Landlubber Libertarians?

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I'm one of
those people who love the sense of freedom on the ocean, where the
sky kind of blends with the deep waters at the horizon. I love sailing
and to be left to my own devices, to be totally and utterly dependent
only on my own ability. Sailing is everything life is and isn't:
when sailing you can drift along with currents and bob on the waves
and be totally at the mercy of nature; or you can challenge its
enormous powers and learn to master the elements and stay in control
despite the enormous forces of great waves and the rage of storms.
I choose, and I decide.

Of course,
sometimes nature sneaks up on you and forces a change of plans.
But no matter what, nature is tamable, controllable, and I can use
it as I please. That's what I like about sailing: a sense of control
and freedom that cannot, as far as I know, be experienced on ground.

Sailing is
also a great teacher — it is necessary to learn how to take advantage
of whatever there is to take advantage of, and to use the powers
of nature in whatever form or shape they happen to be at the moment.
You have the destination clearly set, and whatever the current temper
of nature you have to use it to get there.

In this sense,
sailing is just like politics. Our destination is liberty, and we
need to get there no matter what forces are set against us. When
the wind blows our way, we need to set sail and ride as far possible
on the waves towards liberty. There is no time for detours and indirect
routes, just cruise along. Focus on the destination; hoist the biggest
sails you've got!

When the wind
blows heavily from the side, from the left or right, we're in for
a rough ride. Great waves may toss our boat back and forth and jeopardize
the whole mission. But it is nevertheless possible to go forward
without too much effort — if we know how to use the winds and waves
and turn the great forces to our advantage. Even though this kind
of weather is much tougher than sailing before the wind, it is far
from impossible to go forward.

Most of the
time, however, the wind seems to come straight at us. As libertarians,
we should know everything about sailing in head wind — we've had
quite some experience in the political waters for decades (if not
centuries). Yet it seems we are often taken by surprise and blown
off course whenever the wind once again rises. How many libertarian
sailors weren't blown ashore by the biting winds of the war on Iraq?
How many didn't find themselves and their boats stranded on the
shores of Patriot Act Island half a decade ago simply for relying
too much on the winds of security?

Any good sailor
knows one cannot rely on hope alone and simply drift along in head
wind. To get to the destination of your choice you need to act and
take command — it is necessary to take control of the situation,
even if storms are heading your way. As always, and even more so
in rough weather, one has to use the opposing forces to one's advantage.

In head wind
it is impossible to sail only with the wind coming in from one side,
and it is simply stupid to stubbornly try to sail straight against
the wind. It is vital to go right and then left, to crisscross and
gain little by little using both sides of the sail. It is hard work
and takes a lot of time, but it means one will eventually reach
the destination — without being blown off course.

That's also
what we, as libertarians, need to understand when the hostile, pro-war,
pro-government and anti-market winds are blowing and rising. We
need to keep working and take advantage of whatever there is that
can help us get ahead — a little help from the left, and a little
help from the right. A sailor committed to use winds coming from
the right (or left) only will never get anywhere; he will undoubtedly
be blown off course and end up a shipwreck on some hostile coast
somewhere.

What I'm proposing
is simply to learn the lesson from sailing. No wind is sacred and
no wind can be relied on; we libertarians need to learn how to tack.

May
30, 2006

Per Bylund [send him mail]
works as a business consultant in Sweden, in preparation for PhD
studies. He is the founder of Anarchism.net.
Visit his website.

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