The reactions to the previous essay have been dumbfounding: all the way from wild applause to condemnation that goes well beyond scathing. Perhaps I should have expected that; half the nation's politically aware are outraged by the state of things as I expressed it, while the other half draws material benefits from it and reacts with fury against any criticism of it. But as usual, articulating such a view and leaving the matter there is insufficient for the former group. They want to know what to do about it.
Candidly, so do I.
Look, even a Certified Galactic Intellect doesn't have all the answers. There are some problems that can only be solved by a trial-and-error approach. There are some problems that demand an unpredictable stroke of imagination to penetrate. There are some problems that can't be solved at all.
The problem of government gone wild isn't new to the United States, of course. Other lands have experienced much the same official lawlessness as we're suffering right now, and iteratively at that. Seldom has anyone found a clean solution. Indeed, if H. L. Mencken is to be believed, our forebears didn't either:
Politics, as hopeful men practice it in the world, consists mainly of the delusion that a change in form is a change in substance. The American colonists, when they got rid of the Potsdam tyrant, believed fondly that they were getting rid of oppressive taxes forever and setting up complete liberty. They found almost instantly that taxes were higher than ever, and before many years they were writhing under the Alien and Sedition Acts. [The American Mercury, 1927]
Mencken was notably cynical about the power of the franchise to bring about healthful changes:
The typical lawmaker of today is a man devoid of principle - a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game. If the right pressure could be applied to him, he would cheerfully be in favor of polygamy, astrology or cannibalism....At each election we vote in a new set of politicians, insanely assuming that they are better than the set turned out. And at each election we are, as they say in Motherland, done in. [The American Mercury, 1930]
I submit that recent developments -- essentially, American history since FDR -- better support the views of the Sage of Baltimore than those of the "change the system from within" crowd.
He who suffers that which is intolerably noxious but can't be fixed must either flee from it or destroy it.
"Can't be fixed" deserves some elucidation. There are always possibilities for fixing anything, given specific configurations of personnel, resources, and context. One of the critical factors in assessing such a possibility is how long it would take to achieve the necessary configuration. Another is the likelihood of attaining that configuration without evoking some countervailing force sufficient to derail or destroy it before it can be put to use. Just because we can envision a solution to a problem doesn't mean that we can "get there from here."
An example might help. Imagine that a large asteroid -- a "planet killer," in common parlance -- were closing in on Earth at some high speed. Well, that's not an insoluble problem is it? We could simply move the Moon into a blocking position, keep it there until impact had occurred, and then put it back into its prior orbit. All it takes is the development of a thrust technology powerful enough to overcome the Moon's inertia, right? How long would that take?
Here's another example, somewhat closer to home. A number of freedom lovers have placed their bets on the "Free State Project:" an attempt to become politically dominant by migration to a relatively underpopulated state -- the ones I've heard mentioned in this context are New Hampshire and Wyoming -- after which pro-freedom legal changes could be enacted. Isn't it pretty to think so? But the government we know and loathe would not sit idle after noticing that such a migration was in progress. Nor could it be kept secret; as the saying goes, three can keep a secret if two of them are dead, and it would take a lot more than three persons to pull this off.
Practical solutions are more difficult to come by than imaginable ones.
Overturning the present system and ejecting the political elite sounds awfully appealing, but it looks more like a "move the Moon" fantasy solution than something practically achievable. If we take as a given that electoral mechanisms would be ineffective in such a pursuit, what remains are subversion and revolution.
The subversion of the existing structure is impossible for a simple reason:
- A large number of freedom-loving persons must become government functionaries;
- Those persons must then rise to positions of authority sufficient to paralyze or destroy their portions of the edifice;
- They must maintain their personal ethics and commitment to freedom while rising to power.
Surely the readers of Liberty's Torch are sharp enough to see the cracks in this notion. A considerable number of countervailing forces would arise to defeat it -- and all of them are based on the saddest of all observations about political power:
Friedrich Hayek pinned this in The Road To Serfdom, some seventy years ago.
As for violent revolution, the preponderance of force lies most definitely with the federal government. The largest, best organized civilian uprising imaginable would be insufficient to remove its masters from the seats of power. They would sooner turn "our" armed forces loose against us, and would have a Constitutional basis for doing so:
Congress shall have power:...To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; [Article I, Section 8]
In the event that the Army should fail to comply, there's always nukes.
If we can't fix our political system and are unable to destroy it, what remains are the possibilities of flight. But in the absence of a land frontier, there's nowhere appealing to go. Antarctica is inimical to life in the absence of extraordinary technological supports. The oceans are likewise impractical for settlement, at least for the foreseeable future. The other bodies of the Solar System make Antarctica look like a paradise. As for artificial habitats not moored to any planetary body, there are an incredible number of problems to be solved before such things become feasible.
Yet there remain other possibilities to ponder. More anon.