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A freedomista symbiosis for our future? Part I

And so our “awkward stage” continues.

The awkward stage is that excruciatingly, endlessly frustrating phase in which tyranny, brutality, and bigotry against freedom grow ever more oppressive but the oppressed feel powerless to act effectively on a large scale. Moral though it may be to string lawless, dictatorial rulers up on lamp posts, it isn’t what good people do — at least not until provocations and deprivations exceed endurance.

Yet without effective options, we good people find ourselves ever more bound and restricted. In the 25 years since I opened 101 Things to do ‘Til the Revolution with my infamous remark, even many of the alternative actions outlined in that book have been closed off to us or become too needlessly dangerous to advocate.

What was petty and amusing monkeywrenching a quarter of a century ago is now “domestic terrorism.” What was honest questioning or investigation is now “disinformation” and cause for cancellation. Merely stating biological facts or traditional beliefs is now “hatred.” What was once angry protest or trespassing is “treason,” with all the draconian threats and lack of due process that implies. And let’s not even talk about surveillance systems that outstrip the wildest dreams of historic tyrants.

One thing for sure: Although we are still in the limbo of that excruciating awkward stage, we’re in a far more advanced and precarious condition. Crucially, more of us now understand that not only is our freedom being attacked; so is the entire cultural, intellectual, philosophical, and ethical ground on which freedom is built.

Whether Our Betters “merely” intend to lead us into another centralized, Sovietized, unworkable, and ultimately failed “expertocracy” or will end up driving us farther, into a new Dark Age, remains to be seen.

But there’s one ray of light shining through their centrally planned catastrophe: More of us finally understand that we must act individually and in small groups to avert or mitigate disaster and to preserve what we must through a potentially bleak future. Even better, we understand that we can do that. We have the tools, the knowledge, the spirit, and the determination. We can’t fix global or national politics. We can’t confront and beat back oligarchy. But we can take charge of our own lives, families, and communities.


Prepping and homeschooling are no longer fringe activities. People are saving everything from heirloom seeds to classical literature. Self-sufficiency has become a thing. From alternative construction models to home generators and sawmills to beekeeping and home brewing and fermenting, millions are adapting to the political threats and the cultural dilapidation by taking their lives and their families’ lives into their own hands. Post-lockdown, millions are saying NO to the job culture and yes to self-determined forms of work. After being badly burned by “experts” they’re beginning to say YES to their own life experiences and no to received institutional wisdom. Young men are giving up corrupted universities for lucrative, hands-on trades.

This runs across the entire political spectrum, but it’s certainly a roaring trend among freedomistas.

And here’s one thing I’ve noticed. These days, when freedomistas talk about retreating or gulching or focusing exclusively on our local communities (or if you’re a Christian, considering Rod Dreher’s monastic Benedict Option) our activist friends probably don’t react with sneers.

Not so long ago, our own might-be allies called us defeatists. Many activist types accused us of giving up or giving in because we were no longer engaged in politics. They cried that if we just rallied behind their plans we could change the system. Freedom would win if we just quit being such selfish losers and joined them in their lobbying/letter writing/marches on Washington/electioneering/petition signing/whatever. They insisted we could restore freedom if we just added our numbers to their collective efforts.

If we told them we’d been activists ourselves (possibly for decades) and had left all that behind because it was a false hope and a diversion of energies from the real cause of building freedom, likely they’d tell us we just hadn’t done our activism right and all we needed was to join them and do more, more, more, more, always more of the same.

Probably some people still believe that. But we don’t hear it as much. Our fellow freedomistas or fellow upholders of various Western traditions may disagree with our approach — but because this is now a cultural battle, not merely a political one, they understand where we’re coming from and why we’re doing what we’re doing. My impression is that many of the people who once sneered at us “retreaters” have now seen wisdom in joining us — even though their activist spirits remain very much alive.

That’s a pretty big change, all by itself.

Like many vital changes throughout history, it happened, and is happening, unheralded and unremarked. But think of the implications. We now have a vast, decentralized, reality-based invisible resistance all across the land. It encompasses Christians and atheists, liberals and libertarians and conservatives, traditionalists and radicals, rural folk and disaffected urbanites, the political and the apolitical — all united (without any formal effort at unity) in the plain-facts understanding that established systems (political, medical, legal, educational, and more) are too broken to reform and that we can and must and will route around the damage.

Talk about big. Culturally, that’s about as big as it gets.


Gulches, communities, retreats, solo hermitages, and Dreher-style monasticism are NOT forms of defeatism. They are sensible recognition that conventiional options that promise change in the direction of political freedom aren’t viable. “Retreats” are a shifting of energy to activities and mindsets that preserve personal and cultural freedom against the inevitable ravages of politics.* For that, they work. They simply work.

But in the future, they may become more. They can be not only havens of freedom, but can become bases from which to mount effective actions in the outside world. They can be the places that finally enable a useful symbiosis between those who aim to live their freedom and those who actively fight for everyone’s freedom.

We’ll talk about those specifics in part II.


* I’m not saying or implying that all freedom-oriented political efforts have been useless. On the contrary, recent political efforts by gun owners have brought us — to my amazement — constitutional carry in 20 states (if Gov. Abbott in Texas ever gets around to signing the latest bill). That’s remarkable. But those efforts have been local (state, not federal). You might also consider cannabis legalization a step toward freedom. I do. But that was also another cynical means for states to raise tax revenues. And the big question is: How much more free have we become overall, especially at the federal level, while savvy activists focused their efforts to produce these remarkable, but highly targeted, results?


  1. Robert A Baird
    Robert A Baird June 7, 2021 10:37 am


  2. Comrade X
    Comrade X June 7, 2021 11:23 am

    One thing the last year exposed to me is how easy it is for people to just go along even when they know it is not right and how hard it is to not follow the herd. However I also think as they have gone along, more people are seeing through the veil and know how wrong it is.

    If anything those who believe in freedom are being tempered like a samurai sword, we are only getting stronger in our beliefs.

  3. StevefromMA
    StevefromMA June 7, 2021 11:29 am

    Yes, good take on things. I would add in the extreme polarization of the country, for example, liberals looking on with horror at right to carry states while the rest of us are praying (well, fervently hoping) that the Supremes screw NYC and extend “gun rights” even more. As Dickens said, oddly during a revolution, “it was the the best, etc.”

  4. Fred M
    Fred M June 7, 2021 11:38 am

    Monastic islands preserved the light and our civilization through the upheaval and chaos of the middle ages. Maybe we are entering a second monastic age.

  5. Noah Body
    Noah Body June 7, 2021 12:17 pm

    “What was honest questioning or investigation is now “disinformation” and cause for cancellation.”

    And worse than that, criminal prosecution for “harassment.” That is, if the powers that be don’t like your message. I suspect they wouldn’t label as harassment getting an email every day saying “I love you, I think you’re wonderful.”

    I think there is a lesson from this, the draconian punishment and criminalization of dissent: don’t punish your opponents harshly, as these tactics can and will be used against you when you are out of power and your opponents are in charge.

    For example, abortion rights supporters were, for a while, able to use the RICO statute against the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. As a life-long activist (on other issues), this sent a chill down my spine, as I recognized that this legal precedent could easily be used against protestors and activists for any issue.

    If any of you hate environmentalists, don’t celebrate when they are called terrorists. The extreme tactics honed against them are now being turned against you. See:

  6. Simon Templar
    Simon Templar June 7, 2021 2:58 pm

    This has definitely prompted some comment ideas, some new, some that have been in the “comment pantry” for quite a while, but I will wait for Part II.

  7. Badger52
    Badger52 June 7, 2021 6:10 pm

    Thank you.

  8. Ersatz Naugahyde
    Ersatz Naugahyde June 7, 2021 7:04 pm

    “Retreats” are a shifting of energy to activities and mindsets that preserve personal and cultural freedom against the inevitable ravages of politics.* For that, they work. They simply work.”

    No Go Zones for Freedomistas.

  9. Granny
    Granny June 8, 2021 6:54 am

    Claire!! We are soul sisters. You eloquently write out my thoughts in stunning clarity. This is exactly what is happening across the country on a massive scale – I call it the Great Migration. I don’t know if it’s factually true, but I’m seeing movement from tyrannical cities to rural locations not seen since the Dust Bowl, but for different reasons. People of all stripes have had enough. TBTB are making gas expensive and lumber prices insane and so much more trying to thwart the movement. They can’t stop us.

    P.S. May the best armed, and most self-sufficient, communities prevail!

  10. Comrade X
    Comrade X June 8, 2021 10:27 am

    P.S. May the best armed, and most self-sufficient, communities prevail!

    methinks they will!

  11. Toirdhealbheach Beucail
    Toirdhealbheach Beucail June 8, 2021 4:07 pm

    Claire – A number of comments, in serried order. I read the article, then had to re-read it again. I am looking forward to the series.

    1) Thank your for writing this. And thank you for writing all that you do. You put the thoughts of many of the rest of us into print in ways that are not nearly as mellifluous and delightful and thoughtful.

    2) Thank you for the reference to Rod Dreher. This was the second time in a day where he came into my purview – and the rule holds, the same as dreams: If you see someone in a dream you have not seen in many years you have to contact them. It was a lovely article.

    3) Speaking as Christian (admittedly, one that finds himself in a state of “I do not know which denomination I belong to, but it is not the one I am in), thank you for acknowledging us in a way that is non-destructive.

    4) Yes, I think the tone and tenor has changed, if for no reason than folks have begun to figure out that a) The government will not be there for them; b) The Powers That Be are not their ally; and c) The current system is broken. Badly broken.

    5) People are awake, in ways they have not been in the past. They just need to admit it to themselves.

    6) Like my philosophy in Highland Games, I need only preserve myself and outwait those that are better than I am (but have physical trauma). Eventually, I will succeed. I need only be patient.

    Your Obedient Servant, Toridhealbheach Beucail

  12. larryarnold
    larryarnold June 8, 2021 8:20 pm

    I call it the Great Migration. I don’t know if it’s factually true, but I’m seeing movement from tyrannical cities to rural locations not seen since the Dust Bowl, but for different reasons.

    Check out the 2020 Census data. “Blue” states lost Representatives, “Red” states gained. Then remember that the Census counted where you lived April 1, 2020, back when Covid was just getting started, before George Floyd enflamed BLM. IOW before people started moving because of the 2020 chaos.

    OTOH, go farther back and check trends. The last time New York didn’t lose one or more Representatives was 1940. Texas and Florida have gained Representatives all that time. California has had boom after boom, gaining Representatives until they got one in 2000. But in 2010 they broke even, and now they’ve lost one.

    The state breakdowns will be interesting, to see how rural v. urban fared.

  13. Sylvester Conrad
    Sylvester Conrad June 9, 2021 6:42 am

    “We now have a vast, decentralized, reality-based invisible resistance all across the land.”

    Small, but growing well.

    A handful of sand tossed into the gears of a huge machine has little effect; 30-50 million handfuls, different story.

    There’s evidence that California sacrificed almost 9 billion dollars of taxable income on the twin altars of Leftism and Authoritarianism, with – certainly – more to come. That California taxpayers are rapidly being replaced with California tax consumers will become evident soon. Lots of handfuls of sand in 9 billion dollars.

    The same, to a somewhat lesser degree, is happening in other Bastions of Leftism. More handfuls.

    There is some indication that fears of migrants from Leftist Paradises bringing their socialsm with them are unfounded; time will tell, but this is more handfuls of sand.

    Firearm sales continue to push into the stratosphere. An increasing number of people are figuring out that it’s “them against the world”; to what degree they actually embrace that philosophy is unknown, but the numbers alone offer some amount of encouragement; still more handfuls.

    Camping supplies, kerosene lamps, freeze dried food, etc., all are facing shortages, and not just because it’s “summer camping season.” One hopes those items are actually being sufficiently used to gain familiarity with them; additonal handfuls.

    If one closely surveys the situation, one develops some trepidation regarding a “tipping point” where frustration, anger, and privation overcome patience. There’s no doubt a tipping point exists somewhere, and I would not suggest it does not have value, nor that should conditions warrant such a response it be avoided, but there’s a chance that a large tipping point may be subdued by millions of smaller ones, one handful at a time.

    Keep on keeping on, as the ’60s mantra had it; the path may not be as straight, or as short, as we wish, but as long as the compass heading is correct continue pursuing it.

  14. Joel
    Joel June 9, 2021 8:24 am

    This sort of hopeful message is one form of encouragement we all need from time to time, even those of us who strive to separate ourselves from all the negativity. It filters through.

    I have been quite discouraged by neighbors, very mature and sensible people in day-to-day matters, who seem to get all their outside information from the television and believe it all uncritically despite any evidence to the contrary in the world around them.

    I spent a few days housesitting for them in March, which was my first experience of television in fifteen years. Oh my god I thought turn-of-the-century broadcast news was insufferable: This has become unbelievably silly, superficial and partisan. And my neighbors sit in their comfortable chairs and soak it up like victims in some dystopian novel. And I can’t help wondering how many tens or hundreds of millions of Americans spend their evenings (all day lately, of course) doing (and believing) exactly the same things.

    It’s a wonder there’s any people with free minds left on the continent. And I wonder how few we are.

  15. lineman
    lineman June 9, 2021 10:46 am

    We are getting things done here in MT through organization and activism…One thing I’ve learned over the years is the individual will only go so far and if you want to go further into having the Liberty you want then you have to join with others to make that happen…

  16. larryarnold
    larryarnold June 10, 2021 1:01 pm

    if you want to go further into having the Liberty you want then you have to join with others to make that happen

    IMHO that’s something the progressives don’t understand. They see two kinds of people, those who are part of the collective, and individuals. In their view, individuals are lone wolves preying on everyone else. Which is why, in CRT, “rugged individualism” is often presented as the highest sin.

    What they miss is that most of human progress (the real kind) happens when individuals voluntarily band together to accomplish a goal.

    It’s also why progressives hate on corporations. Corporations have been the primary way individuals, who may not have much in common but the shared goal, have gotten things done for a couple of thousand years now.

    Corporations are one of those sloppy, imperfect, “the worst way to organize individual effort except they’re better than all the other ways” things.

    DMV GRINGO June 15, 2021 8:57 am

    “Gulches, communities, retreats, solo hermitages, and Dreher-style monasticism are NOT forms of defeatism.”
    Yes it is. And the further one goes down that hole, and the longer the stay, the more complete and longterm tyranny and enslavement will remain.
    Eventually, those who know the only viable way forward is (the incontestable correctness) to “string lawless, dictatorial rulers up on lamp posts,” will be more excoriated and persecuted by the enslaved, than by the tyrants themselves.
    Party on Bill. Party on Ted.

  18. Claire
    Claire June 15, 2021 11:08 am

    And when The Day comes, DMV Gringo, who will supply your insurgency? Who will tend fighters’ wounds, hide them from authorities, run underground railroads to take key people to safety, grow food for the rebels, preserve historical documents?

    You need to learn the difference between people who just want to “party on” and people who strategically and purposefully aim to build communities of freedom.

    No insurgency will get very far if it has no logistical or moral support from the populace. Holding those potential supporters in contempt isn’t the way to ensure you’ll have the networks you need in hard times.

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