Thankful for freedom
by Ari Armstrong
The following article originally appeared at Boulder Weekly on November 22, 2006.
Prosperity is the consequence of liberty. Though today's political class and its sycophants in the media pretend that prosperity is the result of forcing some people to transfer their money to others, the reality is that the foundation of our wealth is free-market capitalism, the institution of individual rights, including economic rights of property and free exchange. So at this year's banquet, toast the Trinity: life, liberty and property.
And I am thankful that, here in Colorado, quite a few people still care about the rights of the individual. The freedom movement in Colorado is strong and getting stronger, though it faces many challenges.
I'm thankful that, when I was young, my father read to me Ayn Rand's Anthem, which offered me the image of an individual standing on his own judgment. Later, around my senior year of high school, my dad also gave me Rand's Atlas Shrugged and Milton Friedman's Free to Choose. Now my father and I write a column for Grand Junction Free Press. We usually agree about politics, which may be surprising given how bullheaded we both are. I should also mention that it was my mother who taught me how to read (Green Eggs and Ham worked for me) and made sure I had plenty of books growing up.
Speaking of Ayn Rand, Lin Zinser leads a robust objectivist group in the area -- see FrontRangeObjectivism.com. Earlier this month, for example, Zinser brought in John McCaskey for a supper talk. He offered a delightful review of the scientific revolution and modern debates about it. Did Galileo make progress through rationalistic thought experiments or real empirical research? McCaskey proved, by reviewing Galileo's own writings and even recreating one of Galileo's experiments, that for Galileo observation of the world was fundamental.
Rand's heir, Leonard Peikoff (LeonardPeikoff.com), also lives in the state, where he is hard at work on a book called The DIM Hypothesis. According to Peikoff's web page, his work looks at "six different cultural areas: philosophy, literature, physics, education, politics, and history."
The hypothesis distinguishes three types of minds at work in all these areas -- the mind characterized by D (disintegration), I (integration), or by M (misintegration)." The theory helps explain "the progression of Western societies from Greece to the present." I've listened to some recorded lectures on the topic, and I'm quite excited about the book.
Peikoff's advice for the election was "voting consistently Democratic." Why? While "the Democrats stand for socialism, or at least some ambling steps in its direction," their ideas are "rotten" and "enfeebled." However, "the Republicans stand for religion, particularly evangelical Christianity, and are taking ambitious strides to give it political power." I endorsed Bill Ritter for governor for this basic reason.
Rand admired the writings of Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, even though she disagreed with his ethical subjectivism. (Republicans would do well to remember that the two greatest champions of liberty of the 20th century, Rand and Mises, were both immigrants.) Ken Riggs organizes Austrian Economics study groups, of which there are several in the state. To find out more, contact Ken at 303-238-2305 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Of course the Independence Institute produces a lot of good pro-liberty work. Dave Kopel is one of the world's leading scholars on the history and law of firearms. Kopel and Senior Fellow Mike Krause have courageously pushed for drug-policy reform, even though that position is at odds with some of the Institute's admirers. Jon Caldara's passion for liberty earned him the slander of being called a nihilist in Bob Ewegen's column for The Denver Post.
However, Jon understands that the opposite of socialism is not nihilism, but rather individual rights. The Institute published the best criticism of the minimum-wage hike available (including columns by Zinser and me). I don't always agree with the folks at the II, but I'm always thankful they're around.
Colorado is home to another pro-liberty writer, L. Neil Smith, who has written numerous novels. His most popular is The Probability Broach, which describes a parallel reality in which the Independence Institute would be considered too leftist. My favorite novel of his is Pallas, the story of a young man who escapes a socialist experiment on an asteroid and joins the wider free society.
Boston T. Party, who is moving to Wyoming (see FreeStateWyoming.org), is most well-known for Boston's Gun Bible. He also gave a talk at the University of Colorado back in 2003 based on his book, You & the Police!
Brian Schwartz and Ralph Shnelvar, along with my wife, often proofread my articles, including those for Boulder Weekly. Brian brings his analytical, scientific mind to bear on political issues. Ralph combines his background in economic research with his deep love of liberty for effective local activism. And my wife puts up with a lot from me and supports me in my work.
Whether I've mentioned you here or not, if you work to promote individual rights in Colorado, thank you.