Creating a Free America

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November 3, 2006

I will live as a free man among free Americans. We will pay no taxes. We will submit to no rulers. We will exercise our rights openly and without fear.

I've reached a point in my life where I can no longer bear to live on my knees, meekly submitting to whatever outrages and humiliations America 's rulers choose to inflict on us. And so I have made a commitment to put an end to the bondage under which I and my fellow Americans suffer.

I will live as a free man, in a free America .

I'm not talking about reforming the Government; I mean to bypass it entirely, breaking free of any dependence on it and eliminating its ability to coerce us. The free market and civil society can supply all legitimate services we have heretofore obtained from Government.

By January 1, 2025 , every American who is determined to live free shall do so.

That is the goal. It doesn't require overthrowing the United States Federal Government, nor liberating all Americans from that organization's grip. It only requires breaking the United States ' coercive power over those who do not wish to be its subjects. Those who are content with their chains are welcome to keep them. We who must be free will have our own legal system and free institutions.

On the weekend of March 10-11, 50 people will gather in Provo , Utah to discuss strategies and make definite plans for achieving this goal. Winning elections won't be on the agenda; when, in all of human history, has any people ever voted themselves free? Nor will we consider violent rebellion, which is likely to be destructive of the very ends we seek.

So what does that leave? Quite a bit, it turns out. In recent years there have been exciting developments in both the theory and practice of Nonviolent Struggle. Successful applications of Nonviolent Struggle range from the first ten years of the American Revolution (1765-1775), to India 's struggle for independence from Britain , to the liberation of Poland and the Baltic states from communist rule, to the overthrow of Yugoslavian dictator Slobodan Milosevic.

Nonviolent Struggle is based on the key insight that governments are not abstract, monolithic entities; rather, they are groups of flesh-and-blood, individual human beings, each making their own decisions, seeking their own goals, and following their own agendas. Furthermore, the power of any government depends intimately on

cooperation from many other groups outside of the government itself, as well as cooperation and obedience from the populace at large, as Etienne de la Boetie, Thoreau, and others have noted.

So we need not take over the State's decision-making process (elections); we need not physically destroy the State's coercive resources (violent rebellion); instead we can win our freedom by striking at the heart of the State's power, disrupting the patterns of cooperation and obedience on which it depends.

Researcher Gene Sharp counts 198 distinct methods of nonviolent action. Of especial importance are the methods of political noncooperation, which include civil disobedience, rejection of authority, and boycott of government institutions. These are aimed at weakening the State's power, but equally or more important is their effect on the resisters themselves. Noncooperation breaks the habits of obedience and submission; it reduces fear; it breeds independence, confidence, and awareness of one's personal power. It is the point where the former subject begins to rise off his knees and proclaim, "I am a free man!"

There's much more to Nonviolent Struggle than just noncooperation, of course. For example, for our struggle the creation of alternative social, economic, and legal institutions is also important. It is not enough to be against the State; we have to present a viable alternative. We will do that by actually creating and using the free-market courts, free-market money, crime insurance services, and so on that market anarchists have long proposed. We'll find out what works, what doesn't ' and come up with new ideas along the way.

The really good news is that there is a wealth of resources now available to help us organize and wage a nonviolent struggle (see below). These come from three major sources: The Albert Einstein Institution, the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, and the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies. These resources include comprehensive surveys of past nonviolent struggles, theoretical analyses, practical guidance on tactics and strategic planning, and a training manual written by the people who ousted Milosevic. There's even training software that uses artificial intelligence combined with a historical database to let you run simulated nonviolent action campaigns.

What will you do?

Frodo (lamenting Sauron's rise to power): I wish none of this had happened.

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

' Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

These are unquestionably dark days for America . With the signing of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, the U.S. has now taken the final step toward becoming a police state. That act effectively abolishes the writ of Habeas Corpus, which has protected individuals from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment for 800 years. Any pretense that the United States respects the rule of law, or acknowledges that Americans have any rights whatsoever, has now been swept away.

What are you going to do about it? Would you rather read about freedom . . . talk about freedom . . . write about freedom . . . theorize about freedom . . . or experience freedom? Do you want to live with back bowed and head lowered in submission, living in constant fear that the wrath of your masters will descend upon you ' or do you want to walk with your head held high, ruler of your own life?

If the latter, then I invite you to participate in Beyond Ballots or Bullets: Creating a Free America, in Provo , Utah , the weekend of March 10-11. This is not a gathering for reporting on the current state of freedom; nor for denouncing the State's crimes; nor for rhapsodizing wistfully about how wonderful a free society would be. It is a working conference for those who have a burning desire to see a free America and are committed to making it a reality.

Will you join us in creating a free America ?


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Kevin Van Horn's picture
Columns on STR: 4

Kevin S. Van Horn, Ph.D., is a computer scientist living in Orem, Utah.  At age 11 he became a proto-libertarian when he first began studying and thinking seriously about issues of government.  He has been a market anarchist for about two decades now.