Volume 18, Number 1, March, 2000

The Emperor's New Clothes

By Hans Christian Anderson

Reviewed by Michael Grossberg
March 2000

Here is a classic antiauthoritarian work, an implicitly libertarian fable that has become accepted as one of the archetypes of Western civilization.

The innocent realism of a young boy is juxtaposed ironically and amusingly with the corruption and irrationality of an emperor's pseudo-sophisticated courtiers, who suck up to power but the truth is that the emperor is naked.

In a story so concise and exotic that even a small child can't possibly miss the theme, that nakedness reveals allegedly glamorous, omnipotent rulers to be mere human beings with delusions and pretensions.

Reflecting a fundamental thread within the fabric of Western civilization, Andersen's amusing tale has the very libertarian moral that no one has the power to deny reality, and that many times would-be tyrants are so out of touch with reality that all that's needed for the triumph of freedom is for a child to speak truth to power.

For the LFS to honor Andersen's classic fable is to send an important message on the verge of a new millennium libertarianism is one of the legitimate core themes in the history of Western literature and Western civilization, and therefore our radical ideas cannot be dismissed as marginal. I can't think of a better choice for the Hall of Fame in 2000.

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