Leonard Read Social

About the Candle

What’s the deal with the candle?

The truth of freedom shall be revealed and known. There is not enough darkness in the whole world to put out the light of one small candle. Freedom is light–enlightenment–and cannot be extinguished.” (Vision, p. 126)

At his seminars, Leonard would demonstrate that advancing liberty is a learning rather than a selling problem. The lecture room was reduced to inky darkness. In his hand was an electric candle controlled by a rheostat. The light was turned down to a mere speck and every eye in the room would turn toward the speck. Then came his challenge: Increase the light in the room by selling, marketing, or distributing this speck of light. It cannot be done. What purpose then can this wee light possibly serve? It is sufficient for one nearby to find and light his own candle, in which case the light in the room would be increased 100 percent. If everyone should find and light his own candle, there would be enough light by which to read a book, even to write one. In short, he sought to demonstrate that darkness has no resistance whatsoever to light, it leaves the room as light is increased. As the candle’s light is gradually increased until it is its brightest, every face in the lecture room can be clearly seen-the darkness has vanished. Similarly, ignorance gives way to enlightenment as darkness vanishes in the presence of light. (To Free or Freeze, pp. 18-19; cf. also Castles in the Air, 1975, pp. 14-15, 152,158; also The Love of Liberty, 1975, p. 140, The Coming Aristocracy, 1969, p. 86.)

You can watch him do this in the How to Advance Liberty video starting around 46 minutes:

There is but one cure for ignorance: enlightenment! Lesser treatments, such as ‘selling the masses,’ political activism, and the like, are an utter waste of time; as well try to bring daylight by cursing the darkness!” (To Free or Freeze, p. 18)

Leonard Read used the candle as a regular reminder and guide of how spreading liberty. He even used a candle on the bookplates in his personal library:

The cover of Mary Sennholz’s biography of Leonard Read also bears the candle:

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