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It can be disheartening at times to hear people talk about drifting deeper into socialism and the dark night of totalitarianism 58 years ago and think not much has progressed in the opposite direction.

One of the causes of Authoritarianism from Leonard Read's Book Why Not Try Freedom is

FAILURE: Inadequate Development of Self

Every individual is faced with the problem of whom to improve,

himself or others. The aim, it seems to me, should be to

effect one's own unfolding, the upgrading of one's own consciousness

- in short, self-perfection. Those who don't even try or, when

trying, find self-perfection too difficult, usually seek to expend

their energy on others. Their energy has to find some target.

Those who succeed in directing their energy inward - particularly

if they be blessed with great energy, like Goethe, for instance

- become moral leaders. Those who fail to direct their

energy inwardly and let it manifest itself externally - particularly

if they be of great energy, like Napoleon, for instance - become

immoral leaders. Those who refuse to rule themselves are usually

bent on ruling others. Those who can rule themselves usually

have no interest in ruling others.

He goes on to say

I do not know all of the reasons for governmental interventionism or why

so many people are intent upon forcibly imposing their wills on

others or why they attempt to cast others in their own little images.

Further, I am acquainted with no thoughtful person who

claims to know all the forces which make us behave as meanly

toward each other as we do.

Nothing less than one's best, nothing short of

deep, devoted, consecrated effort is adequate. Indeed, the tides

of authoritarianism are running so high that no action can be

significant that does not in some way arise out of an intellectual

and, I might suggest, a spiritual revolution.

Method is of supreme importance if this revolution is to be

accomplished. If everyone's method were in accord with the concept

here advanced, there would be no ideological problem at all.

This is by way of saying that if everyone were attending to the

improvement of his creative self, there couldn't possibly be a meddler

among us; and with no meddlers there could be no authoritarianism,

no socialism, no intervention by government into the

creative and productive activities of the citizens.

The choice in method is between improving self and reforming

others. It is comforting to diagnose the world's ills as due to other

people, and consequently most folks are bent on reforming others.

This is so nearly an instinctive trait that we overcome it only with

difficulty. Few persons appear to have any faith that this will become

a better world if they do nothing about it beyond improving

their own understanding and exposition. Apparently they fail to

realize the impossibility of creatively doing to others that which

they have been unwilling or unable to do to themselves. No man

can teach that which he does not know.

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