When people first discover the wonderful, beautiful, glorious world of liberty – the ideas, the tradition, the possibilities – they tend to fall into a trap. They note that governments are a main enemy. They never stop violating our rights. Government are supported by mass numbers of people. Those people acquiesce in the loss of rights and therefore the diminution of prosperity.
We can choose the path of despair, or we can take what we have learned and start taking control. The lens of liberty reveals tremendous evil in the world that doesn’t need to exist: restrictions, wars, poverty, despair, suffering. Looking at all this can be depressing, to say the least. And that turns to anger: why, oh why, won’t governments stop doing evil things and just let people be free?
Thus does the initial exuberance of having discovered good ideas turn dark. After all, if only government change is the answer, and I have no real power to change that government, what is my life worth? What is this body of ideas worth?
This is a tragic turn. What’s more, it is wholly unnecessary. As it turns out, change is within our grasp. It all comes down to how we live our lives and how we think about our place within the social and political structures that surround us. We can choose the path of despair, or we can take what we have learned and start taking control. We can acquiesce to oppression or we can do something about it within the realm that we do control: which is our own lives. Here we find our source of hope.
This is why I’m super excited about the new book from The Atlas Network and Students for Liberty. It is called Self-Control or State Control? You Decide. It is edited with two chapters by the brilliant Tom G. Palmer. It has contributions on policy, psychology, sociology, law, and so much more. But here is what makes this book different: it is focused on you and what you can do to build a free society. It is practical, achievable, realizable, doable. And it makes an enormous contribution to improving your life, right now, and, by extension, making the world a better place.
To get a flavor of what I mean, consider the opening from Palmer:
Who am I? What is freedom and how do I achieve it? What is a good life and how do I achieve that? How do I live the life of a free and responsible person? How am I related to others? How should I behave and how should I expect others to behave? For what am I responsible and for what not?
Should some people use force to control others? How does control through the state function and what are its effects? What is self-control, what are its benefits and its costs, and how do I achieve it?
Young people may be especially likely to pose those questions, but those questions are not only for youth—they’re for every stage of life.
They’re what this short book is about. Such questions aren’t topics only for professors of ethics and metaphysics; they’re questions for every thinking person. They’re questions for you. Moreover, understanding freedom and responsibility involves much more than some narrow intellectual specialization; serious thought on those questions must also draw on economics and history and psychology and neuroscience and sociology and art and spirituality and so much more. You’ll find all of that in the book in your hands.
The ideas in this book can help you to live a happier life—to be a better friend, co-worker, student, family member, citizen, thinker, businessperson, in short: to be a better person. You can achieve a life of freedom. Freedom is not aimless irresponsibility, but is inseparable from responsibility. Grasping both is an adventure, an act worthy of a human being.
FEE is pleased to make this book available to you as a free download.
And let me add something else here that is extremely important. The Atlas Network and Students for Liberty have embraced Creative Commons. That means: no more fear of sharing. No more regulatory restrictions. No more publishing monopolies. This book is for the whole world.
This is a very beautiful thing. And the license they have adopted is the most liberal: you only need to attribute the source. Otherwise you are free to share.
Please help me by distributing this great book to the world, and thereby spreading the hope of liberty to the multitudes.