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How 'Freedom’s Furies' Helped Save American Individualism

November 14, 2022

This piece is based on Sandefur’s new book “Freedom’s Furies: How Isabel Paterson, Rose Wilder Lane, and Ayn Rand Found Liberty in an Age of Darkness” (Cato Institute, 2022).

In his poem “September 1, 1939,” the poet W.H. Auden called the 1930s “a low, dishonest decade,” and it’s easy to see why. During those 10 years, fascism spread from Italy to Spain and Germany; Stalin massacred and enslaved millions in Russia, Ukraine and Poland; and even in the United States, President Franklin Roosevelt established a network of government controls over economic and political life so pervasive that even his admirers likened him to a dictator. His New Deal transformed America from a society premised on each individual’s right to lead his or her own life to one in which government presided over the people, as caretaker and supervisor.

But only a few months after Auden wrote his poem, a series of events would begin that would revive interest in the American tradition of individual liberty. At the forefront of that change were three remarkable women, whom William F. Buckley later called the “three furies of modern libertarianism”: Isabel Paterson, Rose Wilder Lane and Ayn Rand. In 1943, these friends and colleagues would publish books that sought to rekindle the idea of freedom in an era that they sometimes feared might literally mark the end of the world.

Read the rest of the op-ed at Discourse Magazine.

You can purchase Sandefur’s new book, Freedom’s Furies, here.

Timothy Sandefur is the Executive Vice President of the Goldwater Institute.



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