IPFS Ernest Hancock

More About: Politics: Libertarian Campaigns

Freedom Activism 101

The following aphorisms are the work of libertarian novelist L. Neil Smith. They have been the bedrock for libertarian activism in Arizona for the last 20 years (since 1994 - now going on 21 years, this was written a while ago) and are the best explanation I can provide for the tactics of our past/future. Enjoy.

*Never soft-peddle the truth. It's seldom self-evident and almost never sells itself, because there's less sales resistance to a glib and comforting lie.

*Understand from the minute the fight begins that you're going to take damage. Accept it. (You'll always suffer more from the idiots and cowards on your own side than from any enemy.) Keep your overall goal in mind above all. Those who swerve to avoid a few cuts and bruises defeat themselves.

*If you're not a little bit uncomfortable with your position, it isn't radical enough. How can you be too principled? Take the most extreme position you can. You're claiming territory you won't have to fight for later, mostly against your "allies."

*Go straight to the heart of the enemy's greatest strength. Break that and you break him. You can always mop up the flanks and stragglers later, and they may even surrender, saving you a lot of effort.

*Know, down to the last cell in your body, that the other guy started it. He's the one who put things in an ethical context where considerations like decency and mercy have no referent. The less pity moves you now, the sooner you can go back to being a nice guy.

*If you lose, go down fighting. It costs nothing extra, and now and again ...

*Remain the judge of your own actions. Never surrender that position by default. When the enemy screams "Foul!" the loudest, you know you're doing him the most damage. Those who help him scream are also the enemy.

*Second thoughts, failures of confidence, nervous last-minute course-changes are all detours and recipes for defeat. The time to think is before the battle - if possible, before the war - not in the heat of it.

*It is moral weakness, rather than villainy, that accounts for most of the evil in the universe" and feeble-hearted allies, far rather than your most powerful enemies, who are likeliest to do you an injury you cannot recover from.

*Know, otherhandwise, that the easiest, most humiliating path to defeat is thinking that to beat the enemy you must be like him. Avoid the temptation to set your values aside "for the duration." What's the point of fighting if you give up what you're fighting for? If remaining consistent with your values leads to defeat, you chose the wrong values to begin with.

*Never aim at anything but total achievement of your goal: the utter capitulation of the enemy. Every effort involves inertia and mechanical losses, so adopting any lesser objective means partial defeat. Total victory means you don't have to fight the same fight again tomorrow.

*The most dangerous and successful conspiracies take place in public, in plain sight, under the clear, bright light of day" usually with TV cameras focused on them.

*Ever notice how those who believe in animal rights generally don't believe in human rights?

*The function of government is to provide you with service; the function of the media is to supply the Vaseline.

*"Wake up America," you demand? America doesn't need to "wake up" " by which of course, you mean pay attention to whatever you think is important. If America weren't already awake, paying attention to what each individual thinks is important, your milk wouldn't have gotten delivered this morning, and you wouldn't have any electricity this afternoon.

*You cannot force me to agree with you. You can force me to act as though I agree with you" but then you'll have to watch your back. All the time.

*You may never convince the other guy, but it's often worthwhile to keep arguing for the effect it has on bystanders, especially his allies.

3 Comments in Response to

Comment by Cassie Wilson
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Bad link. URL for Down with Power audio book: https://www.connectpal.com/downwithpower

Comment by Brian Wilson
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As an LNS friend and fan for a decade or two, we chatted for for 3 hours one evening when I was filling in for Art Bell. As noted above, Neil's scribblings - both fiction and non - are studies in libertarian thought, principle and strategy. "Down with Power" is one those "must reads" -- or "must hears". No time to read? I happily recorded the audiobook for Neil; it's available for download here: link text

Comment by Powell Gammill
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Down With Power: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis - by L.Neil Smith (2013) Need your libertarian arguments stoked up before hitting the campaign trail? This is the book. WINNER OF THE FREEDOM BOOK OF THE YEAR 2012-2013 HOW TO FIX AMERICA The “land of the free” is in deep trouble—the deepest since the War Between the States—not just economically, but politically and every other way. Her greatest institutions are crumbling all around us. In Down With Power, the acclaimed libertarian writer and thinker L. Neil Smith, author of over 30 liberty-related books and 50-year veteran of the freedom movement, strips this crisis to its essentials, offering solutions—sometimes “radical”, in that they go straight to the root, more often simple common sense—resulting in a body of ideas that can elevate America to her former greatness. Subjects covered include: The Zero Aggression principle National defense The moral effects of taxation Limiting corporate power The truth about money The United Nations, terrorism, and torture Global warming If you’re feeling politically homeless these days; If you’re new to libertarianism and want to know what it’s really all about; If you’re a libertarian candidate and need a campaign guide; or If you just want to sort out the fakers from the real thing, Down With Power is the book for you! And possibly a book that can change the course of history You should pick up a copy of Lever Action: Essays on Liberty - by L.Neil Smith as well.