by Butler Shaffer
by Butler Shaffer
Regular readers of the LRC website are familiar with the efforts to secure donations from libertarians — as well as others who have been inspired by Ron Paul's ideas — to help the family of Kent Snyder pay some $400,000 in medical bills generated by Kent's recent death. Kent — who was 49 years of age at his death — had been both the instigator and head of Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign.
I have found most people to have very charitable attitudes, particularly when it comes to aiding specific individuals in situations such as that now faced by Kent's family. Given this young man's highly-energized devotion to the cause of liberty, that should provide enough motivation for libertarian-minded people to contribute to this effort.
There is, however, a more significant reason for making such donations; one that goes to the deeper meaning of what the Ron Paul campaign has been about. We are all familiar with Ron's efforts to put the American state on a low-calorie diet; to eliminate the income tax; to end the meddling and interventionist foreign policies that continue to embroil us in seemingly endless wars; and to dismantle the police-state apparatus that have metastasized since 9/11.
Those who have paid close attention to Ron's campaign — in which Kent played such an important role — are also familiar with the decentralized nature of both fund-raising and campaign efforts conducted on its behalf. The mainstream media continued to shove Ron offstage until his supporters undertook their Internet-driven "money bomb" campaigns that raised many millions of dollars in two 24-hour periods. Ideas and principles are not the currency in which the media trades, but money — the system the Watergate-era advised us to follow if we want to understand politics — is something to which the statists pay close attention. Suddenly, Ron could be mentioned with some respect.
The deeper meaning to the Ron Paul campaign is to be found in this real-world demonstration of the powerful nature of decentralized decision-making; in how vertically-structured power systems are being replaced by horizontally-networked efforts by people who presume to exercise no coercive force over others. To this day, most of the politically-minded people do not understand these dynamics that did not originate with the Ron Paul campaign, but were reflected in it. How can thousands of people — most of them contributing $50—100 — spontaneously generate millions of dollars on behalf of a campaign, and with no one in "authority" directing the efforts? How can an individual come up with the idea of a "Ron Paul" blimp and, using the Internet to help with the financing of the project, bring it to fruition within a matter of weeks, all without a big, centrally-run organization to coordinate the effort?
My writings, on this website and elsewhere, focus on how the social systems that make up our society are undergoing major transformations; moving away from the model of the vertically-designed, authoritarian pyramid, to horizontal networks in which we associate with one another in peaceful ways. The effort to help the Snyder family overcome this $400,000 burden is an example of this change in our social behavior.
The politicians will continue to use this plight as evidence of the need for more government intervention into the realm of health-care, the continuing "remedy" that is at the very core of the problem it promises to overcome, and with the costs further escalating. But those of us who see the benefits to be derived from voluntary, decentralized ways of living in society with others, have the opportunity to not only live our beliefs, but to communicate to others that such methods are practicable.
If you are aware of how much attention came from the multi-million dollar Ron Paul "money bombs," imagine the impact of a $400,000 "money bomb" that benefits not only Kent Snyder's family, but the millions of other people who would thus be presented with the example of non-political alternatives for cooperating with one another in problems that are common to us all. Think of how much more this effort would mean to the real-world enjoyment of personal liberty than is to be found in the emptiness of a ballot-box where we are asked to vote for establishment candidates who promise "change" that alters nothing.
If you would like to participate in this non-political "money bomb," go to this site. If you would prefer mailing a contribution, you can do so c/o:
2674 So. Patton CT
Denver, CO 80219
Help make a noise to which even Hillary would have to pay attention. Let her and the other people-pushers know that we do not need their self-serving intrusions into our lives; that, in emergencies, free men and women will take care of one another!
July 8, 2008
Butler Shaffer [send him e-mail] teaches at the Southwestern University School of Law. He is the author of the newly-released In Restraint of Trade: The Business Campaign Against Competition, 1918-1938 and of Calculated Chaos: Institutional Threats to Peace and Human Survival.
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