The Specter of Suffering

SpecterSuffering

Jews know how to suffer. Christians don’t, although they once did. Most libertarians don’t know how to suffer either.

While there’s no virtue in suffering itself, certain kinds of suffering are unavoidable if we want to change the world. (That is, to really change the world, not just to jabber about it.)

If you run away from suffering, anyone with a pin and a threat owns you.

Let’s be clear on this: Wanting to live in a new way opens you up to suffering. If you hope to avoid it and still attain liberty, you’re kidding yourself. It won’t happen. And to make this point very clearly, I’ll restate it:

Suffering is required; if you can’t hack that, stay home.

And while we’re at it, let me give you a few more stark statements:

  • If you care more about losing money than gaining liberty, you’re not going to get liberty.

  • If truth isn’t something you’re willing to be hated for, you’re not going to get much truth.

  • Entrenched hierarchies always oppose progress. They’ll want to tear down the things we build. If we can’t accept losses and rebuild… and then rebuild yet again… we’re not going to get past tyranny.

Please understand that I’m not endorsing masochism here; I don’t expect anyone to like losing money or to enjoy seeing something they built torn down. But if a negative reaction stops you in your tracks, if fear of “something going wrong” paralyzes you, please stay home until you’re ready to pay that price; you’ll only muck things up for yourself and others.

What Do We Value?

In the end, our willingness to suffer comes back to a simple question: What do we want and how badly do we want it?

We can “want liberty” or “want truth” all we like, but the ruling systems of this world don’t agree. More than that, they have millions of people who believe they are utterly necessary and their edicts must be obeyed without a second thought.

Furthermore, many of those people can be counted upon to enforce the status quo. Being different is punished in a hundred ways and in a thousand places, ranging from the subtle to the gross.

So the question remains: How badly do we want it?

Will being insulted at a cocktail party turn you away? Will the threat of losing a contract turn you back? Is putting your time and effort into something that might be torn down too big a risk? Too big an embarrassment?

If we can’t take such risks and more, we’re not ready to change the world.

How It’s Done

Changing the world requires that we hold our ideas of the good and right above the ideas of the world’s rulers. We’ll have to do what we think is right, regardless of what the world thinks.

Whether we’re believers or not, there’s a great deal to learn from Christians back in the early days, when they knew how to suffer. Jesus, as it happens, went out of his way to prepare them for just that, saying things like, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’s sake,” and, “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another.”

The early Christians avoided suffering when they could but took it when they had to. And they did change the world for the better. (You really should read issues #33 and #70 of my subscription letter.) Rome was built upon slavery, and the Christians eradicated it, pop history be damned.

Christianity, like Judaism, was never meant to be easy. A follower of Jesus was supposed to lead mankind “into the light,” thus angering those who remain in darkness.

As for the Jews, they’ve stood apart from centralized societies for thousands of years, making the world see a humane life outside of their precious boundaries. And for that, centralizers will always hate them.

Christianity was intended to continue that same model. And in fact it did continue it for some centuries.

An Illustration

To illustrate my opening line, that Jews know how to suffer, here’s a quote from my friend Joe Katzman. I think it’s worth some thought:

Judaism is like the Blues Brothers: “We’re on a mission from God.” It isn’t a safe mission, but it’s ours. Think. Adapt. Make your mission happen. Get back up. Keep. The. Faith. Oh, and you’re probably gonna be chased. A lot.

Those who wish to be better than the enforced status quo will have to start thinking like the early Christians once did, and as many Jews still do. We’ll have to transcend the specter of suffering.

* * * * *

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)

TheBreakingDawn

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

The 7 Choices Left to the Military-Industrial Complex

military-industrial complexSince 2002 the US government has presided over one of the most dramatic financial bubbles of all time: the bubble of the military-industrial complex. (A few will remember that Dwight Eisenhower warned Americans about this in 1961.)

This bubble, like all others, will pop, and it looks to be deflating right now. The amounts of money that have been spent in the past decade can only be characterized as obscene. But the point that really matters is this:

Military spending is just part of the bubble.

In addition to the military complex, we have a massive intelligence complex.

Not only that, but we also have a massive law enforcement complex. The Department of Homeland Security has given them at least $34 Billion in the past several years, on top of their take from local taxes, state taxes, fines, seizures, and other Fed money.

Take a look at these graphs. First, defense spending:

military-industrial complex

Then, intelligence spending, or as close as I’ve been able to get to real numbers:

military-industrial complex

Lastly, War on Drugs spending, which we’ll use as a proxy for overall law enforcement spending (numbers that are more difficult to acquire):

military-industrial complex

Needless to say, this multi-headed beast is huge, requiring oceans of money… and it’s about to have its rations cut. Actually, that may be why they’re so hot for a war in Syria – they need to goose spending again, and quickly.

Power Corrupts, but Arrogance “Stupidizes”

Yeah, I know that word’s not in the dictionary, but it should be.

These agencies are drunk on power and stupid on arrogance.

There’s no other way to describe a situation where the intelligence and law enforcement branches of this beast have been waging a war against the American people for the last few years.

Think of the endless search for “domestic terrorists,” the sickening NSA spying on everyone, and the 135 SWAT team raids per day in America. Apparently it has never entered their minds that people might eventually resent being abused.

It’s also useful to understand that “intelligence agency” is the same thing as “secret service,” and very little different from “secret police.” They’ve had secret courts for some time, after all.

I won’t even talk about the rampant corruption that runs through all of these departments; you can either trust me on that one or not.

And this situation reaches all the way to local cops. I had a conversation recently with a young man who recently completed a stint with the US Marines and didn’t know what he wanted to do next. At one point, he said that he thought about being a police officer (an easy fit for a Marine), but he rejected the idea.

“Why?” I asked.

“Cops are bullies,” he responded.

And indeed they are. They lie all the time, they intimidate people all the time, and they treat everyone as a violent perp. (Except if you’re rich or politically connected, of course.) Like the rest of the military-industrial complex, they are out of control.

There used to be cops who were exceptions to this young man’s “bully” statement, but they have been vanishing rapidly. Cops are routinely taught to intimidate and lie.

What Dooms Them

So, while things look absolutely horrible at the moment, the rug is being pulled out from underneath these wastrels.

The issue here (as it so often is) is fiat currency. The money for all of this War Welfare has NOT come from taxes. Instead, it has come from deficits, a.k.a. money printing. The problem is, the money printing game is sputtering. And without a strong money printing program, future increases in military spending will have to come from increased taxes – and there simply isn’t any more to be taken.

American workers already have about half their money taken from them. The now-denuded middle class is surviving on food stamps, disability payments, and a dozen other programs that dish out federal money. They’ve undergone a long, hard fall, from working machines to working government programs.

Their Choices

The military-industrial-intelligence-law enforcement complex has only a few choices left in front of it. (Aside from rational things, like giving up their immoral and abusive game.)

Those choices include:

  1. Find a way to legitimately juice the economy. (Good luck.)
  2. Make people want to be poorer. (Again, good luck.)
  3. Act like Stalin and terrorize your populace openly. (Americans still have guns.)
  4. Create a really, really scary foreign devil. (A tough sell these days, but not for lack of trying.)
  5. Create an iron-clad, world monetary system and government. One that can feed them no matter what. (Probably requires a nuclear war first.)
  6. Create a truly scary war, with piles of dead people in US cities. Then folks will be frightened enough to hand over the rest of their money.
  7. Down-size: Work with their politicians and bankers to dominate only the major cities, the major corporations, and those who will live as dependents to the system. Abandon most of the rest and stop meddling in all the world’s affairs.

The one other possibility for them is to convince the Fed to print faster and damn the consequences. And they may choose that option first, since it would allow them to kick the can just a little bit further down the road.

But once that’s done, they’ll be right back to these seven choices.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The New Era of Surveillance is Here

surveillanceSome have said it’s better to make decisions under the influence of alcohol than under the influence of fear.

But in late 2001, Americans made an entire set of decisions under the influence of fear… and created a monster.

We all remember what happened: A frightened public allowed politicians, secret agencies, and militaries to spend any amount of money and build any kind of system they wanted, to “protect us from the terrorists.”

To cash in on the new zeitgeist, new TV shows practically worshiped military and police forces; thousands of churches gave themselves over to the glorification of soldiers; and corporations scrambled for government money to build these new systems.

10 years on, it’s not just the “paranoid crackpots” anymore who can see that Orwell’s Big Brother of 1984 is terrifyingly real and more sinister than even he could have imagined.

The reality is this: Americans now live under the largest and most invasive surveillance state in the history of the world. This has been confirmed and admitted, even by the talking heads of the mainstream press.

I know there have been too many stories, passing too quickly, for most people to see this in all its gory detail, so I want to clarify and simplify a bit.

First, I’ll give you a list of recent stories (all since mid-May), with links, so you can check any of them you want to. Then, I’ll give you a brief, simple summary of where Americans stand now.

To Sum Up

The list above contains only recent and major stories. There are many others, but I want to keep this brief.

So here’s where we stand now:

  1. There are no more legal protections that matter. The 4th amendment is (was) “the law of the land,” and it is very clear. But that doesn’t matter: A pile of court rulings have been given precedence, and the Constitution no longer applies.
  2. The US military can – if and when it wants to – arrest and imprison anyone (foreigner or citizen) for as long as they want, without a trial.
  3. Acts of torture (“advanced interrogation techniques”) are legal, and secret courts are in regular operation.
  4. The US government (through many agencies, most notably the NSA and FBI) is collecting nearly every email, text, chat, phone call, and web site surfed. This information is already being used in government prosecutions.
  5. Government officials lie to citizens with impunity. Citizens who lie to officials go to jail. (Ask Martha Stewart, and a thousand less-famous people.)
  6. You are physically tracked 24/7 by your cell phone and car license plates.
  7. Large corporations are helping the US government run the most complete surveillance state in the history of the world.

Is this is something you would agree to, if given an option?

Is this what you want your children or grandchildren to grow up in?

Do you think Thomas Jefferson would agree to this? Would Abraham or Moses support this? Would Jesus?

What Now?

The first thing we have to do is to gain moral clarity: to be clear on the fact that this is morally wrong. Not legally wrong, but morally wrong.

Because if it is morally wrong, then it remains wrong, no matter how many high-and-mighty authorities proclaim it to be right.

In other words, you need to believe that morality is more important than legality, which is really the core of the Judeo-Christian ethic that underpins our society. (You can deny it if you want, but that doesn’t make it false.)

Once we are morally clear on this subject, the rest follows naturally. But you have to get clear on this, inside of yourself. Writers like me can provide you with facts, but no one can do your internal work for you.

So, do you think this is morally wrong? And if so, why?

Be clear about the answer to this question. It’s the starting point to the struggle for personal freedom.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The Dangers of Telling the Truth: Snowden, Assange, and Manning

dangers of telling the truthOne of them has been tortured; another is surrounded by armed men and trapped; and the third is hiding ten thousand miles away, in fear of his life. And what were their crimes? Telling the truth.

Talk about a sick commentary on the modern world.

For those who didn’t know, Ed Snowden is the young man who released evidence of the US government purposely trashing the Constitution that they swore to protect. Coming on the heels of the press surveillance, Verizon, IRS, and Boundless Informant scandals, his information on project Prism has capped off quite a run. Whether Americans still have the emotional strength to give a damn, or they are simply looking for reasons to believe, is another question, but this young man is a hero of the highest order.

So is Julian Assange and so is Bradley Manning. They released the truth about what they saw happening. And the gigantic operations are threatening their lives because they do not want you to know the truth.

Let me quote Jesus here:

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, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.

So, who’s on which side of this issue?

The haters of light proclaim that they see more than you do, know more than you do, and are wiser than you. And they go further: first demanding that you give them your money, and then that you thank them for keeping you in the dark.

What would you think if someone who proposed that to you as a business deal?

Yet, these people proclaim that they are empowered to do dark deeds by the great LAW. When questioned, they quote dozens of statutes and rulings and regulations. Yet, it all crumbles as soon as anyone refers to the original and paramount law. That “supreme law” reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.

That paramount law does not say, “unless you have appropriate statutes, or rulings, or executive orders, or international treaties, or other impressive scraps of paper.” It says shall not be violated.

In response, they call you stupid, uneducated, and deceived. Then they will threaten you.

Their threats, of course, have to be taken seriously. After all, they’ve purchased how many billion bullets in the past couple of years? And how many people have they tortured in Cuba? And how many violent, international kidnappings have they undertaken under the more pleasant term of “rendition”?

And they claim to be righteous. Don’t you believe it.

When Snowden, Assange, and Manning walk free, you can reconsider. But until these three truth-tellers are publicly thanked, these agencies – no matter how many dollars and guns and agents they have – are the enemies of light and truth.

[A note to my religious friends: Don’t you dare try to say that these agencies are agents of God’s will. By doing so, you are calling Jesus a liar.]

Paul Rosenberg
The Dangers of Telling the Truth: Snowden, Assange, and Manning
FreemansPerspective.com

Abusive Government: The Good Guys Are NOT Coming To Save Us

Abusive Government: The Good Guys Are NOT Coming To Save UsA lot of Americans know that the US government is out of control. Anyone who has cared enough to study the US Constitution even a little knows this. Still, very few of these people are taking any significant action, and largely because of one error: They are waiting for “the good guys” to show up and fix things.

Some think that certain groups of politicians will pull it together and fix things, or that one magnificent politician will ride in to fix things. Others think that certain members of the military will step in and slap the politicians back into line. And, I’m sure there are other variations.

There are several problems with this. I’ll start with the small issues:

  1. It doesn’t happen. A lot of good people have latched on to one grand possibility after another, waiting for a good guy to save the day, and it just doesn’t happen. Thousands of hours of reading, writing and waiting are burned with each new “great light” who comes along with a promise to run the system in the “right” way, and give us liberty and truth. (Or whatever.) Lots of decent folks grab on to one pleasant dream after another, only to end up right back where they started… but poorer in time, energy and finances.
  2. Hope is a scam. It’s a dream of someday, somehow, getting something for nothing. People who hope do not act – they wait for other people to act. Hope is a tool to neuter a natural opposition: they sit and hope, and never act against you. Even the biblical meaning of hope is something more like expectation (or sometimes waiting) than the modern use of hope.
  3. Petitioning an abuser for compassion. The “good guys” are considered to be a few people inside the abusive government. But if the good guys were really good, wouldn’t they have dissociated themselves with an abuser some time ago? By pleading for the good guys to rise up, people are asking one sub-group of the abusers to save them from the rest of the abusers. However, they all work for the same operation; they all get paid out of the same offices; according to the same rulebook. And if the good guys are so willing to turn against their employers, why would they have waited until now?
  4. Movies. We all grew up in the company of movie heroes who rode in at the last minute to save the noble victims. From John Wayne to Star Trek to Bruce Willis, the story line differs little. These are pleasant stories, of course, but cinema is not reality, and hoping for it to become reality is something that we should get over prior to adulthood.

But, as I say, those are the smaller issues. Let’s move on to the serious ones.

The Magic System

A lot of Americans believe that the American “Founders” created a system that automatically fixes itself. They talk about the “balance of powers,” and think that it will always save them from a tyrant. The balanced powers of the US Constitution, however, were trashed within fifteen years and doubly-trashed just a century ago.

In the Constitution, the states balanced the power of the national government (the one now in Washington, DC.) Not only did the states control half of the legislature, but they decided if and how they would implement the edicts of the national government. And that included deciding whether a law was constitutional or not.

This changed in 1803 with the Marbury v. Madison ruling. This ruling – taught as a work of genius in American schools – was a fraud against the US Constitution. In it, the Supreme Court held that they understood the Constitution better than James Madison, the man who wrote it!

But worse than even this, they held – with absolutely no basis – that it was they who would decide what was constitutional or not. The states were tossed aside. Even the sitting President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, called it “a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.”

Marbury’s Judicial review (the Supremes ruling on constitutionality) merely involves one branch of the national government providing a check on the other branches of the national government. After Marbury, no one could check the national government.

Washington DC was unleashed with Marbury v. Madison. What made it almighty was the 17th Amendment of 1913, which took the powers of the states and transferred them to Washington, by mandating the popular election of senators.

With senators being elected directly by the populace, the states were cut-out of the equation. In their place, political parties gained massive power, and nearly all power was consolidated in the city of Washington.

And so it is today. Washington is an unfettered beast. The system will NOT fix itself; the mechanisms to do that were lost a long time ago.

The Easy Way Out

Standing up against a beast like Washington DC is scary, to be sure. Understandably, not many people want to do such a thing. But if the beast is abusing you, what other choice do you have? You can certainly avoid or evade the beast, but we all know that the beast hurts people it catches avoiding it, so the risk of doing this isn’t zero either.

So, what’s a person to do? They hate their abuse, but outright disobedience would be scary. Unfortunately, many people have come up with a third option: Get someone else to do it for you.

Lots of writers have done this, for example: Write flamboyantly about the abuses people face and stir them to “rise up against the power.” Fairly seldom does the writer take big risks himself – he just stirs up others to do the scary stuff.

Something very similar happens to basically moral people who don’t want to risk pain and suffering: they imagine good guys riding in to save them.

But, as I say, these are genuinely decent people, and they are willing to take smaller risks to help the good guys: They will spend time and money promoting them, and they will even accept name-calling in many cases. They just don’t want to become full-blown rebels and outcasts.

The result of this is predictable: abuse by the political class. If the politicians show them a viable possibility every election cycle, they’ll keep voting their way forever… and the hero never really has to show up.

The Sad Truth

Let’s just say it:

No one is going to ride in and save you.

If you want things to get better, then YOU will have to make them better. YOU will have to stand up and take the arrows, yourself. Liberty, at this stage of human development, requires risk and pain.

I trust that you will remember the end of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount: That it is not those who call upon his name who will be saved, but only those who DO the things he said.

Likewise in this situation, our only hope of salvation lies in DOING.

Paul Rosenberg
Abusive Government: The Good Guys Are NOT Coming To Save Us
FreemansPerspective.com

Will Government Tyranny Be Completed Before Humanity Wakes Up Again?

government tyrannyAll of our lives have occurred in an era of peak somnambulism (aka sleepwalking), and those of us who enjoy being awake have suffered mightily because of it. Using your mind has come with a price in our time, which is pretty sick, really. You can thank growing government tyranny for that.

Humanity, however, does not sleep forever. Eventually humans get tired with the permanent suspension of thought. I know that none of us have ever seen that in our lifetimes, but I study history, and trust me, it has happened in the past.

Can you imagine people traveling a hundred miles on foot, over muddy roads and fields, with bad shoes, and sleeping outdoors, just to listen to a teacher who the authorities had recently defrocked for immorality and cast out of the city? And this teacher wasn’t a religious guru or the leader of a revolution: he was teaching things like history, philosophy and logic.

Well, hundreds of people, even thousands, did this in the early 12th century. (The teacher’s name was Peter Abelard, and he wasn’t the only one.) Europeans had been cut off from learning by their ruling systems for hundreds of years, and yet at this moment they remembered that they were human and woke up.

I’m promising that this will happen again anytime soon, mind you, but it does happen on occasion.

History Shows the Way

From the 12th century through the 19th century, Europeans and Americans generally used their brains, and life in the West improved massively; far beyond anything ever seen in the historical record. But then, it changed. Knowledge didn’t go away, but humanity forgot that it mattered and decided that sleepwalking was easier and better.

It’s not often that you get personalities as diverse as F.A. Hayek, Virginia Woolf, Ayn Rand, and the Bohemian artists of London to all agree, but there was one subject on which they did concur: All of them said that there was a distinct change in the nature of humanity in 1911 or thereabouts. Virginia Woolf, for example, was very precise, placing it in December of 1910 and writing that “human character changed.” Ayn Rand, who was very young at the time, placed it “before World War One” and said “the West lost its nerve.”

Whatever it was that happened, it is very clear that since that time, the men of the West have tried very hard to sleep and have fought to remain in their slumbers. Yes, they were scientifically trained to be that way in government conditioning centers (aka schools). And yes, they spent decades of their lives in factories where thinking was taken as a threat. And yes, it’s true that they were subjected to millions of advertisements that grasped at their minds and wills. But even all of that doesn’t account for a hundred years of slumbers.

There’s a Reason it’s Called the Idiot Box…

The big factor in all of this was the great god of the age: Television. After all, to most people, television is simply what we do. Try telling people that you don’t watch TV some time and see what happens – they’ll treat you like a space alien. And if you persist, they’re likely to see you as a threat.

TV is simply what modern humanity does. Americans watch better than 150 hours of TV per month these days – on average. And when they’re not watching flashing images on their awesome new flatscreen (bigger than their neighbor’s!), they’re plugged in to some kind of iPod, iPad, or some other trendy new iGadget. Anything to avoid thinking.

And the more bizarre the world gets – like presidents and courts agreeing that droning citizens to death without a trial is not a Constitutional problem – the more they avoid thinking. The more the need to think sits in front of their faces, the more they crawl into TV, music, tabloids, booze, and anything else that will allow them to avoid it. Their ignorance must be preserved, or else they’ll have to face the thing they’ve been running from all their lives: responsibility.

But, as I say, this will not last forever. Whenever it is that the hypnosis breaks, those who have been using it as a slave drug will have a problem.

And that may be why they’re in such a hurry to build a fast, cheap tyranny. Once humanity turns again, the elite life-skimmers will need the ability to remove troublemakers quickly and easily, and to lead with it on the nightly news… presuming that anyone still watches the insulting drivel. There are signs of humanity waking up, after all.

Who would have dared to predict thousands of young people following an old doctor like Ron Paul around the country, eagerly waiting to hear about the Federal Reserve scam? I’m not at all sure that will be enough, but it did involve numbers of young people opening their eyes, and it was a real surprise.

Government Tyranny in Action

So, if this continues, the power-mongers will need cheap control, which is why they’ve been procuring drones and computers. Drones and 24/7 monitoring make for excellent, cheap tyranny: A world-wide surveillance web to see what you are thinking about, a world-wide manipulation system to nudge you in the ‘right’ directions, and drones to intimidate you… and, if necessary, to take you out. (Once your worst texts and emails have been worked into an appropriate story, of course.)

So, we’re in a race between cheap government tyranny, and humanity deciding that a hundred semi-comatose years were enough, and that it’s time to wake up.

Which side will win the race? I dunno.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com