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Home | Mises Library | Outlook for Freedom

Outlook for Freedom

  • Outlook for Freedom by Leonard E. Read

Tags Philosophy and MethodologyPolitical Theory

06/21/1951Leonard E. Read

Written in 1951, this is one of Leonard Read’s earliest pamphlets on what he called “the philosophy of freedom.”

As was often the case in Read’s essays on spreading the message of liberty, Read notes that the first step is evaluating one’s own thinking.

Communism and socialism, Read contends, are not ideologies that exist somewhere out there among foreigners and shady agents of conspiracy. In America, the ideas of communism and socialism are alive and well among the supporters of public schooling, social security, the post office, and other tools of the state.

In the end, whoever contends that the use of force is the proper method to attain “social performance” is spreading the ideas of socialism and communism.

He who wishes to spread ideas of freedom and free markets, Read explains, must first rid himself of his own socialistic thinking, and only then may he turn to spreading the ideas to others.

But even then, the task at hand is a qualitative battle, and not one of numbers or of “setting straight the ‘millions who have votes,’” or educating “the man on the street.” Instead, the defender of liberty must educate himself, lead by example, and merely present evidence to those who, like us, are human beings with free will and ideas of their own.

Others are beyond the dictation of the freedom activist, and cannot be coerced into agreement.

Read outlines numerous principles of spreading liberty from humility to patience to possessing a spirit of inquiry.

Writing in a time when central planning and Keynesian-style socialism were virtually unchallenged by intellectuals, Read sets out in this essay a recipe for success in spreading libertarian ideas.

Yet, Read’s methods are not for the impatient or the know-it-all. This essay is an antidote to the faulty ideas that inflect many freedom activists who believe that if only the next election can go the “right” way or if people just do what we say, then all will be set right.

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