This past weekend I attended student activism training through the Leadership Institute. I learned a lot and I am grateful for the opportunity to attend, but underlying the training was the idea that we need to appeal to people’s emotions and/or in a minor way manipulate them into joining the cause for liberty. When I think of groups that appeal to emotion to win support, I don’t think of causes for liberty, but rather the enemies of liberty whether that be progressives trying to run the economy on feelings or conservatives inspiring fear in the nation to increase the police state and military intervention. Either way, the foundation of logic and reason are replaced with a shaky foundation of emotion that needs to be constantly fueled to keep its followers in line.
I have little interest in winning people to the cause of liberty on that kind of foundation. One of my favorite books of all time is called Faith of the Fallen by Terry Goodkind. In this story Richard Rahl is leading an army against an invading force (the Imperial Order) who shoves socialism down the throats of the land they invade (after raping and pillaging the conquered territory). In the previous book, for tactical reasons the Imperial Order and Richard agreed to allow one of the kingdoms, Anderith, to vote to either join the Imperial Order or reject the Order and join Richard’s fight for freedom. Anderith voted to join the Order who appealed to their emotions. The Order raped and pillaged the city like any other once its defences were lowered. This event causes Richard to come to the realization that people need to be willing to fight for their own freedom, not out of devotion to a person. For this reason, he removes himself from the fight to see who is fighting for their freedom or who is fighting out of loyalty to Richard. He sums up the situation like this:
“Anderith helped teach me a lesson. I can’t press this war. Freedom requires effort if it is to be won and vigilance if it is to be maintained. People just don’t value freedom until it is taken away.” Faith of the Fallen, p. 16
“People can only be saved from the coming dark age of subjugation and servitude if they, too, come to understand and care about the value of their own lives, their freedom, and are willing to act in their own interest.” Faith of the Fallen, p. 17
Richard realizes that if liberty is going to win, the cause can’t hinge on it’s leader. He understands that the foundation of a movement like that is not solid. It will fail. This situation is very similar to what we see in today’s political climate. People on all sides have no idea what principles are, but rather follow around an “R” or a “D”. Liberty can’t survive in that environment. As Richard stated, freedom requires vigilance.
If Liberty is going to return to the Land of the Free, then we must expect more from the citizenry than the authoritarians and better equip those who join the fight to stand on personal principle rather than following wishes and whims of a crowd.
Individual Liberty can only be achieved and maintained through Individual Principles.