On the Other Hand...

by Jim Davies 

Ways to Break Free


Usually in this column, I show in one way after another how badly government is distorting what ought to be a free society; that whereas every individual ought to be free to make all decisions affecting his own life, government has stolen a huge range of those decisions and so made us into slaves.

To the hoped-for question "Okay, so what next?" I've generally made a closing suggestion for particular action, and then referred the reader by the footnote links to places where other freedom-lovers can be found. People like the Libertarian Party, the International Society for Individual Liberty, the Future of Freedom Foundation. Links to these and many other fine sources are provided every week following the text of these articles, and I hope many readers follow them and find books, information and friendships as well as means to take action to promote the ideal (and experience the reality) of freedom.

Today, I'd like to pause a little to explore, with those readers who already know they want to be free, which of them may be the most effective ways to make the break out of the government plantation.


Here's a paradox! - we want to be free individually, yet one way to do so may be to act collectively. Let's use whatever works, but that ought to give us pause at once. Why should you become free only when a voting majority agrees?!

The main proponent of this is the Libertarian Party. Join, we say (I've been a member for 19 years) and let's work together to run candidates who will propose a freedom-based platform that will attract votes and so grow to the point where the massive superstructure of laws that destroy liberty can be repealed.

Great idea. It would be a massive revolution, it would terminate the "State", yet no shot would be fired, all would be achieved peacefully at the polls.

There are some drawbacks, though, in both practice and theory. Practical obstacles include a sad tendency for some LP candidates to sacrifice principles for votes; I've seen some actually run on anti-libertarian issues, in order to be more palatable to voters - to be less startling. Worse, I've seen whole LP memberships decline to censure such conduct! Once in the maelstrom of politics, it seems some LPers lose sight of what it's all for.

The problems run deeper, however; there are theoretical obstacles too. Suppose all libertarian candidates for office proposed perfect political platforms. Why, still, would anyone vote for them, when there isn't a cat's chance they will win, and when many actually prefer quiet slavery? And suppose they do start to get close to winning (it's possible) what then; are the entrenched Republicrats going to roll over and die? No way; they are all expert politicians, power-drunk to the core, and they will do whatever it takes to reverse the trend - most particularly, they will adopt for their own parties whatever elements of the LP platform they need, to recover their vote share.

They won't mean it or believe it or ever do it, but they will say it, and add that "with us, you've got a real chance of actually winning."

In my opinion that's what took place in 1980; LP candidate Ed Clarke was running a credible campaign for President, and Reagan just hi-jacked his thunder. Eight years later, we had a government even more monstrous. In 1994 the "Republican Revolutionaries" did the same thing; with the same result.

There's an even more serious theoretical problem with trusting in collective, political action: there's no hope of "Jam Today." What a paradox! - LPers preach self-realization and despise self-sacrifice, yet must sacrifice their time, money and aspirations for the good of some future generation.

Activists work their tails off, but year after year see no tangible benefit at all. At best they get to enjoy the camaraderie and the fight, but in the nature of the beast they never get any more free, individually. Always, Jam Tomorrow.  


The alternative to collective action is take some one by one; and that does seem to me to fit the philosophy very well. Again I say, use whatever works: but most jail breaks are made by individuals or by very small groups, not by the whole jail full of prisoners. Exceptions like Sobibor only prove the rule; even in those mass escapes, participants were encouraged to prepare together for the specific purpose of breaking out soon; the goal was the immediate prospect of personal liberty - for them, not their grandchildren.

Not incidentally, individuals escaping the slave-camp do so for their personal benefit, yet their action advances the general cause of liberty. The more who climb over the wall, the more those remaining are repressed, and so the more the guards are resented, and so more individuals will make the break. Good example: home-schooling. Parents take their kids out of the government youth indoctrination camp for their own benefit; but their doing so raises the cost per remaining student and angers taxpayers yet further, causing greater exodus.

Another example: thanks to the brave pioneering work of such as Irwin Schiff, it's now possible with very little risk not to pay the monstrous "income tax". The more who take that option (for their own benefit, of course) the more the obscene expense of government falls on those who don't; so taxes rise, so the incentive to quit rises with them. A virtuous circle!

You can make a jail-break too. If you're interested in finding out how, I can probably help: send me e-mail so that we can talk. Since this is a public page and I've no time for government spies, please include some evidence to show you're not one; but if you genuinely want to experience freedom - Jam Today - I'll be happy to suggest some ways. Go for it: for "living well is the best revenge."

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