The Magic of Believing

NOVEMBER 01, 1983

First published in 1959.

A feeling of hopelessness is the straw that could break the back of the freedom movement—for freedom will never be achieved without faith. In any event, this feeling of futility more seriously threatens the continuance of the work of the Foundation for Economic Education than does any other discernible influence. People do not continue to work at a problem after its solution appears hopeless to them.

Too many opponents of socialism—once convinced that there is no simple remedy at hand, and aware that the problem at issue is nothing less than altering the mores of a vast society—tend to give up the ghost. Unnerved by the dimensions of the job, they say, “Oh, what’s the use!”

Experience leads one to believe that the forces which have to do with shaping human destiny are of no help to those of little faith. Indeed, they appear to have no truck with people who lack confidence in what determined effort can accomplish.

On the other hand, these forces—call them by your own name—tend to cooperate with those who believe they can accomplish the seemingly impossible and never call it quits until the game is over. There are men, be it observed, who do, in fact, move mountains. But they are not the men who doubt that mountains can be moved.

Take note, for instance, of golfers on putting greens. There are those who doubt they can sink any but the simplest putts. And there are those who have confidence that they can sink every putt—they actually believe this! The former are miserable performers. Among the latter are to be found the skilled and all the miracle putters.

Miracles are all about us—a common loaf of bread is packed with wonders. Those who have no sense of the miraculous, who have no faith in achieving anything beyond what the unaided individual can accomplish, will be of little help in ridding our society of socialism. The problem seems too hopelessly impossible to them and they quit. But the undaunted, those who know the magic of believing, will make progress, for the forces which are available to those who believe will lend a hand to multiply their efforts. Too bad there aren’t more such efforts for them to multiply!


November 1983


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November 2014

It's been 40 years since F. A. Hayek received his Nobel Prize. His insights, particularly on the distribution of knowledge and the impossibility of economic planning, remain hugely important today. In this issue, we look back on the influence of his work. Max Borders and Craig Biddle debate whether liberty must be defended from one absolute foundation, further reflections on Scottish secession, and how technology is already changing our world for the better--including how robots, despite the unease they cause, will only accelerate this process.
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