Give Me Liberty!

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In Give Me Liberty! Freeing Ourselves in the Twenty-First Century Gerry Spence, controversial lawyer in the Karen Silkwood case and in the murder defense of Ruby Ridge’s Randy Weaver, issues a call for action to reclaim America and its slave population from the grip of corporations and their minions who worship at the shrine of unlimited capitalism.

Spence argues that all Americans are the New American slaves. This has nothing to do with race, although he claims that the American experiment in self-government was tainted at its beginning because of black slavery. The new slavery is economic slavery. Americans are taught the religion of freedom, but in reality are not free. They have no real control over their lives. They are slaves to their job, to employers; even corporate executives are slaves, although well-paid for their slavery.

Money rules. The national government is merely an extension of the megacorporations, be it the Republican Congress or the Clintonian presidency. Instead of rendering justice, the judicial system invariably sides with property interests. But the future can be different. The first goal is to want to be free, and that comes from within. One must question everything, including personal beliefs and society’s institutions. There is something of Henry David Thoreau in Spence, with his individualist and anti-materialist beliefs. Turn off the television, say no to the advertisers, and rebel, but peacefully.

Spence has little faith in American democracy: it is inevitably for sale. Instead, he posits a government where legislators are chosen by lot from the common citizens, and who in turn would choose the selectors of the president. Most political decisions should be returned to the local community, and corporations should be held criminally accountable by being dissolved and their officials imprisoned. Give Me Liberty! contains statements that will disturb everyone–but that is Spence’s aim in this angry but hopeful call for radical change.