Revolutions! Arab Spring! Throw Out the Colonial Powers! Liberty for the People! For many movements throughout recent and past history these have been rallying cries, and often for good reason. But almost always there is a cost to revolution, and often it is unacceptably high. For example, and as stated in the “World in 2017” edition of The Economist, this year is the 100-year anniversary of Lenin seizing power from the Bolsheviks in Russia, which led to a lengthy succession of tragedies: Stalin’s rise to power, the death of more than 20 million people as a result of the collectivization of agriculture and forced industrialization and, in many ways in reaction to communism, the rise of Hitler, Mussolini and Franco. The French Revolution soon gave rise to the active use of the guillotine, and Mao’s revolution in China also imposed collectivism that directly led to the deaths of millions. Unfortunately, with the increased popularity of populism, which has resulted from the large disparity of wealth in our society, many of the same seeds are present today that gave rise to those failed revolutions.
So, how can these seeds be neutered? By reminding the world, first, that free trade, property rights and Liberty have delivered millions of people out of poverty and, second, that the leaders of the world who oppose these successful approaches are mostly paper tigers. One of these, expressly, is Vladimir Putin, who presides by fear and fraud over a country whose economic power is stalling and whose people are plagued by poverty, ignorance and illness. North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and Zimbabwe are other current examples. Yes, Liberty is a good and successful thing, but some places are not yet ready for it. The United States of America in was a truly unusual example, but basically our revolution was fought so we could secure our rights as Englishmen. We should continue to uphold and fight for Liberty here and abroad, but should be slow to expect that it can take root where the soil is not as fertile as it was here in 1776. Ask present-day Syria, Libya and the Sudan.
Judge Jim Gray (Ret.)
2012 Libertarian candidate for Vice President,
along with Governor Gary Johnson as the candidate for President
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