James Leroy Wilson's blog

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Building Freedom

I don’t really practice what I’m about to preach, especially in regards to item #1. And this is not my final word on these issues, this is only a weblog entry, a brief brainstorm. But here’s a rough outline for freeing yourself and the country. The first part is toughest. The odd part of libertarianism is that it extols the virtues of both the division of labor (which is, economic interdependence) AND self-sufficiency. Which is to say, that libertarianism extols the virtues of non-coercion. It is the most diverse ideology, because it values both backwoods living and the luxurious excess of the cosmopolitan metropolis. But if you want to remain free when everything goes to hell, point #1 should be considered.

1. Find your own freedom:

- Learn outdoor/survival skills, preparedness, homebuilding, auto mechanics
- Live in a remote country or small town location (where developers won’t use government to steal your land)
- Learn how to live well, including entertaining yourself, on very little cash
- Build various networks, especially with fellow libertarians, for mutual aid
- Learn a variety of marketable skills
- Attain financial freedom (in part by dropping out of the consumerist culture)
- Withdraw as much as practical from the financial system and any activity that is often monitored by government
-Be a good spouse, parent, and neighbor

2. Cast a wide net:

-Every libertarian should get a blog. You don’t even need to give your real name, or write if you don’t have the confidence. Just link to articles you like. Blogsurfers will encounter your stuff. Some will move to the next blog, others will stay and read.
-Give up on the idea of “persuasion.” Gary North has a rule - I’m not sure where he got it or if its true, but it sounds accurate. If what you have to offer is any good, 20% will actually listen to you, and even like what you say. But only 20% of that, or 4% of the whole, will follow through. There is no “art” in persuasion, especially in persuasion to the libertarian philosophy. Just tell the truth as you see it, or link to others with whom you agree.
-Don’t be discouraged, and don’t waste time on arguing with people. The real blessing of the libertarian philosophy is the moral and psychological benefit of how you treat others and how you view yourself. Freedom is really a state of mind, more than a political condition. Be happy that minds are opened, and that some minds are changed, don’t remain bitter, angry, and frustrated because great masses don’t listen. Read Isaiah’s Job. Other people's problems and character defects are not yours, and you - and no one else, let alone great masses of people - are responsible for your own happiness.

3. Realistic political involvement

-Political change comes only after cultural transformation. If the great masses valued freedom, they will get it.
-Libertarians seeking power is a contradiction. If the Libertarian Party had some success, that will open the door for those who will dilute its platform beyond recognition in an effort to seize power.
-Break down the libertarian program into individual issues and movements. The Libertarian “program” or platform, will attract little support. Individual issues, such as guns, drugs, prison reform, or draft resistance, will attract wider, non-ideological support.
-If campaigning for office, appeal to the values and self-interest of the voters, not the wisdom of your philosophy.
-Maintain a two-tiered political philosophy. One may cater to an anti-state view of the world. But the other must be a theory of the State. It would acknowledge that tax-funded interstate highways, public universities (with their basketball teams and all), and public broadcasting (with Big Bird and Lake Wobegon and all) are not going to go away. If the State is inevitable, what should be its purpose and how should it be managed? If you can not deal with such a question, that’s fine, but then don’t pretend that partisan political activity is going to work, or complain that the Libertarian Party isn’t as “pure” as you want it to be.
-Accept incrementalism, and sometimes it may even be best to vote for the “lesser of two evils.” But don’t become a loyal partisan of any party, and recognize the difference between a compromise and a sell-out.

Perhaps the last two points, about a theory of the State and incrementalism, explains some of the views expressed here that might not resemble full-fledged anarcho-capitalism. I am conservative when it comes to the Constitution and judiciary, and am Georgist in political philosophy, in that I believe that the monopolization of land and natural resources was, is, and always will be the main political problem.

But the main problem is philosophical and moral - how do we think of ourselves, and how should we treat others? It is here that libertarianism will liberate many people, even if the political fruits will not be seen in our generation.


  1. Jim -
    You outblogged yourself on this one - i am surprised you didn't just post it as an article. Your move from Chicago to Eastern Washington is a cultural demonstration of your commitment to #1. I am working on some stuff now that follows in with this capability - would you be passing south or west at anytime soon?

  2. Terrific stuff here, James!

  3. Thanks Dr. Lenny. Personal reasons brought me to a small town, and personal reasons may bring me back to the city. I'll let you know if I'm going in your direction.

    And thanks, Sunni!