El Otro Sendero (The Other Path)

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The Economic Answer to Terrorism
by Hernando de Soto
Basic Books, 1989, paperback

In the 1980s, Peru's "Shining Path" guerrillas were expanding from their rural bases. Violent Maoists bent on revolution and hostile to liberty and markets, they were the bloodiest and most murderous guerrilla group to ever operate in the Western hemisphere. They threatened judges, freed prisoners, displaced over 2 million people from their homes and sent one million more into voluntary exile; they terrorized entire cities and villages where they executed, tortured, and scalped people alive in public.

In 1987 a little-known Peruvian economist wrote a book and founded an organization. Refuting the guerrilla's arguments and showing how Peru could achieve liberty and prosperity, he provocatively called this book The Other Path. The organization was the Institute for Liberty and Democracy.

The fight had been taken to the guerrillas--and they knew it. The Other Path became a best-seller in Peru, and then a best-seller in South America, and then a best-seller world-wide. The guerrilla's complained that The Other Path was leading the young away from terrorism and war. They knew they had lost the war of ideas, so they turned to the only tool they had: violence. They shot at the cars and employees of the institute, and they finally tried to blow it up with 882 pounds of dynamite and ammonium nitrate.
They failed, the ideas of the free-market won, and the "Shining Path" faded and flickered out.
This really is, as the subtitle says, the economic answer to terrorism. Where do terrorist ideas find root? In repressive societies where the poor are dispossessed and have no hope of bettering their lives or the lives of their children: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the like.
And how can we defeat terrorism? Secure property rights, a free-market, the rule of law. This is better than Mao's Little Red Book. This is a program for revolution that works, and that leads to peace and freedom.