"What Can I Do?" -- Letter to the Editor: June 21, 2004
Your latest column has pushed me over the edge! I too find Mr. Stanley a wee bit wacky and extreme. However, the incident with his property being broken into seems -- no not seems but IS IN FACT -- dangerous, fascist behavior on the part of our fascist government.
We both agree those folks who choose to work in government are lawless thugs operating of their own accord and NOT by any of the principles laid down by the finest political doctrine every created, the U.S. Constitution. But the big frustration is, what can I do? If I under- stand correctly you are no longer active within the Colorado LP, partly because they've been a rag-tag ineffective group for far too long. And I believe in (and very much appreciate) what you're doing to make people aware of the violations of Constitutional law occurring every day but, again, what can I do??
I live in Englewood and many moons ago applied for a position on the Englewood city council. I probably know your response to this, but is that a good "conduit" to pursue? I've written letters to the newspapers, and have about a 75% success rate with those letters being published, but that really doesn't seem to have much impact.
The absolute, bottom-line way to alter the rapid disappearance of our civil rights is to get people elected at all levels of decision-making who will repeal existing onerous legislation, or enact new, favorable legislation. I personally don't care what label people wear, as long as they can be trusted to work FOR the people rather than AGAINST us.
I'm probably rambling more than I intended, so I'll stop now. I look forward to hearing any thoughts you'd like to share. Thank you, Ari!
Ben Aycrigg, June 17, 2004
Ari Armstrong Replies
I agree with the Objectivists that the most important way to restore liberty is to promote good philosophy -- ideas that affirm epistemological realism, the objectivity of value, the right of the individual to pursue his or her own ends consistent with the equal rights of others, and the appropriateness of free markets and economic progress.
While I agree that some actions of the present government are fascistic in nature -- using that term in its technical sense to mean state control of nominally private property -- it is important to keep the context in mind. We continue to live in a society in which individual rights are very often respected. We oughtn't focus exclusively on the problems we face, for we are truly a blessed people.
Of course, there is much wrong with our culture and with its government. But crisis is also opportunity, as a Chinese expression recognizes.
While I have expressed profound frustration with the actions of some within the state Libertarian Party, I have not cut off ties with Libertarians. I know some very good and very intelligent people within the Libertarian Party, and I intend to continue to cooperate with them on select projects.
No single letter to the editor (or other piece) is going to have much impact. But when hundreds of people write good material every day, the effects start to add up. Running for public office, and serving in office, can indeed be an effective way to fight for liberty.
The simple answer to the question, "What can I do?", is, "I don't know." What CAN you do? Whatever it is, build your skills in that area and go for it. "Let a thousand flowers bloom," goes the expression. If you're a good writer, do that. If you're good at talking with people and formulating policy, run for office. If you have a good voice, try radio. If you make a lot of money, consider donating some of it to a worthy advocacy group or think-tank. If you're a young scholar, consider how your work might influence the general culture.
The most important thing we can do, for ourselves as well as for the culture, is to lead self-responsible lives and build our moral character. Treat others justly. Respect the rights of others. Act with integrity. Strive to overcome mistakes of the past (of which I've made plenty) and character flaws (of which I retain a few). Learn the virtues, and practice them. The government is a product of the culture, and the culture is the sum of individual actions and beliefs within a given society. Virtuous individuals produce virtuous governance.
Even if I sound a bit preachy here, I think my comments are correct.