- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 2, 2003

Optimistic view

“President Ronald Reagan, in his famous June 1982 speech to the British Parliament, described the outlines of ‘a plan and a hope for the long term the march of freedom and democracy, which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.’

“Reagan hated the tyranny and oppression of Marxism-Leninism but he also had a positive and optimistic view of humanity that he believed was best exemplified by the American regime.

“What struck Reagan about Communism was its weakness. Communists ruled by fear and intimidation. He believed that policies of peaceful coexistence or of passively containing the Soviet Union would be disastrous. The Communists would over time use the Western fear of war, especially nuclear war, to undermine the confidence of free peoples. Reagan sought to turn the tables on Moscow and its allies by advocating an all-out fight against the growing encroachment of Communism in this nation and throughout the world.

“Reagan believed that democracy and capitalism had decisive, natural advantages over totalitarian systems and centrally planned economies.”

Patrick Garrity, writing on “Reagan and the Cold War,” in the December issue of On Principle

Utopian suburb

“One of the most idealistic manifestos of the 1960s took the unlikely form of an intra-office corporate memorandum. ‘For many years,’ the mortgage banker James Rouse wrote in 1963, ‘I have lived uncomfortably with the belief that most planning and architectural design suffers for lack of real and basic purpose.’

“Rouse felt ready to fill that gap. ‘The ultimate purpose, it seems to me, must be the improvement of mankind,’ he wrote. ‘There really can be no other end purpose of planning except to develop better people. An inspired, concerned and loving society will dignify man; will find the ways to develop his talent; will put the fruits of his labor and intellect to effective use; will achieve brotherhood; eliminate bigotry and intolerance; will care for the indigent, the delinquent, the sick, the aged; seek the truth and communicate it; respect differences among man.’

“Prior to this, Rouse was best known for having built some of the country’s first enclosed shopping malls. Within a few years, he was better known as the father of Columbia, Maryland, a social experiment on par, in its way, with Robert Owen’s New Harmony or Wavy Gravy’s Hog Farm.

“Founded in 1966, Columbia is, if nothing else, one of the most resilient utopias of the ‘60s: It thrives today, with nearly 90,000 residents, many of whom are unfamiliar with the founding ideals of their town and in some cases don’t know that it had founding ideals to begin with.”

Jesse Walker, writing on “The Radical ‘Burbs,” in the January issue of Reason

Libertarian hobbits

“My introduction to libertarianism didn’t come about through seminars or scholarships, nor did it arrive via reading weighty economic tomes written by polymath geniuses from Austria.

“I don’t scorn seminars and scholarships, and I fairly worship polymaths; it just happens that my path to freedom was different.

“It started when I was 10.

“At the end of my first decade I was introduced to J.R.R. Tolkien, first through ‘The Hobbit,’ then through ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ [A]s I read more deeply into these 20th century masterworks, I found that they presented a vision that was at odds with the reality that surrounded me.

“I preferred Tolkien’s world. I wanted my pocket knife to emit a faint blue glow when enemies were about. I wanted to slay dragons. I wanted to travel with Dwarves and meet Elves. What young boy wouldn’t?”

Jeff Elkins, writing on “Swords, Spaceships and Gunpowder,” Monday in www.lewrockwell.com

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