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— When pressured to define what form of government will supervise his micro-nation, Tom hedges. Democracy, he maintains, is merely an orderly form of mobocracy and "does not protect those who are not in the majority.... Only a widespread belief that individuals have inherent rights can protect minorities and minority beliefs." And how to realize that belief? "Rather than fight for freedom, the Society of Free Thinkers is taking the soft, Zen-like approach of simply removing ourselves from what is not right, thereby creating an alternative." That alternative is libertarianism, which Tom defines as a system of government whose sole responsibility is to keep people from harming each other: "I am writing a constitution that is ironclad and specific in its description of freedoms, its laws, and its system of operation. It will be as simple and libertarian as possible."

What Tom won't admit -- except by the occasional inconsistency in his prescriptions for SOFT -- is that his society is more authoritarian than libertarian. After all, Tom is the one writing SOFT's constitution. In addition, though he frequently says that membership -- or citizenship, as the case may be -- will be decided by voting, in several instances he declares, "I will restrict membership to liberal, cool, non-evil people whose skills, or money, our society would need." So, in the end, SOFT will be exclusive. But should that be a mark against it? Not necessarily. As he says again and again, Tom has no desire to start a commune or a cooperative where members can retreat to. His ambition is to settle a small nation, a place where people must govern, police, and tax themselves, which is not something to be passive about. To Tom, SOFT is a movement in the truest sense of the word: it has no use for potential energy, only the kinetic kind. Whether or not an industrious nation called SOFT ever bobs off the coast of La Jolla is a question for time. For now, Tom's aphoristic decrees are dares put to "non-evil" San Diegans: "Truthful people too often ruin their integrity with silence ... The truth may hurt once, but deception hurts forever ... Dangerous activities are for people who can't handle dangerous thought ... I would never look right at anyone until someone looked right at me."

Though Tom originally planned a series of parties to bring SOFT-minded people together, he concluded that "large parties are not conducive to conversation." He has also ceased posting bills because he believes they "steal people's concentration." To find out more about SOFT, e-mail Tom at mwilson5@san.rr.com.

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