A dark cloud is hanging over the lives of freedom lovers these days. It seems all the news is bad. It’s hard to take. And the personal anxiety it causes, it’s just too much. Every day we are being buffeted about bad ideas coming from the left, from the right, and back again. And contest is dragging down the prospects for freedom itself.
If you look at Cato’s latest report on human freedom around the world, you see the proof. Freedom is actually slipping around the globe, for the first time in a very long time. Reading this report is a real bummer, and it seals the deal: we’ve got a serious problem, and it’s here at home as well.
I won’t go into detail because you know this already. No one knows how it is going to turn out, but just watching the daily grind takes a toll – emotionally, intellectually, spiritually.
But can we really let this happen? No. It’s been worse, much worse. Think back to 1946, the world smashed by war and the socialists/Keynesians on the march through the universities and popular press. Talk about the absence of hope!
But you know what? It was in those years that the Foundation for Economic Education and the Mont Pelerin Society were founded. No one thought they could achieve what seemed impossible. But through hard work and the creation of new networks, they built something awesome – a social and intellectual network that beat back the bad and ushered in the new.
We have to act now. We can’t sit on the sidelines and just watch this with the view that we cannot change things. Becoming hermits doesn’t work either. That is the surest way to throw away all the progress we’ve made.
So here’s a suggestion: go to FreedomFest this year. The place is Las Vegas and the dates are July 19-22, 2017. It’s the tenth anniversary. The theme is “Exploring New Frontiers,” and all the promotional content features a Star Trek theme. You don’t have to care about Star Trek though. This conference is for everyone who cares about the future of freedom.
What you discover immediately upon arrival is perhaps the most exciting thing: this conference is huge, diverse, energetic, uplifting, substantive, and super exciting. You will feel your mood change immediately. The content of the conference includes new films, great lectures, fun debates (I was in one last year), panels on every topic imaginable, and a great atmosphere of expertise, forward thinking, and old-fashioned joy.
What’s to be joyful about? We have the right ideas on our side. We have smart people everywhere in academia, media, and publishing. We have the raw numbers like we’ve never had before. You find thousands of others ready to fight for liberty in every way they know how.
In many ways, I’m an incurable optimist. I look around the world and I see where freedom is making huge strides. Technology is booming. Wars are ever fewer. Humanity is being fed as never before. Poverty is plunging.
But you know what? People said similar things in the 1880s. They never imagined that only a couple of decades later, the world would be engulfed in the flames of war, all due to some stupid diplomatic errors. But with the proper knowledge, direction, and courage we can try to prevent those mistakes from being repeated.
Danger and Hope
Here’s the hard truth: so long as there are big states, there is always a danger of regress. This is what we must fix. There are no guarantees, but we can try. We have social and intellectual networks as never before, which can be activated and made effective. In order to do that, however, we need to be there, meet people, get new ideas, find our niche, and get to work.
At FreedomFest this year, there will be lots of FEE people present. We’ll have a table where you can hang out. I’m speaking, as is my friend Lawrence Reed, plus many others. But that’s just the beginning. There are hundreds of presentations. And many main speakers from many organizations. Plus (and this is especially delightful) there is an incredible amount of fun to be had, at dinners, dances, and just hangouts in general. Hey, it’s Vegas.
So I hope to see you there. July seems like a long time from now, but in the meantime, keep your chin up, keep fighting and doing, and let’s meet up in the summer and assess our progress. So far as I’m concerned, FreedomFest is the perfect setting for this, and for plotting a future of freedom.
Jeffrey is absolutely right! I’ve been to FreedomFest every year in the past 4 and it’s always an exhausting, uplifting blast. I’ve been able to meet and talk to many of my heroes in the libertarian movement, including Jeffrey himself, Peter Thiel and Steve Forbes, just to name a few.