Calling Things by Their True Names


Somewhere along my travels, I found an old Chinese proverb that says this:

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their true names.

I’ve found a great deal of value in that little saying. It is, in fact, a fundamental building block of human development. So long as we call things by false names, we maintain our own confusion and contribute to our own abuse.

So, today I want to examine several instances of calling things by false names and to define true names for them.

True Name #1: “Because violent people say so.”

We’ve all heard young people ask why certain things must be done. And we are all familiar with responses like “because it’s the law” or “because that’s how society works.”

Those phrases, however, are untrue. The honest answer to such questions is “because violent people demand it.” Almost no one pays taxes willingly; they pay because they’ll be punished if they do not comply, ultimately including armed men and jail cells. The same goes for every state order, from building permits to stop signs: Comply or face punishments, ending in violence.

The truth is not that we do things because of laws or even because of convention; we do them because the users of violence order them and stand ready to hurt us if we don’t comply.

For actions we take voluntarily, difficult and misleading answers are not required. We usually answer questions about those things easily and honestly.

True Name #2: “Thank you for killing people and breaking things.”

How many times have we heard, “Thank you for your service,” solemnly intoned to a military employee? The truth, however, is that militaries accomplish very specific things, which are – if we are to be honest and direct – to kill people and break things. Phrases like “protecting our freedoms” and “safeguarding our civilization” are judgments – approving summaries with the purpose of making you feel good. They are not direct facts.

Thus, the true name of “thank you for your service” is “thank you for killing people and breaking things.” Whether or not we think the killing and breaking are appropriate, this is an honest description of what weapons do.

(Hat tip to Rush Limbaugh, who was, so far as I know, the first person to use this phrase.)

True Name #3: “Paying my extortion.”

Extortion is “obtaining money, property, or services through coercion.” The classic example of extortion is a protection racket, with the racketeers calling their demand a “payment for protection.”

As we mentioned under #1, almost no one pays taxes willingly. Taxes are taken via coercion and justified by promises of protection. And so it could hardly be any clearer that the true name for taxes is extortion.

Some people will claim that this involuntary transaction is somehow justified, but that does nothing to change its true name: Taking money by coercion is extortion, and always will be.

True Name #4: “Campaign bribery.”

Bribery, according to Black’s Law Dictionary is the “offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of any item of value to influence the actions of an official or other person in charge of a public or legal duty.” In other words, you give money to a ruler of some type, and they do something for you in return.

So, when a company gives $5,000 to some political candidate (or group of candidates) hoping to get something back – even if they call it “access” – that’s bribery.

And please, let’s not pretend to be naïve: Every serious “campaign donation” is spent in hope of getting something in return. Thousands of us have personal experience with this (myself included), and we cannot believe otherwise without deluding ourselves.

So, call it “campaign bribery” or simply “bribery,” but this multi-billion dollar business is simply large-scale bribery, which we could also call graft. There’s no other honest tag to place upon it. If we say, “but it’s legal,” we merely defend our own confusion.

True Name #5: “Rigged trade deals.”

Free trade requires just one thing of governments: to get out of the way and let people buy and sell as they wish.

What politicians call “free trade,” however, includes hundreds and even thousands of pages that define what you may and may not do. The current example of this – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (or TPP) – features a couple of thousand pages of regulations. It was written by government officials with “input” from mega-corporations worldwide.

So, to be honest – to speak truthfully – what televised suits refer to as “free trade deals” are, in honest language, “rigged trade deals.” Free trade requires the traders to be left alone.

I Could Go On…

I could go on at some length of course: “News stations” are primarily “fear delivery systems,” “officials” are actually “rulers,” the Federal Reserve is neither federal nor a reserve, and so on. But I’ll stop here, confident that you understand my message.

Calling things by their true names is important. In fact, if we persist well enough and long enough in this, the world will change as a result. The coercive systems of our time couldn’t survive with light shining clearly upon them. Their continued operation requires a confused populace.

So, if you’re “looking for something to do,” please start right here.

* * * * *

If you’ve enjoyed Free-Man’s Perspective or A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, you’re going to love Paul Rosenberg’s new novel, The Breaking Dawn.

It begins with an attack that crashes the investment markets, brings down economic systems, and divides the world. One part is dominated by mass surveillance and massive data systems: clean cities and empty minds… where everything is assured and everything is ordered. The other part is abandoned, without services, with limited communications, and shoved 50 years behind the times… but where human minds are left to find their own bearings.

You may never look at life the same way again.

Get it now at Amazon ($18.95) or on Kindle: ($5.99)


* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

45 thoughts on “Calling Things by Their True Names”

  1. This as been going on since the beginning of times.
    Our minds are wired to believe what we hear. Phony Preachers and Politicians understand that very well. They exploit the emotional side of our brain “Narrative VS Fact” and calling things by there names would destroy such sociopaths.
    Remember Jim Jones who portrayed his so called Temple as a “rainbow family”.
    Nice words that led to a mass murder-suicide of it’s 918 of its members in Jonestown, Guyana. As you know some have and are still doing this with entire countries
    Thanks for reminding us to also think when we listen..

  2. A most excellent article. The State is certainly based on fraudulent words and phrases.
    As for the military, I offer the phrase: Hit men for the empire with “Will slaughter for bennies” as their motto.

    1. I just refer to them as “mercenary killers”- as that is what they are, since they will kill those who are not their enemies/those who have done them no harm, just because another man tells them to, and because they are given a small stipend for doing so.
      The reason that this world is in the shape that it is in, and that evil prevails, and that freedom is squelched, is because there is no lack of people willing to take up arms- be they cops, soldiers or IRS agents, etc., against their neighbors, merely for a paycheck/personal aggrandizement/etc.
      They tell us that the state gets it’s power from “the consent of those it governs”, which of course is an absurd lie- because if we are “governed” we are clearly in a position of inferiority to those who govern….- but in reality, the state gets it’s power from those who are willing to commit murder and violence in it’s name.

  3. Bah. Elsewhere Libertarians understand the notion that if you don’t like it: leave.

    1. And go where? There comes a point when one realizes that no matter where you go, you’ll need to assert your natural rights and be willing to defend them.

    2. Bull. The government doesn’t own the country. The creeps in power may think so, but they don’t. If “the mob” took over your town, should you have to move?

      1. As a Christian, I tell other Christians to ask themselves, what was Caesar’s (“Render unto”) that Caesar rightfully owns, that he did not get by the sword?
        Juxtapose Romans with Matthew 4 (the temptation in the wilderness where the Satan said ALL kingdoms of the world were his. Paul was not saying they are legitimate EXCEPT when they use the sword for good. In Matthew 24 Jesus explained that the children of the extortion bosses “are…free”), meaning taxation is involuntary servitude.
        he paid taxes so they would leave him alone to finish God’s work. (“..lest they be offended…:”)

    3. Absolutely brain-dead idiotic libertarians. The people that step out of the ivory tower into reality realize that it isn’t just a simple as “just leave”. You keep playing the True Scotsman though and see how far that gets you in the attempt to transform society into something that doesn’t point guns at you all the time.

    4. I “just left” NY 15 years ago, as there is no hope of reforming that place in my lifetime, and I’d like to be eble to enjoy my life and have a little freedom. KY is much freer, but over the years I’ve lived here, I see the exact same scenario being played out, which turned NY into what it is, with it’s 5-figure property taxes and micro-management of everyone’s lives, all because those in power refuse to abide by the foundational laws upon which this country was founded.
      So why should I keep leaving? I’m not the one doing wrong! What am i supposed to do, pack up every few months and keep moving until I’m in some remote place in Patagonia or the Congo, and then just hope that the US doesn’t wage war on the country where I happen to be?
      Why can’t I liver in the country in which I was born and not be obligated to serve some illicit master? Why must I leave, when I take nothing from anyone, while those who make babies they can’t afford to support are supported at my expense, and their babies indoctrinated in government schools at my expense, somehow obligate me to provide for them?!

    5. Yeah, right, as if geography had anything to do with the point of (1) calling things by their right name, or (2) calling things as they are is non-libertarian, or (3) calling “government” by its true name (VIOLENCE ENFORCED MINORITY DICTATORSHIP), or “taxation” by its true name (EXTORTION)
      and its associated phenomena by their true names.
      In any case, once upon a time (I heard it as a true story) there was a Cuban who remarked to an American friend, that he (the Cuban) was luckier than the American because when tyranny struck, the Cuban had somewhere to go.
      Anyway, “government” is a criminal organization that cannot do anything without FIRST extorting your possessions or your body. So its a racket.
      Stealing is a crime, no matter what your neighbor has.

    6. There is nothing the state claims to own that is legitimately owned, including yourself and claims against the wealth you produce. If I live on your property and you raise the lease, I should pay or leave. But if you just say pay or leave on my land you’re just a gang demanding protection. Which is the proper description of the state.
      The only property the state legitimately owns is that small bit that was gifted to it. It does not own for example the LA purchase, since that was paid with extorted funds, and illegally at that, as Jefferson well knew it was un constitutional. Moreover France didn’t own it to sell in the first place.

    7. Where do I go as a native-born person? 200+ miles out to sea, Antarctica, above Earth orbit? These have a very high cost that most non-billionaires can not begin to attempt. I would lose access to my native climate, my countrymen, or the Earth itself. What they are saying is that a person can comply with the violent people or die. The other option is not presented: resist.

      1. We can’t even go to Antarctica- as a bunch of nations (Including the US, of course) got together and signed an international treaty which prohibits individuals from even exploring Antarctica, much less settling there- it’s only open to official scientists and mercenary killers on official state business, and tourists who pay $LOTs to a company which has a monopoly (and which is owned by a former political crony), to go to one little area….

          1. I know…. (as if we could survive there, anyway….)- I just wanted to mention the Antarctica Treaty to emphasize how truly enslaved we are. Pharaoh ain’t lettin’ his slaves go!

  4. It was Confucius.
    “Above all it is essential to refer to things by their correct names. If things are not referred to by their correct names, then our language will not reflect reality. If our language does not reflect reality, then our actions will not reflect reality, and will be exercises in futility.”
    — Confucius, The Analects, Chapter 13, Verse 3
    My own translation

    1. Confucius? Isn’t he the same guy who said “He who fart in church sit in own pew”?

  5. Well put, Paul. This message deserves repeating even among libertarians, as it helps keep our heads from being muddied by the rhetoric of lies all around us.


  7. I just broke down my school district’s absurd budget for 2016-17. $20,000 per student, of which $4,834 goes to employee benefits. Who would pay taxes for this voluntarily? Not many. People only do it because ***violent people say so*** and they will eventually bring their guns to your door.

  8. In response to a comment to another article, someone said, “Wicked, miserable, self-serving government.”
    So I replied, “To get to the root of the problem, you have to rephrase it to this, “Wicked, miserable, self-serving PEOPLE who use the ‘Govt’ as Cover for their personal insecurities, narcissism, power-tripping, psychopathy.” This rephrasing is very important. Actually there is no ‘govt’. That’s just an idea, a concept, a belief that everyone carries around and considers real, important, dominant, necessary. It’s the glue that holds it all together – Your false belief.
    “There is no govt. There are only individual people, buildings, pieces of paper. Every individual must be held accountable for their individual actions. “Govt” does not do anything, create anything, force anything, stop anything, destroy anything. It is individual people who do these things, believing that they have the right or authority to do so… whereas any regular individual who does not have the cover called govt, were they to do any of these ‘authorized governmental coercive actions’, would be immediately stopped from doing it, and labeled criminal. The first thing for anyone to Wake Up is to strip away their false beliefs. Then you can see straight. Then your next step becomes clear.
    Do you need a government? Do you, personally, need a ‘leader’? You run your own life pretty well, yes? And nearly everyone else you know runs their own life pretty well, yes? Why do people believe they need a leader? If there is some problem, you handle it. Or you get together with some other people and decide how to handle it, and you make it happen… Yes?
    For me, getting rid of these imaginary fantasies (govt, corps, politically-entitled groups of all kinds, on and on) is the direction I’d go. Govt is force. No way around it. People allow “govt people” to do things that they would never allow other people to do. Political legitimacy and political authority are both imaginary. I recognize neither; I grant neither… both are secondary fantasies. First fantasy is called govt. From that fantasy comes so-called govt legitimacy and authority. Also comes the so-called ‘binding social contract’ I have with ‘them’. I signed no such contract. I see no living thing called govt; therefore no actual single living entity to deal with. All I see are low-vibe people who pretend to “assert coercive power on behalf of” their imaginary fantasy called “govt.” It’s amazing. Billions of people seeing things that aren’t there. Everyone does it, so it’s not considered crazy. Indeed, I am the crazy one.

  9. Excellent article.
    A few more:
    “Discrimination” = Your right to choose.
    “Labor laws” = Your master dictates how you must use your property when employing his slaves.
    “Pro-choice” = The woman gets to choose; the man in the equation, and the people who are forced to pay for the abortion, have no such rights.
    “Voluntary” = Mandatory- but you’ll feel better about it if you maintain the illusion of whatever you’re being compelled to do being voluntary.
    “Free” = Extremely expensive to those who have to foot the bill; only free for those who use the service or who have nothing.
    “Black Lives Matter” = No one cares about the other 90% of police brutality, which is perpetrated against whites.
    “Bum-F%#$ed Egypt” = The only time Americans use the word “bum” to refer to the posterior.
    “Child abuse” = Disciplining your kid so that he won’t grow up to be a psychopath or worthless vapid useless piece of crap.

    1. …what do you think the word…”discipline”…means? Many parents in The West are abusing their children. They use the word “discipline” to describe their parenting style which includes beating their children, humiliating them and by horrendous displays of hypocrisy that the kids recall all of their lives. To “discipline” is to teach, however many parents confuse “punishment” with “discipline”…and therefore raise their child in an environment of fear. This is a place where the child learns to avoid the punishment, more than he learns to think on his or her own, and to make better decisions. Corporal punishment and poor parenting is child abuse.Teaching your child to make good decisions, stand behind those decisions ad be truthful when they are wrong or make an error. That is good parenting.
      RJ O’Guillory

      1. The world was a better place when kids got a beating once in a while when they deserved it, and when they had a little fear. Since those things disappeared, the world has gone to hell. Kids are their parent’s property. Regardless of how appropriate you or I or some “state” may consider their upbringing, it is a family matter. Once the state interferes in such a relationship, we have lost the most basic of human/property rights, and the state has gained the ultimate control.

        1. ….through violence towards your own child..(or any other’s)…all you do is to insure the child is aware at a very early age of the hypocrisy of life. Children are told…”don’t do this”…or…”don’t do that”…and then they see their parents engage in those same…”prohibited behaviors”… (violence for example)….and they know inherently that life is about lying and covering up. As they age, they learn to avoid the punishments by developing child-ego-states and blaming others, hiding and lying. Eventually…when they are big enough to kick either of their parent’s butts…they become juvenile delinquents whom the parent has no control over. It is sad to observe that many parents share your immature, ineffective and damaging parenting philosophy. It is mind-boggling that someone who would not beat their dog…would beat or whip their child. I’m certain that some are simply sociopaths who would beat anyone or anything…but so many parents seem to have no idea how damaging their parenting philosophy is to the long-term potential of their kids. Or…they are simply too lazy to be good parents. A parents job is to teach their child to think, observe, take in information…and to make the best decisions they can given the circumstances. Teaching a child how to communicate, be ethical and free to express themselves, while learning to understand other’s motivations and their communication styles are critical to that child’s success. You do not need fear to instill that in a child. You need love, empathy and at times, sympathy. But most of all you need to understand any human-being’s level of motivation…as described in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
          Until you understand what motivates a person, then you are only inspiring them through fear….and soon enough that will back fire on you. Sad that so many do not understand this basic principle.
          RJ O’Guillory

        2. Jay – Did you forget the non-aggression principle? Better yet, the zero-aggression principle?
          Surely you are correct that the state has no business in family affairs. However, it is up to you to instill good character traits in your children.

          1. No…. When it comes to children, especially very young children, physical force/reprimand is sometimes the only thing that will understand, or which will reflect the seriousness of the situation. I mean, your three year-old runs out into the busy street, -which do you think will result in him being less likely to ever do that again; An intellectual discussion, or a sharp swat on the gluteous?
            What do you do with the 12 year-old who refuses to listen? “Go to your room!” “F you!” “Now, now, that’s not very nice…”?
            Non-aggression is for other adults and those under their charge- but for someone who is dependent upon you, and whose actions MUST be controlled in some situations, and lessons must be learned about consequences, i feel sorry for any child whose parents think that they ought to be treated like independent adults- Quite frankly, that is just as bad as overt abuse.
            I find this subject to be one in which many Libertarians jump ship. They suddenly deem interference in the lives of others appropriate when it comes to issues involving children (Like the so-called “Free-State project, which decrees that ADULTS should be free to choose whether or not to wear seat-belts -thus implying that someone else should control the actions of your kids)- But what it comes down to, like most things, is a matter of property rights. Are your children which you procreated your property, or are they independent beings, and thus you have no right to interfere with them?
            It’s really the same thing as free-market economics or private property or the environment- either people are free to make their own choices and reap the consequent rewards or consequences, or they are not.
            You can let your kid run wild if you want (Which he likely will do if the only consequences for his actions are mere words/unenforcible threats), but that kid will be the one who likely become an aggressor (just as likely as the one who receives brutal/unjust discipline), who will end up harming others and likely himself.
            You HAVE to discipline children. Rarely physically (A little early-on goes a long way)- I think I was spanked maybe 3 times growing up. I’m grateful for it. You can’t reason with a 2 year-old….nor an out-of-control 13 year-old. And there is a big difference between discipling a child for the right reasons, vs. inflicting real violence upon others. A slap is quite different than violence. One brusies the ego more than anything else, and is benevolent; the other brusies the body and is malevolent.

          2. Funny, too- I knew this guy, Jimmy- His c. 2.5-3 year-old son would make a bee-line for the semi-busy road they lived on. Jimmy would catch the kid (often after the kid had made it into the road) and simply carry him home. I’d see this kid run out virtually every time i’d go to Jimmy’s house. It was amazing that the kid never got hit by a car.
            Contrast that with a relative- Rob. Rob was visiting my place once, and his kid (roughly same age as Jimmy’s kid) made a bee-line for the road. Rob caught the kid just before he made it to the road, and immediately gave him a spanking and a stern “Don’t you ever do that again!”. Guess what? Rob’s kid never ran for the road again, at my place or at home.
            Which guy do you think loves their kid more? (I really shouldn’t be arguing this subject- I’m the most easy-going guy in the world- I don’t even discipline my dogs…good thing i don’t have kids!)
            I’ll never foget the images in my head of Jimmy having to run after his kid every time I’d be over there! It was like a cartoon. I wonder how Jimmy would have felt if his kid had gotten hit by a car and killed?

  10. Excellent article. Carroll and Orwell’s observations about language – if words mean only what the ruler says they mean, language has no meaning- is apt.

  11. “Euphemism” is a euphemism for lie. Government could not exist without it.
    Here’s what Friedrich Hayek had to say about it:
    “The most effective way of making people accept the validity of the values they are to serve is to persuade them that they are really the same as those which they… have always held… The people are made to transfer their allegiance from the old gods to the new under the pretense that the new gods really are what their sound instinct had always told them but what before they had only dimly seen. And the most effective way to this end is to use the old words but change their meaning.
    Few traits of totalitarian regimes are at the same time so confusing to the superficial observer and yet so characteristic of the whole intellectual climate as the complete perversion of language, the change of meaning of the words by which the ideals of the new regimes are expressed….
    If one has not one’s self experienced this process, it is difficult to appreciate the magnitude of this change of the meaning of words, the confusion it causes, and the barriers to any rational discussion which it creates… And the confusion becomes worse because this change of meaning of words describing political ideals is not a single event but a continuous process, a technique employed consciously or unconsciously to direct the people. Gradually, as this process continues, the whole language becomes despoiled, and words become empty shells deprived of any definite meaning, as capable of denoting one thing as its opposite and used solely for the emotional associations which still adhere to them.”
    — Friedrich Hayek, “The Road to Serfdom”

  12. Great article Paul! It is one of your absolute best! In this corrupt world, that is so full of lies and deceit, your words are like a brilliant strobe light that shattered the darkness!
    All the best,

  13. I think that it is obvious to any reasonably intelligent and logical person that deceit and violence are the sources of the vast majority of our problems in this world. It is also obvious that we can never live together in peace until these crimes are somehow eradicated. Why do people use deceit and violence to achieve their goals? Do they think that it is the only way? Do they enjoy lying and assaulting? Is it possible that much more progress could be achieved without using deceit and violence? Does anyone really care about this problem? And the ultimate question is: How do you stop a violent person without using violence? Unfortunately, I have no answers – only questions!
    All the best,

    1. Simple, Steve. People use deceit and violence when they have the power to do so, because it allows them to advance their own goals at the expense of others. The same reason a thief steals – If one is not restrained by a moral philosophy; does not consider the basic rights of others to be equal to his own; does not cherish property rights [property rights- the most basic of human rights, is what it usually comes down to….], then any opportunity to take advantage of those who are in a weaker position [Be it physical weakness, or defenselessness, or stupidity/naiveté] is considered by them to be an opportunity to advance their own goals/satisfy their own wants.
      When is violence justified? When it is used against those who initiate it.
      The sad thing is: We have lost our freedom due to those who oppose justifiable violence. e.g. a system of ultimate control has been put in place over all men, to try and prevent violence 9which of course does not work0, and which seeks to restrain violence by political/economic sanctions- but such a system is still ultimately reliant upon violence to control the violent- and invariably ends up controlling everyone and often perpetrating violence against those who have done no violence, while those who initiate violence often go unhindered.
      No matter how you slice it, the violent will only be restrained by like or greater violence. Better that that violence should be reserved only for those who initiate it, than to be used over all mankind.

      1. I agree with your point-of-view. But what a gigantic conundrum! In order to control violence, human beings create a governmental force. This force is given the legal mandate to control violence using violence. Unfortunately it appears that this system of violence eventually attracts people who enjoy using violence against other people and who use the system to justify expressing their violent urges! Once this violent system becomes sufficiently populated by violence-prone people it eventually propagates a plethora of oppressive laws in order to control every aspect of their subject’s lives. If any subject objects to these laws, they are met with a violent reaction by the powers-that-be. Eventually the cure becomes much worse that than the disease it was designed to cure! The tragedy is that when a sensitive, intelligent, loving person is eventually forced to use violence to defend themselves, the violence that results will forever change that person. I am speaking from personal experience. Life can certainly be frustrating!
        All the best to you,

        1. exactly, Steve! That’s why things like “gun control” are so nefarious. When they take away people’s ability to defend themselves, there is a serious vacuum in the balance of power which would normally restrain those who have no compunctions about using gratuitous violence to get what they want. So then, as a ‘solution’ to the problem that ‘they’ created, they propose schemes which lavish violence or at least the threat of violence, upon everyone. And the dumb sheep are usually complicit in such a system, because they view it as ‘keeping them safe’, rather, than in-fact, what it is; the very thing which destroyed their safety and which necessitated the ‘need” for a system of tyranny and violence to ‘keep them safe’.
          And the scary thing is, that it’s getting worse. As more and more people are indoctrinated with the false ideals of socialism- which ultimately requires an all-powerful, violent state to ensure the ‘cooperation’ of everyone; and since it’s adherents do not believe in the sanctity of property- but just see it as something which can be controlled and redistributed by fiat or whim of others, naturally the most basic rights and boundaries of others are not even considered, much less respected.
          Best regards to you. it’s encouraging to see that there are still a few who still think!

          1. Thanks for the generous compliment. I think that Margaret Thatcher said it best when she declared that socialism (communism) works great until your run out of other people’s money (property) to spend! Dedicated socialists only need to look at Venezuela to see where their “wonderful” system eventually leads! How does anyone ever penetrate this kind of brain-dead stupidity?! These people are completely insane! Somebody please help us!
            All the best,

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