As an adult Rose had become a stanch opponent of Communism after seeing it in practice in the Soviet Union (unlike many red-diaper dips of that time, who remained enamored of it, a feat that required not only closing their eyes but their brains and consciences), and became one of the most influential libertarians of the middle of the 20th century. She even became the adoptive grandmother of Roger MacBride, the Libertarian Party's candidate for President in 1976.Share
She opposed the quasi-socialism and creeping taxation of the New Deal so strongly that she quit her high-paying editorial job with the National Economic Council so as not to pay Social Security taxes. She regarded Social Security as unstable and prophetically called it a "Ponzi scheme."
In a pamphlet called "Give Me Liberty" she wrote, "In 1917 I became a convinced, though not practicing communist. In Russia, for some reason, I wasn't and I said so, but my understanding of Bolshevism made everything pleasant when the Cheka arrested me a few times.
"I am now a fundamentalist American; give me time and I will tell you why individualism, laissez faire and the slightly restrained anarchy of capitalism offer the best opportunities for the development of the human spirit. Also I will tell you why the relative freedom of human spirit is better – and more productive, even in material ways – than the communist, Fascist, or any other rigidity organized for material ends."
In 1958, famed libertarian Robert Le Fevre was so strongly influenced by The Discovery of Freedom he asked Rose to come visit his "Freedom School," which he had founded to promote the principles he said her book had taught him. She became a regular lecturer there for several years.
Her extensive correspondence had an effect, too. About it she wrote: "Twenty one years ago... I used to spend all my time, every day, at my typewriter following up every least lead that I could find. Example: I heard a high-school debate among all pro-New Dealers on the radio, and wrote to each of them. One replied, with all the Welfare State collectivist notions that had been put into his head, but he didn't seem wholly unintelligent, so I kept on writing to him for some months, apparently with no effect, finally getting no answer. Now he turns up as publisher of "National Review", telling people that I – i.e., my letters – changed his whole life."
Even though The Discovery of Freedom is Rose's most well-known book, she said years later it was "a very bad book" because of some minor mistakes in it. Still, it has had a profound influence, even now, after all these decades. (Read more.)