Frequently, in my formative years, I was told I should seek a career in law due to my fondness for arguing. I loved to argue, debate, contest and dispute most anything. I took pride in my ability to argue any side to any issue. Argument for its own sake was enough for me. Sadly, due to the nature of the public school system, there was no way to develop my passion further. As I grew older, I found it worthwhile (and socially beneficial) to see “both sides of the issue.” On several occasions I found myself in the role of peacemaker, searching for the middle ground between friends with opposing views. I strived to be the “moderate,” whatever that means. I did not place myself under any political label for fear of painting myself into a corner. In other words, I was without any conscious principles or ideology.
The human capacity for reason lies at the heart of our success as a species. Humans are rational creatures who, through their experiences, generate a set of beliefs and principles, an ideology, so to speak. Much of this is done subconsciously, and many humans may not ever realize what has occurred. The truth is, every idea capable of being thought belongs to one ideology or another. Every opinion that is held can be traced back to someone. The notion that an idea can be divorced from its ideology is absurd.
The 2008 US presidential election changed everything for me. Change I could believe in came, not in the form of Barack Obama, but from an obscure, fringe member of the Republican Party, Texas Congressman Ron Paul. I am not entirely sure of when and how it occurred. One moment I was a seemingly normal person, without any strong beliefs one way or the other on many issues, mainstream even. I remember going out for New Years Eve in 2006 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and seeing several Ron Paul supporters, signs in hand. Every so often they would raise their voices in unison and cheer his name. My friends and I would join in, not in derision, but because after a few beers it seemed like a funny thing to do. That evening, I remember saying something like “You know, I agree with some of Ron Paul’s positions, but he is a bit extreme in others. He wants to get rid of the Federal Reserve! How crazy is that?!” I actually said something like that. Like most American’s to this day, I had very little idea of what the Federal Reserve actually was. I had some vague notion that they printed up the pieces of paper in my pocket, and maybe even that they set interest rates, but that all seemed fine. I cannot recall even a mention of it in all my years of schooling, so it couldn’t be overly important to my life, let alone detrimental to it.
As time wore on, I was exposed more and more to Ron Paul’s ideology, that is libertarianism. Many people who discovered their libertarian ideals during this time thanks to Ron Paul, likened it to the movie the Matrix, where characters took a pill and woke up to see the reality around them. I like this nerdy analogy. The pill, in this case, was the truth and it was bitter to swallow.
Sorry for that bit of lame over-dramatization. It is enough to say that my intellectual curiosity was piqued and it wasn’t long before I began regularly visiting his campaign website (campaignforliberty.com). It proved to be a gateway to numerous other sites, the most important being the website of the Ludwig von Mises Institute (mises.org). I have learned more from the so-called “Austrian” school of economics and the ideals of libertarianism in the past 2 years than in all of my years in school and university. I finally have a coherent, principled point of view that helps me understand the problems of today.
Economically, it showed me the true causes of the major financial meltdown still occurring, in a word, government. Government policy, sometimes even well intentioned created an atmosphere of unsustainable debt that has yet to be allowed to liquidate. In other words, as government continues to pretend it is the solution to our problems, it has yet to pay for its many crimes of the past. Politically, my newfound worldview helped me see through the sham that is the US Democratic and Republican parties in their current manifestations. What few differences there are between the parties does not even require them to be separate entities. They would be a lot more honest if they simply joined together. On every single issue of importance they are the same. They agree on foreign policy and economic policy. Sure, the GOP says they will cut the size of government, but when does it ever actually happen? Democrats pretend to be against war to garner support from their political base, but in reality, they don’t seem to care enough to actually do anything to end the current wars of choice or to bring US troops home from the over 150 countries they are currently stationed in. In short, neither party represents me, and certainly not my interests. They don’t represent peace. They don’t represent human liberty. The most recent elections are but the latest attempt by the parties to pretend they have any answers, but what a show they put on!
Everyday I enjoy spending time learning and educating myself regarding the major issues of the day. I particularly enjoy economics (despite its difficult nature), history, politics and philosophy. The free flow of information, through the medium of the Internet, makes it easier than ever to learn. Like the printing press in the 17th century, the lowering of the barriers to information represented by the Internet promises to lift mankind out of the intellectual dark ages. The monopoly of information of the past has given way to its liberation. In other words, achieving ignorance, while not impossible, is increasingly difficult with each passing day.
I will continue to live happily outside of the mainstream, until the mainstream comes to represent peace and freedom.