From Australia to America to Europe, the voices against free markets, small government and individual freedom are growing louder.
The narrative is fairly shrill but simple: that capitalism is failing, leading to wider inequality and societal breakdown, and that more government intervention is the remedy. Meanwhile, political correctness on university campuses has crept into contemporary public discourse.
However, as the cause of liberalism appears quixotic, it is easy to forget how depressing things looked four decades ago. During those dark days, Australia faced an economic and political crisis. We were an over-regulated nation, weighed down by chronic inflation and union militancy. Meanwhile, our politics had become “so crazy,” lamented Sir Robert Menzies in 1973, “that one would need to be a highly skilled psychiatrist to understand it.” (Sound familiar?)
But hope springs eternal. The intellectual and political tide began to turn in the late 1970s when a group of classical liberals took a stand against the prevailing culture. My predecessor Greg Lindsay played a leading role in this endeavor by creating the Centre for Independent Studies.
As a result, CIS has helped lead the effort to make Australia a better, freer place.
From the Keynesian mindset that delivered economic turmoil in the 1970s, Australia would move in to an era of sounder policy and more durable prosperity. We’ve enjoyed the longest boom in our history. The lesson: good policy really matters.
That was then. Today, alas, we face myriad daunting new challenges (as well as some old ones) that threaten our prosperity and freedom. Now more than ever, a counter-argument is needed.
Governments can’t create optimism, wealth and jobs; only the private sector can do it. Innovation and progress spring not from bureaucracy but from the brilliance of individuals. And our civil society should be vibrant enough to tolerate all people of whatever ethnic, gender or religious persuasion.
With your support, the CIS will continue to champion a free, open and prosperous future — one that we can bequeath to our children and grandchildren with great pride and confidence. To help back this ongoing work, click here.
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