April 1, 2005
Everywhere outside of Hardyville, the thunder of tyranny’s jackboots storms ever closer. Already Americans are practically forbidden to travel without government permits. The U.S. military is developing weapons to inflict unendurable pain on civilians from nearly a mile away. Spycams festoon city streets. Black-robed villains decree that any of us can be subjected to a drug search at will without the slightest suspicion of wrongdoing.
And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. That’s just the latest dusting of snow on the icy monster’s peak.
“It’s time to shoot the bastards!” some friends of liberty shout. And then they stand around waiting for somebody else to make the first move.
Rightly so. Shoot now and you just become one more quickly forgotten (and probably dead) “lone nut with guns” in one more shallow, sensationalistic news story. You won’t even merit as much serious consideration as Robert Blake or Michael Jackson.
But what are the alternatives?
Do you stick with conventional political action — which has proved utterly useless for diminishing the size and power of big government?
Do you march on Washington — only to find that both politicians and the media ignore every march that isn’t for some politically correct cause?
Do you chuck it all and take the blue pill?
Do you flail about striking at random political targets using random, and increasingly desperate strategies, as Reactive Ralphie does?
How about: “None of the above”?
Barring a miracle or a dramatic turn of world events (which could certainly happen, but which is beyond our control), what freedom lovers need in these soul-trying times is a long-term strategy. A strategy that will:
- Enable us to stay sane and courageous
- Weaken the power of tyrants at every opportunity
- Give us the maximum experience of living free so we (or our children) will be ready when the moment comes for freedom’s return
- Prepare us to recognize and take advantage of that moment — when big government is finally ready to collapse under its own weight.
Furthermore, this strategy must be one we can carry out without formal leaders, as individuals or small groups.
Such a strategy is unsatisfying to those who want instant gratification. It won’t please anybody who demands stirring march music, gunfire, and a definitive victory. But if you demand instantaneous and ultimate freedom, you’re out of luck, anyhow.
Our strategy must be one suited to more patient, watchful, (and for the moment) downright sneaky people.
We must wear tyrants down without wearing ourselves out! And we must also remember that every tyranny, every empire, every top-heavy government will eventually defeat itself with its own excesses. Our greatest roles will be first to give tyranny a push when it’s starting to wobble and second to be ready to restore freedom in its place. Act too soon, act randomly, or act foolishly — and we defeat ourselves rather than our enemies.
We are small, so we must be very, very, very wise.
Consider these twelve points of thought and action for freedom fighters in unfree times:
POINT ONE: The same advice applies everywhere in the known (and unknown) universe: Don’t panic. No matter how terrible things get, panic won’t help our cause. As a very wise person recently observed, fear of government’s power to control us is a more effective control mechanism than most of the government’s actual control mechanisms.
POINT TWO: Don’t allow your enemies to push your buttons. When they can keep us in perpetual reactive mode, the opponents of freedom control us. We will never win by pursuing a purely defensive strategy.
By all means, get angry. Indignant. Outraged. Stay informed. Take action. Don’t just roll over and tolerate injustice — ever. But think how power-hungry tyrant-wannabes must laugh to know they have the power to make us run around like Chicken Littles every time they propose some ghastly new act of evil.
If you must react to bad news, be clever and use the news to strengthen your own cause and to help victims of abuse. Be proactive, not merely reactive.
POINT THREE: Stay focused on what you want to achieve in the long run. This will require a great deal of patience for a long, long time to come. But the enemies of freedom have succeeded using precisely this strategy for nearly 100 years. Statists thus made the twentieth century their own. Let’s aim to make the twenty-first (and twenty-second) centuries ours.
POINT FOUR: Pick your battles. You cannot fight every cause. You can’t even fight every aspect of one cause. You aren’t going to save the world and you dissipate your energies by trying. Others will step forward to fight the battles that we can’t personally undertake — just as Aaron Zelman stands for gun rights and Katherine Albrecht stands against RFID chips, but both fight for the same ultimate cause. They fight more effectively because they focus on their own cause and don’t divide their energies.
POINT FIVE: Play to your own strengths. And realize that everybody else must play to theirs, as well. Freedom lovers are presently too scattered and diverse to unite behind any one huge cause or any one leader. Given our extreme minority status and the growing savagery of the government that rules us, our reluctance to unite can be a good thing. Unite and we can be easily crushed. Act as free, unpredictable individuals and we bedevil enemies who understand only top-down, directed action.
POINT SIX: Practice creative chaos. This is in a sense a corollary of point five. When you’re a small, essentially guerrilla, movement fighting a vast opponent, you must attack where they don’t expect you to and strike in ways they can’t anticipate. Strike at the things power lovers hold most dear: their control, their aura of authority, their dignity. Monkeywrenching, humorous non-cooperation, street theater, sabotage, and other tactics of refusal and mockery can be our best weapons against an enemy whose power is derived from a pretense of importance.
POINT SEVEN: Recognize and take advantage of opportunities. Opportunities will be many and varied, from a chance to leak damning data or “liberate” materiel to a chance — eventually — to break entire systems. Some opportunities that come your way will be yours alone, to act on as you see fit. Others will be opportunities to gather friends and fellow warriors. Be watchful and flexible.
POINT EIGHT: Hone your own free-living skills. Living free matters more than wishing to be free. If you want to fight for freedom and independence in the future, but you don’t want to do the work of living as free and independently as you can today, then you should question your own sincerity.
POINT NINE: Strengthen your community. What happens in your own community matters as much as what happens three thousand miles away — and you have a better chance of influencing events closeby. It’s very strange that in every other aspect of life we consider our family, friends, and neighbors to be more important than far-away strangers. But when it comes to “politics” we insist on focusing obsessively on people and events over which we have little control.
Remember Tip O’Neill’s words: “All politics is local.” Self-help and mutual aid are local, too — and they are the essence of the freedom we say we cherish.
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POINT TEN: Be the leader you’re looking for. Whether that means gathering others around you in action or simply taking initiative to change your own life or strike against injustice — DO NOT WAIT for someone else to take you by the hand and lead you toward freedom.
POINT ELEVEN: Accept that things are going to get worse before they get better. Few people have the opportunity (or the misfortune) to live in times when tyrannies are overthrown. Most people live in times when tyranny is growing. If the fates are with us, you and I might be able to effect huge change at the right moment. (Look at the young people who tore down the Berlin Wall; who’d have believed it, even a year earlier?) But if all we can do in our lifetimes is lay the groundwork of freedom for another generation to stand on, we’ve done our part.
POINT TWELVE: Turn burnout into an opportunity for renewal. Right now, many freedom lovers are utterly exhausted. If the struggle to regain freedom lasts as long as it appears it might, a lot more of us will suffer burnout — maybe repeatedly in our lifetimes. Don’t use burnout as an excuse to surrender. Use burnout as a strategic retreat — an opportunity to evaluate your actions and their results so you’ll do better and be happier in the future. Read Think Free to Live Free and use its worksheets to help you determine how to go on with renewed strength and wisdom.
For a look at how an entire nation overthrew a government through leaderless refusal to cooperate see Mad Dreams, Saving Graces: Poland a Nation in Conspiracy