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Rediscovering The Discovery...

May 18, 2006

I'm pleased to see that the Mises Institute is carrying The Discovery of Freedom. Rose Wilder Lane (Daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder) was one of the past century's most ardent proponents of liberty. In particular, The Discovery of Freedom: Man's Struggle Against Authority (1943) was a seminal work on freedom. It was recognized as such by not only the likes of Murray Rothbard and Robert LeFevre, but was also voted among the top 100 non-fiction books of the 20th century in a Modern Library readers' poll.

Consider a few of the insights on the supreme importance of individual liberty that Lane, who John Chamberlain called "one of the three furies of libertarianism," along with Ayn Rand and Isabel Patterson, still has to offer us in The Discovery of Freedom."Every human being, by his nature, is free."

"Government...is evil because it is a use of force...It is necessary because...a few men stupidly use force to injure others, and nothing but force will stop them."

"The need for Government is the need for force; where force is unnecessary, there is no need for Government."

"...all moral and spiritual values of human life are in the individual..."

"...Freedom is not a permission granted by any Authority...Liberty is inalienable; as I can not transfer my life to anyone else, I can not transfer my liberty, my control of my life-energy, to anyone else."

"Americans saw...how absurd it is to believe that a Government can give anyone liberty." "All men are born equally of the same human kind and equally endowed with inalienable liberty. Therefore it is the men in Government who can do nothing without permission from the individuals whom they govern."

"If Americans ever forget that American Government is not permitted to restrain or coerce any peaceful individual without his free consent, if Americans ever regard their use of their natural liberty as granted to them by the men in Washington or in the capitols of the States, then this...attempt to establish the exercise of human rights on earth is ended."

"The true revolutionary course which must be followed toward a free world is a cautious, experimental process of further decreasing the uses of force which individuals permit to Government; of increasing the prohibitions of Government's action, and thus decreasing the use of brute force in human affairs."

"A man is able to use his self-controlling energy effectively toward its natural aim of improving living conditions, precisely to the extant that no use of force constrains him...His natural liberty is responsibility. He is born free; he controls his life and his affairs; he is responsible for them..."

"Weakening the Government, hampering the use of force in human affairs, is the only way to permit individuals to use their natural freedoms."

"Legally restricting Government's action to its smallest possible minimum reduces (to the smallest possible minimum) the use of force in human affairs, and thus permits the great majority of individuals to speak and act with the greatest possible freedom. Precisely by restricting Government, American Constitutional law permits Americans to act more freely than any other people on earth."

"...every human being is naturally self-controlling. Therefore, the best conditions for human life are those that least interfere with any individual's exercise of his natural freedom. He can act most freely when no other man uses force to prevent his acting...Government is necessary to stop criminals. But any use of force by men upon men is evil...Therefore, the best conditions are those in which Government is restricted to the smallest possible minimum; and further progress toward greater use of freedom is in further reducing and restricting Government."

"...the more Americans believe that Government is a controlling authority, the more this Government is compelled to use force to hinder and restrict the exercise of natural individual freedom..."

"Human energy works to supply human needs and satisfy human desires, only when, where, and precisely to the extent that men know they are free. It works effectively only to the extent that Government is weak, so that individuals are least prevented from acting freely...All history shows this fact."

In The Discovery of Freedom, Rose Wilder Lane developed the inseparable connection between life and liberty. Her powerful prose demonstrated the importance of individuals understanding the implications of the fact they are free. Along with Give Me Liberty, it had a tremendous influence in advancing that cause.

"In the human world there is nothing but individual persons, born free. That's the brutal fact. It's a tough job to be free. But six thousand years of trying to escape from freedom were tougher."

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