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News Link • Philosophy: Libertarianism

The Case for Optimism

• http://www.lewrockwell.com, By Jeff Deist

And he was very enthusiastic about the revolution of libertarian ideas, because he understood fundamentally that liberty is the only manner of organizing society that is compatible with human nature and human action. And it was this optimism, this unshakeable belief that we're right and the statists are wrong, that drove him to produce a staggering body of work in defense of personal liberty. Now let me stress that Rothbard, despite his reputation as an uncompromising intellectual, saw his efforts as pragmatic, not utopian. He understood quite clearly that utopianism was the hallmark of the state's intellectual champions, not the state's detractors. He understood that utopianism and statism, not liberty, produced the great monsters and the great wars of the twentieth century.

Most of all, he understood that the true utopians are the central planners who believe they can overcome human nature and steer human actors like cattle. To quote Murray: "The man who puts all the guns and all the decision-making power into the hands of the central government and then says, 'Limit yourself'; it is he who is truly the impractical utopian." In Rothbard's eyes a libertarian world would be better, not perfect. So while our revolution is indeed intellectual, it is also optimistic and pragmatic. We should talk about liberty in terms of first principles, and how those principles make for a better society precisely because they accord with the innate human desire for liberty. Let the statists explain their grand schemes, while we offer a realistic vision of a world organized around civil society and markets.

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