-- I recently had dinner with a friend of mine, a very old-school former Mafioso. He can talk forever about the traditions of his people, and I can listen for hours. He doesn't tell about the stuff most people would want to hear from such a person. The stories he tells are far smaller, yet far more valuable. He talks about those little things, funny things, sad things, that reveal the values he has lived his life by, the values that for 800 years his people have been living by.
At this dinner, he told me about how in his day, when a man became a "made" man (he tells me that's a Hollywood term, he never heard it until late in his career), that even his best friends wouldn't have known the difference. In his day being made didn't change the person. Nowadays, the newly made mobster struts around and flaunts what a big man he thinks he is. That's because now, getting made is something you are given. It comes from outside of you, it's granting you a status you'd not had before.
Before, when the traditions meant something, a man didn't get made, he became made. And he became it long before the ceremony, long before anyone called him "made". That's why it didn't change him. He was already the man that the new guys, the ones without the traditions, think that being made makes them. He had to be it before he could be called it. It was a recognition of already existing fact - it was not something given to him, it was something he gave himself.
UPDATE: My friend, Bill Bonanno, died on New Years Day, 2008.
-- On my way to work a few days ago, I started thinking, apropos of nothing, about Claire Wolfe's book "101 Things to do 'Till the Revolution", which I had read years ago and had thought of occasionally since. (It's a very good book, and worth a read - I intend to give it another go soon). But I remember that there was something missing. Something that left it vaguely unsatisfying. I thought that what I'd like to see is a book called "101 Things to do After the Revolution".
-- When I first started venturing into the world wide web as a participant rather than a spectator, I planned my first site to be called "think!freedom". Even though it didn't amount to much, (I still have the domain www.thinkfreedom.com, and will likely do something with it again soon), I think I had the right idea. The "think!" at the beginning was intended to convey that freedom starts there. It starts with thinking. Not just philosophy and planning and being smart about protecting yourself - it means all that - but it goes deeper than that.
It means that freedom starts with thinking of yourself as free. It means that you have to be free first. You have to already be free of both the fear of and any respect for the authority of the state. It means you have to be free of the guilt that is used to supplement the state's control of you by fear. It means that you have to be free of the thought that you must serve anyone but yourself. It means you must be free of the thought that you can change the state, that you must change the state in order to live your own life. It means that you must be free in your own head, free to act entirely from your own motivations, free not to ignore the state, but to treat it like mindless, motivation less force of nature, to be dealt with as necessary and not dealt with at all when not.
If you woke up and found that the Libertarians had suddenly won a the day and had eliminated nanny state, the daddy state, the jack-booted-thug state all in one fell swoop, what do you think they'd do? My guess is they'd strut around and flaunt what big men they think they are now. I think they'd go around under the delusion that their revolution had made them free, and that now they have the power to make the rest of us free as well.
We've seen the results of that before.
Freedom has always been sought externally, right up to the libertarians of today. But real freedom is achieved on the inside, individually and privately. You can avoid the state, you can hide from it and drop out of the world. You can put life on hold until the day when outside forces "make" you free. You can defy the state. You be politically active and try to change the state from within. You can plot a revolution. You can do all those things if you really want to, but what none of those things does is to change you.
It's not enough to say "I believe in freedom, so now I'm free". It has to be something you simply are, something you no longer even have to think about. Until then, avoidance, defiance, voting and plotting are simply different forms of looking outward for a solution that doesn't exist out there. It means you're still allowing yourself to be controlled by the state, letting it dictate your values and decisions and actions.
Once that private freedom is achieved, no revolution or anything else outside of yourself will really change anything that counts. The real revolution will already have been won, elections won't matter, avoidance will be superfluous, and defiance will no longer be an overt act, it will simply mean that it never crosses your mind to comply. Revolution, while perhaps necessary to clear debris off the path, would have no deeper meaning. It would be little more than ceremony, a formal recognition of an already existing fact.
But at that point, why would we care about achieving that recognition? The state won't go away once enough people want the state to go away, the state will effectively disappear once enough people no longer care that much whether it stays or goes. We don't need a revolution, we need millions of them.
NOTICE: Vin Suprynowicz and Claire Wolfe are auctioning off a double-autographed leather-bound first edition of Vin's first (and only so far) novel, The Black Arrow. Not only is this an incredible book (which I intend on reviewing here soon), the best libertarian fiction since "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", but the proceeds are dedicated to buying very expensive meds for a friend of theirs who is dying of cancer. We've already got the "bid early" part taken care of, so go ahead and "bid often".