THRIVE's True Agenda
THRIVE’s True Agenda
By Foster & Kimberly Gamble
A Response to the Praxis Peace Institute’s Pamphlet
A Critique Prompted by the Movie THRIVE
We welcome a civil public discourse on uncovering the fundamental operating principles from which to create a world where everyone can truly thrive. Rather than attempt to respond to all the slurs, misunderstandings and false accusations about the film THRIVE throughout Georgia Kelly’s new Praxis pamphlet “Deconstructing Libertarianism”, we will address a few exemplary ones to try to highlight what we believe are some key distinctions.
Before holding a magnifier over the apparently controversial core principle of non-violation, it is important to note that this pamphlet virtually ignored the 3 stage THRIVE solution strategy that acknowledges valuable contributions from left and right and then transcends them. THRIVE proposes a “business plan” for taking care of the disenfranchised millions who have been most damaged by our corrupt “state” while we are transitioning to a condition of optimal and global freedom for everyone.
Solutions Stages – Getting From Here to a Thriving World
The vision THRIVE presents is of flourishing in a condition of true liberty – thriving – and we propose an overlapping three stage strategy for achieving that. Not a tweak of this fundamentally flawed system, but a radical transformation that takes the best of what is often associated with Liberal compassion (Stage 1) with the best of traditional Conservative values – limiting government to the protection of individual rights and the ecosystems and infrastructure we hold in common (Stage 2) into Stage 3, a voluntary society that no longer relies on involuntary taxation to support authoritarian rule.
Never do we suggest that we instantaneously dismantle government and the support that it currently provides for those most in need – We clearly suggest that we use the taxes already taken now to fund wars of aggression and wasteful dysfunctional programs and redirect them into caring for people as we simultaneously empower everyone with the money and prosperity that is rightfully theirs through the dismantling of the Federal Reserve and eliminating the coercive mandatory taxation of their wages.
We believe that envisioning Stage 3 is critical because when we know where we are headed, we can then create strategies that get us there. It’s like transitioning from a pesticide-ridden field to an organic bio-dynamic farm – you have to know the end goal to implement the appropriate process and to assess the progress. And you certainly have to avoid adding any new pesticides along the way.
The Praxis Pamphlet reflects what it sounds like when we are mired in the swamp of relativistic morality, voting for the lesser of evils and wringing our hands in helpless hope as we turn our kids wistfully over to the police state that draws its nurturance from everyone willing to stay in this box. THRIVE is proposing a way out of the box of imposed government systems altogether!
The Moral Question
What we stand for wholeheartedly and unabashedly is protecting liberty itself - the freedom, privacy and rightfully gained property of every single person. “Rightfully gained” as applied to property is an issue we address in THRIVE as we acknowledge and support the need for indigenous reconciliation and care of the commons. Nonetheless, we can begin with the rightful ownership of our own bodies and work from this core principal as we navigate compassionate and effective resolutions for determining the rights of nature, the commons, indigenous reconciliation, etc.
We are liberty lovers, non-violent freedom fighters and anyone with integrity wanting to deconstruct that needs to stand up and clearly proclaim the answer to this most fundamental moral question:
1) Just exactly when, for you, is it OK for one human being to take the rightfully gained property of another under the threat of violence?
We have asked this question of Georgia Kelly, director of the Praxis Institute, three different times...with still no answer. We sent it to her recently suggesting it would save time in this dialogue if she would actually answer it in her pamphlet so that we could then proceed from there. We accompanied it with two other questions:
2) Do you think a “system” based on taking a substantial portion of people’s income, whether they are willing or not, is an ethical and sustainable basis for a civilization?
3) If there were a way to have accessible and good roads, education and healthcare, a respected system of justice etc. – without anyone being violated against their will - as in involuntary income tax - would you want that?
Her response was, “Your questions are framed from your perspective, which is not ours. Our focus is different...”
Transcending Political Duality
Georgia accuses me of wanting to “create a political center where the right and left can join together.” Again, our key point has been missed. We are wanting to invite people to rise above the old political polarity of right and left – all based on mandatory coercion – to meet newly in solutioning based on integrity and true freedom. And we are delighted to say that in previously divided families, antagonistic workplaces and polarized communities all over the world, people are responding to THRIVE with relief, excitement and creativity. In THRIVE solutions strategy, Stages 1 and 2, there will still be political parties, hopefully many new ones, engaged in the process of obsolescing themselves.
We are not seeking a political anything. We are seeking a universal morality. And for us that can only be based on universal freedom – protecting against violation. For Praxis it seems the key word is ‘fairness” – which sounds terrific, but who gets to decide what is fair? Whose rights are you willing to violate in the name of democracy or progressivism? Slaves, women, non land-owners and others were all thrown under the bus of majority rules, and it was not the state, but courageous individuals demanding their individual rights that evolved our society toward greater freedom in those areas.
We agree that democracy is the furthest and best system so far along the road from Kings to Dictators, to Church Rule, Feudal lords, to Fascism, Communism, Socialism and Democracy. But don’t miss the vector though this progression and think we are done. Isn’t it supposedly toward freedom and justice for us all? We can’t stop here at majority rule and still make it as a species. We need to fully eliminate the cancer of authorized coercion and theft and unleash human creativity and love through figuring out more each day how to build our enduring civilization on protecting the uncompromised wholeness of every individual. It will be very challenging. It already is. And it will be worlds easier to thrive in that joint commitment and discovery than it will be to even survive if we keep heading where we are going, with our heads in the sand.
So this is our message that Ben Boyce wants to “forcefully repudiate” in order to “expose its dark ideological underbelly.” So, Ben, would you be the guy to strap on your piece and go the door of the woman who is struggling to make the rent and feed her family and demand a percentage of the money she just worked all day for? You have a cartoon with some scientists at the blackboard covered with equations and the clause, “And then a miracle occurs.” It seems ironic, because you and Praxis seem to be promoting the forever tried and untrue notion that we can build a society of peace on fundamental violent coercion. Now that, it seems, would take more than a miracle. More practical and likely would be waking up from the insanity of empowering a small handful of bankers and bureaucrats with a monopoly on force and money. (How is that working our for us?)
It is the big government that Praxis favors that is undeniably based on violence or the threat thereof. The fear they seem to feel about THRIVE having a large impact in the world is palpable and we trust that it is the disenfranchised that they are struggling to protect, but that is exactly what our Stage 1 strategy addresses – with the added context of the goal of ridding our civilization of the cancer of coercion.
Rules without Rulers
Gus deZerega states that “many of us agree with the libertarian non-aggression principle...Aggression against peaceful people is never justified.” And we know from personal correspondence and from reading many of his articles that he has actually done some study of liberty principles. But then he goes on for pages that seem to justify violating the individual because we are all part of and dependent on groups.
He writes, “The fairest means to make these decisions is by democracy. There is no other alternative where those who disagree with the decision will be able to sincerely say it was made fairly.” We would ask, when slavery was legal, when women couldn’t vote, were those decisions made fairly because the majority of voter agreed? A lynch mob is majority rule.
He goes on to argue that there are areas of property that may be hard to agree on. We absolutely agree! If we’re talking about air and water and frequency bands, and noise or light pollution, this is where we can be creative with Stage 3 ideas like private Dispute Resolution Organizations that need to compete with each other for respect based on their trustworthiness and ability to protect human rights, and who need to stay free of violating others because they will be subject to prosecution themselves and to loss of their insurance. This would be much safer than putting all the power in the hands of a few who can and always have been coerced or bought off by monied interests. And it would be possible with the increased prosperity and empowerment that an honest money system and decreased taxation resulting from THRIVE-proposed Stages 1 and 2.
Georgia’s defense of Progressive compassion is measured by how many government programs can be established to take care of people (a perspective which we shared for decades). It is fundamentally predicated on the authorization of some people to take other’s hard earned income, at the point of a gun if necessary. (Not to mention how much of it then goes to killing innocent people in wars of aggression, subsidizing or bailing our corporate cronies or paying interest on fake money to the banksters etc...) This dynamic rarely appears in political discourse, either Democrat or Republican. We noticed that there were no books in the bibliographies backing up the pamphlet or any speakers in the Praxis annals that would be discussing this core moral dilemma. We know well the queasy feeling when one’s belief system is effectively challenged, when one’s stand appears to be on quicksand. We have devoted our lives to putting ourselves in those situations and then finding the deeper moral, logical and spiritual truth. That is when, we believe, we need to keep going in the dialogue rather than settle for old unworkable affiliations.
The Secret Seed of Tyranny
This core dynamic of violation does not go away. That first coercion, once allowed, always grows, throughout history, into tyrannical despotism – even if it takes a century or two as in the case of America. We believe that if we do not get rid of this cancer of coercion and base our civilization on the protection of each person we will not make it.
The authors kept repeating that we are against regulation. Not at all! But the regulations need to be about integrity and protection of freedom – not fashionable political leanings or telling people what they can eat or smoke or drink or who they can marry or who can have babies or what schooling they have to have or against whom they need to wage war etc.
Distinct and Unified
deZerega accuses us of ascribing to isolating “atomistic” libertarianism. First, if you look at our atom models on our website and in THRIVE, you will see that the models are of open toruses connected to one another, not isolated particles. Also, we talk extensively about our interconnectedness and the need for vibrant collaborative communities. The difference is that they are not used as excuses for authoritarian coercion of any individual. The key is the word VOLUNTARY.
The Key is VOLUNTARY Participation
Each writer brought up the Mondragon Cooperatives as an example of how things could work. I think they are an excellent and inspiring example of one alternative of what works as long as participation is optional and honest and there are other alternatives also available which don’t violate anyone in the process. If someone puts his savings into starting a shoe store and hires three college students to help sell the shoes, he doesn’t want them announcing the next day that they now own the store. Economic Freedom of the World research continually shows that voluntary collaboration by mutual agreement leads to the most prosperity and happiness – to the most thriving.
Compassion is not increased by taking people’s money. Giving is not giving if it is mandatory. Instead, under this guise, regimes get fueled from our pockets that destroy prosperity and usurp people’s ability to take care of one another, and then don’t deliver on their political promises.
We were stunned to learn in this pamphlet that we supposedly made the movie primarily for and initially targeted the Progressive community. First we’ve heard of that! Many people with traditionally left leanings have welcomed it with enthusiasm, most likely because it resonates with their compassionate ideals and then offers solutions that go deeper morally and have a better chance of succeeding than counting on Obama or praying for some other “enlightened leadership” of a fundamentally immoral and dishonest system. The fact is that the film has been welcomed by people on the right, on the left, in the middle and by those who shun those affiliations. To be clear, we actually made the movie for humans all over the world who want to be free and help one another and our planet to thrive. That’s why we released it dubbed in ten languages from the start.
And Your Solutions Would Be...?
We read all 54 pages very carefully and came away with little or no sense of what practical plans any of these passionate defenders of big government would actually propose, much less actually do, to get to the condition they are wanting. They still seem to be hoping for a 2nd level (government) solution to a 7th level problem (referring to the THRIVE Follow the Money Pyramid) where the ‘state” is still a puppet to all these levels of much greater power pulling its strings. The moneyed powers always have and presumably always would ally with and dominate any government group who gets the authority to take the people’s money against their will.
Ben Boyce clings to the observation that “no human group has lived without leaders and institutions as rudimentary government.” This seems reminiscent of the early American landowners distressing over how the economy would fail without slavery.
As it was then, it is time for morality first! The fact is that there are numerous thinkers who have described in detail how a society without coercive rulers could and would work far, far better than what we have now. Molyneux and Hoppe are among them, but we don’t see them in the Praxis reading list. The key for us, once again, is to ask ourselves, “Is this Voluntary? Did I choose to be led by this person? Can I change my mind if I don’t like the leadership? Is it optional to be a dues paying member of this institution? – Hint: When did you sign up to pay taxes for wars of aggression?...and guess where you would end up if you decided not to...” We would ask these writers... What is the authority structure in your marriage? Is it voluntary? Is it working without needing a coercive authority?
We agree that most of the thought leaders in the Liberty movement do not address the transition strategies effectively, which is why THRIVE plays a critical role in grounding their vital work and vision within a context that gets us from here to there. We could never have gleaned the coherence represented in THRIVE had we required complete agreement with the many people from whom we have learned. The point is to take what is of value, and we find brilliant and essential value in the Stage 3 thinking of these voluntaryist philosophers.
How To Collaborate?
Ms. Kelly has even written that she agrees with 97% of the content of THRIVE. So what is this mystifying other 3%? Best as we can tell, it is this pesky idea of TOTAL freedom for every individual as long as they are not violating any other. We are confident we can discover realms of collaborative possibility – especially in Stage 1, because if we are in 97% agreement and she is still feeling the need to “forcefully repudiate,” then the would-be controllers who are collapsing the economy, authorizing the police state, poisoning the planet and starting new wars are chuckling at the success of their next “divide and conquer” success.
We are grateful for the courage that Praxis represents in speaking out and at the same time feel that a fruitful public discourse will best be served if Georgia and her colleagues avoid slurs like 'thinly-veiled,' 'dark fantasy,' and 'dark underbelly,' that imply both deception and evil, when we are being totally transparent about our lives and our offering. We carry an unfailing commitment to justice and prosperity for everyone - through non-violent means.
F.A.Q and Mythbusters
To explore the top 10 myths about freedom thinking and a new, universal Declaration of Independence, see
To see responses to the customary list of “But what about...” objections, please visit the THRIVE website Liberty section at