Freedom New Mexico
We’ve always taken a moment the week of Nov. 24 — the birthday of R.C. Hoiles — to reflect on the ideas underpinning a philosophy of liberty that Hoiles strove all his life to understand and popularize, and to consider how those ideas fare in modern America.
Hoiles founded Freedom Communications, the parent company of this newspaper.
As is so often the case, America seems to be at something of a crossroads this year.
The great poet T.S. Eliot wrote there are no lost causes because there are no won causes. In the ebb and flow of history the fortunes of great ideas and great causes are subject to the apparent rule that no victories are permanent, no traditions last forever, that human beings seem to be always in a process of relentless change.
So the ideas of liberty, which have seemed hopelessly out of fashion during a financial crisis inaccurately wholly blamed on deregulation and markets, and during a presidency where “hope and change” had more to do with restricting liberty than expanding it, may be making a comeback.
Author David Boaz of the libertarian-oriented Cato Institute said he sees the Tea Party not as a libertarian movement but a potentially libertarian force in American politics. However, he sees the extreme polarization between the two major parties, expressed in the election process and magnified in the media, as an impediment to understanding.
“Many who talk about limited government still support the Iraq war, an aggressive foreign policy, the war on drugs and federal moves to discourage gay marriage, which is hardly consistent with limiting government,” Boaz said. “And those who want to end those incursions on liberty tend to support a nanny state in other areas of our lives. The consistent concern for liberty that motivated our founders still has too small a place in modern American political discourse.”
Even so, we dare to hope that recognition of impending crises in our political structures — call it deficit, debt and debasement, posing a strong threat to the economic vitality this nation has enjoyed for so long — will be accompanied by an increasing recognition that personal and economic liberty are the best foundation for prosperity and a rich culture.
Perhaps someday more will come to recognize that Lord Acton, of the “power corrupts” maxim, was right when he said liberty is not important so much as a means to some political or economic end, but is itself the most important political end.