By Nathan Barton
Understandably, you, dear reader, may think I’m being needlessly (or even brashly or offensively) spiritual (religious) by using this term. Yet, in reality, in today’s world we find it necessary to treat statists in a way very similar to how christians treat (or should treat) those who are not.
So whether or not you are “converting” them or “persuading” them or “liberating” them, the process is very similar, and very essential. Let’s discuss it.
Notice that I do not say “converting to libertarianism” or “converting to anarchism” or even “converting to classical liberalism.” Nor do I speak of changing someone’s politics or political affiliation. Such an idea is very much comparable to converting someone to a denomination or a “religion” as defined by the modern world. (And honestly, as worthless.) Rather than helping someone to become a follower of Christ. (From a christian point of view.)
If we truly need and want liberty to change the world; to make ourselves and our community and our world more free, much is required. We need to do much more than getting people to vote for “our” candidate(s) for massa and junior massa and such. (Even if “our” candidates are more “libertarian” than the rest.) We need to do more than get them to score 10/10 on the World’s Smallest Political Quiz and find that they are “libertarian” or even “Libertarian.” We need to do more than just talk or write or nag people.
To put it another way, doing those things still leaves us in the thrall of “other government.” (Even if we claim to be one of the governors and not the governed.) That is not true liberty, even by comparison to the oppression most of the human race has endured. True liberty is found in governing ourselves, NOT others.
We need to help people (including ourselves) see exactly how they are, to various degrees, enslaved to others. In “other government” we either are enslaved (to a lesser or great degree) by others governing us. Or we are enslaved because we are governing others.
We need to help people see how they are, whether they realize it or not, worshiping the false god called government. People must understand, recognize, their actual situation before they can deal with it. And to do that for others, we must first do that for ourselves.
But we can show them how they are lost in a world of tyranny, a world in which people will not (cannot) accept responsibility for their own lives. Where people – like them! – are wanting power over others and willing to accept that people have power over them. And face the fact that they are as much guilty of that attitude as are the people down the street. As long as they accept any part of “other government.” As long as they (we) do not fully embrace and practice self government.
We must see clearly what a mess we are in. We must help others to the same.
Once we’ve done that, we can help them see that it is not enough to choose a new political label, not enough to put someone in power who might be less statist, less tyrannical than all the other guys. We must help them understand that they must change themselves first, and that with the help of other, like-minded people, that they can stop being cogs in the machine of the state and society. We can change into people who are able to and willing to and DO govern themselves. And we must look into our mirrors and see that we are the same kind of people.
Do you see why I can compare it to conversion? The conversion of someone into a follower of God, of Christ, is a process that is more than getting dunked, walking down an aisle, or reading a book – even The Book. It requires being liberated from our old condition and self, from being a slave to sin, and seeing the world differently. And ACTING differently. Christians call that repentance: turning away from bad behavior – changing the way we act.
Unlike traditional understanding of religion, there is no moment of political salvation as a free gift of God. There is no anointed one that God will send, like Moses to Israel in Egypt, who will bring plagues upon our oppressors until they “let My people go.” But we can take action ourselves to liberate ourselves.
How? By becoming self-governors who can do two things. First, self-governors reject both the “favors and benefits” of government and reject (avoid or overcome) the maltreatment and punishments of those who so desperately want to control us. Second, working together (without coercion, voluntarily) self-governors establish conditions not just for their own liberty but for the liberty of others.
In spiritual terms, it is difficult to convert someone to something unless we ourselves are already converted:
- Truly convinced that we are (or have been) slaves (physically, not necessarily mentally).
- Truly rejecting that mindset and the actions that follow from that.
- Making it clear to those around us that we are indeed “self” governors and NOT “other” governors (over others or willing to let others govern us).
- Accepting the basic, fundamental principles of liberty. (That is, non-aggression and personal responsibility.) And then,
- Doing the tough part – living in liberty. Governing ourselves, and not others.
So let me ask. Are you a “convert” to self-government? To liberty?