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Liberty Series
Liberty, If You Can Grasp It
by   Richard   Rieben
Chapter 6 - First Posted – 12 November 2003 – Revised 25/11/03
During my world travels, I discovered an elixir of life called "liberty." I slaved on the formula for several years, and then I published my research – I basically "gave away" the formula to anyone who was interested. And no one was interested – not in immortality, not in happiness, not in understanding the secrets of the universe.

It's not that they didn't want the "program," but that they didn't grasp the concept: That "liberty" is radically different from anything they have ever heard in their lives, more potent than any elixir – and that it's practical, easy and free.

Just didn't hear it.

Or "couldn't hear it" over the conventional noise – and therefore, mayhaps, didn't really want to hear it anyway?

Liberty is not indigenous to any specific location or country. The problem with the Constitution of the United States is not the lack of vigilance of the people. Even starting over, with the U.S. Constitution, it will come to the same pass. This is unavoidable. It is philosophically built-in to that form of government. It is inherently – structurally – authoritarian. This is not a compact between and amongst sovereign individuals, but a "conventional government" erected over individuals.

The formation of the U.S. Constitution was not intended, primarily, to effect a condition of political liberty for individuals. The Bill of Rights was slapped-on after-the-fact (several years after) – in an attempt to win adherents and gain ratification – for people who saw the authoritarian designs of the essential document all too clearly, and would not agree to it. Many of them would not agree to it even with the addition of the Bill of Rights, except by means of economic blockades against their territories by those whose nonrepresentative bodies had ratified it (as a forerunner of the "bully" tactics that are inherent to the federated government created by that document).

Vigilance has had nothing to do with it. Even the original colonialists / confederates could not stop the usurpation of their sovereignty. They compromised – philosophically. They compromised – on principles. They compromised liberty – then.

Constitutionalists believe that if we only "return" to the U.S. Constitution, everything will be just fine – as long as we are vigilant. One cannot argue against a belief system or religion to the adherents thereof. Their belief is essentially Hobbesian: that the Constitution, or the Bible, or the Torah, or the Qu'aran – or whatever holy document you care to come up with – is perfect, God-given, unassailable, and that we puny human beings are not good enough to "live up to it." The inherent corruptions and compromises of the system are invisible to true believers.

In my article "The Axis of Philosophy," I showed how combining pro-life philosophy with anti-life philosophy, weakens the pro-life philosophy. In any compromise between good and evil, evil will profit and the good will lose – becoming diluted, weakened, and sapped over time.

In philosophically compromised cultures, people are corrupted over a period of time by the system/culture itself. The conventional, authoritarian government itself creates slaves ... the power structure creates subordinates ... the prison system (of punishment) creates brutes ... the welfare system creates irresponsibility ... and bureaucracy creates fear, dishonesty and institutionalized crime.

Several writers on the female condition during the past 25 years have ably pointed out that woman's subordinate position (in a patriarchal system) is not merely cultivated by indoctrination, it is also legally enforced upon women. Against this, the laws of specific equality are irrelevant (like the Bill of Rights is irrelevant in the framework of an authoritarian government).

Point for point, the subordination of women, by a patriarchal system (regardless of how they are treated by individual men), is a case-study for the subordination of individuals under an authoritarian government. Not merely are people conditioned by the system to their subordinate roles, they wear these servile roles with pride, and advance the program: to indoctrinate and thus ensure that others are also subordinated (at least as much as they are).

There is a great deal of "ressentiment" in that subordinated condition. So much so, that Nietzsche wrote many books on the subject, speaking of it as an inherent characteristic of "the masses." And Nietzsche's solution to this flaw of humanity was an authoritarian aristocracy of rulers, of those who had "the will to power." Though he wrote on the subject with profound depth and insight, he did not see (and from within the perspective of European culture, could not see) that the authority of the church, state and society (the clan) throughout European history – and in every nook and cranny of European culture – has constantly subordinated individuals. And this has made people resentful of those who are free.

For, in truth, being "free" is the real-world measure of being "better" – healthier, stronger, wealthier, smarter, saner, ethical, NORMAL, non-deficient human beings. It is toward all these things, but especially in the fact of their unsubordinated freedom, that the ressentiment of the subordinated masses has always been directed – from kindergarten onwards. It is the subordinating social conditioning – the educational Comprachicos of the mind – and, thence, in all other socio-political and cultural aspects, that has corrupted the spirit and fiber of the sovereign individual.

American culture is a degenerative abuse cycle. It is perpetuated in the fact of the political system itself, which preaches "liberty" like a carnival hawker selling "wonders of the world" or a carnival preacherman hectoring the crowds with "sin and redemption." It is all about the illusion, the con, the scam, the fraud – perpetrated not just upon a given crowd of suckers for their money, but upon an entire, television-addicted nation – for their continued enslavement, submission, support, and "patriotism."

The quest for liberty, for individual sovereignty, and for human dignity has degenerated into a hopeless, lost, idealistic, foggy "cause" in this philosophically compromised culture. Authoritarianism is so intrinsic to this context, that people have come to think that liberty is compatible with authoritarianism, corporation, hierarchy, and patriarchy – because that is their visible, tangible reality. The U.S. Constitution is in force today; it never was a solution – not for individual liberty. In this framework, any effort to liberate the individual will be co-opted by the framework – politically, socially, culturally, and morally.

If you want liberty, the only alternative is to opt-out of the framework.

No, you don't need to leave home to do it.

Going to "free states" – New Hampshire, Wyoming or Montana – won't make much difference in the long run – at least not using the compromised political machinery at hand. There are some advantages to such a move. Well, maybe only one: that you can breathe, and, thence, think. The danger is that, buoyed by that minimal improvement in your environment, you are likely to settle – for an illusion.

There is no particular advantage to being around people who profess a limited belief in the concept of respecting the rights of the individual. Their beliefs are inchoate, and mixed with a lot of respect for authority (of the "right" kind) and with ressentiment, based on their mixed philosophic premises. They "respect the rights of the individual" in theory, but not necessarily in application.

Liberty is not a "group concept." It is not a good idea to muddle around with a lot of other vaguely pro-liberty Americans (who are acculturated Americans first, and pro-liberty only as an unfocused daydream or fantasy). This is not a good milieu for hammering out a compromise political charter, because it will be compromised in matters of principle. While claiming to be "practical," and "real-world," it will merely be pragmatic and expedient.

Liberty is an individual effort. As a political "movement," it doesn't look anything like conventional, authoritarian, domination movements for political change. It isn't just a change in masters. It's a whole different ball game (without a ball). It is focused on a non-authoritarian political framework. It does not care about other personal, cultural or social aspects. It is not demanding any kind of philosophical consistency except in the political arena, where it balks at any kind of authoritarian agenda, howsoever disguised.

As an individual effort in a strict political arena, liberty does not concern itself with culture, religion, art, economics, or health. It protects individual choices in all of these areas, without comment, without sanction, and without giving a damn. Its focus is on the sovereignty of the individual. Period.

A real liberty movement would have no need to "get together" as a group of people. It is not a touchy-feely, atmospheric kind of endeavor. It is focused on the application of political principles – as a base to all further human interaction, but not as an excuse for a picnic, barbecue, luncheon, or conference. It is focused on boundaries. When individual boundaries are secured, community will form, healthfully – but the agenda of liberty could care less about "community" or any other personal consequences. It is focused on one thing only.

In the past three years, and even in the book, Reciprocia, itself, I have taken a deferential stance: that this is a rough draft of a political charter (contract) for liberty; that it is not a perfect document; that it can benefit from the input of other non-lawyerly people when it comes to application; that it is a sign-post, an example, and a demonstration that it can be done; that it is not intended for specific or immediate application; that it would benefit by yet another revision (an ongoing process through the years it was written); and that the author is not a messiah or leader, nor even a very good writer, and, further, that he is struggling with his cultural conditioning (and blind spots) as much as anyone else.

Well, sheesh, folks.

Compared to anything else on the table of the liberty "movement" in the world today, Reciprocia is the only program for liberty that is not compromised, from principle to application, with philosophical corruptions of authoritarianism, hierarchy, patriarchy, domination, or subordination. It does not restrict the human being, except on the principle of the reciprocity of rights (which is not a restriction, but a definition of what rights are). It does not require that people agree on anything else, only on the definition of and respect for individual rights.

True, it also blows-off the foggy thinking of capitalists, corporatists, anarchocapitalists, libertarians, constitutionalists, and anyone else with a "pro-liberty" position built on authoritarian premises. It repudiates them in the name of liberty. It mostly just ignores them. Reciprocia is not argumentative. It does study, challenge or attack what doesn't work or what isn't working. It assumes that we can see what doesn't work - and noncombatively presents an alternative approach. It offers explanations rather than arguments - and blows authoritarians out of the park without even bothering to engage them. It doesn't waste time on what doesn't work, and not even much time on why things don't work. It focuses on what can work, why and how.

The philosophy that I have formulated is consistently non-domination. It does not force anyone to do anything. It withdraws sanction from all forms of authoritarian compulsion, coercion and subordination.

The political application of this philosophy describes a condition wherein the rights of the sovereign individual (defined by the principle of reciprocity) are secured by individuals upon their own responsibility (without usurping that responsibility), and within which the only form of "coercion" (if it can be called that) are the terms of penalty for breach of a wittingly-made contract, made bilaterally with other individuals.

This condition is called political liberty. The form can be termed self-government. It is a base position for all further human interaction, socially, culturally, economically, spiritually, esthetically, and personally.

Implement that base, adhere to its principles scrupulously, and everything else remains in the personal realm of free choices by individuals upon their personal responsibility – for their philosophical premises, beliefs, convictions, et. al. Utopia it ain't.

From what I have seen that has been vetted by learned libertarian experts; that has been dreamed up by sci-fi or other fantasy writers; that has been proposed by political philosophers up to the present day; and that is on the agenda of all and any "liberty" groups, gatherings or movements on any planet in the known universe at the present time – nothing else even comes close to grasping what liberty is and requires.

The key to establishing liberty is contained in three lines of this article: the title line, "Liberty, if you can grasp it," the line, "you don't need to leave home to do it," and the line, "it doesn't look anything like conventional, authoritarian, domination movements for political change."

A real liberty movement doesn't require an organization. It doesn't work within the framework. It doesn't even challenge the framework. It supplants and displaces the framework. It works invisibly, or nearly so.

Reciprocia, rough though it is [stop saying that!], is actionable in its present form. Read it, grasp it, edit it, sign it. You're in.

You don't sit around waiting to be rescued – you effect it now, by your individual choice. It's not like a political party, where you hope to win support of a big enough gang to bully your way into power (and then rule with peaceful, libertarian ideals – un-huh, sure).

You make it happen by conscious, sovereign, independent, solitary choice. And you start enforcing it immediately – abiding by the contract yourself. You are now a self-governing, sovereign agent of your own politically free land.

You are not the only one.

There is no apparatus or machinery. These are not critical (to domination government, yes; to liberty, no). It does not look anything like conventional, domination government or revolution. It is not anything like them. It has no peers, no similar applications, no historical traditions, and suffers no comparisons.

Once you actually grasp the concept, there is no "leap of faith." It seems, if anything, inevitable – "but, of course, how else could it be?"

What you bring into existence, by your signature, is a binding, bilateral contract. What exists between you and other people is an agreement, a contract, a document. This is your "government," your "organization," your "gathering," your "group." It establishes political boundaries. It does nothing more than that.

You don't have to go anywhere. You don't have to meet with anyone, or connect, or believe, or donate, or register, or subscribe, or pay a fee. You can't make money off this; you won't lose money on this. Liberty is not an economic proposition; it is a birthright.

You are not signing away any part of your sovereignty. You are signing a contract which, by its terms, imposes upon you the obligation of participating in its enforcement (of individual rights) with and upon other signees. It's like jury duty – but everything. And you remain in control, as a sovereign agent, at all times.

There is no public declaration. No national or international registry. No database. It takes place in private. You sign it in private.

From that point, the details are in the contract and the eventual implementation of them is a foregone conclusion – because you have signed it.

Don't trust me. Trust your own judgment. Trust reality: Define liberty and then try to go there. There aren't that many definitions of the real thing. Take it or leave it.

[2006 Addendum: The Reciprocian Constitution has been superceded by the Contract for Liberty. The book, Reciprocia is no longer in print, will not be revised or republished, and the only source of information that you have to go by is presented on this TakeLiberty website or the ContractForLiberty website ... and that's more than sufficient. Reciprocia was a detailed explanation of the foundations of liberty, and its constitutional application was an overly complicated attempt to revise our existing governmental structures into something more in keeping with the non-Federalist spirit of the original Constitution of the uSA. It didn't take me too many years to realize that, whereas the explanatory information is good "stuff," the application (constitution) was largely unnecessary. The simpler ContractForLiberty suffices – and it could even be simpler than that, but the anarchocapitalistic alternatives are dead-ends to the pursuit of liberty. I have not changed my principles, but I have shifted my presentation over the years, such that I am less than interested in anyone's understanding of or commitment to the idea of liberty – that is your personal responsibility, not mine. I would like to expand on this idea, but suffice that the only way to achieve liberty is to proceed individually. The Contract is a transitional device, as a means of supplanting the existing government and instituting a backdoor political agreement – a kind of shadow government to fall back on when the time comes. Of course, it is also a statement of principles by which to live your life in the meanwhile, even politically. The domain name "TakeLiberty.com" will lapse in 2006 and not be renewed. I will try to keep the site active, and I will try to keep the ContractForLiberty domain/site alive – as long as I still believe it may have any value to anyone out there. Good luck.]


Chapter 5 - Liberty Series
copyright © 2005 by Richard G. Rieben