Real strategies for removing federal presence from Western lands
by Brandon Smith (excerpted from column here)
When activist movements enter into confrontation with a corrupt government or establishment structure, often the temptation is to stick rather closely to what they know. The problem with this is that even though circumstances change and the fighting escalates, people will still turn to their old standby methods for defending themselves. This makes these movements repetitive, predictable and ineffective.
In the case of the liberty movement, the more passive tactic of marches and sign waving is immediately suggested. But inevitably some hothead is going to demand one of two things: a mass armed surge on the steps of Washington, D.C., or some kind of Alamo-inspired cinematic standoff. You would think that these strategies were the only two in existence; they are brought up so often it becomes mind-numbing.
I can understand (to a point) why the standoff concept keeps popping up. The movement has seen it work at least once at Bundy ranch. However, Bundy ranch came with a very specific set of circumstances that made the standoff strategy useful. The ranch was private property owned by freedom-minded people; it was a home being invaded by federal agents exhibiting intent to do physical harm and confiscate the livelihood of those in their crosshairs. Whether or not people agreed with the grazing rights issues that originally triggered the standoff, no one with any moral fortitude could deny that the Fed response was unacceptable.
The standoff had direct strategic value to the situation; it had a concrete purpose, which was to stop the federal incursion, prevent harm to the people involved and prevent further theft of property. The liberty movement also had the most important advantage of all: We were invited to make a stand there, and many of the locals supported our initiatives.
If all of these elements are not present in any given situation, then the standoff method is a pointless and foolish endeavor. It ultimately does more harm than good.
To argue the nature of the cause does little to change the strategic reality. We can wax philosophical all day on the nature of federal overreach and the train of abuses suffered by common people. We can preach passionately about the villainy of the Bureau of Land Management and the need for its erasure. We can discuss endlessly the nature of patriotism and duty and the will to do what is right or necessary. It is a fine thing to clarify your standing on the issues in the face of ideological opposition from statists whose only interest is to blindly support the power of federal government because they believe they benefit from the existing system. That said, in the end, strategy is not subject to emotional arguments.
Some methods are going to work, and others are definitely not going to work. And no amount of pride or fear or moral outrage or tears or indignant, reactionary thinking is going force bad strategies to become good strategies.
If you do not have an intelligent plan behind your actions, then your actions are pointless and doomed to failure. There is no way around this.
The argument has come up over and over again in the face of the recent Oregon standoff that any action is better than no action. I disagree. All actions have consequences. And if you are not patient enough to weigh the good consequences with the bad consequences, then you should not be taking action at all. Period. This is one of the few weaknesses of a leaderless movement like the liberty movement; when crisis strikes, hotheads forget the “leaderless” part and proclaim themselves the “tip of the spear.” Sadly, parts of the movement gravitate toward these hotheads because they see it as easier to be told what to do. And generally, hotheads make terrible leaders and inadequate tacticians. Disaster is usually the result.
As I outlined in “Internal war is now on the horizon for America,” anyone demanding support from the liberty movement must be willing and able to give a logical and practical analysis of why their strategy is the right one. Emotionally manipulative arguments and attempts to shame people into participation are not the right way to go. The burden of proof is on them, not you.
I am not here to ask for anyone’s support. I have put forward my concepts for non-participation and self-defense for years, and I have been enacting those strategies within my own community with success. I have been told many accounts of other people doing the same.
But if situations like Oregon are to escalate, I can see no other option but to offer alternative strategies that would work far better than the standoff model. All of these strategies are hypothetical in nature, and I am not responsible if any of them are applied in the real world. In this hypothetical analysis, I am not necessarily concerned with questions of “legality,” only questions of morality. There are often vast differences between that which is legal and that which is moral. I am also not interested in the arguments of statists who claim that the federal government’s jurisdiction is sacrosanct. Clearly, even if that were true, I do not care.
The following is a short list of methods that could be used effectively to remove federal presence from Western lands. None of these methods require directed violence, only self-defense if required.
There is a plague within the liberty movement called the “sheepdog” mentality. The overall attitude by the pro-Oregon standoff crowd has been driven by this mentality. The sheepdog ideal is that some people are simply born helpless, and some are born with strength. That is to say, the locals in Oregon are seen as sheep, while Ammon Bundy and his associates see themselves as protectors (sheepdogs) that must travel from across the country to the rescue. The problem with this attitude is that it breeds arrogance and prevents the empowerment of locals.
If you are an outsider arriving in all your bluster to pat the little people on the head and treat them like children, then you will be seen as an unwanted carpetbagger. This is exactly what has happened in Harney County, Oregon, as the locals have released a statement asking Bundy to leave while they handle their own conflict with the Feds.
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