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ARTICLE

The Past as Prologue

APRIL 01, 1981 by PAUL L. POIROT

The people of the United States last November clearly voiced dissatisfaction with the results of the massive political intervention of recent years. But a strong vote of protest does not necessarily signify an understanding of a better alternative.

Since 1946, FEE has been exploring the market alternative to coercive political management of our lives.

Names and places may change-the political leaders, the warring factions, the specific victims of intervention. But the patterns and principles and consequences are much the same. This is the sense in which the past is prologue.

Therefore, it seems appropriate at the beginning of a new political administration to carefully reconsider what some of the outstanding spokesmen for liberty have said earlier about these perennial problems.

The prolonged negotiations for return of the hostages from Iran and other current events in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere call to mind what Dr. Hans Sennholz said in 1957 about “Welfare States at War.” So, what better advice may we find today with regard to our foreign policy? If we would be at peace among nations, let us act at home in ways that do not provoke violence.

Much that same question was asked in 1957 by Professor Sylvester Petro, “Do Antitrust Laws Preserve Competition?” And he, too, concluded then, as we must today, that not more laws and controls but more freedom of choice is the appropriate solution.

And once again, at the approach of the April 15 tax deadline, it is appropriate to review the background information shared twenty years ago by John Chamberlain. The statistics cited then concerning the impact of “The Progressive Income Tax” need to be modified by the subsequent decades of aggravated inflation. But, again, the message is clear: unlimited government and unlimited taxation are not the terms and conditions of a humane society.

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April 1981

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Around the world, people are struggling to throw off authoritarianism, with deeply mixed results. From Egypt to Venezuela, determined people build networks to overthrow their regimes, but as yet we have not learned to live without Leviathan. In this issue, Michael Malice and Gary Dudney discuss their glimpses inside totalitarian regimes, while Sarah Skwire and Michael Nolan look at how totalitarian regimes grind down the individual--and how individuals fight back. Plus, Jeffrey Tucker identifies a strain in libertarianism that, left unchecked, could reduce even our vibrant movement to something that is analogous to the grim aesthetic of architectural brutalism. The struggle for our lives and freedom is a struggle for beauty; it begins inside each of us.
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