Is it Time for a New Radicalism?

The folks at ACTIVE have come up with an interesting idea. They're calling for a nationwide strike of citizens against the government, turning the international socialists' tactics against them and possibly launching a movement which will have even more impact than the Tea Parties have had.

At a time when the extreme left has become the establishment, those who support traditional American values of liberty and free enterprise are by default the radicals, just as we were in 1776 when we opposed the tyranny of British rule. I don't agree with all of the beliefs and methods which groups like ACTIVE and the Patriotic Resistence and Bureaucrash advocate, but this idea of adopting the methodology and rhetoric of the radicals of the 60s in the fight against the growing power of the leftist state in America is very appealing.

Back in the early days of the Libertarian Party this is very much the approach which we took. As editor and a columnist for Liberty magazine back in those days I was constantly writing articles which sought to capitalize on the enthusiasm of student radicalism and direct it against the terrible policies of the Carter administration. In the SLS we were borrowing ideas from the SDS which had preceded us by about a decade, and we were drawing on the hardcore anarchism coming out of the anti-government riots and the punk music coming out of England in the late 70s. At the time there was only so far we could go with the idea, because Carter's incompetence made his administration too soft a target and the entire dynamic changed when Reagan came into power and drew a lot of libertarians including myself more into the political mainstream.

The days of Reagan are long over now and the champions of liberty are the underdogs again. This time we have a statist establishment to oppose which is much more powerful and much more dangerous than Jimmy Carter ever dreamed of being. The time really is ripe for a liberty revolution, and the tactics of the revolutionaries of the past are now ours to use. The liberty movement has made a lot of strides in the last couple of years and generated a huge diversity of organizations and issue groups, both inside the Republican party and among independent voters, but it's clear that a lot of these groups are looking for opportunities to take action in more radical and dramatic ways.

The Tea Parties brought a lot of different groups together with a common goal, but their effectiveness is inherently limited and they have been successfully undermined by a media disinformation campaign to portray them as "astroturf" events because of the involvement of Republican party groups and big money advocacy groups like FreedomWorks. As an idea they have also lost momentum from being overused and have pretty much run their course as an effective protest campaign.

Whatever succeeds the Tea Parties needs to go even deeper into the grassroots and nothing could do this more effectively than a protest which is purely based on individual action. Instead of gathering together into a group and marching or rallying, every person can take action on his own, but coordinated on a nationwide basis. That's what makes something like a general strike such an appealing idea. If enough people can be involved to really represent the high level of dissatisfaction in the country, the results could be impressive and impossible to ignore.

The only problem is the timing. I assume that those who have proposed a date of November 4th picked that date because it's the one-year anniversary of the election and because it gives plenty of time to organize a nationwide protest. The problem is that by then it's likely to be too late for even a wildly successful strike to have any impact on the most serious threats from the Obama regime. If we don't stop Obama and Pelosi as quickly as possible we are going to be out of luck. Cap and Trade and ObamaCare will be done deals by November 4th and we'll be well and truly screwed as a nation. These socialist programs will never be reversed once they are implemented, so we need grassroots protest on a huge scale before the end of the Summer.

I love the irony of using classic radical tactics against this government, because the truth is that they may have started out as radicals, but they are now the establishment and we are the radicals. So grab a copy of Rules for Radicals, Steal this Book or Stir it Up and learn the tactics that used to drive our enemies, because they're ours now and it's time to turn the tables on them.

This nation was founded by radicals and it will take a new generation of radicals to reclaim our stolen liberty. Founding radical Sam Adams said: "It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." We are the new irate minority – sons and daughters of liberty like Sam Adams – and a general strike might be just the kind of brushfire we need.

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November 4 would be the worst possible date

All it does is underline the fact that power was lost at the ballot box - it delegitimizes the protest even as the protest is underway. And, anyway - what does a "strike of citizens against the government" look like? We all jaywalk? Block the entrance to the DMV so others can't get their driver's licenses renewed?

The only thing that matters is voting. The time and energy spent organizing this would be better spent developing local volunteer efforts in preparation for the 2010 elections. In the month before the last election the visits I received from "Vote for Obama" volunteers outnumbered those by "Vote for McCain" volunteers approximately 25 to 0. (The first number is a guess, the last number is a certainty.)