Tired ideas for would-be radicals
Naomi Wolf’s Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries follows up last year’s The End of America, her belated warning of a “fascist shift” in the
Nevertheless, I couldn’t resist grabbing Wolf’s new political handbook, since I’m always on the lookout for a modern how-to to rival Saul Alinsky’s 1971 classic Rules for Radicals. But unlike the late Alinsky, Wolf is neither an out-of-the-box thinker nor particularly radical. So Give Me Liberty is a mixed and largely uninspired bag of left-centrist polemic against the usual suspects (Bush, Cheney, et al.), battle cry rhetoric, and sketchy advice on writing press releases, arranging town hall meetings, launching blogs, petitioning our masters and, of course, getting out the vote (especially after we dump that pesky ol’ Electoral College). Early on in the book, Wolf writes that she was recently startled to discover that the Declaration of Independence is a radical document that exhorts the right to revolution. Egad! Too bad her definition of revolution is limited to working the system and playing electoral politics. “There are concrete laws we must pass to restore liberty,” Wolf writes. When she discusses the Bill of Rights, her only comment on the Second Amendment is that it “protects the right to own guns, at least in certain circumstances.” Now that’s revolutionary thinking. Not.
In the book’s “user’s guide,” Wolf is joined by other activists — what she calls her “citizens’ council” — including Trevor “Oyate” and Raymond D. Powell from Ron Paul’s camp, neither of whom have much to say. In her introduction to this section, Wolf explains, “We compiled a wish list at the end for laws, entities, and practices that we need to brainstorm about, create, enact, or build.” All of the items on that wish list, not surprisingly, are about making political elections fairer, more inclusive, and even making election fraud a “major felony.” One of Wolf’s cohorts, broadcaster-activist Curtis Ellis, suggests “making voting mandatory, with fines for not voting. When you renew your auto registration or file your taxes, you should have to show that you voted in elections.” Thanks, Curtis. You’ve just offered us one more good reason to avoid vehicle registration and evade taxes.
Give Me Liberty is of little use to Libertarian Leftists. There’s still a valuable activists’ how-to that needs to be written. Maybe one of these days, I’ll write the damn thing myself.