Build Yourself A City

Although mostly forgotten these days, one of the more important philosophers of the 20th century was a man named Eric Hoffer. But Hoffer was no academic with degrees and formal approvals; rather, he was a longshoreman, one of the hundreds of men who unloaded ships at the San Francisco docks.

I recommend Hoffer’s books to you, but today I want to focus on a story he told as he was interviewed by Eric Sevareid, one of the more respected interviewers of that time. The interview took place in 1967, and in it, Hoffer recited a poem he had seen written on a wall at Pier 35 of the San Francisco docks. Here it is:

Build yourself a city, found yourself a state.

Grab the swamp and drain it,

cut the log and plane it,

make the hills and valleys fields.

And on the manmade plain,

breath your last complain,

slay your shame,

forget your name.

Do not strive for pity, build yourself a city.

The context for this was, as I understood it, the civil rights movement of that time. If so, Hoffer was being quite courageous, particularly by repeating “do not strive for pity.” But the thought was not wrong, and he was certainly not alone in it: The one-time mayor of Chicago, Harold Washington (a black man) used to say, “If they shut the door in your face, break it down!”

What This Means To Us

Notwithstanding my quibbles with state-building, this poem is important for us – for all productive and thinking people of this time – because we are now the oppressed, and we need a way forward.

We all know that the system lies to us daily. We know they are proceeding, boldly, with bizarre and deeply damaging policies, like teaching our children it would probably be a good idea to “transition” from being a girl into a boy or vice versa. And, as we’ve also seen, bringing drag queens into kindergartens and feeling like righteous world-savers for it.

I can hardly believe I have to write such things, but I do… and we all have to face the facts: The system has gone mad, we are the current generation of adults, and there’s no one else to do something about this.

What we need now is not to wallow in complaints, not to beg for hidden “good guys” to come out and save us, not to pray for the system to magically regain its supposed virtues, and certainly not to hate and destroy. We need to build ourselves a city. We need to construct a new realm where decency and sanity get at least an equal footing with the purposeful deconstruction of values.

Again, there’s no one else to do this: The system has gone insane and if someone was going to ride in to save us, they would have done so in 2020 or 2021. We have to deal with this; the alternative is to sacrifice our children.

The Good News

The good news is that our new city already has foundations. Here are things we have presently:

    • Our own money. We have money that stands outside the currency monopolies that give the system its strength. First of all we have Bitcoin: decentralized, permissionless, censorship resistant and the survivor of repeated assaults. It simply keeps working, and it’s getting easier by the day. We also have silver and gold, which hold great potential. (See my post from a few weeks ago on turning precious metals from inert to powerful.)
    • Our own schools. Forget that the system forces us to pay for their increasingly degrading and oppositional school systems: We have homeschooling, which educates far better than government schools, not to mention being massively safer. We also have some excellent private schools. (Along with some not so excellent.)
    • Private commerce. Despite the supercharging of corporations through the era of zero interest rates, family businesses remain; independent operations and humane business people remain. They are available to us.
    • Our religions. Whatever repairs and upgrades we see as necessary for them, Christianity and Judaism remain, and they carry the sensibilities of decent, productive people. More than that, they pass-on the sensibilities of decent, productive people.

So, we have the materials we need, but we need to act… to do… to stop accepting guilt and apologizing for our virtues. We have a city to build. There’s no one to do it but us, and the health of both our children and grandchildren hangs in the balance.


Paul Rosenberg

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