Another thought-provoking essay is to be found in Liberty Defined.
Slavery is the issue. Ron Paul defines it, looks at the history of the heroic radical abolitionist movement in America, compares private slavery to modern manifestations, and finally draws some lessons from the abolitionist movement to understand the role of agitators in general.
Drawing parallels is easy. Ron Paul is a modest gentleman, and it’s to his credit really. Though it is difficult not to think about the man, and how he fits into his own discussion in his book’s essay.
What is Slavery?
- A slave loses his right to self, i.e., his free volition is lost.
- His body is no longer his property to thereby own and hence rightfully control.
- He is a dominated and enslaved laborer by another person.
- It’s based on “the presumption that one human being can literally own and control another human being,” writes Ron Paul. (page 261)
Ron Paul asks if, and to what extent, we can conceptually apply slavery to man’s relation to a leviathan state.
Looking at American History…
- Banning discussions over certain subjects has been a recurring experience in our history.
- John Quincy Adams at minimum wanted a debate over slavery on the House floors.
- But “gag laws forbade it.” (page 260)
- Radical abolitionists were the most heroic group against slavery.
- They wanted to end slavery, with zero concessions.
- Many abolitionists were in favor of secession.
- They wanted nothing to do with states that allowed slavery.
- The Civil War, of course, finally ended slavery with over 600,000 dead.
- Every other Western nation ended slavery peacefully. Why didn’t the U.S. earnestly try?
What is an Agitator?
- An agitator supports a cause and tries to change the public’s opinion.
- This potentially sets the grounds for radical societal changes.
- Politicians, says Ron Paul, are generally different.
- Unlike the agitator, they don’t support a strong cause or look to radically change things.
- Agitators are often ignored.
- Yet crises provide a moment when agitators might be listened to.
- Agitators require “great patience and determination and education.” (page 264)
Agitators Against Slavery and For Liberty…
- Wendell Phillips – agitator against slavery
- The man was treated badly and ridiculed for his vocal opposition.
- Ron Paul believes he particularly understood the function of the agitator.
- In the end, he got what he wanted.
- He should inspire us, says Dr. Paul.
- William Lloyd Garrison – another agitator against slavery
- Today he’s more known than Phillips.
- Garrison called for secession.
- He said: “By the dissolution of the Union we shall give the finishing blow to the slave system…” (long quote on page 262)
Wendell Phillips was inspired by Cobden, who “sought free trade as a tool of peace and worked a long time for the repeal of the corn laws and the promotion of free trade.” (page 264)
Von Mises, in a way, can be seen as an intellectual or scholar agitator. Dr. Paul writes that he never caved into the establishment. Despite all the hardships and setbacks, Mises is now looked up to like he never was when alive. His ideas are more known and understood.
That should give all of us some hope!
We’re furthermore living in a time when changes might occur.
Ron Paul thinks that the failures of statism are more apparent than ever. Strong liberty agitators exist. Future further crises are very possible, and more people will likely give a hearing to libertarians for solutions.
“We all need,” Dr. Paul writes in his conclusion to this essay, “to become agitators for liberty, else we end up in a permanent state of slavery.” (page 265)