The Following is For Innoculated Readers Only:
"What you need is the technology to defend yourself against aggression, while you learn to produce useful products to survive and prosper."
History of the World in Five Words:
TWO HICCUPS AND A BANG!
The first hiccup was the agricultural revolution, which centralized people. The second hiccup was the industrial revolution, which further centralized people.
The BANG is today's information revolution. Not only is it making the other two shifts seem insignificant by comparison, it is In The Opposite Direction! For the first time since human civilization began, the trend is toward decentralization. Cheap and plentiful information, communications technologies and the failure of government to fulfill its promises are creating what no law, religion, constitution, army or ideology could produce: true individual freedom for those who choose it.
Fears that this technology will help governments enslave us are without foundation, except for short term side effects against those who choose to ignore the trend and fail to protect themselves. The consequences of this most important world trend are profound: institutions that manipulate, control and enslave are rapidly losing their ability to do so.
The Origin: Self Ownership
Most people grow up learning to worship external authorities - god, the state, majority rule, democracy, the law. Fundamentally, this is a denial of the self. This denial is the main source of crime, poverty, tyranny and war.
External authorities provide easy answers, absolute morality and "the truth." They promise to take care of you at "no cost" - a very intoxicating offer for people anxious to avoid personal responsibility.
Children are forced to conform, which destroys their natural entrepreneurial creativity. They learn to blindly obey, which destroys their independence. They learn to sacrifice their interests, producing frustration, anger and resentment. And they see the inconsistencies with "the authorities" - telling them not to steal, but taxing people without consent. Telling them not to kill, but glorifying death with patriotism. Telling them to respect laws and institutions that don't respect them. External authorities teach dependence, weakness, irresponsibility and "rights." You know about rights - those things you get without effort, cost or conscious choice - the ultimate free lunch.
Self ownership is the only choice besides slavery and socialism. Most people choose socialism, although they usually don't realize it.
Business vs. Government
"Business is the Engine of Society"
Even outspoken advocates of free markets usually stop short of the logical extension of their belief - that a centralized, coercive, unrepresentative collective is neither necessary nor preferable to do any worthwhile thing. They confuse intentions with results. They confuse popular acceptance with rational thought. They confuse small positives with large negatives. They confuse collective hysteria with informed consent.
Suggesting that a small minority can choose a much smaller minority to represent everyone is ludicrous. But in 1990, the U.S. House of Representatives (one representative per half million people) was chosen by only one out of six Americans. Even if you believe in coercive majority rule, Americans have never had it! Nor has anyone else, except for a few small, intimate groups of people with common goals, culture and beliefs.
Except for massive fraud and popular tyranny, there is nothing government does that can't be done better by business. This includes law, environmental protection, justice and defense.
Spencer Heath, in his book, Citadel, Market and Altar, described in some detail how society, including public services, could be organized along the lines of the business, or proprietary model. His grandson, Spencer Heath MacCallum, in his book, The Art of Community, expanded on his grandfather's work. Using models like the modern subdivision, Mr. MacCallum demonstrated how such models take advantage of the productive nature of business, tending to produce net positive benefits for society.
Free Lunch: The Most Dangerous Narcotic
This "drug of choice" among irresponsible people is more dangerous than heroin, cocaine, alcohol, tobacco, debt, television, obsessive sex or gambling. In America, it starts with the Constitution - the myth that you have "rights" which someone else should protect; that you deserve police services without conscious choice or payment; and justice - that elusive thing that most people think is objective and free.
The essence of socialism is public property. And that, more than any other principle, has been the guiding influence in America for the last century. Do you own property over which you have no say as to how it is used? Do you control a government elected by less than one out of five citizens, with a single vote every few years? Are your rights protected by a piece of parchment that is constantly interpreted, changed and enforced by the very organization it is supposed to protect you against? The whole concept would be silly, a candidate for "Funniest Home Videos," if it weren't so tragically serious and believed by most people.
Hitler said a big lie, told with conviction and boldness, is more believable by the masses than a little one. You don't have to look to welfare for a free lunch. It exists at the core of all legal systems.
The terrible, most fundamental idea promoted by American "leaders" today is that you must be responsible for everyone else, but not yourself. No more destructive ethic has ever been foisted on a population. And here's the worst part:
America's Biggest Lie: "We The People"
The U.S. Constitution was never a valid contract between any people, living or dead, and represents nothing more than a "coup de etat" by the federalists to form an illegitimate government (a redundancy, unless you define government in a non-coercive way, as did Albert Jay Nock in Our Enemy, The State).
Even if it were a legitimate document, representing all the good things people think it does, it has been so changed by amendments, legislation, judicial interpretation, selective enforcement and outright fraud that it is virtually meaningless today. Its only value is a slight hope of defending yourself against some legal or political attack, assuming you get an honest and courageous judge, fully informed jury and complete ignorance of rules of evidence, administrative procedures and precedent.
The Constitution is a top-down authority, like the Spanish Inquisition, the divine right of kings and the U.S. Congress. Its best part, the Bill of Rights, was an afterthought to appease the antifederalists. But the Bill of Rights has been neutered, like an obnoxious dog, by 200 years of corrupting history.
Whatever you thought the constitution was, it's not that anymore. An obscene history of changes has destroyed its perceived benefits and any "protection" it might have once provided. The history of the U.S. is a consistent history of unconstitutional acts by the government. From the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 (which were never repealed or ruled unconstitutional) to today's "War on Drugs," even the best interpretation of the Constitution is all but meaningless today.
"...the Bill of Rights has been neutered, like an obnoxious dog, by 200 years of corrupting history."
Occasionally, a judge naive about the real nature of the U.S. Constitution will uphold one of its original provisions, to a chorus of cheers and a lot of criticism. But the document is dead. It was always a fraud, and even those who deny this can't argue with the simple fact that it has been modified to the point of being ineffective. (Well yes, they can argue, but it's rather pointless considering the plague of judicial activism and the repeated, unchallenged unconstitutional actions of both the legislative and executive branches).
The sooner you start making your own laws, which apply only to your property and that contracted with others, the sooner you will find happiness, freedom, justice and peace. Building service-providing businesses is a more effective way to get what you want (without hurting others) than anything the Constitution might have once been or thought to be. Why should you not hurt others? To most effectively get what you want in a high-tech, global, interdependent society. Morality is irrelevant.
Morality is a subjective human opinion, biased by each individual's life experience. It lets some intimidate others without facts, reason, or logic. Morality, as the driving force behind religious and national chauvinism, is the reason normally sane, rational people kill innocents, including children, to fight wars, prevent civil disobedience and uphold "the law."
The Law Is a Hammer
(It Was Supposed To Be A Shield)
Fundamentally, the law in its present form is a way for people to hurt each other without being held accountable. It does far more harm than good. This is because it is structured as a coercive monopoly, with legal authority over millions of people who never gave their consent. Without this explicit, voluntary, intentional, individual consent, no organization can legitimately represent people in a meaningful way. And yet, this 2500-year-old Platonic myth continues to defraud millions.
By redistributing wealth, the law violates its main charter, which is to protect people (see Frederic Bastiat's The Law, available from Laissez-Faire Books). Since the law is supposedly available to all to uphold the principle of "equal protection," it can easily be exploited by those "more equal than others" who understand how it works. That is, the resources of law and government can be easily brought to bear on trivial problems, business subsidies and to implement silly social engineering projects - not to mention uneconomic public works programs - all producing net losses to society as described in the essay, "Secrets of Harmony and Abundance." I trust you've already read this essay as part of your "Mind Virus" innoculation program.
Some laws seem to make sense, but get implemented in ways that give a false sense of security. For example, laws against murder don't prevent murder. The severity of punishment is inconsequential when the chances of getting caught, prosecuted, convicted and serving the sentence are generally less than one in twenty. "Law and order" American conservatives miss the whole point of dealing with crime - to change destructive behavior. A small chance of punishment after the fact doesn't work - it never did. Let me say this in a different way: punishment is a deterrent only if there is a reasonably high probability of getting caught, prosecuted, convicted AND serving a sentence. And it only works for rational people. Very passionate murders, like those between spouses, are completely unaffected by "deterrence."
Tougher sentences do virtually nothing to stop crime, other than making people feel unrealistically safer because some handsome, articulate politican or legistator "did something" by passing a law.
The law is a big bully that anyone can use to hurt someone they don't like - at practically no cost (through public prosecutors salivating for political careers). It is so confusing, contradictory and voluminous, no one knows what it says or how to make sense of it. Every position, no matter how ridiculous, can be supported by some law somewhere. In America, you can sue anyone, for anything, and WIN.
The O.J. Simpson case did for the U.S. legal system what the Watergate scandal did for the presidency - revealing it for all its ludicrous fraud and silliness. There is nothing even remotely resembling "justice" in a system that forces people to finance, conform to and participate in it.
Kids, Dogs, Friends and Criminals
Destructive behavior in criminals is simply a more extreme version of offensive or inappropriate behavior from kids, dogs and friends. In each case, the thing that works best is:
- 1. Early detection and confrontation
- 2. High probability of unpleasant results
- 3. Realistic expectations
But this doesn't mean moral condemnation, revenge or punishment. Of course, if you fail to deal with such a problem early on, it will get worse later. But expecting bureaucrats, police, lawyers, judges, prison wardens and social workers to effectively deal with crime is the height of naivete. Indeed, each of these groups severely adds to the problem by its complete failure to implement these three principles. Early detection means the "detector" must have a personal interest in the activity. A parent, dog trainer or friend has such a personal interest, while "public servants" do not. Likewise, a private insurance company investigator has a personal interest in protecting the company's clients, while government police do not. (Government police are assigned a hopeless task: protect everyone from everything, for "free.")
High probability of unpleasant results is not necessarily revenge and punishment. A more effective way is the withdrawal of useful services or association. For example, you wouldn't steal if your water would be cut off, and the chances of being detected were high. Boycotts of companies for offensive behavior are so powerful that their presidents rush to legislatures to protect themselves from boycotts. And, whether you like it or not, lobbyists control legislatures much more effectively than voters. They always have.
And yet people most interested in social change continue to use the counterproductive state and its laws to hammer others into submission. Then, they wonder why the same hammer is later used on them, being more effectively wielded by those with political clout and corporate money than their "public interest" friends who naively think the system protects the weak from the strong. By the way, did you know corporations are creatures of the state, not the marketplace? Government subsidizes corporations in many ways, including limited liability against claims for damage. This unholy alliance is reminiscent of the "divine right of kings," with corporate spokespersons taking over the traditional role of priests and tribal witch doctors.
Realistic expectations means not trying to solve problems without economic choice.
You Want It - So Why Can't You Have It?
People often say "We've GOT to solve this problem," without considering what resources are available and where the problem fits on a list of other problems. For example, "Every American child must have an education." Forgetting for a moment that what they get is formal obedience training rather than education, the problem is removed from its economic context by not considering resources and competing demands. I hesitate to oversimplify, but to me, economics is RESOURCE ALLOCATION.
By this simple definition, virtually everything an organism does is an economic choice. You decide when to get up, and how to spend your time. For every choice, you must give up an alternative choice. Like time, choice is the stuff life is made of (apologies to Ben Franklin).
When education, health care or law are treated as if they should not require resource allocation, resources are commanded away from other demands, which may be more important. But this fact gets lost in a flurry of public hysteria, with words like, "rights," "morality" and the "public interest." An ethic seems to have developed whereby people think they can have anything they want for free, and someone else will pay for it. Is it any wonder hatred and mistrust for government seem to be at an all-time high? Perhaps this is just today's media distortion, since government has always been the object of ridicule. But today, the payers are getting tired of being exploited. Today's explosion of telecommunications technology now provides the means to take back control of their productive lives.
Are You a Builder Or a Destroyer?
Consider one of the simplest dichotomies: do you produce more than you consume (building positive values) or do you expect others to take care of you (consuming the productive values of others)? Arguably, this is the essence of how each of us fits into society. Traditional views are hopelessly biased toward the "destroyer" position, because they naively support institutions that, on balance, consume. Indeed, those things Americans and others are taught are good turn out to be the most destructive: the Constitution, law, morality, democracy.
Ironically, those incapable of taking care of themselves are much more likely to be helped by compassionate voluntary charities than the bureaucratic institutions set up to take care of them. The reason is that welfare professionals would lose their jobs if large numbers of people left the welfare roles. Since it was created in Bismarck's Germany, the welfare state has brought mostly dependency, helplessness and despair.
When the patient has a destructive, life-threatening cancer, you don't reform it - you get rid of it. Even though many people's jobs depend on it. Why, if I invented a cheap cure for cancer, I would be a greater villain than all the tax cutters and deregulators combined. And if I invented a better mousetrap than what we politely call "government," I would surely be the most hated villain in human history. But I don't have to - it's already happening; and the internet, or something like it, will be the key. For the first time in human history, information can no longer be monopolized. On whatever issue that frames the public debate, millions of people can instantly check out asserted facts and compare their opinions to others. Communications technology is changing the world - whether most people want to change or not. We no longer have to convince people they will be better off under an environment of freedom and much less, if any, government as we know it. They are discovering this for themselves. Without ideology. Without philosophy. Just because it makes sense for producers to stop letting themselves be robbed to subsidize crime, war, politics and other destructive things. An inscription at the U.S. Air Force Academy reads, "Man's Flight Through Life is Sustained by the Power of His Knowledge." Today, that knowledge is no longer controlled by a privileged few.
It's no accident that major political conventions are now limited to one hour of prime-time coverage each night, or that traditional television networks are losing business to upstart competition and alternatives. This is a reflection of the lessening importance of politics - and the growing realization that politicians MUST LIE (or be incredibly naive) to get elected. The markets, that is, people, are telling us what no pundit dare speak: government, politics, law, democracy and yes, even morality, as we have known them are hopelessly, irrevocably, obsolete. And we'd better get busy building their replacements, based on respect for consumers, rather than continuing to support coercive monopolies that pretend to represent everyone while picking their productive pockets. The dinosaur is dying, but it's swinging tail is still a formidable weapon. Fortunately, most of us are much smarter, quicker and more decisive than the beast trying to take over our lives.
The 21st Century will bring changes we can hardly imagine. Those who embrace this change and develop useful products and services to help people cope with it will survive and prosper. Those who resist the change will be stuck in old paradigms, living out nostalgic fantasies in a dream-like, depressive stupor. Needless to say, they'll have a hard time making ends meet; especially when their sugar daddy is no longer able to exploit its benefactors with false promises of unlimited prosperity without effort.
Welcome to the future. It is at your disposal and command, but only if you make the decisive, practical and conscious choice to seize it.
("Seize the Century")
"Paine's Torch" is an admirer of Thomas Paine and the introductory principles of the Declaration of Independence.
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