May 28, 2017

Rose Wilder Lane: Can individualism survive in the U.S.?

There is nothing new in planned and controlled economy. Human beings have lived under various forms of that social security for six thousand years. The new thing is the anarchy of individualism, which has been operating freely only in this country for a century and a half.

When I first wrote this book ten years ago, I asked myself whether individualism has enough social vitality to survive in a world turning back to the essentially medieval, static forms. Can individualism, which by its very nature has no organization and no leader, stand against the determined attack of a small group, organized, controlled, and fanatically sure that a strong man in power can give a people better lives than they can create for themselves?

The spirit of individualism is still here. There are some 130,000,000 human beings in these United States, and not one of us has escaped anxiety, and very few of us have not been forced to reduce our standard of living during these past few years. The number of us who have been out of work and facing actual hunger is not known; the largest estimate has been twelve million. Of this number, barely a third appeared on the reported relief rolls. Somewhere those millions in need of help, who were not helped, are still fighting through this depression on their own.

Millions of farmers are still lords on their own land; they are not receiving checks from the public funds to which they contribute their increasing taxes.

Millions of men and women have quietly been paying debts from which they asked no release; millions have cut expenses to the barest necessities, spending every dime in fear that soon they will have nothing, and somehow being cheerful in the daytime and finding God knows what strength or weakness in themselves during the black nights.

Americans are still paying the price of individual liberty, which is individual responsibility and insecurity.

~ Rose Wilder Lane, "Give Me Liberty," 1944 (first published in 1936)

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