A Strategy for Freedom


    Column by Jim Davies, published on  04/04/2008 in the New Hampshire Free Press

A good general rule is that if we don't know where we're going, we'll never get there.

The converse isn't quite true; that is, to know exactly where we want to go does not guarantee our arrival. However, assuming we don't want just to sit around and dream, or to run in some direction no matter which, the right action is to draw a map and get moving - but not to get moving until we have drawn the map.

It must be admitted that some people do reach a great place without ever having planned to go there, so there are a few exceptions. The biggest recent one is Microsoft. I'm fairly sure that Bill Gates and his geeky friends did not, while consuming beer and pizza at 3 am after a hard day's programming of the Altair 8080 in Albuquerque in the late '70s, discuss in detail how they would all be billionaires by age 40 - or at least, not without a great deal of beer. They just did what they loved to do, worked 16-hour days, drove hard bargains, and soon after they were out of short pants they could out-IBM, IBM. Success like that happens once or twice in a generation, and is the exception that proves the rule.

The rule is, you hit only what you aim at.

If the libertarian movement had accomplished dramatic success during the last few decades like Microsoft, I'd admit that perhaps we don't need a strategic plan. But that's not the case, as we all know; we have poured our hearts and souls and intellects in to the struggle for liberty, and have had to watch as liberty shrinks almost every day. During all that time nobody that I know has outlined a way to succeed, a road map or strategic plan. I say it's time we changed that.

Step #1 in any strat-plan is to define or describe what you want to achieve; to declare the ultimate goal or destination. I notice that libertarians haven't even done that, in a clear and systematic way! No wonder we have no plan, and that our progress is slow or even negative. The material is there, buried in brilliant works like Rothbard's libertarian manifesto "For a New Liberty" and in the Tannehills' "The Market for Liberty", but nowhere is there a simple portrait of a free society, a description of what life would be like in liberty. I thought it was time to fix that.

So I wrote one, this year, to fill the void; it's called "A Vision of Liberty" and it's available now - and yes, that's a shameless commercial plug. I hope that others will write something more profound, and I know one person who will, probably and eventually. But for the moment, that little book is one of a kind. Anyone who wants to think about where we're going should get a copy. Then, and only then, does it make sense to form a plan to get there, and only after forming that plan does it make sense to take any action. So far, we've had plenty of action but no plan; that has made no sense, and it has produced no progress. Surprise, surprise.

Step #2 is to formulate a way to get there from here, and the book happens to include a brief outline of that too. Others may propose a better way - good, the more the merrier. Like every strategic plan, however, each must have these components (as well as the definition of what is to be achieved, as in #1):-

(a) Identify the method to be used

(b) Specify the time scale and milestones to be achieved

(c) List the resources required, and where they can be found

(d) Name the key dependencies assumed and test them for credibility

Then get moving, and in the light of experience go back and modify the plan - for nothing ever works out exactly as planned.

Notice that in our case not even step 2(a) has been achieved, any more than Step 1! There are some who reckon the job can be done by political action (though again, they haven't actually defined what job.) Others, like the FSP (which does at least approximate to the form of a plan) also favor political action, but reckon to influence people in all parties rather than focus on one. Yet others, by far the bravest of all, take direct action by refusing to obey bad laws so as to encourage widespread civil disobedience, so as to... ah, I didn't get the last bit. Nor did I hear the alleged difference between a bad law and a good one, if any. Lastly there are those (including myself) who advocate education - but generally they have not moved beyond 2(a) above by explaining anything about (b) (c) or (d). And so there is no plan, and so there will be no success.

Here then, in bare outline, is a strategic plan for freedom in our lifetimes:

1. The objective is to eliminate government 100% so that a true free market prevails, with obligations existing only after they have been freely and voluntarily undertaken, and with everyone understanding and, so, desiring it

2(a). The method is to re-educate every literate American about liberty, all quarter billion of us, to remove the mythology instilled by the government's indoctrination system, and to do it one by one by personal introduction and exponential growth

2(b). The time scale for completion is about two decades from now, with exponential progress meantime

2(c). The resources required are very, very few and are already in place. They include the Internet (to get it started, something already done) and an assumed continuing availability of low-cost PCs and mass-storage devices like CDs.

2(d). The main dependency is that each person who has been re-educated (after having graduated from a free, interactive school already in place) acts on his or her newly-established understanding by doing two things:

  • Bringing to the same school one of his friends per year, and helping him through it as needed, and
  • Resigning any government job he may hold, including any in a government contractor's company
  • That's it; about as simple and safe a task as can be imagined, yet it will double the number of well-educated freedom-seekers every year. No need at all for political action - a total and ineffective waste. No need for civil disobedience (though it will help, in the later stages; and will probably be practiced in key moral areas like refusing a draft and keeping children out of government school.) No need for buckets full of money, just pocket change for CDs etc. No need for anything unusual except to enjoy a normal, low-profile life and prepare for the inevitable evaporation of government when the inexorable flood of job resignations leaves it with absolutely nobody to execute its orders. Do the math!

    Now, that's a strategy for freedom. It's already in progress, and all are invited to get aboard.

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