December 15, 2010
Flooding the World with Truth
The email said: “Did you see this article on the Austrian School in The Economist?”
The article in question was from last month, which now seems like years ago. Sure, I probably saw it. About 50 such items hit my inbox every day.
Ten years ago, this article would have been amazing. Today it is a blip on the screen. But someone out there will read it and get curious. He or she will look for more and find Mises.org. Then the change happens, that most important change in the world: the mind begins to grasp the idea of liberty. Here is an event that is more important than anything in the physical world. Repeat that experience millions and billions of times and history will conform.
Our time is coming. Of this I’m convinced. The explosion of the Austrian School into the popular media is so large and so vast that it is impossible to keep up. We’re in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, all over the television, in journals and hundreds of books, and in every other conceivable media outlet.
No, they don’t always get the story right. What matters is that these relentless mentions, this constant spotlight on a body of ideas, are potentially transformative.
This is our moment. Ludwig von Mises fought his entire life for this. Murray Rothbard dreamed of a time like this. The Austrian School, broadly considered, has worked for 500 years to get the word out about free markets, sound money, and the wreckage caused by government intervention.
Government and its apologists worked to suppress the writings of the great defenders of economic freedom throughout the whole 20th century. We were supposed to buy into the government’s plans for our lives and everyone else’s, around the world. We were supposed to pay, obey, and shut up.
It didn’t work. They tried to kill Mises, and then they burned his books. He escaped to Geneva and then to New York and went on to write the greatest treatises ever. They dumped Rothbard in a tiny office at a small Brooklyn college, and he wrote and published and made history anyway. So it has always been: the pen is mightier than the sword.
In our times, a major reason, and perhaps the major reason, for the phenomenal progress is the work of the Mises Institute. This is the infrastructure that gives rise to and supports all the rest.
The Mises Institute was founded by Lew Rockwell in 1982, when the cause of sound money was hopeless and Mises’s works were slipping into obscurity. Our first conference was on the gold standard. Everyone said it was a dumb idea. Nearly 30 years later, the whole world is watching those speeches online.
In these decades, we’ve published hundreds of books on economic freedom – some technical, some popular, some serious, some funny. Since the beginning of the digital age, our audience has expanded to millions. Really, there is no way to fully trace the influence of the Mises Institute, but it is pervasive, ubiquitous, and darn near universal.
The reason is the domain name you see in your browser window. This domain has been supercharged through the most brilliant (and some say crazy) strategy ever imagined: We give away as much as we possibly can. We give away lectures, films, books, journals, articles, and information in every conceivable way we can package it.
|“When you give to the Mises Institute, you are not only supporting an institution. You are supporting the changing of minds on every corner of the earth.”
When people take our material and spread it around, it’s not piracy. It’s generosity. Spreading ideas is what we are about. We imagine an unlimited audience for what we do. We let the truth do the work from there. This is the old-fashioned-liberal approach, and it works.
The power of ideas is not just in the ideas themselves. It is in how they can be distributed. You can copy and copy them forever. They can be taken, transformed, remixed, posted, and reposted — and, through this means, ideas can creep into every nook and cranny in the known universe, to the point that people don’t even know their origin.
Why not use this power to the advantage of freedom? I find it astonishing that any institution dedicated to education would deliberately try to restrict the flow of ideas. We do the opposite. We are doing a massive idea dump on the whole world every day, 24/7. It’s working.
When you give to the Mises Institute, financially backing what we do, you are not only supporting an institution. You are supporting the changing of minds on every corner of the earth.
Have you seen how many Mises Institutes are popping up around the world? This is happening precisely because of our open-source policies on information. Books and articles are translated and posted every day. They don’t ask permission. They don’t have to, and we don’t want them to.
In the last two years, we’ve dug up hundreds of amazing books on Austrian economics and posted them, carefully doing a weave and dodge through the government’s restrictive regulations. And today it is all available. Hundreds of authors have been raised from the dead, like a digital séance, to speak to the world again.
The effects are potentially revolutionary. You know why the governments of the world were so alarmed at WikiLeaks? Because they fear information. In this sense, Mises.org is the ultimate enemy of the state, because we are not only devoted to showing what is wrong with statism but also to showing what is beautiful, productive, magnificent about human freedom.
Lots of people are despairing about liberty today. There is no point in this. The answer to all our problems is bound up with what people believe. Governments do not stand a chance against a world population that truly understands.
You think this is implausible? Wrong. Every revolution in human history began with a single idea. When that idea spreads, because it is convincing, the rulers wake up to a new world. It can and will happen again, and it could be in our lifetime. The Mises Institute is dedicated to making this happen.
Some people say that our strategy is hopeless because digital users do not put their money where their browsers are. I don’t believe this. Generosity inspires generosity. This is the way global communities like ours form and sustain themselves.
Please join us in this effort. We share your passion. We share your love of liberty. We have the technology, and we have the model. Show your confidence in our work with a generous donation. Know of our gratitude. We thank you for your trust.
Let’s work together, so long as we are able, toward a free world.