Dead, or Alive and Free?

I first learned about Richard Reiben when I came across a WEB page that was immediately interesting to me, from the title alone:

Take Don't Ask Permission - Just Take It

The link is to the archived site. The original pages no longer exist. The ideas of individual freedom, however, remain eternally true. From the description of that main page:

"Each individual has the power to take liberty and make it a reality in his own life."

...which just happens to be the theme of the Free Individual.

The, "Take Freedom," site contains many works of Richard Rieben and his thoughts on liberty over a period of 30 years. What was especially interesting to me, was the development of his thoughts which obviously became much more individualistic as he developed them.

A Mystery

Perhaps it's not a mystery, but just my inability to accept things that are left hanging, or unfinished. After reading a great deal of Mr. Rieben's work, I was very interested in finding a way to contact him.

Then, in my search, I ran across this:

"Richard Rieben was a world traveler, house remodeler, and sometime author and philosopher. The thesis of his manifesto, Reciprocia, is, briefly: 'Sovereignty is the base; reciprocity defines how to make it work.' Aside from harping incessantly on the theme of liberty, he led a fairly normal life in middle America, where he scouted for silver-linings. His internet articles are featured at He passed away sometime after 2005." [The brief "bio" at the bottom of this page.]

If true, of course, that was going to make contacting Mr. Rieben a bit difficult. I actually have no reason to conclude it is not true, but still, a question is raised by the following paragraph from his article, "I Was Not Born to Submit . . ."

"In perusing my credits, below, you will note various books and websites. In the pursuit of liberty, these are, as public ventures, rather beside the point. At one point, I thought to share them with others. In the meanwhile, they have derailed my private life unpleasantly. The book biz will not last through the end of the present year; the websites will not last through the end of the following year. And my participation in the freedom 'movement' will, for a second time in my life, cease. Hopefully, I have learned the value of being a private individual. I am too willful to be otherwise. I have nothing in common with others, aside from being as different from them as they are from anyone else (but knowing it). I do not have a common cause with anyone, not even being free. And the idea of subordinating my will to a group such as to regain, retain or proclaim my sovereign will is such a winsome contradiction it makes me smile, though ruefully."

That article was published on December 04, 2005. These words, "And my participation in the freedom 'movement' will, for a second time in my life, cease. Hopefully, I have learned the value of being a private individual," look for all the world to be a declaration of individual independence. I could be very mistaken, of course, but I cannot help but wonder if Mr. Rieben has only "died" metaphorically, having taken leave of the political world, and might simply be living his life as a free independent individual.

It Could Be

I have to admit, it is only a day-dream, this musing about Mr. Rieben living his life as a free independent individual, but it would fit as his answer to his own profound question about those who know the requirements for freedom but have yet to make the choice.

At the end of his article, "The Muddle of Liberty," he wrote:

"I could say they lack knowledge, but this is not true. The contradictions are too vast and too intolerable for a human mind to abide without shutting itself down. They know they are living a lie. Even as they hope that someone else will pull them out of the darkened shaft, they also know that the only way out is through their own choice and effort. They are struck dumb with familiarity, dependence upon the group, and personal cowardice. And wish it were not so, while every fiber of their being trembles with evading the kind of choice that would change it, at once and forever.

"Hie thee to a natural space with no evidence of humanity as far as the eye can see. Arrive alone and under your own power, by foot, bicycle or row-boat. It can be a desert, forest or a strip of ocean beach. Look into the vastness of it ... its unknown potential ... and wander apace, if only mentally, therein to its opposite reaches where you will find a people unlike any you have ever encountered, with no empowered institutions, no police, no bureaucracies, and each person sovereign and free. As they are wise, and seeing that you are filled with harmful, destructive nonsense in every aspect of your mind, carriage and morals, they will turn you back. You are not welcomed there, for you are contaminated.

"And there you are, stuck between what you 'know and believe' and what should be your human condition, but one you have not earned admittance to. Will you go back? Or will you stay in the wilderness until you become human? It is common clan thinking that you would strive to become acceptable to the group of humans you wish to join. But you will only be 'acceptable' to human beings when you no longer need to 'join' any group, when you are free from the conditioning of groups; when remaining in the wilderness is perfectly acceptable to you; when you are no longer lost ... in the wilderness ... but are at home in your self on the planet earth, a child of the stars and the moon and [reality]—and subordinate to no one.

Wherever Mr. Rieben is, I hope he is at home in himself, a child of the stars and moon and reality, and subordinate to no one.