This is interview #25 in JohnsonForAmerica.com’s “Important Voices” series, where we talk with key figures, such as elected officials, candidates, authors, commentators, and policy experts, about the issues of the day. A new interview is released every Monday and every Thursday, so check back often!
Our guest for today’s Important Voices interview is Floy Lilley. Floy is a libertarian writer, audio book narrator, entrepreneur, and a veteran of UN Climate Change conferences (more than twenty, in fact). Floy lives in Auburn, Alabama (where she works with the Ludwig von Mises Institute) and often contributes to Mises.org and LewRockwell.com.
Josiah Schmidt: How did you come to hold such a liberty-oriented philosophy?
Floy Lilley: I had a strong work ethic at home with parents and family that read and gave me an environment of self-worth and responsibility, even though my Dad was a career Navy officer. He did, after retirement, feel that his state life had been one of deceit. I held my first good private sector job at thirteen and have worked ever since. When I first read Atlas Shrugged at seventeen I owned it in every way. Thereafter I called my philosophical bent Objectivism, but was not a Randian. A small group of us studied every newsletter that Rand published and I read everything she wrote.
I met F.A. Hayek in 1973 and read his work. I devoured Reed’s FEE publications. I contributed heavily to the successful creation and growth of both new and established private businesses. I was part of the entrepreneurial force. I met Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell, Murray Rothbard, Walter Block, and Burt Blumert in the eighties and began reading their work. In law, my interest was on property rights. Bastiat’s book was a favorite. For a privately-funded university Chair of Free Enterprise, I delivered speeches nationally on the piecemeal plunder of private property rights that I witnessed. I worked to pass Private Property Acts in the separate states. I have been a watchdog to the actions of the United Nations that seek the establishment of global government and the destruction of private property, individual sovereignty, natural law, individual rights, sound money and all wealth-creating elements of free societies. Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s work in the nineties shifted me solidly into anarcho-capitalist ranks.
Today, the work I do is the work I have loved my whole life – spreading the remarkable ideas of liberty in all possible formats. Ideas do have consequences. Marx and Keynes have ruled way too many generations.
Josiah Schmidt: What are your top three favorite books?
Floy Lilley: Atlas Shrugged (1957) by Ayn Rand, The Law (1850) by Frederic Bastiat, and Democracy: The God That Failed (2001) by Hans-Hermann Hoppe.
Josiah Schmidt: Who do you think is the most underrated and underestimated libertarian writer of all time?
Floy Lilley: Algernon Sidney. He is so underrated and underestimated that he is virtually unknown. He wrote Discourses Concerning Government. The Crown killed him in 1683. Along with John Locke and Trenchard and Gordon of Cato’s Letters, Sidney was, according to Murray N. Rothbard, one of the three most cited and quoted theorists developing libertarian thought in America. Sidney stresses the right of revolution.
“To Sidney, revolution and freedom were closely linked. Whenever people’s liberties were threatened or invaded, they had the right, nay the duty, to rebel. Everyone might legitimately slay a tyrant, and there is much justification for defending the rights of individuals against tyranny.” p.188 Conceived in Liberty, Vol II.
Sidney’s analysis of individual reason influenced Anne Hutchinson’s lone pioneering in philosophical anarchism.
Josiah Schmidt: What do you think is the significance of the burgeoning “Tea Party” movement?
Floy Lilley: I share Laurence Vance’s assessment that Tea Party people are sincere and teachable, while still not being reliable and consistent advocates of liberty.
Were the movement to galvanize, it would probably supplant the Republican Party, as Gerald Celente has predicted it will in 2012. That would be good for liberty if it were to be a substantive change rather than simply a switch in the faces of the ruling class.
Josiah Schmidt: In your opinion, what is the biggest, looming, unseen threat to our freedom today?
Floy Lilley: The state itself is the grand seen threat to our freedom. Within that public monster grows the threat that works diligently to remain off radar – the monopoly cartel which is our monetary system.
Since there is no political freedom possible until there is first economic freedom, the monopoly cartel that seized our money, banking and credit system in 1913 remains the chief obstacle to individual liberty and to a free society in our country.
To expose this core threat is pure radicalism. Few groups outside the Austrian economists and Ron Paulians have gained the knowledge and have had the courage to consistently work at informing others about the enslaving role of the Federal Reserve as our central bank. It is past time to separate money and the state.
Josiah Schmidt: How did Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign change America?
Floy Lilley: For the first time in eighty-five years the existence and authority of the central bank is questioned. Paul’s campaign has contained substance that has always been considered the third rail of politics. His courageous convictions alone earn respect and allegiance. But, as vibrant as Paul’s message is, it is the technological medium’s response to that message that has changed American politics. Grassroots have become grass digits. Decentralized internet communication has dented the highly controlled mass media messages. Hierarchies quake.
Josiah Schmidt: In a few sentences, how might the free market handle anthropogenic global warming (assuming it’s true, just for the sake of argument) better than the State?
Floy Lilley: Nature’s Law is mutate, migrate, adapt, or die. Adaption, innovation and resilience are natural characteristics of free societies, not states. Whatever the crisis might be, the flexible and innovative responses of entrepreneurs will always beat the bureauclerosis of a state. The only free society on the planet today is the internet. Earthweb by Marc Stiegler (1999 – Baen) is the way the free market handles catastrophic events. I think it is our future networked intelligence. But then, I never do see people as bellies, but as minds.
Josiah Schmidt: Who do you think was the most competent (or should I say, the least incompetent) United States President in our nation’s history?
Floy Lilley: Harding. Jim Powell’s article on him makes a full case. Less government in business and a non-interventionist foreign policy endear his actions to me. Harding recognized the crucial importance of encouraging investment essential for growth and jobs. ‘We need vastly more freedom than we do regulation,’ he said.
Josiah Schmidt: What advice would you give to libertarians reading this interview?
Floy Lilley: Those of us who love and live liberty do not have plans for others lives. We want others to keep their hands out of our pockets and to mind their own business.
Political movements require leaders and youth. It is always a delicate act to lead without controlling. There was a stretch of time when President Paul seemed a possibility. Burt Blumert was the first to remind us that were Paul elected, we would have to get busy with impeachment proceedings, it being impossible for any human to resist such seduction of the power in being the Chief Executive.
Josiah Schmidt: Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
Floy Lilley: Did you know that in England libertarians were first known as Levellers? Or, that a general Hudson River uprising was the Levellers’ Uprising of 1766? Because I voice recorded all four volumes of it, I am here to tell you that Conceived In Liberty by Murray N. Rothbard is the most amazing libertarian historical effort in which a libertarian lens is held up to colonial America. Rothbard clearly saw the play between social forces and state forces during our Nation’s formation. You can download the PDFs freely, or the MP3 audios freely from our open site Mises.org. No permissions needed to reprint or copy. Now that’s the libertarian way.