Machine Politics

"Modern liberty begins in revolt."
—H.M. Kallen

In 1943, in the midst of the dark years of World War II when collectivism seemed to be sweeping all before it at home and abroad, three fiercely independent and feisty women, all of them friends and libertarians devoted to what was then called "individualism," hurled mighty manifestos in defense of liberty at the burgeoning collectivist state. The two older ladies, Isabel Bowler Paterson and Rose Wilder Lane, both born in 1886, were well-known novelists and essayists, and Paterson was a distinguished literary and cultural critic for the establishmentarian New York Herald Tribune.

Rose Wilder Lane's nonfiction magnum opus, published in 1943, was The Discovery of Freedom: Man's Struggle Against Authority, a prose poem on the meaning of individual freedom and freedom of enterprise in the history of human affairs, while Isabel Paterson's The God of the Machine was a brilliant and unusual work of political philosophy, written not for the typical dry-as-dust academic, nor as an intellectual game, nor to win tenure, but from a devotion to principle and liberty, providing marvelous insights into a host of economic matters in which she acquitted herself magnificently despite a lack of mandarin academic credentials. Mrs. Paterson succeeded in combining political and economic principle...

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