L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 244, October 26, 2003
"We're throwing away the future"
The Art of (Culture) War
Exclusive to TLE
In Part 1, I examined libertarian strengths vs. the strengths of the State, with the aim of finding those matchups that would give us the best hope of success in the culture war against the idea that it is okay to violate the Zero Aggression Principle (ZAP) if those elected by a majority of those that bother to vote (or the appointees thereof) say so. My conclusions are that our commitment to the ZAP, a philosophy that is moral and logically consistent, and the patience that usually goes with that morality, gives us an advantage in the long haul against an opponent that needs to think in terms of two-year election cycles. Statists need to continuously inflame the public with crises to feed their electoral Ponzi scheme with more money and power. Eventually, this will result in unbearable taxation and/or degraded economic conditions. At that time, either the government will break down, or it will be vulnerable to measures to cause that result. Our great hope is that enough people will have been exposed to, and accepted, libertarian ideas in the interim that a society based on little or no government will not only seem possible, but desirable. Until that time, military attacks, even of a guerilla warfare nature, will prove futile. (Again, this is my opinion. YMMV)
When will the time come to act? I wish I knew, but I suspect that it will come in my lifetime (I am 52). How will we know the right time to act? That is the question I will address in this column. First, a short history lesson.
In the 1790s, an American Indian (Shawnee) by the name of Tecumseh was traveling among the tribes between the Mississippi River and the Appalachian mountains, trying to form a united front to white expansion. He was acknowledged as one of the supreme orators of his time, and used that and his near-perfect memory to give speeches detailing the many treaties broken by the whites in order to encourage the tribes to join in his Red Stick Confederacy (so named for the red-painted war clubs carried by his companions). He told the tribes to prepare for war with the whites, "and when the time was right he would stamp his foot. This would cause the earth to shake and would be the signal for the tribes to unite and go to war." ( 100 Decisive Battles, by Paul K. Davis, p. 288)
Unfortunately, Tecumseh's brother, Laulewasika, ordered an attack on a militia force lead by William Henry Harrison that was coming to break up a large gathering of Indians at the junction of the Tippecanoe and Wabash Rivers, rather than negotiating to buy time as Tecumseh had instructed him. Their resulting defeat by the militia caused the tribes to doubt Tecumseh, and the Red Stick Confederacy was no more. This happened in November, 1811. In mid-December, an earthquake struck southern Canada that was felt as far away as Missouri; two more occurred in January 1812 and another in February. Those events could well have been interpreted as the result of Tecumseh stamping his foot, and American history may have been quite different.
My point is that we cannot afford to act overtly too soon. We are outgunned both in quality and quantity by the government military (which includes so-called police). Until we can convince more people that libertarianism is a far better philosophy than the BOYN lust for power, until the BOYNs are reduced by events and their situational ethics to reacting to increasing breakdowns in their system, military-like action is suicidal. Even when this time comes, guerilla warfare will be the order of the day, as the beast will not know it is dead and will still be quite deadly. Until that time, we must continue to spread our message to any who will listen, pointing out the inherent morality of the ZAP and how their lives will improve without the State draining off much of their earnings and limiting their opportunities.
Who will "stamp his foot" to signal the right time? How will we know the foot has stamped? Given the vastly improved communications we have compared to the early 1800s, getting the word out will be far easier. What form will that signal take? In my opinion, it will need to be a multimedia message, going out over the Web, radio, and telephone, and most likely other forms as well. So the person who sends the message will need to have the ability to speak well and convincingly, write with both emotion and reason, and be well-known and respected within the libertarian community. I think there may well be more than one spokesman, or one will lead off and a few others will pick it up and the word will then spread exponentially. My hope is that there will be enough people at that time that believe in libertarian ideals to carry the day.
I am not saying that we should bow our heads and tug our forelocks to the lords of the manor until then. We should all look for non-violent ways to undermine the illegitimate assumption of power that the BOYNs consider their "authority," doing so with oblique action. Find ways to go around or under their walls rather than ramming them with our heads. Point out the flaws in what they say and do to non-libertarians, and then present the moral alternative. Ridicule their actions, for the instrument all governments like to play is fear, and you don't fear what you laugh at. Prepare for the times to come in whatever way best fits your situation and terrain. Some of us can be warriors; some will be organizers, planners, suppliers, information gatherers, and so forth. Examine your attributes, "what" you are, and where you live or will operate, in the light of The Art of War, by Sun Tzu. Be patient, stay committed, and live the ZAP.
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