1776 to 1984 Part IV

by John Hospers

But how plausible in this picture of the Brave New World? There are now hundreds of books and articles demonstrating the superiority of the free-market, as well as books such as Ayn Rand’s espousing their philosophy of liberty.

Almost no such books existed a generation ago. A rising tide of Americans is now aware that government, not the market, is the cause of inflation, depression and poverty. These people, no longer children of Roosevelt’s new deal, are waiting in the wings, even in Washington, to reverse the course of the American economy, to remove the ball and chain of big government which still consumes the days and years of our lives.

Even the academicians who have thus far turned to the government and defended it in return for favors to them, may come to realize that the Russian revolution which they have viewed so favorably is passé and that the real revolution, the revolution of 1776, of individual rights has taken place in their own land, unseen and unacknowledged by them.

The use of force by one government after another did not stop the clipper ships. In the end, they won the day and the wielders of governmental power had to go along or stagnate and die. In the same way, the soil of 1984, unlike the soil of say 1954, has been prepared for an outbreak of freedom which can pull even the welfare statists kicking and screaming into the 21st century and that is where we libertarians come in.

We are the intellectual spearheads of the coming renaissance of liberty. Just as the intellectual influence of the Fabians propelled Britain into socialism a century ago, so the intellectual influence of libertarians can turn Britain, and indeed the world, back to individual liberty because now the soil has been prepared.

The consequences of socialism in practice are increasingly plain for anyone with eyes to see. “It’s the essence of man,” said Aristotle, “to make decisions.

His own decisions, not those made for him by others.” To implement this simple but profound truth and to apply it over and over again, in its countless manifestations in our individual and social lives; that is our libertarian mission. Surely, it’s the noblest of goals and I see no good reason why we should not be able to achieve it.

Thank you very much.

I delivered this speech, “1776 and 1984” to the Society for Individual Liberty in London in the early summer of 1984 before a huge audience and cheering crowds. It was given in l984, and I prepared it for that event months ahead. The fact that the speech was referencing l984 itself, seems to have made it more impressive. I delivered it twice, in the morning and evening. Afterwards, I went to the London opera.

Those were the days!
John Hospers, June 2008
Copyright © 2008 by John Hospers. All Rights Reserved. (all cited quotes property of quote’s source)