Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tea Party Protesters: America's Only Hope?

I’m sure my readers wonder when I will finish this book that is providing me with inspiration about our nation’s problems. Now Professor Mises has convinced me that the Tea Parties are more than a protest; they are a revolution…and possibly the only hope for a bright future for America.

To see this we need to understand fascism and how it has influenced our past and how it can destroy our future. To start, Professor Mises, writing of the time before World War II, implies that there is one view of political and economic policy that would have prevented this war and that is a policy based upon the “individual” which is Mises’ way of saying free market capitalism.

“For Nazism was not the only conceivable means of dealing with the problems that concern present-day Germany. There was and there is another solution; free trade. Of course, the adoption of free-trade principles would require the abandonment of interventionism and socialism and the establishment of an unhampered market economy. But why should this be brushed aside as out of the question? Why did the Germans fail to realize the futility of interventionism and the impracticability of socialism?”(1)

The professor reminds us what might have happened had Germany gone to free trade rather than embarked on statism some years before.

“If forty to sixty years ago Germany had adopted, unconditional free trade, Great Britain, its crown colonies, British India, and some smaller European nations would not have abandoned free trade either. The cause of free trade would have received a mighty propulsion. The course of world affairs would have been different. The further progress of protectionism, monetary particularism, and discrimination against foreign labor and foreign capital would have been checked. The tide would have been stemmed. It is not unlikely that other countries would have imitated the example set by Germany. At any rate, Germany’s prosperity would not have been menaced by the further advance of other nations toward autarky.”(2)

But the political climate in Europe was not conducive to free markets and this very fact is why they went into war.

“But the Germans did not even consider this alternative. The handful of men advocating unconditional freedom both in foreign and in domestic trade were laughed at as fools, despised as reactionaries, silenced by threats. In the ‘nineties of the past century Germany was already almost unanimous in its support of policies which were designed as the preparation for the impending war for more space, the war for world hegemony.”(3)

According to Mises, the rest of Europe was also part of the problem, and their policies left them too weak to fight Germany.

“Etatism (statism) not only brought about a situation from which the German nationalists saw no way out but conquest, but also rendered futile all attempts to stop Germany in time. While the Germans were busy arming for the “day,” Great Britain’s main concern was to injure the interests of the French and of all other nations by barring their exports to Great Britain. Every nation was eager to use its sovereignty for the establishment of government control of business. This attitude necessarily implied a policy of insulation and economic nationalism.”(4)

We had in Europe a political and philosophical context that, considering the possibilities, thought the only way forward for each country was statism and government control of the economy. Clearly, of the two possible options, the one option that would have brought a more peaceful world, a world of free trade and respect for the individual, was not even considered as a viable possibility. The one country that followed statist ideas more consistently was Germany, a nation that saw in statism an opportunity, not for a better world, but to establish its own dominance and control.

In the view of Professor Mises:

“It did not seem to occur to anyone (in Europe) that free trade begins at home. For nearly everyone favored government control of business within his own country.”(5)

I think we are in a similar position today. Few in government will consider free trade as a viable option. In fact, they’ve already decided that the day for free trade is over, that, once again (in their view) capitalism has failed and it is time for a new world of government regulation of the economy. In short, it is time for statism, the very system that characterized Europe before it thrust the world into destruction.

As it was for Mises,

“Faced with a serious problem, the nations chose the way to disaster.”(6)

Indeed they did. Hidden beneath the rubble outside of Munich is one lesson that was never learned in the war and it involves a mistake that we are repeating today. It is that with the defeat of the German fascists, fascism was not destroyed; the method of government, the idea that the government has a right to regulate business and the lives of individuals, prevailed. It was not “living space” that Germany needed, it was free markets. It was not a bad Versailles treaty that caused Germany’s economic problems and racism, it was statism that made the lives of the entire continent miserable.

Once again, in the U.S.A, we have chosen the way to disaster. The policies of the Obama administration are at base fascist. They involve a control of businesses by the government and a so-called “cooperation” between government and corporations, precisely the same type of government that existed in Germany and the rest of Europe over 70 years ago; the method of government that led to a great conflagration. And as with Europe before the war, the ideas that could save us, the ideas of free markets and individual rights, are not options.

There is one difference today, between pre-war Europe and the United States, and it involves a situation that did not exist in Europe. Today, there is a group of people that refuses to be "laughed at as fools, despised as reactionaries, silenced by threats"; it is a group of people who understands that our country was founded on the idea of individual rights and free markets and that these are the greatest, most advanced and most intelligent ideas mankind has ever created. Contrary to the Europeans, they have seen with their own eyes what a free market can create in terms of affluence, leisure and capital accumulation. They know that we cannot have a vibrant economy through a system that virtually blocks economic progress at every turn and makes citizens into slaves sacrificing for the collective. These people know that government intervention in the economy will not create a better world. They know that statism is a threat to their lives and futures. They know their government is taking us down the road to disaster. Who are they? They are certainly not the Republicans or the Democrats. They are the Tea Party protestors.

They may be our only hope.

(1)Omnipotent Government, Ludwig von Mises, Libertarian Press Page 234
(3)Ibid, Page 235
(4)Ibid, Page 236
(5)Ibid, Page 237

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