Press "Enter" to skip to content

The five stages of freedom

“Where is Spartacus?” So asks David A. McElroy, while making himself crazy with political frustration and setting himself up for more.

But Spartacus is … right there in your own mirror. If you can only recognize the reflection.

McElroy’s frustration makes me want to propose the five stages of freedom, to match the famous Kubler-Ross five stages of grief.

Hers are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.

For freedomistas I propose:

1. Oblivion: I love my country — which is exactly the same as saying I love my government. Sure, it needs a few tweaks. Yeah, maybe it’s slipped a bit from its glory days. But once a few problems are fixed. Old Glory will deserve everybody’s most heartfelt salutes again. It’s still better than any other country in the world.

2. Anger: Wow, I’ve tried everything my Civics teacher told me and it hasn’t made any difference. In fact, things are getting worse all the time. I know: It’s these damn banksters. Or Democrats. Or Republicans. Or commies. Or non-believers. Or Muslims. Or illegal aliens. It’s all their fault. We need to organize, vote en masse and get rid of that problem. Once we get the right people in office everything will be okay.

3. Reform: Damn, that didn’t work, either. All right. It’s time to get serious. We need a new constitutional amendment. No, maybe a new constitutional convention. We need to force the government to do will of We the People. Let’s march on Washington. Let’s show ’em who’s boss. If the ballot box doesn’t work, then …

4. Implosion: Nothing works. Nobody will join my Surefire, Guaranteed Plan for overthrowing bad government and restoring the nation Our Forefathers built for us. Screw the government. Screw all those loser bums who won’t get off their butts. I give up. From now on, I’m just taking care of Number One.

5. Acceptance: Government is the way it is. The media is the way it is. People are the way they are. I don’t have a lever long enough to move those objects. Now, given that fact, what do I do to build freedom in my own life and my own world? Oh, yeah … There are a thousand ways I never noticed before …


  1. Teresa Sue
    Teresa Sue September 22, 2011 12:28 pm

    Welcome back.
    I’d say your steps are spot on. I am at level 5.

  2. John
    John September 22, 2011 12:43 pm

    Very insightful and well written.

  3. Joel
    Joel September 22, 2011 12:49 pm

    Anybody who writes an essay of any length that a)blames everything on Obama, and b)suggests that Arpaio has anything positive to offer, is missing the point by light years. Particularly when his first specific complaint is that nobody wants to investigate Obama’s social security number. That “issue” is as irrelevant as … Spartacus. Who ended up on a pole. This poor guy’s nowhere near getting it. McElroy lists a hundred reasons why the game is rigged, and insists on playing it anyway.

    Even among actual freedomistas, which this guy isn’t, your Fifth Stage of the Freedomista is the hardest. The only way to win any degree of actual freedom in our own lives is to stop playing the game and start taking freedom – but it’s a mental hurdle most folks aren’t ready to clear.

  4. Victor Milán
    Victor Milán September 22, 2011 2:14 pm

    Am I alone in wishing for some kind of “Like/+1” button for posts like Joel’s?

    And for Claire’s post, of course. Not least for correctly locating the elusive Spartacus.

  5. Teresa Sue
    Teresa Sue September 22, 2011 3:20 pm

    I agree Joel. Some days are better than others. I have to remind myself often…it’s all irrelevant.

  6. Claire
    Claire September 22, 2011 5:24 pm

    Damn, and here I thought I was being original. Oh well, great minds …

  7. bumperwack
    bumperwack September 22, 2011 5:51 pm

    Ha!!…glad you’re back …

  8. Big Wooly
    Big Wooly September 23, 2011 4:39 am

    Brilliant. Welcome back!

  9. velcro8ball
    velcro8ball September 23, 2011 5:24 am

    I just wish I could come to grips with and accept #5. I get there for a moment and then regress to, i don’t know #3 or #4. I just get frustrated and eat myself up. Nice to see the post.

  10. Howard Roark
    Howard Roark September 23, 2011 7:06 am

    Sadly I am all of these at different times. I am not doing a good job at just moving through them and settling at acceptance. There are times I think we are on the right path and some tweaking is fine and a lot of time being angry, but still voting and trying to work within the system.

    However I have determined something that will help me move to and stay in acceptance. I want Claire to write one book with ALL 1,000 or more suggestions of how to be free in an unfree country. Actually a 1,000 might not be enough, let’s make it a round 10,000 so I am totally covered. Although 10,000 suggestions in ONE book might be asking a lot so I will pledge to buy the entire C. Wolfe Freedom Encyclopedia set when you have it published 🙂

  11. David A. McElroy
    David A. McElroy September 23, 2011 8:11 am

    Joel (& Co.) — I wrote “Where is Spartacus?” not because I want to correct the state… I am anti-statist, anti-corporatist, anti-collectivist. I am a Christian libertarian of the Jeffersonian influence. But I did mean to emphasize that the government refuses to live even within its own rules. Pirates are commanding the ship of state and the Skull & Bones flies from the mast! I support secession of many small communities. Yes, I do what I can to be more independent… but it is like fish wanting to escape a filthy tank we are all trapped in. I am vigilant, a watchman on the wall. But I am getting old, impoverished in the Social Security trap, and carrying many invisible scars from battles with the beast. Please join me in declaring the rise of Spartacus. I only ask that you stand…as I do. But I don’t presume to command anyone!

  12. Steve Harris
    Steve Harris September 23, 2011 8:45 am

    I’ve had moments at stage 5 but they are way too rare. I tend to move between 1, 2 and 3, especially when I talk to people who label themselves conservative. It gets even worse when refer to themselves as libertarian. It’s like dealing with members of a cult & I give up for awhile.

    I think we’re well past the tipping point and on the way down. Attitudes might change as we keep heading this way.


  13. Matt, another
    Matt, another September 23, 2011 9:17 am

    I think it needs a 6th stage. Shrugged. It would support what Joel has said. Once you have moved through the first 5 stages you hit Shrugged, where you take charge of your own freedom and live the freest lifestyle possible. Might include something about planting freedomseeds as you to along. Little Johhny Freedomseed.

  14. Claire
    Claire September 23, 2011 11:48 am

    Good comments. And welcome, David McElroy. You, too, Howard Roark — but LOL on the “10,000 things.” Hm … maybe next year.

    FWIW, anybody who can get to “5” (or “6”) and hang in there is doing an amazing thing. I think I’m there most of the time, but I still give lots of anger to the earlier levels, even when I don’t put any action there.

  15. Steve Trinward
    Steve Trinward September 23, 2011 1:03 pm

    I’m 5 at times … then back at 3 … then 4 … then … usually back at 3 again! I continue to rant (when i do) about where “America” went in the face of this “USA inc. empire” we deal with now … trying to stay focused on what i can do to be freer; funding continues to get in the way

  16. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty September 23, 2011 2:21 pm

    I got to #5 a long, long time ago and I’m just too stubborn to go back an inch. But I reserve the right to rant – though I’m trying REALLY hard to be more persuasive than rant style.

    Recently I decided to cut through the argument by asking, “who owns your life?” Then we get away from the misdeeds of government and into the basic question. If they don’t understand self ownership, then they are not ready to talk about freedom as far as I’m concerned.

    Welcome back, Claire. 🙂

  17. Joel
    Joel September 23, 2011 2:54 pm

    I do enjoy ranting. But I only do it because I want to.

  18. Claire
    Claire September 23, 2011 2:58 pm

    Thank you, MamaLiberty — and that’s an excellent way to shift somebody’s premises. Head straight for “5” and bypass the rest.

  19. LibertyNews
    LibertyNews September 23, 2011 4:39 pm

    I was a 5 in my late teens. Fell back to 3 for a while and now, after reading “Lever Action” am firmly back in the 5 camp to stay.

  20. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty September 24, 2011 8:51 am

    Yes indeed! The reframe of an argument or dilemma is a most powerful counseling tool and I’ve used it for many years. But somehow I seldom managed to set my own passion aside long enough to use it in political discussions until a year or so ago.

    Many people will insist that, yes, they do own their lives. I ask them if they have a “license to drive, carry a gun, a “permit” to build a shed, or any of the thousands of things that now require permission from our supposed “servants” to conduct ordinary business. I ask if they can hire or fire anyone they wish, take as much cash as they wish out of the bank, etc. I pile it on until they are shaking their heads… then ask if such things apply to self owners or to slaves.

    Sometimes they just walk away angry… but I hope even then that it plants a seed.

    So, see… I’ve not gotten much beyond the rant after all. 🙂

  21. JG
    JG September 24, 2011 6:15 pm

    Maybe we are due for another 5 stages of something. Maybe “the 5 stages of what you do after you figure out that govt. is absolutely corrupt and theres nothing you can do about it.”

  22. sofa
    sofa September 25, 2011 1:09 pm

    “theres nothing you can do about it.”-JG

    Act locally.

Leave a Reply