Op-Ed by Brandon Smith
I have heard it often said that there is no one right way to accomplish a goal. I agree. However, I would add that while there is no such thing as “one right way” to achieve an objective, this does not mean there aren’t numerous WRONG ways to achieve an objective.
Doing “something” is not always better than doing nothing if that “something” is based on terrible strategy. Unfortunately, there are people out there with otherwise good intentions, even in the liberty movement, that seem to think that taking action without planning is preferable to patience. They do not understand that there is such a thing as negative returns.
The reality is that action is easy. Patience and planning are difficult. Emotional reaction is simple. Quiet professionalism is complicated.
This is the dynamic that is plaguing the liberty movement today; the battle between our emotional drive to jump headlong into conflict with our progressively corrupt establishment, and the absolute necessity for intelligent strategy and proper timing.
The issue here is not “fighting.” Most of us know and accept the fact that a fight is coming whether we like it or not. I say by all means, let’s fight, but fighting is not enough. If we fight, we must fight TO WIN, and this requires fighting smart.
On the other side of the coin, the weak handed and weak hearted will argue that fighting in any respect is “useless” or “immoral” and will result in failure. This is the pacifist camp, which never produces much in the way of practical solutions. There are very useful and peaceful methods for non-participation and nullification, most of which I am happy to promote. That said, non-participation is only part of the battle. If you are dealing with a psychopathic adversary (which we are), ultimately that adversary will use overt violence to stop you from nullifying their authority. If you are not willing to use active self defense against true evil based on some deluded Gandhi complex, then you and the historical memory of you will be erased. It is perfectly possible for a person to fight in self defense while maintaining his core principles.
Recently I have seen a growing contingent of people within the movement that seek a fight but question the concept of planning or waiting. They’ll argue that planning is somehow impractical, or that there will never be a perfect time for action. This way of thinking has only been inflated by the latest events in Burns, Oregon.
The Oregon standoff is a stunning example of how emotional action leads to failure and tragedy. Many will argue over the circumstances surrounding the death of Lavoy Finicum — did he reach into his jacket, or was he reacting to being shot? Were the police officers involved in fear for their lives, or were they out for blood? The majority of liberty activists will undoubtedly assume malicious intent on the part of the government due to their track record of murder and lies. I don’t blame them. That said, I would point out that while Finicum may be dead because of ill intent on the part of trigger happy cops, he was put in that position in the first place due to inadequate planning and leadership.
The argument that the FBI should have never been in Burns in the first place overlooks the fact that Bundy and team, strategically speaking, should not have been there either. They could have been in a far better position if only they had thought their conundrum through.
Oregon and the death of Finicum are not failures on the part of the liberty movement. They are failures on the part of Bundy and team, who refused to listen to scores of people with far more experience and knowledge in such situations; the same people who tried to help the occupiers adjust their tactics and offer them safer ground and safer footing. The failure in Oregon is what happens when amateurs, not just in training but in tactical philosophy, undertake a rebellion.
Some will argue that experienced tacticians within the movement (and there are many) refused to show up for the fight, and thus sentenced the occupiers to defeat. I would argue that the Oregon standoff was FUBAR from the very beginning. From its inception it was doomed. Half the movement saw it plain as day. For me, the end result was obvious.
A team of well-meaning but unorganized and untrained activists thrust themselves into a situation beyond their capabilities and under the potential influence of agents provocateur. There was no vetting for random strangers seeking to join their ranks; no direct goals and no clearly defined strategy, only vague demands and notions. No thought of planning one or two steps ahead, let alone five steps ahead. A circus atmosphere inspiring public ridicule rather than public respect. A complete lack of understanding of the gravity of the situation leading to a false sense of safety and comfort, or in some cases even hubris.
This is why most liberty tacticians had no interest in showing up to the Oregon standoff; not because they were fearful, not because they are “sunshine patriots,” not because they are waiting for a “perfect” moment that will never come to kick off a revolution. They did not show up because it was a scenario that could not be salvaged. It was a carnival. Period.
To compare events to the first American Revolution, I do not see the standoff and the shooting of Finicum as a Lexington Green moment (though it hasn’t fully ended yet). Rather, I see it as a Boston Massacre moment. The Boston Massacre was an absolute tragedy, but also not a cut-and-dried affair. John Adams, acting as legal defense for the British soldiers accused of initiating bloodshed, realized that the Sons Of Liberty were desperate to use the event politically to rally support for direct revolution, but also understood that the timing and the circumstances were utterly wrong. The Sons of Liberty wanted to hold up the Boston Massacre as a symbol of ALL the oppression the colonials suffered under the crown. Adams, though an avid champion of the cause, correctly treated it as a singular tragedy and not an opportunity for exploitation.
The colonials would eventually enter into revolution at Lexington and Concord; clearly defined defensive scenarios in which the militia obstructed the path of British soldiers sent to arrest leaders of the Sons of Liberty (Samuel Adams and John Hancock), as well as to confiscate firearms and black powder caches. The militia had a direct goal (to impede the British from reaching Adams and Hancock) and the British used clear and overt force against them, resulting in an immediate and violent justified response by other militias. This is one right way to start a rebellion.
So if Oregon represents an example of the wrong way to do things, what is a better way? I described alternative methods with a much greater chance of success in my article “Real Strategies For Removing Federal Presence From Western Lands,” but I would like to explore beyond specific tactics and discuss mindset — the overall philosophy behind a winning rebellion in our modern era.
Divided We Win, United We Fall
This might sound counter-intuitive; I’ll explain.
A movement should be united in its stance and its values in order to succeed and I believe the liberty movement is indeed united for the most part on these terms. However, when it comes to concrete action the more centralized our efforts the less we will achieve and the more likely we are to fail.
I find it interesting that whenever a call goes out to the movement to take action it usually involves concentrating large masses of us into a small area with no outlined plan or directives. With the exception of Bundy Ranch, which I believe was entirely organic in how it came about, most of these calls to arms are initiated by questionable personalities or people possibly under the influence of provocateurs who seek to march us all into a box, whether it be a bridge in Washington, D.C. or a scrub brush refuge in Oregon. In the face of a vastly superior opponent in terms of arms and technology, it seems to me that the establishment would prefer us all to be hyper-focused on only one battle space at one time, putting all our eggs in one basket and leaving us vulnerable.
Instead, a rebellion in this day and age must be asymmetric in nature; meaning smaller groups acting covertly on their own initiative everywhere rather than in only one place. Amassing in one small region might be useful under very specific conditions, but if you want to pose an actual threat to a large criminal system, you need hundreds of events, all of them far better planned than Oregon.
Organization Through Localism
If you cannot even secure your own family or your own neighborhood from potential threats, then why would you expect to be successful in projecting out to a whole other state and community and securing it instead? Local organization is more important than national organization or grand posturing on the national stage. If you can strengthen your own community while others do the same across the country, then the effects will be felt nationally by default.
Far more can be accomplished through localism than by rolling the dice on mass theatricality and Alamo-style tactics.
Unity does not come best through concentrated action but through solid communications. The fact that most of the liberty movement has no coms networks outside of the mainstream grid is a sad state of affairs that will lead to our downfall. As far as my information shows, the Oregon occupiers had no ham radio communications and relied primarily on cell phones. This is a disaster waiting to happen.
When there is a national network of ham operators providing communications to the liberty movement, then and only then can we claim to have the means to organize effectively outside of our own communities. Do not assume for a second that you will have access to mainstream grid communications when you need them.
Prepare To Aid People Outside The Movement
The establishment would like nothing more than for the liberty movement to completely isolate itself from the general public. The more we refuse to interact with our communities the easier it will be to paint us as dangerous outsiders. The more we offer valuable services and training to a community, such as classes on emergency medical response, personal defense against active shooters, food storage and preparedness, etc., the more likely we will be seen as valuable assets to that community in the wake of a crisis.
I have been undertaking such efforts in my own community for the past couple of years and have met many excellent people who are of like mind but not necessarily “activists” in the traditional sense. If you discount efforts to improve your local situation and to build bridges, you do so at your own peril.
Focus On The True Culprits
Eventually, someone is going to have to bring the international banking elites to justice for their direct influence over government corruption and destructive economic policy. Making stands against the Bureau of Land Management and other questionable federal agencies might be a necessary part of this fight, but the fight will never end until the original perpetrators are removed at the root. Beware of any group or “leader” who calls you to action but ignores the money-elite; they are probably more interested in exploiting you than helping you.
Perhaps most important of all is the need for liberty activists to adopt an attitude of quiet professionalism. This means analyzing situations objectively. This means having one’s heart in the right place without being driven emotionally. This means attaining personal excellence in any field of knowledge that might help you to gain victory.
Winning this fight will require the extraordinary dedication of extraordinary individuals; anything less will result in disaster. Giving our all does not mean simply being willing to sacrifice our lives. That may be what happens, but this cannot be our only trump card. If you are not striving every day to master your own skills and initiative then you are not giving your all. If you are not organizing effectively at the local level because you assume no one will listen to you, then learn to communicate better and try again. If your only plan is to go out guns blazing, then you might as well stay home because you will do more harm for the movement than good.
Become a local pillar rather than a mere complainer. Seek to produce results rather than demanding others do it for you. When you act, act intelligently. Be steady in your resolve and do not let anger or panic rule your thinking. Be fair in your assessments, and above all, once again, if you fight, fight to win. Fighting merely in the name of fighting is a fool’s game.
If the movement had 10,000 individuals of this caliber victory would be assured against any odds.
You can read more from Brandon Smith at his site Alt-Market.com