THE CASE AGAINST CRUSADES

by Paul E. Campbell

Before I begin, let me make one thing clear. I can predict that people who will read this particular essay are going to immediately respond with knee jerk reactions about how much of a "patriot" I'm not.

WRONG. My entire purpose for writing this essay is because I have observed certain elements of the so-called "Patriot movement" which I believe will be it's very undoing, or at least severely hinder it. I despair at seeing others sucked in and I'd like to inject a little rational thought into the fray before things degenerate further.

What is a Crusade
First, the fastest way to identify crusades is to listen for the key word, "movement." The first time that anybody starts using the word "movement," whether it's "patriot movement," "militia movement," "energy conservation movement," or some other movement (with the possible exception of "bowel movement"), it is a tip-off that the person is referring to a crusade or a group of crusades.

There are crusades for and against everything: abortion, big business, government, communism, drugs, fire arms, homosexuality, pollution, smoking, voting, state's rights, foreign competition, and eating. You name it, there is a crusade for it. There are even crusades specifically for/against George Bush, Ross Perot, Rush Limbaugh, Chuck Harder, and the Queen of England.

There are some lunatic crusades, such as the Zen Buddhists, socialists, militant feminists, "family values," drugs (both totally against and totally in promotion), environmentalism, and fundamentalist Christianity. Then there are the more "mundane" crusades such as the crusades for "world peace," energy conservation, fossil fuels, and specific types of elective surgery.

So, what is a crusade? All crusades tag people. But unlike typical tagging and generalizations, crusades also get organized. They puff themselves up with official sounding names. They are based around a common cause, whether that "cause" is rational or not.

In and of itself, that's not so bad. The problem is that people assume that because you support a cause, the leader of the crusade speaks on your behalf. You involuntarily lose your individuality when you join. And the things that are being said and done on your behalf often reflect badly on you.

Crusades often start out as innocuous as say a few friends who get together to help each other dealing with a battle with the IRS. But then they get out of control and decide that it's their duty to make everyone quit paying taxes. They use pressure tactics to get others to join. And they begin interfering with others.

That's a crusade in a nutshell. It's a "cause" that gets out of control and interferes with other people by pressuring them to join or by forcing them to do or stop doing something.

The reason crusades often (but not always) tend to focus on the irrational is because of the members. People who are satisfied and happy in their lives generally also do not suffer from strong bouts of irrationality. They are not willing to die for a cause. In the same vein, businessmen usually make rotten leaders of crusades precisely because they focus on specific, attainable goals. This may also be an explanation of the politician... failure in the real world seems to be a qualification for success in managing public affairs. Perhaps because most governments are so entangled in crusades.

Tools for the Crusades
Crusades tend to rely on certain key tools time and time again. I've listed the major ones below, but you should get the idea.

IDENTIFICATION WITH A COLLECTIVE. There is a direct emphasis on "the group." Individuality is suppressed. Every act and ritual is often associated with the group. Emotions such as pride, loss, or confidence, come from the group and are shared. The group can go so far as to become a deity or an eternal living force that is indestructible and wonderful, most often in the case of religious crusades.

MAKE BELIEVE. Armies most often use this tactic. Since the natural tendency of a person is to avoid death and killing, they turn it into a game or a ritual. They use flags, uniforms, emblems, parades, music, "training," and elaborate rituals to hide what is actually occurring.

FUTURE ORIENTATION. Crusades often have an overemphasis on the future. They spend time reviling the past and/or the present, and focus on a dreamlike future. For instance, several people in the "patriot movement" have often referred to the time period from 1780-1850 and expressed a desire to return to that time period. Often with a few distortions and deletions.

DOCTRINE. Self-sacrifice and unity with a group are not rational acts. To make up for it, there is usually a reliance on the "truth" as expressed in the crusade's doctrine, whether it be Mein Kampf, a bible, pseudo-scientific studies, or historical documents. All doctrine is considered absolutely true and anyone who questions it is often branded as a heretic. Doctrine is not meant to be understood. It's meant to be believed in. A member of the Patriots mailing list once said that you can't reduce freedom to facts and ideas. You can only "feel" it from the heart.

ENEMIES. You also always got to have an enemy. Usually, the more easily accessible the enemy is, the more active the crusade is because this makes the enemy tangible. A "common enemy" can even be used to unite otherwise opposing parties. Bill Clinton united enough voters who hated George Bush to get elected even though the people who voted for him would normally never agree to anything, as reflected by his debacles on taxation and firearms.

PROPAGANDA. I'm going to mention this one, but understand that propaganda is not as effective as people make it out to be. Propaganda is a tool to persuade others to join a crusade. It usually includes popular opinions that are ALREADY existing outside the crusade, such as a universal hatred of taxes.

It articulates, justifies, and explains the opinion with facts (often with some distortions) and the crusade itself. Propaganda also usually gets used within the crusade to give it's members reassurances in their own (possibly shaky) beliefs.

The Members
There are two specific members of the crusades that deserve a little fanfare. First, the leader. The leader usually has an unbelievable ego. He believes that he can better himself only by "helping" others. Unfortunately, the leader's personal problems will never be satisfied, no matter how many people he "helps."

A study of leaders of mass movements has that revealed a very typical pattern. The leader was rejected in his field of experience. He felt frustration and self-contempt. This manifests itself as a hatred of others, attraction to martyrdom, and vanity. The leader of the movement may make various claims, but his real interest is feeding his own desires for glory and power. If this description sounds like a certain former Michigan militia leader, then I'm sorry. It also describes Hitler, who started the Nazi crusade.

On the other end of the scale are the habitual followers. These people have a need to feel needed. They hate themselves and this makes it easy for them to hate each other. Also, the fact that crusades promote the suppression of individuality help the habitual joiners by relieving them of some of their guilt. Unfortunately, these same people are perfect for would-be crusade leaders.

The Problems with Crusades
There are many. Let me just list a quick few:

  1. The crusade will probably never accomplish its intended purpose. A lot of effort gets expended creating and supporting the crusade which could have otherwise been more effectively used in the way of the supposed cause the crusade was meant to deal with.
  2. There is weakness in numbers, not strength. It is far easier for a local politician to deal with a single organization than a number of independent individuals working against him. Also, once again, the bureaucracy gets in the way. 5 people can accomplish 5 times more than a single person, but a crusade of 5 people can only accomplish 5 times, LESS some significant fraction which is given up into bureaucracy.
  3. If you spend your time in a crusade, you will invariably begin to accept the doctrine of the crusade. The problem is that if you had remained outside "the group" and continued your own personal growth and reasoning ability, you may have arrived at a far better idea than you can in a crusade. In that case, you could have moved off in a completely different direction and then the effort you expend in the crusade is truly wasted.
  4. Your participation is unlikely to make any difference. Think about what I've covered so far. And think about what specific additional work you can accomplish as a member of a crusade that you couldn't do alone. There is no way around it: crusades are a waste of time and energy.

Looking at the Patriot Movement
Well, I've covered the basics. Let's take a quick example - the patriot movement. Oops! Key word alert. The word "movement" just slipped right in there. Now, what did I just say about movements?

"Movement" = "crusade." Okay, we've detected a crusade at work here. What things in this "crusade" are a waste of time?

"Patriotic" rhetoric in the form of slogans, statements, appeals to custom and tradition, etc., etc. Forget it all. What we need here are real working solutions and ideas, not continued useless nagging about the crimes of the Clintons, the Federal Reserve scam, Roosevelt, the CFR, the UN, UFO's, and what have you.

Listening to half-cocked, short-term solutions spread by politicians. When people are upset, they will normally follow a charismatic leader who offers easy solutions. Each new president offers up his batch of "solutions." Rush Limbaugh and Chuck Harder broadcast theirs. This is why the "third party candidate" crusade is a no-brainer.

Asking government for a solution to your problems. We don't need more laws. There are more than enough to cover any conceivable desire on the books already. And government can't be a solution to the problem because chances are government is part of the problem you're trying to solve.

Getting hung up on equality. Recently some people have been arguing over the merits of "white males" and men vs. women. Forget it. You can't have equality and freedom. Freedom is dying partly because of forcing equality. So, please try to stay focussed on the issue at hand.

Voting. The lesser of 2 evils is still evil. Every time you vote for someone you don't actually want, you only increase your trouble and you continue to perpetuate the problem.

Demonizing specific individuals. Forget about the Clintons. I want to tell you about a little talk my dad had. See, he runs a farm and one thing he does is that he raises sweet corn for a canning company. The owner of the company was out to see my dad one day and made an offhand remark that he was going to a seminar put on by Hunt.

My dad asked and this Mr. Hunt happened to be J.B. Hunt, from Arkansas. It turns out that several people, including J.B. Hunt, mr. Tyson of Tyson chicken, the sweet corn canning company owner, and the Clintons all came from a little town in Arkansas. When my dad asked about the Clintons and the Roddhams, the guy said, "The Clintons and the Roddhams are crooks. Those families have been that way for years. Everybody knows that." Wow, talk about a small town!

The problem is how a small town crook gets from a small town in Arkansas all the way into being a big town crook of Washington, D.C. So quit worrying about what the Clintons are saying and concentrate on solving the real problems, such as the immorality of taxation or the immorality of voting.

Last Word
If I've offended anyone, then please at least read the first couple of disclaimer paragraphs. If you still feel offended, then you probably should be.