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Ronald Kitching, Understanding Personal & Economic Liberty: A Simple Guide (Brisbane: CopyRight Publishing, 2005), pp. 5-9, “Introduction”.

It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once. ~ DAVID HUME

In every age liberty’s progress has been best by its natural enemies: by ignorance and superstition, by lust of conquest and by love of ease, by the strong man’s craving for power, and the poor man’s craving for food. ~ LORD ACTON

There are a large number of organisations in this country, which have been formed because they are unhappy with the policies of Labor, Liberal, National, Democrats, One Nation and Greens. I have read a couple of synopses relating to material distributed by these organisations and can see that their policies in the long term would be no different from those of Labor, Liberal or any of the others. No difference inasmuch as the new wannabes would like to hold the reins of power in our particular form of gang warfare to reward their supporters, as each of the major established parties now do when in power. Recently at an election rally the Queensland Premier told the people of Gladstone that if they wanted more in the way of fiscal rewards from his government to vote for the Labor party — to their credit, they did not.

In short, like the present Liberal and Labor parties, all of the above would-be “reformers” are espousing their particular form of socialism under a different banner. Some of these organisations would vehemently deny that they are socialist. In fact, they claim that they stand for free enterprise and liberty, and as Mark Latham has claimed, facilitate “climbing the ladder” for all. But this claim is soon dispelled as they promote tariff “protection”, subsidies, Australian or government ownership or sponsorship of everything, especially land and natural resources. They have their own brand of government interventionism for everything from controlling prices, aid to the poor, the aged and infirm, the incompetent, the weak, the needy, the unlucky, the blacks, the sick, the illegal migrants, to those who aspire to ‘”free” education from kindergarten to university, and free medical services and more money for the ever complaining “arts and culture” advocates. Many advocate “free” credit, more progressive taxation, and want to severely restrict or abolish immigration. Some of them wish, like the present Federal and State Governments, to restrict certain industrial development, strictly limit the activities of farmers especially in the name of “conservation”, and even stop timber cutting and processing, fishing and tourist development on the Great Barrier Reef and elsewhere, mineral sand, uranium and other mining. And people climbing the ladder had better not climb too high, as they will then find that jealousies remove further rungs from the ladder, as they are taxed into bankruptcy. All of this constitutes Socialism.

The “reformers” all claim, and I’m sure they are all sincere about the fact, that they wish to implement policies which will advance everybody’s economic interests. However history and economic science shows that there is only one way to advance the economic welfare of all, and that is to let the free markets work unhampered by government. But there are other requisites to ensure permanent liberty. We shall later discuss these as we progress.

Before we all fall about laughing at the above statements, the reason that markets are so efficient is that only by using the critical market signals, of prices, can the best possible use be made of all of the factors of production which are at all times everywhere, scarce. And the countless millions of people deciding to purchase, or not to purchase, every second of every minute of every hour of every day, from the countless millions of products and services available, act as economic “voters” to keep this or that particular producer in business. Those products (no matter how desirable) for which the public does not “vote”, by not buying, transports capital away from the producers of those products into the pockets of those for whom the market does “vote” — all by an impartial market system. In short, competition is the governing factor which stimulates producers to adopt the best economic outcome, and better, new ideas, for producing products of a quality and nature for which the public are happy to pay.

However, few in this country unreservedly embrace the unhampered market system. Why is this? This is because for 100 years, Australians have been trained to embrace practically every aspect of socialism. In fact, as early as 1893, a boat-load of people left Australia to establish a socialist paradise in Paraguay, South America. Needless to say, with all of the good will in the world, it ended in disaster. After a number had been expelled by their contemporaries, for anti-social activities, and some had left of their own volition, those who remained split the assets and resumed a normal individual existence. An excellent account of this sincere, voluntary attempt at establishing collectivism can be read in a book titled A Peculiar People by Gavin Souter, University of Queensland Press. Another Socialist experiment in Uruguay was a disaster. The late Henry Hazlitt, eminent USA political and economic reporter and author, has written the story of Uruguay. It closely parallels Australia’s “progress” with socialism. Once-rich Argentina’s acceptance of Pied Piper Peron’s socialist promises ruined Argentina economically and socially. It took Argentina and her people from being one of the world’s richest to among the poorest on the planet; a position they still hold, as they cling to socialist ideals.

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s socialism was looked upon as a brave new attempt to revolutionise society, insofar as we would all be more “equal”. Socialism was to bring wealth and happiness to all. At that time not many people succumbed to the socialist promises. Professor F.A. Hayek in his essay titled “The Intellectuals and Socialism” said:

Socialism has never and nowhere been a working class movement. It is a construction of theorists derived from certain tendencies of abstract thought which for a long time only the intellectuals were familiar; and it required long efforts by the intellectuals before the working classes could be persuaded to adopt it as their programme.

In every country that has moved toward socialism, the phase of the development in which socialism becomes a determining influence on politics has been preceded for many years by a period during which socialist ideals govern the thinking of the more active intellectuals. In Germany this stage had been reached toward the end of the last century; in England and France, about the time of the first World War. To the casual observer it would seem as if the United States reached this phase after World War II and that the attraction of a planned and directed economic system is now as strong among the American intellectuals, as it ever was among their German or English fellows. Experience suggests that, once this phase has been reached, it is merely a question of time until the views now held by the intellectuals become the governing force of politics.

The full text of Hayek’s essay is highly recommended reading.

Although the advent of federation sponsored interest in State interventionism, Australia’s intellectuals did not make great inroads into the Australian psyche until after the 1929-32 depression. This was dramatically accelerated by the advent of a burgeoning bureaucracy which developed and expanded rapidly during and after World War II. The advent and political popularity of the pseudo-economist, arch-inflationist, John Maynard Keynes, and Marx, coupled with the hang over from the depression of that era, had a dramatic effect upon the population, already conditioned by the government granted unions’ monopoly of coercion, and teachers in tertiary institutions, to accept the dreams of the socialists.

A number of young Australian economic and social science graduates studied in England at the London School of Economics, usually on Rhodes or government scholarships. They almost inevitably became dedicated devotees of Keynes and the Communist lecturer, Harold Laski.1 They in turn returned to Australia and acquired positions in all spheres, particularly the federal bureaucracy, thus rapidly spreading the malevolent spirit of interventionism and socialism.

This on-going revolution was, and still is, the most effective and successful political exercise in all of Australia’s history, and, as a movement, has possibly not yet reached its zenith. In short, this is the reason why we are a socialist nation. This is the reason why well meaning people have no other political and ideological ideas other than socialist ones to espouse. We shall attempt to expose some of these socialist fallacies as this book progresses. Hopefully too, we shall uncover some old truths and let them emerge.

This author hopes that this brief reintroduction to Classical Liberal principles, which once gave the British, and the Americans, and the early Australians, until federation, the opportunity to become the most productive, hence the most prosperous and freest people on earth, can facilitate its rediscovery for it in the long term to lead Australians to a lasting era of peace and prosperity.

People believe that “things” continue to improve. They think Darwin’s Theory of Evolution describes a world constantly evolving towards perfection. This too, was the view of the Hegelian/Marxian “historical” thesis. But we are governed by nature’s laws — God’s laws if you will. If we stick to the rules, only then do we evolve to an improved situation. This book endeavours to guide interested people, while maintaining high moral standards, in the direction of improving our social and economic future. If we ignore the laws of Nature, (or God’s Laws), naturally we will drop from the evolution chain and be eliminated.

However, each and every person can come to their own conclusions once they have become familiar with the philosophy and precepts of the Classical Liberal principles.

I do quote long passages from eminent scholars and others. It has been suggested that I paraphrase such passages, but I prefer to quote what was actually said or written, as I may otherwise be accused of bias. Also you will note that occasionally I repeat myself, or perhaps more correctly, repeat what eminent scholars have said in the past. Some basic truths and historic facts can bear repeating.

A comprehensive list of relevant books and authors shall be found at the end of each chapter, and, at the end of the book is a comprehensive list of Classical Liberal authors and their principal books, with hopefully, helpful comments by the author.

Footnote
  1. Laski’s twenty-odd books became popular in Australia’s academic institutions.