As long as I've been on the Internet, which is as long as there has been an Internet, I've been struck by one thing that has bewildered me. While there are endless WEB sites, organization, associations, activist groups, institutes, societies, campaigns, policy centers, forums, foundations, and think-tanks all explaining and decrying the growing oppression of government at every level and proclaiming the necessity and virtues of individual freedom, except for a handful of sites selling some "program" or "get rich" scheme, none of which will work, no one is telling people how they can be free now, in their own lifetime. What is even more bewildering to me is that no one seems interested in actually being free.
Here is an example. (I have to use my own site, because no one else is doing this. I know of at least two other individuals who promoted individual freedom, "now," in one's own life and lifetime, but both of them have passed away.)
One of them was Harry Browne, who wrote the famous book, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World. (The other was
Richard Reiben.) Harry's book is a how-to book, how to make yourself free. It is not so much a "method" as a set of principles that almost anyone can use to make themselves free, if not totally, than at least much more free than they are today.
Well that book is out of print, and there are only online and electronic versions available now. I just happen to have a handful of brand new original hard-bound copies of Harry's book, which happen to be selling on
Amazon at the moment for $297. I'm not interested in the money, but I am interested in learning if anyone truly wants to be free these days and have offered to give two copies of Harry's book away, for free. All I've asked is for those who would like the book, to write a short explanation of why they want Harry's Book, and why they want to be free.
The response? Well there has been some, but very little. For those who have responded, of course, that is great news; the odds one of those books will be theirs can only be diminished if there is more response. But it is disappointing to me, and more bewildering than ever. Even if people do not believe Harry has the answers that would provide them individual freedom, if they were really interested in freedom, wouldn't they at least be curious about what Harry had to say?
Who Wants Freedom
There are very few who truly want to be free, totally and literally free. There are only a handful of people in any society that not only do not want or need anyone else's approval, agreement, or "help," but resent any attempt by anyone to interfere in their lives. There are very few individuals totally confident in their own ability and competence to live entirely by their own effort, desiring nothing in this world but what they can earn and achieve by their own productive work, who desire no relationship with any other human being but those freely entered into to their mutual benefit.
Total freedom is risky. While the free individual is able to keep and enjoy the benefits of his right choices and actions, he must bear the consequences of his wrong choices and action alone. Most people are terrified of being totally responsible for their own lives and need or want some kind of guarantees or security or safety, provided by some agency or system. They need an organized society; they need a government.
Surely there are some independent individualists for whom living means living free, who not only are not afraid of the risks of freedom, but relish them as the challenge and adventure of life. It is not that they do not want safety and security, but the safety and security they want is the freedom to deal with every possible risk as they choose and to take any action necessary to face them—without getting anyone else's agreement or approval.
I know some independent individualists have already established their own freedom and they, of course, will not be seeking what they have already achieved. But where are the others, those individuals who must chafe every day under the constant oppression of government, and irrational restriction society itself places on them, who "just want to be left alone."
Discouraged By Freedom Hawkers
I think the real reason no one is really seeking freedom today, their own personal individual freedom in their own life and lifetime, is because they do not believe it is possible. If they have sought out others seeking freedom, what they have found is all those very vocal movements and campaigns promoting various concepts of freedom, but which, without exception, are not promoting individual freedom today, but promoting some program, or movement, or campaign that will eventually, sometime, establish freedom as soon as the program is put over, or their party is elected, or the revolution has taken place.
I recently published an article, "The Individualist's Challenge," which I updated as
"The Individualist's Challenge Continued," which I emailed to most of the major anarchist, anti-state, free-market, capitalist, voluntaryist, libertarian, and pro-freedom conservative sites on the WEB. I reduced the challenge to four questions:
- Is individual freedom one of your objectives?
- Will your methods actually make anyone free in their lifetime?
- Do you believe it is possible for individuals to find true freedom in the world today?
- Would you encourage individuals to be free if they can be?
To date, there has only been one response to that challenge. This is it:
"It seemed a bit incoherent." Well, it's what might be expected, I suppose, since the respondent is a lawyer and an academic. But the lack of response is evidence enough, none of these pro-freedom movements has any interest in individuals actually being free today."
For those interested in freedom, real freedom in their lifetime, this must be very discouraging. If all of those speaking most loudly in the name of freedom are essentially saying, "freedom in your lifetime is impossible; you must wait for our program to be put over, our campaign to be successful, or the revolution to take place," the true freedom seeker will through up his hands in disgust and frustration—which is exactly what I believe has happened.
Why does it not occur to anyone, if a great many people discovered they can make themselves free today, and did, it would be a revolution?