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Yesterday was a sad day for economic freedom worldwide. John Blundell, the great free-market institution builder, passed away at the age of 63. Blundell played a critically important role in the global movement for free-markets and liberty and left a legacy of institutional impact that all libertarians should aspire to.  The Atlas Network wrote, “He celebrated the quiet behind-the-scenes work that often matters more than what’s most visible to a general audience.” Here at SFL, we send our condolences to the Blundell family and all those touched by his inspiring life. The world is a more free place because of Mr. Blundell.

Blundell was a movement builder who understood the importance of institutions in crafting a global movement towards liberty and free markets. Blundell worked for and with the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Institute for Humane Studies, the Fraser Institute, the Mont Pelerin Society, the Institute for Justice, and perhaps most importantly, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. His fingerprints can be seen on free-market think tanks across the globe. Blundell was also a writer who penned a biography of Margaret Thatcher and the influential Waging the War of Ideas.

Blundell was a serious thinker when it came to social change and his work has lit a fire in our students  to do the same. Any casual reader of this blog will recognize the bounty of blogs SFL publishes on social change, public opinion, Hayek, Alinsky, and the climate of political opinion. Recognizing the importance of social change strategy is a lesson we can take from Blundell, who did his best to ensure long-term lasting influence for libertarian ideas and not just quick temporary victories. Blundell channeled Hayek when he wrote in Ideas:

“Over the long run, it is a battle of ideas, and it is the intellectual – the journalist, novelist, filmmaker and so on, who translates and transmits the ideas of the scholars to the broader public – who is critically important. He is the filter  who decides what we hear, when we hear it, and how we hear it.”

Blundell’s contributions are seen throughout Students For Liberty. We use his writings from Waging the War of Ideas in our leadership training across multiple continents. In a statement yesterday, the Atlas Network noted, “He celebrated bold leadership on behalf of the principles that will be vindicated over the long-term.” SFL will continue to ensure bold leadership training to all our students in order to carry on the Blundell legacy. In addition, his latest book, Ladies For Liberty: Women Who Made a Difference in American History, serves as inspiration for our Women For Liberty program and blog series. Blundell’s international outlook and work with the Atlas Network provided a template for how to craft an internationally focused organization. In short, SFL is forever grateful to Mr. Blundell for his work in advancing a free society and a free academy.

Free markets have pulled billions of people around the world from the evils of abject poverty. But while it’s important to celebrate Hayek, Mises, and Friedman, it’s also critical to take note of those behind the scenes in promoting markets and liberty. Mr. Blundell made an indispensable contribution to the ideas of freedom. As we continue to ‘wage the war on ideas,’ let us remember John Blundell. Rest peacefully.

For the IEA obituary, please click here.

For the Atlas obituary, please click here.

By Matthew La Corte, David Clement, Dustin Lane, and Sara Ther

“Good men must not obey the laws too well” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The comment section of any political article is normally a nasty place. Sadly, immigration articles feature some of the most inhumane, archaic, and backwards ideas imaginable. A recent Students For Liberty blog posted to Facebook saw one dastardly comment after another with a common question being, “What part of illegal immigration don’t these people understand?”

Putting aside all the literature touting the economic benefits of both low- and high-skilled immigration, the impossibility of maneuvering the US’s broken system, and the moral question of what to do when 90,000 refugee children arrive at the border, we’d like to address the ridiculous notion that immigrants should be deported merely because it is “the law.”

It is a frightening proposition to assume that the illegality of something means it is morally wrong. Admittedly, there is comfort in the simplicity of having right and wrong being decided by legality. However, the world is not that simple, and the implications that come from this assertion are dangerous.

The incoming SFL Campus Coordinator class displaying signs that say “Liberty Has No Borders”

In the antebellum US, it was illegal to aide in the escape of slaves. In Nazi Germany, it was illegal to help Jews escape summons to ghettos and concentration camps. Before Lawrence v. Texas, it was illegal for same-sex adults to have consensual sex. It’s preposterous to argue that any of these are justified simply because they are “the law.” Prohibition did not make drinking morally wrong; it just made it punishable under the law. Legality can clearly be separated from morality and often should be. In many of these cases, those breaking the law were not morally inferior. In fact, their heroism and valor made a more just and humane world.

There are options when laws, good or bad, are on the books. First, laws can be enforced despite sky-high costs. The War on Drugs is a primary example. Second, laws can be changed, like those calling for tax reform. And third, bad laws can be ignored. During the Civil Rights Era, many African-Americans rightfully disobeyed racist Jim Crow laws that horribly perpetuated the notion of “separate but equal” facilities for whites and blacks. Immigrants should similarly not be condemned when they disobey backwards laws. After all, it is more important to have good laws than to strictly enforce bad ones.

Those who focus on the term “illegal” when discussing immigration are misdiagnosing the problem. If something is illegal, it does not logically follow that it is wrong. Any minor who has consumed alcohol, any business owner who paid someone under the table, and any hurried person jaywalking has broken the law. The fact is that most of us break the law in our everyday lives. In the case of immigration, so-called “illegals” break the law to provide their families with opportunities and safety impossible to find in their home country. Instead of being shamed, they should be celebrated for their courage.

The deadline to request free copies of Peace, Love & Liberty for your student group has been extended until Friday, August 1st.

With the school year approaching now is the time to prepare for your welcome week activities. All good student group leaders know that the first week of school is critical to the future success of your group. Tabling during your school’s student activity fair is the best way to sign up new students and the most effective way to do so is by having an attractive table.

That is where Students For Liberty’s free books come in. Instead of having a table with a couple trinkets and a sign-up sheet, now you can have stacks of books to give away (in exchange for an email address, of course). And not just any books but a book targeted at idealistic young people frustrated with our foreign policy and looking for an alternative to the two party status quo.

SFL will ship up to 500 books for free to any pro-liberty student group in North America. The books will arrive in mid-late August, just in time for the start of the school year.

With contributions from Harvard professors, a Washington Post journalist, a US Military Academy professor (who favors non-intervention), and a host of scholars and young people, Peace, Love & Liberty makes that case that peace is not only desirable but possible through love, liberty, and dedicated activism for a better world.

Request your books now at http://studentsforliberty.org/peace-love-liberty/

 

Why is it so controversial when the government commissions art? Is it crazy to spend millions of dollars on a painting? What is the most valuable art you own? The answers to these questions, and what they can teach us about life and each other, might surprise you. 

Join an interactive, online discussion with host Janet Neilson and Dr. Sarah Skwire, a scholar on literature, freedom, and economics, on July 22 at 7:00 p.m. EDT.

Register for free today to learn:

  • About the fundamentally subjective nature of art
  • Why each person values things differently
  • How our different preferences enhance culture and life

The early bird gets the worm! Secure your spot for the 8th Annual International Students For Liberty conference taking place February 13-15, 2015 in Washington, D.C. Register here!