Collectivism left horrifying stains on the 20th century. With the new technologies of supervision and control now available, the dominance of collectivist beliefs in the new century would be outright devastating. It is time to ban the curse of collectivism. We need an individualist turn in philosophy and politics and must abandon the mystical beliefs in false abstractions. To this end, Max Stirner is the indispensable guide.
“Voluntary collective action” should be our motto. This obviously includes markets, to be sure. But there is no reason to cede the vitality, attractiveness, and exuberance of the non-profit independent sector to ownership by the state. Voluntary private organizations belong to everyone.
It is not serious thought to go around simply demanding that everything be free. That demand solves no problem that has occupied the world of economics for a thousand years. Try to implement it and someone, everyone, is going to pay – long lines, impossible high taxes, hyperinflation, material deprivation – and not through choice.
While there are imperfections in today’s economy in general and its system of corporate governance in particular, these are nowhere as extensive and threatening as Sen. Warren thinks them to be. And these imperfections are certainly not so serious as to justify any militant and wholesale restructuring of corporate law of the sort that Sen. Warren — with her mix of extraordinary arrogance, ignorance, and recklessness — proposes.
When things don’t go our way, when institutions produce outcomes we find contrary to our conception of what should be, we seek out the culprit, the hidden hand making things as they are. Surely some powerful cabal manipulated the world to take the shape that it does. Nothing is random, spontaneous, truly decentralized, accidental, or the product of an emergent process that no one in particular controls. There is a power behind some curtain somewhere. The purpose of the conspiracy theory is to find it and bring it to justice.
The alarmists’ real concern is not the growth of population; it’s prosperity. Their concern is that the resources of the earth will be used up, and that humanity has to prepare by becoming fewer and poorer. But all the evidence points in the opposite direction.
Two golden summers at the American Institute for Economic Research gently reshaped my philosophical outlook and personal life forever—much for the better. My 1981 and 1982 summer fellowships helped instill a deep appreciation for the intensely personal nature of economic markets, and they steered me toward a long and happy marriage.
Economics is lovely because it unlocks the great mysteries of the material world: why we thrive, why we experience progress, how we can build prosperity and peace, the path toward making the best out of our limited time in this world, and leave something better for the next generation. Knowing and contemplating these things is indeed a source of immense joy.
The kids are being forced into institutions that have proven themselves unable to protect students against violence, and also face no real accountability when they fail to do so. Force is the watchword even without the direct threat of violence from guns and bombs. Why does nearly everyone think this is normal? Because compulsory schooling laws have been part of the living reality of every single living American.
Nationalism emerged in the 19th century as an alternative to economic liberalism of the classical variety. Liberalism was embodied in the works of Adam Smith, J.B. Say, Thomas Jefferson, and A.RJ. Turgot. Smith summed up the creed: “What is prudence in the conduct of every private family can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom.” In other words, there is no conflict of interests between the individual and the community, the community and the nation, and the nation and the rest of the world. That core ideal was on the ascendancy throughout the development from the end of the 18th century for another fifty years following.
Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of IKEA, has died at the age of 91. He is a remarkable example of how enterprise and visionary entrepreneurship can have such a profound effect on the world. Even now, walking into an IKEA store for the first time is a riveting experience. It invites you to reassess your life priorities, how you live, how you spend your money, what you seek to do in life. It certainly did that to me, and I’ve never let go of what I learned. In some way, as I think about it, Mr. Kamprad, though I never met him, has been my teacher for a large swath of my adult life. Millions of others can say the same.