This is a great piece. Andy is right on the money with this one.
LIBERTARIAN TIMES – ISSUE #2, APRIL 17, 2009
Welcome to the second edition of Libertarian Times and many thanks to all of you who wrote comments, questions and suggestions (about 40% of you) and to those who responded to the questions in the “Your Turn” section of issue 1 (about 10%). I really appreciate your feedback and I will devote this second issue to my response.
One common thread in your feedback from issue 1 was the (correct) observation that it was not really a newsletter.
There are so many newsletters, blogs and information sites available already and I do not have special access to sources that would allow me to bring “breaking news” to you, not even from the Libertarian side.
My purpose in summarizing the news pertaining mainly to the economic crisis was simply to get agreement on the “facts” of the situation, to ensure we are all on the same “page” and so have a common starting point. The next step was to get agreement on the impact of these facts on 3 areas: the global economy, the Libertarian cause, and your individual lives. The third step was to get agreement on a plan of action for the community to protect our interests, our money and our savings, to defend our philosophy, and to ensure that the community survives and prospers far beyond this crisis.
Many of you have been curious about my “real intentions” with this “newsletter” and I want to use this issue to “come clean”, so to speak.
I think the best way to describe my objectives here is to give examples to illustrate what I have in mind and what inspired me to write to you all.
My first vivid experience of what a community can achieve when it works together was shortly after arriving in Australia as a new migrant. I rented an apartment opposite a synagogue in Melbourne, owned by a Jewish immigrant. I later found out that every apartment in that street was owned by a member of the Jewish community.
A sight I will never forget was when, on Saturday morning, a fleet of 10-12 Rolls Royces rolled up and parked outside the synagogue. All the passengers alighted and went to the synagogue. The remarkable thing about this was that all the Rolls Royce cars were the same model, same year and the same color (wine-red).
When I had the opportunity to pay my rent and talk with the landlord, who was one of the owners of the Rolls Royce, he explained to me that several members of the Jewish community had agreed to buy the cars in bulk, agreed on a color, and placed the order as a single order, thus fetching a substantial discount. Until that time it had never occurred to me that people could or would do such a thing. I figured it was particularly Jewish and left it at that.
In the same suburb I saw restaurants and corner shops opposite each other and assumed they were competitors. Later I found out they were actually owned by members of that same Jewish community. The illusion of competition actually helped their businesses grow. Again, this was a totally new concept for me (I was 20 years old at the time, coming from “old” Europe) and as I discussed all this with my landlord (by now we had become good friends) I was amazed at the source and reason for the community’s success. Again, however, I dismissed it as a purely Jewish phenomenon, resulting perhaps from 2,000 years of persecution or from a desire to maintain their culture and religion or a combination of both.
Over the years I noticed that this kind of community cooperation was not limited to Jews, but I also saw it in the Chinese and Indian communities, and later in the Iranian community created by the exodus of many Iranians following the Islamic Revolution of 1979. More recently, I have had the privilege to witness it again among the Somali Diaspora which consists primarily of the intellectual and commercial elite that left the country just prior to the war of 1991.
What they have achieved is truly remarkable in my view.
Not only have they maintained contact with each other, although they are dispersed all over the world, they are actively working together to establish enterprises, gain influence in the countries where they reside, support each other, ensure their children are taught the history, culture and customs of Somalia, and they plan as a group on how to rebuild Somalia once peace is restored. The dividends from their various enterprises are used not just for their immediate needs but also as capital for the future reconstruction of their country. They have regular meetings, including a global yearly affair (the last one was in Alberta, Canada), where they plan their next steps, exchange business ideas, create links between the communities in each country, and celebrate their culture.
In Kenya, for instance, where I am at the moment, whenever a new business opens, a new hotel or factory is built, there is a good chance that a Somali is behind it.
As I analyzed these various communities to find out what they had in common that made them so successful, I came up with the following conclusions:
A dramatic event was the trigger for dispersing them throughout the world (whether it is the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, the Communist Revolution in China of 1949 – the whole of Taiwan is practically a Diaspora - , the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979, the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, or the war in Somalia in 1991, some major historic event triggered the exodus, usually from among the elite of that population)
Although dispersed, they kept in touch, worked within their communities in each country where they settled, achieved success by collaborating, cooperating and supporting each other, and working toward bigger objectives (restoring their original home country, for instance) than their personal ones, without of course neglecting them; in fact, they make sure that each individual member of the community is also personally successful
Thirdly, they partially integrate into the society where they live but maintain their own identity at all times; marriages are usually from among the children in the community; they go to great lengths (and often expense) to ensure their history, their culture, tradition, and customs are maintained; they support each other at all levels (physically, mentally, spiritually); and they construct an “infrastructure” to support their global communications, collaboration and management.
While I do not wish to “over-romanticize” these communities and while harmony is not always assured (witness the Chinese Triads for instance or the Italian mafia gangs), there is no denying that much of their success is due to the fact that they are “strangers” in the lands where they live, they have a common bond, and a long-term objective related to their home country, and have used these things to support each other and work together toward their common objectives.
While reflecting on all of this, I realized that we Libertarians are actually in a very similar situation to these Diasporas.
We too are “in this world but not of it”. There is not a single one of the 193 national governments of the world that we could fully identify with or whose philosophy we could fully embrace.
We too have a philosophy (“culture”) that we think needs protecting, defending, promoting, and ensuring it does not die out.
We too keep in touch, exchange ideas, have regular meetings, and sometimes organize into political, educational or philosophical groups.
And we too have a desire to “return” to our home country, where the philosophy and ideas of Liberty (in all its Libertarian meanings) are applied, practiced and developed. Many Libertarians I know are searching for a “Libertopia” where we can live our Libertarian lives. The arrival of the “Libertarian Times”!
What was missing was the “trigger” to create the Libertarian “Diaspora” and I see the current global economic crisis, especially the reaction by governments all over the world to the crisis and the likely impact of this reaction on our Libertarian community and all it implies, as a potential trigger for us to collaborate as a global community, in the same way as the other Diasporas have achieved. This is my vision and the purpose of my letters is to find out who among you shares this Vision and is prepared to work together toward achieving our objectives.
Perhaps you think “I’m a Dreamer” but I need to find out if “I’m the only one”!
As always, keep your letters, feedback and suggestions coming and thanks for bearing with me!