The Imaginary Revolution is here.

On Dec. 15, 1791, the folks who were in the process of establishing a new government ratified a list of prohibitions intended to prevent that government from violating the innate rights of free individuals. It was a bold experiment.

Today, Dec. 15, 2012, in honor of that bold experiment, I formally introduce The Imaginary Revolution, a novel about individuals and governments and violence and nonviolence.

I’m not so vain as to think this little novel about an Earth colony that throws off its shackles is as important a contribution as that list of 10 statements. No, this is just my contribution to the idea that power flows from the individual to the state, not the reverse.

It is my contention that a loving individual committed to nonviolence wields more power to change a world for the good than any state, any use of force, any expression of hatred or revenge.

All 10 tenets of the Bill of Rights are under attack in 2012. All 10 are routinely ignored by the state, and in fact most efforts by the state to restrain the individual are met with cheers and applause. Freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to be secure in one’s person, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures – read the list and you will be able to think of circumstances where the state violates these prohibitions every day.
The just completed political season was so angry, so divisive, that it wasn’t hard to imagine the losing side – either side – rioting in the streets or turning to civil war to accomplish what could not be achieved at the ballot box. The hatred was that raw sometimes – both sides screaming that the other was prepared to wage war on the middle class, on the helpless, on the elderly. And given the condition of the world today, it was easy to imagine that both sides were right.

Into this tinderbox I toss the kindling of a thought that our problems cannot be solved by choosing the right leader or passing the right law or otherwise making the state more powerful; nor can they be resolved by force. The novel begins, “I always thought war was stupid.” And so it is.

Anyone who advocates taking back our freedom by force misunderstands the nature of freedom, which we carry inside. Freedom cannot be granted by an external force like a state or a king; we are each born free. We can only surrender our freedom to a king or a state or a collective. Even the most vicious of tyrants cannot win minds and souls by force. 

The Imaginary Revolution envisions a world guided by the principle that “no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being for any reason whatever, nor should anyone advocate the initiation of force, or delegate it to anyone else.”

Further, the world is built on three Tenets of Common Wealth:
1. Love your neighbor as yourself.
2. Interact with love, not force or violence.
3. Give more than you receive.

Libertarians will recognize the first principle as the core of their beliefs, known as the Zero Aggression Principle. The Tenets of Common Wealth are the construct of a man named Ray Kaliber, a historian and teacher on Sirius 4 during a time of civil unrest. The story is set in the same universe as my earlier novel The Imaginary Bomb, but with a different tone, told in the words of Professor Kaliber.

The Imaginary Revolution is available as an ebook or a hardcover print edition. A paperback edition and audiobook will be available early in 2013. I offer three options:

To buy the book for Kindle at Amazon for $4.99, click here.

To buy it, also for $4.99, in the three most popular ebook formats – at least one should work for you – click here.

To buy the handsome and durable hardcover edition for your bookshelf – price $24.98 – click here.

For more information, email me at warren@warrenbluhm.com. Let’s have a conversation.

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I got words

People are angry. And violence is sweeping the globe.

They couch it in noble language: Arab Spring. Defending the middle class. Protecting our rights. Even defending liberty.

But it’s still plain old senseless violence: Beating someone about the head, or killing them, in the belief that will convince others your cause is right and just.

All too often all that is accomplished is continuing the ancient cycle of violence – an eye for an eye, or replacing one violent tyrannical regime with a new violent tyrannical regime. The success of such revolutions is imaginary and temporary.

Through the years some have tried to show a better way – men like Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Jesus of Nazareth – changing the world through civil disobedience, nonviolence, noncooperation. A way that does not meet violence with hatred and more violence.

The novel The Imaginary Revolution, which officially debuts tomorrow, is set on a planet light years away. But I mean to say something about the here and now.

We’re all gonna die

I repeat myself – but these thoughts are still relevant, still part of my book Refuse to be Afraid, and relevant to the new book, The Imaginary Revolution. And so I repeat myself:

My eye was caught at the antique store by a thick, well-worn book titled “Modern Medical Counselor.” By its condition it was clear the book was anything but modern, and the price ($2) was right, so, figuring it would be an interesting excursion into the past, I brought it home.

What actually caught my attention was the section that I casually opened to, even before I brought the book home: “Survival in Atomic Bombing.” The copyright date of the book is 1951, so browsing through this book will be a traipse through an era where communism and nuclear death were our greatest fears.

With the knowledge of what was to happen in the next 60 years, we know the fears were largely unfounded. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still the only cities ever destroyed by atomic bombs. Although the great communist bogeyman reared his ugly head many times over the years, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics fell apart under the weight of its totalitarian follies and China has decided to try burying us the good old American way, by establishing government-subsidized monopolies.

In other words, the fear that was used as an excuse to impose on our liberties never came true. Communism and nuclear catastrophe did not destroy us.

Today, the fear is of small groups of terrorists (and “rogue nations”) with nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. The fear is that an influenza virus that kills birds will find a way to migrate into humans and cause a pandemic. The fear is that standing too close to a person smoking a cigarette will give you cancer. We can let those fears control us, we can let others use those fears to justify locking us into cages, or we can refuse to be afraid and live our lives as free men and women.

Here is the fear that lurks behind all of these fears: We are afraid to die. We are especially afraid to die before we experience a ripe old age.

Here is the truth: We all will die, some of us “before our time.” The real choice we all have: We can live and die as slaves, or we can live and die as free men and women.

Most of our lives we exist in the gray area between freedom and slavery, convincing ourselves that we are making our choices freely: When we hand the chains to our government and our bosses and our creditors, we rationalize that we are making a free decision to enslave ourselves. And it usually is a freely made choice — in the beginning.

Like Jacob Marley’s ghost, we accumulate shackles as we progress through life, usually out of fear — fear of poverty, fear of going hungry, fear of not having a reliable car. And the biggest fear of them all is the fear of death.

Accepting that you will die is the beginning of freedom. The title of the song “Live Like You’re Dying”  is its message.

These thoughts, especially as I relate them in a political context, could be misconstrued as advocating violent resistance against the slave masters. Nothing could be further from the truth. The revolution I advocate is an internal one:

Refuse to be afraid. Resist the impulse to yield to the fear and let someone strip your liberty in the name of security and protection. Live like you were dying — because you are dying, someday, so better to live free than in chains.

Think you can!

If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.

Those words attributed to Henry Ford speak to the power of your mind.

Decide that you can do what you’re setting out to do, and it will be like the powers of God and the universe align to help you get it done. Your desire to make it happen will give you the enthusiasm, and your belief that you CAN make it happen will be infectious.

Decide that you can’t do what you’re setting out to do, and you will quit worrying about it. The only risk you take is that for the rest of your life, you’ll have a little bug behind your ear, whispering, making you wonder: Maybe you COULD have done it. But you won’t – because you think you can’t.

So what’s it going to be? Do you think you can? I’m on your side – I think you’re right. I know you can do it.

Just remember your biggest enemy is that little nugget of doubt that wonders if you REALLY can. Keep that little nugget in a cage, or else it will grow. If it grows too much, it can stop you in your tracks.

Because if you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.

Gorram it, 1984 does not have a happy ending

… it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.

THE END

You know about Big Brother – not the reality TV show, the world leader who infused his regime with the principles “War is peace,” “Freedom is slavery,” and “Ignorance is strength.”

In George Orwell’s prophetic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston Smith is a guy who works for the Ministry of Truth changing the news. If a certain public figure has fallen out of favor with The Powers That Be, Winston is one of the clerks who goes into past editions of the newspaper and changes anything that might tend to show that figure in a positive life. If he has become an “unperson,” the figure is removed from the public record entirely.

(I always thought that was a little unrealistic – surely someone, somewhere, would still have a copy of the old newspapers with the original record. Or later, surely someone, somewhere would have preserved the original record on his hard drive. But as we move our information farther and farther onto a paperless cloud, the idea of being able to manipulate all past records seems more feasible.)

Winston has a small problem of conscience: He remembers. He knows that the unpersons once existed. He recalls that even though today the government is at war with Eurasia and has always been at war with Eurasia, there was a time when we were at war with Eastasia and had always been at war with Eastasia.

He begins to notice that people are miserable, he sees that life is pretty dreary with Big Brother Watching You all the time, and he begins to believe that freedom would be better served if Big Brother is overthrown. But he also knows that citizens are being tortured and killed for believing that – or at least he is able to make a correlation between their beliefs and their eventual disappearance.

By the end of the book, Winston has come to the realization that he was wrong, that Big Brother really has a benevolent spirit and Big Brother really will take care of him for the rest of his life.

Just one tiny problem.

Winston Smith reaches this state of bliss only after having his individuality literally beaten out of him.

Torturing him into compliance did not change the facts:

A constant state of war is not the same as peace.

No matter how long you make the leash and no matter how pretty the chains, slavery is not freedom.

Individuals’ ignorance of the truth is the strength of the State.

And coming to accept and love the liars who say otherwise is not a happy ending.

I write from a conviction that an alternate ending where Big Brother is toppled by force would not be a happy ending, either. Winston Smith takes the traditional path of seeking violent revolution, but his vision is squashed by a greater violence.

In my life and throughout history, real change is accomplished when love, for lack of a better word, stands up to the violent tyrant. The unknown person who stood in front of a tank unarmed and refused to let it pass. The black men who sat down at a whites-only luncheon counter and politely asked to be served. The Indians who defied the British Empire and made salt.

Replacing a violent tyranny by force works for a while, but forcing a change only alters the external facts. The path to true revolution is not a violent path.

That’s why I wrote The Imaginary Revolution: to consider another way past tyranny.

Are you ready for a little revolution?

It’s only a matter of days before the novel The Imaginary Revolution will be published. I have prepared a sampling of chapters from the novel to whet your appetite for the real thing.

The story of how Sirius 4 threw off its shackles will be available for public consumption starting Dec. 15, 2012 – Bill of Rights Day – in both ebook form and a handsome, hardcover print edition. This is your opportunity to get a taste of it so you can decide whether to put it on your Christmas list.

The link below (click on the colorful green button with the blue whale) will lead you to a place where you can download a .zip file containing the Imaginary Revolution sampler in .pdf, .epub and .mobi forms. Enjoy! And consider coming back on Dec. 15.

Click here to download your free sampler of chapters from the novel The Imaginary Revolution, scheduled for release on Dec. 15, 2012.