"If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all." ~ Virginia Woolf
Wasted Time and Energy
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Thus, the lesson: when you choose to be a critical part of a system that has become this corrupt . . . you will not ameliorate or "save" it. The system will necessarily and inevitably corrupt you. ~ Arthur Silber
I understand the arguments for getting involved politically. They are multitudinous. Some of them are almost entirely persuasive. (Think Ron Paul.) Some of them are downright frightening. (Think about the threat of communism.) Some of them I actually contribute money to. Not because I think they'll get anywhere with actually changing the system, but because I hope that they might be able to use the funds to get more publicity, and perhaps get the government's "private" media outlets to respond a little. Ron Paul did that. That's good. Not great, but good. It was better than nothing. But in the end, belief in minarchism is nothing more than belief in the containable and non-threatening nature of a tiger cub. Small government conservatives and libertarians want a tiger cub. Well, who doesn't? They're cute. I would love to play with a tiger cub.
What minarchists don't understand is that tiger cubs grow big, and grown tigers are never tame. You can't domesticate a tiger like a house cat. You can always play with a grown house cat. For the five percent of the day that it's awake. You cannot play with a tiger cub when it grows up. Tigers are wild and always will be. Government, because it is predicated on force and violence, will always be what it is: forceful and violent. Its fangs ain't cute anymore.
Every once in a while, you get an organization that lobbies government, ostensibly for the purpose of keeping the tiger at bay. This is also understandable. Yet, I wonder at its ultimate usefulness. Not only that, but I wonder at what it turns the organization into, as it spends more and more time in the company of the tiger.
I don't know much about the Home School Legal Defense Association, but what I've read in this article is enough to cause suspicion. If you care to follow the link, you'll see that the bill this organization supported in 2005 was an attempt to free up homeschooled kids for service in the military. Not only that, but the bill hints at a possible future requirement for getting a diploma prior to "graduation" from a homeschooling program. According to Wikipedia, the organization started out as a way of fighting the tiger against compulsory schooling laws. Now, bizarrely, it not only has this misplaced concern about the military's lack of homeschooled warriors, but it has entered the fray of the "One Man, One Woman" marriage debate. What any of this has to do with the separation of schooling and state is beyond me.
Speaking of the marriage debate, it is well known that many religious organizations had quite a lot to do with Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that forces 47.5% of the people living within a certain geographical area to do as commanded by 52.5% of the people within that same geographical area. Not even 47.5% versus 52.5% of all the people within that area; merely 47.5% versus 52.5% of the people who bothered to gather the energy to go to the government's polls to direct the government's guns. This time, the government's guns are directed against gays. (Finally! That's never happened before.) A few years from now, those same guns may very well be directed against the conservatives who have won the current discriminatory battle. It's a sickening spectacle to watch from the sidelines.
It has been equally disappointing for me to watch the work of a remarkable organization called NYCCAN. This organization was established to directly confront both the federal government and the civil government of New York City , due to their combined lack of a serious investigation into the worst terrorist attack in the history of America , and their inability to provide adequate information and health care to first responders and recovery workers. This is an organization for which I actually did some footwork, handing out pamphlets in the streets of Manhattan to anybody willing to take them from me.
I didn't actually expect the referendum to get anywhere with City Hall. In fact, I could see the outcome from a mile away. What else could you expect when you work within a system designed by the very institution you're investigating? I was not actually there to support the group's efforts at petitioning the government. I was there to add to the numbers, to help others take notice, and as I said, to hand out information to more people. That's what I believe in. I wonder how many of my fellow protestors actually thought that 80,000-plus signatures would really turn such a sclerotic, bureaucratic institution, which obviously has something to hide, toward a more favorable outcome.
Working with bureaucracy is what Ralph Nader has been doing for decades. In an interview with Car & Driver, Nader looks back very briefly at the work he has accomplished in 50 years, pushing the big automobile corporations and the government they've bought and paid for, to add a few more safety features to the ticking time bombs we're all driving. The result? According to Nader in this interview, cars are a bit safer.
That's it. That appears to be "it" for a lot of the above organizations. Sometimes they get a little something in return. Not all homeschoolers are arrested. Religious conservatives, who have to put up with gays in television, film, music, magazines, newspapers, politics, the Internet, government schools, private schools, gym locker rooms, their neighborhoods, and oftentimes in their own families, have their precious, Western-style view of marriage intact for another year or so, complete with a massive government divorce bureaucracy. Ralph Nader sleeps a little better at night, knowing that seatbelts aren't made of piano wire. NYCCAN, unfortunately, has little to be thankful for.
I, on the other hand, have much more reason to be hopeful. As a result of NYCCAN's defeat at City Hall, they are now going to be looking at public relations as the next step. "The secret to success for nonprofits and social activists [lays] in the ability to employ the business marketing tools that have proven effective in promoting social [agendas] and persuading the general public, without whose support such efforts rarely succeed." Fine by me. Enough time has been wasted navigating the government's legal maze.
As I stated above, my only purpose at the rally I attended was to help wake people up, not tame the tiger. If you ever see me at a Tea Party, don't expect me to be asking any questions of any politicians in attendance. My remarks will only ever be directed at real people, encouraging my fellow peasants to come up with our own solutions. How would it feel to attend one of these rallies and actually persuade several medically trained peasants to go with me to a separate room, where we could devise ways to circumvent the eventual socialization of health care?
How much energy would that take, compared to five decades of griping about the corporate car industry? How much energy was wasted by religious conservatives, deathly afraid that God, who sits by and does nothing while a more than a million of His children are murdered in the Middle East, will raise holy hell if sexually active gay adults are slightly more legal in their sexual activity? How much time does it take to get your organization's lawyers to sit down with government bureaucrats, and hammer out an obscure law making it a bit easier for homeschooled children to join the government's death force?
In contrast, how much time and energy did it take for me to keep quiet, stand still, and look people in the eye as they passed, handing out dozens of professionally printed brochures? How successful would conservatives have been if they had poured their time and energy into resisting this unstoppable war, instead of directing it against people no more violent than they? Why the hell hasn't Ralph Nader lifted a finger to build his own damn car?
Here's hoping that more spontaneous organizations for consumer safety, auto production, homeschooling, freeschooling, unschooling, medicine, raising the alarm against the government's massive lies, community building, house building, model airplane building, tiger care, toys for domestic cats, lettuce inspection, and on and on, will finally realize that their energies are best directed toward individuals, for their edification and benefit, and not for the "betterment" of government. Anarchists should someday have just as much influence in television, film, music, magazines, newspapers, the Internet, their neighborhoods, and in families, as have feminists and gay activists. We could use some good P.R. as NYCCAN is now doing. We sure as hell don't want to end up like Nader or HSLDA, do we? Let us be mindful of the time we have, and the energy we expend. Let us see both politicians and ordinary individuals for who they really are, remember the lesson of The One True Ring, walk peacefully, quietly and quickly out of City Hall, and into the streets with the message of freedom on a professionally printed brochure.
No more campaigning. No more running for a vacant Congressional seat. No more searching for a legal loophole to sneak in a favored law. No more letters, e-mails, or phone calls to your "representative." No more lobbying. No more force. No more violence. No more wasted time. No more wasted energy. No more for me, thank you. I'm full. And I'm free.