I finally finished reading Jeffrey Tucker’s new book, Liberty is a Do-it-yourself Project, last night. The book was sent as a “perk” to early-bird members of the upcoming (and very exciting) Liberty.me online community.
Like Tucker’s previous books, this is primarily a compilation of blog posts and essays written over the last year or two, covering a wide range of topics loosely related to liberty, anarchy, and
Austrian real economics.
With each new release in this “series,” Tucker pushes the boundaries a little (or a lot) further in terms of what types of things “liberty-minded people” ought to be concerned with. Previous books have pushed the debate from the esoteric issues of sound money and natural law to the real-life issues of plumbing, laundry, and driving under the influence.
This book is in that mold - but even more so. It’s huge, and the range of topics is also huge. Yes, there’s economic theory and political analysis. But there’s also bedbugs, pop music, Twinkies, air conditioning, and all manner of various and sundry other things which all point in one direction: toward the liberation of humanity.
I loved it.
First - A Mild Critique
Many of the individual pieces were written as events were unfolding (commentary on Snowden case, developments in Bitcoin, etc), but no context (even a date) is provided, so it seems a little weird and rootless in places.
This is mostly okay because this was a Liberty.me preview, and I think most of us reading it have some context for these things already, and are familiar with Jeffrey’s writing.
But - if there is to be a second edition, or a general-audience release, it might be a good idea to clean this up a bit.
Okay - that aside:
This Book is Amazing
& Everybody Should Read It
You are about to witness a proficient writer with a large vocabulary and access to a thesaurus completely lose the ability to think of any appropriate adjectives other than “amazing.”
The book was amazing. It’s about amazing things.
I can’t figure out what else to call it. It’s just… amazing.
The Subject Matter is Amazing
JT is describing a new world that is still in the process of being discovered and created. THAT WORLD is amazing.
The things people are doing, the books people are writing, the ideas people are coming up with, the inventions people are inventing, the businesses people are starting.
It’s all so
The Amazingness is amazingly communicated
Tucker is perfect for this job.
The stuff - the subject matter - is amazing and fascinating. But that’s only if you understand what’s going on, and can piece together how all these various things are connected. JT gets it - he sees the big picture - and is able to communicate it in a straightforward manner, in a way that transmits the amazingness of it all.
I know lots of people who can explain HOW Bitcoin works (for example). Tucker explains WHY it works, and WHY we should care. And he does this not for one or two isolated technologies or trends. He brings this ability to pretty much every major development and cultural trend of the last hundred years. Phenomenal.
The Book, as a Product, is… amazing
The book itself is boundary-breaking, blithely ignoring both what you were taught about books in school and what passes for “common knowledge” among traditional book publishers.
For one thing, almost every single essay has already appeared somewhere online for free. Who would want to read a book of old blog posts? It makes no sense.
It defies categories: is it a product that I would want to pay for? Is it a marketing artifact for Liberty.me? Yes to both. And the original articles and posts online - they are both a development environment for the content and a marketing device for the book (and online community).
Jeffrey Tucker Writes Like a Hacker
The book is imperfect. And I mean that as a compliment.
There’s typos. There’s some weird sentences that don’t make any sense a year after they were originally written. There’s that context thing I mentioned above.
But… so what?
I don’t mean at all that the book is sloppy or anything. It’s not like there’s some chronic grammar deficiency or something. There’s just - you know - the usual imperfections you’d see in an advanced, but not final, draft.
In the days of hard copies, limited production runs, and ur-text definitive editions, it made good sense to spend a lot of money, energy, and time sanding down all these little editorial splinters.
But Jeffrey Tucker writes essays the way hackers write software: release early, release often, and optimize later.
While the fussbudgets are poo-pooing an extra comma or a misspelled word, Tucker is forging ahead, exploring the next thought, the next idea. There’s always a next release; bugs can be dealt with in a patch or an update. Or (like real hackers) people can just get around them, ignore them, or fix it themselves.
I find this approach to writing to be truly amazing.
For one thing, it allows Tucker both the time and the mental energy to be continuously on the advanced front line.
Moreover, it takes some real intellectual bravery to focus on the dangerous thing (cutting-edge content) instead of on the safe thing (fixing grammar and spelling).
Most writers (myself included) don’t have the guts for this, and we re-read and re-edit our work toward unattainable “perfection,” instead of being out there doing what we should be doing: figuring shit out and telling people about it.
It’s About Liberty
There was the beginning of an idea way back in Bourbon for Breakfast. The idea grew and matured through A Beautiful Anarchy. Tucker’s latest vision, Liberty.me, is the embodiment of the idea, and this book is the heralding announcment that the idea has officially arrived.
Liberty is not a political platform, and Freedom is not an economic program.
Individual liberty, and freedom for all humanity, is a way of life. It is a worldview. It is an Open Source project to which all people are lead contributors with full commit privileges.
We do not ask for Liberty. We liberate ourselves.
We do not demand Freedom. We free each other.