Almost as long as I can remember, I have been a fan of science fiction. I like it for the escapism it allows me, especially when I have some free time on a trip. But sometimes I also find some real nuggets of insight or inspiration there. That probably reflects, in part, how my attraction to liberty affects my book choices. A good example is a passage from a book that I read not long ago, when escapism from current reality seems particularly justified, particularly with respect to liberty.
It comes from chapter 29 in Jaxin Reid’s “Operation Starfold,” the seventh of ten books in his “Pirates of the Milky Way” series, in a conversation about the nature of government, represented in the series by the League versus the Republic.
It’s not so much the actual League or the Republic, it’s the systems of government they represent.
The worldviews are incompatible with one another…control versus freedom…the underlying fundamental assumptions of both systems are diametrically opposed.
When you have a controlled society like the League, eventually everything has to be controlled to make it work … that leads to totalitarianism. Total control by the government.
This is why communism always fails. It’s why socialism eventually fails, too … More and more control is gathered up by the government and when it hits a tipping point, everything falls apart.
The League still operates from a fundamental assumption regarding control of its citizenry…People are meant to be directed rather than fully allowed to pursue their own self-interests.
The Republic, on the other hand, has a fundamental assumption regarding human liberty. People there are free to do what they want, within reason … so conflict between the two was inevitable.
This conversation, which reflects an important aspect of Reid’s series, reminds me so much of the work of Friedrich Hayek, whose birthday is May 8, that I might call it “The Road Back from Interstellar Serfdom.” And Reid’s conclusions also echo Hayek.
Ultimately, the system offering more freedom is the side to be on…Because freedom always burns bright in the human heart, no matter what system of government it lives under at the moment.
I respect the notions of personal liberty more than I ever did before. I see now why people have been willing to die so their children can grow up in a more free society. It’s worth fighting for.
As a professor of economics for the last four decades, it has been painful for me to observe how many have received college degrees, or taught classes to those students, while knowing less (or the opposite) of the central importance of liberty, not only in society, but in every life, than they could have acquired from reading insightful “escapist” science fiction such as Jaxon Reid’s.
And it is hard to be optimistic about the immediate future for what will qualify one as “educated.” But I find hope for the inspiration to love liberty, which can still be found, even if not very easily at far too many colleges.
Gary M. Galles is a professor of economics at Pepperdine University.