Perhaps this is wishful thinking; but I do believe that what some call ‘the freedom philosophy’ is making progress. This may be, of course, because I actively seek these guys out – so winsome do I find their ideas. The free market, or libertarian think tanks are stuffed with extraordinarily clever men and women, extraordinarily capable of making the case for more individual freedom and less state interference. The US is blessed with dozens of such institutions and we have a few in the UK. I’ll give a partial list at the bottom of this post. I was at least into my fifties before I was even aware that they existed. Mea culpa.
One reason for my optimism is, paradoxically, the dire state of our public finances. We are so indebted and over-spent that current policies cannot continue. If they cannot, they will not. It is regrettably true that what succeeds our present well-meaning and incompetent leaders (bereft, for the most part of charisma) may be an even more grisly shower. Tyrants do seem to arise in periods of chaos.
A second reason for optimism is the internet. There has never been a time when access to ideas has been more freely available. For sure, the amount of trivia on the internet vastly outweighs the good stuff; but the good stuff is there. Good ideas have intrinsic appeal in spite of the fact that many bad ideas may have the support of superficially appealing assumptions: equality is appealing, as an idea; but the idea that equality can and should be mandated is absurd and repugnant. Sixty seconds of thought reveals this.
The internet is a source of hope in the west. The very fact that the most repulsive regimes do their damnedest to suppress it is cause for rejoicing – not because they suppress it but because they fear it.
Foundation for Economic Education
American Enterprise Institute
Adam Smith Institute
Henry Jackson Society
Centre for Policy Studies