This will be a review of not one, but two books. Both are written by members of what is sometimes called “The Old Right” in the US, that proto-libertarian movement in the first half of the 20th century. “The God of The Machine” is written by Isabel Paterson, and “The Discovery of Freedom” by Rose Wilder Lane. Both books are about history, and the philosophy of liberty.
Both books take a distinctivly american view of history, which makes them especially interesting for someone from Europe. They both hail the “American experiment” as the biggest step forward for liberty in the history of mankind, and perhaps they were right when they wrote these books. The US did, despite its flaws and its ragged history take the concept of freedom from oppression further than any nation had ever done before. The philosophical underpinnings of the right of men to be free from tyranny still shines bright when you read the American Constitution, regardless of how trampled it has become.
“The Discovery of Freedom” is a somewhat easier read, and consists simply of 50 or so pages giving the theoretical background of how society works, and then another 200 pages of walk-through at the attempts that have been made for liberty in history. The list is far from complete – Rose Wilder Lane only lists three distinct periods in history (the third being the British/American), but it still gives a decent outline of the history of our part of the world.
“The God of the Machine” is harder to parse, due to some extent to the authors comparison of the economic world to an electrical machinery. For an electrical engineer, this would probably make things easier to understand, for the rest of us it is a bit trickier. It is still a very interesting, and very different view on history. And this, I would say, is the power of both these books. They tell history in a way it is very rarely told. As a history of human freedom and liberty. TGOTM also contains some general topics towards the end, such as “The fiction of Public Ownership”, “Why Real Money is Indispensable”, “The Humanitarian with the Guillotine” and “Our Japanized Educational System”.
One of the best aspects of both books is that they, in a way, send you back in time to the “Old” America, the way it was before corruption and government largesse took over. The fact that these books were written in a time when Americans were still proud to consider themselves the most free people on earth shines through. You come away with a somewhat different view of the world, or how the world has been (and perhaps, should be more again).