“Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.”
― Bertrand Russell
On the surface and defined by a conditioned society, the word “radical” is pegged to those who hold an “extreme” opinion that falls outside the paradigm designed by the opinion makers. The opinion makers are the ruling elite who reside in government, media and academia. For brevity let’s call them the “establishment.”
Now their job is to design and peddle a narrative on how the world should be looked at by the collective. After the establishment has manufactured this so-called “public opinion” and the media sets the tone for the political debate, the masses then begin to have a conversation about the prescribed way of thinking. As the general census on the current issues sets in and meshes with the political landscape of society, the ruling elite’s mission is almost complete.
This is the time when the establishment induces minor conflicts within the narrative. As the linguistic philosopher, Noam Chomsky, pointed out, “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”
The media, pushed by the establishment, instigates a little strife on some of the unimportant differences on the issues at hand. Political pundits, with haughty smiles on their faces, unleash their scripted tongues in front of the camera to fire up their base. The general public, abysmally ignorant of history, the constitution and economics, use these media voices as their only references to what’s going on. And for the most part, what people know of the world, are what they’re told by their favorite news channel.
For example, the political debate that get’s initiated might sound something like this:
Should we raise taxes on the rich? Should we be funding this program or that one? Should we tackle immigration reform? Should we use military action on Iran? Should we extend unemployment benefits? Increase the minimum wage? Healthcare Reform? Gay marriage? Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice. Medicare is bankrupt, now what? And blah, blah, blah…
Now the people, unable to critically think things out, form and promote opinions based on what their party tells them. Republicans want to tackle a problem this way and the Democrats want to do it the other way. The left promotes more government theft and regulation in the economy. The right promotes a heavy police-state and a bloated defense budget to feed a harmful Foreign Policy. The constitution, either way, is never considered when promoting these policies or ideas.
This is when the masses tend to clash over trivial matters and the political discourse becomes ugly. Both sides of the aisle dispute over the minor differences that these issue present, oblivious, of course, to the fact that nothing ever changes in the end. The problems remain the same and are just pawned off as the other party’s fault.
But the people still remain in the game.
The next step for the political class, now, is to remove self-reliance, thus creating dependence on the state or the collective. The establishment, very tactically, generates some type of motivation based on fear of scarcity. They induce a chaotic situation in which the people demand more security and more laws for the remedy. Frantically, they look to the ruling class for protection and are willing to let themselves be plundered–even more than they already are– in the name of more security.
And the sad thing is, most willingly give up a lot of their freedoms in exchange for a little bit of safety.
The people, as a whole, are usually oblivious to this happening. They don’t really care what’s going on or take the time to investigate some of the causes of society’s problems. They know nothing of the causes of 9/11 or the financial collapse of 2008. They don’t know why their tax dollars were spent on fighting a senseless war in Iraq, or Libya, or Yemen. They know little about the economic quagmire we’re in right now. As Chris Hedges wrote in his book, Empire of Illusion, “We accept the system handed to us and seek to find a comfortable place within it. We retreat into the narrow, confined ghettos created for us and shut our eyes to the deadly superstructure of the corporate state.”
When the typical person has a little time to themselves, reading and learning usually gets thrown to the back burner. It interferes with most people’s craving to be entertained. It’s cuts into TV time. Most Americans sit at computers, all day, mindlessly checking Facebook, Twitter, sports scores and emails. They work a lot because they’ve got a lot of debt to pay off. They have families to support. They are obedient and submissive to authority without a blink of afterthought. They have lives to live and cannot be bothered with the actualities of it. They just go with the flow.
These are the same folks who will show up in November at the polls and wear their little American flag sticker that says, “I Voted”, and will honestly think that they’ve done their part.
Control is now established.
The mission is complete.
But then what happens is a dissenting voice starts to rise. Independent and free-thinking individuals begin saying something that falls outside the established boundaries of approved opinions. Their views challenge the status quo. These individuals are usually those who step back for just a minute to look at what’s going on. Something isn’t right. They notice that the society they’re apart of is heading toward a cliff. The radical abruptly breaks from the ranks. But the people keep marching with pride.
Now the radical is involved, alert, and mentally fueled by the ignorance around them. They see a lie or a distortion and tell themselves, “The people must be warned.” So they do some research, look into some alternative sources and start to discover even more unsettling truths than what was initially seen.
This is when the radical starts informing people. They post articles on social media, talk to people and warn about the fabrications that most are just mindlessly excepting as status quo. They explain to people why they are being misled. Instead of dwelling on the symptoms of the crisis, like moderate Americans and the media does, the radical explains the causes of it. They explain who is involved and why. People start to listen.
But then the governing class catches wind of this small faction of truth-tellers. The ruling elite and high priests of society initiate a campaign of ridicule toward these individuals. They call them harsh names and warn the masses of their dangers. They divvy out empty phrases like “a threat to national security” and deem the radical a “traitor” to his country. Again as Chomsky observed, “That’s the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody’s going to be against, and everybody’s going to be for. Nobody knows what it means, because it doesn’t mean anything.” After the ruling elite gains support from the public, they work quickly to smash these dissenting voices. And with the full force of cable news, newspapers and academia behind them, they are very efficient in doing this.
But who are these radicals and what do they believe?
The great philosopher of liberty, Murray Rothbard, explains in one of his greatest essays, that radicals are “Radical in the sense of being in total, root-and-branch opposition to the existing political system and to the State itself. Radical in the sense of having integrated intellectual opposition to the State with a gut hatred of its pervasive and organized system of crime and injustice. Radical in the sense of a deep commitment to the spirit of liberty and anti-statism that integrates reason and emotion, heart and soul.”
The radical, in truth, is one who recognizes that the state is a legal monopoly of force. The money they get is only abstracted by force on the workers and producers. They understand that the state is only in existence because of the public’s consent. And for the state to maintain this consent, they utilize deceitful and immoral methods to trick the public into trusting in its good intentions. The radical sees through all these shenanigans and promotes ideas of liberty, peace and sound monetary policies. The radical sees the state as a menace to humanity, and believes, with whole heart, that it must be abolished, and replaced with a decentralized form of localized governing.
This was the original intent of America’s founders.
Unlike typical Americans, radicals don’t push for reforms or moderate changes in policies. The radical calls for an all-out different way of thinking. They understand change will never come through politics because the game is rigged. They understand that great ideas never require force. And so to live in a voluntary society the radical must appeal to the hearts and minds of the people. They must remind them that they hold all of the power.
The public in general looks at this “radical”, at least at first, with distaste and considers him or her a kook, a dangerous delinquent, an unpatriotic buffoon and a treacherous bastard. So the radical gets tossed aside for the time being. But he works cunningly and meticulously to get his ideas and warnings out to the people. Even with huge obstacles in his face.
But if we’re truthful to ourselves, we can’t deny the fact that its been the radical way of thinking that has been proven morally right over time. Reasonable minds don’t have to look too far back in history to see this. It was the eccentric radical’s that have changed the world for the better. They were the brave ones who saw beyond the lies of their own place. As Plato once so keenly observed, “Those who are able to see beyond the shadows and lies of their culture will never be understood, let alone believed, by the masses.” They’re ideas never seem imperative in their own time, but in due course, will be celebrated. Time always lags behind revolutionary ideas, but it catches up and transforms the world we know.
Take Jesus Christ. Born into this world as a criminal and died to this world as a criminal. With the word criminal, meaning, how the “authorities” defined it. As Jesus began teaching, the radicalism of his message intrigued everyone around him. He knocked down the notion of admiring men of power and prestige and taught that no man was above the law, not even government officials. He regarded tax collectors with those of sinners (Matthew 9:9-13) and saw the virtues of private property and free and voluntary trade. He taught people to avoid money hungry courts. He taught people how to raise their consciousness to see beyond this world of form. The irony of it all is that the same people he was trying to save killed him in the end for treason. I guess truth will always be treason in empires of lies.
Take William Lloyd Garrison. One of the lone fervent voices against slavery well before the Civil War. Nobody in politics wanted to associate with this radical who had the nerve to challenge the status quo of slavery. Upon being criticized for his fiery wit and polarizing language, Garrison retorted: “I have need to be all on fire, for I have mountains of ice about me to melt.” He spent his whole life being called vile names, hazed, threatened to death, and scorned by a society he was trying to make right. As one Garrison biographer acknowledged, “he had the humanity to imagine a radically different society, the courage to insist upon its principles, and the faith to persist in agitation until his vision became manifest and the slaves went free.” He was a true radical in the cause of liberty.
Take Dietrich Bonhoeffer. As Wikipedia tells us about this great man, “Apart from his theological writings, Bonhoeffer became known for his staunch resistance to the Nazi dictatorship. He strongly opposed Hitler’s euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews… He was arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo and executed by hanging in April 1945 while imprisoned at a Nazi concentration camp, just 23 days before the German surrender.” In Germany, Hitler was democratically elected and the Nazi Party was applauded by most its citizens. It took men like Bonhoeffer, who believed as he once said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” While the majority sat by passively, Bonhoeffer decided, nope, I will not tolerate the evil upon us. In the end he paid the ultimate price for being morally just in an immoral world.
It was the radicals of America’s founding generation who agitated for the overthrow of their own coercive government. These radicals called for an all-out separation from their overlords of Great Britain, and with drastic measures, they finally threw off their monarchical allegiance for good. The founders, after the revolution, then formed a Republic based on individual liberty and peace, unlike today’s America of tyranny and empire. Thomas Jefferson, probably the most intense in his advocacy for liberty among the founders, believed the only true way to maintain freedom was to have a rebellion at least every 20 years. This is radical, but he was right, as long as the rebellion is peaceful.
There are a plethora of other examples we could look to, but, I believe you get the point.
As America is thrusting to the point of no return, morally and financially, now is when radicals are needed the most.
We have an out of control ruling class that are dumbing down our kids in the public school system. We let the huge pharmaceutical companies, backed by the FDA, conduct their own fabricated studies on the effectiveness and safety of their own products. We’re overmedicated. We are passive. We are a society who remains silent as the President murders hundreds of innocent children by drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen. We let our military go all over the world to fight unnecessary conflicts without a declaration of war from congress. We let the President sign a bill that allows him to assassinate and jail any American he wants without due process. We have a media that reports whatever the government tells them to report and we believe them. We look to Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden as traitors for telling us what our government is really up to.
America has a huge epidemic of cognitive dissonance. We hold too many contradictory opinions. We brag about our freedom while despising those who show us that it just might be an illusion. There is a massive gap between what people believe is reality to what it in fact is.
As we salute our troops for “protecting our freedoms”, there is someone’s home in America getting raided, unconstitutionally, because it might be harboring a plant deemed a no-no.
It’s illegal to farm our own food and produce and sell our own milk.
The government’s “war on terror” creates more terrorists. The “war on drugs” creates more crime. The “war on poverty” makes us poorer.
The government racks up an unpayable 17 trillion dollar debt, and makes us believe it is our fault. “The rich aren’t paying their fair share” we cry out. It’s amazing.
Radicals are needed more than ever.
It’s time to return to a society based on individualism, brotherly love, voluntarism and peace. A place where the entrepreneurial spirit is applauded and war is always questioned. A country that the founders hoped we’d uphold.
Moderate American’s will never get the job done. They’ll just go on voting and remain quiet in living their ordinary lives.
Radicals are needed more than ever.
And the good news is…
Thanks to social media, alternative media, brave journalists, Wikileaks, and whistle-blowers, normal everyday people are starting to hear the truth. The tide is turning on the old ways of the vertical, top-down structure of society. Peace and Liberty will one day be the pillars of our community again.