Judge Andrew Napolitano sounds alarm: Wake Up, America! But I wish he would wake up. His mind and passion could advance the free nation movement – if he would pay attention to what happens in the longer sweep of history.
The good Judge seems to believe that America may be saved from downward spiral into tyranny – if only more citizens will work to rein in abuse through the Constitutional, democratic process. The first step is education – 51% of the electorate must learn to vote responsibly.
I used to believe that too during the first decade of my conscious libertarianism, during the 1980s. But my own personal education, along with experience running for elective office as an unabashed libertarian, weakened my hope that liberty might be achieved through education of the majority. Most of us must remain rationally ignorant, after all, of most of the mechanisms that improve our lives.
In 1993, I founded the Free Nation Foundation to work on the plan that we libertarians could achieve liberty for ourselves – not through teaching others – but by completing our own educations.
Look at the history of states with an eye to see the sweet spots of prosperity and liberty. I assume prosperity and liberty go hand-in-hand because prosperity only grows where there is considerable freedom of trade, as even statist economists seem to agree. The US for the past 150 years has certainly been one of these sweet spots. Note however I do not claim that the US has been as free as libertarians would prefer; only that it has been very good when compared with the norm of states.
Here is a critical step in my argument. The US sweet spot was not planned or designed by liberty lovers. Rather it just happened. It grew as a spontaneous order in an environment where such growth was possible. The same is true of other sweet spots in history. They all grew as a consequence of human action but not of human design. (For more detail see my 2003 paper.)
We scholars and builders start there. How and why did sweet spots of liberty grow? Which of those circumstances, which gave rise to the sweet spots, can we influence? Which, when we gain better understanding of the process, can we shortcut around?
Teachers of math at the level of calculus normally insist that the students in their class start out with an understanding of math at the basic level, such as algebra and trigonometry.
I insist, for the Free Nation Foundation such as it was and may continue, that participants in the discussion be already educated at the basic level – that participants be already libertarian. If we start with libertarians we avoid the impossible task of educating the electorate. We avoid the impossible task of the interested 2% trying to educate the reluctant 98%. We can make progress if we libertarians face each other in this project.
We got a start during 1993–2000. See the archive. Much more needs to be done. A great man such as Judge Napolitano could encourage us, if he wakes up.