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Honoring David Boaz: A Pillar of Libertarianism and a Champion of SFL

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Today, the liberty movement has suffered a tremendous loss with the news that David Boaz passed away this morning, succumbing to a years-long battle with cancer.

Today, the liberty movement has suffered a tremendous loss with the news that David Boaz passed away this morning, succumbing to a years-long battle with cancer. 

David served for over 40 years at the Cato Institute. During that time, he was pivotal in growing Cato into the world’s most respected and impactful libertarian think tank. David tirelessly fought for the rights of all people to be free and did it eloquently, skillfully, and with a deep passion. His absence weighs heavy and will be felt for a long time. 

In addition to his illustrious career, his impactful books Libertarianism: A Primer and the Libertarian Mind: A Manifest for Freedom, and his thousands of articles, public speeches, and media appearances, David also greatly impacted Students For Liberty’s founding and our growth. As one of our founding advisory board members, his influence and support have been instrumental from the beginning.

David’s contributions to SFL are numerous and invaluable. He was the headline speaker at our very first conference since 2008, the conference at which Students For Liberty was born. We were also incredibly moved when he told us he wanted his, most likely, last public appearance to be at LibertyCon 2024, SFL’s flagship event. His support extended beyond words; for years, he facilitated SFL’s growth by helping us secure office space at the Cato Institute, providing us with a critical foundation during our formative years. His tireless advice has helped us avoid important pitfalls of other student groups before us and put us on the right track. 

David’s commitment to liberty and his dedication to mentoring young libertarians have been unwavering. Rarely a few weeks went by without David reaching out, sharing ideas, or pointing out ways for us to make an even bigger impact. 

We will try our best to carry on his legacy and build thousands of leaders, some of whom certainly have the potential to step into the chasm that David Boaz left behind.

His legacy is one of unwavering commitment to liberty and a relentless pursuit of a freer, more just world. As he said in his last LibertyCon speech, “Now it’s your turn.” This mandate resonates, urging us to continue the fight for liberty with renewed conviction. 

David Boaz, thank you for all you’ve done to create a freer future for us all. I, and the thousands of students across the world that you inspired, will deeply miss you! 

Here are some of our favorite quotes from David over the years, many of which he shared at SFL events: 

  • “People everywhere just want to be free”
  • “The difference between libertarianism and socialism is that libertarians will tolerate the existence of a socialist community, but socialists can’t tolerate a libertarian community.”
  • “Conservatives want to be your daddy, telling you what to do and what not to do. Liberals want to be your mommy, feeding you, tucking you in, and wiping your nose. Libertarians want to treat you as an adult.”
  • “We now confront the rise of illiberalism on both left and right with threats to peace, liberty, democracy, trade, and growth.”

Sincerely & For Liberty,

Dr. Wolf von Laer


Students For Liberty


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