This article was published in the Spring 1998 issue of Formulations
by the Free Nation Foundation
Dialog on libertarian activism:

To whom do we reach? and why?

Susan Callaway and Richard Hammer:

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Susan Callaway:

Mr. Hammer's comments [*] (on page 5 in the Winter issue of Formulations) about most libertarians having "formed a habit—of trying to sell liberty to statists" was very provocative because I have never been accused of such a thing and I've been a libertarian/Randian for a long time. I believe he may have libertarians a bit confused with Libertarians, as in the Libertarian Party.

It has taken me most of my adult life to learn that little or no education of statists occurs in any setting and that they will not understand Rand at any decibel level. You can't teach dogs to purr and that's that. Mostly I just ignore them as much as possible and talk to those who seem to be leaning in the direction of freedom.

I despise the nonsense of politics in America. As far as I'm concerned, politics are the most immoral activity ever devised and I'll have no part of it. Oh, I did, for a while, and learned that it is as bad for libertarians as it is for Republicrats or anyone else. The original intentions may be, I say may be, all good and noble, but the end result is a sell-out, increasing love of the power over the lives and property of others when they manage to get elected and a colossal waste of time and money in either case.

The useful part of the Libertarian movement mostly bled off into the Advocates for Self-government and The Alliance for the Separation of School and State, both of which I support with little reservation, along with all of the other publications, think tanks and such. As far as I can see, aside from the Party itself, few of these spend much time trying to convert actual statists, but reach out to those who want and believe in freedom but don't know where to start finding it.

I believe that libertarians simply must start by actually doing active, daily self-government and educating their own children in spite of and without the permission or tolerance of the statists, up to and including going to jail or whatever. I'm convinced that a lot of the nonsense_

we seem forced to endure stems from a lack of effort on the part of most people to maintain full charge/responsibility for their own lives. For instance, most people tend to cry for government regulation of safety and health issues, rather than to take responsibility to educate themselves as consumers. When enough people take this responsibility first and stop looking to government for solutions, when they begin to resist statists' agendas for their lives and resist giving them their money in any form, then they can begin to hope for freedom. It won't happen magically through "education," but only by the gut effort of everyone who wants to be free.... and when there are enough of us....

The fly in the ointment, beyond the obvious, are the millions of people who honestly believe that they want and love "freedom," but who also honestly believe that other people need to be controlled (for their own good, of course) such as those who choose to take drugs or view photos of naked whatever....

To this end your vision of a free country is an intriguing possibility. However I must say that, all in all, I would rather be free and remain in my own home on my own land right here. As wonderful as a new and free country might be, I would not want to be separated from my family and many friends who would not wish or be able to move. Most people are a long way from being able to accept full responsibility for their own lives and property and, unfortunately, many of those family members and friends are among them.

So I read your publication with interest and appreciation, but with many reservations. I don't know how to make America truly free, but I don't want to go anywhere else just yet.

Susan Callaway writes from Lucerne Valley, California

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Richard Hammer:

I appreciate being checked occasionally. Probably, if you do not keep your eyes on me, I can go too far out on a limb.

Perhaps I went too far when I implied that every other libertarian organization (other than FNF) works primarily to convince statists within the paradigm of majority-rule democracy.

But, to continue the discussion, consider the work done by the two organizations which Susan Callaway mentions: the Advocates for Self-government and the Alliance for the Separation of School and State. It is true that these two organizations, in seeking supporters and participants, reach out primarily to people who are already libertarian. But still, I believe, the work that these organizations do shows that they assume that the best way to get liberty is to work through the paradigm of majority-rule democracy.

Both organizations assume that statists must be convinced. The Advocates for Self Government specializes in helping libertarians learn how to communicate with statists. And concerning the Alliance for the Separation of School and State we can see, in the name of that organization, that they start with the assumption that school and state need to be separated. Certainly that is true in statist America. But it is no issue among people who are already libertarian; we would never put the two together in the first place.

I try through FNF to get libertarians to realize our own strength. If we will redirect a modest amount of energy, perhaps only one tenth of the amount which we now pour into the effort to convert statists, that will be sufficient to found a new Hong Kong, with more liberties than the last. D

[* Web Editor's note: "Dialog: The Benefits of Writing about a Free Nation," Roy Halliday and Richard Hammer, Formulations, Vol. V, No.2]

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