medicare, welfare state, drug laws, Federal Reserve, fiat (i.e., paper) money, immigration controls, licensing laws, zoning laws, Pentagon, military industrial complex, CIA, NSA, indefinite detention, state-sponsored assassinations, secret mass surveillance, and other massive infringements on liberty that we live under today.

Now, whenever I point this out, reform-oriented elements within the libertarian movement go on the attack against me. They exclaim, “Jacob, you are saying that the 19th century was a libertarian panacea, which it clearly wasn’t!”

So, let me make it clear (once again): I am NOT saying that the 19th century was a libertarian panacea. I acknowledge that it wasn’t. I am simply saying that 19th-century Americans achieved a society without the massive infringements on liberty mentioned above that we live under today.

Why is that important? Because it shows that it is possible to achieve a society without those massive infringements! That’s what libertarian reformists do not want people to focus on. They want people to believe that genuine liberty is impossible to achieve — that it is a utopia — and therefore that libertarians and others should simply settle for reform measures and call them “free market approaches.”

So, that’s the first point: Freedom is possible.

Now, notice something important: Within a relatively short period of time, progressives convinced later Americans to reject that way of life and adopt the welfare-warfare state way of life.

How did they do that? Through the dissemination of their socialist and interventionist ideas and philosophy. A critical mass of Americans in the early part of the 20th century accepted their arguments, their philosophy, and their ideas. They showed that ultimately it is ideas that rule the world.

If progressives could convince a critical mass of people to abandon their founding principles of economic liberty and limited government and adopt socialist and interventionist principles and a national-security state, then why can’t we libertarians do the same in the opposite direction?

How do we do that? We do it by adhering to our principles and showing how our philosophy and ideas are the key to leading our nation out of the statist morass into which conservatives and liberals have plunged our nation. We need to raise people’s vision to a higher level, one that strikes at the root of the welfare-warfare state way of life. That can only be done through principle, not through the advocacy of welfare-warfare state reform measures.

Of course, there are no guarantees of success, just as there were no guarantees of success when progressives were battling for the adoption of socialism and interventionism at the end of the 1800s and in early 1900s. But adhering to principle, not reform, and disseminating our ideas and philosophy far and wide provide the only chance there is for achieving liberty.

The post How We Achieve Freedom appeared first on The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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About The Author

Jacob G. Hornberger

The Future of Freedom Foundation was founded in 1989 by FFF president Jacob Hornberger with the aim of establishing an educational foundation that would advance an uncompromising case for libertarianism in the context of both foreign and domestic policy. The mission of The Future of Freedom Foundation is to advance freedom by providing an uncompromising moral and economic case for individual liberty, free markets, private property, and limited government. Visit

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