We have written before about the critical importance of ideas: what they are; where they emanate from; what and who influences them. However, just as it is important to both understand and appreciate ideas, it is equally important to value the efforts of the educators in disseminating those ideas.
Original thought is often complex, provocative, demanding. It can lie dormant in someone’s mind for a very long time, before something prods them out of their complacence – a sharp recognition of the value of one’s position of relative safety. Here, although the ideas in support of both a liberal economy and society haven’t entirely won out, we are on the winning side of the battle. At a time when reactionary and dirigiste forces raise old demons of sub-collectivist rhetoric and neo-socialism, these ideas again demand the weight and attention required to help suppress such forces.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is to stand for re-election in presidential elections due in October. President Hugo Chavez is flexing his economic muscles, at the expense of the United States, purely because of Venezuelan oil wealth. The Americas are again being subjected to the old, statist ideologies.
To counter this, Ideas for a free society (http://ideasforafreesociety.org) have published a CD containing some of the seminal texts from the field. As Linda Whetstone has written: “the CD contains a selection of contributions by some of the primary scholars and thinkers who have developed ideas which relate to the free society. Their contributions explain some of the general intellectual concepts and challenges, and the application of these ideas to public policy.”
“This CD is designed for those who are interested in what these beneficial economic and political arrangements are that lead to economic growth and have the capacity to eliminate poverty. It does not pretend to provide a definitive answer but rather to point people in the right direction. The title of the CD, “Ideas for a Free Society,” was inspired by the observation that the political and economic arrangements that seem to be most conducive to peace and prosperity are those that exist in free societies.
In such societies, there exist certain institutions that guarantee political, economic and social freedom, and those institutions are in turn underpinned by ideas. Such ideas have been explored by individuals from many different perspectives, starting with ancient Chinese, Roman and Greek philosophers and continuing to the present day. The reader will find that a rich intellectual debate about the nature of these ideas exists even among the authors of texts on this CD.”
Information is power, and readily transferable, easily accessible information, more so. We wish this project luck.