by Richard Hammer
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Many people it seems have a tendency to foresee apocalypse. Malthus in 1798 foretold famine for our species because of our tendency to reproduce. Others to this day continue to forecast the same doom (in spite of the fact that history to date has rebuked Malthus: now when our numbers are higher than ever before we are also better fed than ever before). And in recent years awareness of pollution has provided a good environment for forecasts of universal poisoning.
But of course the most fertile environment for growing forecasts of doom flourishes, now as in ages past, in consumption of natural resources: "in 25 years we will be out of oil"; or, "if we keep on at this rate using up the flint around our cave, in another 5 years we will not be able to make any more hand axes."
I think we can see here a formula for forecasts of apocalypse. Just assume that anybody doing anything will continue. They will continue in spite of any signals they might receive: that they have done enough already; that they are starting to make a mess; or that they might better satisfy their need some other way. If someone driving straight down a road continues driving straight, heedless of signals from the environment, at the end of the road there will be calamity. It is easy to forecast apocalypse. And easy with this insight to see through most such forecasts.
Shortly after I had this insight I realized that I too am prone to forecast apocalypse. I see the large majority of Americans voting for politicians who expand the role of government, and I foresee a repetition of the experiment already tried by the Soviets. This fear motivates the Free Nation Foundation and this publication Formulations.
So is my forecast of apocalypse as foolish as others? Is it as faulty as the forecast given during the energy crisis of the nineteenth century, when depletion of whales induced fear that soon there would be no oil to light an ever-increasing number of lamps? Of course I do not know for sure. Each person must decide.
Out of Russia comes a common news story that sustains my fears. There are many Russians today who want a return to the old system. Most people do not understand our arguments for liberty. The greatest moral and economic philosophers of this century have shown that socialism cannot work. But among the Russians, whose lives and spirits have been crushed by this system, there lives a large minority who do not comprehend what caused their problems. It hit them over the head and they do not know what it is.
If these Russians do not get it I question whether we can teach a majority of voters in western democracies to see an even more abstract cause-and-effect relationship. Our neighbors must first believe the evil of socialism. And then they must perceive that their votes are recreating socialism, one step at a time. I do not know when or if we can complete this education.
Perhaps the tide will turn in America. I hope so. But my limited powers of perception leave me fearing apocalypse. It seems worthwhile to put a few eggs in another basket. Join us. Working together we can formulate a future more secure.
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