In the winter of 1847, The Communist League met in London to sketch out a platform for the international communist movement. Previously, the communist movement was made up of disparate factions of various national, ethnic, and even religious flavors. What emerged from this congress of communist revolutionaries was a united movement. Following the meeting in London, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels took up the task of forging the preeminent radical polemic of the international socialist, the Communist Manifesto. Their movement thenceforth, and to the detriment of civilization, moved forward as a united international juggernaut. The communist’s drive to organize themselves into an ideological powerhouse was not the first of its kind, but one that profoundly influenced much of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Multi-national political movements are indeed an old concept. It should strike us as curious then that there has never been, as far as I can tell, an international movement focused on the tenets of individual liberty. Perhaps this is owed, in part, to the fact that those who advocate for liberty tend to be individualists, preferring self-sufficiency and individual effort to the collective mobilization that is inherent in large movements. Whatever the reason, it appears that while other, more destructive movements have risen to the international stage, the liberty movement has lagged in its ability to organize in such a way.
While there have indeed been revolutions inspired by the ideas of liberty they more often than not were limited to national stages and were of varying levels of success. The American Revolution, which acts as the primary inspiration for our current Tea Party movement, is the clearest example of the success of these ideas, but there have also been revolutions, similarly inspired, that failed to achieve the ends of they had set out to achieve. The French Revolution, for example, was inspired in large part by the same philosophy as the American, but it fell victim to revolutionary excesses and violence. Post-revolutionary France fell into a state of bedlam until the rise of the dictatorial Napoleon put the final nail in the coffin of their revolution.
While international organization might have been deficient for the liberty movement historically, it appears that that is on the verge of changing. For the first time, there appears to be a growing international liberty movement, springing forth from the roots of our current American civic reawakening.
In recent months, inspired by what they are observing here in the states, Tea Party organizations have begun to rise in up the furthest corners of the world. While these organizations might have different concerns, ones that are specific to their particular nations, it is clear that each has formed around the same concepts: limited governance and individual liberty.
Ironically it was England, who in the 18th century was at the unpleasant end of a Tea Party, which was the first outside of the US to hold a Tea Party rally, launching their national movement in February of this year. In addition, Tea Party organizations have popped up in Ireland, the Netherlands, Australia, and Japan. Most recently, we have learned that Israel is planning on staging its first Tea Party in Tel-Aviv.
This nascent international movement owes its rise to several factors: First, the financial collapse has sent ripples throughout the economies of most western nations. In doing so, many people have begun to question the ability of governments to effectively control their economies. Ideas like central banking, heavily regulated industries, and progressive taxation appear more and more to be the cause of our current crisis rather than the solution.
Second, modern communication has allowed us to transmit news and ideas in a way that is historically unprecedented. Our ability to network with one another has been a key to the national Tea Parties and is central to the growth of the international movement a well.
Finally, the international Tea Parties are most certainly a reaction to the international progressivism that has been the dominant force in politics for several decades now. Western nations have given in to the temptation of establishing generous welfare states that have caused the slow decay of society from within. The results of these policies can be seen all over Europe including states that are in what might be considered to be long economic dormancies, as well as those that are in danger of full collapse, as in the case in Greece.
Cumulatively, these factors have made the landscape ripe for a movement that rejects the precept that big governments are prepared to take on the burdens they currently shoulder.
An international liberty movement is an idea whose time has come. As a matter of fact, it is one that’s long overdue. We are truly living in interesting times.