(NOTE: I’ve written this in response to: http://www.tomwoods.com/afterpaul/)
What’s Next For The Liberty Movement?
As the supreme general/strategist and philosopher of the ancient world, Sun Tzu’s wisdom is as relevant today as it ever was, applicable not merely to the military but, perhaps even more so, also to our modern political lives.It is therefore a good idea to consider what he had to say and attempt to evaluate it in a modern context. In this case, let’s see if we can answer this question: what should freedom-loving supporters of Ron Paul do, now that their leader’s bid for power is all but over. How do we prevail in the quickest and the smartest way?
In all of Sun Tzu’s known writings, it’s always all about brains over brawn. “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” And precisely this kind of thinking is what the Liberty Movement must build upon.
By “Liberty Movement” I mean people of all persuasions, backgrounds and political parties who, irrespective of their detailed views on any particular policy, believe in individual personal and economic freedom, responsibility and accountability of limited government. In other words, people who either already endorse Ron Paul or who would easily do so given the opportunity or will to listen to his unfiltered message.
No Revolution Can Succeed Without Leaders
In deciding “what next” for the Liberty Movement, one must keep in mind lessons from history. Which movements have succeeded, which have failed. Have any successful movements have ever been leaderless?
Clearly, while a decentralized model of individual responsibility, education and development is critical for an enlightened and free society, there must always be leaders in place who, whether they be grass-roots-based or democratically elected, should provide a coordinatory and referential role for the movement at all times. Leaders not just like Ron Paul, but also G.E. Griffin or Tom Woods.
If their words and actions remain true to the founding principles of the Movement (such as those easily understood by all and suggested by G.E. Griffin here), they will have its respect and allegiance and the message and influence will spread.
Lessons should also be drawn from many “modern mysteries” (which some might call “conspiracy theories”) some of which have evolved to near-movement-like proportions over time. The JFK murder features prominently among those as well as 9/11.
Even though more than 60% of Americans today refuse to believe the official stories in either of these two cases, their view remains marginalized and is still not “mainstream”. And it’s not likely to become that any time soon.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle”.
Assessing The Opposition
How well is the government doing, in light of Sun Tzu’s teachings? Let’s have a quick look at just some of his advice:
- “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”. Oops… Clearly the elites still have a lot to learn.
- “A leader leads by example, not by force”. Ditto.
- “All warfare is based on deception”. Well, they’re pretty good at that.
- “There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare”. Seems that they have a lot to learn.
- “When one treats people with benevolence, justice, and righteousness, and reposes confidence in them, the army will be united in mind and all will be happy to serve their leaders‘”. Ditto.
- “Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” Up until relatively recently, to a greater or lesser extent, America did just that (arguably). As long as its ideology remained largely classical liberal (or in today’s parlance, “libertarian”), it’s economical policies supportive of the free markets and the rule of law and individual freedom largely preserved, as evidenced by people from all nationalities who were ready and willing to become Americans – even if they never moved there. America was loved almost universally by the international masses – and it had won without fighting. Today, its policies have the exact opposite effect.
- “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”. To all appearances, they’re failing in their warlike undertakings.
So how well does the Liberty Movement know its adversary? The adversary being defined as the status quo: the “power elites”, “bankers”, “military industrial complex”, “big government” – whatever forces benign or hostile appear to stifle the Movement’s righteous objectives.
Who Are THEY?
Many people (mainly on the “alternative” side) believe that there is a “globalist/shadow government” in place – a world government – consisting of the richest and most powerful “grey eminences” from around the world, and they pull all the strings.
Whether that is true or not is actually besides the point. As long as the best we can do is call them “CFR” or “Trilateral Commission”, “The Bankers” or “The Illuminati” – we remain largely ignorant of their true identity and they might as well not exist. A much more tangible “enemy” are those people whom we see and can identify. And, sadly, these people are as numerous as they are influential and – treacherous. In the words of Julian Assange, we’re looking at a “vast movement of self-interest” rather than a narrow “conspiracy.”
Who are they? Broadly – apart from the highest government offices, powerful lobbyists, bankers and military high-ups – think about it: they are the all-powerful, unelected but untouchable army of ultra-conformist “grey clerks” and do-gooders. And they are legion. And they are the true (though mostly unwitting, some might say “brainwashed”) enemies of Liberty – without even realizing it. Without them any “true power elites” which might exist wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. But there’s more to it than that.
So the first goal of the Liberty Movement is to identity who the real opposition is, learn about them, and devise a strategy to turn them around.
A clear definition the “opposition” is needed. It exists on many levels, and most of these levels can be subdued. If conquered from the bottom-up, each progressive step will become easier. As you continue reading, keep in mind that of all the tools of war, Sun Tzu placed the highest value on spies whom he split into five distinct categories. The double agent or “reverse spy” had the highest value of them all. Infiltrate!
THE MASSES: On the lowest level, we have the general population. They’re divided, at each other’s throats and often ignorant. Most are conformist and just want to be left alone, but will go along with whatever the officialdom demands of them and will uncritically believe anything they’re told – especially if this assures them that they’ll be left alone. They’re NOT stupid, even if they’re not educated. But – they are ready to trade security for freedom. Many among them, however, are open-minded but remain suppressed by this broad group’s inertia and conformity. The Masses need to be steadily educated (by the Liberty Movement), motivated and directed so as to help “liberate” the brightest and best among them to help them move up to the next group. The Internet and word of mouth are the best tools to reach this group.
THE GREY CLERKS: Middle management. People working for corporations as well as the government, officers in the military, etc, people whose respective positions, paychecks and relative affluence depend on their conformity and obedience. They are the “grey clerks”, as I like to call them, for whom change is more than their job’s worth; collectively, they are the true hidden power (that the “vast movement of self-interest” that Assange is talking about). While the overwhelming majority of these people are, doubtless, well-meaning, they are also the unwitting tools of power. Many of the most influential “do-gooders” and “activists” come from this group, racing to out-do each other in their attempts to please power and anticipate its goals – and to “help” you and me. Their careers depend on that kind of an attitude.Vested interests and desire for approval from above, not just conformity drive these people.
THE INFLUENCERS: Pundits, special interests/lobbyists, media and opinion-makers – they are the ones who hover between the other groups and whose most important mission is to please the leaders, while appearing to represent “the people.” The Influencers include the ultra conformists who come up with vacuous arguments and counter-arguments for their case with total and blind zeal and great complexity – their goal being to cast enough doubt to be able to “refute” any evidence contrary to their position. They argue just to argue.
THE LEADERS: Be it local, regional or national-level politicians, including leaders of corporations, the top military people, religious leaders, bankers, high-powered investors, etc – people in whose interest it is to preserve the status quo, because the status quo not only pays their bills, but also assures them that the future will remain equally favorable to them. Many of them genuinely believe themselves to be “for the people” – even when their actions belie that.
The Liberty Movement consists of “enlightened” or “liberated” representatives from EACH of the above groups.
What’s The Plan, Stan?
Each member of the Liberty Movement, whether on a grass-roots level or in a leadership position, according to his or her abilities and talents, should do all that he/she can to promote the simple message of liberty, fairness and accountability.
So, a broad strategy and clever political marketing needs to be coupled with grass-roots education, which in turn needs to be combined with organized efforts to vote all the bastards in power out of office.
The movement’s leaders need to continue to empower and promote “intellectualism for the masses”.
One of the keys to any “political marketing” is devising clever terminology. Here, the Movement should learn from PR experts and political marketers who serve the powers that be.
Take their best slogans and rework them. And also remember that the most powerful Influencers in our society include musicians, comedians, game designers, lecturers as well as the alternative media hosts or guests, most of whom are already on the side of liberty even if their individual philosophies differ in minute details.
Refuse to be dragged into the left-right paradigm. Both the Left and the Right have provided us with ample evidence that they will support totalitarianism and repression. If you’re a committed socialist you’re not at odds with a committed conservative, when you consider that you both have the same goals and only differ in the choice of paths on how to reach those goals. Leave those squabbles for later and avoid discussions which focus on anything other than the prime objectives.
Infiltrate The Leaders and The Influencers. Befriend your opposition. Sun Tzu advised “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer“. Understand why the opposition isn’t embracing your position. “To know your Enemy, you must become your Enemy.” And when persuading your opponents to come to our side, don’t back them into a corner. Let it be their idea. “Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.” And always remember: “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”
Empower and re-empower yourself and the movement with positive and creative thinking. And always be vigilant and observe what the other side is doing. In their actions are the seeds of their eventual defeat. “To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.”
Remember The Primary Objectives
Here are just some of our Movement’s – unstructured – goals. This needs to be refined and improved, but here’s the first few ideas:
- To co-opt more and more Leaders and Influencers to your side – to change minds
- To gradually erode the power base by “voting the bastards out” and “voting the good guys” in.
- To educate the Masses and especially the Grey Clerks – using populist techniques
- Package the message for them in soundbites that are powerful, easy and roll off the tongue (e.g. “bailing Obama out”, “he didn’t build that”, “a true human is a libertarian,” “natural state of man is to be free”, “unlearn the lies”,slogans not unlike”no taxation without representation”, etc -but try to use terminologies which the other side can’t easily hijack. So, borrow from ALL sources, left, right, religious, philosophical andmake their best sayings our own)
- Awaken people’s sense of humor and intelligence and a sense of a higher purpose. This is the only way they can “unlearn the lies.”
- Involve people on all levels, especially in games and entertainment.
- Remember that in the battle between evidence and belief – belief trumps. Challenge and change their beliefs.
- Stigmatize the sellouts and bad people – shame them, ridicule them,expose them – address their prejudice.
- Promote accountability, starting with the personal one.
- Teach them how to translate Newspeak (Remind people that the best way for the government tocensor something is to create a myth. So “unmythologize” their propaganda by creating equal but opposite “myths”!)
- To undo the Nanny State
- To repeal unjust laws
- Promote Austrian Economics – but do so sparingly. And – no need to run the term “libertarianism” into their faces – avoid playing to their prejudices
- To overthrow corporatism andtotalitarianism
- To restore freedom, politically and economically
- To restore a constitutional republic, but without throwing the baby out with the bath-water. Not all the advances of the modern state are worthless.
- Avoid polarizing people along the left-right axis. Both the Left and Right have good and bad ideas and neither has the monopoly on the truth. Some of their ideas can converge. Reach out across party or religious lines It’s about Liberty vs Serfdom.
- Convince the dems that they are wannabe libertarians (but don’t necessarily call it that)
- Convince the republicans of the same
- Remind both that there is unity in our diversity and diversity in our unity.
- Create sources of future funding subject to pre-planned outcomes using sites like “thepoint.com” (click through on this one, by the way, to see the the famous Krugman vs Murphy debate pledge)
- As for the short term… personally, I’d start by supporting Gary Johnson. But that’s just the beginning.
Organize It Well
If the Liberty Movement is as organized as the 9/11 Truth Movement – which is to say, not very well organized at all – we won’t see freedom in our lifetimes.
It needs to be organized and coordinated. Its principles (such as those so beautifully presented by G.E. Griffin) should be understandable to even the least educated among us, its leaders should seek to coordinate with each other, its goals need to be contagious and exciting.
Continue educating yourself. “know yourself and you will win all battles”. And while you’re at it, remember that “wheels of justice grind slow but grind fine”, so be patient. And don’t forget that “he will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight”.
And then, finally, “if you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.” It’s possible to turn this whole mess around within one generation. Now it’s up to us.