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If you want to know what you can do to improve the world, and with whom you can do it, you’ll find answers every month in Parallel Society. We explain the history and philosophy behind the new way, and we’ll explain how you can begin to implement that new way, right now.
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Past Freeman’s Perspective – Parallel Society topics include:
Issue #6: A Space Travel Primer
The image above is of a Space Shuttle launch from late 2001: STS-108. I picked this one because I watched it with my own eyes. And an amazing thing it was. The power of that machine really had to be felt to be appreciated. I was a mile away and it still overpowered and shook everything in the area. And then I watched it escape into outer space. The power of space machines, however, pales compared to the power of the space vision… the vision of outer space being accessible to you and me. As I’ll explain below, that will change the world… will change humanity… and more or less permanently.
Issue #5: The Rehabilitation of Christianity
Christianity has made itself obsolete. That’s a loaded statement, I know, so let me elaborate. What I mean is this: Christianity created a culture that has advanced farther and better than any in human history. So much so that this culture is bypassing the religion that spawned it. That’s a very broad generalization of course, with myriad exceptions and qualifications. For example, Christianity, especially since 1750, has been attacked by parties who claimed to be more advanced but were not. (Mainly they used intellectualism as a self-aggrandizing weapon.)
Issue #4: Forging a New Monetary Order
There’s little in the Western world that isn’t controlled, at least substantially or ultimately, by money. And money itself is controlled by an anonymous cabal. That may sound like a setup for a movie, but it’s also absolutely true. As Marshall McLuhan noted, Only puny secrets need protection. Big discoveries are protected by public incredulity. Smallish barriers have helped protect this secret, but the facts have been discoverable for a long time. The problem has been that the facts call too much into question, leaving people far more comfortable ignoring them. The opportunity that presents itself to us now is to make the ancient scheme of monetary slavery obsolete. Not to expose it, mind you, but to make it obsolete. Once that starts to happen, people will be get past their incredulity on their own. And it’s healthier for them that way.
Issue #3: Welcome to the Darknet
The fun parts of life are nearly always those that are wild and open. Conformity, while it may have some practical value, is simply a bore. People try their best to find meaning in obedience of course, but it always comes up short, because obedience requires the surrender of will rather than the use of will. And if one of our most basic and vital functions is limited, our enjoyment will be limited with it. Great passion and great adventure, as journalist Walter Bagehot noticed, require escape from mass culture and the web of obligations and expectations it spins around us: All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality, the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape.
Issue #2: Using the World While Not Abusing It
The photo above was chosen carefully. It illustrates our appropriate vantage point, overlooking the world. And we are best served by staying with this perspective, looking down at the world as it currently exists, seeing it directly rather than through hopes, hierarchies, and narratives… and then using that world, but not abusing the beings in it. In about 54 AD, Saul of Tarsus (aka, Saint Paul) wrote the line I’ve incorporated into our title to a small group of proto-Christians: Use this world while not abusing it. That is a consummate outsider view, as well as a highly productive view. It’s a view we need to internalize.
Issue #1: Biology in Our Hands
Take a close look at this photo. The white substance at the bottom of the jar (within a refrigerated solvent) is human DNA… hacked human DNA. I took this photo recently, at a small, nondescript biohacker lab… a lab with almost no financing whatsoever. I’m opening with this photo to make a particular point: The world has entered a period of massive biological and genetic development. If a couple of young biologists with almost no money can customize human DNA – and they are succeeding at it – then a door has swung open to an astonishingly large and fertile new territory. Powerful new opportunities have opened up to us, and whether we’re ready or not, they will change the world.
Past Freeman’s Perspective Classic topics include:
Issue #100: The Other Side of Scarcity
Whether or not it seems like it, scarcity on Earth has been transcended by technology… it has been overcome. The scientific revolution has had its effects, and a sufficient number of us have risen to the occasion. We’re already on the other side of scarcity. We grow more food than we can eat, and we could grow much more if we need to. Building houses for everyone is no problem. Providing everyone with medical care isn’t really a problem; even roads and cars are easy enough. And we have more than enough resources. Yes, some people are still short of these things, though not nearly as many as is publicized. But it’s not because there’s a shortage of materials or ability. It’s only a problem of distribution. And we know how to fix that too.
Issue #99: The Spiritual Instinct
The issues surrounding spirituality are complex, to be sure. And an enormous part of that problem is the very words we use. They are nearly always uncertain, misleading, or both. How do we even define the word “spirituality”? There is no clear definition, and nearly everyone using it is making different assumptions. How then can we discuss it without our conversations being undercut with confusion? Furthermore, the word lying at or near the root of spirituality for most people – “God” – is also without a usable definition. I’ve yet to find one that works for me, and even if I had one, it would be shared by almost no one else. Thus the word spawns confusion and misunderstanding most times it is used.
Issue #98: Society’s Problem with Sex
This issue will differ from most others, because I expect to describe our problem and ask questions rather than coming to conclusions. I’ll explain the issues involved, but I will not be arriving at firm prescriptions for how things can be better, simply because I don’t think we know enough to be clear on that point. And if we’re not clear, it’s damaging to pretend we are. One of the great problems concerning sex is that seemingly every society – every semi-fixed group of people – imposes hard rules upon it: fixed expectations and associated punishments, whether they be formal or informal. And all such sets of rules have been problematic and damaging. There can be no set of sexual rules that applies well to all of us, because we’re not all the same.
Issue #97: Judging the Present World Order
Man may not be the measure of all things, but he is certainly a fitting measure of things that pertain to himself. And I think that’s something to take seriously. As it happens, the things that most impinge upon women and men in this world are not measured against man himself; rather they are measured against anything but man himself. Most typically, the powers impinging upon individual women and men reference invisible, immaterial, or dead standards of measurement: gods, the will of the masses, noble ancestors, and so on. Whether intentional or not, this has created a sharp divide between what’s actually good for us and what is said to be good for us.
Issue #96: The Deep Revolution
Things in this issue may be closer than they appear. This month we’re digging down to inner structures, because if we can change them in any meaningful way, everything else changes with them. And while these inner structures are usually treated as unfathomable mysteries, they’re really not. Those inner parts are us every bit as much as our outer parts. And regardless that the entire discipline of “abnormal psychology” has frightened us about our inner parts, they can be used either well or poorly, just like our outer parts.
Issue #95: The State of the Future: 2018
Our letters have talked about the future often, but we haven’t yet mapped the future, and I think that’s a useful thing to do. We are far enough into the 21st century to have a reasonable view of what’s developing. The emerging pillars of the future are now visible, at least in outline. And so I want to build a basic model of what is happening… a line drawing of the future that is currently forming.To do this we need to focus on the long view, paying attention to large structures and fundamental forces, not the daily outrages. And I think we can create quite a good model of the future.
Issue #94: Observations at the Extreme
While it meant all but nothing to me as a child, the Nazi Holocaust is something that secured my attention for several years as an adult. But it wasn’t the horrific parts of the story that drew me; I was mainly interested in what surrounded the horrors: how people adapted to them, responded to them, and learned from them or failed to learn from them. It might seem that the subject would came naturally to me, since I was close to quite a few Holocaust survivors from my youth till the year 2000 or so. These people were my neighbors, occasional business associates, and close family friends. In addition, roughly half of my extended family were murdered in that dark chapter of history.
Issue #93: A Catalog of Jedi Mind Tricks
As you know, FMP tends to be a pretty serious newsletter. But I think it’s nice to have a bit of fun with it too. So this month we’re going to take a look at the proverbial “Jedi mind trick.” As it turns out, there are quite a lot of mind tricks. Some are useful, some are just for fun, and some are manipulative. But even in the cases of the manipulative ones, it’s nice to know what they are, so they’re not so easily used against us.There are large-scale mind tricks and personal-level mind tricks. The large-scale ones tend to overlap with other issues of FMP, so we’ll mention those only briefly, getting into more depth on the personal-level tricks.
Issue #92: A Tale of Two Systems
As we go through this issue, you’ll encounter the two structures shown above again and again. I wanted to open with this diagram because it’s the structure of these systems – not the individuals who promote or control them – that determine the results produced by each. On the left you see a system in which the nodes (that’s us) are the most important things. On the right you see a system in which the structure itself is the most important thing… where the structure rules, and humans must conform to it.
Issue #91: Why Revolution Is Almost Inevitable
Events that we call “revolutions” arise from nearly invisible changes beginning decades beforehand. One new thought begins and spreads, another does likewise, then another. Eventually they overlap and form a set of attitudes that millions of people share. That’s when the outer world can be seen to change. What I’ll try to establish in this issue is that such changes have been accumulating for some time now… and have in fact accelerated in recent years. We’re at the point now where a revolution of some type is almost inevitable.
Issue #90: Darkness from the Enlightenment
Previously I’ve mentioned the Enlightenment in approving tones as a time when science flowered. I still think this praise is deserved, but there was also a dark side to the Enlightenment. In fact, many of our biggest problems took shape during its last half… problems that have now become critical. Along the way, these problems were substantial causes of episodes like the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution, Marxism, Leninism, postmodernism, and a host of lesser plagues. This damage must be left behind if we are to move forward.
Issue #89: The Agent of Evolution
As any regular reader will know, I think Jesus of Nazareth has been grossly misunderstood and grossly misrepresented. Even the categories most people want to place him in are all wrong. Jesus was not a religionist. Nor was he a “leader of men.” Neither was he really a healer. The gospels show him healing because he could and because people needed it, but he did it almost grudgingly and worked to prevent the “healer” image from spreading. And so, as I’ve tried to understand what Jesus’s real mission was, I’ve settled in to a single conclusion: He was the agent of human evolution. His work was to move humanity forward, to make us more and better. The rest was merely detail. Interesting details, perhaps, but secondary to the goal.
Issue #88: A Decentralized World Order, Part 5
I’ve been a fan of decentralized commerce since my youth. Perhaps it’s always appealed to me – free commerce, after all, is simply free human action – but it became very clear in my mind at about 13 years of age, when my friend Murray and I came up with a brilliant business idea. Murray worked for a mail-order company on the weekends (mainly packing orders) and was intrigued by a new product they had: Cyalume light sticks. These were the first commercially available glow sticks, and our brainstorm was that people at rock concerts would love them.
Issue #87: A Decentralized World Order, Part 4
Science, not many generations ago, was a highly decentralized endeavor, which, not coincidentally, was its most fertile period. The focus of scientific and technological innovation in England, for example, was the Royal Society, which stood entirely outside of that era’s educational hierarchy. It was initially formed independently and was dedicated to the “new science,” as proclaimed by Francis Bacon. It was originally formed without any real name by individual physicians and “natural philosophers” (whom we’d call “scientists”). It became “royal” only after it had been operating for some years… and mainly for protection, if I read between the lines correctly. It’s also telling that the Society’s motto was Nullius in verba: “Take nobody’s word for it.”
Issue #86: A Decentralized World Order, Part 3
We opened last month’s issue of FMP with this statement: “It will someday be considered a crowning triumph for humanity that they secured justice upon earth. And it will be both easier and cheaper than we’ve imagined.” The same thing applies to the human attainment of peace. It will be done, it will be considered a great achievement, and it will be easier than people imagined. Now, when I say “easier than people imagined,” I’m not saying that this will be trivial; I’m just comparing it to the common imagination that it would be next to impossible and involve oceans of blood, like the famed “War to End All Wars .”
Issue #85: A Decentralized World Order, Part 2
It will someday be considered a crowning triumph for humanity that they secured justice upon earth. And it will be both easier and cheaper than we’ve imagined. Up till now the securing of justice has been attempted by hacks who used their “justice systems” as excuses for plunder… as tools of plunder. Someday, however, and possibly soon, that will change and we’ll get serious about attaining justice. And many people will be shocked to learn that it’s within our reach. The one and only model of justice provision that’s recognized in the modern world is a relic of the Bronze Age. It’s important to realize that no major adaptation has been allowed to this model. Which, if we’re to be honest about it, borders on the insane. Any system that has undergone no major upgrade in 5,000 years has to be considered hopelessly obsolete, moribund, and degenerate.
Issue #84: A Decentralized World Order, Part 1
I’ve been waiting for some time to address the “hard pieces” of living freely upon planet Earth. Previously I’ve tried to note them as we passed by, but I think this is a good time to face them down. And so, this month we’ll start taking on war, defense, crime, justice, and so on… all the things that are now centralized but really shouldn’t be centralized. And by doing so, we’ll be describing a new and better world in some detail.Bear in mind, however, that the “hard things” seem hard to us mainly because we think of them as being hard.
Issue #83: The Great Operating System Hack
I hesitated to write this issue. Not that the subject bothered me, but because we’ve brushed up against it too many times in the past, and I try to avoid repeating things in FMP. But I soon enough realized that not only was there a lot that I hadn’t said about this, but that I’ve never addressed the core of this issue… and that it very much needs to be addressed. So, what we’ll be talking about today is a hack on our personal operating systems, a manipulation of the basic assumptions that run beneath our reasoning processes.
Issue #82: The CRISPR Revolution
Imagine humanity being able to control their own physical evolution… to improve their bodies, promptly, durably, and precisely… each change individually chosen from a palette of possibilities… with all the miraculous and terrifying aspects that are implied in those thoughts. We could eliminate thousands of maladies, including things like obesity and a great percentage of all cancers. But at the same time, secret government agencies could create super-soldiers with twice the muscle mass of a normal human. Overlords could withhold the technology from the public or even use it against them, breeding themselves into a super-class.
Issue #81: The Phoenicians’ Commercial Civilization
If you read through enough history books, certain subjects keep popping up. First you note them as curiosities, but then you see them again… and again. Soon enough, you realize that they’re important, whether others recognize them or not. So it has been for me with the Phoenicians. Again and again, as I trace things backward to their roots, I find the Phoenicians waiting for me. The list of things that trace back to these people is truly amazing, including odd things you wouldn’t expect, such as the fact the Phoenicians played a major role in building the Temple of Solomon. (Sounds wild, I know, but it’s in the Bible.) Slowly, I realized that these people played a crucial role in human history.
Issue #80: The Anatomy of 21st Century Power
I find it interesting that new centuries don’t show their defining characteristics right away. The 20th century, for example, seemed almost the same as the 19th until World War I ended. Our 21st century has likewise seemed thus far just like the 20th. Its unique characteristics are starting to become clear only now. And the striking fact that we’ll address today is that the use of power in the world, and in the West in particular, has changed. We all knew the 20th century paths of power, mainly moving through nation-states. That, however, has changed, and power is now operating in new ways. And so, since understanding the world we live in has significant practical importance, I think it’s necessary to devote an issue of FMP to it.
Issue #79: Cultivating Your Inner Life
If and when we encounter more advanced beings from other worlds, it’s highly likely that they’ll be people of advanced souls more than people of advanced minds. In our modern world, the concept of the great soul – the man or woman with a rich and wonderful inner life – has been almost entirely ignored. We’ve been raised in cultures with a mechanized morality: Keep this or that rule and you’re okay; follow this regimen; proceed only from A to B. We’ve learned to judge ourselves by external standards in any number of ways, and they’re all very mechanical. When Alexander Pope wrote, “Love seldom haunts the breast where learning lies,” this was why: Learning in our time involves lessons in a mechanical morality, and that creates an infrastructure that flatly ignores positives like beauty and love. It focuses almost entirely on what’s bad.
Issue #78: Framing a Second Wave Democracy
The first wave of democracy in Western civilization started with the American Revolution, then rolled through Europe, hitting its stride by about 1820 and covering the entire continent by the end of World War I. From then until now, the people of the West have been committed to ruling themselves. And for quite a while they thought they were ruling themselves. The problem, especially more recently, was that they really weren’t. They were ruled by the people who funded their legislators, by the people who ran their central banks, and by the people who ran their political parties. In short, they were ruled by a more-or-less invisible elite class that had coalesced over time. (See FMP #76.)
Issue #77: The Challenge of a No-Frills Christ
There are, according to Wikipedia, more than 2.4 billion Christians in the world; roughly a third of the world’s population. Furthermore, nearly all of those Christians associate themselves (often closely) with a useful book. This presents an astonishing opportunity to those of us who would like to move the world forward. Yes, there are problems among Christians and Christian groups – many problems, and many of them very serious. But these people also hold powerful core beliefs they haven’t really understood.
Issue #76: The Harnessing of Mankind, Part 2
We began last month’s issue by noting that our generation is harnessed by its elites far more completely than ever before. The way we are harnessed, however, is unique in human history, a difference that became necessary just a few centuries ago, when the old ways stopped working. Whether we evolved or whether we just saw through the manipulation is a good question, but there’s no question that the old method of harnessing had to be re-tooled. So, taking up where we left off last month, I’d like to examine the odd case of harnessing mankind that we’re living through and then examine how this situation stands to change as we move forward.
Issue #75: The Harnessing of Mankind, Part 1
As I begin this issue, mankind is harnessed by its elites more completely than ever before… far more completely. And yet, as we detailed in FMP #40, the belief in authority that gave rise to this situation is cracking. We are facing a transition to whatever comes next. So, in this issue and the next, I’d like to go back to basics and examine the ways in which mankind has been harnessed, the core factors enabling these harnessings, and finally, how the next method is shaping up.
Issue #74: The Two Incarnations
Incarnation means embodied in flesh. We’re all familiar with the Christian use of this word (God taking on flesh), but in this issue I’ll be referencing ideas, rather than a deity, taking on flesh. It so happens that the dominant systems in our world – the ways in which we organize ourselves – are incarnations of specific ideas. It also happens that the incarnation we live in is thousands of years old, having taken its form by 4000 BC. The primary point I’ll make in this issue is that there’s an alternative, and this is the right time to grasp it. We don’t have to continue in the same model as people who used stone tools.
Issue #73: Our Unknown Ancestors
As best I can tell, the vast majority of my subscribers are Westerners of one flavor or another, as am I. Because of that, I’ll use “us,” “our,” and “we” quite freely in this issue, with apologies to my non-Western readers. But whether we’re Western or not, what we’ll cover here is important and almost unknown. The origin of the Western world is so poorly covered that I’ve sometimes wondered if it was being concealed on purpose. Events that don’t much matter are championed and the events that do matter aren’t even named.
Issue #72: Reopening Channels of Intellect
There is a passage in the Bible’s letter to the Ephesians that has loomed over me for decades, ever since I deciphered it in the original Greek. At the time I was especially wary of jumping to conclusions that fit my preferences; I had recently learned how wrong I could be by holding opinions too dearly. My problem with the Ephesians passage was that it seemed to further ideas and leanings that were already appealing to me, and I didn’t want to love it for that reason alone.
Issue #71: Technology and Culture
Technology is far more than shiny devices or even impressive specifications, so many megabytes, megavolts, or whatever. In fact the scientific details, while necessary, are mere sideshows to the main event: Technology is a restructuring of reality according to the passions of the engineer. And make no mistake, an engineer without passion isn’t much of an engineer, and he or she is quite unlikely to break new ground.Furthermore, there are very few things that can equal the excitement of creating something new and useful in the world. As the great inventor Nikola Tesla wrote: I do not think there is any thrill that can go through the human heart like that felt by the inventor as he sees some creation of the brain unfolding to success…
Issue #70: How Slavery Ended
Slavery began, so far as can be seen, in the early Mesopotamian civilizations, well before Egypt. It is thus among the most ancient of evils. Slavery reigned through all the ancient millennia, was enthroned in all the ancient empires, and continued through Greece and Rome, as well as through all the empires of the East. It is therefore one of the greatest of all academic failures that the defeat of this ancient evil is utterly ignored in authorized history books. It is both a scandal and a disgrace… a major disgrace.
Issue #69: Bits and Pieces
Most issues of FMP have been dedicated to one subject only, and even in those few cases where we covered different subjects in the same issue, I put them together precisely because they were strongly related. Today I’d like to deviate from that pattern, simply because I have quite a few passages in my notes that seem valuable but are too short for their own issue. So, this month I’m pulling out some of these pieces and rolling them all into one issue. I’m even including an answer to a reader’s question.
Issue #68: The Gift of the Hebrews
Last month we discussed, among other things, the fact that the Hebrews gifted Western civilization with one of its most critical tenets: Justice stands above rulers. This principle is larger than any particular civilization, of course, and stands as both a hedge against tyranny and a pathway to a better future. This is a thoroughly obvious concept and one that is observable at nearly all places and times, but it is not stated in most places and times and particularly because rulers have always resented it and have frequently punished people who dared to say it.
Issue #67: The Crisis of Western Civilization
I am not exaggerating when I say that the great crisis of Western civilization is upon us. I do not mean that our civilization will fall in the next year or two, of course – civilizations rise and fall much more slowly than that – but I do mean that if things continue moving in their current direction, Western civilization will fall. At the same time, if Western civilization wakes itself from its current drugged and drunken stupor, greater days – far greater days – stand in front of it. Our civilization is more than capable of restarting itself; the problem is that we as individuals have to make it happen.
Issue #66: Lifestyle Capitalism
I’d like to begin this issue with the problem we ended on last month: We’ll have to discover ways to get through life without relying on status. Status is stupid and wasteful of course, but it has been woven deeply into our lives. Partly by luck, I began finding my way through this while I was still quite young. First I found middle steps and then, over time, I came to what I think is a reasonably good separation from status. So in this issue I’d like to explain status, the process of separation, and then conclude with a manner of life that I think fits status-free living better than any other. I call it lifestyle capitalism.
Issue #65: How the Industrial Model Will Be Replaced
“That which is becoming obsolete and old,” says the book of Hebrews, “is ready to pass away.” And so it is for the industrial model of civilization that has dominated the world for the past century or two. It is obsolete, it is old, and it is passing away. In fact, it is being replaced. Please bear in mind that this is not necessarily bad news. Its passing may feel unsettling to many of us, but the industrial model was in many ways contrary to human nature. Its passing is not, by itself, a problem. The real concerns are when and how it passes away and whether people react reasonably to the changes. And of course what comes next.
Issue #64: The Heaven-Hell Dipole
This month, we’re going to tackle a core image in billions of minds, and one that doesn’t take kindly to criticism. Nonetheless, it’s an image that is long overdue for critique, and I believe that truth matters. Please understand that the importance of this goes far beyond questions of theology. This heaven-hell dipole (which I shall explain momentarily) is enthroned as a central image in literally billions of minds all over the planet. Furthermore, it has held that central position for a long time. It not only colors the thinking of a large segment of humanity, but it does so from a position of “everyone knows.”
Issue #63: How They Became Exceptional, Part 3
This month I’d like to go back to our series of articles on becoming exceptional. As I’ve written before, I believe that all healthy humans are, by nature, magical, creative machines. I further believe that the modern habit of consigning credit for wonderful works only to “special people” is, at the minimum, tragic.In this installment, Part 3, we’ll look at a musician and an inventor who were born just eight years apart and died less than one year apart. But far more important than that, each walked a path that turned on a close encounter with death. By the time we’re done, I hope to explain their similarities and also how all of us can gain the same lessons without passing quite so close to our own deaths.
Issue #62: On Human Evolution
“Evolution” is a tremendously loaded word. The mere act of pulling it out inspires raw emotional responses. So, I’d like to begin by being very clear on my meaning here: My point in this issue is not to address the theory of evolution, but to address actual evolution. These two – one a theory, the other actual changes in human life – are very different things. This is a point we miss by leaping to polarized conclusions, as we do in response to a single word: evolution. I will begin by clearing this up a bit and by pointing out the fact that many people who promote the theory of evolution reflexively oppose actual evolution at the same time.
Issue #61: The Aristocracy of Violence
Today we’ll dig into something so pervasive that we hardly notice it. And because we barely notice it, it runs deep and affects us profoundly. For these reasons, dealing with it can seem odd, and even troubling. After all, things that we barely notice can seem like inseparable parts of us, or at least as inalterable parts of the world. And when such things are called into question, we feel destabilized and unsettled. But the truth is that many of the things that we presume to be built into us really aren’t. For example, polygamy is allowed by both testaments of the Bible and was widely practiced in biblical times, including New Testament times.
Issue #60: How to Pass Through the Storm
Last month’s newsletter was certainly a less-than-cheery one. In response, I got a few heartfelt emails from subscribers. This was a characteristic request from these emails: PLEASE fill FMP #60 with lots more specifics on how to fight back against the demons. And the more I thought about it, the clearer it became that this was an excellent idea. There are clearly ominous things standing before us, but that doesn’t mean that we’re inevitably going down with them. As one of my friends is known for saying: The world might be completely falling apart, but your own world can be happy.
Issue #59: Descartes’s Demon
“To every thing there is a season,” wrote Solomon in Ecclesiastes; and that includes warnings. As I’ve mentioned several times, humanity has a problem with over-focusing on the negative. Believing this to be the case, I try to watch myself and to avoid spending unnecessary time on negative things.For example, I watch very little TV news, and most of it is limited to weather forecasts and the occasional local story. The only times I watch Fox News or CNN are when I can’t escape it, such as in an airport.
Issue #58: How to Be a Successful Heretic
Most people think of heresy and heretics only within a religious context, but that’s an unnecessary limitation and I like using the terms more broadly than that. These words apply outside of religion just as well as they do within it… and shed a lot of light in the process. It is the punisher, after all, who makes the heretic. Without punishers, heretics would be nothing more than guys with different ideas. And in our time, the punishers (at least in the West) are very seldom religious.
Issue #57: Power Versus Subversion in America, Part 2
We began last month’s issue by saying that the story of America was, and remains, a story of subversion versus power. We went on to say that the subversives of America (and of the whole Judeo-Christian tradition) believe that justice stands above the ruler – above any and every ruler – and that they, as individuals, have the right to judge rulers as just or unjust, with all that implies.
Issue #56: Power Versus Subversion In America, Part 1
The story of America is the story of subversion versus power. It began that way and it remains that way. And this story is important, not only for Americans, but for everyone with an interest in liberty and oppression… for anyone looking to build freedom in the world.In this issue and the next, we’ll be examining American history from a different perspective than the one taught in schools, and we’ll cover the full American story, not just a few snippets.
Issue #55: Building a Better World the Simple Way
When we think of “making the world better,” most of us imagine hard work… an overload of hard work. But that’s not really true; we’ve just been approaching it wrongly. Our problem is that we’re trying to carry a load of useless baggage with us as we head toward “making things better.” In particular, we’re trying to drag along giant political systems, and that’s an impossible task.We’ve been conditioned to think that change must involve politics. And that idea, no matter how right and necessary it seems to us, is simply false.
Issue #54: How to Escape the Tyranny of Fear
Humanity has a problem with fear. We all know this from personal experience, although it’s a topic we seldom discuss. But whether we talk about it or not, fear has a profound and continuing impact on human action. Our species is mainly bright, adaptive, and cooperative. Humans certainly do bad things from time to time, but we over-represent those things in our memory and we under-represent (or flatly ignore) the hundreds of good things that transpire around us every day.
Issue #53: The European Anarchy
I don’t particularly like the word “anarchy.” First, it tends to be distracting, and second, I’m not interested in selling a line of goods under the “anarchy” label. My primary attachment to it is simply that anarchism is correct: coercion is immoral. But distraction aside, when anarchy is the right word to use, as it is for the title of this issue, I’ll gladly use it.
Issue #52: The Dark Ages Liberation
The European “Dark Ages” – roughly the years between 500 AD and 1000 AD – is a much maligned period. Popular “knowledge” of the time is little more than myth that has metastasized into slander. In this issue and the next, I’ll explain the Dark Ages using facts, not fables or fictional images. There now exists enough good information to do so, yet I’ve never seen the period explained in any depth. (Listings of dates and facts don’t help very much.)
Issue #51: The Education of a Sociopath
As it happens, I was raised in very close proximity to several sociopaths. I had a front row seat, from which I observed their development. That experience was certainly not a pleasant one for me, but it did at least give me a useful perspective. Having been inescapably close, I watched young sociopaths develop their craft.
Issue #50: Cultures that Thrived in Peace
Warfare cultures are something that all of us know about. Not only do we study them in history books and see their relics in museums, but we live in them. War cultures are the norm to us, and peaceful cultures seem so foreign that we can barely envision them at all. This statement, that we “live in a warfare culture,” may at first seem intemperate or flamboyant. After all, we think of ourselves as more enlightened than that and classify our culture as far more “technological” than war-based. But if you can take an outsider’s view of our situation, you may agree that “warfare culture” is not an unfair term.
Issue #49: How They Became Exceptional, Part 2
In this second installment of “How They Became Exceptional,” I’d like to repeat my sentiments from Part 1, that one of the saddest things about humanity in our time is that most people feel incapable of doing great things. We are raised to believe that only special people can transcend the mundane, and we are also led to believe that we’re not members of that exclusive club. I believe a contrary idea: that all healthy humans are, by nature, magical, creative machines. So, if I am right to any significant extent, this “for special people only” idea is beyond tragic.
Issue #48: The Hidden Topography of Human Cultures
Topographic maps have remained in my mind ever since I went on a backpacking trip to the Smoky Mountains when I was 17 years old. When you’re on foot in the wilderness, knowing the elevations in front of you is crucial, not only for walking, but for finding water and food. The same types of factors show up in human cultures. Our history books give us the “flat map” view, not the elevations that make real people walk one path or another. Topography, a detailed graphic representation of the surface features of a place or the features themselves, applies to human affairs in powerful ways. There is a psychological topography that underlies human affairs, and we will examine it in this issue.
Issue #47: The Liberation of the Children Has Begun
Very little in modern life is more blindly worshipped than educational systems. In fact, many older people are so committed to these institutions that they dare not imagine life without them. The truth, however, is that these systems are wrong in just about every way, and especially in the assumptions they make about children.
Issue #45: Woit’s Warriors
Life as a Warrior: Beginning in the late 1960s, something exceptional happened in Chicago. The story was reported widely in the 1970s, but always by outsiders. It was Paul Rosenberg’s good fortune to be on the inside of this story, and it’s something that needs to be recorded. The story starts with a unique person that showed us how to achieve things no one thought possible.
Issue #44: The Lost Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth
Very few people think of Jesus of Nazareth as a philosopher. They think of him as a mystical figure or as a purveyor of superstitions, but not as a philosopher. Nonetheless, he created a philosophy that stands ready to revolutionize human life… if people ever take it seriously.
Issue #43: The Shape of Things to Come
As a newsletter that focuses on revealing the truth behind the lies we’re taught to believe (often from a young age), it’s natural that much of our discussions are generally negative in tone. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of good out there. As Paul Rosenberg writes in this issue, there are plenty of reasons for hope. In this edition, he shares five paths that people are taking towards a brighter, freer and happier future.
Issue #42: The Truth About Democracy
In this edition, we’re going to “kick the sacred cow” and talk about a topic that many people “know in their heart to be true” (thanks to having had it beaten into their brains): that democracy is a good thing. Unfortunately, the truth is quite the opposite. For many centuries before the modern form of democracy evolved, the monarchs were much better held in check than the ruling politicians and their banker friends are today. You see, before democracy, there was one small distinction that, at least in this one critical sense, kept the rulers equal to everyone else. That is now gone, and, in many ways, the world is much worse for it.
Issue #41: How They Became Exceptional (Part 1)
What is it that makes great people great? Something inborn? The result of conditioning? Something else entirely? That’s the focus of this first in a series of letters about what it is that makes an extraordinary human being truly extraordinary. And, indeed, how we can create the conditions to become great ourselves.
Issue #40: The Twilight of Authority
It makes for a great show, we’ll give them that. But the political elites of the day must know the game is almost over. The cycle is almost complete and once it is, the power structures that control our lives will be gone. They try to convince us otherwise of course; they try to show us that we need them. But we don’t and slowly but surely, the average man on the street is waking up to that fact. In this edition, Paul Rosenberg talks about why this is and why what’s coming can only mean the destruction of the ruling class. It’s a fascinating review of the facts that got us to this point – from the collapse of the Roman Empire to the seeds of the past century that set us up for this inevitable decline.
Issue #39: The Surprise of Natural Religion
One never knows where great insights will come from… For Paul Rosenberg, it was the Central American bungalow of a defrocked CIA agent… drugs, booze, gambling and a bunch of hard living programmers. The insight? A completely opposite way of looking at something truly fundamental to the human experience; something buried far within us that always finds a way to express itself in the world. This is definitely not an ordinary issue. It’s deep, it’s profound and it will leave you thinking… no matter what “persuasion” you are.
Issue #38: Being Ruled Degrades Our Health
This provocative issue begins with a simple question: Is the government making you sick? Or, more clearly said: Is the idea of being ruled making you sick? It would seem so – at least according to the evidence from this most unique study. Higher blood pressure, weakened immune system, and increased risk for heart disease are found within those societies where someone is the boss (politicians) and someone is the underling (us). So, just what is going on and what exactly causes “hierarchy” to kill us?
Issue #37: The First City was a Peaceful Anarchy
Are we doomed by our very nature to live forever in a world of control – of a strong central government telling us how we can and cannot live? If you believe so, then prepare for a shock… For more than 1,400 years, this ancient city thrived without any government – no courthouses, tax collectors or any central administration of any kind. What were the people like? How did they manage this? And what does it mean for us?
Issue #36: The Contentment Revolution
“Contentment”… Sounds a little dull, doesn’t it? But in this edition, Paul hopes to convince you that within this “boring” 3-syllable word is contained a radical idea with the power to change the world… One that can solve many of our most painful personal problems… And one that could even break the power of the ruling class… Don’t believe me? See for yourself…
Issue #35: The Institutional Suppression of Talent
We discuss the eternal struggle between the individual and institutional mind… and how it tends to suppress our amazing natural ability to create. Includes 11 powerful examples spanning more than 2,200 years – from the Greeks to modern day New York City.
Issue #34: The Strangest Liberation
We discuss a human “weakness” that corrupted leaders use to make slaves of the general population. However, when seen in a different light – with a different perspective – we can see that this natural conflict is not a weakness at all. It’s a strength and one that has served us well since the beginning of time. In fact, it’s the only reason we’re here. More importantly, by simply understanding the nature of this conflict, we can throw off the chains that hold us from living a stronger, more vibrant and ultimately more enriching life.
Issue #33: The Rise of Christian Capitalism
We explain how our Western Civilization formed and why it is a far more ethical and just civilization than any that preceded it, in addition to being the most productive civilization on record. By the time you’ve finished reading, we think that you’ll agree that Christian Capitalism is the right name for this civilization, no matter how many people get angry over that title.
Issue #32: The Economics of Rulership
We cover a topic that doesn’t seem to have been covered elsewhere, ever: to examine government as a business. While we will be starting from scratch here, we do have enough historical information for a good start.
Issue #31: The Foundations of Natural Religion
Referring to man’s natural state has been crucial to liberty and development over the past few centuries. One aspect of the original, primal state that has been overlooked, however, is natural religion. This field of inquiry lies almost untouched before us, and it is important to examine it.
Issue #30: Forty Years Gone: A Lamentation
It is tragic beyond measure that human exploration has been neutered since 1972. Sure, we’ve sent out a few probes and placed a good telescope in orbit, but we have done nothing brave, nothing bold, nothing daring. Productive humans have been delegated to mute observance as their hard-earned surplus is syphoned off to capital cities, where it is sanctimoniously poured down a sewer of cultured dependencies and endless wars. We remain locked onto this planet, not because we lack the ability to leave, but because so few of us are willing to do anything about it.
Issue #29:Commerce: The Permanent Rebellion
Commerce, by its very nature, is born free. And more than this, it forever fights to remain free. At almost every time and place, commerce evades regulations and controls; it serves its own will, not the wills of rulers. Markets spontaneously emerge at every opportunity, even when they are outlawed and punished. Commerce seems to have an existence of its own, like an independent organism. Even under the worst oppressions recorded in history, commerce continued. This was true in the USSR and it was true in Nazi Germany, and it remains true now, even as the Western world runs headlong into a surveillance state abyss.
Issue #28: How to Become Inspired
Just about everyone wants to be inspired. But even though people spend lots of money in search of inspiration, inspiration is not terribly common. The problem is that people pay for triggers to release inspiration, rather than doing things that will build inspiration. And so, with little being built, there is also little to release. The truth is that we can all be inspired a lot more than we have been. Inspiration need not be an occasional and erratic thing; it can be a common and familiar thing.
Issue #27: The Law & Its Cycle
Modern people tend to know something of the minutia of law and of legal actions, but they generally know nothing of law’s origins. As it happens, when the history and philosophy of law are mixed with general history and psychology, a very interesting pattern emerges. It’s a shame that this cycle of law is not taught, because it points to our place in the cycle, and to a very predictable outcome. The same things that drove this cycle in the past are driving it now, and, barring any fundamental changes, the modern outcome will be about the same.
Issue #26: An Emergence of Consciousness
Human consciousness, at least toward the leading edge, is pushing through ancient obstacles and is emerging in a new way, turning into something new. Most of us haven’t noticed this because we face immediate and dark intrusions nearly every day. These intrusions are legitimately bad, but we over-focus on them, losing track of a larger, slower-moving picture: A lot of things are coalescing toward the good just now.
Issue #25: The Mystery of Iniquity: Cultured Sociopathy
When thinking about evil, people nearly always think of obvious, nasty villains: powerful, vicious monsters. They do this because it is oddly comforting. This may sound strange at first, but monsters absolve us. In actual fact, it is not monsters who do most of the evil on Earth. It is the average people… people who find it easy and comforting to blame monsters, rather than people like themselves. And there is a single, utterly common mechanism at play in more or less all of the world’s horrific acts.
Issue #24: The Fall from the Natural State
The one section we passed over in #23 was organized aggression, which is more complicated than the others we examined. In this issue we show precisely how organized aggression overtook men in their natural state. This requires a look far back into human history, but it can be done.
Issue #23: Locke’s Natural State, Redefined & Proved
John Locke’s brilliant tool for finding the right was to turn away from the political wranglings of his day and go back to human origins; to understand man in his original state and to specify what was right for him, before he was overrun with unnatural edicts, impositions and fears. In this issue we define that natural state and set up an experiment to prove it.
Issue #22: The Birth of Neo-Lockean Civilization
You and I – right here in our own place and time – are witnessing the birth of a new civilization. This is occurring quietly (a lot like Jesus being born in a barn, interestingly enough), but it is occurring, and for those who recognize it, it is very exciting. For lack of another term, I am calling this new culture Neo-Lockean, as it is based upon the core ideals of John Locke.
Issue #21: A Practical, Positive Philosophy
In this issue, Paul talks about how we tend to focus on the negative things we don’t want in life, while ignoring thoughts about what we do want. He then breaks down what “man” actually is and what makes us special, before introducing a 6-part positive philosophy that naturally works with the way we were designed, rather than against it.
Issue #20: The Forbidden History of Smuggling
Smuggling has been one of the most common economic activities of all time. It fed the poor and provided a half-decent living to the workers of the world when they faced no other choice but grinding poverty. It was the one way to get affordable goods, and made life bearable. Yet, it is all but absent from the historical record. We put it on the record in this issue.
Issue #19: The Other Side of the Heart
The words “heart” or “from the heart” have, throughout my lifetime, referred almost exclusively to sympathy, pity, or guilt. This was a grave error. Awe, reverence, appreciation, gratitude, admiration and wonder are also functions of the heart, and these “upward” movements are crucial. A lack of upward movements of the heart results in a failure to thrive; not of the body, but of the soul; of the inner man. In other words, we cannot be complete, healthy beings without it.
Issue #18: The Long Calendar – Entropy, Cycles & Escape
Imagine what life would be like if the seasons were each 400 years long, instead of a few months. We might spend all of our lives in winter, following our parents and grandparents, eight generations deep, who all lived the same way. In all likelihood, most people would consider stories of warm ages to be myths. The long calendar we provide in this issue (making sense of 400-year seasons) is based upon clear and scientific factors, not mere projections.
Issue #17: The Great Golden Age is Here… Waiting for Us to Grasp It
The great golden age is upon us. We haven’t seen it because we’ve been looking at the wrong things and in the wrong directions. I know that it doesn’t remotely seem like a golden age when we are working more hours than we can handle and are stressed to the point of illness. But it is here and has been building for some time. It will break out once enough of us start acting in furtherance of the golden age, rather than acquiescing to its delay.
Issue #16: The Lost Art of Living with Intent
This map shows just a fraction of the utopian communities created in America during its expansion westward in the 19th century. (Mostly behind the frontier, for reasons I will provide later.) There were literally hundreds of them. I counted 118, and the more research I did, the higher the count went. I tried to create a more complete version of the map above, but the names wouldn’t fit. The people of these groups did something very powerful, and something that is now, sadly, quite rare: they arranged their lives from the ground up, intentionally. They cast off the expectations and circumstances of their original lives and chose new ones: on purpose and usually with carefully considered plans.
Issue #15: How to Be a Genius… Even if You’re Not
Geniuses have a trick that enables them to produce exceptional results. Super-fast brain cells are not really required – it’s just that the high IQ boys are usually the only ones who stumble across the trick. If you look at many of the great discoveries of science (and we do look at a few in this issue), you see that it wasn’t blazing brain-power that made the breakthrough – it was this trick.
Issue #14: The Systemic Abuse of the Productive Class: It Ends when We Say it Does
The controlling group of Western Civilization, and the world in general, is the productive class: the people who produce and whose work makes things happen. The problem is that they don’t think they have a right to live in ways that make sense for them. We, the productive, can end our abuse whenever we change our minds about it, and we, as individuals, can do a lot to bring that about. In this issue we will clarify our right to live our way, and we’ll answer the larger question: What is “the way of producers”?
Issue #13: Rulership’s Last Stand, Part 5 – Predatory Breakdown
Whether it’s in the animal kingdom or in human affairs, predation always follows the same pattern. And in our time it is reaching peak overreach, which will be followed by an inevitable breakdown. This issue explains what is breaking down now, how it will proceed, and how the breakdown factors of the 60s still remain in effect.
Issue #12: Rulership’s Last Stand, Part 4 – The Great Waiting
Lots of interesting things happened in the 1960s. Somewhat fewer things happened in the early 1970s, but they were of considerable importance. The years since, however, have been a long wait for trends to play themselves out. They were, in other words, boring. But things happen even in boring times, and in this issue we examine how the changes of the 60s and 70s were institutionalized and are headed for their ends.
Issue #11: Rulership’s Last Stand, Part 3 – The Reordering of the 1970s
The peak rulership of the 1950s and the crackup of the 1960s gave way to the great reordering of the 1970s. As the decade began, the forces that had fractured rulership’s legitimacy were in the past but the cracks continued to widen. In fact, many of the things that people think of as “the 1960s” actually happened in the early 1970s. This is crucial to us, because the structure of the 1970s reset will determine how the next crackup will occur… and that crackup may be upon us soon.
Issue #10: Rulership’s Last Stand, Part 2 – The Crackup of the 1960s
There were two gigantic changes in the 1960s that went so far as to change the way humans viewed their existence. These changes did not affect rulership directly, but they pushed it aside as the primary focus in life. They demoted rulership, which was enough to make it crack. The first was the birth control pill and the second was leaving Earth and heading into space. There had been birth control previously, but nothing so simple and effective as The Pill. Space travel was utterly new to the human species. These changes cracked open the imaginations of the young people and the legitimacy of governments crumbled.
Issue #09: Rulership’s Last Stand, Part 1 – Peak Rulership: The 1950s
The 1950s were a peak of faith in the institution. The large organization was seen as inherently superior. Economies of scale were at their peak, people were generally prosperous, and industrial might had just defeated Hitler and Japan. People talked openly and proudly about “respect for authority” as a necessary bias and that “children need to have their will broken.” But the road for rulership since has generally been downhill. In this issue we examine the “Other people are supposed to order us around” model, and how it began to crack.
Issue #08: Bacon’s Gift
As Francis Bacon defined the scientific method, Europe remained an agricultural civilization. Things were changing in the cities, but people were assured that things would stabilize and continue more or less as they had always been. But, within about a century of Bacon’s writings, the world was confronted with steam engines, high-quality iron, electricity, pendulum clocks, microscopes, newspapers, dentistry, adding machines, and more. Bacon didn’t invent these things; he taught people how to invent them. And he also taught people how to see through lies.
Issue #07: The Era of Fiat Currency Capitalism
If we were to give a name to the last forty years of Western history, we’d have to call it the era of fiat currency capitalism. Having been inside of this contradiction most or all of our lives, it can seem almost permanent and inevitable to us. For the last forty years, things which should have crashed and burned have not crashed and burned, and it was fiat currency that permitted the consequences to be scorned. Western culture and millions of minds have been bent in the process.
Issue #06: There Were No Cavemen
Images of cavemen (wearing loin cloths during an ice age!) have corrupted our view of the past, burying the truth beneath a pile of self- flattering lies. The caveman story is false, yet almost everyone holds it as a clear, often fundamental, image in their minds. As a result, nearly all of us presume that ‘prehistoric’ men were dull, stupid oafs. In fact, they were not. They were the same as us, only in different circumstances. To illustrate the point, you’ll find a detailed analysis of Otzi the Iceman – a real pre-historic man.
Issue #05: The Tuskegee Experiment
Imagine someone saying to you: “The US government is keeping a group of men sick with a horrible, disfiguring disease. Some of their wives and children have caught the disease from them. Government doctors are watching them die, slowly, even though they have a cheap, instant cure.” This evil ran from 1932 until 1972, when it had to be shut down because the truth finally leaked out. No one went to jail. No one ever faced a trial. No one even lost their job. What is even more shocking is that nearly every respected medical institution in the United States knew about this, participated in it, and kept it covered up for decades. They lost none of their respect in the process.
Issue #04: The Real Problem with Conspiracy Theories
The real problem with conspiracy theories is not that they are scary – it’s that they are too comforting. The problem is not whether these theories are true or false, it is their implication that the world is being controlled. There is a strange comfort in the idea that the world is controllable. The hidden thought embedded in most discussions of conspiracy theories is: The world is being controlled by evil people. So, if we can get rid of them, the world can revert to control by good people, and things will be great again. This is not true, and even those people who are trying to control the world are no smarter or better than the rest of us.
Issue #03: The Strange Case of Matt Laar
The highly successful East European economic model began with a history teacher, a man who freely admitted that he was ignorant of economics and business. But, he was an honest man who found himself at the onset of a new enterprise and simply did the best he could. That man was named Mart Laar and Eastern Europe’s economic success traces back to him.
Issue #02: The Death of Innovator Zero
His name is lost to us. The only record of his existence is found in a history of inventions written in 1846, and even then, only as a note referencing a lost Venetian book from 1636. He had been murdered some fifty years before that, in 1586. The place of his death was Danzig (now known as Gdansk), a busy old trading hub on the Baltic Sea. This man was, as best I can tell, the first person in the chain that led to the Industrial Revolution. And so, as the first infected person in an epidemic is called Patient Zero, I am calling this man Innovator Zero, and doing my best to tell his story.
Issue #01: Marilyn’s Intellectual Needs
Like many people, I had never thought of Marilyn Monroe as much more than a troubled actress. I’m pleased that I never really bought into the brainless bimbo image, but, aside from the strange circumstances surrounding her death, I never bothered to look at her much further. Until I ran into a passage from a professor I respected, who explained why Marilyn Monroe was actually a more serious intellect than the vast majority. And the more I looked into it, the more interesting the story became.