I think the secret’s pretty much out after my last column. Rules for Radicals is not written to entertain and enlighten. The column you’re reading is actually pure, unfiltered, 180-proof Libertarian propaganda. Scary stuff, isn’t it? A real-live propagandist at SFU, walking by you in the halls, sitting next to you in class, and even writing a column for your school’s otherwise respectable newspaper. If it’s any consolation, the political movement that I am quite unashamedly shilling for is not particularly prominent or influential – not yet, anyways – so you shouldn’t freak out or anything.
But if you intend to continue reading, you should definitely be on your toes. Remember, I am a demagogue and a charlatan and a hack, if not worse. Apparently you are brave (or foolish) enough to yield several minutes of your attention so that I may practice my chicanery. I assure you I’ll be making the most of it, so be warned: Open your eyes, son and keep those hands up.
My goal today is to convince you to drop whatever political beliefs you currently hold, and become some sort of radical Libertarian. For all my talk of deception and Jedi mind tricks, I am convinced that the Libertarian worldview is self-evidently true, and thus mere exposure to its tenets should be sufficient to generate some conversions.
So really, all I’m asking you to do is become familiar with the Libertarian thought process. Is this really so terrifying? I’m sure your current set of beliefs are robust enough to withstand some temptation. Just think of it as snake-handling, except you’re demonstrating ideological, rather than religious faith. If Libertarians are nuts, than leafing through our holy books will only confirm this. If the Sun-God Ra truly watches over you, the cobras won’t bite. There’s no risk at all, unless you suspect your faith is misplaced. Injections of Libertarian venom are quite painless, in any case.
Moving right along, let’s pull out our first snake: The success of Libertarian public policy at generating wealth, prosperity and material comfort. As Deng Xiaoping said, possibly channeling the late Michael Jackson: It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white. If it catches mice, it’s a good cat. Xiaoping was talking about the introduction of capitalist, free-market reforms in China. Who cares whether a set of policies is historically defined as capitalist or communist? Use what works. That’s what Xiaoping did, and over the past three decades of Libertarian-themed reform, China has transformed itself into a lean, mean mouse-catching machine. Score one for free markets.
Of course, that’s just one example. Perhaps China experienced unnaturally good weather over the past three decades. Or something. Does this trend exist anywhere else? Fortunately, Wikipedia is kind enough to grace us with an entire sub-category entitled “Economic Miracles.” Click away, and note what kind of policies were implemented immediately before each of these “miracles” occurred . Can you identify the common theme? Hint: It starts with an “F” and rhymes with “Tree Markets.” Any honest evaluation of economic history leads us to the same conclusion: Whence go Libertarian policies, prosperity and wealth soon follow, while Socialism cuts a wide swath of destruction, poverty and tyranny wherever she treads. If you don’t take my word for it – and really, why would you? Your mother warned you about columnists like me – please do look into it for yourself. The internet isn’t hard to use.
The second test of faith we’ll administer is a short reading list expounding the theoretical and moral case for libertarian government. I’m sure you’ve got enough people assigning you reading lists as it is, but as an intelligent and honest seeker of the truth (and thus an elite member of Rules for Radicals’ target audience) you have a moral and intellectual obligation to familiarize yourself with what was until recently the dominant view on economic policies and effective government in the Anglo-American world. If acquiring said familiarity triggers your Progressive wrongthink detector, remember: You’re just reading these books to better understand the mind of the Neo-Liberal enemy. To defeat the Libertarian, you must first understand him - If you understand him, however, it may already be too late. I warned you this would be dangerous.
Our first assigned reading will be The Constitution of Liberty, by F.A. Hayek, available at a library near you. Following that, you’ll be looking into the collected works of Milton Friedman, starting with Capitalism and Freedom. Murray Rothbard’s Man, Economy and State, while not for the faint of heart or short of time, is required reading once you’ve developed a taste for the stuff. Before our next column, your conversion to the Dark side – excuse me, the Light side –should be complete.