Screw the Way Things Are, I Want Out

screwthings

This is a beautiful planet, filled, in the main, with decent, cooperative humans. And yet, I want out. Give me any kind of functional spaceship and any reasonable chance, and I’ll take it. This place is anti-human. It chokes the best that’s in us, aggressively and self-righteously.

I was struck not long ago by a comment of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s, in which he expressed the same kind of feeling:

I ought to have… become a star in the sky. Instead of which I have remained stuck on earth….

All of us who’ve had a moment of transcendence – who made some type of contact with what is truly the best inside ourselves – have also sensed that life in the current world is incompatible with it. I think we should stop burying that understanding beneath piles of “that’s the way things are,” “we should be realistic,” and “you can’t fight City Hall.”

Screw the way things are, screw “realistic,” and screw City Hall too. I was made for better things than this, and you were too.

Everywhere I turn, some kind of ruler, sub-ruler, enforcer, regulator, or “right-thinking” quasi-enforcer demands not only my money but also for me to make myself easy to punish, thus showing myself to be a good subservient. That’s not just wrong; it’s a disease. I don’t care whether such people are “following orders,” “just doing their job,” or whatever else they tell themselves to soothe their rightly troubled souls. That mode of living is perverse, and these people are enforcing a disease.

Let me make this part very clear: The desire to control others is disease; it is corruption. Willing controllers are a morally inferior class. And the truly deranged thing is that these people rule the world!

Forget about why this is so – we can debate that later – focus rather on the utter insanity of this:

A minority of moral defectives, who think extortion is a virtue, rule people who are happy to live and let live… by force.

That’s outright lunacy.

And to support the lunacy, we have lies, intimidation, and slogans: “In a democracy, you’re really ruling yourself,” “Only crazy people disagree,” “It’s always been this way,” and so on. To all of which I reply, How stupid do you think we are? You drilled that crap into us when we were children, but we’re not children anymore.

And if “our way” isn’t as bad as North Korea, that makes it right? Only to a fool.

And the results of “the way it’s always been”… my God, the results…

A study from the 1980s((It was published fairly widely at the time, but I lost track of the details and it seems to have persisted only among religious groups. The best information I have is that it was published by the Norwegian Academy of Sciences in 1984.)) found that since 3600 BC, the world has known only 292 years of peace. During this period there have been 14,531 wars, large and small, in which 3.6 billion people have been killed.

This is what I’m supposed to serve with all my heart and soul? A Bronze Age system that can’t keep itself from slaughter? We’re talking about a 5,600-year track record of mass death… and yet fundamental change is considered unthinkable?

Well, screw that too, because I think deep, fundamental change is called for… and was called for a long time ago.

Again, this is a wonderful planet and most of the people on it are decent… but it is ruled by insanity, and I want out.

Yes, I know, there’s really nowhere to go. Every place I might go is dominated by the same diseased model, and dissent is punished the same… and in some places worse. That’s one of the reasons space appeals to me; it gives me a chance to escape this madness.

I’ll draw this to a close with a passage from C. Delisle Burns’s wonderful The First Europe, describing why the Roman Empire collapsed:

Great numbers of men and women were unwilling to make the effort required for the maintenance of the old order, not because they were not good enough to fulfill their civic duties, but because they were too good to be satisfied with a system from which so few derived benefit.

I, for one, am unwilling to expend any effort to maintain the present order. It is by its nature incompatible with the best that is in us… and always will be.

Those of us who want to be more and better cannot support the current order without opposing what’s best in ourselves. Screw that.

* * * * *

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Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

A Saturday Night at Starbucks

StarbucksAn unusual set of family events found me sitting in a Starbucks last Saturday night. It had been a reasonably decent day, but there are, as we all know, plenty of things in this world to be depressed about. And those things, as we also know, are massively amplified by the attention-seeking class. (Bad news sells.) Somehow, the parade of negativity had its effect on me.

Sitting in the Starbucks cured me.

What I Saw

It was a very average Starbucks in a very average location. And the very average people sitting with me were a near-perfect cross-section of the American demographic.

To my left was a middle-aged black man, doing something on his laptop. Just past him was a middle-aged white woman doing the same. Past her, in the corner, were three teenage girls – one black, one white, one Latin – studying something together.

Behind me was another black man with a laptop and piles of papers, and past him was a young couple falling in love over lattes.

At the big center table was a 25ish woman, with multiple piles of paper upon which she was working very hard. After a while, her boyfriend showed up. She hugged him, laid her head on his shoulder, and they kissed. It was sweet. Then he got to work with her.

There were also people coming and going. They were more of the same: A cross-sectional American parade of people behaving quietly and well.

This is the larger part of human life – the life that you don’t see on the news. And they reminded me that all is not dark, no matter how much darkness we see on television and streaming across the Internet.

This is the part of human life that we should be giving our attention to. Watching them, I decided that it would be far better to spend time helping these people than to obsess on all the bad things in the world. These people deserve our efforts.

What Would Help the Bright Side of Humanity?

That, of course, brought me to the question of how to help the bright side of humanity, and I decided that a great start would be to make one point very clearly:

Fear is a brain hack, a malicious and effective brain hack.

When people want to get their hands on your time and money – and don’t want to be bothered with that pesky ‘reason’ thing – fear is how they do it… over and over and over. Fear works.

So, if we want to move the brighter side of humanity forward, the first thing we need to do is to inform them that fear is their greatest enemy. They need to understand – and remember – that when someone tries to make them afraid, they are being hacked.

Second, we need to assure the brighter side of humanity that their way is right… that they have every right to live their way and not abandon their values to screaming political hucksters.

Power-seekers have always been with us, and they can succeed only by getting frightened people to line up behind them. But in order to line up with the fright-sellers, you have to absorb their slogans, respond to their fears, and take their rationalizations into your mind. And that is a mistake.

The problem is that the fright-seller’s ideas are nearly all inferior ideas. They serve dominance, power, and the inertia of archaic models of lordship. They do not serve human advancement.

The people I saw in the Starbucks held a different and better set of ideals. They believed that all people should be treated with respect and politeness; that coercion, theft, and fraud are wrong; and that everyone should be left alone to do what they want, so long as they don’t intrude upon others.

This decent side of humanity needs to know that their ideals should never be pushed aside for the sake of some political cause, no matter how Earth-shakingly urgent it is made to seem.

Let me make this very, very clear:

The people I saw in the Starbucks were morally superior to the powerful and the fear-peddlers.

Such people should understand that they are right to hold to their own values, to hold to their own lines of reason, to believe in their own virtues.

And Once They Do?

Once people of the type I saw in the Starbucks start believing in themselves, the world changes, and massively.

These people, you see – and there are untold millions of them – are productive and cooperative. Their problem is that they’ve been laying aside their virtues at the insistence of a fear-peddling overlord class. We are, as I seem to be saying frequently, living under bronze-age rulership. It no longer suits us, if indeed it ever did. And it is holding us back.

The people in the Starbucks don’t need edicts from an emperor or a priest-king… and they don’t need politicians doing the same thing under the guise of “the will of the people.”

Once the millions of “Starbucks people” decide that all the fear and overlordship were contrary to life itself, they will move into a better age. Any such transition is difficult, of course, but once these people truly believe in their own ways, the ways of the fear-peddlers will pass away.

May it be soon.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

Why I’m Opposed to Activism*

activism* Before anything else, I need to clarify my meaning: There are “activists” whom I respect and support. (Ernie and Donna Hancock leap to mind, as do several Bitcoin “activists.”) I divide these people from the activism of my title, because these people act, encourage, and teach directly, not through third parties.

This distinction will become clear to you as we proceed.

The Distinction: What Happened to the Cool Kids

Once upon a time, there were courageous computer types who defied mighty Western governments and worked around them to deliver usable cryptography to the world. It took skill, it took intelligence, and most of all, it took courage. But these people took the risks and did it, and I think they deserve credit for it.

Sadly, however, more than a few of those people descended from the ranks of the righteously disobedient to the level of mere activists. They spend their efforts these days encouraging legislation, engaging in dialog, and promoting causes.

In other words, they went from doing things themselves to begging overlords to do them. Consider the two models:

  1. The first model required skill, intelligence, and courage. It required people to act against the will of the dominator.

  2. The new model makes activists advisors to the dominator. In their imaginations, they are so smart that they can trick the dominator into doing “the right thing.”

Please note that model #1 removes power from the overlord and transfers it to individuals.

Then please note that model #2 enhances the power of the overlord. It is only the overlord who is held as a proper actor.

Sadly, model #2 has become the primary model of activism in the Western world, and this is the model that I oppose.

Specific Reasons I’m Opposed to Activism:

#1: It enhances the existing order. As I’ve written before, mankind is now living with space-age technology and bronze-age rulership, a ridiculous and retrograde mode of organization. We desperately need to get past it, but rulership never willingly lets go of power. Supporting rulership – enthroning it as the only legitimate actor – is devolutionary; it drags us away from the future.

#2: It evades courage and risk. No one likes risk, but in a world controlled by bronze-age dominators, progress requires it. Under the modern activism model, however, almost no courage is required; the activist is a partner to power. Successful activism, under this model, ends with the ruler – and only the ruler – acting.

So long as we beg the ruler to act, we are harmless to power and even helpful to it. For example, while Alexander Haig was a major figure in the Reagan White House, he was confronted by anti-war protestors. His response was telling:

Let them march all they want, as long as they continue to pay their taxes.

Activism that relies on the existing order is no threat to the existing order. It benefits the status quo and it neuters potential activists of the first model, seducing them to avoid risk.

#3: It corrupts the activists. Activists of the second model tend to have problems with arrogance. That’s my observation, of course, and yours may differ, but the entire model rests on the ability of the activist to outsmart other people.

The model #2 activist outsmarts ruling factions to get his or her way. He or she works social media to get groups of people to repeat his or her slogans; he convinces masses to show up at his events; he gets TV cameras where they need to be when they need to be, then crafts sound bites that will play well on the news. In other words, he outsmarts everyone else.

The modern activist uses people as tools, especially the social media throngs. Thus, he or she gains a very real type of power. And as we should all know by now, power corrupts.

The successful activist, as a tool of his or her trade, must become famous, and fame corrupts at least as fast as more traditional types of power.

#4: It keeps the masses firmly within the status quo. People seeing the great, well-publicized successes of the model #2 activists never see any reason to move on their own. The brilliant activist gets things done by outsmarting power. That being so, their most sensible action is simply to support a successful activist.

Why should the concerned young person launch out on their own, seeing that famous gurus are already talking to the prime ministers, filing class-action lawsuits, and have thousands of online admirers? So, he or she finds a role inside the status quo that the activist is “changing.” Something feels naggingly wrong about it, but who is he or she to challenge the great guru?

And so the status quo continues forward apace.

#5: It creates and enhances a victim-based culture. Nothing gets better results in the modern age than portraying oneself as a victim or portraying one’s cause as in the service of victims. And so, that is precisely what the clever activist must do.

Worse, the activist needs his/her crowds to appear as victims and subtly encourages them to see themselves that way. Soon enough, the thousands do see themselves as victims, empowering the activist to champion their cause.

And please note that once we slide our minds into the role of “victim,” we give up agency over our lives. From then on, we become dependents, rather than confident actors on our own behalf.

In other words, we hand over our power to the activist and become dependent upon him or her.

Worse, we become morally dependent upon the activist, because the very role of “victim” requires a moral judgment. The guru activist then becomes a major force in our moral universe.

This amounts to a loss of personal power that is both subtle and pernicious, atrophying our ability to handle even our interpersonal interactions.

#6: It helps victims by using other people’s money. Convincing the state to “do something” is the easy way out. Rather than standing up and getting busy (and, god forbid, spending our own money), we empower the state to act. The truth, of course, is that the state does nothing without first stealing money, but we can easily imagine that it doesn’t cost us.

This model permits us to feel righteous at no expense. It’s false and wasteful, of course, but the illusion is easy to maintain… at least in the modern climate, where few things are called by their true names.

So…

So, please engage in Model #1 activism: Use your own mind, your own cleverness, your own effort. Bless the world.

And once you do, give yourself credit. You will have earned it. You will have gained a real reason to feel righteous. Enjoy it.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

What an Actual Leader Would Say

acrualleaderIn the current deluge of wannabe leaders clamoring for attention and trying to convince us that they are the boss who should be applying rules to us, it strikes me that all of them are looking backward and none are looking forward. (I do not consider “My administration will give you more bennies” to be seriously forward-looking.)

So, since none of this crowd is going to venture anywhere outside of their hermetically sealed status quo, I’d like to give you an example of something a real leader might say.

Late summer 2015, Anytown, USA: A small platform stands at the edge of a cornfield. A very average-looking person steps up to a microphone and speaks:

Friends,

I stand here, not to praise you, but to acquaint you with reality, at least as well as I am able. Perhaps that means I should be killed or at least run out of town. But if that’s so, then so be it. I am tired of living a life other than my own – the pre-scripted, advertiser-generated life that is shoved before my eyes day by day. And I suspect that some of you are tired of it as well.

Please allow me to begin by pointing out that all the fights from all the platforms this election cycle will concern trivialities – Team Red versus Team Blue – and competing varieties of fears – terrorists versus outlawed unions versus less free stuff versus whatever works in your little corner of the world. At most, these are fights over personalities – He’s an arrogant ass, she’s a conniving witch, and so on  – all of which really come down to, “My opponent is scarier than I am.”

None of these bobbleheads will ask the questions that matter: Who are we? What do we want? Where should we be headed?

You see, once we get past all the publicized fears – some real, but most imaginary – the dialog we’re having, if we care to admit it, is mostly self-praise. We laud our great “democracy,” even though not one in a thousand can define it. Or we brag about our wonderful “freedom” but avoid defining it, knowing that our definition wouldn’t stand up to the test. Freedom is “what we have,” and further questions are evidence of stupidity, bordering on treason.

The truth is that we’ve trained ourselves to evade reality. Praising ourselves is so much easier: Team America!

By doing this, my friends, we’ve been blind to the greatest opportunity that has ever stood before a human generation: If we wanted to, we could quickly and easily step into a golden age. In fact, we’ve been doing just that, half by accident, for a long time. If we bothered to work at it, even halfheartedly, we’d go down in history as the generation that transformed humanity forever.

But perhaps most of us wouldn’t like that. And if so, that’s our choice to make. My objection is that no one bothers to talk about it.

I’d like for you, for just a few seconds, to take a look at two graphs, which I pulled out of Julian Simon’s The State of Humanity. The first graph shows how much wheat is not grown, because our production capacity is so much greater than our demand for wheat.

graph1

This second one shows the price of wheat measured in wages.

graph2

And I have others like this, for other commodities.

There is one message that comes screaming through here, and it’s one that I know can be deeply troubling. Nonetheless, that message is true: Scarcity on planet Earth is dying.

I’ll pause to allow you a small freakout over that, to let all those prerecorded messages run screaming through your mind.

You see, our ruling systems have been built on the assumption of scarcity, and the idea that scarcity may be failing throws us into crisis.

Isn’t it odd that good news should upset us?

Scarcity, sadly, became more than a sad fact to us; it became a psychological necessity. But what if we no longer need to fight over resources? Is that a concept that we should rush to eliminate?

And in actual fact, there are fewer and fewer starving people all the time, and most of those are starving because of political distortions, not because of insufficient production technology.

All of this reminds me of a comment from Buckminster Fuller that I like to condense:

I decided man was operating on a fundamental fallacy: that he was destined to be a failure. I decided that man was, in fact, designed to be an extraordinary success. His characteristics were magnificent; what he needed was to discover the comprehensive patterns operating in the universe.

So, what if humanity is designed to be an extraordinary success? Why should this thought repel us, even before we honestly consider it?

You see, these are things we need to discuss.

We are, whether we like it or not, stepping out of scarcity, and it seems to me that we should decide whether or not that’s a good thing.

Our problem – our real problem, if we can muster the courage to admit it – is that we’re living with space-age technology and bronze-age rulership. But we can get past this problem if we wish, and we can easily meet all of humanity’s basic needs… if we wish.

But perhaps we don’t want to. Maybe it’s more important to us that we should be the biggest dog in town and that everyone else should be a little yap-yap dog.

And if that’s the case, we need to admit it to ourselves. Perhaps we’ll decide that what we really need is to be the dominant dog, and that all the morality stuff we talk about – golden rules and loving our neighbors – was all juvenile blather; that what we really want is to dominate everyone else.

And if that’s the case, we should get busy rebuilding our civilization in the form of the Roman Empire. We should get serious about beating the hell out of everyone else… at least until a new Christ comes along (or perhaps just people who remember the old one) and convinces our subjects that there’s a better way to live.

But in the meantime, we could kick the crap out of a billion brown people for a century or two, minimum. That’s our choice to make, of course, I’m only suggesting that we be forthright about it.

So, my friends, let me conclude by saying this:

If what we really want is to be the big dog, to feast on the fact that we’re able to kick all the smaller dogs around, then let’s do it. Let’s go full-Caesar on ’em. Let’s conquer everything, steal what we like, and live it up.

Or, if that’s not what we really want, then let’s get the golden age started; let’s dump the hierarchies that steal half our earnings and labor to keep fear alive. Let’s build and plant and thrive; and let’s welcome others to thrive with us.

Thank you for not shooting me.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

Please Do NOT Support a Candidate

candidateANY candidate.

Here’s something I wrote in my subscription newsletter a few months back:

I’ve watched people work for political progress since the 1960s. Back then, I saw decent, well-meaning people struggling to eliminate war, financial insecurity, welfare, racial animus, and police brutality.

Fifty years later, their children and grandchildren are spending oceans of energy fighting… war, financial insecurity, welfare, racial animus, and police brutality.

I take no pleasure in saying that all those people wasted their time – my own family and friends are included in that group – but the truth is that they did waste their time. Those people had good intentions, but their efforts were of no significant effect. They would have been better off gardening.

I’m dead serious about this.

Instead of sending money to politicians… instead of spending endless hours arguing about Candidates A, B, C, D, and E… tend a garden or plant a couple of fruit trees… these things will supply your family with good food, probably with some left over for friends and neighbors. Learn a skill. Teach a skill. Read good books. Bless the world and the good people in it.

By doing any of these things, you’ll be far better off than you would be after blowing your time and money on filthy politics. (Don’t we all complain that these people are liars and thieves?)

A new American Presidential Circus is rising up from the netherworld as I write this. It will be the 13th that I can remember in detail, running back to 1968. And they’ve all been the same: lots of propaganda, lots of fear, ‘gotcha’ debating games, flashing TV ads, loud radio ads, and so on. And what has it all changed? Almost nothing. Consider:

  • In ’68 we had an ugly war that half the country thought was God’s Will. Now, we’ve had the privilege of watching two wars that accomplished nothing, with half the country even more convinced that it was all God’s Will.

  • Then there were racial problems; now there are racial problems.

  • Then there was police brutality; now it’s probably worse.

  • Then there were economic problems; now they’re definitely worse.

It was all useless. All the magic candidates have fallen flat, just to be followed by other magic candidates, who assure us that they will – really, really, really, they pinky swear – finally do all they promise.

Seriously, it’s time to accept the obvious: It’s all been a cruel farce.

“But if We Don’t Get Involved, It Will Get Worse!”

Friends, that’s just naked fear. Don’t feed it. Don’t pass it along.

We are intelligent men and women; we shouldn’t be reduced to acting like terrorized children, tossed about by every shiny suit with a scary story to tell. We need to do better than that.

The truth is that the rulership we’ve been living under is long past its expiration date. It’s holding us back from a better future.

The Relic from 5000 BC

Almost nothing in human life remains as it was in 5000 BC. We drive cars; we live in automatically heated and cooled homes; we eat foods from around the world; when we need to travel long distances, we fly; and we can cure most diseases. Nothing we do is the same way they did it in 5000 BC… except for one thing:

Morally deficient men still rule over everyone else, just as they did 7,000 years ago.

And that’s just the way it is, stated clearly.

And it’s the way it has been, through all the monarchies, theocracies, principates, democracies, republics, and hybrids. Through them all, the same relationship between ruler and ruled has been maintained. (And is it any comfort that we’ve added morally deficient women to the mix?)

By about 5000 BC, the perpetual suite of governance was taking shape, built on these pillars:

  • Order

  • Tax accounting

  • A state-aligned intellectual class

  • Surveillance

  • Fear

  • Government buildings and monuments

  • Competition and prestige

  • Reassurance mechanisms

  • Collective identity

And all of these things remain as daily functions of governance, just as they did for the Romans, the Greeks, the Sumerians, the Babylonians, and a hundred others.

It’s an old, old game that goes nowhere. Right now, we’re living with space-age technology under bronze-age domination. It’s all but insane.

So…

So, please do not support a candidate. It’s primitive, it’s barbaric, it’s useless, it’s self-enslaving.

Instead, send the money to some kind person from your past. Spend time tutoring the neighbor kid. Plant a tree. Nurse the sick. Mow an old guy’s lawn. Repair your aged aunt’s car. Do something that blesses the world.

But please, do not pour your time and money down the filthy sewer called politics. It only prolongs the bronze-age barbarity. The game ends if we stop playing it… and it really needs to end. 7,000 years of this has been way, way too much.

I’ll close with a quote from Buckminster Fuller. It’s worth taking to heart:

The Dark Ages still reign over all humanity, and the depth and persistence of this domination are only now becoming clear… We are powerfully imprisoned in these Dark Ages simply by the terms in which we have been conditioned to think.

It’s time to start thinking differently.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com