I want to write autobiographically about some thoughts I’ve had since publishing Revolution on the Ground. And I need to look forward to the next two books, Revolution Underground and Infamy. Even though I’d like to write the one on Kennedy and 9/11 first, to meet the 2013 publishing target, during 2012 my thoughts seemed to turn to Revolution Underground pretty frequently. Perhaps it’s time to adopt the Ben Most strategy: work on both books in parallel, and accept that the completion date for the two together gets pushed out. You may be surprised how much you can finish in a year.
Note that right now, you don’t have a target date for Revolution Underground. Also, I am getting mentally ready to work on Infamy this year, with no special attention to Revolution Underground other than the posts I write for TJ. So, you can concentrate your energy on the November 2013 target for Infamy.
I don’t really have time to write a book as such – not the way I wrote The Last Jeffersonian, anyway. The method you used to write ROTG seems to be a good one: gather things you have already written and fashion them into a book. For RITA, you assembled a couple of dozen posts and made a book out of them. That was satisfying, but it wasn’t more than a collection of short essays on a number of subjects. For ROTG, you did a lot of writing and rewriting. I like the way that one came together. You don’t know what you’ll end up with until you get there. That’s what makes writing so great. You start out, as you do on a hike, with something of a plan, but you don’t know how the hike will turn out until it’s done. You can’t defer the beginning because you don’t see the end.
Let’s briefly consider Revolution Underground here. I’m confident Revolution Underground is the right title for this book. You will have a nice trilogy then. I would still want to turn back and publish a revised edition of Revolution in the Air. I would remove the essays that don’t have to do with revolution, and include essays that prepare the way for books two and three. RITA would be John the Baptist for the next two.
What would you put in the third book? You can still go for a handbook, but it has to be more general than the one you thought you would write when you worked on ROTG. What is the main obstacle to writing the third book? Is it that you’ll hear a knock on the door? You can’t stand the thought that agents from the FBI will take you to prison, right? You wouldn’t have much comfort in being proven right if you find yourself alone in a cell, correct?
You have to write about this subject, though. When you write theory and criticism, you can be reasonable. You can assure others who think the same way that they are reasonable as well. Arguing that we have to alter or abolish our government, and discussing concrete ways of doing so feels, different. Theory feels comfortable, whereas specific plans feel like advocacy and even conspiracy. The feds love to go after conspiracy. That makes me feel insecure.
Why don’t you write a what-if book? Write a book that says, what if we did this, what if we did that? Plato wrote a great book when he wrote the Republic. In some ways, the dialogue is a sweeping what-if analysis, where the interlocutors accept Socrates’ lead in building a hypothetical society.
A what-if or speculative mode of writing might make you feel more comfortable about this subject. You could ask a what-if question, then spin out some answers. That makes you feel more like a theorist and less like a conspirator. It’s true that the what-if mode of thought didn’t save Socrates from the hemlock. Nevertheless, the state left him alone for a pretty long time before it brought him to trial.
So let’s see if you can put together some speculative, what-if questions you can use to guide the first part of the book. Free thought and free speech come out of that, not sedition, not conspiracy, not advocacy that others violate the law.
What if all citizens of the United States stopped paying federal income tax at the same time?
Abraham question: How many people would it take for the action to be effective?
For each of the questions in italics, you might want to discuss it in light of these five points:
- Why the question is worth thinking about.
- Variations on the question.
- Possibilities that arise from the idea.
- How obstacles might be overcome.
That seems like a good general structure, doesn’t it?
Here are similar questions on the same subject.
What if the states stopped accepting any money at all from the federal government?
What if the states stopped complying with all mandates that come with acceptance of federal money?
What if the legislature in one state passed a resolution to secede from the United States?
Abraham question: How many states would it take for the action to be effective?
What if we were to call a constitutional convention with the aim of altering or abolishing our existing government?
Abraham question: How many states or people would have to participate for the convention to be recognized?
What if the states were to ignore not only mandates that accompany federal funds, but also the federal government altogether? What if they were toact as if they had seceded, act as if they were sovereign countries.
Abraham question: How many states would it take for that strategy to be effective?
You touched on several of these strategies in ROTG, but you did not elaborate that much. I think it will be easier to elaborate these ideas in a what-if framework, with help from the five bullet points above. Those points lay out a framework to discuss each of the questions.