Wednesday, May 14, 2008
A few thoughts on the entrepreneur and promoting classical liberalism
In thinking about how to shape and style a classical liberalism for the 21st century I've come to believe that the entrepreneur and entrepreneurship can play an important role. The entrepreneur is the active, creative agent in our market economy and so encouraging entrepreneurship we make our society more dynamic and resilient. By championing entrepreneurship we can also champion the political, legal, and economic institutions, ideas, and attitudes that are necessary for a thriving entrepreneurial economy, and they just so happen to be the classical liberal institutions, ideas and attitudes. Entrepreneurship can be a vehicle for transcending political divisions since there are entrepreneurs and an interest in entrepreneurship among people of all political persuasions. It can serve as a means for reaching out to immigrants and of helping immigrants feel themselves to be a part of the American Experiment. Entrepreneurship allows us to frame individualist/classical liberal ideas in forward-looking/future-oriented fashion; but it can also serve to create a sense of continuity with American history by connecting with the entrepreneurs of the past. The entrepreneur is exercising individual initiative, creativity, resourcefulness, and the good old American can-do attitude. By championing entrepreneurship we champion these characteristics and encourage people to seek entrepreneurial solutions to our problems rather than governmental solutions. This is where the Strategic Citizen idea came from: an effort to find entrepreneurial solutions to the government's strategic communication problem. (In fact one of the names I was playing with was Strategic Entrepreneur.) So as we think about crafting a 21st century individualism/liberalism, the entrepreneur and entrepreneurship should play a central role in rhetoric and symbolism as well as in action. It allows us to frame classical liberal ideas in ways outside existing political rhetoric and to connect with people who may not otherwise be open to messages from conservatives and libertarians. And it gives people a mode of action to take on their own, independent of government, thus enriching and strengthening civil society.