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The removal of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s name from a children’s book award reminds me again of her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, an interesting writer and political thinker. Born in 1886 in the Dakota Territory, Rose is best known for her writings on political philosophy and has been referred to as a “Founding Mother” of libertarianism; she was also a novelist and the author of several biographies. In her article “Credo,” published in 1936, she describes her political journey, beginning with the words: “In 1919 I was a communist.”
She was impressed with the idealism of the individual Communists she met and found their economic logic convincing. But when she visited the Soviet Union in the 1920s, she became disillusioned. And, unlike many visitors to the USSR, she did not conclude that Communism was still a great idea but had just been carried out poorly; rather, she began to grasp the structural flaws with the whole thing.
In Russian Georgia, the villager who was her host complained about the growing bureaucracy that was taking more and more men from productive work, and predicted chaos and suffering from the centralizing of economic power in Moscow. At first, she saw his attitude as merely “the opposition of the peasant mind to new ideas,” and undertook to convince him of the benefits of central planning. He shook his head sadly.