|Wendell Phillips, the great agitator|
Jason Peirce emails:
Excellent points on the necessity of taking “the battle for liberty” to the intellectuals and second-hand-dealers (as you put it in “Are the Masses Intellectual Cowards?”)
This dovetails with Ron Paul’s stressing of the role of “The Agitator” in the “Slavery” chapter of his fine book “Liberty Defined.” Paul also implies the importance of not compromising -- any way -- in the battle for liberty (like say, by justifying a Trump over a Hillary).
So, what is an “Agitator”? After pointing out that modern American citizens are essentially slaves to the government, Paul discusses “The Agitator” through 19th century abolitionist Wendell Phillips:
“Phillips paid a high price for his long effort to rid the country of the scourge of slavery. Throughout all of early America he was scorned and ridiculed. He never wavered in his conviction and saw himself as an agitator and reformer whose goal was to force the American people to face the issue of slavery as a moral imperative.
Though others supported this cause, Wendell Phillips demonstrated how one individual with determination and truth on his side can influence an entire nation. His unyielding efforts based on strong beliefs in pursuing justice are an example of character rarely found in today’s society.
Wendell Phillips… should inspire anyone who seeks the plain truth about a proper political system… Phillips delivered the message and inspired the masses.
Most importantly, Wendell Phillips knew the importance of the agitator. The agitator proselytizes; he does not write the laws. The purpose of the agitator is to change people’s opinion so that great and significant social change can be achieved…
The politician tinkers around the edges while the revolutionaries – either good or evil – work to change the fundamentals of the political structure once the agitators have prepared the way.
Those who agitate for change deal with precise ideas, not fuzzy compromise. This appeals to common sense, personal conscience, and fairness. This approach is ignored when conditions seem to be stable, but when a crisis hits, the views of those who argued for change are suddenly listened to. Quiescent years can go by, requiring great patience and determination and education.”
Paul goes on to cite Cobden and Mises as agitators who helped spread ideas on how free markets benefit the masses, before concluding:
“There have been plenty of agitators and reformers for decades expecting and warning of lowering living standards brought on by regimentation of the social and economic order. They have offered the practical alternative of freedom…
I certainly agree that every so often, after long periods of apathy, when the people, driven by the architects of fear, have plunged into dependency, agitators have their day. That which has been ignored or scorned burst forward with sudden credibility and offers an alternative to the failed ideas that bred and nourished tyrannical government…
We all need to become agitators for liberty, else we end up in a permanent state of slavery.”