The Death (and Rebirth) of the Middle Class

american middle classIt’s been well covered, but in this first article of the year, let’s take a look at the collapse of this most important segment of society.

The American middle class is fast disappearing, not because there is anything particularly wrong with the people involved – they are every bit as talented as their parents and grandparents were – but because the ruling class of the United States has pushed them into this position.

This middle class was once composed of proud and productive people… the kind who now exist primarily in advertisements for trucks. These people and their abilities remain, but Washington has taken power over nearly every choice they have and thinks of them only for the purposes of voting, fighting in wars, and creating more debt (aka buying stuff they don’t need).

These people are at a crossroads, facing fundamental choices about who they are and what they will be. The big threat in front of them is that by not stopping, thinking, and choosing (and it’s always easier to do nothing), they’ll stay on the path that has been grinding them into the dirt.

The Fall of the Middle Class in 60 Seconds

The first wave that undercut the American middle class hit roughly one hundred years ago, stripping away their surplus with income taxes, sales taxes, and debt-based money. This continues, transferring wealth from working people to governments and central bankers.

Older members of the American middle class will remember that small, self-employed farmers were once the backbone of the culture. These family businesses are now all but gone. Large farms remain, of course, but they have become, effectively, partners of the government and giant corporations. Gaps and exceptions remain, but the classic American farming family exists mainly on the fringes.

Self-employed people – shop-owners, mechanics, and so on – were another old American staple, and they are vanishing too, as you can see in this graph:

american middle class

The modern refuge for productive Americans was in manufacturing. But even manufacturing is dying in America. In 1977, there were nearly 20 million manufacturing jobs. Today – and with a much higher population – there are less than 12 million manufacturing jobs. (See graph below.)

 american middle class

Service jobs are fine, but there are not enough of them. And because of overwhelming demand, they pay poorly.

The Replacement Bubble

There has been one area in which young Americans could find both employment and lavish praise, and that has been as cogs in the military-industrial complex.

But regardless of the worship services that begin every sporting event, this cultural bubble is starting to deflate. The great surge of 9/11 has subsided and new wars have been difficult to sell. We have passed peak military-industrial complex, and the reflexive worship of intelligence agencies is passing as well. (Thank you again, Edward Snowden.)

In addition, traditional Americans are starting to wonder how their Christianity became a war religion. Red State Christianity is a kingdom divided against itself. War is simply not a Jesus thing, and state worship is definitely not a Jesus thing. So, when these churches encourage Bible reading, they sow the seeds of their own undoing. Young believers will soon be quoting scriptures against the “leaders” and walking away.

Thirdly, thousands of returning soldiers are discouraging their friends and neighbors from running off to “the glories of war.” People who have been in it know that war is horrifying and damaging. They are providing a lot of personal evidence of this, either by their words or by their (sadly common) debilitating injuries and suicides.

The number of jobs available in this replacement bubble are fading, and the glory of them is fading as well.

Go Corporate or Go Rogue

Consider the situation that faces the American middle class: The old ways are almost gone. The replacement that was sold to them kills or damages them and is vanishing anyway. The welfare life beckons, featuring free stuff and permanent dependence, but that’s not really their way – these people were raised on a healthy production ethic.

But what else stands in front of them? As the number of “good jobs” continues to decline, what realistic options do they have?

The approved choice is to go corporate: Take a menial job at Walmart, Starbucks, or McDonalds, take a side-job or two to survive, and slowly work your way up through management.

Or, if you have the appropriate university certificates (which come with crushing debt), you can be hired by a mega-corp – an oil company, or a tech company, or perhaps by government itself. We all know what happens in these places: Human character is warped, and the corporate script takes over all your life. You end up living of the corp, by the corp, and for the corp.

The one remaining choice is to go rogue. By that I mean to separate from the system, stop seeking its approval, and to live the life of an outsider.

Some Americans are already choosing the rogue life, of course. Every time they homeschool their children, grow their own food, trade via barter or Bitcoin, start 3D printing, or join an intentional community and accept people calling them weird, they are resigning from the mass culture and going rogue.

This is the oldest of American traditions, of course – the one chosen by every person who got on a boat between 1600 and 1900 and sailed off to a new continent. But this way of thinking hasn’t been popular in a long time. Conformity with the mass culture reigns, and separating from it requires considerable strength of character.

What Comes Next?

Over the next decade or so, traditional, middle class Americans will have to choose.

Many will go the corporate route and accept its slow self-punishment. Some will eventually drop out of this game and join the rogues, but others will live the corporation’s pre-scripted lives, then die.

Or, they can join the welfare class and explore new opportunities in degradation.

But if they can build their own courage and walk away from game, they will help to rebuild a confident civilization with a bright future.

My guess is that the once-productive American middle class is already starting to wake up. Each new disappointment drives more of them to go rogue and to start building a better future – their kind of future – not the one that is sold to them by Washington, New York, and Hollywood.

And that is the most encouraging thing of all.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Get Ready for Adversity Now

adversityAdversity is coming. Get ready for it now.

I’m not pessimistic about the future, mind you, I’m optimistic. Once we get through the present transition (and presuming the world doesn’t descend into deep darkness), human life will massively improve. Our descendants will look back at our time as “the dark ages.”

All in all, things are going fairly well for us at the moment. The decade of government worship is falling behind us, the Internet remains, the NSA has been exposed as a criminal hacker collective, and Bitcoin has burst onto the scene.

Sure, there are the usual petty squabbles and distractions, but the younger crowd is learning to ignore them and to keep moving forward.

But adversity is coming. In situations like this, it always does. Forks off the main cultural line – which is what we are – are accompanied by problems from without and problems from within.

We’ve all seen libertarian movements and projects that shot themselves in the foot. For whatever reasons, that’s just part of the current landscape. We’ll see more of it.

We’ve had attacks from the outside also. And while the state is generally declining in potency, they still have millions of employees who are willing to authorize and/or use violence on their behalf.

Learn to Take the Blows

There will be blows, and they will hurt. I wish I could assure you that all will be sweetness and light, but I’d be lying.

The first big blow is rough. It leaves you questioning what you really believed. It may also leave you afraid for your own reputation, and even your safety. Probably the deepest issue is shame: a dread of people ridiculing you and casting you out.

I’m sorry that these things are so painful. None of them will be as bad as the first big blow, but we live in a screwed-up world at the moment, and these things happen.

Such things also happen to people who hide in the corner, obsessing over every rule and assuring their rulers that they love them. The difference is that they are given crowds to hide in – we stand by ourselves.

Then What?

Once you’ve taken your first big blow, you are left with a choice: What to do next.

You’ll have to make your own choices, of course, but I know I didn’t start caring about liberty because I was hoping to get rich out of it or to find the easiest path through life. I was interested because it was good and true. I wanted to learn and to grow.

So, if liberty is the better way, what else is there for us to do? Shall we try to forget everything we learned and recondition ourselves to passive state worship? Shall we go back to believing lies and repeating vapid slogans for the rest of our lives? Could we, really?

We are building a better world, person by person, piece by piece. What else is there for us to do? Should we deny our own minds because people think we’re weird? Should we disregard the value of lives because people are terrified of ideas that lack an official stamp?

Liberty requires you to value yourself. Shall we pretend that this is a bad thing?

Huge numbers of people are sure that leaving the approved path will call punishment down upon them. They are terrified of being different and doubly terrified of being different and better. Bad new ideas may bother them, but when a clearly better new idea comes along, they fall into an existential panic.

Jesus wasn’t killed for being a bad man, after all. He was killed for being better.

In the end, this is about living and thriving. Everything else is merely a means to that end. We’ve chosen life, and if we occasionally suffer for it, our only real alternative is to walk away from ourselves.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes, from Helen Keller. These are true words, and worthy of your consideration:

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.

To Freedom in 2014!

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

We Should All Be Like the Hippies in this One Way

hippiesThe hippies are little understood these days. One particular version of them – the later, pot-smoking, political protestor – is what remains in popular culture. But the actual hippies, especially the early hippies, were a much different group. They were interesting and brave people: people very much worth remembering.

Who Were the Hippies?

The hippies were preceded by the Beat movement, a group of young people who rejected the conformity of the 1950s – a very “corporate” time. To get a feeling for their mentality, here is a quote from William S. Burroughs, one of their inspirations:

In the U.S., you have to be a deviant or die of boredom.

The Beats were, as one writer put it, “a whole bunch of people, of all different nationalities, who came to the conclusion that society sucked.”

The hippies, on the other hand, believed that they could make life better. And that was the great difference between the hippies and most other movements – the hippies acted. They changed their lives, painted their cars, and wore strange clothing. Rather than cowering at the thought of being different, they went out of their way to show their difference, and there’s something deeply transformative about that.

I’ll forgo a history of the movement and get right into the wisdom of the hippies. Let’s begin with the thoughts of two early hippies. First, some thoughts direct from the early days, care of Bob Stubbs:

We have a private revolution going on. A revolution of individuality and diversity that can only be private. Upon becoming a group movement, such a revolution ends up with imitators rather than participants.

Another, from Dr. Debra Jan Bibel:

Yes, it was sex, drugs, and rock & roll, but it was also spirituality and consciousness studies that eventually led to environmental/ecology movements, cognitive neuroscience, and psychoimmunology, as well as the increasing popularity of Buddhism in the United States and the development of world music appreciation…

Dr. Bibel is writing after the fact, of course, and you can see her disappointment with what the movement became. She continues:

The hippie wannabes spoiled the scene, did not understand the ideologies nor the proper use of entheogens. The popular image of hippies was of them, not the more thoughtful, experimental, and realized post-Beats, the pioneers who led the way.

As happens so often, the first people come for internal reasons and do the important work. Then others come along, wanting to lead the group and take credit for it as well.

From the early hippie habit of action came many of the better developments of the 1960s: new thoughts, new perspectives, the belief that they could live and thrive as individuals, not nameless insects in a giant hive.

But, more important than anything else, the early hippies discovered that they could activate their own will… that they could live their way, create the things they loved, and ignore the expectations of the state-tribe.

Once people reclaim their will, new, interesting and beneficial things tend to sprout up on every side.

The Thoughts They Sought Out

The hippies were very young, and even though they were generally intelligent kids, they knew that they lacked data and perspective, and so turned to older, experienced men.

Perhaps the best of these older teachers was Buckminster Fuller, a fascinating and good man. Here are some of his thoughts:

Politicians are always realistically maneuvering for the next election. They are obsolete as fundamental problem-solvers.

* * *

I seem to be a verb.

* * *

The end move in politics is always to pick up a gun.

* * *

You’ll see from this next one that Fuller makes up his own words. Bear in mind that he was a very serious engineer, so these odd word combinations were created carefully and are used with precision. You may have to read the passage slowly, but if you do, you’ll see that these are coherent thoughts.

The youth of humanity all around our planet are intuitively revolting from all sovereignties and political ideologies. The youth of Earth are moving intuitively toward an utterly classless, raceless, omnicooperative, omniworld humanity.

Children freed of the ignorantly founded educational traditions and exposed only to their spontaneously summoned, computer-stored and -distributed outflow of reliable-opinion-purged, experimentally verified data, shall indeed lead society to its happy egress from all misinformedly conceived, fearfully and legally imposed, and physically enforced customs of yesterday.

They can lead all humanity into omnisuccessful survival as well as entrance into an utterly new era of human experience in an as-yet and ever-will-be fundamentally mysterious Universe.

* * *

You can see that Fuller is deeply concerned with change in the world. Here are several more on that subject:

When I was born, humanity was 95 per cent illiterate. Since I’ve been born, the population has doubled and that total population is now 65 per cent literate. That’s a gain of 130-fold of the literacy. When humanity is primarily illiterate, it needs leaders to understand and get the information and deal with it. When we are at the point where the majority of humans themselves are literate, able to get the information, we’re in an entirely new relationship to Universe. We are at the point where the integrity of the individual counts and not what the political leadership or the religious leadership says to do.

* * *

We are powerfully imprisoned in these Dark Ages simply by the terms in which we have been conditioned to think.

* * *

Dear reader, traditional human power structures and their reign of darkness are about to be rendered obsolete.

* * *

Whether it is to be Utopia or Oblivion will be a touch-and-go relay race right up to the final moment… Humanity is in ‘final exam’ as to whether or not it qualifies for continuance in Universe.

* * *

I’ll close with a practical thought from Fuller. This is one that all of us should be taking seriously:

You never change anything by fighting the existing. To change something, build a new model and make the existing obsolete.

* * *

Regardless of how we wear our hair and our clothes, we should all, like the hippies, act to make life better. Now.

Peace.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Are You a Gorilla or a God?

god or gorillaHumanity stands about halfway between gorillas and gods. The great question that looms over us, is this: “Which will we incorporate into our lives? Gorilla things or God things?”

The choice is ours. Yes, various choices are thrust upon us all our lives, accompanied with various levels of intimidation and threat, but at some point, all of us find ourselves able to choose freely. And it is then that we go in one direction or the other. We are able to change directions of course, but every time we choose, we move a step in one direction or the other.

What We Are

Please understand that I am not endorsing any specific theories here – religious, scientific, or otherwise. I’m merely describing the situation in which humanity finds itself. We are halfway between gorillas and gods: The worst things we do are gorilla-like, and the best things we do are god-like. Either direction is open to us.

Strange as it may seem, we are a lot like apes. Our bodies are built in the same ways, our body chemistry is nearly identical, and the worst aspects of human nature are essentially the same as the worst aspects of primate behavior.

We are also a lot like gods. We transcend entropy; we create. We can touch the soul in others, and the best aspects of human nature are essentially the same as the best characteristics attributed to the gods.

This is not what we can be; this is what we are. What we become in the future depends on whether we choose gorilla things or god things, here and now.

What Are Gorilla and God Things?

Gorilla things are those which operate on a dominant/submissive model. Hierarchy (high-level individuals controlling lower-level individuals) is the blueprint of the gorilla world. Dominant gorillas seek status and the power to control others. The submissive apes seek to pass along their pain to the apes below them (females, juveniles, etc.) and to avoid punishment. They are servile toward the dominants and cruel toward those they are able to dominate. Females trade sex for favors.

God things operate on a creative model. Blessing is the blueprint of the god world: distributing love, honesty, courage, kindness, blessing, awe, gratitude, and respect into the world and to other humans.

Gorilla things are these:

  • The desire to rule.
  • The desire to show superiority and status.
  • Servility.
  • Avoidance of responsibility.
  • Reflexive criticism of anything new.
  • Abuse of the weak or the outsider (women, children, Gypsies, Jews, immigrants, homosexuals, etc.).

God things are these:

  • Producing things that preserve or enhance life.
  • Invention and creativity.
  • Expressing gratitude and appreciation.
  • Experiencing awe and transcendence.
  • Adaptability and openness.
  • Improving yourself and others.

The Two Wolves

You’ve probably heard the old story of the two wolves: A young boy becomes angry and violent, and then feels guilty about his violence. He goes to his grandfather for advice. The old man says, “You have two wolves inside you: one of them is nice, the other is dangerous, and they’re fighting inside of you.”

The boy then asks his grandfather, “Which one will win?” The old man replies, wisely, “Whichever one you feed.”

In the same way, humanity becomes like gorillas or gods depending on whether we put gorilla things or god things into our lives.

I’m not going to tell you this is always easy, but the difficulty hardly matters: Somehow, we’ve been given a choice between becoming gorillas or becoming gods. No other creatures in this world have been given such a choice.

Bring god things into your life, and reject gorilla things. It doesn’t matter if these things are hard – you are defining your own nature between two wildly different options, every day.

Leave gorilla stuff to the gorillas.

Building god stuff into your life is your job, my job, everyone’s job.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Is Bitcoin More Dangerous than “Cartel Money”?

bitcoin cartel moneyI’m going to use a couple of passages from the Bible (the original set of moral standards for our Western civilization), followed by an examination of both Bitcoin and cartel money, to see how they hold up in comparison.

As for my use of the term “cartel money,” it’s the best short description I know for the dollars, euros, yen (and so on) that we use in our daily commerce. They are produced by secretive and monopolistic groups of private banks. That rather precisely matches the definition of cartel.

Principle #1: For wherein you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

I think by now we have all heard the big accusation against Bitcoin – that it is used for “money laundering” – made especially by the money cartels (the European Central Bank first).

First off, that doesn’t make sense to me. A currency is supposed to be neutral – that is its purpose. So, accusing a currency of money laundering is like jailing a knife for murder. But, that’s not precisely the point we’re addressing here.

Rather, the question is: do the cartels do the same thing that they condemn?

You bet they do!

Read this story on HSBC. Then read this one on Wachovia. These banks laundered hundreds of billions of dollars – knowingly – for violent drug lords. And it gets worse: No one from either bank went to jail. Neither bank was shut down. Neither bank suffered more than a minor fine.

So, how much of a concern can money laundering really be to the cartels and their politician partners? Clearly none, or very close to none.

And, since the cartels accuse Bitcoin of being used for bad things, let’s be clear about the situation: Every mafioso on the planet uses cartel money. So do all the drug smugglers, terrorists, and pornographers.

Does Bitcoin accuse the money cartels? Nope. Bitcoin has no official operators to speak for it at all.

It is true that many Bitcoin users accuse the cartels of being manipulators, but, at least for now, there is no Bitcoin cartel that is even capable of manipulating the currency.

So, round one goes to Bitcoin: The cartels very clearly condemn themselves, and Bitcoin clearly does not.

Principle #2: Everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light.

When Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto posted his Bitcoin paper in 2008, he laid everything open for all to see. Then he wrote the Bitcoin program and left it “open source,” so anyone could see the programming.

The process of creating cartel money, on the other hand, is mostly hidden, purposely confused, and isn’t even taught to most Econ majors. And if you think that’s just my opinion, here’s one from the esteemed economist John Kenneth Galbraith:

The study of money, above all other fields in economics, is one in which complexity is used to disguise truth or to evade truth, not to reveal it.

The argument is made, of course, that the process of creating dollars, etc. is very complicated, and that people don’t understand it because of that.

I don’t think that’s true, but even so, let’s compare it to Bitcoin: Making bitcoins is also complex, but Bitcoin enthusiasts have been working night and day to explain their new currency and how it works. I’ve seen them cornering people at birthday parties, trying to make them understand.

Round two goes to Bitcoin also. Bitcoin wants to be seen and known, and the cartels surely do not.

It all comes down to the reason “why.”

Satoshi Nakamoto began the original Bitcoin document by saying that he wanted to, “allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.” He goes on to say that he was creating,

an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party.

In other words, Satoshi wanted to remove the necessity of one man ruling another in the area of money. Furthermore, he did it, then went away.

As for the motives of the cartel, we can’t really tell. The visible heads of the Federal Reserve are certainly not the owners of the Federal Reserve, and the US government refuses to reveal the names of the owners.

Perhaps the closest real examination of their motives comes from a renowned professor who worked for them for a few years. Professor Carroll Quigley of Georgetown – and a major influence on none other than Bill Clinton, wrote this in his book Tragedy & Hope:

The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basle, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank… sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent rewards in the business world.

So, was Quigley right? I have no solid proof that he is, but he would be an awfully hard witness to impeach. One substantiation that comes to mind is a recent comment by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. In the midst of a political fight, he complained, “The banks own the Senate.”

That’s not really proof either, but it is interesting.

You can make up your own mind on the banks, but Satoshi’s motives are fairly well beyond question.

I think it is clear that from a moral standpoint, Bitcoin is far, far better than cartel money. (As are silver and gold.)

So, the next time you hear someone calling Bitcoin dangerous and evil, don’t let them get away with it!

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The Road to Hell Is Paved… With Fear

fearOne of the cool things about the Bible is that it contains some very interesting passages that no one seems to read.

Understand, please, that I’m neither promoting a literal interpretation of the Bible nor giving you a sermon. I’m just pointing out a fascinating fact that most everyone seems to have missed, religious folks included.

In this case, I’m referring to a passage that comes at the very end of the book, where a list is given, itemizing the kinds of people who will be condemned to “the second death.”

Who would you expect to stand at the top of the list? Murders? Idolators? Maybe adulterers?

Nope, none of those. The first people heading off to destruction are “the fearful.”

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Not what you expected?

You can look it up if you like. That’s from Revelation 21:8 (King James Version). And I even checked the original Greek: fearful is the right translation.

Fear as a Tool of Damnation

I’m not going to get into theological engineering here, but yes, this would mean that the promoters of fear are sending people to hell.

And, considering that we live in a fear-based culture, that’s an interesting thought indeed.

Now, if you want to be truly bold, think about this: Who is it that currently promotes fear?

We know the answer, of course. The people who live on fear are the majesties of the age: politicians being chief among them but followed by the entire ‘law enforcement‘ complex, military and intelligence organizations, television news-readers, religious bosses, newspaper operators, and, increasingly, anyone who wants something and has access to the public stage.

If the Bible is correct, people who profit from fear are profiting from the destruction (nay, the damnation!) of their fellow men and women.

Religion Isn’t Necessary, of Course

The conclusion that fear is the enemy of mankind doesn’t require religion, of course. We can reach the same conclusion just by recognizing that fear (and especially the chemicals associated with fear) damage our health.

Literally, people who make you fear are making you sick. (We covered this in issue #38 of Free-Man’s Perspective)

Beyond that, it is clear that fear is the number one tool of manipulators. If you want to get large numbers of men and women to do your will, scare them. Every tyrant in history has known this and used this technique.

What To Do About It

First of all, start paying attention to your feelings and notice when things make you afraid. Stop your thinking and pay attention to the whole fear process. If you do, you can deal with most of these attacks quickly, rather than leaving an indistinct fear to roll around the back of your mind all day.

Second, start analyzing the words that convey fear to you. Are they really true? Is the response the fear merchants deliver to you really the only course of action? The hard part of doing this is that the words come too fast; by the time you’re ready to analyze one statement, another one is halfway complete. Analyzing them in writing is far easier, or getting a live speaker to slow down and go one phrase at a time.

Third, start discounting the people who consistently throw fear at you. If that’s all they have, they’re not worth paying attention to. Turn off the TV; excuse yourself from the conversation; walk away. You don’t have to take it.

Finally, start pointing out these things to other people. They may be defensive at first, but isn’t that worth facing, to clear the minds of your friends and family? Why should they suffer under the lash of fear all their lives?

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The Forgotten Holocaust

genocideThe Armenian Genocide was a systematic extermination that occurred during World War One, mostly in 1915. The killers were Ottoman Turks: agents and soldiers of that government, as well as eager civilians.

The slaughter took place in two phases. First was the wholesale killing of able-bodied Armenian males through massacre and forced labor. Afterward came the deportation of women, children, the elderly and the infirm, on death marches into the Syrian Desert.

All told, perhaps 1.5 million people were killed. The vast majority of these were Armenians, but the Turks also killed large numbers of Assyrian Christians, Greeks, and other minority groups. In many ways – including that of medical experiments on victims – the Armenian Genocide was the direct forerunner of the Nazi Genocide against the Jews.

Here is one miniscule part of the slaughter – a photo taken by an American diplomat, to which he added a commentary:

genocideSource: Wikipedia

“Scenes like this were common all over the Armenian provinces, in the spring and summer months of 1915. Death in its several forms—massacre, starvation, exhaustion—destroyed the larger part of the refugees. The Turkish policy was that of extermination under the guise of deportation.”

The Test

The test, believe it or not, is whether people will acknowledge this as a genocide or not.

We live, as I have complained many times, in an age where institutions not only reign over money and lands, but also over men’s minds. And, as it turns out, Armenia is not big enough or threatening enough to matter. And so, the institutional line – world-over and even in some shocking places – has been that “we don’t talk about it.”

The Turkish government, desperate to protect its image, has battled long and hard to explain it all away, and to prevent the word “genocide” from being used. Many, many institutions – tossing aside truth for political expediency – have parroted the Turkish line.

genocideA Turkish official, tormenting starving Armenian children with a piece of bread. (Wikipedia)

The Two Biggest Flunkees

Not everyone has flunked the test. Several European nations have made official statements on the Armenian Genocide, as have a few nations on every continent. Wikipedia lists 22 nations in all (out of 200).

What I want to focus on here, however, are the two big failures… places that are supposedly dedicated to an ancient philosophy that would instantly and irrevocably condemn the Armenian Genocide as a top-tier evil.

The first failure is the United States.

In an article I wrote earlier this year, I told how my editor (I was then writing for a major publisher) was made to change history textbooks to cut coverage of this story down to just a couple of paragraphs. The US State Department told him to do so because “we need to keep the Turks happy.” My editor’s bosses sided with the government – as people with government contracts nearly always do. Thus the truth, again, became a casualty to institutions.

The one US President to use the word “genocide” was Ronald Reagan, in a speech he made on April 22, 1981. The current US President, Barack Obama, used the word while a candidate for the presidency, but has repetitively refused to use it since. Again, truth dies where institutions reign.

It is of some interest that Reagan, who was a plebeian – not of the elite – was the one exception. Whatever the man’s virtues or vices, he was far less an institution man than presidents of more recent years.

The second flunkee is Israel. That the victims of the signature genocide would fail to recognize the one just before theirs is nothing short of tragic.

Certainly many Israeli and Jewish groups do acknowledge the Armenian Genocide (such as the Union for Reform Judaism), but the Knesset (the Israeli legislature) decided that recognition of this as a genocide would jeopardize relations with the Turks and the Azerbaijanis.

The reason I call this “tragic” is that by refusing to say “genocide,” the ruling Israeli institution turned its back on the great principle that the Hebrews gifted to the world several millennia ago: The enthroning of justice above rulership.

While many individual Israelis are good and decent people, the rulership of the Israeli state has turned away from the original Jewish principle.

Never Forget

As Adolf Hitler was starting his aggression against the Poles, the London Times quoted him as saying this:

Go, kill without mercy. After all, who remembers the Armenians?

For the sake of decency and for the sake of the future, remember the Armenians.

Also remember that justice stands above institutions and rulers.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Embracing Adventure and Danger

childrenOne of the worst things that has been done to children over the past generation or two has been insulating them from anything that could possibly have any danger attached. Parents keeping their children under permanent watch has become “what people do.” And it’s a BIG mistake.

I know why the parents have done this, of course – we live in a fear-based culture, and it has rubbed off on them. But the reason they have caved in to fear is not important – what matters is that they have harmed their children.

Children – at some point in their upbringing – need to confront danger; they need to explore; they need adventures.

At one time, parents knew this. It wasn’t too many years ago when parents let their kids go off into the woods by themselves, with rifles. If that was really so horribly dangerous, half of us wouldn’t be here.

Is it scary to watch your children walk into a subway station? Or out into the woods? You bet it is! But you have to do it anyway. Calculate the risks, pick your times, pick your spots, watch them from a distance if you must, but let them go out and face the world.

Remember, fear is merely an impulse, and it can be based on lies, distortions, or even on nothing at all. It’s a crazy thing on which to base your children’s lives.

A new German study shows clearly that adventure shapes the individual. As one of the researchers concluded, “Living our lives makes us who we are.” Your children need to live, and not merely exist inside of a fear-inspired bubble. The study also indicates that exploration and adventure not only affect personality development, but also brain growth.

I’m not alone in this opinion, of course. Here are two quotes from John Taylor Gatto, a home school advocate and one of the finest teachers of modern times (one of the most awarded too, ironically enough):

Sensible children do not wish to be incomplete human beings. And so, when you impose a stage theory of human development upon them, you are, in effect, tormenting them; you’re limiting their opportunity… Don’t be your kid’s enemy, because that’s not a kid, that’s your fellow human being. Be a partner, and enlarge their opportunities.

The easiest way to turn your kids into geniuses, by the time they’re seven, is just to front-load huge amounts of experience, including dangerous experience.

Like Gatto, I believe that the real dangers for your children lie in government schools, and even in private schools that function on the same model. Here’s what Gatto says on the subject:

Growth and mastery come only to those who vigorously self-direct. Initiating, creating, doing, reflecting, freely associating, enjoying privacy—these are precisely what the structures of schooling are set up to prevent, on one pretext or another.

Yes, I understand that people are pushed, economically, to put their children into public schools. If you feel like you’re in that position, make sure that you tell your children how the system is set up to condition them. Teach them that understanding is far more important than memorizing. Back them up if the teachers give them grief. Let people talk about you.

Your children should understand, very clearly, that teachers and principals are just average people doing particular jobs; that they are merely another neighbor to the people on their street. Some of them are good people, others are bad people, and a title is just a title – it means nothing more.

Teach your children to be bold, let them learn how to fall and rise again. Of course you want to let them encounter dangers slowly, and you’d never put them in positions to get truly hurt, but you should be nothing like the über-parents who surveil their children’s every move, in terror that poor little Johnny will encounter something that hasn’t been sanitized for his protection.

I’ll leave you with one last quote from John Taylor Gatto: something that applies both to schooling and the larger world:

After a long life, and thirty years in the public school trenches, I’ve concluded that genius is as common as dirt. We suppress our genius only because we haven’t yet figured out how to manage a population of educated men and women. The solution, I think, is simple and glorious. Let them manage themselves.

Resist the fear, my friends.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Silk Road Died, Bitcoin Crashed. So why am I so happy?

silk roadYou may have heard that Silk Road – the truly free online market – was taken down today, by the FBI. In response, the price of Bitcoin crashed 24%.

Yet here I am – just a few hours later, feeling very optimistic. Why? Because the philosophy of freedom just showed itself to be massively stronger than statism and its “don’t think, just obey” philosophy.

Here’s What Happened

As I was finishing my lunch, I saw a story posted on the takedown/crash. I did a bit of checking and conversed with a friend, and then hustled over to a place I know where crypto-anarchists hang out online.

These guys were already talking about replacing Silk Road, and doing a better job of it.

Forget about the drugs aspect of this – I don’t care for drugs and neither do the people I listened in on – they just want to build free markets.

Contrast that to a financial site, where I found a couple of Bitcoin haters, a Fed trying to supercharge as much fear as he/she could, and several people trying to buy Bitcoin at its lows, or lamenting that they were out of extra cash to buy right away.

But here’s the interesting part: In the face of an orchestrated attack (and you can be sure that the Feds arranged the day’s events for maximum fear – that’s what they do), even these people, within minutes, were walking forward, not backward.

A Better Philosophy Wins Out

Arguably, the greatest triumph of a new philosophy has to be that of the early Christians (of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd centuries AD), they simply would not be stopped, no matter what was thrown at them.

And why wouldn’t they turn back? Because the Roman way was ridiculous and barbaric. Their gods were vile, vain, sometimes stupid and often cruel. Who wants to worship that? These Christians – whatever their faults or virtues – had found a God who loved them, who wished to help and enlighten them, who said they were meant to be free and prosperous.

Which way would you choose?

The Romans persecuted them and sometimes killed them, but they would not be turned around. These people chose the better philosophy, and in the end, they won.

Today, I saw the same thing, wrapped in modern circumstances.

Freedom-minded people are not stopping, are not abandoning their views. And why should they? Shall we go back to the idiocy and self-contradictory life of worshiping the state? Of pretending that robbery is somehow – magically – not robbery when the government does it?

Our minds have been removed from the state’s intimidation and conditioning. Shall we go back to believing lies and repeating vapid slogans for the rest of our lives?

There are real reasons why individuals move from bondage to liberty, but very seldom the reverse.

The Bottom Line Facts

At the end of all the discussions, all the fears, all the questions, all of the explaining to newbs and concerned friends, stand these facts:

Our philosophy is better than theirs. We offer men and women truth, understanding, compassion (the real kind), and strong, direct relationships. The state offers punishment, fear, an occasional promise of plunder, and intrusion into every relationship in your life.

Our people are better than theirs. Not because we were born better, but because finding and living according to truth produces better people than blind obedience and fear of the lash.

We are not quitting. We can’t. We won’t.

Yes, there may be bruises and even blood along the way, but like the first Christians, our people do not turn back – they continue regardless.

We’ve come out of the state’s cultivated darkness, and we are moving into more and more light. Why would we want to go back to where we were? Even if we tried to do it, could we really stick with it? Could our minds really fit back into their old restraints?

This is why freedom will win, my friends: The genie is out of the bottle, and the Internet has spread the message to the four corners of the Earth. It’s a better message. It produces better people.

And in the end, we will win.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

“You’re Already Rich”

already richI got an email from my old friend Dick not too long ago – maybe the smartest guy I ever met, and I’ve known a lot of smart guys. He was coming through town and we decided to meet at our old hangout, Jay’s Bar.

Dick was from California, but he came through Chicago every now and then back in the 90s, and he often joined our cypherpunk hangout in the back room at Jay’s.

At the appointed time, I met him in front of Jay’s and we walked in together. It was still afternoon and there weren’t too many customers.

Jay was behind the bar, making sure everything was ready for the evening rush. His face lit up when he saw Dick. “Hey, mister Viking, I not see you for a long time!”

Jay always called Dick “the Viking,” which he really did resemble back then. I left Dick and Jay to talk for a few minutes and sat down at the other end of the bar and ordered a couple of drinks from Jamie, the daytime bartender.

After a couple minutes, some random guy (a business type) came up to me and said, “Hey, isn’t that the genius who used to be on the Donahue show way back when?”

“Sure is,” I said. “They found out that he knew just about everything, and so they put him on as a curiosity.”

In just a minute or two Dick walked over and the guy slid down to give Dick his stool. He talked about the TV shows for a minute, and looked like he was ready to get up and let the two of us talk (he must have seen us walk in together), but then he stopped and looked directly at Dick.

“Ya know,” he said, “you answered all those impossible science questions, which was really cool, but you never told us how to get rich.”

Dick looked the man over. “You’re already rich,” he said.

“Yeah, I wish.”

“Okay,” Dick said, “what do you make, sixty thousand a year?”

“Including my wife’s pay, almost a hundred.”

“Then you’re definitely rich.”

The guy looked some combination of angry and embarrassed. “We’re in debt up to our eyeballs! And not from buying crazy things. Between the cars, the house, schools and doctors for the kids, we’re losing money!”

Compassion didn’t always register on Dick’s face, but this time it did. And I knew him well enough to guess that this guy’s predicament got to him. He nodded his head silently for a few seconds, then swiveled slightly, hunched a bit, and spoke in a serious tone.

“You don’t understand me. You’re already rich. It’s just that you let other people take most of it away from you, before you can use it.”

The guy’s posture became soft and serious in response to Dick’s, but he didn’t get it.

“Look at it this way,” said Dick. “You get a hundred thousand per year, but your bosses also pay another seven or eight percent for social security, right?”

“Sure.”

“Okay, so you’re actually getting paid a hundred and seven thousand or so.”

“Okay.”

Dick reached into his shirt pocket for a pen and a small note pad. (Those old engineer habits die hard.) He handed them to the guy and said, “Here, make a quick list of all your expenses. Round up, ’cause you’ll probably miss a few.”

The guy said nothing, but complied. Dick and I sipped our drinks as he did. Then he handed Dick the list, which came to sixty thousand.

“You see,” said Dick, “You make enough to pay all your bills, with almost fifty thousand left over for investments or whatever. And you wouldn’t have to pay all the interest that you do either. The problem isn’t what you make – you’re already rich – the problem is what you let people take from you.”

The guy was actually appreciative, and didn’t speak for a moment, and then he said, “but the government takes all that money, what can I do about it?”

Dick turned directly at him and said, “First, stop saying that it’s okay. It isn’t. You’re rich, but they’re making you suffer at the edge of poverty. Start holding them accountable for what they do to you. Treat them like organized crime.”

With that, the guy had enough. He understood, and he truly appreciated what Dick had told him, but it was going to take him some time to digest it. He thanked us and left.

Jay came over. “So, you chase away my customer?”

“Sorry, Jay,” we both murmured like schoolboys. I said something about the other guy starting the conversation and Dick said something about just talking finance, but Jay just waived his hands at us and mixed a drink for another customer.

“Ah, I was right to put you all in the storage!” We said nothing. He was referring to the back room he used to give us. It was really a storeroom.

Then, he smiled. When it was over with, no matter how angry we had made him, Jay always smiled.

* All the stories that I set in Jay’s Bar are fictional. The characters are based on real people and the stories are often based on actual events, but the presentation is fictional.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com