Perspective: The Enemy Within
MARCH 01, 1988 by JOHN K. WILLIAMS
“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves . . . .” These words, from Julius Caesar, describe a theme found in many of Shakespeare’s plays—people being destroyed not by some enemy outside themselves but by an enemy within.
Those of us who value liberty frequently speak as though the enemies of liberty are found outside ourselves. and in truth there are such enemies—men and women committed to collectivism and busily working to impose it upon their fellows. Yet the significant enemy is to be found within ourselves. The name of that enemy, I suggest, is compromise.
Some measure of compromise may be inevitable. I avail myself of the services of a registered medical practitioner, even though, in Australia, I am thereby the “beneficiary” of partially socialized medicine. I attend the Australian Ballet, even though it is partly funded by money coercively extracted from my fellow citizens. In a fallen, statist world, pristine purity is seemingly impossible.
Yet for all this, many of us betray liberty by compromises we could avoid were we willing to pay the price. For example, we justify our acceptance of social security by claiming that we are merely getting back monies originally taken from us. In truth we are not! The money taken from us has already been spent. The money we receive is being taken from others, usually people younger than we are. In ac cepting that money, we are partners in plunder, sharing in the loot. More seriously, this compromise of principle reduces our stated support of liberty to mere words.
We do well to take seriously the activities of enemies of liberty. We delude ourselves, however, if we pretend that all these enemies are to be found outside us. The enemy we can most easily conquer is the enemy within, the spirit of compromise that makes our eloquent defenses of liberty ring strangely hollow.
George Meredith said it well:
In tragic life, God wot,
No villain need be! Passions spin the plot:
We are betrayed by what is false within.
—John K. Williams
Sign of the Times
Individuals and corporations are required by law to comply with all rules and regulations that have been published in the Federal Register. But just keeping up with the actions of the executive branch each day can easily amount to a full-time job . . . . Even the President of the United States isn’t expected to keep track of the executive branch by reading the complete Federal Register every day.
—from an advertisement offering
abstracts of the Federal Register.
The Freedom to Innovate
A centrally managed economy is a static economy. It produces what has previously been produced. It endeavors to satisfy only existing and well-recognized wants. If there had been universal socialism throughout the past century we would still be making buggywhips.
The free market permits one to try new ideas and either to succeed or fail. It is a risk that many will accept because there is ample reward for succeeding. The entrepreneur develops and offers to the free market a new product or service. He takes the risk of offering his creation to a non-existing or at least non-recognized market. He either succeeds or fails. The response of the free market determines which is the result. If he does succeed there is the chance that a new industry will emerge.
Centralized planning denies this opportunity to innovate. The citizens of such a government produce only what the central authority requires of them. The risk/reward factor is missing. The extent to which a socialist or communist society can expand is dependent on what it can copy from societies operating under the free market system.
—E. W. Colt
What do a luxury hotel in Detroit, a 400-seat seafood restaurant in Baltimore, a Chrysler-Plymouth dealership in Salt Lake City, an amusement park in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and two Mitsubishi manufacturing facilities in Bra-selton, Georgia, have in common? They all are being built, in large part, with your tax dollars.
Over the next two years, reports the December 14, 1987, issue of Insight, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will ladle out $450 million in “Urban Development Action Grants.” These grants, HUD officials tell us, are needed to create jobs.
But what about the jobs destroyed by these grants? Every dollar the government spends on a politically favored group is a dollar that you or I won’t be able to spend or invest as we see fit. Rather than creating jobs, Urban Development Action Grants steal them from other parts of the country.
Felix Morley Memorial Prizes
The Institute for Humane Studies has announced its 1988 Felix Morley Memorial writing competition.
The competition is designed to identify young writers who are interested in the free market philosophy. Applicants (college-age writers, but not necessarily enrolled in school) must submit an application, along with 3-5 clippings of editorials, op-eds, columns, essays, criticism, investigative pieces, or similar materials. Cash prizes will be awarded. The application deadline is June 15, 1988.
For more information, contact
Morley Prize Secretary
Institute for Humane Studies
George Mason University
4400 University Drive
Fan-fax, VA 22030