In 1943, a lady by the name of Rose Wilder Lane published a book called The Discovery of Freedom. It’s an absolutely original work of non-fiction, a salvo to human energy and the creative mind unshackled, and it influenced classic liberals and libertarians beyond number — and yet it has largely gone unacknowledged.
From a semi-recent review:
“Rose Wilder Lane sought to highlight the difference it made in America that the individual was permitted freedom from government authority. The Americans broke from the idea that dominated all over human history that they must depend on some overarching authority in government to grant them well being, and thus when good happens, we owe ever more to the powers that be.”
Quoting a Canadian writer named Jeff Walker, who evidently did not care for Ayn Rand:
Dozens of motifs and expressions to be found later in Ayn Rand are sprinkled all throughout The Discovery of Freedom. Some of Rand’s favorite words and phrases, like “sunlit,” “standard of value,” “life on this earth,” “savages,” “stagnation,” “non-contradiction,” “static universe,” and countless others dot Discovery’s landscape. The same goes for themes that Rand borrowed from Wilder, completely unacknowledged, such as: the counterproductivity of government planning; the case for limited government; the factual nature of morality; that contradictions cannot exist in reality; that words have an exact meaning; that human rights cannot exist without property rights.
Rose Wilder Lane was also unveiled in the 1990s as the true author of the Little House on the Prairie series, normally attributed to her mother Laura Ingalls Wilder. But it is for her credo Give Me Liberty and especially The Discovery of Freedom that Rose Wilder Lane must not be forgotten. She was a fearless and exceptional woman who took on politicians, journalists, economists (like the great Ludwig von Mises, with whom she profoundly disagreed on the subject of Democracy), heads of state, and more.
Rose Lane Wilder, RIP:
1886 – 1968