Tom Palmer (Dr.) as known to many young libertarians represents an iconic figure of the ideal libertarian mentor. From tireless trips around the world in the advocacy of the ideals of freedom to a charismatic personality with a complementing mixture of academic, passion and humorous inferences, a meeting with someone in the frame of Tom Palmer presents a potent renewal and belief in the future of liberty.
In a recent talk marking the beginning of the second day in the ongoing European Students For Liberty Conference being held in Leuven, Belgium, the ever amiable Tom Palmer was not only in his eloquent best as usual, but worth remembering for many years to come is the spirited commendation and charge the talk presents to young advocates of the ideas of human freedom and justice.
From the talk under the title, “Why We Fight For Liberty, Peace and Justice”, Tom Palmer devoted the early part of his talk demystifying certain myths about the inferred dependence on the state and its welfare system, and outlining the diverse cultural definition and application of freedom and being liberal, saying “every culture has a narrative of liberty and a narrative of power.” He allays the importance of individuals taking charge of their life as a lifelong individual responsibility and the complexity obtained in governance which could potentially be made easier by enacting simple rules for the increasingly complex world.
Itemizing the key elements to freedom vis-à-vis voluntary social coordination, the rule of law to protect and preserve Individual rights, spontaneous order, and a limited government … Tom Palmer reiterates the importance of the rule of law in the society as necessary for the security of rights and freedom, and also protects individuals from the arbitrary commands of other people.
Citing the words Cicero, Dr. Palmer reckons with the law of nature as forbidding of acts of violence against another person, while also calling for a limited and responsible government by echoing the words Lao Tse which reveals that the more laws and edicts proclaimed, the more thieves and bandits there will be in the society and the poorer the people will be.
Still reflecting on the ideal role of government in society as against its current overbearing influence and misguided policies, Tom Palmer reviews the relationship between property and rights according to liberal value, and the relationship between Law and liberty, maintaining that you need law to have a market economy, and also echoing the words of John Locke that “where there is no Law, there is no freedom.”
On Bastiat’s popular essay on “The Seen and the Unseen”, he reitrates on the importance of what is unseen but must be foreseen when making policies that relate to individuals and their economic wellbeing, while he also took a reference to Hayek’s “Limitations of Knowledge” where he echoed the necessity of individuals being given the freedom to take charge of their lives as no one is given an absolute knowledge to manage someone else’s life. He summarized the role of government a saying “Do Nothing” or “Inactive Activity”, requiring of the government to create the frame work (for people to live their independent lives as they deem fit) and step back.
Speaking of both researched and obvious statistics regarding the interrelation between economically free countries and their non- economically free counterparts, he maintains that countries which adopt policies of economic freedom consequently becomes rich, citing the host country, Belgium’s rise to prosperity through the spate of a century, as enhanced by the Great Fact period of the 1800’s when people started acting differently and responsibly, notably by respecting the rights of others to their freedom.
Economically freer countries are richer, have more civil liberties and political rights and are also less corrupt, maintained Dr. Palmer, concluding that when the state has fewer opportunities to deny you freedom, it has fewer opportunities to demand money from you.
Rounding off his talk, he encouraged the audience to educate themselves in the love of the liberty of others as only then can they truly appreciate their own liberties. He states that the fight for liberty is a lifetime project, and charges students to take up the ideological challenge of providing logical alternatives to young people especially in regions where economic and civil liberties are being repressed.
He however concluded, in commendation of the excellent efforts of the international network of Students For Liberty, stating in his own words… “I know that where there is tyranny, injustice and war, Students For Liberty will be there.”
The lecture fully lived to its billing, reflecting from a tweet from a participant at the start of the lecture (@DavyDirix Every lecture of Tom Palmer is a moment of instant happiness) and likewise, strongly provided a truly reflective point for participants to rise even higher and stronger in the fight for human liberty, peace and justice.
Tom G. Palmer is a Senior Fellow at the CATO Institute and Vice President for International Programs at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Washington DC
This article by the same author (Fiyinfoluwa Elegbede) was originally published by The Libertarian, a UK Based Libertarian Magazine under the title "Expanding the Discussion For A Logical Alternative: Libertarian Students Commended, Charged