This weekend my computer died. After fruitless debate, I initiated Operation Lazarus and reloaded the operating system. I have new and limitless respect for those wise souls who back up their work on CDs. My inability to communicate with the machine and initial powerlessness to correct this local problem was maddening.
Granted, given my normal state as an already maddened paleo-conservative in a neo-conservative world, how anyone might tell that I was more enraged than usual is indeed a legitimate question. But we are past that now. And my digital fiasco gave me a whole new appreciation on how we can succeed in bringing our country back from the brink of ideological Jacobinism.
What are the secrets of success in this battle?
Humor. Charming deftness with a phrase or an image is critical in this war for Constitutional preservation. It is both inexpensive and exceptionally effective. Consider, for example, this by talented cartoonist Mike Peters. His work is in the Dayton Daily News and elsewhere, but I saw it first in our local paper, the Northern Virginia Daily, along with most of my neighbors in the Shenandoah Valley.
Gripping. Brutally true. Beautifully powerful.
Decentralized Networks. My most important files, even with my sloppy bookkeeping, are mostly located elsewhere, on other people’s computers and servers. No computer is an island. This practical fact faintly echoes a more serious truth articulated by John Donne. In terms of battling neoconservative imperialism and passive-aggressive domestic statism, the battlefields and the soldiers are pleasingly legion. Most Americans grew up with the idea that we had two main political parties that represented the only sides of an all-encompassing spectrum of political thought. Yet we see that the real energy in politics thrives elsewhere. It is seen in the grassroots across-the-spectrum success of conservative Democrat Dean among those who haven’t voted before, and the national fascination with the self-creative, spontaneously-self-repairing political cyborg in California, and the amazingly comfortable consonance and communication between traditionally opposite constitutionalist conservatives and libertarians, socialists and progressives, and plain old Americans, young and old. The network works. Present day Washington may be perceived as a tightly controlled power center. But, as we see in Ambassador Joe Wilson’s case, in cartoons like the one above, and in a thousand other points of light, the current administration cannot hide its culpability for lies, fraud, and waste, and consequently its fundamental weakness.
Optimism in the long term. The salience of distributed forces all around us is bound to be expressed. Disasters and loss, as Donne says, are "not [chapters] torn out of the book, but translated into a better language." We have reason to trust the sometimes unseen but constantly operational reality of individual action and intelligence, multiplied by every man, woman and child. Rothbard writes,
It is no wonder that the contemporary Libertarian, seeing the world going socialistic and communistic, and believing himself virtually isolated and cut off from any prospect of united mass action, tends to be steeped in long-run pessimism. But the scene immediately brightens when we realize that that indispensable requisite of modern civilization — the overthrow of the Old Order — was accomplished by mass libertarian action erupting in such great revolutions of the West as the French and American Revolutions, and bringing about the glories of the Industrial Revolution and the advances of liberty, mobility, and rising living standards that we still retain today.
…the liberal revolution implanted indelibly in the minds of the masses — not only in the West but in the still feudally-dominated undeveloped world — the burning desire for liberty, for land to the peasantry, for peace between the nations, and, perhaps above all, for the mobility and rising standards of living that can only be brought to them by an industrial civilization. The masses will never again accept the mindless serfdom of the Old Order; and given these demands that have been awakened by liberalism and the Industrial Revolution, long-run victory for liberty is inevitable.
Courage. This secret of success relates to the others, but it speaks to each of us in a unique and personal way. Twenty-seven Israeli pilots have demonstrated it, and we are witnessing courage like this more and more frequently. Noting where we see it, one notes also where it is not seen. The White House and the Bush Administration may be called many things, including brazen, impudent, shameless and murderously ambitious. Courageous, they are not.
The weapons of humor, decentralized yet powerful networks, long-term optimism, and courage are not only ours, they are out of the closet, full of energy, ready to go. They toss their heads and stamp their feet, anticipating with high spirits and boundless energy the sharp cold winds of autumn and the even harsher winter ahead. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, their closest advisors and their corporate and international cheerleaders, are all in big trouble. They sense it. And sending the likeable Lynne Cheney out to promote her children’s book, and the kindly Laura Bush to be kissed by Chirac isn’t going to stop the storm.
Karen Kwiatkowski [send her mail] is a recently retired USAF lieutenant colonel, who spent her final four and a half years in uniform working at the Pentagon. She now lives with her freedom-loving family in the Shenandoah Valley.