A small sign of the times
The town at the foot of the hill had a crisis last week. It didn’t have to be a crisis. It began as a mere glitch — human caused, but easily human reparable, too.
The city expected a contractor to notify residents of several streets about a planned water outage. The contractor didn’t do it. When residents quite naturally began contacting city hall (aka the water company), city mucky-mucks proceeded to make things infinitely worse.
They spent an hour pointing fingers (“It’s the contractor’s fault! We have nothing to do with it! They lied to us! Go talk to them, not to me!”), Then, because city hall also had no water, they quit answering phones, packed up, and went home to extend their three-day Labor Day weekend into four — and left residents without water and without information or any form of customer service. Those who attempted to get an update from the contractor were treated rudely.
Water service came back on after nine long hours. Goodwill may never return. And this was completely avoidable. Had city mucky-mucks stepped up, managed the crisis, made the belated notifications, and offered water or other help to (disabled, elderly, or otherwise) housebound residents we’d be hailing them as heroes now. Instead they created their own crisis through their actions and inactions. Then whined that they’re the victims — not only of the contractor’s malfeasance, but of customers’ frustration and anger.
I mention this not because it’s anything unusual, but because it’s not. This kind of dysfunction is getting more “normal” every day.
I was talking about the mess with the head librarian — an ultimate local establishment person, not some “right-wing conspiracy-theory wingnut” — and at the end of our futile attempt to parse the problem she sighed, “This is just one more sign of how everything’s falling apart.”
Yes, everything’s falling apart, and while the librarian has hopes that it’ll all turn around in six months or so, there’s no reason to be so sanguine.
Those who keep comparing our current Year of Discord to 1968 or 1969 have their heads up their backsides. In those sunny days of yore we had a relatively healthy economy and intact institutions. Now we’ve got a dysfunctional oligarchy or a plutocracy (take your pick) built on the sands of funny-money — or rather, quicksands of funny-money into which the working and middle classes are sinking. And that’s without even mentioning the happy (for politicians) tyranny of COVID and one very weird election year that might end up with civil war or a military coup. (Whether you like him or not, pray that Trump wins in a landslide; the alternatives are too ugly to contemplate.)
Here in the west, during historically catastrophic fire weather, we may even have coordinated arsons in rural and suburban areas. (H/T JW) If reports are accurate, these aren’t attacks on any “oppressive” establishment or hierarchy. They aren’t even profitable adventures in looting. They’re attacks on everyone and everything.
Still, life does go on. And on we go with it. We can either whine like petulant
city officials five-year-olds about these dire times or step up to proactive crisis management.
Wisdom from the Commentariat
The comment section on last week’s part I post was particularly good. Thank you.
Napoleon (and Commentariat member Anonymous) said, “Never interrupt your enemy while he is making a mistake.”
However powerful and in control (or aggressively out of control) the enemies of freedom seem right now, they’re making a terrible mistake.
Various factions of our enemies (lump conveniently under “Socialist Democrat”) are alienating every sane person left in the country, including not merely business owners, the white working class, men who don’t appreciate being blamed for every bad thing that ever happened throughout history, but also black people who have to endure being exploited in the name of violent thuggery, immigrants whose American dream is going up in smoke or down under arbitrary COVID regulations, anyone who appreciates honest media, anyone who loves honest language, actually liberal liberals, Catholics who grok how dangerous President Kamala would be to them, other believers in religious liberty, anybody who doesn’t think street violence is a way to solve problems. Etc. etc. etc.
Let the destructors go on showing their real selves. Look forward to the day when men and women, blacks and whites, Hispanics, Asians, gays, lesbians, freedom-loving trans people, and all who simply want to live in goodwill and real tolerance with their fellow human beings can all figuratively join hands and sing “Kumbaya” for the cause of freedom. Except they won’t because that’s silly and because their hands will be too full of either arms or other tools to go around singing at people as if it meant something. (Public demonstrations are a silliness of the activist left. Far better just to create lives in harmony.)
Along with not interrupting our enemies while they’re shooting themselves in the foot goes another old, but too often neglected, bit of wisdom: Don’t fight on your enemies’ terms.
The temptation may be strong to travel to those mean urban streets and stand armed guard against the forces of crime and chaos. But what will that accomplish? It’ll get you possibly charged with crimes, possibly killed, and certainly defamed by the media (“Right-wing Trump supporters cause violence in Portland!”)
All of that might be worth it if you had a strategy of your own that has the slightest hope of overcoming the forces of chaos. But if you’re journeying, armed and unready, into the urban hellscape to meet Marxists or plain old criminals on their own terms and their own turf, you have no such strategy.
I’m not saying not to defend your own property or your own community. I wish there were more “rooftop Koreans” protecting their family businesses in besieged downtowns. I cheer for gun owners who turn out in the streets or in yards to defend their own property and communities against violent invaders. With the help of a friend I’m quietly hardening my own home turf and I believe my neighbors are doing likewise.
But do not journey onto Antifa’s or BLM’s turf, insert yourself into their criminal chaos, and expect to accomplish anything other than a martyrdom that will be distorted and misrepresented in every publication in the land.
Well, Bear Bussjaeger says it better than I.
The Samuel Adams option?
In late August, J.S. Winter wrote on American Greatness that it’s time to exercise the “Samuel Adams Option.” I agree with Winter in part — that is, the parts about freedomistas banding together in networks of communication, restoration, and self-protection. I disagree that we must somehow first beat back the current insanity or Marxism (but I repeat mystelf) of the establishment/crazy left.
J.S. Winter says, “The Samuel Adams Option has to be deployed at the ideological level first.” And goes on to detail how we must crush the media, the education establishment, etc.
Well, good luck with that. IF we actually had the power to do all that crushing we wouldn’t need those committees of correspondence and Boston Tea Parties.
We are guerrilla fighters, if we are fighters at all. Our job is to harry the enemy until the enemy falls under its own weight. We do not have the power to take over completely corrupted institutions, nor do we need to.
But I do agree that we need the brilliant, subversive, freedomista sneakiness and theatricality of a Samuel Adams.
If we’re going to be activist at all (and some will, some won’t; respect that), we need to outwit, out-style, out-charm the statist loonies. We need to commit creative acts that are either going to be so cool that the media can’t just dismiss us as “right-wing violent militia white supremacist Trump supporters” (yeah, I know) or so cool that they zoom right past the media and into the viral heart of our countrymen.
Here’s an example. You may well have seen this. Ricky Rebel in a street performance of “MAGA”, a take-off on “YMCA” by the Village People. Now, I’m no Trump fan (unless you count thinking Trump is simply better than any other absolutely catastrophic alternative). But for a young, semi-famous, spangled LGBTetc-supporting rocker to perform grand street theater — adapting a very catchy gay anthem — in the cause of freedom and unity under Trump beyond all the pustulent hatred of the left … well, that’s pretty damn grand.
I’ve watched that linked video four or five times and it just makes me happy. It’s also gone viral, and lets hope it’s reaching beyond partisan territory.
Is this as “good” — that is, as tempting, as easy — as heroically wanting to dash off and risk life and limb? No. And obviously not everybody could do this, and who knows what effect it will have? But Ricky Rebel and his fellow Deplorables are most certainly not meeting the enemy on his own terms, but on unique terms of their own. Terms that the media can’t possibly distort as “violent” or “right-wing extremist.” Terms that are upbeat, lovable, and exemplary.
Back to the Benedict Option
J.S. Winter, with the “Samuel Adams Option,” was consciously addressing Rod Dreher’s proposal for the Benedict Option — that is, retreat until the madness passes, live according to values, and preserve what there is to preserve.
Dreher was addressing Christians and in a way that didn’t resonate with this agnostic and might not resonate with you. But if so that’s simply because we aren’t Dreher’s audience. Yet his concept has applications beyond religion.
“Society” right now is not listening to us. The audience for the principles or practices of freedom is miniscule. Propagandistic “schooling” has substituted so long for actual thinking that there is little market for principles of any kind, and certainly not for the deep (and risky!) depths of individual liberty and truly free markets. We’re not going to “crush” the inertia of stupid-brained statism and all its established institutions, no matter what we do.
We may be able to help keep threads of freedom alive with some glorious Samuel Adamsy theater. But the other way to keep freedom alive in times when no one’s listening is by preserving it, living it, keeping it apart from the ongoing cultural destruction — similar to the role played first by the Fourth Century desert fathers (and mothers), and later by medieval monastics.
And this secular version of the Benedict Option doesn’t have to be committed solely by principled freedomistas. Here’s a feature about 19 black families who’ve purchased land in Georgia to build an intentional community to keep them safe from today’s chaos.
Now, I don’t know where any of them stand, politically or philosophically. Or if they stand at all. I don’t know whether they’ll build a black-separatist community that hates all white people, be at peace with all humankind, or whether their effort will go the long, sad way of so many other intentional communities throughout history. No clue. But I do know that, if they succeed, or even make a good try at succeeding, they’ll learn something about self-sufficiency and independence. And that’s all to the good. Movements like this burst the urbanite bubble. Succeed or fail, they put participants face-to-face with the realities of getting by and dealing with your fellow man.
And that’s something.
Despite my personal failure with the Desert Hermitage, I still think community — intentional or otherwise — is key to our personal survival and the long-term survival of freedom. It doesn’t even remotely have to be a community of principles (beyond respect for the Golden Rule and hopefully the Bill of Rights). It merely has to be a community rooted in reality, not political fantasy.
Some communities of self-defense and self-interest have been large, intentional, and elaborate. Others, like my neighborhood of eight houses, are completely accidental. But they serve the purpose of keeping individuals and families bound to reality — and possibly alive, free, and effective in the long run.
Even if things don’t completely work out for your freedom community, you could easily end up with neighbors like these.
Retreating gives us time to prep and friends to prepare with. It gives us both protection and a community for our children. It may give us more.
There’s hope for more. As commentator Alpharius observes, once upon a time most of society was illiterate. We’ve risen above that. Still, every generation is born illiterate and has to learn anew. There is always a chance — just as there is never an end to the drive for liberty.
Don’t be rash. Don’t be stupid
But my lord, don’t get tempted into taking the easy and stupid way!
Here’s a person sitting at his keyboard telling all lovers of liberty to go out and risk their lives.
Risk them to achieve what? Risk them after giving what consideration to the potential outcome? Risk them in what specific actions? Risk them against what odds? Risk them for what strategic or tactical purpose? All unmentioned. Also unmentioned are the many, many times (I’m sure) that the writer risked dangerous confrontations himself, or laid his own life on the line in … um, some action or another that he didn’t care to think too deeply about, but boy oh boy, was he ever brave.
Absolutely it may come to shooting. It already has, of course, though the shooting so far hasn’t accomplished anything except giving the media opportunities for propaganda. But make. Every. Bullet. Count. If it comes to that. Make every gesture count. If you’ve got to die for your cause (or, as they say, make some other SOB die for his), make it worthwhile. And if you can be clever and effective for freedom without anybody dying, all the better.
I’m going to go and quote Abbie Hoffman again: “Random political acts produce random political results. Why waste even a rock?”
Certainly don’t waste your own life to produce random results.
Of course, it is not given to us to predict accurately the outcome of our actions; some foolish acts spark amazing consequences.
But as the sane world crumbles around us, as the West falls, as the historic darkness of statism returns, we can do our best by being as smart as we are brave and as brave as we are committed to the cause of freedom.
And while you’re waiting, here are here’s some astutely funny stuff from the PowerLine Blog.