This article was published in the Winter 1994-95 issue of Formulations
by the Free Nation Foundation
Stand Up
by Richard Hammer

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In this column I beat the drum for the Free Nation Foundation. For starters, since some readers may be distracted by the recent election in the U.S., let me try to draw attention back to the cause.

The election passed power into the hands of Republicans, a party whose members often speak of limited government. As a consequence I expect that some freedom seekers will shift their attention from the forlorn shores of the free nation movement to the more comfortable hope that majority rule can restrain itself. Is this shift reasonable?

Any levelheaded critic of the plan of this Free Nation Foundation might point out that what we are trying is unprecedented. I agree; as far as I know idealists have never succeeded in a plan which involved first building the vision of a nation and then shopping for location. But, before this critic returns to the usual mode of activism I would hope to hold his attention a bit longer. I would ask:

What historical precedent shows that this usual mode of activism can work? When has freedom been gained by persuading an electorate to stop trying to use government to set direction for society?

So I contend that the usual mode of libertarian activism (convincing voters that the power they possess in the ballot hurts them more than helps them) likewise suffers from a shortage of convincing precedent. Can we know that either mode of activism is possible? Which camp is more crazy? Well, I do not know. So I have one foot in each.

Many libertarians now advise a third approach. They say do what is necessary to survive: innovate; barter; trade goods and services with other libertarians; learn about tax havens from libertarian investment advisers, but pay if cornered by the tax man; arm to defend yourself; but do not provoke a fight with the statists or you will lose; do not attract notice to yourself.

To me this advice suggests accepting the role of mouse in a game of cat and mouse. But I am glad that some libertarians take this approach. It assures that, whatever the future brings, at least one subspecies of our line will survive.

Recently I saw a scene in a TV nature show which reminded me of our situation. A nervous zebra in a herd was looking back in the direction where the herd had just been attacked by a pack of hyenas, and where the hyenas were starting their meal on the formerly weakest member of the herd. The commentator put words on the emotion displayed by this nervous zebra: "this is terrifying, but what can we do?"

WHAT CAN WE DO!? I can tell you for sure, if I were a zebra in that herd I would be going around saying, "Look, guys. Each of us is five times as big as each of them. And there are ten times as many of us as there are of them. We can go back there and stomp butt. We just have to organize and carry out a plan."

It turns out I am not a zebra. But I do think that we, who resent excessive government, act like that herd of zebras. Look. Von Mises was right: We, not they, know the key to economic power. If we organize we can muster the economic muscle to protect our lives, our property and our freedoms. We just have to believe in ourselves. Join us. D

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