Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Wilder & Lane's Libertarian House on the Prairie

Wilder’s ‘Little House’ on a libertarian prairie - San Francisco Chronicle - Christine Woodside:

December 26, 2016 - "Libertarian ideas are woven into the very fabric of American life.... I think of the libertarian branch of the Republican Party as the 'Little House on the Prairie caucus.' Why? Because the beloved Little House children’s book series by Laura Ingalls Wilder was full of free-market ideals.

"Wilder was a chicken farmer and occasional journalist who became the author and heroine of the Little House books about her 1870's-80's pioneer childhood. Wilder’s secret collaborator, her daughter Rose Wilder Lane, infused the books with libertarian views....

"In 1930, during the Great Depression, Wilder and Lane were 63 and 44 years old and living on the family farm in southern Missouri. At Lane’s request, Wilder sat down and wrote of the family’s migration from Wisconsin to the future state of Kansas to Minnesota to Dakota Territory, with her Pa, Ma, and sisters, looking for the ideal farm.

"In Wilder’s early drafts, the family withstood frontier life staunchly, jaws set. Wilder told her daughter the Ingallses never showed emotion. But as Lane rewrote Wilder’s notes, she removed difficult events, like a baby brother’s death or the government’s subsidy of their blind sister’s schooling, and inserted plenty of happy dialogue with no bitterness, resentment or remorse.

"Within a few months, Lane had sold the first book, Little House in the Big Woods. One editor said it was 'the book no Depression could stop.' Readers asked for more, so the two women wrote seven more books together.

"The books extolled the power of ordinary people to make their own destinies. Consider this scene in The Long Winter, the sixth book: When frequent blizzards kept trains from bringing supplies to their Dakota Territory town, the storekeeper tries to overcharge starving neighbors who want to buy the last stock of wheat. A riot seems imminent until Pa speaks up: 'Don’t forget that every one of us is free and independent, Loftus. This winter won’t last forever, and maybe you want to go on doing business after it’s over.' It’s an appealing distillation of the idea that a free market can regulate itself....

"The series has sold millions of copies and inspired the TV show Little House on the Prairie.

"With the comfortable income provided by book royalties, Lane helped fund a free-market academy in the early 1960s in Colorado called the Freedom School [run by Robert Lefevre - ed.]. Two of the graduates were perhaps the most profoundly influential donors in modern conservatism: Charles and David Koch. Both joined the new Libertarian Party, along with Lane’s heir, Roger Lea MacBride, in the 1970s, before later returning to the Republican Party."

Read more: http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Wilder-s-Little-House-on-a-libertarian-10819927.php
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