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Billy Beck had some rather bleak thoughts on the State of the Union this morning. Follow the links, it's well worth the rather extensive reading. (Kim du Toit's main post is at the bottom of the comments page, so scroll down to read it, before moving on to the comments). The basic question is "When does the shooting start?"

My answer: Only after you're free. Shooting isn't a means to freedom, but a result of it. The prerequisite for shooting is the declaration, to yourself, of your own independence. Carl Drega became free, not by his own choice but because he had nothing left to lose, then he started shooting.

Freedom starts in your mind. That was the key idea behind the original name of this blog: "think!freedom". You aren't free until you decide you are, until that decision becomes the core of everything you are. Until you've acheived that, you won't - you can't - start shooting.

That doesn't mean that the mere decision to think of yourself as free makes it so. Just the opposite, the work of shedding the baggage of a life reared and educated in the aimless and unguided (not misguided, but unguided) mire this country has been wallowing in ever since it first stuck it's toe in that dark water in 1789 is a herculean task.

The real question is, what kind of freedom will it take? Carl Drega reached Janis Joplin's vision of freedom, and started shooting. Another kind of freedom, the kind I still have some hope for despite Billy's dire warnings of ongoing and ever further encroaching endarkenment, might - just might - render the shooting unecessary by virtue of it's very existence as a viable option.

Either way, once the full integrity of your own independence settles over you like a warm blanket, you can start shooting. But only when truly necessary. Not out of protest, or rebellion, or to send a message, but out of the same unafraid clarity of purpose you'd have when shooting the vermin that are gnawing your crops down to nothing or the enemy overrunning your foxhole.

With one kind of freedom, the literal shooting may be mostly unnecessary - most of the vermin and enemies become little more than gnats to be swatted away with an unconcious wave of the hand, the remaining few either turn tail and run or are dealt with calmly, rationally, and without malice. Another kind of freedom leaves you with only the option of shooting, and your freedom, though it lasts the rest of your life, is fleeting indeed.

One thing is certain. If you ask for your freedom - if you look for it anywhere other than within yourself - the only kind of freedom you'll ever experience is the brief, exhilirating kind that Carl Drega took to his grave.

So, cheer up, Billy. One way or another, we'll all be free real soon now.

UPDATE: It seems that some Chinese Villagers have decided that they too had nothing left to lose:
The trouble broke out after the hired hands, some wearing helmuts and khakis, moved in to clear land needed by a nearby power station.

Villagers had built trenches and erected tents to protect their land.


This reminds me of a quote from Robert Heinlein - "You can't enslave a free man. The only person who can do that to a man is himself. The most you can do to a free man is to kill him. "

Anyway, I've been enjoying your thoughts and your writing. Thanks!

Posted by Kevin McCalix at Thursday, June 16, 2005 10:36 AM

Kevin, I wish I had remembered that quote when I wrote this.

Posted by kylben at Thursday, June 16, 2005 10:55 AM

"The most subversive political implication of 'Atlas Shrugged', is that individual freedom is possible only to those who are strong enough, psychologically and morally, to withdraw their sanction from any system that coercively thrives off their productive energies."

(Chris Matthew Sciabarra, "Ayn Rand -- The Russian Radical", 1995, pp. 301-302)

Posted by Billy_Beck at Tuesday, June 21, 2005 09:46 AM

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