James Leroy Wilson's blog

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Gotta Love the Hard-Core Women

Claire Wolfe on living one's own convictions:

The struggle has both big aspects ("Do I pay my taxes and fund the slaughter in Iraq or do I stop paying and risk prison and financial ruin?") and smaller annoying ones ("Do I fill out that stupid paperwork or just build my garage without a government permit?" "Do I give my social security number to get a fishing license?"). Even the supposedly small decisions often determine whether we can earn a living or live in peace with our community. And such dilemmas are constant. Ceaseless.

It's an irony that some of the world's most thoughtful and decent people are precisely the ones who are pressured, day after day, to surrender their conscience. What kind of society survives once it becomes a liability to have personal principles? Once individual moral choices become not only irrelevant but undesirable? Scary.

Influential men like the great Jefferson claimed to deplore slavery -- but to be unable to free their own (or any other) slaves. But at the same time (and in one instance, against Jefferson's adament advice), prosperous Virginians bearing the aristocratic names of Carter and Randolph did free their slaves, driven by conscience.

So why could Carter do the right thing while Jefferson could not -- even when he fully recognized where the moral course lay? And what about us, today? In choosing what is "practical" and "pragmatic" are we not also simply delaying and defeating the freedom that could be ours if we simply ... took it?

Ms. Wolfe is like a mother for libertarians, dispensing sound wisdom and advice. Here, she talks about taking care of yourself in an emergency:

"First of all," said Carty, "what are you planning FOR? Heck of a difference between planning for three days at a Red Cross shelter after a storm and planning for the Complete Collapse of Western Civilization."

"Yep," Nat nodded. "And this notion that ever'body has to prepare to live like Eric Robert Rudolph in an emergency -- running wild in the woods eating worms for two years -- don't make no sense."

"I'm not even eating worms for a single weekend," Bob-the-Nerd protested. "And why should I? The kind of emergency most likely to hit Hardyville wouldn't involve 'bugging out.' It would require 'bugging in' -- staying at home without power, maybe. Or bunking with neighbors for a few days after a fire."

"In a situation like that, neighbors and relatives would help," said Mrs. Nat. "Even so, it's smart to have a kit of medicines, clothes, tooth brushes and things. Even if you ended up using them at a neighbor's house, in a tent in your own backyard, or in a vehicle for a few days, you'd be glad to have a supply of your own life's conveniences."

Right. Plan first for the emergencies that are most likely to happen to you. Plan for what you are most likely to need and what you are personally capable of doing in those specific emergencies. Only after that, extend your purchases and your preparations to other scenarios.

And then, writing on her sense of inadequacy living the Backwoods Home lifestyle (I don't live it myself, I just like the magazine), she provides this insight into the sexes:

It occurs to me that one reason women have traditionally been reluctant to leave the city for the backwoods or the prairies is that for many it’s simply been more of the same—housework, childcare, and cooking as usual. Only harder. (Or at least it appears harder to someone who’s always lived within five miles of a shopping mall.)

But there’s something interesting about my fellow sisters. No one else seems to remark upon it, but that I’ve noticed again and again. Once we decide to embark on an adventurous life or step out of secure territory to take a strong stand on something, we often go to the max.

For instance, I’m a libertarian and a gun-rights activist. Most libertarians and most gun-rights activists are men. Bless ‘em all. (Or most of ‘em, anyway.) We women here are fewer in number. But when I look around, I see male activists who cross the spectrum from mild-mannered compromisers to the most hard-core, no-nonsense, no-compromise positions. The women? Nearly all are on the, “Liberty or death” side of things. And I’m talking about, “Stay out of the way of my liberty or else.”

Your mileage may vary. But while suburbs are no doubt filled with women who don’t share their husbands’ dreams of getting away to the woods, the woods are also filled with hard-core Jackie Clays and Dorothy Ainsworths.

There are many instances of "hard-core" women who set the standard for all, including men, to follow. It's a fine line between stubborn and uncompromising, but I don't think anyone called Mother Theresa stubborn. Think of Joan of Arc, Emma Goldman. Even Margaret Thatcher; every male politician in the last fifty years is a wuss by comparison. Modern libertarianism itself has many intellectual fathers, but it is the mothers - Isabel Patterson, Rose Wilder Lane, Ayn Rand - who provided the clarity of vision and passion.

And it is that uncompromising stand that I see today in libertarian women like Sunni Maravillosa, Wendy McElroy, and Ms. Wolfe herself.

What I infer from Claire Wolfe is that libertarianism isn't worth it for a woman if she doesn't go the whole way with it. That should be true for men, too.

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