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IPFS News Link • Freedom

What Then Must We Do?

• By Bretigne Shaffer

I happened to be in Paris on September 11, 2001. I remember walking along the Seine and feeling comforted by the massive stone walls there, thinking about how much those stones had been through over the centuries, and how they were still standing. I thought at the time that no matter what disasters humanity went through, something solid would still remain. Today, as Notre Dame is in flames, Julian Assange sits in prison, and the Deep State seems larger and more powerful than ever, it is harder to feel that way.

I've been working on this essay for nearly seven years now. In 2012, following the failure of Ron Paul to win the Republican presidential nomination, I wrote a short article titled "The Revolution is Over – Long Live the Revolution!" In it, I said:"

…now it's time to get serious about building a free society. The illusion that we can do it through the voting booth should by now be thoroughly discredited. Our focus should now be on building the society we believe in – one that is based on peaceful, voluntary interactions, where violence is only acceptable as a response to violence. The coercive system is failing, and it will only get worse. It's time for us to get to work."

 I received a lot of positive feedback for that article, including several emails from readers who were eager to hear more about how they could "get to work." I spent a lot of time thinking carefully about how to respond to them and even started to craft an article addressing the problem, but I never published it. So I want to apologize to those readers for not responding to their questions – in particular to Justin, Dustin, and Marshel. I'm sorry I never got back to you. I didn't think I had good answers for you then. But now I think I might. Maybe not answers exactly, but some important clues.


To begin with, yes, there are a lot of practical things that we can do, tools we can use, and that people are using, to build a free society. Things like: state nullification of federal laws; secession; mutual aid; private protection; doctors and hospitals operating outside of the insurance paradigm (or underground entirely); and the two I believe to be the most powerful: Cryptocurrency, and breaking the cycle of indoctrination and training a population in obedience, through homeschooling.

But without a powerful context, these ideas aren't much more than a to-do list. So what I'm going to try to do here is to lay out the foundation for that context, as I see it.


It strikes me that humanity's movements toward liberty have almost never been deliberate. With a few exceptions (the abolition of slavery, the American Revolution, etc.) they have largely come about as a result of either technological change, or by accident of history. The decentralization of power in Europe following the fall of the Roman Empire, for example, was not part of anyone's plan – and yet it led to tremendous improvements in personal freedom and helped to lay the foundation for societies based on the rights of the individual and on respect for private property.

Likewise, the technological leaps that have advanced human liberty the most have not done so by design, but as an indirect consequence of solving a problem. From the innovation of money, of trade, of the printing press, the establishment of due process and courts of law, to the personal computer and the Internet, each of these new technologies has been developed in response to an immediate need – and has only unintentionally been a boon to human liberty. So I suspect that any future moves in the direction of liberty will most likely come from changes in technology.