Most libertarians will be familiar with the frustration of attempting to persuade committed statists towards liberty. It seems that no matter how hard you try, they might be able to understand your view, they will not be moved. It seems that they are speaking a different language. The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt argues that this is actually true, that leftists, rightists and libertarians all have different moral taste buds. In that sense they are listening in a different language too. If we are not smart, we are fighting a losing battle.

Persist as you like with the benefits of low to zero taxation, respect for property rights, less regulation, they are unlikely to get it without some serious introspection. However, there is one particular subject, that understood properly, gets everyone on the same page: central banking.

‘Understood properly’ is a big caveat as the true workings of the central banking system are shrouded in misinformation. The first battle is getting people to realise that central banks exist. For an institution that literally controls half of every single transaction in the economy, it doesn’t get much news time. After that, the battle is rubbing away the mysticism that mainstream economists have imbued it with; that the Federal Reserve (along with its international counterparts such as The Bank of England) is somehow the infallible and omnipotent brain centre of the economy.

But once you do, you’re on your way to converting your friend to a budding libertarian. This case is different to say, debates over minimum wage or fiscal policy, as once explained in its bare form, nobody, nobody can fail to see the plain injustice and cronyism in the nature of fractional-reserve central banking.

Fractional-reserve means that the bank releases more paper in the economy than is represented by the physical money in its reserves (usually gold). The amount of money is a fraction of what is in the official money supply as paper notes.

We have a handful of small books to help us with this second battle. I particularly like Murray Rothbard’s 1, 2 , 3 punch: What Has Government Done To Our Money?, The Mystery of Banking and The Origins of the Federal Reserve.

When it comes to the Fed, there is little persuading to be done, all one needs to do to convince people to be against central banking is to fully and accurately describe what it is. There were few better explainers than Rothbard.

The Origins of the Federal Reserve is a historical narrative of how the American central bank first came to be. It transpires that it was conceived long before the economic crises of the early 20th Century that were presented by the establishment as evidence for the need for a central monetary authority. Decades before Woodrow Wilson, a coalition of bankers and industrialists, including the selfless crusaders of public good, the Morgans, sought to put pressure on government to install a central bank to ‘stabilise the currency’. In real life they were seeking to establish and maintain a cartel of special interests in banking and industry.

What Has Government Done To Our Money? explains what money is, its uses in a true free market economy and why fractional-reserve central banking distorts the currency. Here we learn what a currency requires for it to become a widely used money (portability, divisibility and scarcity) and how the Fed undermines these aspects whilst forcing us to us their fiat paper.

The Mystery of Banking is a step-by-step explanation of how fractional-reserve banking works, why the incentive to inflate exists and why it’s in banks’ interest to collude and cartelise. It turns out that the only way this can be sustainable is by decreeing harmonious inflation via a central bank. This is the book that truly unveils the nature of the current banking system.

Rothbard is easy to understand and in fact, sober. It doesn’t need righteousness – anyone with functioning neurons can see that central banks (completely and fully explained) are a scourge on society, providing nothing but money and power to big banks, corporations and government. It goes across partisan lines because it’s non-ideological; it is a plain-as-day conspiracy that cannot be construed as either a benefit to the economy or even a good idea gone wrong.

The evidence for the persuasiveness of this subject is in the rise of Ron Paul. There have been libertarian Presidential candidates before, but none of them before Paul or since Paul have been so instrumental in the dissemination of knowledge about the banking system. As the Austrian school of economics shows, this knowledge is key to understanding how the modern economy works and why we have periodic economy-wide booms and crashes.

What might go wrong is that leftists might agree with you that the Fed needs to End, but propose a system that would be even worse, if that’s even possible. They might agree with Bernie Sanders and want to institute a completely government controlled central bank that inflates with impunity. This is why it is imperative that they read What Has Government Done To Our Money?, which most persuasively explains that “what we need  . . . is no Fed at all”, and instead release control of money production to private, competing banks.

The combination of these books are life-changing catalysts, and the best part is that they are all free to read. It was the proliferation of reading on the self-evident wickedness of the system and all involved with it that inspired a new generation of young libertarians. Let’s not forget it.

EXPLAIN THE FED!