We’ve been watching freedom be throttled, stomped, and shoved off a cliff for most of our lifetimes.
I hardly need mention that the downward plunge has accelerated in the last year and especially the last few weeks.
The murder of freedom has been a boon for oligarchs, plutocrats, useful idiots, fans of Marx and Gramsci, co-opters of the name of Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus, and thousands of pathetic over-schooled conformist nobodies in online mobs who could never gain so much power over others through brains or hard work (who are currently enjoying their brief ascendency, not realizing the Jacobins will eventually come for their heads, too).
The acceleration has been good for prepping and suppliers of storage products, pundits predicting civil war, gun dealers, and myriad others who might benefit from doomsday. It’s even benefited The Living Freedom Forums, whose newest members are often driven to join by deepening dread.
Two things it most notably hasn’t been good for are freedom itself — down there nearing the bottom of that abyssally deep canyon — and the morale of we who love and understand liberty.
But I am here to urge you to be of good cheer.
I say this not as some Pollyanna, some ever-sunny optimist. Quite the opposite. You who’ve been around a while know I’m a born pessimist, a made cynic, and as likely as anybody else to cry, “We’re dooooooooooooomed!”
Nor am I some eejit who imagines we can be free if we just ignore all the unfreedom around us.
I am merely a person who has learned from long, sometimes hard, life experience, that it’s best to acknowledge potential doom — then kick it out of the space it likes to occupy in our heads. Not in order to make us feel better, but to make us DO better.
Again, if you’ve been around you know that drill.
For those who haven’t been around for years, let me tell you about Loxosceles_Reclusa. Not the brown recluse spider, but perhaps the worst advocate for freedom who ever lived on the ‘Net.
Lox_Rex, let’s call him, deeply, truly, desperately wanted to be free. That’s why he joined the old Claire Files Forums (full of advocates for building individual freedom in this unfree world), way back when.
So he claimed.
But he absolutely couldn’t become free, you see, because he faced one insurmountable barrier.
I’ll get to the barrier in a moment, but first let me tell you how that (then very active, now defunct) board of freedom seekers responded. Naturally when Lox_Rex first appeared others rushed to help him find his way toward freedom. They were more than willing to aid, advise, encourage, and support poor Lox’s aim to freedom. And he was so sad and miserable. Surely he needed all the uplift, useful information, and encouragement we could give.
But “poor” Lox sucked up everything we had to offer, then spat it back out. None of it applied to him. He told us a thousand reasons why all our ideas and experiences were worthless. We were blind and insensitive to the depths of his plight. Nobody had ever been as unfortunate as he. Nobody had ever been as helpless as he. No one had ever been as depressed, as oppressed, as mistreated, as ugly, as inept, as trapped, as misery-laden as he.
No one had ever suffered as much as he suffered; therefore no one could possibly give him useful advice or encouragement because we were all so much luckier, healthier, wealthier, and more fortunate in every way than he. It didn’t matter if a forum member offering encouragement was suffering from cancer or missing a limb or jobless or living in his car or had lost half her family in the Holocaust; no one, anywhere, ever, could understand the depth of suffering enjoyed by Lox_Rex.
And he did enjoy it, of course. Relished it. Wallowed in it.
But that wasn’t the barrier to his freedom.
In his perception, the one insurmountable barrier to his freedom was this: His mother and father (who he resented and hated to the pit of his soul) had not yet died and left him the $300,000 he was entitled to. Worse, they sometimes threatened not to leave it to him at all.
I’ll pause a moment so you can weep for the poor man’s heart-rending tragedy.
Oh, and while we’re all wiping our eyes and blowing our noses, here’s a picture of the only inheritance I ever received. My last grandparent died when I was
10 nine and I got this:
It’s a jam jar. In the shape of a strawberry. Later, when I was a teenager, I stole my dead grandfather’s ring from Mom’s jewelry box, adding to my vast inherited wealth. The ring might even have some gold in it.
You can imagine how much mourning and weeping I did for poor, poor unfortunate Lox.
I’m not complaining. I’ve had a good life and many benefactors. Not being beholden to my family is one of the best things that ever happened to me. Still, when I see my jam jar, I do tend to remember “poor” entitled Lox and how he could absolutely NEVER be free until he was suddenly made rich.
All this came to mind because I recently had an encounter with another person having trouble moving forward in personal freedom. Let me hasten to say I don’t think this person was anywhere near being Lox_Rex reborn. More likely he was just feeling stuck because of a recent downturn in his life. I expect he’ll eventually find his way out of it. Money was also a sticking point for him; he made a decent living but somehow could never marshal all the resources he’d need to build the homestead he dreamed of.
But he was also stuck by attitude. He knew every bit of bad news pouring out of the media. He observed many, many efforts for freedom that didn’t work. And he was dwelling on them.
Yeah, sometimes it’s hard not to dwell on them. Sometimes don’t we all dwell on them?
But that’s a trap. We should know as much about bad news and failures of “our side” as we need to evaluate our situation and act intelligently. But we tend to allow these evils and failures to squat in our heads and take over ownership of our thoughts.
And that’s where we doom ourselves to unfreedom. “We’re doooooooooooooomed” becomes not a wail of despair, but a state of mind that crowds out all counterarguments and therefore all possibility of improving our personal lot or mounting an effective opposition to the enemies of freedom.
One way my recent correspondent did appear to be just a little a bit like Lox was that he seemed to think he’d need to have the resources to do everything at once if he were ever going to have that homestead — shelter, infrastructure, fencing, everything.
I may be misinterpreting here, but that’s what I saw in his phrasing when he wrote of what he couldn’t do. And even if I’m misrepresenting him (and if so, I apologize), the belief that we must have have all or we have nothing is a common misconception — especially now when the forces of unfreedom are moving so rapidly.
But just as “the perfect is the enemy of the good,” “all or nothing” is an enemy of progress toward freedom.
All or nothing comes up in a more terrifying way, too: Since winning freedom through elections or public protests has failed us, there is no other alternative — not one! — other than to take up arms.
That’s not me talking; but that’s definitely what a lot of despairing people are saying, these days.
That attitude makes me shudder. It’s wrong. It’s far, far more dangerous than the holders of the view seem to realize. And it’s so freaking short sighted when we have examples of tyranny falling non-violently within our very own memory. The fall of the Berlin Wall. The freeing of the Iron Curtain countries. Estonia’s marvelous Singing Revolution. Even China, though not exactly a beacon of freedom, went straight from the horrors of Mao to a roaring market economy — without even bothering to change its “Communist” label.
Tyranny can do unthinkable damage. But the one thing it cannot do is sustain itself. Or keep hearts and minds captive forever.
Yes, we are now headed into totalitarian rule — without even bothering to change our “freedom” and “democracy” labels. But that road has a lot of twists, turns, and branches. Many things can happen. Nothing is inevitable. We have an American history and awesome historic documents as guidance — which no other country does. Even some negative things may be good medicine against would-be tyrants. For instance, our economy is already so wrecked and wretched that leftist utopians will likely create hyperinflation before they’ll create whatever sort of malignant paradise they think they’re aiming for.
Yes, it’s looking like really, really bad times, up to and possibly including cultural revolution ala Mao, actual revolution ala Robespierre, or civil war ala … well, you know. Taking up arms at some point isn’t inconceivable. It may one day be necessary. But it’s not to be desired. And certainly not to be presented as our only “all or nothing” option. If we think that way, we’re going to lose.
Our best hope of either averting or surviving those times lies in refusing to allow doom to squat forever in our brains. The best hope for freedom lies in incrementally moving toward it, both in our own lives and practices and in our strategic thinking.
All-or-nothing beliefs destroy progress. Fear is a tyrant’s most potent weapon.
Cool determination to move toward freedom is ours.
Be of good cheer. We may go through hell, but we have something worth coming out the other side for. The enemies of freedom have nothing but sputtering rage and destruction.