"Individual procrastination is the enemy, not the State."
Recently, in International Man, in an article entitled, "Gold Can't Solve Everything," Fitzroy Drkavic made the statement quoted above. It reminded me immediately of a saying of my own:
"Apathy is the mother of tyranny."
The two quotes are very similar, yet there is a difference. The latter quote states why the situation occurred; the former states why people don't escape, once it has occurred.
I'm not sure if Fitzroy realised it at the time of writing, but his choice of words is quite exceptional. He manages, in very few words, to describe the primary plight of the majority of those who are unhappy in their present situation, but never quite do anything about it.
The countries of the First World were at one time referred to as "the Free World." This phrase is rarely used by leaders of First World countries today, and understandably so. There is an unmistakable effort in play to diminish some (if not all) of these countries to the point of being police states.
The first condition that allows such tyranny to take place is apathy. Like the classic metaphor of boiling a frog, the people are encouraged toward complacency - gradual abandonment of work ethic and independent-mindedness, coinciding with an ever-increasing dependency upon the government for basic needs.
This complacency turns into apathy, and this is the point at which the government-control programmes ramp up rapidly, with new draconian laws and edicts popping up with greater frequency. At this point, the population knows that it is in trouble, but they do nothing to effectively stop the progress of their own bondage.
And this is where Fitzroy's quote takes its value. In its succinctness, it reminds us that, rather than blame the State for taking away our rights, we should place the responsibility where it belongs - firmly on our own shoulders. It is up to each and every citizen to recognise if and when the jig is up and admit to himself that the solution is up to him individually.
In the First World today, we are beginning to see street riots in reaction to political and economic developments. This is almost always the first visible sign of blow-back from a citizenry. Almost always, riots are an emotional outburst - generally unorganised and unfocused in their objectives.
Often, the public response to tyranny ends at this point, but in some cases, the cause generates greater organisation and support for change. One of two developments occurs, and often both occur at the same time. Either revolution breaks out, or an exodus develops, in which people choose to leave their countries for more promising destinations.
Revolutions are not only basically destructive in their nature; they also generate very unpredictable outcomes. Historians like to point to the American Revolution, as it resulted in a period of greatness amongst the people of that country. However, just as often, the result (assuming the revolution is successful) is likely to create a Robespierre, as in the French Revolution, or the takeover by Trotsky and Lenin after the Russian Revolution.
The rise of such opportunists (and, often, certifiable nutters) is not only common following a revolution, they are, in addition, likely to rise to the top. This is because, generally, once the revolution has reached its completion, the more responsible would-be leaders are doing all they can to calm the situation down.
The opportunists, by comparison, capitalise on maintaining the revolutionary fervour long after it has become unnecessary and even counterproductive. In spite of this fact, those would-be leaders who continue to shake their fists when the revolution is over have an appeal, and may well be selected as the new leaders.
Given a choice between continued tyranny and revolution, some choose the third alternative of departure. Surprisingly, however, people historically seem to find it difficult to make the decision to depart.
Whilst history is filled with exoduses by indigenous peoples during times of dramatic change, these have often been a result of governmental edict and even forced marches. From the 46,000 Native Americans who were forced from the Southeastern US to the new Indian Territory of Oklahoma in the mid-19th century, to the 14,000,000 Hindus and Muslims that were relocated following the1947 division of the East Indian British colony of India into India and Pakistan, there have been numerous such events over the millennia. Not surprisingly, these massive human cattle drives are often synonymous with considerable sickness, and death by disease and violence.
There are also instances of exodus by choice, such as that during the fall of the Roman Empire, or the departure of some two million people from the Irish potato famine in the mid-19th century, but these occurrences have almost invariably been driven by natural or man-made calamities. These events, while taking place by choice, were a form of "forced" choice.
The rarity seems to be departure in advance of calamity, whether that calamity be famine, revolution from within, attack from without, or government edict.
Why should this be so? Why do so many people remain where they are, when such strong indications exist that life, as they know it, is soon to end? There are several reasons.
Losing What Now Exists
For many people, this is a major hurdle to overcome. It is not merely the dwelling that they have become accustomed to, it is the neighbourhood, the knowledge of who to call when the garage door needs repair, the selection of groceries that can always be found at the local supermarket, and the friends that may have taken decades to acquire.
Some of these assets will be lost in any case, as the State takes increasing control. However, other assets will remain, and it is difficult to let them go. The greatest losses are likely to be loss of freedoms, loss of financial security, and loss of future opportunity for growth.
The Uncertainty of the Outcome
Will the move be successful? What if the kids don't like it there? What if my new job isn't what I hoped? In actual fact, if the research into the new location is done well in advance, these concerns can generally be addressed.
The Effort of Finding a New Home
This, whilst not as difficult as many perceive it to be, is often seen as an overwhelming obstacle. After all, the key word here is change. The new location may be the equal or better than the existing one, but the stores will be different; the people may be different, the language may be different. Most people are not eager for change, even if it is for the better. Present comforts are often preferable to possible improvements.
Often, it is change itself that is the greatest fear. My own country is quite cosmopolitan, a small population of some 50,000 people, about half of whom are locals and the other half coming from (at last count) 114 other countries. As such, we see people every day who have chosen this as their destination. Most have a one-year breaking-in period, during which they adapt, then settle in nicely, glad to have made the move.
Occasionally, there will be those who simply cannot find the ability in themselves to adapt. On several occasions, I have known couples, one of whom was greatly relieved to be in his new home, whilst his partner found fault with virtually anything that was different. One notable statement from such a person was, "I don't want anything to be different!" It should be said that these people are few in number and this one in particular was at the point of deciding to return home after an unhappy year in which she could not make the necessary change.
Possibly the greatest obstacle to making a move that is clearly advisable when an existing country is in a state of deterioration is the uncertainty of when to make the leap. Calamities such as wars, revolutions and famines make the decision easy, and these decisions are often made after desperation already exists. However, departure in advance of a collapse is another kettle of fish. People who are otherwise intelligent and well-informed very commonly delay a decision to leave until it may well be too late.
In actual fact, few prepare an exit then delay the date. What is delayed in most cases is the preparation - researching destinations, choosing a country and creating an exit plan.
Following World War Two, the people of the Allied countries were aghast when they discovered what had been done to the Jews in Nazi Germany. They could not begin to understand why the Jews allowed their shops to be taken, why they willingly got on the trains, why they allowed their children to be taken away from them. The answer is frighteningly simple: In each case, they waited until the last minute; when the event was staring them in the face. At that point, it was already too late.
Again, as Fitzroy Drkavik so succinctly states,
"Individual procrastination is the enemy, not the State."
Departure from one's country may not be the ideal answer for every person who is experiencing an increase in tyranny in his country. Conditions will vary from country to country, and situations will vary as to how each individual is likely to be affected by those conditions. However, if the individual's negative future prospects are extreme enough to warrant relocation, the greatest enemy is procrastination.
Anyone who has driven on a highway and realises he has just missed the last exit to his destination will know the feeling of having decided just a few seconds too late.
We are living in a time of dramatic change throughout the world. Many will need to muster up an ability to be decisive, which may not previously have been their norm. The question is less whether there is a need for a given individual to effect change, than whether the ability to be decisive is present.