Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Liberty and Wilder 

Laura Ingalls Wilder, that is. Douglas has a great post making this connection. Rose Wilder Lane was the only Ingalls grandchild, and she of course developed a great love of liberty by her experiences.
Politically, I cast my first vote -- on a sample ballot -- for Cleveland, at the age of three. I was an ardent if uncomprehending Populist; I saw America ruined forever when the soulless corporations in 1896, defeated Bryan and Free Silver. I was a Christian Socialist with Debs, and distributed untold numbers of the Appeal to Reason. From 1914 to 1920 -- when I first went to Europe -- I was a pacifist; innocently, if criminally, I thought war stupid, cruel, wasteful and unnecessary. I voted for Wilson because he kept us out of it.

In 1917 I became convinced, though not practicing communist. In Russia, for some reason, I wasn't and I said so, but my understanding of Bolshevism made everything pleasant when the Cheka arrested me a few times.

I am now a fundamentalist American; give me time and I will tell you why individualism, laissez faire and the slightly restrained anarchy of capitalism offer the best opportunities for the development of the human spirit. Also I will tell you why the relative freedom of human spirit is better -- and more productive, even in material ways -- than the communist, Fascist, or any other rigidity organized for material ends.