The revolution—the world libertarian revolution—is on its way.
"But when," you ask, "when will its success be confirmed, and obvious and widespread?." Ah, that I cannot say. A century? Two? Or three? The speed of events is impossible to predict, but that they will occur is a sure bet.
Specific evidence? We don't hear as much as we'd like from the world behind the Iron Curtain, but the trend of what we do hear is encouraging. The present regime in Soviet Russia has not been able to stamp out dissidence as Stalin did in the 1930's and 1940's. There are just too many subjects of the Kremlin who have acquired a knowledge of the principles of liberty, and who are agitating for it, for those ideas ever again to be wholly suppressed. In time, and with the passing of the current dictatorship, those ideas will begin to prevail.
And in the satellite countries such as Czechoslovakia and Poland, we read now and then of men and women who willingly risk punishment to proclaim the truth, to demand civil liberty. In countries like Romania and Hungary there is a visible loosening of the tight check rein on ideas held so long on the subjects of those oppressive governments.
In India, hag-ridden as that country is by primitive superstitions, the pressure on its recent dictator Indira Gandhi grew so great that she submitted herself to the electoral process—and lost. Her successor as prime minister was, a couple of decades ago, a founder of the Swatantra Party, devoted to the ideals of a free economy. In South Africa black citizens increasingly agitate and demonstrate for rights equal to the white man—the right to own property, to work where he pleases and travel as he wishes, to speak his mind and publish his words. The present Israeli government has turned its back on socialism and is engaged in privatizing the economy. Even the present dictatorship in Chile has recognized the validity of the free market approach to economics, and in a hesitant manner has been moving to that end. In Japan the old corporate-paternalism system, in which one's status was determined from youth by the first job he took, is crumbling in favor of a more flexible set of policies both socially and economically. Hong Kong has shown the world what prosperity a free trade zone can bring. The millions who live there are incomparably better off than their neighbors on the mainland—who are well aware of the difference and the reason for it. In Denmark, a new political party whose reason for being is the dismantling of the welfare state commanded a plurality of the vote in its first election.
And in our own country, even as I write, a reluctance to enlarge the State surfaces in that bastion of invincible ignorance, the United States Congress. The Administration's collectivist solutions to problems are in trouble. The bill to restrict hospital spending by law has run into formidable and apparently fatal opposition; Mr. Carter's attempt to create a fascist energy system has been stalled for nearly a year and may be mortally ill. Many states have begun to pay attention to civil liberty: marijuana-possession penalties have been drastically reduced in some and may he on their way out; the right of a patient to dose himself with Laetrile has been confirmed here and there—and federal and state judges have upheld the right as well; legislatures have passed shield laws to protect newsmen whose sources of information are confidential. Attempts to reimpose bans on abortion have been beaten back.
The statists haven't succeeded in banning literature they dislike—although a generation ago they were in near-total control. Americans are increasingly distrustful of secretive agencies such as the CIA and the FBI, even if Mr. Carter isn't. The whole system of licensing laws for the professions is undergoing close scrutiny. And soon, and on.
The great libertarian philosophical movement has spawned a Libertarian Party in the United States which in its first major national effort passed all of the rightist (Maddoxian) and leftist (Marxist) political parties, and whose size and influence is daily growing. And that Party has spawned counterparts in, at the current count, five other countries. They may be small as yet compared to entrenched institutions, but their potential for changing the world through the challenge of ideas is formidable.
As Rose Wilder Lane said (and I quote her loosely), American energy has been thrown into the whole world situation and as a result has smashed the empires, damaged all governments and nearly all social institutions outside this country (and many within it), and set everyone on earth who can to thinking about the basic principles of human nature and human relationships. Untold millions of people who had taken for granted (as their ancestors always did) collectivism and social classes, are encountering the new ideas of individualism, human equality, and liberty. The whole world is stirred as a hornet's nest is stirred by a stick. There's nothing but confusion, destruction, and wreckage. Confusion is the beginning of greater wisdom (or less ignorance). Destruction is the essential obverse of construction; the new building begins on the destruction of the old one.
Human life as such is indestructable while this planet lasts and it is indubitably true in history that human knowledge increases in time. It is impossible, in the nature of mankind, that the revolution for human rights will not transform the whole human world on this earth, in time. You and I may, or may not, live to see the first great accomplishments of the revolution, but our children assuredly will.
Roger MacBride was the 1976 presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party. In addition to being an author and attorney he was co-creator of the NBC series "Little House on the Prairie."
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "A New World Revolution".