Just A Bunch of Sign-Waving Blimp Renters…

The Campaign for Liberty’s Shadow Republican Convention is moving on up – to the Target Center! I’m so excited for all of us, and if I wasn’t moving so close to the date, you bet I’d be there. I expect our revolution to light up Minnesota (to be clear, that’s a metaphor).

My favorite part of the article linked above was where Paulites were described as “loud and sometimes rowdy, usually young, sign-waving blimp renters.” They might as well have called us ‘wacky, waving, inflatable, arm-flailing tube men.’ I guess there are worse insults…

Whatever his strategy, Dr. Paul moved liberty from an ignored concept to a ridiculed concept. So, according to Schopenhauer, we’re on the map! Now, we must face violent opposition, and finally acceptance. I sure hope I live to see that last one.

P.S. Did you hear Dr. Paul just received a huge advance for his memoirs? Congratulations, Doc; you deserve it.

Forward: Break the Matrix

Okay, so I was just thinking how surprising it is that American libertarians, a very techy folk, haven’t founded a successful web 2.0 site. So, I googled, and sure enough, one seems to be snowballing:

It’s a great mix: independent (not too dogmatic), supportive of several new and creative initiatives, well put together. So, join up!

Oh, Dr. Paul, you seem to have really laid the foundation of a lasting r3VOLution. Perhaps we are a ‘great’ generation after all.

Peers & Heirs

There is no doubt now that Ron Paul has sparked a Second American Revolution. Through the man and the message, his campaign has awakened a whole new generation, as Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, Calvin Coolidge, Lysander Spooner, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine had before him.

While most libertarians are rightfully fixated on the drama of the primaries as they unfold (and, underreported, Dr. Paul takes his place among the top contenders), another critical question after, “will Paul win?” is “who will carry the torch forward?” Dr. Paul is in a class by himself, distinguished by his ability to unravel years of deceit and public education through oratory, and all in a way that is not threatening or even angry. He is a guru, a saint, a Ghandi, a Jesus, a humble steward of honest ideals in a cynical and waning empire. He is not perfect nor superhuman, but neither were Ghandi nor Jesus. He, like them, is good and effective – and that is worthy of high praise. But he has no heirs, and no peers that have breached the wall of mainstream recognition. And that is a problem.

There are potential peers. John Stossel is a great communicator and seems more committed to the cause with each passing day. Michael Badnarik may be nerdy, but having met him I can attest to his interpersonal charisma and intellect. The former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, just endorsed Dr. Paul, but he is himself a successful libertarian politician.

These examples do not change the fact that other political movements have tons of brand-name politicians pressing their causes, and that those innately attracted to freedom philosophies tend to also be socially-awkward young caucasian males. I can’t explain it, and I’m not going to try. I don’t think it’s a rule, as history’s greatest liberators are a demographically diverse group (Frederick Douglass, Mohandas Ghandi, Margaret Thatcher, et al). Until recently, libertarians had eggs but no basket. Ron Paul is our first basket. But, as the saying goes, you shouldn’t keep all your eggs in one basket. A variety of freedom-oriented candidates, such as those that Dr. Paul tried to nurture through the Republican Liberty Caucus, would give this new revolution staying power.

Heirs are a different issue. Is Dr. Paul training some young minds to carry his life’s work forward? If you chance to read this, Doc, I hope you will consider the notion. I would jump at the chance to learn how to run a professional, principled campaign and win. If this campaign meets its end without a nomination, many young and free souls would want Dr. Paul to start a school to pass on a career worth of knowledge – and up the number of congressional libertarians from one to a majority. If the man himself is not making such preparations, is anyone else taking notes?

This campaign proves something to generations of self-doubting libertarians: it can be done. We are often our own worst enemy, whether it’s because we don’t have the courage of our convictions (Jason Sorens, the genius behind the Free State Project, is now teaching at a public university) or we have succumbed to a culture of victimhood (“the slow growth of the federal state is inevitable”) or we expend our energies vigorously debating minor philosophical discrepancies rather than promoting our shared visions to others (this is the story behind most libertarian functions I have attended). Every movement takes generations to gain recognition, and most aren’t even worth recognizing. Ron Paul reminds us that we are not lunatics on the fringe. Our message is pure and true; the evidence is there to see every day. Our message is the same as it was in 1776; Jefferson told us that it would require periodic revolution to maintain liberty in the face of the more destructive impulses of human nature. Our message is relatable, communicatable, and as the Paulites love to say: Freedom is popular. It’s important that we never forget, and that the irrepressible Dr. No has plenty of peers and heirs to remind us.

Free Burma NOW!

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The call went out across the globe, and this libertarian stood up. The people and monks of Burma had the courage to resist the criminal junta dominating their lives, and for that they are being jailed, tortured and murdered. They have no arms and no money, and they must be so scared. But what matters is the they persevere, and that example inspired me.

So, I went online, found a rally – THE rally – and took to the streets of Toronto. We grouped in front of the Chinese Consulate, so that our chants would echo through the halls of East Asia’s Evil Empire. The organizers were a mixed bag, mostly socialist, but that wasn’t important. On this day, I didn’t care if I had to sit through an NDP or Amnesty International speech calling for ‘solidarity’ and ‘less talk and more action from Ottawa.’ I knew why I was there: people are dying. People are dying, right now, for their freedom. People are dying miserable, cold, silent deaths because they know that living as slaves is worse than no life at all.

For those who don’t follow closely current events, here is a synopsis: the military of the former state of Burma toppled their civilian government in 1962. Ever since, there has been a cycle of rapprochement and crackdown. In 1988, student groups rose up in protest against their slavery. They were brutally crushed. Since then, the populace has remained largely docile – frozen by fear as in many totalitarian states. With much of the population starving, and the military junta getting rich off of corporatist deals with the Chinese and Indian Empires, a recent cut in fuel subsidies was judged too much to bear. The revered Buddhist Monks of Burma rose up to demand an apology and a return to the rule of law. Brave civilians formed human chains to protect the marching monks from the junta’s batons and bullets. Alas, human will cannot repel bullets when the shooters have iron hearts. The crackdown has begun again…

We, the relatively free, often hear these stories from parts of the world that never embraced liberty. The most conscientious among us may pause, reflect, and feel sorrow for the foreigners’ plight. But we often do nothing. Now, I’m not going to go on a paternalist rant about how awful everyone is for sitting by. If you really think about it, there’s little one can do short of giving up one’s life to wage battle in the jungles of Southeast Asia. I applaud that, but we are not duty-bound to that. I do not believe calling for your military to intervene absolves you either; in fact, it perhaps indicts you as the same type of person as General Than Shwe. The soldiers serving your state pledged to defend you, your territory, themselves, and their families. To order them into someone else’s affairs undermines the foundation of self-government.

So, what can you do?, I asked myself. I can speak, to ensure that the Burmese do not suffer in vain or in silence. That’s what these rallies are about. Children often say that if the Holocaust were happening today, they would do something to stop it. Yet, all around I see the complacency and conformism that allow such atrocities. I decided the important thing was to do something positive and to be as vocal as possible. I went on behalf of the Ontario Libertarian Party. I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with people with whom I would normally disagree. There was a great turnout that night, and we made an impact in the general consciousness. Evidence comes by way of the Toronto Star, which interviewed your author about his reasons for attending. While Ms. Surya Bhattacharya didn’t mention my oft-iterated support for the Ontario Libertarian Party, she quoted accurately my true reason for attending: “I wanted to march to show support for the monks and for the pursuit of political liberty.”

Libertarians are the most ethical people on the planet. We have mulled over ethical systems until we found pure justice: that every person owns himself, that every person deserves to pursue life as he sees fit, and that every person deserves to retain the fruits of his labor. We all believe it, but we seem the least motivated of all parties to realize our ideals in the real world. Why are the socialists in charge of the most important movements against war and tyranny? They are tyrants themselves! Regardless, we must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with all that will champion freedom, in whatever way they can. People are standing up to one of the least libertarian regimes on Earth. They’re doing the work for us, making the sacrifices for us; shouldn’t we join them? I’ll see you there.