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Why Ian Freeman Ostracized Me

It all started one dark and stormy evening when I went on Facebook. This should be no surprise to you as most interpersonal problems in our community happen on Facebook.

Ian Freeman ostracized me for:

  • unabashedly admitting that some aspects of Che Guevara’s life inspire me;
  • rudely demanding he stop excoriating me in other venues about said admission without even inviting me to defend myself;
  • refusing to apologize for being rude.

But this is not a tale of Facebook drama and woe, my dear readers! This is a post about how we can overcome our inner fundamentalist streak and achieve a wider audience for libertarian thought.

I’ve noticed that when I write about personal stuff, my now half of a dozen readers enjoy it more. Since I am a writer and, as such, I prefer that people read my stuff more rather than less, I’m embarking on a project to write straight from the heart with no punches pulled. I’m naming names and telling it like it is!

Ian Freeman is an outstanding advocate for liberty. He puts everything on the line. He lives liberty. He leads not just in word but also in deed. His example is inspiring. His dedication is impressive. He is not just an activist. He’s a leader, an entrepreneur and a radio show host. I like Ian Freeman. I admire him. Nothing I write here should cause you to feel any other way.

Nor is this an attempt to stir up the infamous “drama” that terrorizes the liberty masses. I instead aim to examine interpersonal relationships in the liberty community. And why not? We talk about philosophy, strategy, tactics and products. So why should we be ashamed to talk about interpersonal relationships?

They are, in fact, the foundation of a new libertarian society. Without solid relationships, what kind of commerce can we expect to take place? What kind of organizations will be formed?

You get the idea.

It Started, as Usual, on Facebook

It all started one dark and stormy evening when I went on Facebook. This should be no surprise to you as most interpersonal problems in our community happen on Facebook. While editing my profile’s Info page for the 97th time, I added Che Guevara to my list of inspirational people. This is where you gasp.

Why in the name of Rothbard would I do such an outlandish thing? Please sit down. Are you ready for the truth? There are actually some aspects of Che’s life that I find inspirational. By all means go ahead and have a shot of agorist moonshine to calm your sensibilities.

I get it. This just isn’t compatible with the Rockwellian party line. My lone remaining anarcho-capitalist reader is trembling with rage. Che is a murdering tyrant. Period. End of story. Close your history book, dear reader.

But I’m a historian. Yes, I graduated with honors in history from the academic Sparta that is the University of Chicago. When it comes to historical figures, a Lew Rockwell blog post just doesn’t cut it. I have to do my own research. And I have. A lot of it. The guy led an extraordinary life. As a rebel, he cuts quite an imposing figure. Even Ian is obliged to admit that.

  • Che suffered from extreme asthma as a boy, often gasping for breath so hard his parents thought he would die. Doctors had never before seen such a severe case. Here is a powerful example of will to live.
  • He did not go to school on a regular basis due to his asthma. You might say he was homeschooled for awhile. He read obsessively.
  • At age nine, his asthma became worse. But he wouldn’t take oxygen treatments unil after his face had turned purple. That’s some serious character.
  • In his youth he was critical of the military in school. He was expelled from a class because of this.
  • He studied medicine but abandoned the career to take a grueling motorcycle tour of Latin America. The suffering he witnessed awakened him to the oppression of US colonialism (a phenomenon that continues to this day). His sense of adventure inspires but his ability to cross the chasm of class and culture to empathize with the poor impressed me.
  • Che was no random tourist. He provided free medical care to the poor while on his travels. He lived with the poor. He not only valued equality for all, he experienced it. He treated lepers. What a sense of daring he displayed here.
  • He was also one of 82 people packed into a tiny boat that set off against all odds to invade an island where 35,000 armed men controlled by the dictator Batista were waiting to massacre them. (Those forces did indeed massacre many of his shipmates.) Now that takes some serious cojones! Even the US Navy appeared to be involved in the search for their little boat.
  • This is a blog for rebels. Is there any among you who doesn’t savor the thought of joining a righteous guerrilla rebellion against a brutal tyrant? If not then our enterprise is surely sunk.
  • Che was wounded shortly after landing in Cuba and thought himself a dead man. Now this is the kind of great death I alluded to in my recent post about being discouraged. Yet he pushed on.
  • While carrying out the Cuban guerrilla war, he endured endless hardships – hardships that pampered gringos like us can hardly conceive of. But he still found the time to teach campesinos how to read.

Che Guevara fought the Empire. He won. That’s something we can all learn from. There absolutely must be at least one lesson there for libertarians. And if there is even just one, then we must soften this voluntary ban on examining his life. We must be free to take inspiration from those parts which rouse any budding revolutionary. We must stop seeing him, and indeed any historical figure, in only two dimensions.

Che Guevara Meme “La la la la la! All I hear is murderer! MURDERER!!!”

You’re an ideologue. You see the world in black and white. That’s just how you roll. Cool. But don’t claim to know a thing or two about history.

The Disease of Violence

Che, despite paradoxically idolizing the nonviolent Gandhi in his youth, became contaminated with the disease of violence. Once infected, he took it to its logical conclusion of statism, brutality, murder and inhuamnity. Che is a murderer. He is also an inspirational revolutionary and adventurer. Instead of the blanket condemnation of the right or the servile groupiness of the left, let’s clearly identify those aspects of his life that are solid, and those that are reprehensible.

(There is, inevitably, debate about just how brutal he was. At least one biographer claims that he executed people only for “the usual crimes punishable by death at times of war or in its aftermath.” As if that excused anything.)

Of course, Ayn Rand and Murray Rothbard paid “their” taxes. Can you precisely identify the difference between their complicity in state murder and Che Guevara’s? What level of responsibility for the murder is held by the one who pulled the trigger vis-a-vis the one who paid for the bullets without putting up a fight? No, it’s not the same thing but it’s food for thought.

Some, mostly right-wing, libertarian fellow-travelers promote violence as a solution to the ills of statism. They are tolerated by many. They may be thugs but they’re “our” thugs. Does the anti-Che hysteria from the Rockwellian an-caps simply boil down to Che being a leftist thug? You decide.

Enter Satyagraha

Be that as it may, why would I seek so much good in a statist executioner? It’s not complicated. I’m a satyagrahi.

A satyagrahi is a person who uses the the force of truth (satyagraha) to engage tyranny. Satyagraha is by no means passive. Nor is it always even necesarily peaceful. Satyagrahis use the power of firm love to achieve justice. Satyagraha is a legacy of Mohandas Gandhi.

One aspect of satyagraha is to connect on a human level with even your fiercest enemies. When a person uses violence against a fellow human being, he is first and foremost hurting himself. A liar is the first victim of his deception. As a satyagrahi, I want to understand the full human being behind the violence. I want to become their friend and advocate as part of the search for win-win solutions.

My satyagrahi advocacy for someone engaged in violence is not for their violence but for their humanity. It never means that I endorse their wrongdoing. It means that I identify with them as a human being and seek for them to stop. Redemption is a possibility even for the most hardened tyrant.

In my study of Che, I find that we have some things in common. This is the first step in penetrating the hard outer shell of a person who is engaged in evil. Our commonalities include:

  • a sense of adventure;
  • an interest in helping other people instead of just getting rich or “working for the man” all day;
  • a zeal for putting philosophy into practice;
  • a rebellious spirit;
  • a willingness to cross state borders to further the mission of fomenting (r)evolution;
  • an ability to take things beyond where the timid dare; and
  • intellectuality.

What about Hitler and Mao Zedong? Do they have redeeming qualities, as Ian asked me, that merit inclusion in my list of inspirational figures? I have read a bit about Hitler. I haven’t yet found anything inspiring there. I have not studied Mao. I’ll let you know when I do.

Are there any other libertarian bugaboos on my list? Maybe Attila the Hun – for sheer badassery. But I’m half-joking.

Where I have no commonality with Che includes:

  • becoming part of a government;
  • participating in the caging and murder of fellow human beings; and
  • swiftness to take up arms.

We need to see our opponents – they are really companion actors on the stage of life – as fellow human beings. To not dehumanize them as cardboard cutout murderers, autocratic judges, oppressive cops, tyrants, etc, is the first step towards our eventual success as a political movement.

When we talk about “cops do this, cops do that”, when we generalize, when we identify someone by their job title or an epithet instead of their first name, we are dehumanizing them. People who aren’t up on libertarian lingo can sense this, even if they can’t explicitly explain it. It turns off all but the most extreme and those most prepared to outsource their thinking process to the popular ideologues of the day.

When we can identify a companion actor as a fellow, 3D human being, when we can see their good and bad, their intentions, justifications, their loves and pet peeves, we are humanizing them. We are treating them with respect. We can form a bond with them, a bond that is a foundation for weaning them off their (self-) destructive behavior in a win-win way. We also impress the audience we inevitably have in real life – the papers, blogs, Facebookers, YouTubers, etc. – with our emotional intelligence, maturity and humanity.

Name-calling doesn’t work. We must become best friends – supporting the good in them, firmly but lovingly correcting the pernicious – to those we rail against. Only then can we avoid exacerbating divisions and creating new resentments. Only then can we find solutions that enable us all to thrive, side-by-side. This is what liberty is about anyway. We find the balance point where each of us can both be free and thrive without hurting others.

Let us not be fundamentalists when we examine others – be they alive or dead, in our community or not. In our interpersonal relationships, let us risk an unwarranted dollop of empathy and tolerance instead of being so quick with the sword of opprobrium and ostracism. A Facebook block is not an argument.

So to Ian and the others who ostracized me as a result of my Facebook faux paus, I only ask that you consider what I’ve written here. Put the 3D glasses on and look at your world through the eyes of a human being, not those of a 2D ideologue. Let’s stop dividing ourselves over issues of ideological purity. Let’s divide our opponents instead. And let us do it with our unfettered humanity.

P.S. I wonder what the “patriots,” militia folk and (anarcho-) capitalist partisans within earshot are willing to do to create their paradise on earth? Many of these folks proudly tote pistols on their hips and proclaim their willingness to gun down anyone who would darken their path. Have we examined the motes in our own eyes?

By George Donnelly

I'm building a tribe of radical libertarians to voluntarize the world by 2064. Join me.

26 replies on “Why Ian Freeman Ostracized Me”

Good post, George. I always find it interesting that when someone dies people just want to see the good and not the bad. A person is made of good and bad. Evil like Hitler, Stalin, Che etc…..simply overpowers any good or inspirational qualities.

We need more “speakers for the dead” as in the Orson Scott Card novel. Speakers research the dead person’s life and give a speech that attempts
to speak for them, describing the person’s life as he or she tried to
live it. This speech is not given in order to persuade the audience to
condemn or forgive the deceased, but rather a way to understand the
person as a whole, including any flaws or misdeeds.

One of the biggest problems with the libertarian/liberty/anarchist/voluntaryist community I have found is that people seem to get offended pretty easily. We tend to have very strong feelings of justice and can therefore seem to get offended too easily. There is a local anarchist here that was also ostracized by the Free Keene community for just suggesting she was thinking of calling child services on someone.

Childrens Services is a horrible institution. That being said, until we have established something outside of a state that can step up and keep children safe when they need it I fear that idealism may have a chance of keeping someone in danger who might need help because of something like that.

I’m a dad. I was viciously abused as a child both physically and mentally by my dad. He was called in to the Philadelphia city government office for these things at least 3 times when the abuse was discovered. Didn’t make a whit of difference. I can never endorse asking the state to do anything other than shut down and go away immediately.

DFS is horrible. It’s mostly useless and seems backwards. I still would not sit by idly if I knew about abuse. If I don’t have another tool, yes I would call, and I would not condemn anyone else for calling either. Kind of like using roads despite the fact the state paid for, maintains and patrols them.

My faith that DFS would do something is pretty low. From cases I’ve observed around me with people I know It seems that they tend to go after people I have believed to be ‘innocent’ and have done nothing over instances that I have strongly believed abuse was happening. But I base this on a few instances that my friends have told me about in their lives. I have little to nothing to really back that up.

We need more options, resources and education. It wouldn’t be bad if we could at least create networks where we could have access to people with training, knowledge and resources regarding specific situations and problems etc…

This is a great post George, more people need to think outside of the standard party line and overused rhetoric that has been heard from the liberty movement. I always thought that libertarians/anarchists were supposed to be open to new ideas, but over the years I have learned that, too often we have our sacred cows and exalted heroes, just like those who worship the state. I think one of the biggest mistakes I made during the years I was a neocon (I now shudder at the thought), was to be so hostile and demeaning to ideas/books/people who were contrary to my accepted positions. With a little perspective, I think that the root of that hostility is based in a fear that we aren’t secure enough in our own thoughts and positions to even consider opposing views with any semblance of real scholarship. Keep up the great work, I eagerly await your next article.

I like Hitler’s monetary policy. He took control of the monetary system from the German banksters. He directly issued debt-free paper money, rather than borrowing from a central bank like the USA and most modern countries. That’s one reason Germany went from being broke to an economic powerhouse in a few years.

A very good article George albeit one that I disagree with to a point. Mostly your Post Script since while I strongly dislike violence I do believe that sometime it is necessary to use it to defend yourself or someone you love. For example I have several girls who are friends. If I saw one of them being raped, I would have no qualms with shooting the rapist if I was armed and if I wasn’t, using my fists or whatever I DID have on hand. And I wouldn’t feel too guilty after the fact. Would I regret the fact that it was necessary to injure or kill him to stop the rape? Yes. Would I regret the act itself? Knowing what I do about human psychology I would say that some guilt and regret for the act itself would be felt….how much is hard to say though. But I doubt it’d be a lot. My point is, that while I detest violence that doesn’t mean I am intrinsically opposed to all usage of it. Though I would very much prefer to use it as a last resort if possible. So in your example with the abolishing the State, while I would very much prefer non-violent revolution, that doesn’t mean I am opposed to any other kind. And honestly I fear it may get to the point where a non-violent revolution won’t be enough to bring about a voluntary society. Though I do hope and pray every day that a non-violent revolution will be enough. Sorry if I rambled. :P

I can tell you don’t know much about firearms because it would be insanity to shoot at someone engaged in rape. It would be too easy for the bullet to end up in or pass through the victim of the rape.

Hoping and pray doesn’t count anywhere outside your brain. It’s what we do in the real world that counts.

I’m not talking about what you mention in your comment in that section of the article. I’m talking about people who are anxious to use their guns at the first chance.

I do know a good bit about firearms. I should have been more precise in my example I suppose. If they were ABOUT to rape someone, then yeah I’d shoot them, since there’d be less risk of accidentialy hurtig the would-be victim. If they were actually engaged in the rape, I’d try to pull them off of the victim, and if necessary, shoot them.

As for what I mentioned in the comment on that section of your article, then I guess I misunderstood what you were talking about. Mea culpa

I have to say I didn’t expect this one to come back up. George, I ostracized you for the way you have treated several people online, including me. The Che thing was merely the final straw.

I also attempted to share with you at the time we had the disagreement that Che was a killer, and you similarly balked as you are doing with Maineshark.

I can understand casting aside the average facebook poster who doesn’t agree with you, however I figured being the top sponsor of your premiere Agora.io online un-conference would at least give me an audience to attempt to persuade you, but no. You even told me you’d refund the money for my sponsorship (which was long done and over at that time), and of course I refused.

I agree with George that people should be seen as human beings. Che was a sick human and does not deserve to be idolized. In the same way that petty tyrants like Judge Burke should not be looked up to despite also having redeeming qualities. (He’s nice when he’s not in his robe.)

Hi Ian

The way I treated several people online? This is completely new to me and you never mentioned it to me before as far as I can recall. Care to expand on that? If I have wronged someone, I’d like to know about it. If it’s true then I’ll want to make it right.

I don’t understand your second paragraph.

I don’t remember denying anyone an “audience” to attempt to persuade me of really much of anything. I am always open to new ideas and new arguments as long as they’re presented in a respectful and non-tedious way. I have a blog, I prominently have my email address posted, my Facebook profile is very public, etc.

If someone wants to talk to me about something, I’d like to know about it.

Awesome post. I’ve always felt the same way, of course Che was a murdering commie, but he was also a human being. He lived a pretty adventurous life and we can all learn from it, from both the bad and good…. If only the works of Mises and Rothbard had been more available in the 20th century, Che might have turned out very differently.

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