Championing The Principles of Liberty

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Today’s Civil Strife Is Rooted in Economic Frustration and Fallacy

Why is America today so politically charged and polarized, to the point that people are regularly clashing in the streets? As James Carville used to say, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Americans still haven’t got their economic mojo back since the financial/housing crisis and Great Recession of 2007-2009. And today’s public agitation is largely an extension of the protest movements that emerged in the wake of that downturn. On the right, the Tea Party movement arose in 2009 largely out of disgust that big banks and big business had been bailed out by big government with newly printed money,...

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The Non-Battle of Auburn Was a True Victory for Liberty

Auburn, Alabama is nicknamed “the loveliest village on the plains.” But ugliness threatened to descend on it last Tuesday when outsiders came looking for a fight. Thankfully, residents and Auburn University students refused to oblige, much to their honor and wisdom. The occasion was a speech on campus by white-nationalist provocateur Richard Spencer. Spencer’s representatives had booked the space ahead of time, but the university tried to rescind. Spencer intended to deliver the speech anyway, but a federal court settled the matter by forcing the school to fulfill the contract on First...

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The “Battle of Berkeley” Is a Bad Sign for Liberty

Just how close are we to repeating the political violence of interwar Germany? How bad is it, and how bad can it get? Populist-right demonstrators and radical-left protesters clashed in Berkeley, California yesterday. The belligerents used such weapons as fists, feet, rocks, pepper spray, smoke bombs, barricades, and a trash dumpster/battering ram. There was one reported non-lethal stabbing. Arrayed on the right were members of the Alt-Right, Oathkeepers, Proud Boys, and non-affiliated Trump supporters, and the left was led by Antifa (Anti-Fascist Action) and BAMN (“By Any Means Necessary”)....

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How Nationalism and Socialism Arose from the French Revolution

In 1755, the Portuguese city of Lisbon was struck by a massive, deadly earthquake. As Deirdre McCloskey recently wrote, in the century that followed, three big ideas swept through Europe that would also shake the world. One of those ideas was fantastically fruitful, while the other two proved to be disastrously destructive. First to sweep through was the bright idea of, in the words of Adam Smith, "allowing every man to pursue his own interest in his own way, upon the liberal plan of equality, liberty, and justice.” In the first half of the 19th century, this idea became known as liberalism....

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Will Grigg Was a Mighty Voice for Justice and Liberty

William Norman Grigg died this afternoon. He was a journalist, broadcaster, editor, musician, father, husband, and a self-described Christian Individualist. He was also my hero. Will’s main beat was stories about individual victims of the state: particularly Americans who have been unjustly imprisoned or wrongfully assaulted by government officers. His research for each article was exhaustive. From his home in Idaho, he traveled all around the northwest to get the story in person. He would get to know each subject personally, and seek face-to-face interviews with their powerful persecutors....

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Belle’s Tax-Funded Fairy Tale Life

Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast hits all the same beats as the beloved animated original. But in its opening, it does an even better job framing one of the story’s main themes: the contrast between the splendor of the Beast’s castle and the simplicity of Belle’s town. While the original told the Beast’s origin story through a stained glass vignette, the new film brings his princely youth to vivid life. The days of the prince (played by Dan Stevens) are one long sequence of sumptuous pleasures amid extravagant rococo finery. Little People Then, as in the original, Belle...

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The Epic Triumph of Liberalism and Its Tragic Betrayal

Three years ago, the New York Times asked whether “the libertarian moment” had finally arrived. Since then, we have seen no libertarian revolution in politics or policy, leading many to ask whether the libertarian moment had indeed come… and gone. Perhaps, the thinking goes, the libertarians had their political American Idol audition, delivered a pitchy performance, and were sent home: end of story. In a sense, to even frame things in this way is silly. It would only make sense if libertarians were a curious sect with quirky ideas that somehow gained outsize national attention, giving us a...

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The Westminster Attack: Savagery Versus Civilization

Last Wednesday afternoon, a malicious savage got behind the wheel of a car and plowed through a crowd of strolling civilians on London’s Westminster Bridge. Khalid Massood then left the car and lethally stabbed one more victim before being fatally shot by police. His rampage killed 5 and injured 50. Here we have a vivid representation of civilization versus savagery. The Way of the Civilian The Westminster Bridge pedestrians represented civilization: the way of life of the civilian. As I explained in a recent essay, the core of civilization is the division of labor. And indeed, Massood’s...

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