can we do?" is the frustrated question I get in e-mail
after e-mail from readers who agree with my assessment of our political
and social disorders, but inquire about my solutions for these problems.
Admittedly, our politicized world has a complexity to it that gives
many of us a sense of futility in being able to reverse its destructive
course. But what effective steps can people take in response to
our present condition?
answer to this question depends on what you want to accomplish.
If it is your purpose to bring about a fundamental change in the
ways in which society is organized (i.e., to move from coercive,
political systems to cooperative, market systems) then you must
ask yourself what processes can bring about such a change. If the
political way of dealing with one another is the problem
to be overcome, can we end our attachment to such practices by employing
the very system from which we are trying to withdraw? Can we put
more of our energies into reforming political systems without
making them stronger?
one simply observes the dynamics at work, one must inevitably come
to the conclusion that, since political behavior is grounded in
how we think — about ourselves as well as others — only a
fundamental transformation of our thinking can bring about a change
in how we conduct ourselves in society. It should also be evident
that, as you and I change our thinking in such matters, we will
likewise begin to develop alternative systems that are more consistent
with both peace and liberty. New perspectives will generate practices
of which we are presently unfamiliar. In the words of F.A. Harper:
"the man who knows what freedom means, will find a way to be
an approach frees us from the sense of hopelessness we encounter
as we ponder how to change the thinking of millions of others.
Focusing upon your own thinking and behavior is most liberating,
as you become aware that you are involved in something you can
control. You also become aware that, resorting to political action
— particularly when others have not gone through the kind of depoliticization
you have — can, at best, only bring about cosmetic changes.
schools, media, and politicians have bewitched us with the idea
that significant change can be accomplished through political means
alone. We have been raised in a "51%" mindset, being reminded
daily — by so-called "opinion" polls – that change
is a mathematical function! If only 1% of our neighbors are said
to agree with us, we collapse into greater despair, forgetting that
1% of this nation's population amounts to 3,000,000 people.
of the significance of individualized behavior in these terms: what
if these 3,000,000 Americans were intent on visiting death, violence,
and mayhem upon their fellows? Is it not clear to you that society,
as we know it, would come to an end; that there would be absolutely
nothing any governmental officials — armed with the most powerful
weaponry and pervasive police powers — could do to prevent such
destructiveness? If you doubt my assessment, try recalling what
nineteen men — armed with nothing more than box-cutter knives —
did on 9/11 to bring the world to what may become a permanent state
of universal war!
3,000,000 people could be this destructive of society, think of
what 3,000,000 people, intent on promoting peaceful, free, and creative
social practices might be able to accomplish. If these 3,000,000
people were as well organized and focused in their thinking as those
of a political mindset are in accomplishing their purposes, do you
believe this government would have gotten away with its warring,
am not suggesting any kind of violent or threatening confrontation
with the state by masses of people. Quite the contrary. Violence
is the modus operandi of all political systems, and it is here that
the state enjoys too much of a comparative advantage. It would be
as foolish to confront the state in its strength as it would be
for me to seek to resolve a dispute with Mike Tyson by challenging
him to a fist-fight.
is worse, resorting to violence for the purpose of trying to promote
peaceful behavior is not only self-contradictory, but places you
in no better moral stance than that of the state itself! It is part
of the mindset of our politicized culture that we have forgotten
the real strength that comes from a peaceful but firm determination
to resist oppression. To those who have forgotten the power of such
a resolve, I direct your attention to Henry David Thoreau's essay
Disobedience; the noncooperative resistance of Gandhi; and
the way in which Joseph Welch was able to politely, but firmly,
reduce Sen. Joseph McCarthy to a stammering mass of balloon-juice.
The martial arts' lesson of allowing the force of the attacker to
work against itself should not be forgotten.
number of examples of peaceful resistance to the insanities of the
state have occurred lately. In one instance, a man in Albany was
arrested at a shopping center for refusing to remove a T-shirt —
which he had just purchased there — bearing a peace message. The
following morning, some one hundred picketers entered the shopping
center with signs indicating their refusal to shop there unless
the center had the charges dropped, which it did.
Albany incident reminds us of the importance of coming to the defense
of our neighbor who is being mistreated by the state. Pastor Niemoller's
classic lament on the silence of those who stood by as the Nazi
regime cherry-picked its victims is recalled. The shopping center
example also reminds us of the power of economic boycotts, ostracism,
and other refusals to deal, a strategy that has long been useful
to the Amish. There are a number of companies with whom I will not
do business — including commercial airlines — because of their incestuous
relationships with the state.
other men have come up with responses to airport police-state practices.
One has had the "Bill of Rights" stamped onto a small
metal plate — about the size of a credit card — which he places
in his pocket. When the metal detector sounds, he removes the plate
from his pocket, hands it to one of the "security" people
and says: "here, it's only my rights: you take them!"
Another man was removed from a British Airways flight for wearing
a small button that read "Suspected Terrorist." He commented,
afterwards, that the button only spoke the truth: each one of us
is a suspected terrorist! The established order finds no
humor in this, but bureaucrats, police and military personnel, flag-waving
patriots, neocons, and other inflexible, self-righteous types, have
always been a humorless lot.
there remain those who long for a political solution to our troubles.
Such people fail to recognize that voting is only part of
the illusion that you are the government. Of course, if the
voters get out of hand, and begin voting for referendum measures
that the state system doesn't like, the courts will step in to declare
such a measure "unconstitutional," a move that should
reveal to any intelligent soul just where the real "sovereign
power" lies! When California voters overwhelmingly approved
a referendum measure allowing for the medicinal use of marijuana,
the U.S. Supreme Court – in a case involving a California group
– refused to recognize such an exception, effectively rendering
the measure meaningless for purposes of federal enforcement. A more
realistic assessment of the insignificance of voting is found in
the words of another, whose name I do not recall: "if voting
could change the system, it wouldn't be legal."
in California, there is an election scheduled for October 7th
to recall the present governor, Gray Davis. Fearing the electorate,
Mr. Davis has gone to court to try to prevent the recall from taking
place. Assuming the election occurs, I have no illusions that the
outcome will bring about any fundamental change. For a few years
following World War II, the French government went through a number
of changes in administration, with a new president chosen every
few months. But taxes continued to be collected, Frenchmen continued
to be regulated, and licenses continued to be issued. The French
experienced the truth of the proposition that, no matter who you
voted for, the government always got elected!
three hundred people have submitted their names for inclusion on
the ballot to be the next governor, should Mr. Davis be voted out,
including enough media and entertainment celebrities to make California
a carnival midway for the next two months. What else would you expect
in a state in which the word "goofy" is a registered trademark?
of the likely candidates are among the more familiar gaggle of political
opportunists who never pass up the chance for a front-row seat at
the public trough. The "professional" political leeches
— including the party hacks who support them — have voiced strong
resentment of the electorate attempting to exercise real
influence over the political system.
political class didn't like it twenty-five years ago when the voters
approved Proposition 13 restrictions on property taxes, and they
don't like the current effort of the citizenry to interfere with
their cozy racket. It has been said that Democrats want to be your
mother, Republicans want to be your father, but that
both agree that you are to be treated as a child. To the
ruling elites, their "children" are behaving as petulant
teenagers who must be punished in some way for their insolence.
my perspective, it is time for the "children" to grow
up and leave home! I recognize that after many years of frustration
in getting parents to reduce the restrictions on their lives, the
kids may want to take a parting shot in protest as they go out the
door. Protest voting serves no functional purpose — the system either
ignores the message or figures out ways to circumvent its impact
— but it may offer limited entertainment value. The election of
pro wrestler, Jesse Ventura, as governor in one of the most statist
of all states, did serve as a reminder that even socialistic minds
can get their fill of the political process. The possibility that
television talk show host, Jerry Springer, might be a candidate
for the U.S. Senate, provides the same opportunity.
that in mind, and for the benefit of those fellow Californians who
are frustrated with the "system," but still believe that
voting has relevance, let me suggest the following: if you go to
the polls on October 7th, vote for the most poignant
symbol of discontent on the ballot. Recognize that nothing you do
that day will make any difference in Sacramento: the government
will continue to grind you down and bleed you of your earnings,
so don't waste your time with the more traditional Republicratic
will be a great number of candidates who can be outlets for a protest
vote, however. The one who has received the most attention thus
far is Hustler magazine publisher, Larry Flynt. Those who
are aghast at the notion of a professional "pornographer"
in the governor's chair forget that the federal government not only
survived, but continued to metastasize itself, during the Clinton
Larry Flynt would not work as a "protest" vote. He is
taking his candidacy seriously, announcing his own platform and
programs he would like to implement. In a word, he is sounding just
like all the other politicians.
is one person who has taken out filing papers who would seem to
be a fine protest candidate: Angelyne.
For those of you from outside the southern California area, Angelyne
is a curvaceous blonde who has had self-promoting billboards of
herself in the Los Angeles area — including Sunset Boulevard — for
many years, and drives a bright pink Corvette that attracts a great
deal of attention. I am unaware of any professional work she has
done (e.g., movies, television) being more the embodiment of "being
famous for being famous."
Larry Flynt, Angelyne doesn't seem to have a platform on which she
is running. I suspect that she wants to be governor just in order
to be governor, without any expensive visions to foist upon
the rest of us. She does have a number of billboards, however, apparently
paid for by herself without any special interest backing to which
she might be indebted as governor. Since billboards are far less
dangerous to our lives, liberties, and property than platforms,
she seems a worthy choice.
you California readers who are not yet prepared to walk away from
the system, but want my advice as to "what to do?" in
the meantime, you can no longer chastise me for my alleged "impracticality."
If you wish to register a protest, this woman is the perfect candidate.
And who knows, like Jesse Ventura she might even get elected!