Rose Wilder Lane

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The question is whether personal freedom is worth the terrible effort, the never-lifted burden and risks of self-reliance.

Rose Wilder Lane (December 5 1886October 30 1968) was an American journalist, travel writer, novelist, and political theorist. Although her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder, is now the better known writer, Lane's accomplishments remain remarkable. She is considered a seminal force in the founding of the American Libertarian Party.

Quotes[edit]

  • I somehow always have this idea that as soon as I can get through this work that’s piled up ahead of me, I’ll really write a beautiful thing. But I never do. I always have the idea that someday, somehow, I’ll be living a beautiful life.
    • Written in the 1920s, as quoted in The Ghost in the Little House, ch. 8, by William V. Holtz (1993).
  • I so much like real things - the realities that come naturally from the depths of us like - what shall I say? - the way trees grow, from some inner essential principle of them, just expressing itself.
    • Letter to Arthur Griggs (June 22, 1920).
  • I can imagine nothing more wonderful than always wanting to keep a man...It's this NOT wanting to keep them, and yet not quite being able to disentangle one's self, never quite having the ruthlessness to stike at the hands on the gunwale with an oar until they let go -- that's the horrible thing.
    • Letter to Dorothy Thompson (December 29, 1927).
  • I'm not "filled with my art". I ain't got no art. I've got only a kind of craftsman's skill, and make stories as I make biscuits or embroider underwear or wrap up packages.
    • Letter to Guy Moyston (June 25, 1925).
  • I want to finish work on my mother's juvenile (Farmer Boy manuscript) by the end of June. There's a curious half-angry reluctance in my writing for other people. I say to myself that whatever earnings there may be are all in the family. Also I seize upon this task as an excuse to postpone my own work.
    • Diary (May 29, 1933).
  • I am too sick to work and haven't money enough to last 2 months and pay income tax. I want to keep going but do not see quite how, and there is no alternative - rather than justify my mother's 25-year dread of my "coming back on her, sick", I must kill myself. If she has to pay funeral costs, at least she will cut them to the bone and I will not be here to endure her martyrdom and prolong it by living.
    • Diary (sick and depressed) (December 9, 1933).
  • Life is a thin narrowness of taken-for-granted, a plank over a canyon in a fog. There is something under our feet, the taken-for-granted. A table is a table, food is food, we are we—because we don’t question these things. And science is the enemy because it is the questioner. Faith saves our souls alive by giving us a universe of the taken-for-granted.
    • Journal entry (1923), as quoted in The Ghost in the Little House, ch. 7, by William V. Holtz (1993).
  • Making the best of things is … a damn poor way of dealing with them.... My whole life has been a series of escapes from that quicksand.
    • Letters to Guy Moyston, (August 25, 1924 and July 11, 1925).
  • The first twenty years of my life were wasted...I didn't fit my environment, and I didn't know any other.
    • Diary, (1927).
  • My mother cannot learn to have any reliance upon my financial judgment or promises. It's partly, I suppose, because she still thinks of me as a child...She even hesitates to let me have the responsibility of bringing up butter from the spring(house), for fear I won't do it quite right!...This unaccountable daughter who roams the world, borrowing money here and getting shot at there...is a pride, in a way, but a ceaseless apprehension, too.
    • Letter to Guy Moyston, (July 18, 1925).
  • And I say again, you need not worry any more about money. If I were to drop dead this instant, I have enough to double your present income if you never touched a cent of the principle. If you take a notion to do something that costs more than your income warrants, you need only let me know. You can have it.
    • Letter from Albania to Laura Ingalls Wilder, (October 27, 1926).
  • It was like being quite alone on the roof of the world. I felt that if I were to go to the edge and look over … I would see below all that I had ever known; all the crowded cities and seas covered with ships, and the clamor of harbors and traffic of rivers, and farmlands being worked, and herds of cattle driven in dust across interminable plains. All the clamor and clatter, confusion of voices, tumults, and conflicts, must still be going on, down there—over the edge, and below—but here there was only the sky, and a stillness made audible by the brittle grass. Emptiness was so perfect all around me that I felt a part of it, empty myself.
    • Letter to the Clarence Day (June 10, 1926)
    • Describing her stop on a remote Russian plateau while with the Red Cross after WWI.
  • We joined long wagon trains moving south; we met hundreds of wagons going north; the roads east and west were crawling lines of families traveling under canvas, looking for work, for another foothold somewhere on the land.... The country was ruined, the whole world was ruined; nothing like this had ever happened before. There was no hope, but everyone felt the courage of despair.
    • Written in 1935, recalling her family’s migration from drought-stricken South Dakota to the Missouri Ozarks in 1894; the 650-mile trip had taken them six weeks.
    • As quoted in The Ghost in the Little House, ch. 1, by William V. Holtz (1993).
  • That way of life against which my generation rebelled had given us grim courage, fortitude, self-discipline, a sense of individual responsibility, and a capacity for relentless hard work.
    • Written in 1935, as quoted in The Ghost in the Little House, ch. 2, by William V. Holtz (1993).
  • The question is whether personal freedom is worth the terrible effort, the never-lifted burden and risks of self-reliance.
    • Said in 1936, as quoted in The Ghost in the Little House, prologue, by William V. Holtz (1993).
  • One thing I hate about the New Deal is that it is killing what, to me, is the American pioneering spirit. I simply do not know what to tell my own boys, leaving school and confronting this new world whose ideal is Security and whose practice is dependence upon government instead of upon one’s self.... All the old character-values seem simply insane from a practical point of view; the self-reliant, the independent, the courageous man is penalized from every direction.
    • Journal entry (April 15, 1937), as quoted in The Ghost in the Little House, ch. 14, by William V. Holtz (1993)
    • Commenting on the domestic policies of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • Since 1914...I wait for the natural to return; for newspapers to report news with care for accuracy and grammar; for schools to teach and for pupils to study; for faces to be sane and intelligent, and even humorous; for American artists and poets and writers to be exuberant and optimistic...it is all gone with the music of Vienna and the gaiety of San Francisco. But I still see everything against that background, and really I see nothing funny anywhere. The Beatnik beard and the mini skirt and the topless waitress, they ARE funny, I know they are funny but they only make me tired, I don't laugh.
    • letter to Roger MacBride (March 5, 1968).
    • reflecting her impressions of the world of 1968, at the age of 81.
  • The prairies were dust. Day after day, summer after summer, the scorching winds blew the dust and the sun was brassy in a yellow sky. Crop after crop failed. Again and again the barren land must be mortgaged for taxes and food and next year’s seed. The agony of hope ended when there was not harvest and no more credit, no money to pay interest and taxes; the banker took the land. Then the bank failed.
    • On the Way Home, ch. 1 (1962).

Old Home Town (1935)[edit]

  • Writing fiction is … an endless and always defeated effort to capture some quality of life without killing it.
    • Ch. 1.
  • Two deep human desires were at war … the longing for stability, for form, for permanence, which in its essence is the desire for death, and the opposing hunger for movement, change, instability and risk, which are life. Men came from the east and built these American towns because they wished to go no farther, and the towns they built were shaped by the urge to go onward.
    • Ch. 1.
  • It was not seen that woman’s place was in the home until she began to go out of it; the statement was a reply to an unspoken challenge, it was attempted resistance to irresistible change.
    • Ch. 1.
  • Even the street, the sunshine, the very air had a special [Sunday] quality. We walked differently on Sundays, with greater propriety and stateliness. Greetings were more formal, more subdued, voices more meticulously polite. Everything was so smooth, bland, polished. And genuinely so, because this was Sunday. In church the rustling and the stillness were alike pervaded with the knowledge that all was for the best. Propriety ruled the universe. God was in His Heaven, and we were in our Sunday clothes.
    • Ch. 1.
  • There is a city myth that country life was isolated and lonely; the truth is that farmers and their families then had a richer social life than they have now. They enjoyed a society organic, satisfying and whole, not mixed and thinned with the life of town, city and nation as it now is.
    • Ch. 1.

Give Me Liberty (1936)[edit]

The Caxton Printers, LTD, Caldwell, Idaho, 1954

  • In 1919 I was a communist. My Bolshevik friends of those days are scattered now; some are bourgeois, some are dead, some are in China and Russia, and I did not know the last American chiefs of the Third International, who now officially embrace Democracy. They would repudiate me even as a renegade comrade, for I was never a member of The Party. But it was merely an accident that I was not.
    • p. 3
  • The picture of the economic revolution as the final step to freedom was false as soon as I asked myself that question. For, in actual fact, The State, The Government, cannot exist. They are abstract concepts, useful enough in their place, as the theory of minus numbers is useful in mathematics. In actual living experience, however, it is impossible to subtract anything from nothing; when a purse is empty, it is empty, it cannot contain a minus ten dollars. On this same plane of actuality, no State, no Government, exists. What does in fact exist is a man, or a few men, in power over many men.
    • pp. 9-10
  • Representative government cannot express the will of the mass of the people, because there is no mass of the people; The People is a fiction, like The State. You cannot get a Will of the Mass, even among a dozen persons who all want to go on a picnic. The only human mass with a common will is a mob, and that will is a temporary insanity. In actual fact, the population of a country is a multitude of diverse human beings with an infinite variety of purposes and desires and fluctuating wills.
    • pp. 10-11
  • A republic is not possible in the Soviet Union because the aim of its rulers is an economic aim. Economic power differs from political power.
    • p. 11
  • The historical novelty of the Soviet government was its motive. Other governments have existed to keep peace among their subjects, or to amass money from them, or to use them in trade and war for the glory of the men governing them. But the Soviet government exists to do good to its people, whether they like it or not…To that end they have suppressed personal freedom; freedom of movement, of choice of work, freedom of self-expression in ways of life, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience.
    • p. 13
  • The Communist hope of economic equality in the Soviet Union rests now on the death of all men and women who are individuals. A new generation, they tell me, had already been so shaped and schooled that a human mass is actually being created; millions of young men and women do, in veritable fact, have the psychology of the bee-swarm, the ant-hill.
    • p. 14
  • I came out of the Soviet Union no longer a communist, because I believed in personal freedom. Like all Americans, I took for granted the individual liberty to which I had been born. It seemed as necessary and as inevitable as the air I breathed; it seemed the natural element in which human beings lived.
    • p. 15
  • The words we use are the most clumsy symbols for meanings, and to suppose that such words as ‘war,’ ‘glory,’ ‘justice,’ ‘liberty,’ ‘home,’ mean the same in two languages, is an error.
    • p. 15
  • Resisting step by step, I was finally compelled to admit to my Italian friends that I had seen the spirit of Italy revive under Mussolini. And it seemed to me that this revival was based on a separation of individual liberty from the industrial revolution whose cause and source is individual liberty. I said that in Italy, as in Russia, an essentially medieval, planned and controlled economic order was taking over the fruits of the industrial revolution while destroying its root, the freedom of the individual.
    • p. 16
  • This rejection of one's self as an individual was, I knew, the spirit animating the members of the Communist Party. I heard that it was the spirit beginning to animate Russia. It was the spirit of Fascism, the spirit that indubitably did revive Italy. Scores, hundreds of the smallest incidents revealed it.
    • p. 16
  • No jailer can compel any prisoner to speak or act against that prisoner's will, but chains can prevent his acting, and a gag can prevent his speaking.
    • p. 17
  • The American pioneers phrased this clearly and bluntly. They said, ‘Root, hog, or die.’ There can be no third alternative for the shoat let out of the pen, to go where he pleases and do what he likes. Individual liberty is individual responsibility. Whoever makes decisions is responsible for results. When common men were slaves and serfs, they obeyed and they were fed, but they died by thousands in plagues and famines. Free men paid for their freedom by leaving that false and illusory security.
    • pp. 23-24
  • We would learn more by looking at America. Oddly enough, statistics appear only in times of agitation and distress. Their function would appear to be that of omens of worse to come. We seem to have a morbid taste for them, like that of children for ghost stories that raise the hair. The American air has not been so full of fragmentary statistics since the Panic of 1893. I read again, for instance, that less than 10 per cent of our population own more than 90 per cent of the wealth… I read also that a hundred years ago 80 per cent of our population owned property and that today the percentage is 23.
    • p. 43
  • What I can't understand is, how can anybody figure now that the government can support us, when we support the government.
    • p. 47
  • History is nothing whatever but a record of what living persons have done in the past.
    • p. 48
  • To believe that any action based on an ignorance of fact can possibly succeed, is to abandon the use of reason.
    • p. 48
  • [D]uring half a century, reactionary influences from Europe have been shifting American thinking onto a basis of socialistic assumptions. In cities and states, both parties began to socialize America with imitations of the Kaiser's Germany: social welfare laws, labor laws, wage-and-hour laws, citizens' pension laws, and so-called public ownership.
    • p. 49
  • For nothing whatever but the constitutional law, the political structure, of these United States protects any American from arbitrary seizure of his property and his person, from the Gestapo and the Storm Troops, from the concentration camp, the torture chamber, the revolver at the back of his neck in a cellar. I am not an alarmist; that is plain fact.
    • p. 50
  • In 1933 a group of sincere and ardent collectivists seized control of the Democratic Party, used it as a means of grasping Federal power, and enthusiastically, from motives which many of them regard as the highest idealism, began to make America over. The Democratic Party is now a political mechanism having a genuine political principle: national socialism.
    • p. 50
  • The Republican Party remains a political mechanism with no political principle. It does not stand for American individualism. Its leaders continue to play the 70-year-old American professional sport of vote-getting, called politics.
    • p. 50

Discovery of Freedom: Man's Struggle Against Authority (1943)[edit]

The John Day Company, 1943

  • Men are alive on this earth, only because the imperative human desire is to attack the enemies of human life.
    • p. viii.
  • This is the nature of human energy; individuals generate it, and control it. Each person is self-controlling, and therefore responsible for his acts. Every human being, by his nature, is free.
    • p. xii.
  • I am a contributing creator of American civilization; it does not create me. I control the stem of this civilization that is within my reach; it does not control me. It can not even make me read Spengler, if I'd rather read a pulp magazine.
    • p. 18
  • The reason is that Government, by its nature, can not per mit a competitor within the field of its activities. Everyone knows that Government is a monopoly of the use of force; it can not permit individuals to use force against each other, or against the Government, nor can it permit another Government to use force inside its frontiers; if it does, it ceases to be Government.
    • p. 31
  • When Government has a monopoly of all production and all distribution, as many Governments have, it can not permit any economic activity that competes with it. This means that it can not permit any new use of productive energy, for the new always competes with the old and destroys it. Men who build railroads destroy stage coach lines.
    • p. 32
  • Inside these modern National frontiers, the workers have been working harder and getting little more than their ancestors did in the feudal system. So the so-called revolutionists attack their Governments and ruling classes, accusing them of not controlling the social system as it should be controlled. Socialist, Social-Democrat, Communist, Fascist, National Socialist (Nazi) all demand that Government make a better social system; that Government control the men who produce and distribute goods; that Government create security for men on this earth. The basis of all this thinking is ignorance of creative energy; it is ignorance of the real nature of human beings; it is the ancient, pagan superstition that Authority controls a static, limited universe.
    • p. 140
  • Freedom is not a permission granted by any Authority. Freedom is a fact. Whether or not this fact is known, freedom is in the nature of every living person, as gravitation is in the nature of this planet. Life is energy; liberty is the individual control of human life-energy. It can not be separated from life. Liberty is inalienable; as I can not transfer my life to anyone else, I can not transfer my liberty, my control of my life-energy, to anyone else.
    • p. 149
  • Public debt is a new problem for Americans; a century ago, no one imagined it. Congress then did not know what to do with all the surplus money in the Treasury, and finally returned it to the States.
    • p. 193
  • But responsibility for whatever the men in American Government do, is the individual citizen's responsibility. The men who began the Revolution created and bequeathed to every future American the tools for progressively reducing the use of force in human affairs. Every American inherits these unique tools: the Constitution that checks the acts of men in public office, and the convention of delegates which is the peaceful means of changing the Constitution.
    • p. 193
  • Men stood up in Parliament and pointed to the American facts. What had created the clipper ships? Not the American government. Not protection, but lack of protection. What made the British marine second-rate? Safety, shelter, protection under the British Navigation Acts… The result was catastrophe. American clipper ships ran away with the Indian trade. They ran away with the trade in England's own home ports.
    • p. 238
  • American clipper ships opened the British ports to free trade. Half a century of American smuggling and rebellion and costly ineffectual blockades; seven years of war in America, and the loss of the thirteen colonies; and all the sound and sensible arguments of English liberals and economists, could not break down the British planned economy. American clipper ships did it.
    • p. 239
  • They were the final blow that brought down that whole planned structure. The great English reform movement of the 19th century consisted wholly in repealing laws. There was nothing constructive in it; it was wholly destructive. It was a destruction of Government's interference with human affairs, a destruction of the so-called ‘protection’ that is actually a restriction of the exercise of natural human rights. In that mid-19th-century period of the greatest individual freedom that Englishmen have ever known, they made the prosperity and power of the British Empire during Victoria's long and peaceful reign. And to that freedom, and prosperity and power and peace, the American clipper ship contributed more than any other one thing.
    • p. 239

The Lady and The Tycoon: Letters of Rose Wilder Lane and Jasper Crane (1973)[edit]

The Caxton Printers, Ltd., Caldwell, Idaho, Roger Lea MacBride, edit., 1973

  • As to the restraint of trade by business, that is impossible; the notion that money is power is another lie. There is no possible means by which the duPont Company can stop me (if I have the brains, and not a penny) from starting an enterprise that will eventually totally destroy the duPont Company. I can be stopped only by violence, by physical force. The duPont Company, desiring to stop me, has two possible methods: (1) You can hire and pay a gunman to kill me or kidnap me, and gangsters to destroy my property; you cannot do this successfully if the State performs its proper function of protecting human rights (my right to life, liberty, and ownership of property). (2) Or, you can bribe enough Congressmen to pass an Act of Congress setting up a commission and requiring that anyone engaging in any enterprise in the field of duPont Company’s activities must first obtain a permit from the commission and thereafter be ‘regulated’ by the members of the commission.
    • p. 2 (letter March 22, 1946)
  • Freedom of enterprise CANNOT ‘produce a society in which there is great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few and considerable poverty among the many.’ Dr. Blake might as well ask, ‘What is our political and Christian duty when water runs uphill, when the earth turns from east to west, when air is heavier than lead?’ Doesn’t he know any facts at all? Does he never LOOK at his country? How can he avoid seeing, if he ever glances at any city, town, highway, or farm, that the salient characteristic of this country is distribution, not concentration, of wealth? Doesn’t he know that even ownership of capital wealth is not concentrated?—that, for example, some 600,000 ‘among the many’ own General Electric? What free enterprise produces most unexpectedly, is a society in which great economic responsibility is concentrated and great wealth is distributed among the many.
    • p. 81 (letter June 11, 1952)
  • It is obvious that by robbing others, he robs himself, because obviously, if ALL human beings tried to live by not producing but stealing goods from others, none could survive beyond a limited time. So anyone’s using his life-time-energy in stealing, instead of in producing goods, reduces by so much the amount of wealth that potentially could be produced, and progressively diminishes in time the amount that he can get, even by stealing.
    • p. 90 (letter October 3, 1953)
  • Chattel slavery really was an interesting illustration of this fact. The slavery-owners were in process of destroying their own economy by maintaining slavery. That’s why they could not win a military victory over the northerners. ‘Natural resources’ were more abundant in the south than in the north, but wealth was progressively less in comparison because slavery inhibited the use of human energy in the south. So the southerner was hampering the use of his own liberty by suppressing the slave’s use of his. The increasingly indebted slave-owner on his increasingly mortgaged property was unable to do much that he wanted to do, and the reason for his diminishing area of freedom was his denial of freedom to his slaves.
    • p. 90 (letter October 3, 1953)
  • More and more southerners were seeing this fact and trying to get rid of their slaves; there were all kinds of plans for doing this. So many simply freed their slaves that most, if not all, southern legislatures passed Acts forbidding this—Acts intended to compel slave-owners to continue to bear their responsibility for their slave-property, and to prevent an increase of the numbers of untrained, uncontrolled, unfed and unsheltered person at large in those states. To evade these laws slave-owners moved temporarily into ‘free’ territory, freed their salves there, and returned. So laws were passed forbidding this. And laws forbidding such freed slaves to return to the slave States, on penalty arrest, punishment and sale.
    • pp. 90-91 (letter October 3, 1953)
  • American farmers fought the ‘protective tariff’ from 1800 to 1896 … Even as late as 1933, when Garet Garrett and I drove all over the Midwest, the farmers in general were not wanting AAA or any other federal interference. In Kansas I met a rabble‐rousing New Dealer from Washington who took me to a farmers’ meeting where he spoke with real conviction and eloquence. The audience listened absolutely noncommittal, until he worked up to an incandescent peroration: ‘We went down there to Washington and got you all a Ford. Now we’re going to get you a Cadillac!’ The temperature suddenly fell below freezing; the silent antagonism was colder than zero. That ended the speech; the whole audience rose and went out. The orator later said to me, ‘Those damned numbskulls! The only thing to use on them is a club!’
    • p. 168 (letter July 13, 1963)
  • [I]n a hotel lobby in Branson, Missouri, I met a young man almost in tears, totally woebegone and despairing. He had spent seventy days in Stone County, working day and night, he said, house to house, up hill and down, over those horrible roads; he’d gone to every house, he’d used every persuasion he could think of, talked himself hoarse, and he had not got even ONE man to take a $2,500 loan from the government; and those wretched people needed everything; why, their children were barefoot, some of them lived in log cabins—could I believe it? They NEEDED to be rehabilitated; I had no idea what rural slums they lived in; and here he offered them a loan from the Government—amortized, 25 years to pay it, more time if they wanted it; he offered them horses, and tools, even a car, anything almost and they just wouldn’t take it. They didn’t talk or act like such fools either. He couldn’t understand it. He HAD to get some of them to take Government help or he’d lose his job.
    • pp. 168-169 (letter Jan. 30, 1957)
  • In southern Illinois there was a Terror. The Government men went into that country and took no nonsense; they condemned the land—every farm; offered the owners $7 an acre, or nothing. This was a model project, tearing down houses, building new roads, surveying a Community Center all blueprinted. The people were frantic and furious; they hired lawyers, who told them they could do nothing; they tried to get the facts printed; no newspaper dared do it.
    • p. 169 (letter July 13, 1963)
  • The county was listed as a rural slum, the land as eroded. When I asked to be shown erosion, the answer was, it is ’sheet erosion’ That is, the constant effect of rainfall on all earth. There was not an eroded ditch in the county. Every farm was well cared for, every house in repair, painted, cared for—simple frame houses, a few without electricity or plumbing, but many with both.… None of them wanted to be rehabilitated. None of them would speak to Garet or to me until we proved that we did not come from the Government. Garet was dumbfounded when men surrounded the car and demanded that proof; luckily he had it, by chance. And these are the people who are said to be demanding subsidies! That was a story—Communist Terror in Illinois. (The manager of the project was a Party member.) No editor would print it, of course. The truth about this country never does get into print.
    • pp. 169-170 (letter July 13, 1963)
  • Various authorities have been trying to force a Social Security number on me. They telephone and tell me I MUST have one; since I have none, they are giving me one. I tell them I won’t have it. I get forms, my humble request to be entitled to Social Security benefits; with command, Sign here and return to—I put them in the wastebasket. I get orders to appear at such an hour, such a date, at such an office, with all records and receipts to show cause—I reply that it is not convenient for me to appear—etc., etc. I even get an order to appear and support with documents my claim for refund of the tax‐and‐fine that I paid; I return this, writing across it, I have made no such claim. The telephone rings, and I am informed that I am being given the necessary Social Security number; I say I have none and I shall NOT have one; I will have nothing to do with that Ponzi fraud because it is treason; it will wreck this country as it wrecked Germany; I won’t have it; you can’t make me.
    • pp. 203–204 (letter May 9, 1958)
  • Mr. LeFevre and I have engaged in heated, though amiable, controversy, about his attitude to Government. When the students in his Basic course—the one I attended—asked him, what should we do? his reply was negative. He said: Do not depend on Government; do not ask Government for favors and subsidies and support. I think that a negative is not enough; I say that if they do not know the right action they are too apt to take a wrong one; I think that the thing to do is to resist any further extensions and encroachments and usurpations by the Federal Government, by every peaceful legal means while such means exist.…
    • p. 213 (letter October 30, 1958)
  • I do not think that any honesty is involved in paying taxes. Taxation is plain armed robbery; tax‐collectors are armed robbers. I will save my property from them in any way that I think I can get away with. If you wake in the night with a flashlight shining in your face and a masked man with a gun ordering you to tell him where your money is, do you feel that you’re morally obliged to tell him the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? I think you might. I don’t. I will try to get out of that predicament with as little loss as possible. In regard to taxes, this means taking advantage of every legality that any attorney can find in the tax ‘laws’ so called, and regulations. I have no scruples about this whatever, anything that I want to do with my money, and that I can in any way slip under any legality so that the robbers won’t find it and rob me of some of it, I do. They make the legalities, trying to be smart about who gets how much of my property; and to keep as much as possible of my own, I’ll outsmart them if I can.
    • p. 263 (letter February 1, 1961)
  • My attachment to these United States is wholly, entirely, absolutely The Revolution, the real world Revolution, which men began here and which has—so to speak—a foothold on earth here. If reactionaries succeed in destroying the revolutionary structure of social and political human life here, I care no more about this continent than about any other. If I lived long enough I would find and join the revival of the Revolution wherever it might be, in Africa or Asia or Europe, the Arctic or Antarctic. And let this country go with all the other regimes that collectivism has wrecked and eliminated since history began. So much for patriotism, mine.
    • pp. 267-268 (letter, Feb. 14, 1961)
  • As to anarchy, you can find me with Woodrow Wilson (that lying treacherous scoundrel who began this World War: truly a ‘Platonic ‘idealist,’ he was) who said words to the effect that increase of freedom is decrease of Government. The difference between W.W. and me is that I mean what I say. I am not wildeyed and whiskered and I do not contemplate throwing a home-made bomb at Mr. Kennedy but I am FOR any and every way of diminishing the size, the activity, the extent of Government per se, and all respect for Government, to the eventual end of eliminating Government totally. Anarchy is absence of earthly Authority over human beings, by definition and etymology; so I am an anarchist.
    • p. 268 (letter (letter February 14, 1961)
  • I am FOR any and every way of diminishing the size, the activity, the extent of Government per se, and all respect for Government, to the eventual end of eliminating Government totally. Anarchy is absence of earthly Authority over human beings, by definition and etymology; so I am an anarchist.
    • p. 268 (letter, Feb. 14, 1961)
  • I am ‘law‐abiding’ purely for expediency, for self‐defense, in the main against my conscientious principles, so at bottom I am ashamed of not being a conscientious objector practicing Gandhi’s or Thoreau’s civil disobedience. I did refuse to be rationed; I do absolutely refuse to be Social‐Secured; but I should refuse to pay taxes and be in jail, only what would become of my little Maltese puppies? and my own little area of freedom? and my books and my friends and correspondents? I shall be reluctantly a martyr, only when backed into the last corner of the last resort. No heroine, alas.”
    • p. 269 (letter February 14, 1961)
  • Human minds always are logical; the fallacy always is in the premise, the basic unquestioned assumption, upon which the process of reasoning is based. So in logical return for The Government’s benefits, we are supposed to ‘owe a duty’ to It. The custom of taxation is a remnant of the Incarnate God’s ownership of ‘his people.’ Why do you owe money to Mr. Kennedy? If you need to guard your property, you hire and pay guards, nightwatchmen; if you are a banker you buy and pay for armored cars and hire guards to transport the bank’s gold; if you manage an insurance company you hire and pay detectives to investigate claims against your company. If a foreign power attacks your country, you defend it; you man the tanks, fly the bombers, fire the guns. Is there a need, in reason, to compel persons—by force—to defend their property and themselves? Is there a reason why ‘people cannot do for themselves’ in a free market, everything that The Government is supposed to be doing for them?
    • p. 332 (letter July 13, 1963)
  • ‘The people’ have in fact done everything that is done; they built the houses and roads and railroads and telephones and planes, they organized world‐wide cooperative institutions—the oil companies, the banks—and the postal services, and the militia companies, and the schools—what didn’t ‘the people’ do? What happens is that, after they do it, The Government takes it. The Government takes the roads, the postal service, the systems of communication, the banks, the markets, the stock exchanges, the insurance companies, the schools, the militia, the building trades, the telegraph and telephones, the radios, after ‘the people’ have done all these things for themselves.
    • pp. 332-333 (letter July 13, 1963)

Dorothy Thompson & Rose Wilder Lane; Forty Years of Friendship (1991)[edit]

Edit., William Holtz, University of Missouri Press, Columbia and London, 1991

  • I do not see how a British switch from alliance with Stalin to alliance with Hitler can be any tragic defeat for ‘democracy.’ It is a smashing blow to a communist state and to communists as a party and as an international conspiracy—a blow to conspiracy because it will create further dissension in it. But if this alliance is a triumph for Fascism, then the British alliance with the Czar was a triumph for Czarism, and the one with Stalin was a triumph for communism.
    • p. 146 (letter to Dorothy Thompson (Oct. 15, 1938)
  • The existence of totalitarian states even as ruthlessly implemented as Hitler’s and Stalin’s, cannot destroy personal freedom on earth, for when that ideal came into history only a couple of centuries ago, there wasn’t anything else. The technical development that surged up out of free (released from government control) enterprise make totalitarian states look much more horribly terrific now; but actually, in relation to their time, they are no more totalitarian, no more ruthless and barbarous and bloody, than the France of the Louis’, or than Spain now, or than Pre-Victorian England.
    • p. 148 (letter to Dorothy Thompson (Oct. 15, 1938)
  • I would question whether, in the dynamics of capitalism, it is true (as Jefferson believed) that it is the distribution of ownership that matters… The man who owned no land was then actually dispossessed. He literally had no right to stand upon the earth. I think myself that the defense of personal freedom depends upon the institution of private property: i.e., the right of every individual to own an actual piece of ground upon which to stand.
    • p. 170, letter to Dorothy Thompson (May 20, 1943)
  • In 1800, a prosperous year, the total income of Americans (called ‘the national income’) was something over 2 billion dollars, a fabulous amount then. Capitalists and landlords got 68%, farmers and laborers 32%. In 1930, of tragic memory, near the bottom of ‘the worst depression in history’, the incomes of all Americans amounted to roughly to 75 billion. Of this wage earners (who had increased in number 17%) got 64%+; entrepreneurs, 20%; capitalists and landlords the remaining 16%.
    • p. 170, letter to Dorothy Thompson, (May 20, 1943)
  • Public ownership’ is of course a fantasy. ‘The People,’ ‘The Public,’ do not exist and therefore can’t own anything. ‘Public ownership’ is actually destruction of ownership. Where everyone ostensibly ‘owns’ something, nobody owns it. Who owns a ‘public’ park? or a post office? Complete and absolute ‘public ownership’ is communism, in which nobody owns anything and all persons are inevitably slaves, either willingly obeying or compelled to obey an authority residing outside their own wills. The essential to individual liberty (or more accurately, to the exercise of the individual’s natural self-control and responsibility) is an established legal right to individual ownership of property. Every attack upon ‘private property’ is an attack upon human rights.
    • p. 172 (letter to Dorothy Thompson (May 20, 1943)
  • So far as is discernible to me, capitalism has no alter-ego, strictly speaking. In theory, capitalism is the economics of a society of free individuals. It rests upon the nature of man; this natural being, that each person is a source of human energy, a dynamo creating life energy, and self-controlling in action… I do not see how there can be an ‘alter-ego’ to this basic reality. One might as well say that there is an alter-ego to the fact that the earth is not flat.
    • p. 173
  • Samuel Grafton asked on the radio some weeks ago, for a listeners’ vote on the question; do you want the benefits of Social Security extended to those now excluded from them? Of course, I knew what the announced results would be, but just for shucks… I sent him a postcard saying ‘no’. I signed it Mrs. C. G. Lane (my name) for obvious reasons. Last Saturday, I’m peacefully digging dandelions out of my lawn with a paring knife, when the State Police arrive, in full uniform, complete with gun, and stern and overpowering as hell. The FBI, if you please, is investigating the subversive activities of Mrs. C. G. Lane. It is true that I sent this postcard? (Copy held accusingly before my eyes.) Is it true that I oppose Social Security? What (in effect) do I mean by it? My sense of proportion completely failed; I rose up in fury, and it’s really too bad that only the dandelions heard me. The State Police, really very decent young fellows, tried to explain that they didn’t really mean anything by it, that I should give them credit for coming to me instead of going around collecting evidence against me from the neighbors, and that of course if I’m Rose Wilder Lane—all of which only made me madder, naturally.
    • p. 176, letter to Dorothy Thompson (May 20, 1943)
  • Can’t you see,… that the ‘ending up’ of the communist effort, and the fascist, and the nazi, are inevitable in the nature of things? Can’t you see that the New Deal is essentially the same effort as all these, and that its end is inevitably the same end?
    • p. 177
  • How thoroughly have you studied compulsory insurance in Germany? And why do you believe that it will work here otherwise than it worked there? I would really like to know. My own opinions haven’t ripened yet. So far, I am opposed to so-called ‘Social Security’ principally because I am opposed to tyranny; I think it is tyranny to take my money, money earned by my labor, and to spend it for me—in any way whatever—instead of allowing me to send it for myself. But so far as I have learned, and thought, about this use of tyranny in Germany since Bismarck established it, I’m inclined to believe that it can’t work otherwise than as disastrously as it worked there.
    • pp. 177-178, letter to Dorothy Thompson (May 20, 1943)
  • When a free person buys insurance from a private company, the company has a profit-motive in remaining solvent, and the government uses it police power properly to enforce the carrying-out of the terms of the contract freely entered into. But when government uses police power to compel a person to buy government insurance, there is no profit motive, and there is no third party existing, to enforce the terms of the contract. It seems to be a most precarious venture, at best.
    • p. 178, letter to Dorothy Thompson (May 20, 1943)
  • A ‘civilization’ is not an organism, it is not biological, it is not an entity at all. ‘Civilization does not exist; what exists is living individual persons, each one endowed by his Creator with life energy and with liberty, which is his own control of his own actions (kinetic life energy). There is no inevitability whatever in history. Certainly, a collectivist ‘system’ will break down, as socialized Rome did, as all ‘governments’ antique and ancient and modern have broken down, when a majority of living persons believed the socialist fallacy: that there is a Human whole of which persons compose the cellular mass.
    • pp. 193-194, letter to Dorothy Thompson (Nov. 18, 1969)
  • I am not a prophet. But I do not believe that anything like a majority of Americans are looking for security; I do not believe that the groups of young radicals in the colleges and all over this country are in a ‘flight’ from socialization. I think they are furiously rebelling against it and determined to abolish it. I believe that their revolt is founded solidly on reality, as the similar socialist revolt of our youth was not; and I believe that they will succeed in overturning the status quo (as the socialist did) and end this century as Americans ended the 18th, in a great surge of liberalism, this time world-wide. I mean genuine liberalism. Since the socialists have stolen that good word, true liberals flounder all over the place, calling themselves ‘ libertarians’ and even ‘conservatives,’ but the accurate word, individualists, seems to be gaining ground lately.
    • p. 194, letter to Dorothy Thompson (Nov. 18, 1969)

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