First entry of my new photo series, “Angled Shots of Books I Recently Ordered From Amazon or Barnes & Noble.” But seriously. Friedrich Hayek was a great thinker. The Road to Serfdom, the first book I read by him, is one of the main reasons I’m an advocate for liberty and individualism now.
For most of my adult life, I was a proud advocate of Marxism, a school of social liberalism that encouraged my view of capitalism and religion as impediments of our potential—the root of humanity’s suffering that had to be stopped.
To accept a worldview I intuitively knew was tyrannical, I arrogantly oversimplified the beliefs of conservatives and theists. It wasn’t until I saw how noxious social liberalism could be in practice that my conscience could no longer validate my prejudices.
Record of Failure
As a black male, I’ve been the target of relentless propaganda from the political-left. Nearly every narrative about black culture I heard in school and from the media centered on how I was a victim. Callous white men—now in the form of racist Republicans—were the oppressors, and loving Democrats were my saviors.
The smokescreen started to dissipate while living in Gary, a crime ridden city founded by the U. S. Steel Corporation that’s been under the control of Democrats since 1943. Nearly every night for the 3 years I stayed there, I fell asleep listening to gunfire outside a cramped house that itself had two bullet holes on its side.
It could be argued the initial blow to Gary’s stability came when Republican president Ronald Reagan exported much of the steel industry overseas, undercutting their primary source of income. But Detroit, which doesn’t have a dependence on steel production, can’t share this excuse for their decline.
Detroit, which consistently tops “America’s most dangerous cities” lists, has been managed ineptly by Democrats since 1962. Their economy finally collapsed in 2013, resulting in the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U. S. history.
Clearly, the Democrats didn’t have the solutions they claimed to have had, and enforcing regulations rather than encouraging education and accountability only made matters worse.
When 82 people were shot, 14 fatally, in Chicago over the July 4th weekend this year, police superintendent Garry McCarthy placed the blame entirely on “weak gun control laws” rather than the obvious causes—hood culture, upbringing, and ignorance.
How can gun control amend the rage that drives most killings, or hinder the access of unregistered guns through underground channels? Are any Democratic policies actually meant to solve anything, or are they just demagogic fetters to keep us contained, complacent, and stupid so we’ll continue supporting the political-left during elections?
In another example of blatant demagoguery, Democrats claimed the voter ID laws pushed by Republicans were “voter suppression.” But wouldn’t more problems be solved if minorities weren’t just encouraged to vote against Republicans, but encouraged to get IDs—which are required to open bank accounts and get most jobs—to enable greater independence and access to society? Wouldn’t having an ID render voter ID “schemes” ineffective?
Free To Choose
The deceptions Democrats and their left-wing constituents had been using to expand and retain their base were revealing themselves: exploiting minorities, propagating a “war on women” to abrogate conservative women, classifying all dissent as bigotry to inhibit free speech—just to name a few.
My respect for social liberalism flatlined.
Free of any political affiliation, my interest opened to the other side of the political spectrum. I found some libertarian and conservative book lists online. From those lists, I settled on Free to Choose by Milton Friedman, The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek, Conscious of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater, and God and Man at Yale by William F. Buckley Jr.
One of the recurring thoughts I had while reading these books wasn’t about their content, but about why their points, which were surprisingly inclusive and practical, weren’t being articulated as lucidly by popular right-wing personalities today. If more of them had ranted less about how awful “liberalism” was, and spoke more on the conservative rationale, they could’ve garnered more support from the left and middle sooner.
Individualism vs. Collectivism
While some conservatives—the loudest ones usually—do fit the unflattering stereotype of being angry, racist, young-Earth creationists who hate the poor and want to turn America into a Christian theocracy, most of them don’t. Conservatives, like social liberals, come from a variety of backgrounds, and are distinguished by their ideological position on social and economic issues.
Conservatives tend to be individualistic. Individualists prioritize the rights of the individual over the rights of any in-group. Everyone is held to the same standards, and taxed the same—with no special restrictions or exceptions. The government’s role is to uphold the law, and defend and advance the country without intruding on people’s liberties or businesses.
Social liberals tend to be collectivistic. With a priority on in-group rights over individual rights, collectivist governments are more involved. The citizenry is treated as a collective, and taxed more—on a sliding scale—to finance programs deemed important by its constituents. Regulations are imposed on businesses and, in some cases, on speech.
I’m convinced a predominantly individualist government with minimal special programs (ex. FDA, NASA) would be ideal. When politicians are asked to manage too much outside their expertise, they consistently come up with proposals that unfairly favor, harm, or are vehemently opposed by an in-group. To cultivate natural progress and equality, the government should tend primarily to administrative duties, and leave the citizenry free to build, innovate, and pursue happiness as they see fit.
But who will take care of the destitute?
According to statistics published by The Giving USA Foundation, $335 billion was given—voluntarily—to charitable organizations in 2013, accounting for approximately 2% of the gross domestic product.
People are inherently good, and when the opportunity arises to help someone in need, we do help them. We don’t need a paternal government to dictate every aspect of our lives, or treat us like children or perpetual victims.
Let’s take care of ourselves.