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When Character Is Lost

JULY 29, 2013 by CARL OBERG

A recent New York Times piece provides a living example of exactly the kind of unfortunate path that can result when socialism and a lack of personal responsibility combine—this time in Cuba. 
There was a time, Alexi remembers, when life in Cuba was simpler. People dressed properly. Children respected their elders. Stealing was stealing.
“My father brought me up with a strict set of values,” said Alexi, 46, an unemployed chauffeur from a gritty quarter of the capital. "But that has been lost."
The materials in FEE's Blinking Lights Project  are filled with examples of the State's robbing people of their initiative, their dignity, their sense of accomplishment. But none perhaps is as stark as what is going on in Cuba right now. 
The article details how the people of that unfortunate island are reduced to breaking the law just to survive or to feel like human beings. As a result, order breaks down. At the same time, personal initiative and a sense of responsibility are stolen from the people, and so they search for someone (anyone!) to blame. Meanwhile, why should they take care of their cities, neighborhoods, children? It's not their fault and they have no power over their own lives. 
It's an example of government power destroying the character of a people before our very eyes.



Carl Oberg is the Executive Director of the Foundation for Economic Education.

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April 2014

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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