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April 23, 2021

The Comprehensive Guide to Win Back (or Lose) Our Rights and Freedoms: Lessons From Martin Luther King Jr, and How to Adapt His Tactics to the Nightmare We Face Today

"We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people." ~ excerpt from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter From Birmingham Jail

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and his peers in the civil rights movement understood something that the majority of citizens who are horrified by the current attack on our rights and freedoms appear to have forgotten. They understood the importance of standing together, not just when speaking out, but especially when the reprisals were raining down hard and fast. Their civil rights battle succeeded not because they convinced their opponents or the government of the justness of their cause, but because their courage sent a powerful message to hesitant supporters watching silently from the sidelines. If you stand with us, we'll stand by you, through thick and thin, until we see this through. 

Dr. King's struggle and the tactics that he and his peers used have important implications for what we are facing today. But it would also be a mistake to think that the same tactics, precisely replicated in 2021, would achieve the same effect. Quite the contrary. We face a different beast, driven by different motives, and at a different stage in its tyrannical lifecycle. Dr. King's lessons need to be adapted to current circumstances. This guide explains how. The devil is, as always, in the nuanced details.

This guide explores the strengths and weaknesses of the beast we are facing, lays bare its vulnerabilities, and explains which strategies will work to stop it, which will not, and which will backfire to unintentionally strengthen the grip of the regime. Time is not on our side, but winning back our rights and freedoms is still within our reach. I hope with all my heart that the clarity offered by this guide turns our fear and shellshocked inaction into focused courage and fruitful action. 

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” ~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War #CommissionsEarned

Topics Covered in this Guide:

  1. Anatomy of Dr. King's Tactics
  2. Forcing the Community to Pick a Side
  3. The Birth of a New Colossus - Understanding the Vulnerabilities of the Beast We Face in 2021
  4. Uncomfortable Lessons in Liberty:
  5. Courage and Resolve
  6. The Non-Existent Threat of Civil War
  7. The Lifecycle of the Colossus - Different Tactics for Different Times, and the Risk of Backfire
  8. Standing Alone Is Worse Than Not Standing At All
  9. Options With Teeth - Undermining the Colossus Without Breaking the Law
  10. Know Your Audience - Talking Our Way Out of a Tight Corner

The Anatomy of Dr. King's Tactics

Before I bring this discussion around to the present day, I'm going to peel back the many layers of Dr. King's high stakes tactics, because there was a lot more to the game he played than just showing up for a series of protests. What he did was brilliant, dangerous, and extraordinarily complicated. In hindsight it is easy to overlook the delicate tightrope he was walking.
The government that Dr. King faced wasn't any gentler or more willing to talk than the governments, academic institutions, and health officials of today. They faced extreme police brutality and a justice system that was quite eager to prosecute, in contrast with our current courts, which are thankfully still reluctant to follow through with prosecuting most of those who challenge the current unconstitutional public health measures.

Martin Luther King Jr following his 1963 arrest in Birmingham
Nor were the slurs, threats, and career reprisals launched at their supporters any gentler than the smears and reprisals launched against those speaking out today, in 2021, against lockdowns, mandatory masks, and vaccine coercion or against those speaking out in favor of freedom of speech and academic freedom.

What was different from today is that they stood firm against police brutality and mass arrests and did not allow themselves to be cowed into silence. Dr. King recognized that their most important audience was not the government, but rather their silent supporters watching cautiously from the sidelines. What those hesitating on the sidelines saw on the front pages of their newspapers and on full display every evening on the 6 o'clock news was unwavering courage. That courage called attention to the fact that the ideas they were fighting for were grounded in rock-solid moral principles so fundamental to their life, their liberty, and their pursuit of happiness that it was necessary to stand up for them at all costs, even in the face of extreme police brutality. That courage taught others that it was safe to stand alongside them, that it was worthwhile for the silent good people to add their voices to the chorus. 

There is safety in numbers, but only when those numbers stand firm. There is weight to a demand, but only when enough people refuse to sit down and shut up. If that resolve is missing among your peers, then standing up for what is right is merely noise without a purpose, an opportunity to throw yourself to the lions for the sake of someone else's entertainment on social media.  

As long as Dr. King and his peers remained peaceful in the face of police brutality, they comfortably retained the moral high ground. But the justness of their cause would never have won the day without their unrelenting courage. That courage drew more and more people into the movement even as the government was driven to ever greater and more violent extremes to try to stamp it out. Courage fed the fire, whereas even a hint of cowardice would have extinguished it. A whisper of hesitation and their crowds of supporters would have melted away like puffs of smoke filtering through the trees. Why stand beside someone who is not even willing to fight for their own freedom? 

U.S. Army trucks loaded with Federal law enforcement personnel on the University of Mississippi campus 1962

By standing strong in large numbers, they forced the issue. They showed that this was not a half-hearted game. They showed that they'd placed all their chips on the table with a resolve matching the words that gave America its freedom from the British two hundred years earlier, "Give me liberty, or give me death." 

"Give me liberty, or give me death!", lithograph from the Library of Congress

By refusing to flinch in the face of tyranny, at any cost, they forced government into a corner. Their resolve gave government only two choices, stand down or go all in on unrestrained tyranny. Come to the negotiating table or roll out the tanks, like China did in Tiananmen Square in 1989. No-one likes a bully. The world was watching. 

Tiananmen Square protest, 1989

Government didn't voluntarily choose to talk out of the goodness of its heart or because of the weight of Dr. King's arguments. Dr. King and his peers forced government to the negotiating table because its only other alternative - tanks and ever greater brutality - would have destroyed its legitimacy as a liberal democracy and would have galvanized its entire population, and the world, against the government. So, Dr. King got his wish. They talked. That negotiation led America to turn the page on segregation and forced America to finally live up to its foundational ideal that all men are created equal. Dr. King's high stakes gamble succeeded. And yet he personally paid for that successful gamble with his life. 

Forcing the Community to Pick a Side

In 1775, the resolve behind give me liberty or give me death was met with British troops. In the 1960s, it was met with negotiation. But in both cases, the oppressive government lost because the finality of that resolve not only put the government in a corner, but even more importantly, it also forced the rest of the population to choose a side. No-one could turn a blind eye to the issue anymore. By refusing to stand down, everyone in the community, from the most exalted politician to the most humble peasant in the country, was forced to take a stand on one side of the issue or the other, and was confronted with the morality (or immorality) of their choice, something that they would have to live with for the rest of their lives. There was no more looking away, no more pushing the issue down the road for another day. Choose your side. Now. 

So, the real high stakes gamble was not a question of what the government would do. The real gamble was on the community itself. Once a broad enough swathe of the community sided with Dr. King's cause, the government's options were reduced to just a single choice - negotiation - but had the community mood been overwhelmingly against him, Dr. King would probably have met his fate in the street under the crushing weight of a government tank instead of at the hands of a resentful assassin in the aftermath of a successful negotiation.

Dr. King explained his tactic in his 1963 Letter from Birmingham Jail:

"You may well ask: “Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?” You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored." 

His words recall those of Étienne de la Boétie, who published his Discourse on Voluntary Servitude #CommissionsEarned in 1577. His famous essay has formed the philosophical basis for most movements using peaceful civil disobedience ever since:

"Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces."

What worked to strip the Colossus of its pedestal in the 1960s is not automatically the same recipe that will work in 2021. Resolve alone is not enough to force the negotiation. There is also the question of which side the community will choose in any kind of high stakes game of brinksmanship. This has big implications for the path we must tread in 2021. Resolve must be paired to the correct strategy to match the circumstances of the times. Not every nail requires the same kind of hammer.

The Birth of a New Colossus

In 1939, another Colossus was beginning to consolidate its power in Western Europe. Upon recognizing the threat, Winston Churchill issued a warning that we would be wise to remember as various low-stakes opportunities to confront our government keep presenting themselves - opportunities that do not require the kind of high-stakes brinkmanship that Dr. King played.

“If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.” ~ Winston S. Churchill

Our modern-day Colossus is currently in the process of consolidating its power over us. This is not yet the entrenched beast that Dr. King faced. The pedestal is still shaky and weak, although it is growing stronger by the day. Not every challenge to tyranny needs to be like Dr. King's high stakes game of brinkmanship to be effective. Some rights are easy to defend, especially while the Colossus is still finding its feet. Tyranny is easiest to defeat if it is simply denied the breathing space to emerge.

Sadly, that's not what has been happening in 2020/2021. One opportunity after another keeps passing us by and as a result the game is getting harder and more dangerous to play. So, before I return to a discussion about strategy, I'd like to tell you the sad lessons I've been learning as I watch this new Colossus consolidate its power over us and how we - the critics and dissenters - are responding to it, teaching it what it can do, and unintentionally encouraging it to ever greater extremes. These lessons have grave consequences for what options are open to us, and what options are not, in our quest to win back our rights and freedoms. 

Uncomfortable Lessons in Liberty

On protecting the rights of our elderly:

When nursing home patients were forced into isolation, unable to see their families and left to wither away in loneliness and despair, where were their relatives? Most were complaining from the safe sidelines of social media and, frequently, from behind an anonymous avatar. Why didn't they resolve to tear down the gates of the nursing homes while, as Winston Churchill said, "victory was sure and not too costly"? Apparently, coming to the rescue of their elderly loved ones wasn't important enough after all. Who's going to stand up now, knowing full well that they'll be standing alone? Message received.

On protecting our children and grandchildren:

Children have been subjected to school closures, masks, endless PCR testing, cancelled sports, the destruction of their social interactions with other kids, and many other increasingly bizarre health measures that have no basis in science, despite the fact that the CDC's own data unequivocally shows that this virus poses less risk to children than the seasonal winter flu. Their education has been dramatically compromised and self-harm, suicide ideation, and countless other mental health issues are soaring. But where were the parents who understood how wrong all this was? Most were complaining from the safe sidelines of social media. Why weren't they protesting in front of schools by the millions? Why aren't they doing so now? Who's going to stand up and fight for these children if their own parents aren't even willing to defend them? Message received.

On protecting freedom of religion, freedom of association, and freedom of peaceful assembly:

Imagine if all churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and other religious organizations had opened together in solidarity with Pastor Coates when he was arrested for refusing to close his church. It would have forced the issue. How many worshippers and how many religious leaders would police have hauled off to jail before the government would have been forced to stand down in embarrassment? But who is going to open their church doors now knowing they will be left standing alone to be picked off, one by one? And once they finish with the Christian churches, do the other religious groups honestly think it will stop there? Apparently religious freedoms aren't all that important after all. Message received. 

On protecting our freedom to pursue the gaining of a livelihood:

Where do you think we'd be today if all small businesses across the country had opened in solidarity with Adamson BBQ? As we watched the government's initially hesitant efforts to make an example of Adam Skelley, and as we watched those efforts grow increasingly authoritarian, community opposition failed to materialize, and his silent small-business peers taught everyone else that his lonely example awaits anyone that takes a stand. Arresting one business owner was easy. Arresting business owners by the thousands would have overwhelmed the government's ability to follow through and the madness would have stopped in an instant. Apparently, their right to earn a living and the survival of their businesses aren't all that important after all. Message received. Amazon and Walmart send their thanks. And rub their hands in glee every time the next wave of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders is unleashed on their local competitors.

On protecting our individual bodily autonomy:

We've seen countless examples on social media of protesters getting tickets for failing to wear a mask, of police issuing tickets for sitting too close together in the park, of security guards harassing shoppers and denying them entry for shopping without a mask, and even of airlines tossing passengers off planes despite having valid mask exemptions or because their 2-year-old refused to wear a mask. How did outraged onlookers respond? They whipped out their smartphones to record some footage to post on social media. Such bravery. 

There's a noble-sounding meme going around social media that says, "Where we go one, we go all." Apparently, it's just hot air though. It should read, "when they come for you, we'll watch them take you." Why didn't outraged onlookers take off their masks, link arms like Dr. King and his peers did, and stand peacefully alongside those being targeted, a dare to police to "ticket one and you have to ticket us all", a dare to corporate security guards to "deny one and you have to deny us all", a dare to airlines to "ban one and you have to ban us all."

In the early stage of tyranny while the Colossus was still weak, what police department would have dared risk a headline like that, day after day after day? What store would have stood up against that kind of bad publicity? How long would airlines have pulled that stunt before a competitor would have stolen their customers by declaring themselves willing to respect our constitutional rights and freedoms? 

When you see someone else's rights and freedoms get trampled, and you say nothing, remember that their rights are your rights, and that their freedoms are your freedoms. Apparently, your rights and freedoms weren't that important after all if you witnessed a confrontation like that and stood by silently, only crying out if it was your turn under the jackboot. Message received. 

The window of opportunity to confront this nonsense through these kinds of low-cost confrontations is beginning to close. Germany is in the process of overriding state autonomy with newly expanded national powers. Michigan is trying to pass legislation to make its pandemic health mandates permanent. Oregon is considering making mask and social distancing mandates permanent. Ontario has just expanded its police powers under suffocating new Stay-At-Home Orders. And the Canadian federal government is flirting with the idea of invoking the Emergency Measures Act (formerly called the War Measures Act), which would strip the provinces of their authority and consolidate all pandemic management in the hands of the federal government, as well as giving the federal government the authority to bypass Parliament in order to govern by executive order. This terrifying consolidation and entrenching of powers is repeating itself in many corners of the world. The rules are ratcheting up at a rate to match the awakening of the masses. It soon won't matter how many people wake up to what's being done to them if the regime successfully digs in.

Public apathy allowed the heavy hand of the state to normalize itself; now it is legitimizing itself by granting itself enhanced powers. Now the police, the companies, and the airlines, they'll dare crack down on us even if we do stand up and make them look like tyrants because we've taught them that public resistance quickly melts away after a few feeble complaints. A few insignificant concessions here and there when there's a broader public outcry don't change the overarching trend. They take a mile, give back an inch to release a bit of pressure, and then take another mile. 

But more importantly, the tightening rules now make it much more costly for police, companies, and airlines if they do try to show restraint because of the increasing risk that they too will face costly reprisals if they fail to enforce the government's growing list of heavy-handed rules. They also have a risk/reward calculation to make every time they are confronted with opposition to the rules.

On protecting our right to peaceful protest:

And what about protests - the tool of last resort in a democracy when government stops listening to its people? There have been a few biggish ones, here and there, particularly in Europe, but nothing truly earth-shattering on a scale to make elected officials doubt their prospects for re-election. A year into the greatest violation of individual rights and freedoms in the history of our country, on a day when simultaneous protests were held in cities all across the country and all around the world, only 300-ish brave souls made the effort in Ottawa-Gatineau, our national capital (!), with a metropolitan area of over 1.3 million (that's a turnout of only 0.02% of the city's population).

All those who failed to show up sent a very loud message. "Don't bother next time, we don't care enough about our rights and freedoms to take our complaining off social media." 300 people aren't going to force the government to negotiate. Next time, why risk the tickets (or the tear gas, as was used by Montreal's police a week earlier)? Message received.

Protest in Gatineau, QC, Canada for the World Wide Rally For Freedom, on March 20th, 2021

This is what a peaceful crowd flooding the streets of your national capital needs to look if you want to force your government to take your rights and freedoms seriously. Especially while the risk of tanks is still vanishingly low. Another time perhaps. 
The nonviolent Rose Revolution, in Tbilisi, Georgia, one of the many color revolutions that toppled governments in Eastern Europe in the aftermath of the Soviet era.

Small scattered protests are easy to harass with tickets and tear gas, as has been happening routinely in various cities across our country. But do you really think the police would dare harass a peaceful crowd of several hundred thousand or a cool million? Consider that there are well over 15 million people living within a radius of 4.5 hours drive by car from Ottawa (this includes Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec City). Imagine if all those large and small cities holding their own separate protests and if all the people complaining on social media who live within this catchment area, if they all simply combined their efforts to focus exclusively on protesting in the national capital. Parliament Hill would drown in a sea of people! 

Our federal politicians would be forced to take note. And the media wouldn't be able to ignore an event of that scale. These numbers are possible, even today, despite our relatively small minority in the population. But only if people stop deluding themselves that shouting into the social media void from anonymous accounts will make a difference. Get off your backsides and let yourselves be counted! And stop splintering your efforts among countless separate protests. Small numbers wither away. Big numbers draw in even bigger crowds. Combine! Take it to the capital! Is a 4-hour drive too big of an inconvenience for what's at stake?

On defending freedom of speech:

When Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube started censoring leading scientists and doctors for speaking out against the government's narrative, everyone complained on social media as they watched accounts get taken out, one by one. But how many followed those accounts elsewhere, to Gab and Minds and Odysee and Rumble, and to other platforms that are immune from censors and immune from the screeching mobs that force Big Tech to do their bidding? Vanishingly few, and the exodus has largely reversed because we all eventually drift back to where the action is. A public forum requires widespread active participation if the act of opening an account is to become more than a symbolic gesture.

Those alternate social media platforms are under sustained attack by the media, by the Big Tech companies that host their internet servers, by government agencies, and even by banks. If Gab or Minds or Odysee had 70+ million regular users, these alternate social media platforms wouldn't be easy to cancel. And a huge userbase like that would send a message far louder than any crowd of protesters gathering in the streets ever could. A million-strong protest in a city may rattle a local politician. But an online crowd of 70+ million freedom-loving social media users who believe strongly enough in their rights and freedoms to actually take concise actions to abandon censorious platforms? That's a crowd of such massive proportions that the world would take notice! Advertisers would be incentivized to stand up to the screeching mob to be able to reach such a large audience. Politicians at all levels of government would be able to recognize that catering to a crowd that large will translate into meaningful wins at the ballot box. The tide would be turned because the crowd, not the politicians, took the lead. 

Complaining on a censorious platform doesn't send the same message because complaints are followed by rolling over, not actions. Compliance is a signal that no change in strategy is needed to retain disgruntled customers or disgruntled voters. Voters and customers don't need to be happy; they just need to be loyal to be bankable. The free-market solution to stop corporate censorship and to send a powerful message to apathetic politicians is within our reach, but it is largely ignored because all too many are unwilling to stop being loyal to their abusers.

But with only a smallish number of dedicated users, these last bastions of free speech are easily smeared with every slanderous false accusation under the sun and are probably just counting the days until they are snuffed out by regulation imposed "for our safety". How will we be able to discover what's true and what's not in this mad world if we allow free speech to become censored speech? How do we preserve what's left of scientific debate if we don't stand in solidarity with those scientific voices that are being silenced and driven off of the public forums curated by Big Tech? How do we win hearts and minds if the government is allowed to put limits on what we can say? If government succeeds in censoring free speech (directly or through the unholy semi-formal alliance it is forging with Big Tech), we will have no-one to blame but ourselves for having failed to seize upon the free-market solutions that would have reined this censorship in. In Canada, we are only weeks away from an internet censorship bill being introduced.

If we lose the battle for freedom of speech, everything we say or do to criticize the government and to defend our rights becomes a high stakes gamble. This guide might even become illegal. They always come for the books first, followed by those who write them. But instead of reaching for a free market solution by making the switch, on principle (a switch that would have cost nothing beyond the inconvenience of learning how to use a new platform), everyone is waiting for everyone else to switch first or waiting for some superhero to emerge to fix the problem with more government regulation. A pipe dream. The regulation that is coming is more likely to go the other way, with Big Tech eagerly urging the government to lay on the censorship in order to slam the door on their free speech competitors.

And it's not just citizens who failed to stand in solidarity with those who got censored. The academics who survived the purges on Facebook and Twitter and the content creators that remained untouched on YouTube also failed to make the switch (or, at the very least, to begin cross-posting all their content to these alternate platforms). If they had made this effort in solidarity with their cancelled colleagues, we would all have been forced to follow them to alternate free speech platforms in order to continue hearing what they have to say. We would all have found the switch worthwhile and relatively painless if the same content and the same conversations had been available on these other platforms. Alas, no. Heads down, carry on as before. Why reach for a free-market solution to preserve free speech when we can all just wait for Congress to save the day? Two messages (one from the public and one from the academics and content creators) received for the price of one. It seems it's not just the illiberal far left that has turned its back on free market solutions in favor of government regulation as the preferred answer to everything.

And what of the scientists and doctors and thought leaders in their institutions and universities? A few brave souls have stuck their heads above the ramparts to take a stand for academic freedom and to uphold the principles of science and democracy. But they stand alone against a wall of abuse, censorship, intimidation, funding cuts, and worse. Their colleagues, many of whom agree with them in private, are all keeping their heads down, gritting their teeth, and nodding along in feigned agreement with the mob to avoid being noticed, all desperate to escape the public drubbing that their brave colleagues are facing. The risks are very real if you stand alone. But when you hold back when your first colleague gets cancelled, you guarantee that there will be no-one brave enough to stand up for you when it's your turn. Apparently academic freedom isn't worth fighting for after all. Message received. 

And now we're facing the promotion of digital vaccine passports to give us back our right to travel, work, access public transport, shop, and move freely about the country, all introduced "for our safety". It begins, of course, with just one vaccine and the need to get booster shots every 6 to 12 months. But once established it will inevitably be expanded to others (mission creep) and will inevitably grow to include other conditions and behaviours that government deems necessary to "protect society from harm". A digital "safety" passport, controlled by the government, that permanently welds us to our smartphones so we can show our papers at any time. And that same smartphone also just happens to come with 24-hr surveillance software already pre-installed in the form of contact tracing software. A digital passcode to our lives, which allows government to turn on or turn off our ability to participate in normal life at the stroke of a bureaucratic pen. What could possibly go wrong? It's China's social credit score system by another name. 

These digital passports, along with laws to limit our right to freedom of speech, may be the two most dangerous long-term developments to arise out of the pandemic. Twelve months ago, I would have laughed at anyone suggesting that Western democracies would consider imposing such things. Just one year later that possibility is very real, and it really doesn't matter whether it's introduced by design or by unintentional mission creep - the outcome is the same. 

Once introduced, either by government or through the back door by corporations, these digital passports give government (as well as social media mobs and lobbyists who can influence government) a point of leverage over each and every one of us, which allows even the most innocuous form of dissent, like saying the wrong thing on social media or publishing a critical essay on a website, to be labeled as harmful to society and in need of being stamped out for the "greater good". Comply, or get shut out of regular society. Shut up, or lose access to your life. Heed Winston Churchill's words and don't let it get to that point.

Yet where's the resistance to vaccine passports? There's a small outcry on social media, of course, but even so, we're watching one person after another, many of whom were among the most clear-sighted critics of other pandemic measures, get their vaccination so they can feel safe, avoid accusations of being an "anti-vaxxer", and get their lives back. If this is the hill to make our stand, it's starting to look like a very lonely hill. 

The mere whiff of vaccine passports as a precondition to participating in normal life should have made this vaccine a principled "NO" for everyone, no matter their personal circumstances and no matter how safe or effective they consider the emergency-authorized vaccine to be. Imposing a two-tiered system of segregated rights controlled by a digital passport would be impossible as long as the majority refuses to get vaccinated. Only after the government's flirtation with vaccine passports is thoroughly defeated, only then should anyone weigh the risks and rewards of the vaccine, on a case-by-case basis, as is appropriate for any vaccine that is offered freely and without coercion. But yet again, avoiding inconvenience outweighs principles. The mere threat of coercion is already achieving its desired effect and so the resistance melts away before the fight has even properly begun.


I could go on, but I think you get the point. These examples were (and some still are) the low-hanging fruit to win back our rights and freedoms. None require the level of risk-taking or the extreme courage that was necessary for Dr. King's high-stakes game of brinkmanship. If we ignore this low-hanging fruit now, while the Colossus is still weak, our options only get much harder and more dangerous from here. But how do you win a battle if no-one can be counted on to turn up for the fight? Why bother exposing yourself to risk in defense of freedoms that hardly anyone else seems willing to defend? 

And don't think it's just your fellow citizens watching. The government is also getting the message. Each new layer of restrictions is built on the complacent acceptance of the last. The Colossus is building its pedestal because we have let it. Why stop when there are only a few disgruntled misfits speaking out. Because that's all those brave souls are - misfits - if they are left standing alone while their supporters dive for cover at the drop of a hat. The loudest message you can send is the appalling silence of the good people. 

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” ~ Dr Martin Luther King Jr

Courage and Resolve

People are suffering and want this madness to stop. Desperately. I do not doubt that. And they are rightfully afraid for their jobs, their reputations, shunning from friends and family, a mortgage that might not get paid, and a potential nightmare of legal fees if they stand up and speak out against this madness. And not just if they engage in civil disobedience - even holding the wrong opinion in your workplace can get you fired or defunded, with years of litigation to overturn a wrongful dismissal or defend a reputation against libel. In the current hysteria, even the courts can clearly no longer be relied upon to rule in your favor, even if you are 100% within your rights. Everyone has a lot to lose. No-one is immune from the risks that come along with standing up and speaking out.

But by holding back, by staying invisible, the silent good people are asking someone else to do the heavy lifting. While everyone hopes for someone else with less vulnerabilities to step forward to fix the problem, the few brave souls who do stand up just get picked off, one by one. Standing alone against a tsunami is not courage. There's a fine line between courage and foolhardiness. 

It'll never be safe. And it's getting less safe by the day. We are over a year into this madness. The window of opportunity for a "sure and not too costly" victory, to echo the words of Winston Churchill, is slamming shut as we speak. By now the politicians, the media, the police, the bulk of the scientific and medical community, and even the courts have made it perfectly clear that they have no intention of putting the brakes on this burgeoning regime of terror. They won't budge until they feel the public mood begin to shift against them. 

Nor will some magic new piece of evidence turn the tide. Each new study is merely repeating what we already knew with absolute certainty. The epidemiological data and medical research, the principles of human rights, and long-standing pandemic guidelines have been crystal clear, publicly available, and consistently ignored from Day One. Adding to a mountain of evidence will not make a difference if the mountain was already clear.

“You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place.” ~ Jonathan Swift

Complaining in private, or within social media bubbles, is a dangerous self-delusion because it gives us a flattering illusion of “doing our part” while actually achieving nothing at all. In some ways it is even worse than doing nothing because, as long as you believe that you are contributing in this way, you absolve yourself of the responsibility to participate in any of the productive but more difficult efforts described throughout this guide, efforts which actually stand a chance of having an impact. We are our own worst enemies in this fight.

We only have each other to rely on to push back. Our feet and our voices. And nothing else. We MUST have each other's backs and we must put ourselves out there, outside of our comfort zones, because there is no-one and nothing else that can lift us out of this mess.

The Non-Existent Threat of Civil War.

My promise to you in this guide was to expose the beast that we are facing. That means looking at all angles and even addressing the uncomfortable undercurrents that are boiling under the surface. One of those undercurrents, which many political commentators have warned about, is that the growing hatred between political tribes is sowing the seeds of civil war. 

The pandemic is just one of the forces fueling that hatred, but it is perhaps the most dangerous force because it has caused the other side not only to despise us, but to view us as a danger to their survival because the government has used us as the scapegoat to deflect from the ineffectiveness of the measures they are implementing. This is a recipe for a human rights disaster of terrifying proportions. You don't have to spend much time on Twitter to see the threats and extremes that are starting to bleed into the public forum. It's no longer appropriate to call it a conversation or dialogue. It's a purely one-sided monologue, it's authoritarian, and it's scary.

"War is the continuation of politics by other means." ~ Carl von Clausewitz

So, the hatred is there. And the political commentators are correct to point out that the political process, which is meant to work through differences between warring tribes, has ceased to function as a way to overcome differences and arrive at truths. But civil war cannot and will not resolve this debacle. All the other ingredients (besides hatred), which are prerequisites to a civil war do not exist. Not even in the USA, where hatred between political tribes has reached extremes not seen since the eve of their Civil War in 1861. 

I've decided to briefly address this uncomfortable topic for two reasons. One reason is to debunk any expectation that the destruction of our rights and freedoms can be resolved through the nightmare of war. The other reason is to address those who, out of disgust or frustration, have resigned themselves to the inevitability of war, and who have therefore abandoned the peaceful battle for hearts and minds at a time when their participation is needed most.

Warring parties require separate geographic power bases, fully under their control, from which to wage war. America vs Britain in 1776. North vs South in 1861. Germany vs Britain in 1940. State vs state is possible. Region vs region is possible. But when the division is so granular that it pits neighbor vs neighbor, there is no geographic division from which to wage war. 

Individual battles are won by courage and guns. But wars are won or lost because of their supply chains. There is no war to be fought when your supposed troops live in jurisdictions controlled by your enemy. Where will you get your dinner after the first day of fighting? Where will you sleep when it's no longer safe to go home? Once the first shot is fired and the sun sets on the first day of murderous anarchy, the streets will fill with the controlling side's military, followed by Soviet levels of vice-like control and boxcars to transport the losers to the gulags. Forget this route.

You cannot fight a war without a supply base and without an economy that you can tax to raise funds. Without these ingredients, you're left with a pathetic poorly equipped underground insurgency - think IRA in Ireland, FARC in Columbia, or ETA in Spain - which cannot support itself through the regular economy and therefore soon devolves to drug running, gun smuggling, prostitution, kidnapping and other criminal activities in order to fund itself away from the watchful eye of the government and soon degenerates into terrorizing the population as a way to avoid fading into irrelevancy. This is a well-trodden model used by socialist revolutionaries who believe the end justifies the means to achieve their utopias, but not for decent hardworking honest principled citizens who believe in universal rights and freedoms, and whose morals dictate that the means is the end. That is, after all, the core essence of the philosophical battle in which we find ourselves. Forget about it. 

Even the French Resistance during the Second World War was a farce. They spent most of their time battling each other in factional infighting and begging their British sponsors to send more supplies. There are no outside sponsors for this fight. The entire world seems to have lost its mind all at once. Without separate geographic supply bases, there is no war to be had. Be grateful. Civil war is Hell and by the time it's over the atrocities committed by both sides ensure that no-one is left with the moral high ground, no matter what noble things historians may say about it afterwards. History is written by the victors to hide the horrors of their own side.

Even in America, those separate supply bases don't exist today. It may have Red vs Blue states, but the political map hides the reality that everything is much closer to a 50/50 split - county by county, city by city, neighborhood by neighborhood, and even neighbor by neighbor. The clear geographic boundaries between states that existed in 1861 on the eve of their Civil War simply don't exist anymore. And the self-sufficient farming communities of 1861 have been replaced with wage-earning highly indebted citizens who can't really afford to take the day off work to wage war, lest their families starve on the streets in their absence. Forget about it.

If this growing hatred boils over, without separate geographic supply bases, it will take the form of suffocating oppression by those who control the institutions and the levers of power against those who don't. The low-cost options - the low-hanging fruit described in this guide - are the only tools for this battle because there is no "taking it to the next level." The price for silence and inaction today is not a repeat of 1776 or 1861 America, it is the gulags, purges, and intentional famines of the Soviet era, or the perpetual government-led revolutions and struggle sessions of Maoist China, or the gradual decline into starvation and misery in present-day Venezuela, or the suffocating social credit score system and re-education camps of present-day China. Those are the historic models you need to look at in order to predict what happens if hatred boils over without separate geographic supply bases. The price of inaction today will be unrestrained tyranny, not war.

Believing in a war that will never come is a dangerous and self-defeating self-delusion. The anticipation leads to inaction, which gives the Colossus time and space to solidify its grip on society. If silent good people do not stand up and speak out now because they have convinced themselves that they'll do their part later, once all hell breaks out and there's a civil war, they are the freedom fighting heroes of a war that will only ever be fought in their imaginations. It's a convenient self-delusion to rationalize inaction - the brain's sneaky trick to legitimize the paralysis caused by fear and uncertainty by making a sincerely intended promise to a non-existant future. It's a kind of deferred courage, a devil's bargain made with themselves, which excuses them from today's fight. They are exempting themselves from the uncomfortable battle for hearts and minds today because they will risk life, limb, bone, and blood in tomorrow's fight. Today's courage traded away in exchange for the promise of tomorrow's bravery. But there will be no civil war.

Where would these brave future heroes find someone to stand alongside them in a future war? Others who have made the same devil's bargain, perhaps? I will not stand with them. They didn't even have the courage to stand with me at a protest before health authorities put limits on attendance. They didn't even come out from behind anonymous social media accounts. They didn't even speak out at work or challenge the institutions and organizations within which they had a voice. They didn't make a stand against vaccine passports, stand up for their children, or throw open their churches and mosques. They're only one more devil's bargain away from skipping out on the next fight too.

Even a single platitude uttered to appease the baying mob sends a signal to their peers that they cannot be trusted to stand firm when the going gets tough. Those I could count on to stand alongside me in a real fight are vanishingly few. Only a fool would risk life and limb to stand alongside someone who didn't show a backbone while there was still comparatively little to lose. If the low-hanging fruit is ignored, there is no war to be fought.

And that is why, even if all the other ingredients required for civil war existed today, like separate geographic bases, there would still be no war. Nothing sends a more powerful message than the silence of the good people. The solidarity required for war begins with courage shown during times of peace. Courage must be proven on the low-hanging fruit before you step into the arena of war. There will be no civil war because there's no-one you can count on to stand alongside you.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” ~ Dr Martin Luther King Jr

The Lifecycle of the Colossus - Different Tactics for Different Times, and the Risk of Backfire

But perhaps my sharp tone isn't entirely fair. Toppling the Colossus is not as simple as just having an abundance of courage and resolve - neither today nor in the 1960s when Dr. King made his stand. Because there is more to the civil rights story than just the unwavering resolve of Dr. King and his peers. Despite some superficial similarities, what we are facing in 2021 is a completely different Colossus set against a completely different set of social circumstances. This is not the same beast. 

The decision to stand firm against tyranny ultimately comes down to a simple risk/reward calculation. Historically, the greatest resolve is always found:

  • among those with nothing left to lose and everything to gain, 
  • after a sustained period of struggle and suffering, 
  • when the nature of the problem they are confronting is absolutely clear,
  • when there is already wide-spread support for the underlying cause, 
  • when there is little love among the broader community for the tyrants holding the leash, 
  • and at a time when the Colossus feels confident in its hold on power and so, inadvertently, relaxes its grip. 

Dr. King had all of these preconditions lined up in his favor. We do not. He had a lifetime to study his Colossus and the community supporting it. We have had mere months, the tyranny is not yet fully matured, and it changes shape from day to day like a hazy mirage on a desert horizon. The shaky legs holding up our blossoming Colossus give us many advantages and options that Dr. King didn't have, but our unfamiliarity with our beast also makes it harder to know how to respond, how to rally support from the community to pursue those options, and what pressure points to focus on to take advantage of its weaknesses. 

That is why I have taken the time to put together this guide. It is an effort to gain perspective on the rapidly evolving and unfamiliar nightmare confronting us in order to match strategy to current reality. Doing something useful begins with having clarity about what exactly is worth doing, and what isn't. Inaction is not necessarily a sign of a lack of courage. It is often simply a lack of knowing what to do, a sign of uncertainty, not knowing what path to take, and an instinctive recognition that lashing out without a clear plan can just as easily make the nightmare worse. 

The sense of powerlessness that comes along with being steamrolled by the state inevitably leads to inaction because, without a clear plan to follow, we freeze, we become paralysed, we duck down like a turtle pulling its head into its shell because we recognize how little power we individually have to make it stop. So, I very much hope that this guide is the urgent nudge that turns inaction into courageous action by providing the necessary clarity about what must be done. It's not too late if we focus our efforts and stand together.

Tactics that work when the Colossus is firmly entrenched and has pressed its full weight on to its citizens for several generations are not necessarily tactics that work well when the Colossus is young, insecure, and only beginning to amass power. They are often not only ineffective, they also often backfire by achieving the exact opposite of their intended goals.

Dr. King's high-risk game of brinkmanship succeeded after more than 70 years of oppressive segregation, not in year 1. East Germans only tore down the Berlin Wall in 1989, after more than four decades of communism, not in 1945 when the Iron Curtain first began go close. Gandhi found many to march alongside him, but only after a 90-year campaign for independence from colonial rule. The trend repeats itself all through history. 

In 1896, when the early foundations for segregation were being laid as a mixture of norms and semi-formal laws in some states in America, a small group of brave anti-segregationists (black and white, working together) orchestrated a carefully crafted act of civil disobedience specifically designed to challenge these emerging laws in court. Their court case was the infamous case of Plessy v. Ferguson. But it backfired spectacularly when the court unexpectedly ruled against them. That ruling legitimized and formalized state segregation laws, placed formal limits on the federal government's ability to intervene, and effectively led to the expansion of the segregation system across the entire country. The public mood overwhelmingly favored segregation and the tide was so strong that the courts yielded to the pressure, constitutional principles be damned. 

The shocking moral of that story is that segregation was formalized and expanded, not because of an effort let by the government, but because of how the government responded to the well-intended efforts of a handful of good-hearted citizens, not unlike Adam Skelley or Pastor Coates, who stood up to challenge the emerging system of segregation laws. Any sane reading of the principles at the heart of their Constitution should have served to get the courts to rein in this grotesque system. Which is why they expected to win. But courts are ultimately only a counterweight to social trends. A constitution only serves as protection as long as the culture is willing to defend the principles at its heart. So, when a popular idea has overwhelmingly broad and sustained public support, even the strongest legal fortifications against unconstitutional measures will simply be reinterpreted away to suit the mood of the times. 

Consequently, the reluctance of our present-day legal system to prosecute those who are falling foul of all these new public health mandates may be a blessing in disguise. It may give the public enough time to fall out of love with its current obsession with suffocating top-down government control as the path to "safety". Be careful what buttons we push.

Early in the lifecycle of a new Colossus, the only way to successfully confront its growing power is to stand together to create such a massive challenge to its authority that its ability to enforce tyrannical new rules is overwhelmed and its support among the public is exposed as lacking. Pastor Coates and Adam Skelley are unlikely to overturn this madness through the courts. Standing alone without a bankable backing of public support, they are mere misfits resisting an overwhelmingly popular trend. Against the current backdrop of mass hysteria, if their civil disobedience reaches a judge, there is no guarantee that the judge would give the evidence a fair hearing. 

This is not mere conjecture. In Pastor Coates' upcoming trial, the court has already exempted the government from having to produce epidemiological evidence to support their lockdowns in its prosecution of Pastor Coates. And the exemption was granted before the trial has even begun! There is nothing fair about a hearing like that. I fear greatly that we are on the cusp of another Plessy v Ferguson moment, which formally legitimizes what has already been normalized. But if all their peers had stood up alongside them, the police and the courts would have been overwhelmed and the sheer scale of the enforcement effort required to round them all up would have exposed the government's authoritarian impulses for all to see. One or two churches or businesses cannot do this alone. Their civil disobedience required widespread and coordinated participation from their peers to be effective.

Even the most repressive regime only rules through the consent of its subjects. To echo the words of Étienne de la Boétie, if a broad enough segment of the public withdraws the pedestal of support, the Colossus will fall of his own weight and break into pieces. 

One person taking off their face mask to trigger a court challenge achieves nothing. 100,000 people taking off their face masks as an intentional dare to police, all together, day in and day out, would overwhelm the system, destroy the illusion of support, and bring the Colossus to its knees. But only if you can count on the other 99,999 to stand strong alongside you when the tickets begin to add up. The fury of the government's reprisals may not yet match what Dr. King faced. But at the moment the government enjoys the enthusiastic support of the crowd, so participation in any effort to challenge the laws must dwarf the participation that Dr. King had in his marches in order to be effective. That lack of participation is the source of all our problems.

Before you can change the world, you must win hearts and minds. In 2021, the grip of the Colossus is only beginning to tighten, much as segregation was just beginning to get established in 1896. Our present-day Colossus still enjoys the loyal support of the majority, which firmly believes in the utopia and the safety that they've been promised. Even many on our side of the issue cannot yet fully accept the scale of the betrayal confronting them as their formerly trusted governments turn so viciously and so suddenly against their constitutional rights and freedoms. The full extent of the squeeze has only become visible to the clearsighted few. And, as bad as it already seems, we still have many of our freedoms (at least on paper) and have yet to taste the full bite of the whip. 

So, for many who are upset about what is being done to us, the benefits of what they may regain by taking a firm public stand - even to reach for the low-hanging fruit - do not yet look sufficiently attractive compared to how much more they could lose if they risk standing up but come up short. Give it time. Wait a bit until the weight of the Colossus becomes a little more obvious and a little more painful to bear. 

The further the government drives people into poverty, the less leverage the government will have through the threat of fines, arrests, and other destructive consequences. There's not much to take from people who have nothing left to give. A generation or two of this madness would, undeniably, erode the credulous support the government currently enjoys and would cultivate the wide-spread resolve needed to topple this Colossus. Time will eventually break through the barriers if hesitant people cannot be convinced to answer the call to action just yet. Nothing builds courage quite like reaching the end of your rope and burying a few loved ones whose lives were turned to dust under the government's hobnailed boots. This cynical long view won't come as consolation to those who have already reached that rock bottom, but it's a real and grim possibility as long as public support for the Colossus remains high and as long as our own side remains hesitant to reach for the low-hanging fruit in the hope that the problem will solve itself. 

This guide began with a description of Dr. King's high stakes tactics, but it is clear that a courageous minority standing alone cannot use a carbon copy of Dr. King's tactics to successfully challenge what is happening to us in 2021. We need broad participation because we're in a different phase of the Colossus' lifecycle where a small group playing a high-stakes game of brinkmanship will be unable to force the community to confront the issue. Its support among the hysterical public, clamouring for safety from the virus, is almost unshakable. Even if you could assemble a small but resolute team of protesters ready to shrug off crippling and escalating fines, long prison terms, and sustained police brutality over months and years, if you force the community (and courts) to pick a side, the frightened public would probably shrug off mass incarceration and even tanks, perhaps even cheer them on, perhaps even demand these authoritarian measures, if their perceived saviours in the ranks of government promised them that these actions would keep them safe from the virus. It's almost certain that some creep on Twitter would suggest it. And it's almost certain that they would find a loud and receptive audience.

The hysteria has reached medieval witch hunt territory. Nothing is too extreme for a frightened crowd as long as the hysteria remains at a rolling boil. Unless courageous action has sufficient participants to utterly overwhelm the government's ability to enforce its new laws and expose the fact that the government's support is not as broad as media and government claim, the action will fail and potentially even backfire.

Achieving that widespread participation is our Achilles Heel. If businesses and churches and parents at schools won't even stand together, then we're also clearly a long way from seeing the massive sea of peaceful public protests that can shake governments to their core using the model of peaceful color revolutions, such as the aforementioned Rose Revolution in post-Soviet Georgia in 2004. The numbers just aren't there yet, even if the government's increasingly authoritarian tendencies are helping to grow those numbers day by day. This tide isn't going to turn because of a few small, scattered, cheeky weekend rallies. 

Those small rallies may actually only be strengthening the Colossus' grip and may only be adding to the hysteria because the frightened public sees those rallies as a source of danger to themselves - alleged virus super-spreader events that the government can blame to distract from its own failures. The government and media have spared no effort in their efforts to denounce dissenters and critics as the reason why the frightened public is trapped in never-ending lockdowns and why they are seeing nonstop "cases" flashing across their television screens. 

And the smaller the group of dissenters, the easier it is to point at them to scare people half to death. As those numbers grow, dissent starts to look like mainstream opinion, and so the illusion is shattered. Hence my earlier recommendation of amalgamating rallies into single large, focused protests. Our Colossus is vulnerable to the low-hanging fruit that uses confrontation to expose and overwhelm its weaknesses, but only if you can be certain to have broad participation.

So, be careful what steps you take lest you trigger another backfire, like Plessy v Ferguson did, which only accelerates the descent into tyranny:

  • Don't give the government an opportunity to formalize its power while it still has the support of the crowd.
  • Think twice about what rules you decide to break before the public mood turns in support of you breaking them. 
  • Make sure you have many to stand beside you when you do break them. 
  • And make sure that you don't reinforce the fears of the frightened crowd with any actions that you take. 

Actions that don't break the rules, but do challenge people to think, are far more likely to change hearts and minds at this early stage of the game. Dr. King needed to coax existing supporters off the sidelines by seeking out confrontation. We are one step further from the goal because that mass of supporters on the sidelines doesn't exist yet - they still need to be created. You cannot convert hysterical citizens into new supporters through tactics that rely on confrontation. The hearts and minds of hysterical citizens first need to be won over with extreme gentleness and kindness and patience in order to get them to put their guard down long enough to begin thinking for themselves again and to recognize that the government's illusion of safety is built on a foundation of sand. 

For example, walking through a grocery store without a mask is not likely to trigger onlookers to join you. On the contrary, you're more likely to trigger their hysterical fight-or-flight response, followed by calls to the police. If your sole goal is to challenge the mask law in court, go for it (but remember Plessy v Ferguson and be careful what you wish for). But if your goal is to reach the hearts and minds of those still trapped in the grips of panic, this kind of solitary confrontational activism will backfire today. You would have a much better chance of breaking through their wall of fear by quietly standing outside the store with a sign or simply by striking up a pleasant conversation with someone on the street. Help people take down their guard, not put up their guard more firmly. 

Which brings me back to the importance of freedom of speech. The battle for hearts and minds must be fought on YouTube, on the phone, and in person. One by one. In the comfort and safety of their living rooms where they are most likely to put down their guard long enough to peek at the evidence and begin, once again, to think for themselves. It's when they are at home in the silence and safety of their living rooms that they are most likely to start to become aware of the weight of the Colossus bearing down on them. They need time and space to think. Don't give the government the opportunity to distract them from what's really going on by letting the government point at confrontational public displays of dissent as an excuse to keep stoking the public's wide-eyed fear.

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one.” ~ Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds #CommissionsEarned

Standing Alone Is Worse Than Not Standing At All.

Before I return to the strategies designed to win hearts and minds, there is one other warning that must be understood about individuals acting alone to challenge the authority of the Colossus. Beyond the risk of backfire, as described in the previous section, anyone standing up alone risks being used as a tool by the tyrannical regime in order to help it consolidate its power. Getting turned into an example sends a powerful and chilling message to the frightened public and to your hesitant peers. It is the tragic tale of the useful idiot.

If anything, momentary and solitary acts of bravery only provide a free lunch to the wolves, a voluntary victim that the government can exploit as yet another example to intimidate our frightened fellow citizens into compliance. The trusting public sees these solitary failed actions as confirmation of their worst fears ("the government wouldn't have to crack down on these irresponsible rebels if the virus wasn't so dangerous, would they?"). Meanwhile, the silent good people see these brutal crackdowns (and the lack of support that these brave souls receive) as confirmation that taking a stand is pointless and that the risks of speaking out are too high. Don't give your peers the opportunity to demonstrate their lack of resolve, because nothing sends a more powerful message than the silence of the good people.

So, an effort made without the support of your peers is worse than no effort at all. An unsupported effort that ends with the world witnessing you getting broken on the wheel serves only to expand the government's psychological terror campaign as it consolidates its new regime of fear. Solitary bravery that ends in public defeat does not serve the cause of freedom; it only serves to strengthen the grip of the regime.  

The medieval "Breaking Wheel" was a form of justice designed not only to punish also to serve as a
 highly visible public example to deter others. Les Grandes Misères de la guerre, Jacques Callot, 1633

There is no freedom to be found in lonely martyrdom. No-one should dash themselves against the rocks while their enthusiastic supporters cheer from the safe sidelines of social media before swiping right in search of the next outrageous story to retweet. They are waiting for a saviour that will never come. If there aren't enough backbones to stay the course of peaceful resistance in front of nursing homes, schools, small businesses, and churches, then solitary action is a fool's errand, not the spark of a genuine movement to regain our rights and freedoms. Your family won't starve more gently if they see you nailed up alone on a cross.

So, how can I continue to encourage anyone, in good conscience, to attend yet another poorly attended protest that the government can use as a tool to stoke the fears of frightened citizens and use to justify its escalating tyrannical rules? Wait until the public mood begins to turn. How can I continue to encourage any church, mosque, synagogue, or temple to throw open its doors in civil disobedience when, in all probabilities, their peers will cower behind shuttered doors as they watch the lone brave soul rot in jail? Wait until they coordinate amongst each other. How can I continue to urge local businesses to open their doors in defiance of public health orders when it's almost a certainty that the government will turn them into a pariah to intimidate their silent peers and to focus the public's attention away from the government's own failures? Wait for businesses to organize a coordinated effort. 

If people are unwilling to organize, wait. Keep talking to win hearts and minds. But do not engage in solitary civil disobedience. You cannot overwhelm enforcement efforts and expose tyranny when you stand alone. So, wait until people are willing to organize a coordinated challenge of the low-hanging fruit. Waiting may be the fastest way to grow our support because while we don't give the frightened public anything to focus on, they might start noticing what the Colossus is doing to them and how unpleasant life actually is without their rights and freedoms. 

"Never interrupt the enemy when he is making mistakes." Sun Tzu, The Art of War #CommissionsEarned

Options With Teeth - Undermining the Colossus Without Breaking the Law

But that doesn't mean we don't have any options while we wait for community support to grow. There are still many other equally and perhaps even more effective options available to challenge the Colossus and to win hearts and minds, which don't require breaking any public health measures or engaging in tense confrontations with the police.

We still have our bodily autonomy, so we can refuse to even consider taking the emergency-authorized vaccines until vaccine passports (in any form) come off the table. If we can convince enough people to join us on that mission, it will humiliate the government. Once one threat is disarmed as a toothless bluff and people recognize the risk that they dodged, the rest of the dominoes will begin to fall as the crowd gains courage (and perspective) from the initial success.

We also still have the freedom to start actively promoting free market solutions to the current assault on free speech. Transfer your online conversations to platforms where they are resistant to censorship. Make it hard for them to cancel our voices. (I'm on Gab and Minds and Odysee, but I'm happy to go where the crowd goes). Send a loud message to advertisers, and politicians, and Big Tech that we will not be loyal to our abusers and that we are a sizeable audience worth catering to. 

Put pressure on your favorite social media accounts and on your favorite content creators (regardless of topic/focus) to get them to make the switch too in defense of free speech. Make it clear to them that you will reward their efforts by being a loyal audience on the new platforms - make it worth their time and effort to take a stand. 

And take the time to encourage all your family, friends, and coworkers to do the same. And encourage them to cancel their cable subscriptions - let's stop rewarding fake news with dollars and eyeballs. It won't be easy to break the entrenched habits of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and cable TV, but it's a much smaller step than getting people to start showing up to protests!

Free speech is the line that must be defended at all costs. If all other hills have not been worth defending, freedom of speech is the last hill, our most precious right, from which all other freedoms flow. Without it, we cannot win hearts and minds.

Portrait of Escrava Anastacia - by Jacque Arago - 1839

If we don't defend free speech, there is nothing else left to defend. The bans are coming sooner than you think. As I mentioned before, but it is worthwhile emphasizing once more, here in Canada Bill C-10 is only weeks away, promoted by the government in the name of "safety". So, start making some noise to let our elected officials know what we think about that. Raise awareness among your friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Don't let our anger about masks and lockdowns distract us from the legal assault that's underway to take away our right to speak freely. And it's a good conversation starter since most people, even those who are terrified of the virus, haven't completely forgotten the value of this fundamental right. Once the door opens to one conversation, another is sure to follow. 

Excerpts from a CBC article in which Canada's Minister of Heritage, Steven Guilbeault explains the purpose of new legislation (Bill C-10) that's currently on it's way to Parliament.

While we still have our voices, we better make relentless use of them to keep talking to people. We must win the hearts and minds of the frightened public. Refuse to shut up! Our voices are the tool for this battle. 

Perhaps we can still coax the silent and the anonymous out of the shadows, to come out from behind anonymous social media accounts, to speak out at work, at school, in public, and with friends and family. They need to stand up and be counted in the real offline world. They need to break their appalling silence to help us shatter the illusion of conformity that exists outside of the low-risk realm of social media. The frightened public needs to see our numbers visibly growing in order to get them to start questioning whether they are on the right side of history.

The silent good people need to show that they can pass the test of ostracization, shaming, name calling, smears, intimidation, and all the rest of the unpleasantness that comes with voicing unpopular opinions in the face of a hostile crowd. Then, and only then, will we reach a critical mass capable of breaking the illusion of conformity and turning the mood of the crowd. Then, and only then, can anyone count on having enough community support to harvest the various low-hanging fruit described in this guide. If we're lucky, and if enough voices make themselves heard soon enough, neither a repeat of Dr. King's high-stakes march to freedom nor a repeat of the color revolutions may even be necessary. We just need to reach the hearts and minds of the crowd. We just need the politicians to notice there's a change in the wind.

Know Your Audience - Talking Our Way Out of a Tight Corner

In summary, as it stands today in 2021, Dr. King's mass of silent good people doesn't exist yet. We are so vanishingly few, even if we are growing more numerous by the day. The real battle at this stage of the game is to create that mass of silent good people that will stand alongside us at any cost. 

Dr. King's tactics catered perfectly to his audience because he knew exactly who he needed to reach. We must adjust our game because we're playing to a very different audience. 

Our first audience are those who already agree with us but are afraid to stand up and speak out. The silent good people. They already exist in small numbers, but they must be encouraged to come out from behind anonymous social media accounts and make their presence visible in the offline world. Their visibility is key to breaking the illusion of conformity holding so many hostage to fear. By continuing to speak out, publicly, relentlessly, in spite of the mobbing, we will grow our numbers by showing those hesitating on the sidelines that if they give voice to their doubts and dare to speak out, we will stand along side them against the screeching mob. Unrelenting visibility will begin to cultivate the resolve that is necessary to successfully pursue some of the low-cost strategies mentioned throughout this guide.

And our second audience is the hearts and minds of our frightened fellow citizens. They will not be rescued through visible demonstrations of civil disobedience. They will not be rescued by bickering with politicians and activists on social media. They have to be rescued from their hysterical panic, one by one, away from social media and away from their television screens. Theirs is a psychological battle fought in living rooms, not on the streets. We must disarm their fears long enough to allow them, once again, to begin to think for themselves. 

Even though their support for the Colossus is ultimately what is holding us hostage, they are not the enemy. Mass hysteria, like Stockholm Syndrome, is a crippling psychological condition, which makes its victims stubborn, blind, paranoid, often abusive towards those trying to help them, sometimes even dangerous, but nonetheless in need of rescue. We need to patiently break down the psychological barriers holding our friends and loved ones hostage to fear. The facts are on our side. We do not need to fear debate. We just need to gently get the conversation going. 

So in short, we must make ourselves as visible as possible to break the illusion of conformity, but we must also be very careful about what confrontational civil disobedience tactics. Without the support of the crowd, many of these tactics backfire because they give the regime a tool to stoke the fear of the crowd. By creating scenarios that allow the government to blame us for the scary out-of-context numbers on the front pages of the news, we become the useful idiots that the government uses to justify expanding its power. 

We need to disarm their fears, not stoke them. Instead, resort to friendly conversations. Share data. Share articles. Extend the offer of a friendly handshake, forcing them to choose between irrational fear and friendship. Ask questions - make them struggle to untangle the nonsense they've been fed by "trusted sources" for the past 15 months. Make them hear their own voices. Go for a beer with frightened peers and make fun of the endless hypocrisies and irrational decisions made by government. Send a meme to a friend. That is what it means to fight a psychological war. It's neither glorious nor gritty. Winning over loved ones in the grips of predatry government propaganda requires love, not anger, at a time when they frustrate us most.

Bit by bit, our friends and families will notice they are not surrounded exclusively by frightened people. As we make ourselves visible, they will notice themselves living alongside sane, rational, friendly, smiling people who are unafraid to live their lives and who are not crippled by fear. Peer pressure, the hand of friendship, the offer of comaraderie, the reassurance confidence of someone not living in fear, the power of an unmasked smile, and the ability to project calm while others are losing their heads - these are the magic touches required to help people slowly recover their senses, one by one. 

Be the rock. The friend. The calm voice in the room. The one who responds to the fear of others with a laugh and a reassuring tease. Comedy can break through barriers that logic cannot.

The other side only offers fear, adrenalin, and anger. It is not sustainable to surround yourself with that for very long. People need time and space and lack of confrontation to notice there are no bodies piling up on street corners. Help them turn off the TV. Encourage their independent thinking. Don't try to do their thinking for them - the other side has been craming their voices into other people's heads - help them take back autonomy over the space between their own ears. Sometimes helping people find silence is the most powerful thing you can do to force people to confront the thoughts and forbidden doubts rolling around in their heads. Over time, all people gravitate towards life-giving options. Be that option and the Colossus will fall. 

Strength. Questions. Silence. And above all, unconditional friendship, so rare in this partisan climate of fear. Offer these alternatives and soon our exhausted friends and families will gravitate towards us to find shelter from the mental mayhem. There is more than one kind of safety. A rational voice gives a frightened mind an anchor to cling to when all else surrounding them is fear, confusion, and hate. Be the door out of the mental asylum. Keep your arms open wide. At some point they will accept the invitation to step through the door. Be the alternative to the storm and the Colossus will fall.


First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—

     Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—

     Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

     Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

~ Poem by Martin Niemöller, as displayed by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


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  1. Good article - the only thing I disagree with is the idea of fighting the mask mandate by standing outside shops with a sign. I think you’d just be ignored, at best - ridiculed or abused at worst. Here in the UK we have various exemptions to the mask mandate including distress or anxiety caused by their use. Why more people don’t capitalise on this is beyond me - perhaps it’s the power of peer pressure, perhaps deep down they actually like having their faces covered - but the number of times I’ve been asked about it and then told sadly ‘I wish I was as brave as you’, is one of the saddest things I’ve experienced since this whole sorry farce began.

    1. I'm glad yo enjoyed it Rose. And I agree with using exemptions! If you are getting that kind of response, use it as much as possible. Here, we've seen citizens wrestled down on the pavement for trying to go into stores - the hysteria is so great that it's a technique as likely to backfire as to break the illusion of consensus.

      My point about standing outside with the sign was that confrontation is not going to win over frightened citizens - and the government is brushing off confrontation. So the key to winning hearts and minds of frightened citizens is to try to strike up pleasant non-confrontational conversation with frightened citizens to try to get them to let down their guard long enough to start thinking independently again. Strike up a conversation, invite a frightened friend for a beer, reach out gently and let them go at their own pace, just don't let up. As soon as they let their guard down long enough to look at the data with their own eyes, they will do the rest themselves.

  2. we think that history is something dull and dead that we can read in books, and that we are immune to the tragic follies that are chronicled in those books—without realizing that since March 2020 we’ve been writing the next tragic and surreal chapter which—God willing—future generations might look back on with the same nonchalant disinterest as we look today at MLK et al.
    your words are humbling and alarming and inspiring… as I am awkwardly waging “my peaceful battles for hearts and minds” online. your voice expands my mind. thank you Julius! (Julius… hmm… nomen est omen?)

    1. Much appreciated! I agree, we are living through a turning point in history - history is alive and as brutish as ever!

  3. “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” - Mother Teresa


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