Why Does the Law Not Warn?


Everyone who has children, or even nieces and nephews, understands that you have to warn a child before punishing him or her. If not, you teach the child a rash of bad lessons, like these:

  • Punishment can rain down upon you at any time, with no warning.

  • The world can’t be predicted.

  • There are two kinds of people: those who order and punish and those who obey or suffer.

  • The line between what is punished and what is not is unknown.

  • Trying new things brings you shame and pain.

I doubt that any of my readers would consider these as healthy attitudes for a child to assume. And that’s why we warn before we punish. We want them to understand that there are rational reasons for punishment, and we don’t want them cowering in perpetual fear.

Warning, then, is an essential tool, and yet it plays almost no role in modern law. Which begs the question: Why not?

What Is the Purpose of Law?

The purpose of law is to facilitate beneficial interaction and to minimize conflict. This concept, however worded, is what the founders of civilizations nearly always come back to. The US Constitution, for example, notes that it was written to “promote the general welfare.”

So, if warnings help beneficial interaction, why should they be pushed out of law? Consider:

  • Is it more beneficial to warn the truck driver that he’s violating some regulation or to enforce the law, impounding his truck for a week in the process? What are the economies of these two scenarios? Which facilitates benefit?

  • Is it better to warn the kid with five vape kits and a small bag of hashish or to send him to jail and perhaps condemn him to a decade in prison? Is derailing his promising life a factor to be considered at all? Or must we shut down our minds in the face of “it’s the law”?

  • Would it be better to warn a small business that they’re late on a tax deposit, or should they be ruined instead? Which makes life better for more people?

It’s obvious in all of these cases – and we could add many more – that warning is far better at accomplishing what law is supposed to accomplish than slamming people with laws that are held above question.

Why, then, does the law not warn?

What Has Happened

The use of warnings has historically been common and often mandatory. Even the Romans (no bleeding hearts, they) nearly always warned before they struck. As historian Paul Johnson wrote,

Roman law tended to sleep unless infractions were brought to its attention by the external signs of disorder… Then it warned, and if its warnings were unheeded, acted with ferocity…

Even into my lifetime, beat cops used to warn people who were passing into criminality. (Hopefully at least a few still do.)

What has happened is that law has been subverted through a long, slow process. At any given point in the process, it was easy to see it as simple adaptation and often as improving the system. The net result, however, has been the degrading of law.

Justice, in more or less the whole of the Western tradition, was held above the ruler. But once the rulers could create endless streams of new laws – thereby imposing outcomes upon judges and juries – law was submerged below rulership((Please see FMP #27, where I explained this in detail.)). Previously (as under the common law), judges sought justice, and the legislated edicts of politicians were all but absent.

Here are two specific changes that ejected warning from the practice of law:

  • The loss of nullification. Nullification by juries was the final check on the excesses of legal systems. During the American Revolution, for example, several famous cases of nullification – juries flatly defying judges – were crucial to the survival of dissent, and because of that, it was clearly acknowledged by the new US justice system. Over the years, however, it has been beaten back to nearly complete exclusion. And when modern judges worry that nullification might rear its head, they apply threats. (As during the Ross Ulbricht trial.) As a result, juries feel powerless compared to a judge, whereas the opposite is generally the healthier situation.

  • A belief in the adversarial process as a guarantor of justice. Making sure that everyone gets to tell their story is central to justice; a belief that might makes right is something far different. In far too many cases – and nearly always in prominent cases – the process of obtaining justice has become a battle between intellectual gladiators, with government prosecutors (not coincidentally the best funded) winning a shocking percentage of the time. This is not a process that is open to the use of warnings.

These two examples, however, are merely part of a larger process, that of politics overtaking everything else in our civilization, including ethics. And when the ethical becomes the political, power overcomes justice.

Power, as has been noted before, seeks nothing so much as more power. Under that mindset, whatever limits or insults power is an enemy… it becomes the crime of lèse-majesté, of injuring the honor of the ruler.

It’s important to understand that lèse-majesté is not a physical thing like damaging persons or property. It is, rather, an emotional thing. With rulership unrestrained by a superior and separate ethics, lèse-majesté becomes anything that portrays power as something to be limited. And warnings do not feed power. Rather, they starve it.

What’s good for power is blind faith and blind obedience, and warnings oppose blindness of both forms. And if the law warned rather than striking first, there would be far less fear among the ruled, and that’s not good for power either.

In the End…

More could be added to this subject, but I think I’ve covered the essentials. In the end, the situation boils down to this:

Warnings clearly help accomplish the true goal of law: beneficial interaction. But they oppose the demand of power to be blindly honored. Therefore warnings have been pushed out of the practice of law.

Further, we can expect this situation to remain as long as politics reigns as sovereign over law and as an angry lord over society.

* * * * *

As it turns out, history was never too hard to understand; they just told you the wrong story.

Comments from readers:

“This is the most amazing little book I have read on history in 36 years of reading history.”

“It will change the way you look at nearly everything.”

“I will flat out say that this is the best history book I have ever read… I am fairly well read, but I learned a tremendous amount that I hadn’t known before or hadn’t aligned so that it made sense.”

“This is the best and clearest description of the history of Western civilization I have ever read.”

“Packed with insights on every page concerning how the world came to be the way it is and what we might expect in the future.”

Get it at Amazon or on Kindle.

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg

“Law” as a Jedi Mind Trick

About half the time it is used, possibly more, the word “law” is nothing more than a Jedi mind trick. There is nothing noble, righteous, or even ‘conservative’ about it. It’s a way for you to be abused via ignorance and inertia. We’ve all seen this trick in action, of course. It’s very common. And, sadly, more or less all of us have fallen (or rather, were pushed) into it at some point.


About half the time it is used, possibly more, the word “law” is nothing more than a Jedi mind trick. There is nothing noble, righteous, or even ‘conservative’ about it. It’s a way for you to be abused via ignorance and inertia.

We’ve all seen this trick in action, of course. It’s very common. And, sadly, more or less all of us have fallen (or rather, were pushed) into it at some point. That complicates things because people generally don’t like to admit their errors.

Nearly all of us have been taught, repetitively, to “respect the law,” and because of those teachings, nearly all of us have decided certain things must be right, simply because they were “the law.”

We decided this, not because we understood the benefits that would follow certain actions, but because of the aforementioned ignorance and inertia.

It’s important to be clear on this: To uncritically, reflexively obey is not respect… it is to hold “the law” above reason… above reality. That, in simple terms, is worship.

Saying, “Everyone else did it too,” makes this no better.

It is also common for obedience to follow intimidation: Obey, or else… armed men will hurt you; teacher will shame you; the other kids will laugh at you; important people will criticize you in public. Please note all of these are primitive, degrading reasons. But they were thrust upon us as small, coerced children, and they very often stuck.

The really damaging part, however, comes after you obey reflexively or fearfully: when you leap to justify your past actions. Not many of us enjoy admitting our errors, but if we want to become honest, conscious adults, that is precisely what we need to do.

“But, but…”

Yes, yes, I know the same automated slogans:

Without the law, all would be chaos and death!

Outside of law is tyranny!

We are a nation of laws, not of men!

Only law separates us from savages!

Please take a couple of deep breaths and continue.

There’s Law, and Then There’s Law

In the modern West, there are two different kinds of law. Unfortunately they are usually rolled up together and placed under a single tag. That’s a major part of this problem.

If the early days of Western civilization, law was simply the process of determining what was just. Law was considered good if it were reasonable, fair, and had stood the test of time. And that’s all.

Historian Fritz Kern, in his Kingship and Law in the Middle Ages, explains it this way:

For us law needs only one attribute in order to give it validity; it must, directly or indirectly, be sanctioned by the State. But in the Middle Ages, different attributes altogether were essential; medieval law must be “old” law and must be “good” law…. If law were not old and good law, it was not law at all, even though it were formally enacted by the State.

Law, in the old days, was developed locally, and judges were simply trusted men who reasoned well. The form we in the English-speaking world know best was the common law of England, and it was precisely this type of law. In fact, the historical record shows early English kings having to adopt customary law:

  • The 1164 Clarendon Constitution cites a “record and recognition of a certain portion of the customs and liberties and rights of… ancestors.”

  • Article 39 of the Magna Carta (1215) reads, “No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or dispossessed, or outlawed… except by the legal judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.”

Now, before I explain how we got from law based on reason and experience to where we are now, there is one thing that is necessary to understand:

Until recent times, law was not legislation.

I know this is contrary to what you’ve understood, but it’s true all the same. Legislation is primarily a modern invention. Law in the old days was not made by politicians or even by princes. Law was, as we said above, the process of determining what was just. The common law was created and updated by judges, not by legislators.

To buttress this point, consider that when philosopher Jeremy Bentham died in 1832, he was revered as “the founder of modern legislation.”

I won’t belabor this point, but consider these two statements, please:

Legislation displaces law that is based upon reason and experience.

Legislation is the edict of politicians, and nothing more.

Under legislation, reason and experience are not required. Politicians – whom nearly all of us hold in low regard – create this new law and can change it on a whim.


Let me ask some pointed questions:

  • Is it sensible to worship the words of people we also condemn?

  • And if we hold words above critical thought, are we not holding them above reality? Is that not a kind of worship or idolatry?

Idolatry is precisely what we do when we hold politician-created “law” above reason. (Whatever you hold above reality is your god.)

Yes, I know, we did this because we were trained to do it and because we were intimidated into it. But we’re adults now; we should be ready to face our errors and correct them.

The law of reason and experience always stands, of course, simply because it is reasonable and useful.

An uncritical respect for legislation, on the other hand, is a mind trick and differs little from that of a Star Wars Jedi. It requires us to bypass our minds and sacrifice our will to inertia and fear.

Paul Rosenberg

Golden Disobedience


This week, we’d like to post a fun article by our friend, Sandy Sandfort. Sandy is a wealth of interesting stories, and he has a new website in the works. If you’d like to be notified when it goes live, send a note to: sandy@privilegedcommunications.net.

Inertia is a human frailty. Too often, we go along to get along. We conform. Because of this, those who claim authority can get most of us to do their bidding if it comes with a plausible justification and is only incremental. We get nickel-and-dimed to death, the death of a thousand cuts.

Back on April 5, 1933, His Majesty, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), had a pen and a telephone. So he issued Executive Order 6102, which made it a federal crime for Americans to own or trade gold anywhere in the world. There were some minor exceptions for some jewelry, industrial uses, collectors’ coins, and dental gold, but the vast majority of the gold had to be turned in.

My father instantly understood what was going on and he didn’t like it. “They’re going to devalue the dollar!” he predicted.

Roosevelt didn’t give much time to comply either. The deadline was May 1. And if Americans did not comply, they faced criminal prosecution under the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917. Scofflaws were looking at a fine of up to $10,000 (1933 dollars, about a third of a million dollars today) and up to ten years in prison.

My parents made the conscious decision to become outlaws.

At every possible opportunity for the next three weeks (and substantially longer), my parents followed Gresham’s law (“Bad money drives out good.”), not federal law. They spent paper and collected gold. My father was a dentist, so he could own some dental gold, but that wasn’t enough. He wanted to covert as much paper into gold as possible. So he gave his patients discounts for payment in gold. “Sam,” a neighbor who was a banker, also helped collect gold for himself and my parents. They would repay his help later when they periodically ‘laundered’ gold for him and themselves.

Even after the deadline, gold still kept coming in. Mostly it was from people who didn’t have the time or the inclination to turn in their gold to the government. However, many feared prosecution and were happy to deal with my parents instead of FDR. Plus they got a better deal.

So where did they launder their tidy little nest egg? Why, “South of the Border, Down Mexico Way,” of course. Mexico had no Executive Order 6102.

My mother was born in the mountains above Albuquerque, New Mexico, and spoke fluent Spanish. She and my father loved traveling though the backwaters of Mexico. At first, they traveled alone, and later, after my brother and I came along, the whole family (including the dog) would go exploring in the land of mañana. (Somewhere there is a picture of me, age one, sitting on a portable potty, experiencing my first-ever bout with “Montezuma’s revenge.”)

My parents carried whatever gold they intended to sell, stashed in the car or on their person. The usual routine was to go to the section of town where casas de cambio were found. (Think of it as the “Street of the Money Changers.”) My mother – all 5’1” of her – would go down the street and show a gold double eagle to every money changer at every kiosk and storefront. In Spanish, she would ask, “How much will you pay for these?” When she found the best price, she would give my father the high sign. He would join her and they would conclude the deal. Sometimes the gold was theirs, sometimes, Sam’s. Sometimes they got pesos and sometimes dollars, depending on what they needed at the time.

So, the ‘illicit’ gold paid for a fun trip and got converted to ‘clean’ funds for themselves and Sam. What’s the crime in that?

And the Beat Goes On…

My family never showed much respect for government laws, per se. No victim, no crime, even if the government disagreed. The general ethical belief of the Sandfort family was pretty much in harmony with the Golden Rule. It had worked for cultures and religions for thousands of years and it worked for us. That was our law. Man-made laws either adhere to the Golden Rule (don’t murder people, duh) and so are unnecessary, or they violate it, such as “The War on (Some) Drugs,” so they were nominally complied with, ignored, or circumvented.

So, when wartime laws said that a seller had to follow certain rationing rules to sell his own products, many buyers and sellers simply conspired to make their own decisions. When my parents needed and could afford a new car for business, the local Chevy dealer was happy to ‘cook the books,’ take their money, and give them a new sedan.

Later, when my family traveled in that car and others, my mother would prepare food for us to eat as we drove. We stopped only for gas… and the agricultural inspection station at the California state line. Of course, we had items that we were required by law to declare, but if you hide them in your backpack or under the car seat and lie, you can save a lot of time and keep from having to throw away perfectly good food.

And then there was the time we smuggled a live Mexican iguana in a cigar box, but don’t get me started…

Paul Rosenberg

At Eight Years Old We Learned to Torture

Sometimes their faces pop up in my mind and I shudder. I don’t want to recall their suffering but I also can’t pretend it never happened. They were tormented, day after day, and for extended periods. I can only hope and pray that they recovered.

I am torn over using their names; I wouldn’t want to drag them back to their sufferings, but at the same time, their suffering mattered, and I don’t want to devalue them by blotting out their identities.

We were children torturing other children. And it’s still going on.

  • Carly was tortured mostly by other girls. They would surround her, laugh at her, point at her, and mock her… over years. She was told, loudly and publicly, that she had an ugly face, ugly hair, ugly clothes, and that she was stupid. This happened five days per week, nine months per year.

  • Ron was tortured by the boys. I still have images in my mind of him being forced to play baseball, surrounded by at least twenty boys who laughed at his every move. They laughed so loudly that you could hear them from the far side of the field. This torture was not limited to sports humiliation, and forced his entire family to move to a distant location.

  • Debra was humiliated with purpose and malice. Both boys and girls called her “dog” to her face. This went on for years, until her family moved.

  • Martin was surrounded by other boys and slapped around by them, one after another.

  • Deirdre was chased down by a group of boys who held her down, pulled off her underwear, and examined her genitals.

  • Stanley had his physical appearance ridiculed on a daily basis for many years. He was occasionally slapped around and was criticized continually.

All of this, if you haven’t guessed, happened at or around school. I made a quick count of ten schoolmates of mine (at small schools) who were tortured this way in my early years. In rough numbers, that means that for 5% of my schoolmates, being forced to walk into a school meant walking into a torture chamber. The rest of us had momentary torments, but nothing like what these kids experienced.

And I want you to understand something about this:

I went to the very best public schools in the city of Chicago, with some of the best children in the city of Chicago. Our neighborhood approached being a Pleasantville. Nearly all of us had stable homes and families, plenty to eat, family vacations, and so on. Nearly all of us went on to have stable and productive adult lives.

Yet, everything recorded above is true, and these tortures were applied hundreds of times per year, and in some cases thousands… to children.

What It Did to Them

In cursory searches, I’ve found very little information on these victims. (I didn’t want to violate them by digging.) So, I can’t really say what happened to them, but I have done research on the subject.

On the left are the effects of Abu Ghraib style torture, courtesy of Wikipedia. And on the right are the effects of “school bullying,” also courtesy of Wikipedia:

Post-traumatic stress disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder









Memory lapses

Excessive stress

Guilt and shame


I can tell you from my experience that “guilt and shame” should definitely be included in the school bullying list, as should, almost certainly, nightmares.

So, yes, those kids were tortured. To call it “teasing” or “bullying” is both to lie and to spit on these children once again.

To make it even worse, this is still going on, and probably more so. People just block it out of their minds because modern society places “school” in a position of worship. They haven’t the courage to combine the words “torture” and “school” in their minds.

But psychological defenses be damned, I can tell you one thing that I know all too well:

For millions of children, walking into a school building is the same as walking into a torture chamber.

Adults block such thoughts from entering their minds, but in so doing, they are closing their eyes to the persistent torture of millions of children. If it seems that I’m being harsh, I’m not – how do you think those children feel?

Shall we continue to abandon them to torment because facing the truth is uncomfortable?

Why It Happens

Since the torture of children angers me, I will be blunt: The proximate cause of this is the forced grouping of government schooling. Yes, schooling.

This is where people run away from the subject, calling upon approved models of the world and repeating, “That can’t be.”

But since I believe that you, dear reader, are not so inclined, I shall continue.

Forced grouping breeds bad conduct. When you mix that with hierarchical domination, it gets much worse. And that is precisely what mass schooling does.

Laws force children to attend these institutions, where they are forced to submit to authority. Learning from this example, the children turn around and apply the same domination on others, putting themselves above them in the all-important order of hierarchy.

Probably nothing could make this point better than Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment, which created a very school-like situation… and which had to be disbanded after only six days, because the dominators became sadistic.

And it is important to note that the Stanford experiment’s sadistic dominators were all students at an elite university – from “good families,” just like the ones in my neighborhood.

The lesson is clear and documented: Forced grouping plus hierarchical dominance breeds torture.

We can either accept this or close our eyes to it, but the evidence stands. And so long as these systems continue, 5% of the children (or whatever the actual number is) will be continually tortured.

Applying additional hierarchical pressures to this situation (as with anti-bullying laws and punishments) will never work; it’s just another dose of the same things that are causing the problem.

The system is the problem, and that problem is beyond obscene.

A Final Note

I’m relieved to say that I had very little to do with torturing my schoolmates and even feebly defended them a few times. But I was young and frightened myself, and if I could, I’d love to go back and do things differently.

Still, if any of the tortured kids from my youth ever read this: I’m sorry. I wish I had done more to help you. You deserved it.

Paul Rosenberg

Switching Scripts

scriptAlmost all of us were raised to follow a more or less uniform script through our lives. Sometimes it was specifically taught to us, and other times we just absorbed it by watching others. But regardless of how we were trained, there are two primary problems with following this script:

  1. Following a script is unbecoming to a thinking being and leads in bad directions.
  2. Such scripts reflect what worked a generation ago, and yesterday is gone.

We all know the details of the script, of course. It goes more or less like this:

  • Do well in school.
  • Rebel with music from the entertainment corps.
  • Get shoes, clothes, and gadgets with the best corporate logos.
  • Get a university degree. (If your family isn’t rich, take student loans.)
  • Take a job at a big firm with good benefits.
  • Get a loan and buy a house.
  • Build a 401(k).
  • Believe in democracy.
  • Send your children to daycare, then school.
  • Buy brand-name goods.
  • Watch the best in entertainment.
  • Rely on Social Security and Medicare.

Do these things, and people in authority will approve of you. In fact, nearly everyone from the previous generation will approve of you. After all, you’re following the script that they wrote, back in 1984, a generation ago.

It No Longer Works

In 2014, however, this script no longer works. Manufacturing jobs are way down, selfemployment is down, and even the number of military jobs seems to be declining. We all know college grads who can’t find a job, and others who are working at Starbucks… and lucky to get that.

Poll after poll shows that the Millennial Generation (people born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s) have very little expectation of doing better than their parents. The reason for that is obvious: The old script isn’t working. And while the older generation is emotionally committed to the 1984 script, the young generation isn’t. They know they’re being screwed.

Still, the old script is being promoted in media and by politicians. Almost the entire older generation – or at least those who are televised – do homage to this script, and repetitively.

What is promoted isn’t working for most of us, and government/corporate promoters will change last of all.

So, what is to be done?

Switching Scripts

The obvious answer to the question above is to switch scripts: to stop doing what no longer works, and start finding things that do work.

The problem with doing sensible things such as this, however, is that they’re scary.

Those of us who have gone to traditional schools and grew up surrounded by the televised culture (that is, almost all of us) were taught to stay within the lines and to take part only in things that have been authorized. Venturing outside the borders of the approved seems dangerous to us. That’s for weird people.

But what we find authorized is the script from the last generation, and that no longer works. So, we can either stay within the lines that were drawn for us, or we can act on our own judgment, go rogue, and work at improving our situations.

However dangerous leaving the authorized script may feel, it’s the only reasonable path to take. 1984 is gone.

So, What Is the New Script?

Obviously, there isn’t one. We have to start creating it ourselves. But if we don’t do this, the only alternative is 1984’s script – the one that worked for the generation that is in power now, and who sees the world through 30 year old lenses.

Furthermore, the most effective new ways of living won’t be handed to us from some genius authority. They will form in bits and pieces, based on the things that are working now. And it will come through many minds and by many examples, not from unified and authorized sources.

Come to Dallas in October

This October 17-19, we’ll be inaugurating a new festival, called the Going Rogue Festival. The purpose of the festival is to find, promote, and explain the things that are working now, outside of the authorized script. We’ll be covering everything from Bitcoin to home schooling to 3D printing to home farming.

We have a great group of speakers, with more to be added, but this is not just a seminar: It’s a festival. We’ll also have vendors displaying their products and services, catered meals, and a great group of people to meet, work with, and grow with.

Please come if you can. There is a discount for early registration. GoingRogue.co (When asked for a coupon code, please enter FMP)

Paul Rosenberg


What Do We Mean by Legal?

legalWe’re surrounded by concerns over what is legal and what isn’t. But what, really, do we mean by “legal”?

The first and most practical meaning of the word, of course, is “things you won’t be punished for doing.”

That definition, however, has never been sufficient for public use. That’s because it’s too stark. If the situation was as simple as a law enforcer saying to John Doe, “Do it the way I tell you or I’ll beat you with my fists,” Mr. Doe would eventually find ways to disobey safely or to cripple the enforcer.

Brute-force enforcement can work, but not over a long period of time, and always at a very considerable cost.

In order to secure long-term, effective obedience from humans, some rationale beyond a fear of violence must be used. People must believe that obeying the enforcer’s word is the right thing to do. That’s why codes of law invoke some type of unseen higher power: a divinity, the “will of the people,” “the way of our ancestors,” or the like. People need a reason to obey, beyond fear.

And by putting the reason to obey above and away from daily life, it cannot be questioned effectively: The higher power has spoken, and only an evil person would question it.

The Exceptions to the Rule

There are times when law is based upon reason, rather than force and edicts from an unquestionable entity. Those times tend to come when political power breaks down. Our best example of it was the common law of England.

The common law began to form in the vacuum of Rome’s influence. The great empire had fallen, leaving people to develop their own ideas. It was a time of reset and reversion toward a natural state.

An early king named Alfred attempted to codify the existing laws around 890 AD. He wrote:

Now I, King Alfred, have collected these laws, and have given orders for copies to be made of many of those which our predecessors observed, and which I myself approved.

Alfred did not write these laws – he collected the previous laws of the people and put them together. This pattern continued:

The Charter of Liberties published by Henry I in 1100 AD says that things ought to be done “through force of law and custom,” or “in a lawful manner.” Henry accepted that that law came from the people (that is, by custom) and not from the state.

The 1164 Clarendon Constitution of England cites a “record and recognition of a certain portion of the customs and liberties and rights of… ancestors.” Thus, laws and customs of the people, rather than laws imposed by rulers, became the law of England.

Even Magna Carta followed the model. Article 39 (1215 version) read:

No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or dispossessed, or outlawed, or banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will we go upon him, nor send upon him, except by the legal judgment of his peers or by the law of the land.

Note that the ultimate arbiter was not the king, but “the law of the land.”

The law that came out of this formation was called the common law. It was developed through the decisions of judges, rather than through legislative statutes or executive edicts. And it was updated by judges, not by legislators. There were no legislators in the modern sense.

The Revolution of 1800

In the decades surrounding 1800 AD, we in the West were given a new type of rulership, featuring three main parts: representatives, legislation, and police. This arrangement, which is incorrectly called Democracy, is how men are ruled today. Under this system, law is no longer based upon reason and doesn’t have to be justified by custom or even by effectiveness – laws are freshly created by an elite class of “representatives.”

This new class of representatives can change the law any time it wishes. In fact, it adds thousands of new laws every year – far more than anyone can memorize. They may play lip service to the common law, but common law and legislation are two very different things, and legislation rules the day.

These days, what is “legal” is controlled by a corrupt political elite. Their law contradicts its own foundational statements, is impossible to know in its entirety, and is enforced arbitrarily.

Reason is no longer a tool of safety. The actions that may trigger punishment cannot be fully understood. The enforcer class will hurt you upon command, asking no questions as to right. Our forefathers would have called this tyranny.

What Shall We Do?

In this situation, three particular actions make sense:

  1. Stop taking laws created by a representative class seriously from any moral standpoint. These are the edicts of people who employ enforcers, and nothing more. Their invocations of constitutions and higher powers are sucker-bait.
  2. We do, unfortunately, need to be aware of how the enforcers are hurting people. There is value in staying safe.
  3. We should start building our own ways of obtaining safety and justice.

Our schooling championed the interests of those who paid our teachers. Now it’s time for us to look after our own interests.

Paul Rosenberg

Great Books You May Never Have Read

A few months back, at the request of several readers, I put together a list of history books. This week I’d like to broaden that a bit and list a number of books that are not terribly well-known, but which are important.

There is a wide variety of books on this list, but they are all unique and well-worth reading.

Listen Little Man!, by Wilhelm Reich. The next time you have a nasty day and want to shake the world by the lapels and scream into its face to Wake up!, read this book. Wilhelm Reich was a really smart psycho-analyst who had been done wrong lots of times… and who really knew how to be pissed-off effectively. Once you’re done with the book, of course, you should let go of the anger; it’s not good for you. But for that occasional time when you’d like to see someone give the idiots their due, this is your book.

The Murder of Christ, by Wilhelm Reich. (The title notwithstanding, this is not about religion.) There’s something about this book. Not that I agree with all of it, of course. Reich’s answer to most everything is sex, and that’s just not correct… and there are other things in this book that I think are incorrect. Still, this book touches on things that I’ve seldom, if ever, seen anywhere else. It can be hard to find (the US government actually burned them in 1956!), but reprints are available. It’s an experience.

Legitimating Identities: The Self-Presentations of Rulers and Subjects, by Rodney Barker. Great coverage of one of the most important, but least known, factors in human civilization: legitimacy. Without legitimacy, governance fails, quickly and inevitably.

Psycho-Cybernetics, by Maxwell Maltz. This is one of those books that serious people just end up reading. The book is old (published in 1960), but if you find successful people of a certain age, the odds are very good that they’ve read this book.

The Strangest Secret, by Earl Nightingale. This is a transcript of his original speech of 1956. Like Psycho-Cybernetics, this old book – and the other works of Earl Nightingale – affected a great number of people, and very positively.

Coming Back to Life: The After-Effects of the Near-Death Experience, by P.M.H. Atwater. This is one of the first and best near-death-experience books. There is a lot to think about in this book, but more important than the life-after-death aspects are the psychological insights into an adult who experiences a very deep and clear restart to her life.

The God of the Machine, by Isabel Patterson. Way ahead of its time. This book from 1943 covers a wide swath of important and interesting material.

The Market for Liberty, by Morris and Linda Tannehill. As far as I know, this is the first book of its kind, covering in detail what life without state looks like for the modern world. And it does it very well.

For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto, by Murray Rothbard. This book covers most of the same material as Market for Liberty, but Rothbard, as always, does it in his own unique way. If you like either one of these two books, get the other.

The Origins of Totalitarianism, by Hannah Arendt. Arendt was a unique and brilliant analyst who worked hard at her craft. This book is probably her finest, though I would also recommend that you get The Hannah Arendt Reader. Spend some time with Hannah Arendt; you’ll be the better for it.

The Abolition of Man, by C.S. Lewis. It’s rather amazing that Lewis wrote this in the 1950s. This is a superb deconstruction of one of the most evil sets of philosophies in our time: postmodernism and its cousins. The chapter “Men Without Chests” alone is worth more than you’ll pay for the book.

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, by Edwin Abbott. You’d be surprised how many times people say, “That book was really important to me.” It’s about geometry, but the way the characters explain new things to the other characters is something that discoverers of all types encounter in all ages.

No Ordinary Genius: The Illustrated Richard Feynman, by Christopher Sykes. Great coverage of one of my heroes: Richard Feynman.

The Road to Serfdom, by F.A. Hayek. I wouldn’t normally include this in a list of books that are “not terribly well-known,” but the recent turn toward centralization in the West makes me think that this book has been forgotten. First published in 1944, it explains not only why centralization does not work, but why it cannot work.

I, Pencil, by Leonard Read. This is a classic, simple, short book on economics. Suitable even for adolescents.

What Ever Happened to Justice, by Richard Maybury. An excellent look at law, in simple but accurate terms.

The Enterprise of Law: Justice Without the State, by Bruce Benson. An excellent analysis of the provision of justice, showing that its provision by states is by no means the best or most efficient method of delivery.

The Story of Law, by John Maxcy Zane. This old book is an excellent coverage of the history and development of law.

The Spiritual Journey of Joseph L. Greenstein: The Mighty Atom, by Ed Spielman. The journey of the last of the old-time strongmen. This book is full of fascinating stories and insights. You won’t want to put it down.

Black Borneo, by C.C. Miller. A fun and very funny account of adventure travel, back when there were still dozens of unexplored places to investigate.

Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. As with Road to Serfdom, I get the impression that younger people have missed this one. If so, please get a copy; this one is unique.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams. Okay, if they make feature films about a book, it isn’t really little-known. But, I can’t resist. Buy the complete five-book trilogy (yes, that’s what it’s called) and enjoy. Read it to your kids when they’re the right age.

The Life of Jesus, by Ernest Renan. A very interesting coverage of Jesus, the man.

I know I have to be missing a lot, but this list should make for some very fine reading.

Paul Rosenberg

What Would You Do for “Truth”?

progress truthI closed a recent post by saying this:

If you’re not willing to suffer for your beliefs, you’re not much of a believer.

To that I will add that the statement remains true, no matter what types of beliefs we’re talking about. Either we have the guts to stand by our beliefs or we don’t. (Which is why a lot of people avoid them – they haven’t the guts to choose.) Holding to our beliefs under fire is the crucial test – not of our beliefs, but of ourselves.

Anytime you move the world forward in some way, you will receive a backlash. In a world like ours – a world neurotically devoted to stasis – that is almost unavoidable.

Have you ever noticed that when people complain about tax collectors or the police, they look around first and lower their voices? The reason why is ultra-obvious: They expect those groups to seek out and hurt people who oppose them.

Why We Suffer

In societies that dedicate themselves to law and punishment, people learn to neurotically avoid all blame. That’s the big problem with “law” – it demands that you remember tens of thousands of rules and punishes you if you fail to obey them. That leaves all of us subject to punishment at every moment of our lives. And that’s a recipe for stress and neurosis.

On top of that, people very well understand that by changing their opinions or actions, they are judging their previous choices as “bad.” And bad, of course, means that you can expect punishment.

Since everyone in a “modern society” grows up learning that changing opinions invites punishment, they come to instinctively avoid it.

What all of this means is this:

For all practical purposes, progress is grounds for punishment, and talk of progress is both suspicious and dangerous.

Yet here we are… and here all sane, healthy people are… trying to move forward.

The sad truth is this:

If you wish to progress, those people who’ve bought into the system will instantly see you as a threat and will therefore oppose you.

Sure, these people should grow up and do better, but the system has trained them in this behavior all their lives. My dad, for example, was a very bright man and definitely not a coward. But when he once asked me what I was doing that evening, I mentioned that I might attend a meeting of libertarians, and he said, “Ah, crap. You’re gonna go to jail.”

My dad may have leapt to a conclusion, but he very rightly understood that going against the status quo brings trouble.

(I didn’t actually go that night, and believe it or not, I’ve only attended one or two official libertarian meetings ever.)

The Price We Must Pay

As I say, in the current situation, moves forward will be opposed, and that means you’ll have to accept pain. That sucks, but it doesn’t suck worse than the alternative, which is a neutered stasis in a permanent semi-slavery.

And please don’t think you can avoid the pain and still make any meaningful progress. What’s going on when we move forward is that we suffer for our virtues. The only way to avoid that is to turn away from those virtues. And that means diminishing ourselves.

Don’t do it – your life is worth more than that.

We may as well accept that we’re enemies of the status quo, and our lives therefore involve risk.

Anyone who is serious about goodness becomes an enemy of the system. Anyone who is serious about liberty is already an enemy of the system. We can either accept that or evade that, but it will not go away.

If we accept it, we make ourselves better and we eventually make the world better.

If we evade it, we degrade ourselves and we degrade the world.

Let’s choose not to be harmless serfs. We’re so much better than that.

Paul Rosenberg

Why the Real Founders of Democracy Would Be Pissed if They Saw What We Did…

democracyThe word democracy is held in awe these days. Mention it almost anywhere and you’ll get instant nods of approval.

People actually believe that democracy gives us harmony and peace, not to mention wealth. They are sure that it is the ultimate and inevitable end of human development, created by the wise and noble Greeks and given to us, the enlightened society that took it to the ends of the Earth!

But if the ancient Greeks could see what we call ‘democracy,’ they would spit at it. They’d probably want to burn it down.

As many problems as they had (and they had plenty), they were not fools, and it wouldn’t take them a day to condemn what the West now worships.

Why would the old Greeks be so upset? Let’s take a look at their (Athenian) system and see how our modern form stacks up:

#1: Greek citizen assemblies met 40 times per year in an open, public forum. Any citizen could speak and any citizen could vote. A vote of those present was final.

Contrast that with what passes for (American) democracy now: Only special people are allowed to attend the assemblies. On top of that, there are far, far more meetings than anyone could hope to follow: General sessions, meetings for dozens of committees, party caucuses and more, running at all hours. No one person can come remotely close to keeping up with it all.

The citizen is clearly unable to participate or even to understand what’s going on. Just this fact would cause the “fathers of civilization” to pronounce our system a fraud, and rightly so. The citizens are non-participants.

#2: Laws were inscribed on stone pillars (stelae) and posted in prominent locations so that everyone would see them.

Greek laws were accessible to every Greek. Not only were they required to be posted, but this requirement also guaranteed that there couldn’t be too many of them.

If you were to take an ancient Greek to see “our laws,” they’d be looking at more than 80,000 pages of almost indecipherable language. (And those would be only the Federal laws.)

Because of this, the Greeks would be insulted when you assured them that we have “the rule of law.” They would say that when people can’t know the law, they are living in a tyranny, and no amount of fancy argumentation would convince them otherwise.

And, again, they would be right. If you are ignorant of the law (80,000 pages of government-speak) but are still subject to punishment under the law, you are living in a tyranny. The founders would have no confusion about that.

#3: A Council oversaw the daily affairs of the democracy. Each of ten tribes provided 50 men. But, only one tribe’s men (50 of them) served at any one time, and only for one month. (The Greeks had ten months in their year.) And once any person served as a Councilor, they were forbidden from serving again for ten years.

Under this arrangement, playing tricks became almost impossible: as soon as the first of the month came along, the next tribe could turn your tricks around and do worse to you.

Contrast this with senators and congressmen who stay in office for decades on end, selling all sorts of favors, amassing multi-million dollar campaign funds, and making themselves rich in the process. Most of them never really go away.

At this point, our philosophical forefathers would be looking for places to buy torches… and they would be ready to beat anyone who called a system that supports such shenanigans a democracy.

#4: Citizens chosen for positions like overseer of the marketplace were chosen completely at random.

Imagine choosing the boss of the IRS at random. We all know what would happen: You’d get a housewife from Portland one year and a plumber from Topeka the next. And they’d act like humans, rather than unfeeling automatons. The sanctimonious abuser state would crumble.

#5: At the beginning of their democracy, the citizens of Athens were divided into ten tribes (and NOT along regional or family lines). This was done specifically to break the power of the aristocratic families.

Have you paid attention to the DC crowd lately? Have you noticed that they never leave? Instead, they slide back and forth between congress, commissions, agencies, lobbying firms, mega-corps and media. Have you noticed how often their children marry each other?

Look at the Presidential lineup: Bush – Clinton – Bush – Obama – Clinton? – Bush?

That’s called “aristocracy.” However, people who are emotionally bound to the system can’t see it. The Greeks certainly wouldn’t be fooled.

Losing Our Religion

Do you remember a haunting song from the ’90s called “Losing My Religion“? If so, cue that up in the back of your mind, because that’s what stands in front of the people of the West.

The majestic “Democracy” that was supposed to be our savior is actually an abusive fraud. It’s time to let it go. That’s not easy, I know, but it needs to be done.

Will you take the first step?

Paul Rosenberg