What is to be Done? A Question.
I’ve been logged into RedState 2 months, 8 days, plus another four months or so just reading and watching. I’m a newbie. Thanks for letting me say a few things, for in our kind of business, writing was a second language to me until only recently.
My colleagues and I have a pedigree that runs back to the early 1960s, when a fellow named Moses Sands tossed his two-iron into Lake Michigan and decided to go foment economic freedom in the second and third worlds, leaving America in the hands of what he thought were the People. In 1998 he called to tell me he’d been wrong. Starting out as an Asia hand after a 10 year stint in big business, I first met this man in Moscow in 1991, and we worked together off and on until 2006, when he moved onto the high pastures. He was well connected in high places all over the Soviet world and he sent some business my way. I feel very privileged that he liked me.
Our business was a kind of agitprop, tricking the government, and generally showing people how to carry on free enterprise in places where it was a crime, then finding American sponsors for the project. (We called that the “pursuit of charitable self-interest”.) It’s very gratifying. We had a small client base in the US, with one hard rule; no matter who was paying the bills, our prime objective was the realization of economic freedom for the little guys we worked with, from Russia to Bulgaria, to Kenya to SE Asia. (It goes without saying, with that proviso, I was shown the door in more than a few corporate places.) Two major lessons I learned, which Americans may soon have to re-learn; 1) in most places in the world, including Europe, true free enterprise must still be carried out covertly and 2) one never speaks of things important to one’s House or business within ear (or eye) shot of anyone who can do him harm. So much for Rotary Club and the martini lunch. This is why England has clubs, instead.
Since 1998, when Moses called me on the phone, mad as hell, I have also been deeply involved in “the constitution and the common man” project, which was to have been his book, the theme of which runs parallel to what goes on here at RedState. Finally, since 2007, our team has been active in painting a landscape, in bits and pieces, describing the nature of the beast, as we’ve known him in all those places where statism is a daily part of people’s lives; but not just in terms of what he does to them but also about how they have resisted him, and denied his plans. Certain natural laws apply.
But “America and the Beast” is a case of first instance….because America is a case of first instance. The beast has hated us since the founding doctors first spanked us on the behind in 1787. The beast recognized us the moment we were born. And it is the beast that has always been out there…for a very long time…coming to our gate in a hundred disguises, but always turned away. Never, until now, had he gotten so far inside what, until 1998, Moses thought was an impregnable fortress. He died trying to figure out where he had “figgered wrong”, and how the constitutional blueprint could be redrawn and re-packaged and submitted to the American people in such a way that it would not be lost again. (That’s still kind of a mission with me, only I doubt a book that was supposed to be sold to people who don’t read was the best way to accomplish that. It was a bone of contention between us.)
In our business, we knew about the beast in places where he had his own government offices and black maria limos, could order up his own parades, put troops anywhere, place murderers’ faces on stamps and thugs’ faces on posters for school children to adore, could come into your house in the dead of night, and at the drop of the hat, decide you, any one of you, needed a little re-education in a place set aside for such things. So we know these things are not beyond the thinkable.
But for the last two years we’ve studied more how the beast behaves when he is still lying in wait, lurking in dark alleys (of the internet), whispering in students’ ears, tugging at mothers’ heartstrings, greasing palms. What fears does he prey upon, what itches does he scratch, which side of the bread does he butter? Who funds him?…for what he does costs a lot of money. How does he organize his armies…from true believers down to useful idiots? How does he communicate and issue marching orders? How does he get stuff done?
His purposes? Well that part really isn’t hard to figure out, now is it?
These are all questions we’ve been asking for years. More specifically, these are questions we’ve been asking others to ask, for the answering requires an army of collaboration and dedicated minds almost equal in size to those of the beast.
And issuing from that effort one first question rises above all the rest: What is to be done?
It’s for this reason we like RedState; with a strong slant toward grass roots activism. For a lot of reasons, I am quite certain that from the grass roots is the place to fight this enemy, for in part, every town in America will have a cadre of people with a sense of the blueprint that the American people have to relearn, if this nightmare isn’t to be revisited upon us every few election cycles. At least temporarily, it is the enemy’s blind side..but it won’t be for long.
So, by way of advice, I want to make an observation here that can possibly help during this next, very, very important year. And a suggestion.
If you have noted, the most prominent conservative voices outside government, all seem to be captives to their own success. Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Colter, et al, so many very successful voices. But even if they wanted to go all-in, lead marches as Dr King once did, or set up joint operations centers, and really pledge their “lives, fortunes and sacred honor” they are contractually unable to do so. They just can’t squeeze it in. (They probably are habituated in another direction, as well, which should also be instructive as to why fame can be a real hindrance in real constitutional warfare.)
Still, I don’t have to tell you how important they are to the cause, just in what they already do, which is the dissemination of facts and analysis, keeping our fight very much in the public eye, and keeping the rank and file of the Left agitated and angry. But as you already see here, RedState has a very good team of reporters who gather news “over the wires”, as well as first-hand reportage (scoops), and direct contact to a lot of major players…all a full four-five hours before Beck airs, and eight before Limbaugh.
And while people are calling in every day to radio talk shows all over the country, wondering “What can we do?, What can we do?”, most of that answer lies here, not there. RedState has moved past mere commiseration and gnashing of teeth. You put boots on the ground, and candidates on ballots. (This is not a compliment, it is a cold fact.)
So, whether you like it or not, the weight on your shoulders grows daily, as do the targets on your back. Moreover, there is that seduction factor I just mentioned; to bask in the lights, with the fame and bigger bucks of the better known conservative pundits. All I can say is, be careful, for from the vantage point of this fight, conservatism’s most prominent voices are already locked in a box, which means they have been planned for by the Left. They can move events little more than they already do. Their shoulders have been mapped out much like Landsat would a river basin, while yours are still terra incognita...and can still be broadened. This is an asset, so I suggest you first protect it, then use it.
Like you, we wish the GOP would do more face-to-face fighting with the enemy, for that is supposed to be their mission. But our little bands of rabble and fire-setters are not ready for such a match-up. There is a season for all things (Ecclesiastes). The day may come when our two armies will meet face to face on the field at Armageddon (a little more Bible lingo)…but not likely soon. In the meantime, with their size and money, our greatest advantage is to be unplanned for. Pledge yourself to stay that way. In fact, try to get better at it.
You see, the Japanese and Germans in WWII were wizards for planning, with back-up plans, A to Z, for every possible contingency. But if their officers got killed, or the plan book was lost, or they just ran out of options at Plan Z, and Plan ZZ had to be drawn up with a stick in the dirt, which they were generally unable to do, they still found themselves staring into the face of an American private with an M-1, locked and loaded, who took over from the corporal, who took over from the Sarge, who took over from the Lieutenant, etc.
That’s what we’re best known for…”those g-dm’d Americans” (How many nationalities, and Bernard Montgomery, have uttered that phrase over the years?)….and yes, I could give a seminar as to why the way we fight is a reflection of our national soul and society just as the way they fight is a reflection of theirs, and why our side wins every time…on that point alone.
For you see, the Left is also like the Germans, they don’t extemporize very well on the run. They have a difficult time reacting to people showing up off-script, or in unplanned places. When the plan runs out, they run out of ideas….but only for awhile. We’ve actually seen this several times over the past year, and had we been looking for it, the past eight, since Bush II was first sworn in. But also being American, they adapt.
So clearly, the rule should always be…hit it where they ain’t. Pitch it where they can’t hit it. Get out in front, so that it is them, not us, who has to react, react, react. The Left hates that…and there are hundreds of ways to discommode them, verbally, politically, institutionally, and culturally.
I think most RedStaters instinctively understand this. And what I gather by reading here, you have put your heart and soul into the 2010 primaries and election. You have several dogs in several fights. You did a helluva job in NY-23. You have urged people to get involved at the local level, as precinct committeemen/women, even as candidates…
…knowing, I hope, that if we win it all back in 2010, the fight will simply intensify, get worse, even uglier. Your mission will get broader, and harder.
One question we’ve been asking since mid-year, “What do we do after the politics?” (Don’t come back with a “one step at a time” answer. Indulge me. We (you) have to consider victory, partial and complete, and defeat, partial and complete…now.)
I know you have been planning an annual convention. For reasons I’ve laid out elsewhere, the sooner the better. Time is of the essence.
I would suggest the first item of business to be: WHAT IS TO BE DONE? A question, and not as Lenin used it, as an answer.
Now many of you think you are asking this question all the time, but the question many of you are really asking (below) is a little different, and should be the last question asked, not the first. Now I ask that you do this collectively, off-air, off-camera, in chambers or whatever you call doing stuff out of the public eye. Stand back and survey the entire playing field, and ask What Is to Be Done?…
1. a: Politically, b: Institutionally, c: Culturally
In other words, what will it take to win, first at the ballot box, and then, after the politics?
(These are not actually sequential questions, but rather tangential. While I agree to win, the politics must come first, but actions to contest for and punish bad behavior in our institutions and the culture are independent of any political victory. Political victory just makes it simpler, and cuts the time by a factor of a generation.)
2.) Next, what assets will be required to accomplish this? Manpower? Money? How much? In other words, what will it take to defeat the enemy, and to keep him defeated, and then take back key institutional and cultural foundations?
3.) Next, Planning: From a running start today, what sort of plans are needed to compile the requisite manpower and money to defeat the Enemy?…then, as Washington did for what, five years?, whip those assets into shape and execute the plans? What will it take to start and finish a running fight?
And what kind of leadership (not management) will be required so that if one leader should fall, or move onto a book contract at Simon & Schuster, there will be a privater who can step into the breach, his mind and soul locked and loaded?
Forget that you are small and haven’t most of these assets necessary to win ready at hand. The question has to be asked and the answer, if only laid out in the most general of terms, has to be etched into all your minds. Even four-man think tanks have to sit back and take in this big picture before deciding where we fit into the scheme of the solution. Even that private with the M-1 had an idea of where he had to go once circumstance dumped the decision into his lap.
These are the first questions to be asked. Once understood, then they are followed by the one we most often ask ourselves:
What can I do? Where do I (we) fit in? What can we do to maximize our effort?
Answer: That depends on how big you think you can manage things, for if you can conceive the answers, you may indeed be the answer. Build it and they will come. (I just plagiarized somebody there.)
In other words, imagine yourselves George Marshall when a two-ocean war was suddenly dumped into his lap in December, 1941. I’ve seen no evidence that anyone is actually doing this, save the GOP…after a fashion…only their alternative universe is not the place this fight is going to be fought. The cheeks of their behinds are obstructing their peripheral vision.
We can’t march forward thinking there’s going to be someone suddenly showing up with a lantern, to light the way. It may be that you or someone else like you must first design the lamp.
I’m saying this in lieu of a big Hillary-like organizational chart, for you see, this is also the sort of vision the Left began laying out in the 1960s, with constant revision all the way up to the Code Pink yip, “Bush Lied and People and Died” at the 2004 convention. (And we still don’t even know who their generals were.)
There were no timetables then, and believe it or not, there are no timetables now. Only adjustments. Fight til you drop. Fight til it’s over. “And it won’t be over, til it’s over…over there.”
Adjusting for windage, with my wet thumb up in the air, I can quote Moses Sands (who knew Soros), “You can beat Soros if you raise only a dime for every dollar he spends”. (Mr Sands was a Mozart of sorts, he could compose an entire symphony of agitprop and resistance in his mind, and once bragged he could bring down almost any statist regime within a generation for almost no money. I think he even ran that by CIA back in the 70′s, when he was still close with government.) Reason: We’re better at managing money, less wasteful, more clever, better planners, and have both the Right and the People (but I repeat myself) on our side.
If we have our God on our side, and they have their God on their side, as St Patrick told the Druids, “Well then, let’s have a contest.”
To win, what kind of money has to be raised…then how to get it into an assemblage of people carrying out a myriad of functions? I submit, from what I have seen, that is not above Redstate’s skill level. it just requires a broadening of the vision, and a broadening of the shoulders to carry it on..if that is not already being done.
I won’t bore you with particulars as to how I see this answer unfolding, in part, because some things are better left un-aired in the public domain, as my Arab friends in eastern Europe reminded me. Or, as my first bridge teacher told me, “Tittie your cards.”
This is why, as already mentioned, vanity and money can destroy your ability to fight this war. This is why sitting down and asking, What is to be Done? first, is so important, because, once you know the answer in your own mind, then every step you take must be directed along that narrow, narrow path. That’s the point when you know you’ve gone “all-in”, matching the original Founder’s ante. We came to our own conclusion on this before the election in 2008. We’ve pledged to keep back only enough money to pay the overhead. Our children are grown, our needs few, our debt manageable. We’re not monks, but the last thing we can afford is to be lured off the path chasing dollars that will mean nothing to the outcome of this fight. Resistance-as-careerism comes at a price that advantages the enemy. Vanity and pocket books will be one of the first places the Left will try to neutralize you. So be careful.
We’ve made this petition many times before. I simply think RedState has special abilities, both to analyze, and to raise and move armies. We (Bernie and I) have talked to small groups all over, but direct those talks more toward local institutions and local culture, in small cities where corporate officers (bank presidents, et al) can’t get publicly uninvolved. We target these groups, for they want to be involved, but outreach is difficult and complicated. We show them how they can discreetly raise money to form little “agitprop teams” who make sure local offending bureaucrats and officials (remember the elementary teachers who led kids in the Obama-worship songs?) are held publicly accountable and are made to feel the people’s wrath….with no fingerprints. Most cities can pull this off for not much money at all, 2-3 people, and become self-generating within two years. They can serve all sorts of functions, institutionally, culturally, and politically. Someday, it’s our hope they will simply merge into a larger army, with national connectivity. (This is how the Left has done it for years, by the way.)
Don’t just go all-in. Go all-in bigger. Knowing what needs to be done, assume no one else will, or can do it, and take as big a bite of the apple as you can. Unlike Rush and Glenn, this sometimes means going darker, not more public. Or maybe both. I don’t think George Washington spoke to a single newspaperman until 1782. While the history books speak volumes about what he did, no newspaper wrote of his exploits or even whereabouts in all those years. No one knew where he was. Still, his name was whispered on the wind. On every forest road there was a rumor of his passing, or his coming.
Like Washington, one of the things I know that really shakes the Left is to know there is an army out there only they are unsure of its size, location, or even potential. As with the Tea Parties, they can see its signs, they hear the whispers, but they cannot find its headquarters. When that is the case, every skirmish in Sioux City, every outing of a radical school teacher in Virginia Beach, every little protest in front of a city hall in Oxford, Ohio is magnified by ten, taking on a far more sinister aspect to the enemy. Then nothing is local, and we will be out in front.
All that is missing are those invisible hands.
Louis Brandeis, a Progressive, once said, that it was the duty of his class to make their fortunes as quickly as possible, secure it, then turn the best parts of their lives over to public service. (I paraphrase from memory.) I can think of no higher public service now, or in the coming generation than this one calling.