Political Column — Reaction, Revolution, and Reform
Governments do bad things. People get upset over those things, and that’s reasonable. They complain to their friends and family, they post things on social media. Sometimes they yell, sometimes they protest.
This initial reaction is one of anger. Anger is an emotion that pushes us to take action. Often anger is only the first layer. Deeper we may find that we are sad over something that is wrong, and we’re frustrated that we don’t know what to do to make it better. Powerlessness is a disheartening feeling. So people repress it with a layer of hate. They fume and steam and hope that someone does something.
This is exactly what happened in the case of Hidden Creek Farm in Dalton Township. People were upset when they heard about the lack of due process, they were upset about small farms not being protected. I fuelled the flames of upset with my articles, by organizing people to flood the township meeting, by my petition, by my recall attempts, by using the available processes of dissent.
People usually stop somewhere in that process. It’s unusual to carry things through, because people don’t know how, or are scared, or lose interest and move on to being upset and angry about the next thing. This doesn’t result in change.
The next step is to overthrow the government. And this is what was done in the 2020 election. Elections are a peaceful revolution. The uniqueness and significance of that is underappreciated. When Thomas Jefferson formed the Democratic-Republican Party and won the election of 1800 he called it the second American revolution. It is that significant.
And yet, most revolutions do not result in positive change. Alexander Solzhenitsyn points this out in the ‘Gulag Archipelago’, “And since that time I have come to understand the falsehood of all the revolutions in history: They destroy only those carriers of evil contemporary with them (and also fail, out of haste, to discriminate the carriers of good as well). And they then take to themselves as their heritage the actual evil itself, magnified still more.”
So, after a successful revolution you must be careful, you must be humble, you must be conservative with your approach to change, you must not be arrogant in your reforms. It is not change that I seek or that I stand for, it is goodness. It is the foundations that make civilization possible, like rule of law, like due process, like local agriculture, like legislative procedure. Eliminate these and watch your society collapse into anarchy or tyranny, and find that the rights to life and liberty are given by God, but that life and liberty are protected or violated by people.
Liberty is not won by swaying from one kind of tyranny to another, from one arbitrary governmental power to another. The tearing down of civilization cannot alone be a value, because civilization is a value. There must be a building up. Rather than seeking to destroy the system we must seek to repair it, to heal it, to improve it, to brace it for the ongoing assaults by the enemies of freedom. This is not done by reaction or revolution. Reaction tells us that something must be done. Revolution gives us the opportunity, but only if we are good enough and strong enough to capture that opportunity and walk the narrow path of positive reform.
The destination is not the path. You cannot teleport to the end, you must travel the distance to arrive. If you think the political system has moved in the wrong direction for a century, you cannot fix it in a day, or a year, or a decade. You must begin the long and arduous march in the proper direction. You must take real action to create real and positive change. Reforms that will stick and last beyond you. Not reactions that will be reacted against every time there’s an election. Reforms that can help the next person to continue the march toward the destination, so that the society, after generations, can arrive at a better negotiated peace and liberty. That is what I am trying to do. That is what the people that support me are trying to do. And that is what we will continue to do.