Rebirth of Reason

Favorite EditSanction this itemHow I Found Freedom in an Unfree World by Harry Browne
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Sanctions: 7
How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
Freedom is living your life the way you want to live it.
Harry Browne achieved notoriety for his prescient 1970 book, You Can Profit from the Coming Devaluation.  When President Richard Nixon effectively ended Bretton Woods on August 15, 1971, Browne was catapulted to fame.  It was no accident.  As a libertarian (if not but a transient Objectivist), Browne’s application of Austrian economics resonated with millions of economic conservatives who could say, “See, I told you so!”  Therefore, this book was striking and surprising for challenging the social conservativism of that very same population.
 Browne identified 13 common “Traps” that people allow to inhibit their freedom. Primary to them is the Identity Trap.  Says Browne: 
“There are two Identity Traps: (1) the belief that you should be someone other than yourself; and (2) the assumption that others will do things the way that you would.  These are the basic traps, of which many others are variations.  In the first trap, you necessarily forfeit your freedom by requiring yourself to live in a stereotyped, predetermined way that doesn’t consider your own desires, feelings, and objectives.  The second trap is more subtle but just as harmful to your freedom.  When you expect someone to have the same ideas, attitudes, and feelings that you have, you expect him to act in ways that aren’t in keeping with his nature.  As a result, you’ll expect and hope that other people will do things they’re not capable of doing.”
The other traps are

  • The Intellectual and Emotional Traps
  • the Morality Trap
  • the Unselfishness Trap
  • the Group Trap
  • the Government Trap
  • the Despair Trap
  • the RightsTraps
  • the Utopia Trap
  • the Burning Issues Trap
  • the Previous Investment Trap
  • the Box Trap, and
  • the Certainty Trap.
 The Government Trap is defined by four aspects, the most important of which for the many discussions here on RoR is: “The fear that the government is so powerful that it can prevent you from being free.”
We also see here the fallacy of The Burning Issue Trap:
“… the belief that there are compelling social issues that require your participation.” 
Browne claims that the only people who profit from these are the entrepreneurs who invent them for you to invest in.
Part II of this book -- “How You Can Be Free” – is about the ways that you can find for yourself freedom from government, freedom from bad relationships (including marital problems), insecurity, exploitation, the treadmill, and pretense.
Part III is about your new life.  The core question is: “Is Your Life What You Want It to Be?” (Chapter 29.)  If you have read the previous 28 chapters and if you are truly an objectivist i.e., a rational-empiricist, then you are ready to identify the facts of reality that define your life and apply reason toward your own happiness.
Two more narratives complete the book, “A Fresh Start (Part II)” and “Making Changes.”  Largely, to start anew for yourself, you will have to pay some prices.  Confronting an angry spouse, parents, children, or employer will not be easy, but if you want to be free, you will pay the price.  Similarly, if you want to be free, after reading and understanding this book, you will not expect the world to change for you, but you will change some of your perhaps implicitly accepted assumptions in order to better navigate the wider world.
Added by Michael E. Marotta
on 1/29/2012, 6:19pm

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