Sheldon Richman: Lessons for the Liberty Movement

Patience and empathy are key to presenting the freedom philosophy effectively.



The idea of spontaneous order is crucial to persuading non-libertarians that we are worth listening to. Most people like freedom. They want to live worthwhile lives, and they understand that this requires self-direction. Following a path set by someone else is intrinsically unsatisfying. But what holds them back from embracing total freedom is their understandable fear that "too much" freedom would produce chaos. Sure, they value freedom, but they value order too.

"We can't have everyone running around doing whatever they want!" they say. Even if you explain the nonaggression obligation, they may not be fully convinced because they can envision chaos resulting from nonaggressive acts. They grew up believing that the Great Depression—mass long-term unemployment, poverty, hopelessness—was a natural market event that required government intervention to reverse. It's no easy task to scrape away layers of misinformation, writes Sheldon Richman. It requires patience, and patience requires respect and empathy.