In the online world, there has been much discussion of a “schism” between the activists. The original perception was that the divide was between activists favoring civil disobedience and noncooperation vs in-the-system political activists. In real life, the so-called schism was barely visible. Most people in the liberty movement are friendly and helpful toward one another, and there is no firm dividing line in activist approaches. Many choose differing levels of those two categories of activism and also plenty of other things one can do for liberty such as outreach, education, media creation, internet work, software programming, and more. Sure, there are a few people who are intolerant of certain activist approaches, but that will always be the case with a spectrum of interest. The politicos who are generally intolerant toward those doing civil disobedience and noncooperation are known for their very public complaining about “poisoning the well”.
I finally understand what they mean.
These political activists frequently chastise (as do the bureaucrats and politicians) civdis/noncoops for not “working within the system”. Today I had a conversation on facebook that was quite enlightening. I’d like to share that here. Keep in mind as you read that Seth and I get along fine in the real world, but here we are clearly at loggerheads. He will appear in bold and I will add commentary between the block quotes:
Ian: Apparently working in the system means doing everything the government people demand of you. If they put up a hoop and you don’t jump through it, you’re poisoning the well!
Seth Cohn: Ian, this is quite disingenuous. You decided to hold a ‘drinking game’ at the meeting. You posted openly about it, and then get upset when they stop you from doing it in the first place. Stop being petulantly obtuse that somehow you ‘tried to get involved in the system’, it’s just not true.
Ian: Seth – we handed out fliers to all the councilors and media in advance alerting them that they could repeal the ordinance and citing the ordinances. We WERE working in the system. You just don’t like the method we used to get people excited about going to a BORING city council meeting.
FACT: At the start of that meeting, there were 15 people in the audience section of the council chamber. Eight liberty activists and seven others, at least two of which were city employees I recognized. Put another way, after years of mostly never attending city council meetings, the city council drinking game brought out more liberty lovers than anything I can recall from the past. It’s likely that the police crackdown on people with brown bottles will bring even more people to the next meeting, but only time will tell. This approach has clearly gotten people involved in-the-system, but the complaining political activists are still not happy. Why? Read on.
Seth Cohn: Ian, one of the very first things I learned here in NH politics, at the Don Gorman school of politics (and remember, YOU chose to work in the system, so you have to play by the rules of the system, or else you aren’t really working in the s…ystem, no matter what you want to pretend), is that decorum is what makes the entire thing work. If you don’t show the respect for the system, it grinds to a halt. If you don’t show respect for your opposition, despite that they are wrong on this issue, because they might be allies on the next issue, it grinds to a halt. If you don’t show proper decorum, dressing appropriately, using correct titles, etc, it grinds to a halt. Guess what: it ground to a halt, because you refused to respect the system you claimed to want to work within.
Make up your freak(stater)ing mind: if you are going to try working within the system, do it, or don’t do it, but don’t claim to be doing it when you refuse to respect it.
See, some politician told Seth how it is, so that must be how it’s done! Even if you understand that government is nothing but men and women using violence and threats to feed off of peaceful people, or the violent monopoly, you should pipe down, put on a suit, and RESPECT those criminals. Wouldn’t want such *important* people to think poorly of you, now would you?
Clearly, a major divide is between those who pander to the system (unless they aren’t pandering and actually like it, in which case, they are probably power-seekers) and those who laugh at the system. It’s those who take the government people and their “system” seriously vs those who don’t.
Ian: You’re right. I don’t respect their system. Their system is institutionalized violence. So now it’s not “use the system”, it’s “use and RESPECT the system”? FUCK THAT.
I’m a quaker. I don’t use “titles”. They are men and women and their shit stinks too. I’ll respect them as individuals who have the potential to do the right thing and change, but never their precious system.
Seth Cohn: Then despite all of your protests to the contrary, NO, you are not ‘working within the system’ and I will continue to call you a liar if you continue to claim you are. Rule #1 of working in the system is accepting the inherent rules of the system, like decorum. If you insist on playing basketball when everyone else is playing baseball, you can and will be thrown off the playing field when you dribble. And complaining that you were playing too is nonsense.
Ian: Seth, I’m not playing by your rules (or Don’s, rather) for the system. It’s working within the system when you test and exceed its limits.
You can call me whatever makes you feel good!
People get respect from me by default just for being fellow human beings and more respect they earn. They will lose my respect for aggressing against or supporting aggression against others. I have some respect for a number of bureaucrats on a personal level, those I have gotten to know. However, I cannot respect a system (which is just a set of ideas and their adherents) that doesn’t respect peaceful humans. Perhaps someday the political activists putting up some front of “decor” will see that the laughter is a powerful tool for dismantling the idea of “the state”. If the government people aren’t taken seriously, it is a major hit to their legitimacy – something they grasp dearly to maintain as they only rule by threats, force, and brainwashing. Naturally, they want to obscure that coercion as much as possible, else people start to catch on and get fed up with it all.
Seth Cohn: Since you insist on redefining things, it’s not possible to have a meaningful discussion.
The rules aren’t mine, or Don’s, they are what make up the system itself. If you want to pretend otherwise, it’s your neck at risk. They have guns. …As you are so fond of pointing out.
Ian: I’d be a failure without risk.
Another divide here. Risk-takers vs safety-seekers. I don’t blame Seth or anyone else for being afraid. Fear is something I think we all deal with. They ARE scary. They can take your home and put you in a cage. Jail isn’t a great place to be, but disobedience and noncooperation are extra powerful BECAUSE they are risky. Once you accept the idea of being caged, there’s little they can do to you in your mind. Once others come together who feel the same way, who are willing to risk, amazing things become possible. Witness the mass arrests and buzz surrounding the Keene movement. The political establishment in Keene is flailing desperately: Hate in the newspaper comments, embarrassing arrests, loads of court trials coming up, and more new movers arriving all the time!
The critics in the liberty movement want to believe the vitriolic (and conveniently anonymous) comments on the Keene Sentinel stories are some indicator of what “the community” thinks of liberty activists in Keene. Sorry, there’s just no meaningful evidence to support their assertions. Seems to me that Keene is like most other places in that lots of people do whatever they can to avoid the government and it’s awful processes. Want proof? As I said, the city council meeting was barren of attendees excluding some city bureaucrats and their family members. Regular people are working or enjoying their time off rather than torture themselves by attending one of the government people’s horribly dull meetings. People go along to get along, pay the gang, and do their best to ignore the government people. Many wish they were left alone, but the government people just keep coming back for more taxes and fines and regulations. Eventually, the person or someone they love is attacked by the government parasites and the victims of the sociopaths are more likely to find and even seek out liberty activists. Eventually, they’ll be even more likely to find us as court outreach expands in Keene.
Again, more activists makes all kinds of projects possible. So, if you’ve read this far, when are you moving to Keene? If you are already here, come out of the closet and get involved. If you are a supporter of the violent monopoly, seek help or maybe it’s time to consider moving somewhere where the violent monopoly you love so much actually has a future. NH’s monopoly days are numbered.