I stand with Hong Kong
Anarchist to Abolitionist: A Bad Quaker's Journey Book Review
by Jim Davidson
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
"In the Spring of 1972 …As the economy
continued to spiral downward, Dad expected the politicians to behave
exactly like they did during the Great Depression; by increasing taxes
and spending tons of money on jobs programs, make-work programs, and
other nonsensical wastes of money. And they did. And the economy got
worse, of course. Nixon imposed price and wage restrictions, and again
that made it worse."
— Ben Stone, Anarchist to Abolitionist: A Bad Quaker's Journey, 2019
One of the things that occurred to me when I first met Ben Stone in the living room of his home in Ohio back in February 2016 was that we were kindred spirits. We were kindred, in part, because of experiences lived in this life. He's been hit in the head many times from a young age; so have I, though, I hasten to add, not nearly as many. He's never had any respect for the police, never any sympathy for their gang, never wanted anything of them but to be left alone. Same here. He's worked for other people, but he's also walked off those jobs and insisted that life meet him on his own terms. So he's written books and built businesses and done things he's been trained to do such as carpentry and plumbing. We both even like many of the same authors such as Murray Rothbard and Paul Rosenberg.
In his first book, Sedition, Subversion, and Sabotage: A Field Manual Parody Ben illustrated the dramatic differences between old-style warfare (generations one through three) and contemporary warfare, also known as fourth generation warfare or 4GW. Best of all, he did so in an excellent, fun, detailed parody of an old government field manual meant to train the bad guys to overthrow governments, assassinate presidents like JFK, assassinate the leaders of peaceful movements like MLK, Jr., and ruin the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Naturally, as an above-ground liberatarian anarchist committed to the abolition of all forms of slavery, I reviewed his book and roundly condemned it, as suggested in his book. -smile-
Two great things about his second book, you cannot get beyond how much fun it is to review a book that does not instruct you to condemn it! Also, it is not as much about the future we face but about the experiences Ben has been through which have made him who he is. And, brother, has he had experiences!
I've had the experience of being told about something that happened when I was a child and not really believing it. Ben mentions having that sort of experience, and the false memories implanted by family stories. He was very sceptical, of course, about the nature of such recollections, and for this book, he resolved to stick with his own actual memories, things he was doing and can recall doing himself, without the spurious aid of instruction from others.
Now, you might ask, if you're going to be reading a book by a man who has had 40 separate concussion injuries (that he can recall) then how good could his memory possibly be. And, right away, let me assure you, it is quite excellent. Ben remembers the places he lived as a child, as a young man, as an adult, as an older man, and as whatever it is one calls a fellow as old as he and me (and I'm not many years younger). He remembers details of how the winds blew, how the chemical factory's dust felt on his sweating skin where it was actually drain cleaner, how he felt, what he said, how he got through one situation after another.
Riding dirt bikes before dirt biking was cool and riding motorcycles with a California motorcycle gang, traversing the United States many times, getting into and out of trouble, grabbing tens of thousands of dollars of illicit weed before the sheriff's department could confiscate and destroy it, living in palatial ranch homes off the grid and modest motorhomes as well as perfectly reasonable houses, as well as many other sorts of dwelling, Ben worked in many parts of the economy.
When I say that, I mean some of the things he did, like being a hobo for a day and riding the rails, or acting as an enforcer for loan sharks, or stealing weed out from under an approaching raid by the pigs, or any number of other fun experiences you are going to want to read for yourself, were illegal. But, hey, every single one of you committed three federal felonies today, and you probably weren't even aware of doing so. But also, I mean that Ben did things like software programming and aircraft maintenance, car repairs, motorcycle repairs, meditation, illicit drugs, legal alcohol, digging ditches, building houses, exploring storm sewers, and all kinds of other things one ends up doing when one is not afraid to take life as it comes.
There is a lot of cool stuff in his new book, and you'll enjoy reading about all of his adventures and activities.
There is a place in Kentucky where Ben stood on a trail used by runaway slaves and felt the wind. Then he felt the urge to run, and keep running, and he saw how his path was always obscured, always hidden, not out in the open. Later, he traced that path using Google Earth and searched its origins, and learned that it was used for many years by runaway slaves in seeking freedom. At the time, over and over on his visits to that trace, he felt a connection to that same spirit of seeking freedom. You are free to make of these experiences of his whatever you wish, as Ben does not explicitly ask you to believe in the spiritual nature of what he saw and heard and felt.
Later, in the area of Reno Nevada, Ben was waiting patiently at a red light when a shiny new truck came roaring down the road from the other direction, going way to fast to stop at the light. That truck hit a Volkswagen, went airborne, and landed with its rear transaxle smashed onto the top of the vehicle Ben was in, giving him one of his concussion injuries.
That's when things get weird. Now, when I heard Ben go over these details in the living room of his home on one of my many visits, as he told it, he had an out-of-body experience. He got out of his car, went up into the cab of the pickup sitting atop his car, and stared at the driver and the passenger. He saw the driver's face look back at him and go white as a sheet. Later, as he describes in the book, waiting outside the hospital where he was taken, Ben again saw the driver and passenger of that truck and recognised them. And the driver saw Ben sitting there, and again his face went pale.
Now, these are fairly minor events in the story of Ben's life, and not at all spoilers of how things go in the book. They are stories that make an impact on me, because for a great many years now, I've felt that there is much more to the nature of reality than we were taught when I was younger. And, indeed, quantum physics has made plain to people who understand its mathematics that there are many dimensions of both time and space, as well as dimensions that don't actually register on our sort of consciousness very clearly. Yes, I find these kinds of story to be very intriguing because of what they say about the nature of consciousness and the nature of reality.
What You'll Like
There's a bunch here to enjoy, a great many anecdotes, a whole series of events, and a certain amount of flipping forward in time as well as back. Ben is a really excellent story teller. He understands the nature of narrative suspense, the value of putting a cliffhanger up front, and a lot of ways to keep the reader interested. The text is extraordinarily well-written in the sense that it is how Ben talks, and so you can imagine someone saying what he writes. I myself, having sat and talked with Ben many times, can hear his voice saying the words.
I've always felt that writing the way you talk is best. So when I write, I try to write as I would speak. I try to avoid long, complex, and overly articulated sentences. I find Ben does the same sort of things. That's perhaps why I find his book so easy to read. He gave me a copy on a Tuesday and I had finished reading late on Thursday, amidst my other work of being associate editor of DigitalGoldMag.com and helping my friend Chris Boehr revise and prepare his book The Liberty Project for publication in early November, and helping to build a couple of solid business plans for Kaneh LLC. So, it is just under 200 pages, and, for me, a quick easy breezy read.
You'll see character development, detailed setting descriptions, and a great vista of America as it has been. You'll also come to the end wanting the stories to continue, as I do, very much.
Chances are you aren't from Appalachian roots, didn't grow up in California and return to Kentucky and return to the West and return to Ohio, as Ben has done. You probably also haven't had forty concussions or seen as many aspects of life as he has. But you'll enjoy the way he relates these experiences. And if you prefer spending less than three-fitty ($3.47 precisely) on the experience, you can get the Kindle version.
Will it replace Twitter? I've no idea. It will certainly take a while to climb to 400 million accounts, or whatever Twitter is pretending represents its user base. But it will grow there without banning, or silencing anyone. And I believe in the marketplace of ideas, freedom matters.
How does this relate to Ben's book? Well, I discovered Flote the same week I read Ben's book. But also, Ben is an author interested in free markets and free spirits. He left Twitter years back due to its policies and his preference for freedom. He's back for a time to promote his book, so you can find him at Twitter.com/AnarchistBad because he knows anarchists. But most of all, it relates because Ben is about abolitionism, about abolishing those things that keep enslaving mankind: governments and the religion of statism, to name two prominent things needing to be abolished. Flote relates because it is a free market alternative facilitating people to express themselves freely. And if we can begin to talk amongst ourselves without being censored and silenced, well, there's no end to the things we can achieve.
Jim Davidson is chief financial officer of KanehCN3.com and associate editor of DigitalGoldMag.com. He is an author, actor, entrepreneur, dancer, financier, and world traveller. You'll find his writings in these pages and in four books, including the Space Scouts Field Manual on BadQuaker.com. Jim is building a freedom community in the Free Mountain West, starting now.
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