Why I’m Committed to Something that Doesn’t Yet Exist

YetExist

It’s a strange thing that so many people unquestioningly doubt, even oppose, anything that they can’t see, that they can’t count on with absolute certainty, or especially, that lacks the approval of authority.

New and useful things, as we’ve all observed, begin as things that can’t be seen… things with no evidence, no substance, and usually no pedigree. Name your convenience and it probably began that way.

But let’s move past older historical examples and simply jump to things that have happened in our own times:

  • Where were personal computers a generation or two ago? Only in the dreams of a few hyper-technical types. It was a business grown mainly in garages and similar spaces.

  • Where was home schooling a generation or two ago? It was the domain of cranks at best and child abusers at worst. (Or so it was proclaimed by an enthroned and worshiped educational aristocracy.) And yet homeschooling delivers superior results.

  • Where was the Internet in 1990? First it was unknown, then it was a silly tool of “nerds,” then it was a threat to all that is holy (yes, New York Times, some of us remember), and only later, a worldwide infrastructure.

  • Where was encryption in 1990? A regulated munition… a sequestered weapon… until a small group of cypherpunks set it free.

  • Where were digital currencies in 2000? The supposed haunt of the worst criminals on the planet. And now… well, now they’re hated only by people skimming from violence-backed currencies and those who think they’ve missed the boat.

Those of us of a certain age have seen all these things enter the world. Things that were utterly without substance, existing only as ideas in disrespected and belittled minds.

So then, where are the utility, efficiency, and safety in “staying with what’s been proven” and ridiculing the new? Blown away is what they are. The voice of authority is the voice of paralysis and petrification.

Yes, some old things remain lovely, and some new things are stupid. But opposing things only because they are new… smothering them in fear and the implication that unauthorized things will be punished… “paralysis” and “petrification” are not overly strong terms.

Progress always begins from mere ideas… from unapproved ideas and usually from opposed ideas.

This is why I am committed to parallel societies, to decentralized economies, to a voluntaryist ethic and a civilization built around our abilities, not around our fears. I know that good ideas can become reality. I’ve seen it over and over. You have too.

Moreover, none of the things I believe in are entirely new. Humankind has had decentralized commerce many times. It has enjoyed voluntaryist ethics and healthy societies.

Our Model

I’ve heard people say, “You can’t beat the system,” or discouragements to that effect, for a long time, and it simply isn’t true. Yes, the system uses plenty of force and likes to make examples of people who threaten its legitimacy, but where are the great pharaohs? Where is “the Great” Alexander? And where, for that matter, are Napoleon and Mussolini and a hundred other “indomitable leaders.” They’re gone, along with their ruling juntas, their court intellectuals, and their acquiescent subjects.

So, you can beat the system. It may take time, but the system always crashes and burns. The only question is when.

And in our quest to build a voluntaryist civilization, we have one tremendous example: the proto-Christians and decentralized Christians of the first few centuries AD. And let me point out that this was a long time before what people think of as “the Church.”

Nor is this really about religion – it’s about people who believed in and were devoted to a better set of ideas. Ideas opposed by the greatest power ever seen on the planet: the great Roman Empire at its height.

But in the end, Rome crashed and the new ideas triumphed, wiping away the Roman model altogether.

Here’s how the great historian Will Durant described it:

There is no greater drama in human record than the sight of a few Christians, scorned or oppressed by a succession of emperors, bearing all trials with a fierce tenacity, multiplying quietly, building order while their enemies generated chaos, fighting the sword with the word, brutality with hope, and at last defeating the strongest state that history has known. Caesar and Christ had met in the arena, and Christ had won.

There is no reason we can’t do the same thing. I don’t know how long it will take or how much turmoil we’ll have along the way, but I can tell you that building a decentralized world based upon the Golden Rule is very definitely possible. But we’ll need to work for it.

We can build a better future or we can “play it safe.” Which will you be more proud of when you’re old?

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Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

How Similar Are Judaism and Christianity?

Judaism-Christianity

This should really be a book-length discourse, and I may write such a book one of these days. First, however, I want to give you some of the highlights and begin to get my thinking in order.

At their cores, Judaism and Christianity are more similar than you might expect. Their appearances of course are different. After all, it is very much in the interests of leaders on both sides to proclaim how very right they are, which means that all others must appear to be wrong… and different.

Whom Do We Hear and See?

When dealing with this subject, there is a first obstacle that must be dealt with carefully… or else we’ll get a skewed picture of both religions. And the choice we must make is this:

To whom shall we pay more attention; to the leaders of the movements, who are few but loud, or to the simple believers, who are many but generally unheard?

It’s far easier to hear from the leaders. We have their writings and their endless disputes, after all. And in fact this is what has nearly always been done, a situation that has begun changing only in recent times.

However, as I see it, the average believers matter considerably more than the leaders. Granted, their voices are harder to hear, but they were always where the weight and mass of these religions lay. And their willingness to follow any particular leader or movement affected the ultimate shapes of these religions.

And fortunately for us, we do sometimes hear and see the average believers. If nothing else, we are told about them from the leaders of their religions as they complain (which they often do) that their followers aren’t following very well. We also find the average believers in the descriptions of outsiders and now in the archaeological record. A picture of these people is emerging.

Now, with that in mind, let’s proceed to the two religions.

Judaism Was Becoming Christianity Anyway

Most of us think of Judaism as being almost entirely law-based. But while this is true for a goodly number of modern, Orthodox Jews, it’s really something of a throw-back. Judaism had long been changing into what Christianity was to become. Here’s what I mean:

A passage from the prophet Micah:

With what shall I come before the LORD and bow myself before God on high? … with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

One from Amos:

Though you offer me your burnt offerings and cereal offerings, I will not accept them… But let justice run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream…

And there are many others. What we’re seeing is Judaism moving away from laws and rituals and into purity of heart. In other words, it was moving directly toward Christianity.

Christians and Jews Intermixed

Here’s a fact that may shock you: Through at least the 4th century, Christians attended synagogues. We know this because it greatly irritated a famous Christian leader of the day, one John Chrysostom. This man complained at length about the fact that Christians were worshiping in synagogues and partaking of the Jewish festivals.

Furthermore, the first people who carried knowledge of Jesus to the Roman world (before St. Paul) were Jews and worshipped in synagogues along with other Jews. On top of that, it was standard procedure for Christians to identify as Jews, since it allowed them to stay within the exemptions that Rome accorded Jews. It insulated them from the wrath of Rome.

Again there is more to say but we’ll move on.

Through the Years and Now

Through the many centuries between 400 AD and today (and that’s a lot of condensing) Judaism’s concern was far less on doctrinal progress and far more on physical survival. And the founding of the state of Israel, less than 100 years ago, has further complicated things. But since Jews gained the status of “citizen” – first in the US, then France, and now in most places – we’ve seen movements, such as Reform Judaism, that focused on “what you are inside” rather than on keeping 613 laws. Even Orthodox Judaism moves that way frequently. After all, it’s in their book just the same as in the book of the Christians, and it’s the obvious line of human development… of human evolution.

How silly is it to pretend that you’re close to a loving and all-knowing God while harboring hate in your heart?

The Modern Differences

Many Jews remain convinced that Christians are their enemies… and not, we should admit, without cause. From the perspective of a modern Christian, this might seem misguided.

“The people who killed your ancestors,” they would say, “were blind sectarians and embarrassments to Christ.”

And while they too would be right, the children of the violated may not forget so easily.

On top of that, the voices of the various leaders can still be counted upon to accentuate the differences between the two religions. As can those who are devoted to doctrines rather than goodness of the heart.

And so, while the foundations of their beliefs (another big thing I flew past) are almost entirely the same… including most of the same stories… the window dressings of the two groups are purposely, and sometimes flamboyantly, made different.

But aside from a few excessive people on either side, Judaism and Christianity are far closer than might be comfortable for many people.

We might even imagine a happy future in which they begin coming back together, however slowly and hesitantly.

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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