Saturday, September 01, 2007

Surmounting barriers to freedom (1)

Here’s part one of "Surmounting Barriers to Freedom," another terrific article on self-liberation by the mysterious El Ray, from the August 1969 issue of Innovator. Many of Rayo’s suggestions for “opting out” may strike some modern libertarians as too fringe and too retreatist. But I think what’s most important here is attitude, and the truth in what he says about our shackles being as much psychological as political.

The continuation and growth of any authoritarian State depends far less on overt coercion than on the credulity, inertia, short-sightedness, and capacity for rationalization of its victims. Even many of those who criticize the State remain caged by their habits and continue to be bled. If you have been a libertarian for several years and still aren’t free, unless you reside in a maximum-security prison or are bed-ridden, your shackles are not political-economic so much as psychologic. How can you smash your chains? Here are some tips:

Liberate your home first, then work for vocational freedom, rather than trying for financial independence before opting out. You might, for example, move into a camper and squat away from the subpeople, while commuting weekly to your present employment. Since only a fraction of time is spent at work (about one-quarter for a single person; one-sixteenth for a family of four with one member employed), away-from-work living logically has priority. And a liberated home should be much less expensive, bringing financial independence that much closer. Also, with less vulnerability to the extorters, you can use tax-cutting tricks you would otherwise fear to employ. And coming-of-school-age children are removed from populated areas before the real-life bogeymen get them. Finally, actually living in freedom, you may discover alternatives to the eight-to-five regime which might never occur to you in suburbia.

Distinguish comforts and conveniences from status games. Some claim they enjoy the “comforts of civilization” too much to opt out. But almost all the free men of whom I have knowledge — land nomads, yachtsmen, and backwoodsmen — have shelter from the rain and cold, nutricious and tasty food, bathing facilities, comfortable bed, books and records, and leisure to enjoy these. Some chores may take more time; cooking with wood instead of gas, for example, but time saved on outside employment more than compensates. What a free man probably DOESN’T have is a house which would impress non-libertarian relatives.

Take pride in your ability to live free, not in your productiveness as a semi-slave. If your present occupation depends on the Servile State, avoid ego involvement. Instead, base your self-esteem on active interests which can accompany you wherever and however you go.

Judge success by your enjoyment of life as a whole, not by the money you earn. In the irrational-coercivist society, there is less and less correlation between income and happiness; there are “impoverished rich” as well as “affluent poor.” Many an “upper-middle-classer” not only spends a substantial part of his waking life at tasks he detests, but finds that most of his supposedly-high income (what is left after taxes) goes for ostentatious home, “nice” car, dress clothes and other prestige expenses needed for “getting ahead” in his occupation. He may envy not only the “poor” free man’s lifestyle but his camper, boat, or wilderness cabin as well; things many a “salary-slave” literally can’t afford. I’m not urging avoidance of money altogether; with a financial reserve or income more freedom life-ways are available. But money is only a useful tool, not an end in itself.

Estimate low on your money requirements. Most not-yet-liberated libertarians, extrapolating from present expenses, over-estimate liberated-living costs. The free man not only avoids status games and cuts down on marginal luxuries, but saves on necessities. Time and energy formerly expended earning money for Big Brother and to salve his work-induced neuroses can now be applied learning to live better and better on less and less. ...

Maximize your per-hour income, but not to the point of reducing your freedom. If you must “export” labor, sell at that price which minimizes TOTAL time spent in the Servile Society. If your lifestyle is nomadic or remote, seek temporary jobs rather than institutionalized employment. If you are presently a student or changing occupations, stay out of professions which involve years of “career building.” ...

To be continued.

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At 7:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much! My family and I are just now beginning such a move, and this is great advice. Can anyone help me get her piano in our RV, please?

I look forward to part 2...


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