NPR released an article this week interviewing Peter Bagge about his latest comic-book biography Credo: The Rose Wilder Lane Story. Bagge has featured several famous women in his comic-book biographies such as Margaret Sanger and Zora Neale Hurtson. In the article, Bagge explains why he enjoys writing and illustrating these women’s’ stories:
“… It struck a note in me just because there’s been — and it isn’t just with women, it’s with everybody these days — this obsession with safety. You know, ‘I don’t feel safe,’ or, ‘Because of how I identify myself, there are people trying to hold me back.’ These women never, ever stopped for a single second in doing what they wanted to do. In the back of my mind I thought this would be something of a demonstration of how people could be and — I would argue — should be.”
Rose Wilder Lane certainly can be described as just that – doing whatever she wanted, and did not allow anyone to stop her.
Rose Wilder Lane was a journalist, writer and political theorist. She’s cited alongside of Isabel Paterson and Ayn Rand, as the female trio that inspired the liberty movement and the libertarian party. She famously compared Social Security to a “Ponzi scheme” and grew her own food to protest World War II rationing.
Lane was born into a poor family of farmers in 1886. While her family could not afford to send her to college, there was no doubt that Lane was bright. In 1915, the same year her marriage failed, she started her career as a journalist.
Her writing came to pause when she was sent overseas in 1920 with the Red Cross. During her time abroad, Lane made an effort to visit the Soviet Union. Lane was informed by her Host that their community was suffering due to the government’s interference with village affairs and firm grip on production. Viewing firsthand how the community was suffering from centralized economic control, Lane became an advocate against government overreach and promoted personal freedom/individualism.
The title of the Bagge’s comic-book biography Credo: The Rose Wilder Lane Story, was inspired by Lane’s 18,000 word article about liberty, Credo. The article was originally published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1936 and later republished and retitled as Give Me Liberty.
Lane wrote articles for various publications over her lifetime; a notable period in her writing career was her columns in the Pittsburgh Courier, an African American newspaper. Lane would often combine laissez-faire ideas and antiracism in her pieces. Lane would comment on the over-policing of African Americans and critique the idea that judging people based on skin color was no different than the Communists’ assignment of guilt or virtue on the basis of class. Also, she would praise the success of the capitalism and the existence of upward mobility by stating how minorities were able to create businesses, such as the Pittsburgh Courier and that Henry Ford started as a poor mechanic, now has created thousands of jobs.
In 1943, Lane’s novel The Discovery of Freedom was published. She wrote about the 6,000 year struggle that ordinary people endured: defying tyrannical rulers, producing food, building industries, engaging in trade of products, idea, and innovation. She denounced claims that argue bureaucrats can do more for people, and attacked many collectivist positions.
During World War II mail monitoring – for an unknown reason – a Connecticut State Trooper was sent to her home to question her motives. Lane’s responded to this event as infringement on her right of free speech, which resulted in newspaper articles and the publishing of a pamphlet, “What is this, the Gestapo?”. The FBI compiled a file on Lane.
Rose Wilder Lane was an iconic individualist who was far ahead of her time. Her focus on free market, antiracism, and personal responsibly makes her a trailblazer of the libertarian movement.