28 October 2019

To see off socialism, it’s time to do things differently

By Ron Manners

Despite being asked by publisher Anthony Cappello to write a book about my life and experiences, my aim has not been to talk about myself but rather to make a crucial point. If we don’t start making headway against the growing popularity of socialist ideas, including the encroachments on our freedoms and higher and higher rates of taxation that go hand in hand with that, we will lose the battle of ideas.

I don’t believe that is the inevitable outcome. I believe that the facts, and human ingenuity, are on our side. But to win we may have to do things a little differently.

Socialism sells because it promises so much to the individual – it promises something for nothing, it promises to help people and make the world a fairer place.

With today’s level of economic and philosophical literacy, these promises are indeed alluring.

We free marketers have been trying to convince individuals that if the economy is better, they will be better off due to some kind of “trickle-down” effect. But that is really a hard sell, especially when people are philosophically and economically illiterate. They haven’t studied public choice theory, so they don’t understand how the “concentrated benefits” flow to those pulling the strings!

So what to do? We are so lucky to have had such intellectual giants as Friedrich Hayek, James Buchanan, Leonard E. Read and John Hospers pave the way for us – all of whom I have had the personal pleasure of meeting and learning from. These incredible individuals have given us the knowledge that can convince people that there is no person better than themselves to be in charge of their future.

We have to return our focus to the individual by exposing them to economic and philosophical principles and promote the virtues of individual responsibility. We need to demonstrate that the ‘feel good’ solutions espoused by our politicians – that are based on the spending other people’s hard-earned wealth – have detrimental, long-term consequences that harm the individuals. My thickest research file contains examples of perhaps well-meaning government programs achieving the exact opposite to their intentions.

People often ask me why I am an optimist. This is why: we have the facts on our side. But more than that, as Leonard E. Read taught me, life is not a numbers game. We don’t need to have to biggest gang to achieve our goals. History is full of examples of small groups of people achieving amazing results.

We have the ammunition, and our focus must now be on strategic execution. We must lift ourselves up from being armchair observers and graduate into frontline activists. To win the battle of ideas we should recognise we are the generation who needs to act on the information that is readily available to us,  and to step forward with victory clearly in our sights.

This is the message of The Lonely Libertarian, and I truly hope you will join us in the battle.

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Ron Manners is an Australian businessman. He is chairman of Mannwest Group and the Mannkal Economic Education Foundation.