On this episode of The Vonu Podcast, we begin with an article by Rayo taken from the Spring 1969 edition of INNOVATOR titled, Self-Liberation Ways: A Compilation and Evaluation (full article below).
Then, using his suggestions as starting points, we talk a bit about potential Second Realms/secure vonu home bases that you may not have thought of yet, or at least ones that I’d like to bring your attention to again.
Self-Liberation Ways: A Compilation and Evaluation (Spring 1969)
Various ways for individuals and small groups to achieve personal freedom have been proposed or reported in INNOVATOR and other libertarian journals. This article is a review and comparative evaluation.
Self-Liberation or Retreat?
Although self-liberation uses many of the same techniques as retreating, a distinction should be made. The retreater most likely finds the status quo tolerable but wants survival insurance in case politico-economic conditions worsen. He acts in RESPONSE to depredations of State. The self-liberator, on the other hand, wants to minimize vulnerability to the State so that he need not greatly concern himself with the details of its crimes. The self-liberator can be distinguished in attitude even from a retreater who has ALREADY found conditions intolerable and opted out; the latter individual intends to drop back in should conditions improve sufficiently.
While the self-liberator may not prepare for specific disasters, he is apt to have better survival prospects than the retreater; he is living and spending most of his time at what, for the retreater, is probably only an occasional study and exercise. However, this is not to deny the value of retreat preparations for someone who, for whatever reasons, is not opting out now.
Model Patterns of Living
Five self-liberated and three servile (“conventional”) lifestyle models are comparatively evaluated as to monetary costs, access and facilities, present freedom, and future safety. For this purpose, a family of two adults and three school-aged children are assumed. The self-liberated patterns are:
CLANDESTINE URBAN: The family lives in rented, furnished apartments or houses in a large city. Their means of protection are anonymity and mobility. Renting is done under an assumed name. They move every few months, leaving no forwarding address, and change names frequently. Their actual residential addresses are given only to trusted friends. One parent at a time works – usually at a temporary job where he can arrange for taxes not to be withheld. The other parent educates the children at home and keeps them under cover during school hours, unless they can be delivered to a libertarian school. They engage in free market trade with libertarian acquaintances when profitable.
UNDERGROUND HIDEOUT: The family has a permanent home, clandestinely constructed beneath uninhabited non-privately-owned land 50 miles from a large city. Their protection is provided by concealment; access routes and entrances are well camouflaged; entry or exit is usually at night. As funds are needed, one parent at a time commutes to temporary jobs in the city, utilizing a small camper for transportation and urban shelter. The other parent educates the children at home. For outdoor recreation and sunshine, the family makes excursions on the weekends.
REMOTE HOMESTEAD: The family has a cabin “squatting” on (or under) wooded land at least 500 miles from the nearest large city and 50 miles from the nearest non-libertarian settlement. Largely self-sufficient, they utilize foraging, limited gardening, and “do-it-yourself” techniques of all kinds. Funds for outside purchases comes from savings and perhaps location-independent work; if this is not sufficient, one parent at a time commutes annually to temporary city jobs, living while there in a rented bachelor apartment. Education is at home. Their protection is provided by distance and concealment: the cabin is in dense timber; large equipment and supplies may be underground; cultivated crops, if any, are planted in irregular natural-looking patches.
LAND-MOBILE NOMADS: The family lives in two campers. They have scouted and prepared a number of squat-spots at different locations within 200 miles of a large city, but all on uninhabited non-privately-owned land. The family as a whole moves from squat-spot to squat-spot, remaining at each a month or two; the pattern of movement is somewhat seasonal. When funds are needed, one parent at a time commutes weekly to the city, utilizing a small, minimally-furnished camper for transportation and city housing. While in the city, he parks at work or on residential streets, a different one each night. The other parent and children live in a large “self-contained” camper which remains at a squat-spot, which is where the children are educated. For auxiliary storage, they have caches or rented space near some of their squat-spots. They do some foraging but, partly because of easy access to the city work and stores, rely mainly on purchased supplies. Protection is through concealment while at a squat-spot, mobility when disturbed, and anonymity while traveling or in the city; if questioned, they are “on vacation” from somewhere else.
SEA-MOBILE NOMADS: The family lives aboard a large sailing yacht, moored most of the time in uninhabited caves at least 500 miles from any large city. They sail to a new moorage every few months, migrating seasonally. When traveling, they stop at various ports for supplies. Protection is through distance, concealment, and mobility. For economy, the boat is probably registered in a country foreign to the mooring places; if questioned, they are “tourists.” Education is provided aboard. Much of their food comes from foraging, both at sea and on land. Funds for outside purchases come from location-independent work, chartering, and savings; if this is not sufficient, they moor for a few months near a coastal city for temporary jobs.
The servile patterns are: URBAN RENTAL, URBAN “OWNERSHIP,” and RURAL “OWNERSHIP.”
Capital outlay in thousands of dollars for the various accommodations is estimated in Section I of the table. To simplify comparison, accommodations are purchased or rented new and fully equipped; of course, with all models, substantial savings can often be realized through procuring used items and do-it-yourself construction.* (1)
Additional expenses incurred when one person is working in a large city are estimated in section IIB.
Financing expenses for capital outlay are estimated in IIC. Depreciation, interest, and insurance are incurred directly by those who finance or lease their accommodations, indirectly by those who pay cash.
Regarding expenses for food, clothing, education, medicine, and recreation: while specific families would undoubtedly find substantial differences between the various models, no large general advantage of one model over another can be predicted. While remote, rural, and nomadic dwellers have less need for some items, other supplies and services may be more expensive in either money or time.
Access to or facilities for various vocations and services are rated in section III; grades are A for excellent, through F for extremely poor. Of course, these ratings are rough estimates only; opportunities for a particular invidious will depend on his ingenuity and resources.
Freedom from existing depredations is rated in section IV. Trade restrictions include taxes, regulations, and licensing; personal restrictions include interference with peaceful sexual activities, communications, use of drugs, or other “unconventional behavior.” A draft-age man is assumed to be outside the claimed territory of governments imposing conscriptions, if a remote homesteader or nomad; easily possible with these models. Safety from existing depredations of all kinds is best realized by distance and concealment, also through anonymity and mobility.
In section V, the various models are rated as to safety from sudden catastrophe or long-term destruction.
Sudden catastrophe includes: nuclear/biological war, large-scale looting/vandalism, natural disaster, suddenly-imposed totalitarian State, or (very likely) a combination of these which destroy with less than 24 hours explicit warning. Protection from sudden catastrophe is best realized by being somewhere else; also through ability to move self and belongings rapidly.
Long-term destruction includes totalitarian State, large-scale war, economic collapse, or any combination of these which develops gradually or with more than 24 hours explicit warning and continues for years. Survival of long-term destruction is best realized by moving self and property out of affected areas, also by ability to hide. A yacht – not dependent on roads or fuel, or shipping space – again offers top protection; a camper ranks second; a furnished apartment which can be abandoned with little loss, third. While the woodsman who remains in the remote cabin is in less immediate danger than the city or town dweller, survival of a disaster situation (especially totalitarian State) which continues for a decade or longer is less likely. An underground shelter with well-camouflaged entrance is very safe, so long as one remains inside; need to venture out for supplies reduces its security. The home owner is highly vulnerable; unless he is able and willing to abandon his property or sell it for a fraction of what he paid, he will be “locked in” by a “real estate” market crash, which will occur when millions try to sell.
Considerations With Children
The presence of children provides added incentive for self-liberation, but can also introduce special problems.
Libertarian parents, especially those who have decided that self-liberation is “too much trouble,” often overestimate their ability to influence development of the child and/or underestimate the combined impact of authoritarian schools, attitudes of playmates, and mass entertainment media. The parents may console themselves that their child at least has a better total environment than they had, overlooking the fact that they are, in a sense, lucky accidents who developed as they did, because of rare and probably unrepeatable factors; that for every individual, who for whatever reasons, overcomes the combined effects of mind-mutilation-mills and anti-life milieu, thousands don’t. Of course, the parent can take the position that he only wishes to enjoy his children while they are little – like he would a kitten or puppy – and doesn’t care what happens to them after that; this is at least a realistic attitude.
The years from about 5 to 16 are in many ways the most conservative period of one’s life. The child tends to be “naturally” motivated to learn and act in accord with the tribal customs of whatever culture he may be immersed in; he is easily captivated by group activities such as clubs and games, and he has little motivation to challenge the rules except in cases where they are obviously self-contradictory. By age 8 or so, he has learned most of the local customs, and probably takes pride in his ability to cope with them. If, then, he is abruptly moved to a quite different living situation, he is apt to dislike the change, yearn for the culture and pastimes he left behind, and return as soon as he becomes independent. This suggests that timing can be crucial. Those without children who want them should liberate themselves and, if at all possible, develop a mini-culture of several families holding similar values before begetting. Those with preschool children had best move fast – get out before the child’s range of interest and action extends beyond the home. Those with children already in authoritarian schools have a serious problem and had best move continuously with careful attention to and preparation of the child.
Someone discontented with the status quo who fails to discover a way to be free, is apt to return to some kind of pseudo-liberation: superficial changes in living patterns which do not bring significantly greater freedom. These include:
Agrarianism: moving to POPULATED rural area or small town. While danger from such forms of coercion as nuclear war may be less, the villager lacks the anonymity of the urban dweller or nomad. And, while non-libertarian neighbors MAY be more self-responsible and self-sufficient in SOME ways, most will be as misinformed and neurotic as their urban brain-brothers and even less tolerant of “non-conformists.” Children will have little alternative to the local indoctrination center; if kept at home, they will almost certainly come to the attention of official child molesters. A small town may be a reasonable choice for an elderly person who intends to retire in every sense of the word; for anyone else, it is probably a copout.
Emigration to another semi-slave State. While many nations have somewhat more overt freedom than the U.S., none come close to complete liberty. And time and monetary costs of emigration – including learning new professional practices, social customs, and perhaps language – are substantial. With the same or less effort one can CHANGE one’s way of life and realize much greater freedom and safety. Of course, sometime in the future, small countries or freeports may offer substantially complete freedom and then conventional emigration will be worth consideration. Conventional emigration — attempting to transplant one’s PRESENT way of life to another country – should be distinguished from international mobility – a part of a new and self-liberated way of life. For example, while I would certainly not discourage a draft-ager moving to Canada, I would recommend against “settling down” and “buying” a home there, suggesting instead a remote, nomadic, or urban clandestine way of life; Canadian laws may change any time.
Subjectivism – evading reality through drugs, mysticism, television, or games – has been the most popular form of pseudo-liberation. Its prevalence is a fair measure of the absence of U.S.S.R. population are alcoholic. At least one libertarian intellectual (who, inconsistently, is anti-drug) has offered a justification for subjectivism along the lines: “No matter how much your ACTIONS are restricted, you are free so long as your MIND is free.” But isn’t my mind always free? It is my ability to act which concerns me! Of all forms of subjectivism, psychedelics, which at least give intrinsically private “trips,” are probably least harmful; certainly much less than TV which offers “collective trips” under control of the FCC. I am astounded to meet supposedly rational people who would not dream of taking pot, yet think nothing of giving their children a boob-tube.
Objections to Self-Liberation
Any self-liberation method (like anything else) has potential problems; there can be grounds for honest reservations. But most of the more vehement opposition stems not from real obstacles but from ignorance or psychological blocks of one kind or another. These include:
Belief in the omnipotence of evil: “There is no way to hide. With satellites, radar, and computers (etc.), they will find you no matter where you go and what you do.” This objection ignores: (1) the limited resources of any State; (2) the much greater concern of rulers with rival power-seekers than with opt-outs; (3) available techniques for frustrating detection and identification – technology is a two-edged sword. Such remarks are usually a confession of inferiority feelings and envy; in essence, one is saying, “I’m afraid to become free so I refuse to believe that it is possible.”
Appeal to collective duty: “Instead of ‘copping-out,’ you should join my crusade and help achieve freedom for everyone.” Besides presuming altruism, this ignores the really horrendous problems in reforming a large, far-gone State, and the poor record of previous collective endeavors. A free society probably must begin with free individuals.
Dichotomy between expression and conduct: “Statism is basically an intellectual problem and requires an intellectual solutions. The way to gain liberty is not by ‘opting out’ but by disseminating rational ideas.” Not only is this a partial truth (see my editorial in Winter 1969 INNOVATOR), but unnecessarily either-or. Some opt-outs are among the most effective communicators – Dr. George Boardman, for example.
Equating self-liberation with technical retrogressions: “You are abandoning thousands of years of civilization with all the benefits of the market to slink off someplace and live like a savage.” Such an objection ignores what can be AND HAS BEEN accomplished. A modern remote homesteader who may have electric plant, freezer, power tools, stereo, jeep, and perhaps even amphibious airplane need not live like the pilgrims. Nor does the neo-nomad with “self-contained” motorhome live like the plains Indians. Products of “civilization” are used when appropriate; what the self-liberator probably does avoid is complete DEPENDENCE on these.
Utopian notions of liberty: “‘Self-liberation’ does not provide real liberty, freedom exists only when one can act without need to defy or evade coercion.” But the latter kind of freedom has never existed on earth. The American Frontier, one of the freest societies known, included bandits and protection racketeers eager to pretty on cowards and fools. Even in a new laissez-faire country with (hypothetically) non-coercive-government, there might be attack by private criminals and foreign States.
Low valuation of freedom: “For me, self-liberation would be more trouble than it is worth.” This is an honest objection and is probably the real objection of many persons who offer other excuses. Their ancestors in spirit were Europeans of a century or two ago who became very interested in the New World and did much talking about it – but remained where they were.
Liberty is the heritage of men with the will to be free. EL RAY
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