Column on Liberty’s Delights

Rejoicing at Liberty’s Delights
Tibor R. Machan
When I was a kid living in Budapest, Hungary, massive censorship was just
beginning to descend on the country, in the wake of the takeover by the
Soviet communists in 1948. Afterwards virtually all interesting books,
especially those from the West, were banned and could only be obtained via
the black market. That is where I picked up my copies of Zane Grey, Earl
Stanley Gardner, Mark Twain, Max Brand, and other novels that I so much
enjoyed reading in my youth.
One great benefit of living in a partially free society is that those
aspects of it that are free produce immense benefits for those who enjoy
its fruits. So, for example, if one is an avid reader of literature and
non-fiction works, in a country like the U.S.A., with a pretty strict
prohibition against government getting involved in meddling in what people
write and read, there is an abundance of material for everyone to delve
into. No one tells you what you may or may not write or read and even
works that the mainstream publishers refuse to touch manages to get to a
sizable readership these days, what with the Internet and all kinds of
non-traditional publishing venues at hand.
And, of course, this is true not just of writing and reading but most of
the arts. Virtually all of the visual arts are out there for people to
pick and choose from. Even if one lacks the big bucks to purchase the fine
arts–or to attend concerts featuring great orchestras, bands, and so
forth–there are innumerable ways to encounter works one yearns to view
and hear.
For example, I regularly canvass the net for what various museums and art
galleries display and while this may not quite compare with having great
works hang on one’s own walls, it is still a plentiful source of aesthetic
satisfaction. Those of us who aren’t well enough off to purchase original
paintings can at least obtain prints or, at least, view small renditions
of nearly any work on one’s computer screen. And there is such an
abundance of sources of nearly any form of music now–via cable TV, radio,
the Internet once again, and, of course, CDs and such–that no one can
complain about a shortage of offerings by which to be delighted, amused,
thrilled, enchanted via whichever medium of art one finds most appealing.
I am really very lucky because much of what I wish from life is produced
in what amounts to a largely free market place. No government bureaucracy
stands between me, the consumer of art works, and the creators and
merchants. If I really want some expensive work badly enough, all I need
to do is save up a while and then get it. As to novels, I can hardly keep
up with what my favorite contemporary authors produce. And of course there
is a great deal available from past masters, major or minor.
This is not what it is like in countries that lack the legal equivalent
of the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. Even in Western Europe
there is nothing like what the U. S. enjoys in the way of literary
freedom. And, of course, in many places around the globe governments,
often in cahoots with some religious leadership, have full "legal
authority" to dictate what people may write and read, paint and view,
listen to, and so forth.
Of course, there is an unfairness about this because if one is interested
in productive and creative undertakings which aren’t unregulated by the
various levels of government in a country, one is not going to enjoy the
fruits of liberty as I and those who seek satisfaction from the arts,
literary and otherwise, manage. But this unfairness isn’t the fault of
those who are the beneficiaries of the selective protection of human
liberty involved. Just like people who can escape the oppression of
military conscription or some form of taxation–folks referred to as draft
or tax dodgers–those who are the beneficiaries of the "loopholes"
provided by the First Amendment ought to take full advantage of their
better lot. But they ought to join with all those who strive to set
markets free in all areas of human endeavor, not just the arts, the press
and all other forms of expression that are fortunate to be free of the
bureaucracy’s heavy hand.

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3 Responses to Column on Liberty’s Delights

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    thank you.
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  2. Unknown says:

    thank you.
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