Setting the Context for Revolution

It's not everyday that I read a political post that touches me. The blogosphere is full to bursting with the type of invective that obscures the heart of human endeavor. I've certainly contributed my share, and I realize that it doesn't aspire to the highest standard of what citizen journalism can be.

That is why I was so impressed with how Adem Kupi captured perfectly what being a libertarian in this statist, corporatist world means - at least in terms with which I'm emotionally resonant. In the context of all the controversy about the libertarian Left's support for the actions of the non-libertarian Left, Kupi points out an interesting undercurrent in the internal libertarian dialogue. And I think it informs any analysis of the general differences between the left and the right in approaching the political problem:

I see fraud as much more dangerous and fundamental to crime than force. Force is the end point, the bottom line of last resort. But force creates counterforce as the United States government keeps revealing, though they don't seem to be learning the lesson very well. What is more difficult to overcome is being tricked into giving up some piece of life force for ersatz goods. This is the fundamental scheme that the financial criminals and governments use to assert their primary dominance over the people of the earth.

Liberty, in my opinion, is merely the absence of Crime. Crime, not as defined by legislature, which is another form of fraud, but the normal, everyday intuitive sense of crime. Murder, assault, theft, rape, swindles, that sort of thing.

A perfect Liberty is a situation where such things do not exist at all. This is probably not an achievable situation, but it constitutes an asymptote, a limit towards which true libertarians wish to carry society above all else. And I reserve the right to use the phrase "true libertarians" because I mean people who are libertarian by the definition of the word, not people who identify as libertarians.

(My emphasis)

This is a great example of revolution as part and parcel of a process of transformation. I'm wholly on board with any treatment of true libertarianism as a revolutionary philosophy of personal and social transformation and discovery. To acknowledge that political change is the product of a process of self-discovery for society is powerful.

We engage in the questioning of implicit assumptions and unjustified hierarchical controls not as an alternative to rising against forcible oppression, but rather as a way to inform the overall context of the struggle. But the transformation is primary: the personal discovery and rejection of societal fraud. That Kupi singles this out as a chief basis for statism implies the need to engage in reflection and analysis to overcome it. It also highlights the hope that much of the resulting revolution will occur on the non-violent stage of ideas and identity.

As I pointed out in a previous post, when society rises to the challenge of current conditions and looks those whom it affects squarely in the face there is almost limitless possibility for corrective action. Kupi simply reminds us that opposition to fraud must occur within us first - we have to convince ourselves that there is an alternative. Revolution is or should be at least as much about bravely setting your own philosophical and moral house in order as doing the same to your neighbor's.

Past revolutions have largely failed or suceeded on the basis of how much the latter has overwhelmed the former. In the end, what we really need more than revolution is transformation starting at the individual level. Dishonesty as a framework for social power dynamics must be rejected first by the individual, then by larger and larger groups. Until that happens, revolutions will occur as revolts among society rather than as a struggle between civil society and the state, where the fraud of statism is most polarized.

And just as a postscript, I realize that I'm co-opting an explicitly political essay to use for my own semi-metaphysical purposes (after all, what is the blogosphere good for if not taking people's ideas out of context?). Yet I see synthesizing disparate truths into an integrated approach to life as one of the keys to the transformation we all seek; or at the very least, making this approach explicit and plain rather than implicit and vague. Kupi seems to agree with that to some extent by pointing out the difference between libertarianism as an identity and as a definition. We're all emotional, social, complex people who happen to subscribe to some principles - but that doesn't restrict the full scope of our personal struggle for truth. Like all other concept constructs, libertarianism should be a tool with which we clarify - individually and socially - both the practical context and the ideal principles.

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Written on Monday, April 03, 2006