One of the greatest influences on both my personal philosophy and the strategy of how to promote it was Leonard Read, the founder of the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). Read founded FEE in 1946, just as WWII was ending and the US government was about to embark upon a cold war with the Soviet Union. Read must have foreseen the expansion of government that was coming — both at home and overseas — and he started FEE to spread the message of non-interventionism and freedom. You could say that FEE was the first modern libertarian organization.
Leonard Read was so effective in his role as leader of FEE because of his demeanor. He was kind and gentle in his approach, but he never compromised the freedom message. People should be able to do whatever it is they want without any interference, he believed, as long as they weren’t hurting anybody else.
In our age where everybody is an “activist,” Leonard Read’s approach may seem unfamiliar or even quaint. Read believed that instead of trying to “save the world” it was important to first educate oneself. Read, study, understand the message so you can accurately and convincingly pass it on to others.
Perhaps one of the most important ways Leonard Read believed to convey the message of freedom was for like-minded people to get together. Getting together — especially at his legendary events at the FEE headquarters in Irvington, New York — was the best way to educate ourselves, educate others, and share ideas on how to spread the message. When we come together with like-minded people, we learn from the speakers but we also help each other perfect the message. And we also make important contacts that help us create our network.
When I founded my Institute for Peace and Prosperity ten years ago this year, I did my best to incorporate Leonard Read’s approach. In order to best promote civil liberties at home and non-interventionism overseas, we need to understand the issues to the best of our abilities, and one of the best ways to do that is to come together with others of like mind.
Our Institute started holding conferences in 2016, with our first big event in Washington, DC. to a sold-out audience. Since then we have expanded our conferences to include Houston, Charleston, SC, and even here in Lake Jackson! While it is true that we have a loyal core who attend many of our events, we were pleased that at our recent Houston conference a show of hands revealed that about half of the attendees were at their first Ron Paul Institute event!
We have featured important speakers like Julian Assange, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Col. Douglas Macgregor, and so many others. We have learned from their insights and experience. But just as importantly, we have developed and expanded the network of people who understand the message of peace and are ready to spread it further beyond our circles. That is what this is all about.
We will be holding our 7th annual Washington DC Conference on Sept. 2nd. As we increasingly face the possibility of a nuclear conflict with Russia the importance of getting together cannot be emphasized too much. These are critical times and I hope everyone will join us in DC in September. Go to RonPaulInstitute.org for more details.
Ron Paul is a former U.S. congressman from Texas. This article originally appeared at the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity and is reprinted here with permission.