Monday, August 10, 2009

21st Century Jeffersonianism in Action: The Black Star Co-Op

The essence of Jeffersonianism, whether in the 18th Century or the 21st, is liberty. Most of the time, we are talking about ensuring freedom from governmental or corporate power. But an individual's true liberty is measured by the extent to which he or she is free from any interference from entities which can infringe on their own freedom of action, even inadvertently. Therefore, we must guard against restrictions on our liberty which come from our own laziness, as well as those which come from people with sinister motives.

Self-sufficiency is the key. The more self-sufficient an individual or a community is, the greater its liberty is. If an individual has a vegetable garden in their backyard that can provide a significant portion of their food, they are that much less dependent on others, and hence that much freer. If a community can achieve a desirable goal on their own, without recourse to the government, they are that much more free.

As a single example, consider the case of the Black Star Co-Op, a collective effort by citizens to create a member-owned brew pub in Austin, Texas. Having made a decision that a member-owner brew pub was a desirable goal, ordinary citizens came together and are making it happen on their own.

Watch this five-minute video to see what we're talking about:

Jefferson probably wouldn't have known what to make of the Halloween costumes, and he personally preferred wine to beer. But he certainly would have understood and approved of the spirit of independence and self-reliance of the citizens behind this project. Whether they know it or not, they are helping to bring America closer to the Jeffersonian ideal.

(NOTE: Since the time the video was made, the Black Star Co-Op has expanded to more than 1,000 members.)

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