A Memphis College of Art student recently requested a libertarian view on the American Dream for a project. He asked,
"What is your idea of the American Dream? Are you living/pursuing your American Dream? Do you believe in the American Dream? Please make it a few sentences long and be detailed and elaborate."And I answered:
A libertarian conception of the American Dream isn't simply to "pull oneself up by one's own bootstraps" but rather is what ever makes a person content without harming others. That could be owning a business, living on a commune, DJing at a goth club, being a professional golfer, etc.
My personal American Dream is to simply live in peace and be an artist. I'm not after fame and money, I just want to get by and be happy.
Am I living or pursuing my Dream? No, and sort of. I am a libertarian activist precisely because living my peaceful American Dream is not possible as our society is structured. I spend a lot of my time and energy trying to reform society to one that respects one another's rights and let's peaceful individuals act as they wish. This society is a condition of my personal Dream, so as a I struggle to build it I necessarily spend less time on other activities that make me happy.
As you can see my relationship with the American Dream is complicated.
A question that often comes up when discussing the American Dream is whether or not it is indeed just a fantasy. Some portend that the rugged individualist vision of making it your own way is a falsehood create by the State-Corporate Elite. They are partially right. I think that this vision is a legitimate one, but it has definitely been co-opted to serve special interests.
As long as you're exploring libertarian visions of the American Dream, you should watch the short film by the same name that examines some of the forces stealing the Dream.
Regular Columnist, THL
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