From Whiskey to Laissez Faire
“Instead of barrels of gunpowder, we’re going to be trafficking in books and ideas.”
This is what my friend and colleague Gary Gibson wrote in his own introduction to Whiskey & Gunpowder, an innovative product that began in 2005. Its mission has been to explore the outer edges of economic, financial, and political thinking.
It’s tone has been unapologetically radical. Even before I took on Laissez Faire Books in 2011, Whiskey had a great reputation on the street. “I love that newsletter,” is what I often heard.
Three years after its founding, the economy entered into its greatest depression since the 1930s, one that continues to this day. And though the politicians don’t talk about it, the link to the egregious policies of the 2000s were directly responsible in so many ways. It was a straight shot from 2001 through 2008.
But the politicians and central bankers promised to save us! They didn’t. They squandered trillions in resources, rescued failing institutions, wrapped the economy in another layer of regulations, scrambled for more power, drove interest rates to zero, and sucked the private economy dry to rescue their friends. They said that this was for the benefit of the people.
It wasn’t. Once the various tricks and rackets had run their course, the true state of the economy became obvious. It’s not just that unemployment remained high. The jobs people were getting paid less. Median income fell more after the recession was officially declared to be over. Household net worth has been wrecked and not recovered.
Prosperity and freedom are linked. Where people are free and property is secure, and where society is permitted to manage itself, prosperity flourishes. So it is not a surprise that we see too a grim picture of freedom in the United States. Under the guise of protecting our security, the state now believes it is entitled to spy on us, stop us at checkpoints, monitor our communications, and associations, and do so in brutal ways.
It sounds like a dystopian novel. We were promised one thing and given another. And it also sounds very familiar. It is the conditions that led to the great uprisings after which Whiskey & Gunpowder was named. This newsletter has been prophetic!
What is the next step? Fortuitously, Agora Financial bought Laissez Faire Books in 2010. This venerable institution was founded in 1972 to provide the crucial thing: the means to intellectual enlightenment. Ideas are the infrastructure and impetus of great social change. For this reason, Laissez Faire Books <https://lfb.org> practically built what is called the “liberty movement” as it stands today. And in November 2011, I came on board to help with reviving the institution and bringing it into the digital age.
In Laissez Faire Today, a daily newsletter that covers economics, technology, and liberty, we embrace the themes of Whiskey & Gunpowder and broaden them further.
You are not alone in the struggle to live a free life even in these times. You have like-minded friends and intellectual companions to travel with on the journey.
How will liberty be reclaimed in our time? I seriously doubt that politics is going to make it possible. The state will be outrun and overwhelmed when we build the right kind of networks of communication and learning. It will happen when the state that has strangled so much hope is revealed to be a burdensome anachronism. The force of history will sweep it away.
But it won’t happen automatically. It will happen only when we take the right steps, to educate ourselves, improve our lives, and build geographically non-contiguous communities of share interest. And it will happen when we can do this together, securely and with enlightened explorations of new approach and new ideas.
“Instead of barrels of gunpowder, we’re going to be trafficking in books and ideas,” says Gary.
If I had to choose ideas or guns, I would choose the ideas every time. It’s the ideas that build society and change history. They penetrate deeply and make the real difference. You can see in societies where states with guns rule the day: all rule by force is temporary. The hearts and minds of people at the things that are determinative of the course of history.
We don’t have much time to act. Now is the time to dig down and get serious about ideas. We invite you to join me, Gary Gibson, and so many others, in the Laissez Faire Club and start making a real difference in your own life and the future.
Whiskey & Gunpowder deserves a high place in the history of the resistance. It’s archive will remain, but now its mission is carried on by Laissez Faire.