Sunday, January 6, 2013

Comanche freedom

In his book, Empire of the Summer Moon, S.C. Gwynne weaves a superbly researched story of the Comanche nation.  The Comanche were a horse culture like no other; their horsemanship was unequaled.  Unlike other Indian nations, the Comanche bands never fought each other.  The Comanche were never conquered by the Spanish, the Mexicans, the Texans, or the Americans.  Though highly aggressive and hostile to outsiders, even to the point of barbarism, the Comanche were a model of a truly free culture, one that we could, and should, learn from today.

Gwynne describes a society that has no hierarchical structure, no consistent body of law, no police, and no judges - essentially a system of private law.  And it worked.  Comanche leadership was based entirely on merit.  Every man was free to create his own raiding party - to recruit, to plan, and to carry it out.  Head war chiefs became so because they were good at recruiting war parties and successfully carrying out raids - if you were good, other men would naturally want to be part of whatever you're doing.

Gwynne explains the remarkably free Comanche society:

"The Comanche male was thus gloriously, astoundingly free.  He was subject to no church, no organized religion, no priest class, no military societies, no state, no police, no public law, no domineering clans or powerful families, no strict rules of personal behavior, nothing telling him he could not leave his band and join another one, nothing even telling him he could not abscond with his friend's wife, though he would certainly end up paying somewhere between one and ten horses for that indulgence, assuming he was caught.  He was free to organize his own military raids; free to come and go as he pleased.  This was seen by many people, particularly writers and poets from James Fenimore Cooper onward, as a peculiarly American sort of freedom.  Much was made of the noble and free life of the American Savage.  It was, indeed, a version of that freedom, especially from onerous social institutions, that drew many settlers west to the primitive frontier."

It's hard to imagine that kind of freedom in America today; however, it's what I espouse as a sovereign individual.  We should have the freedom to choose a life that we want, free of government intrusion and social obligation.  Does this type of freedom have risks?  Yes, every individual would be responsible for their own decisions and actions, but they would be free to succeed, to fail, to keep trying, and to move in any direction that they see fit.  

I choose Comanche freedom and I reject anything less.