What Rulers Believe

I’ve been working on collections of quotes lately, and I have one more that I’d like to present… this one on the thoughts of rulers. For a number of years I’ve been telling people that the incentives faced by productive people and the incentives facing rulers (of whatever stripe) are very, very different. This list, I believe, will make that point.

RulersBelieve

I’ve been working on collections of quotes lately, and I have one more that I’d like to present… this one on the thoughts of rulers.

For a number of years I’ve been telling people that the incentives faced by productive people and the incentives facing rulers (of whatever stripe) are very, very different. This list, I believe, will make that point.

You’ll find quotes from ‘bad’ rulers on this list, of course, but also some from the ‘good’ rulers. And please note that the ‘bad’ ones are very often held in high regard in their times. Joseph Stalin, for example – the #2 most prolific killer in all of human history – was the ‘great ally’ of the US in World War II and was routinely presented to the American public as “Uncle Joe.”

So, beginning with Uncle Joe, here are the things that rulers believe:

Joseph Stalin

  • Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.

  • Ideas are more powerful than guns. We would not let our enemies have guns, why should we let them have ideas?

  • Gratitude is a sickness suffered by dogs.

Mao Zedong

  • The cult of xenophobia is the cheapest and surest method of obtaining from the masses the ignorant and savage patriotism, which puts the blame for every political folly or social misfortune upon the foreigner.

Adolf Hitler

  • Terrorism is the best political weapon, for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death.

  • I have not come into this world to make men better, but to make use of their weaknesses.

  • What good fortune for those in power that people do not think.

  • I have sympathy for Mr. Roosevelt, because he marches straight toward his objectives over Congress, lobbies and bureaucracy.

  • [I]n the simplicity of their minds, [people] more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie… It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have such impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and continue to think that there may be some other explanation.

Hermann Göring

  • Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece… But… the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

Winston Churchill

  • What a man! I have lost my heart! (referring to Benito Mussolini, 1927)

  • One may dislike Hitler’s system and yet admire his patriotic achievement. If our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as indomitable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations.

Franklin Roosevelt

  • There seems to be no question that [Mussolini] is really interested in what we are doing and I am much interested and deeply impressed by what he has accomplished and by his evidenced honest purpose of restoring Italy.

  • The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the larger centers has owned the Government ever since the days of Andrew Jackson. (to Colonel Edward House)

Vladimir Lenin

  • Our power does not know liberty or justice. It is established on the destruction of the individual will.
  • The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.

Leon Trotsky

  • The real criminals hide under the cloak of the accusers.

Napoleon Bonaparte

  • Of all our institutions public education is the most important… we must be able to cast a whole generation in the same mould.

  • A man becomes a creature of his uniform.

  • The life of a citizen is the property of his country.

Charles Maurice Talleyrand

  • We were given speech to hide our thoughts.

  • An important art of politicians is to find new names for institutions which under old names have become odious to the public.

Henry Kissinger

  • The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.

Cardinal Richelieu

  • Give me six lines written by the most honorable of men, and I’ll find an excuse in them to hang him.

Joseph Goebbels

  • Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.

  • The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

Edgar Hoover

William H. Woodin (US Treasury secretary)

Benito Mussolini

  • The Truth Apparent, apparent to everyone’s eyes who are not blinded by dogmatism, is that men are perhaps weary of Liberty. They have a surfeit of it… we have buried the putrid corpse of liberty … the Italian people are a race of sheep.

Roman Emperor Caracalla

  • As long as we have this [pointing to his sword], we shall not run short of money.

Prince Phillip, duke of Edinburgh

  • I must confess that I am tempted to ask for reincarnation as a particularly deadly virus.

Charles de Gaulle

  • In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

What an Actual Leader Would Say

acrualleaderIn the current deluge of wannabe leaders clamoring for attention and trying to convince us that they are the boss who should be applying rules to us, it strikes me that all of them are looking backward and none are looking forward. (I do not consider “My administration will give you more bennies” to be seriously forward-looking.)

So, since none of this crowd is going to venture anywhere outside of their hermetically sealed status quo, I’d like to give you an example of something a real leader might say.

Late summer 2015, Anytown, USA: A small platform stands at the edge of a cornfield. A very average-looking person steps up to a microphone and speaks:

Friends,

I stand here, not to praise you, but to acquaint you with reality, at least as well as I am able. Perhaps that means I should be killed or at least run out of town. But if that’s so, then so be it. I am tired of living a life other than my own – the pre-scripted, advertiser-generated life that is shoved before my eyes day by day. And I suspect that some of you are tired of it as well.

Please allow me to begin by pointing out that all the fights from all the platforms this election cycle will concern trivialities – Team Red versus Team Blue – and competing varieties of fears – terrorists versus outlawed unions versus less free stuff versus whatever works in your little corner of the world. At most, these are fights over personalities – He’s an arrogant ass, she’s a conniving witch, and so on  – all of which really come down to, “My opponent is scarier than I am.”

None of these bobbleheads will ask the questions that matter: Who are we? What do we want? Where should we be headed?

You see, once we get past all the publicized fears – some real, but most imaginary – the dialog we’re having, if we care to admit it, is mostly self-praise. We laud our great “democracy,” even though not one in a thousand can define it. Or we brag about our wonderful “freedom” but avoid defining it, knowing that our definition wouldn’t stand up to the test. Freedom is “what we have,” and further questions are evidence of stupidity, bordering on treason.

The truth is that we’ve trained ourselves to evade reality. Praising ourselves is so much easier: Team America!

By doing this, my friends, we’ve been blind to the greatest opportunity that has ever stood before a human generation: If we wanted to, we could quickly and easily step into a golden age. In fact, we’ve been doing just that, half by accident, for a long time. If we bothered to work at it, even halfheartedly, we’d go down in history as the generation that transformed humanity forever.

But perhaps most of us wouldn’t like that. And if so, that’s our choice to make. My objection is that no one bothers to talk about it.

I’d like for you, for just a few seconds, to take a look at two graphs, which I pulled out of Julian Simon’s The State of Humanity. The first graph shows how much wheat is not grown, because our production capacity is so much greater than our demand for wheat.

graph1

This second one shows the price of wheat measured in wages.

graph2

And I have others like this, for other commodities.

There is one message that comes screaming through here, and it’s one that I know can be deeply troubling. Nonetheless, that message is true: Scarcity on planet Earth is dying.

I’ll pause to allow you a small freakout over that, to let all those prerecorded messages run screaming through your mind.

You see, our ruling systems have been built on the assumption of scarcity, and the idea that scarcity may be failing throws us into crisis.

Isn’t it odd that good news should upset us?

Scarcity, sadly, became more than a sad fact to us; it became a psychological necessity. But what if we no longer need to fight over resources? Is that a concept that we should rush to eliminate?

And in actual fact, there are fewer and fewer starving people all the time, and most of those are starving because of political distortions, not because of insufficient production technology.

All of this reminds me of a comment from Buckminster Fuller that I like to condense:

I decided man was operating on a fundamental fallacy: that he was destined to be a failure. I decided that man was, in fact, designed to be an extraordinary success. His characteristics were magnificent; what he needed was to discover the comprehensive patterns operating in the universe.

So, what if humanity is designed to be an extraordinary success? Why should this thought repel us, even before we honestly consider it?

You see, these are things we need to discuss.

We are, whether we like it or not, stepping out of scarcity, and it seems to me that we should decide whether or not that’s a good thing.

Our problem – our real problem, if we can muster the courage to admit it – is that we’re living with space-age technology and bronze-age rulership. But we can get past this problem if we wish, and we can easily meet all of humanity’s basic needs… if we wish.

But perhaps we don’t want to. Maybe it’s more important to us that we should be the biggest dog in town and that everyone else should be a little yap-yap dog.

And if that’s the case, we need to admit it to ourselves. Perhaps we’ll decide that what we really need is to be the dominant dog, and that all the morality stuff we talk about – golden rules and loving our neighbors – was all juvenile blather; that what we really want is to dominate everyone else.

And if that’s the case, we should get busy rebuilding our civilization in the form of the Roman Empire. We should get serious about beating the hell out of everyone else… at least until a new Christ comes along (or perhaps just people who remember the old one) and convinces our subjects that there’s a better way to live.

But in the meantime, we could kick the crap out of a billion brown people for a century or two, minimum. That’s our choice to make, of course, I’m only suggesting that we be forthright about it.

So, my friends, let me conclude by saying this:

If what we really want is to be the big dog, to feast on the fact that we’re able to kick all the smaller dogs around, then let’s do it. Let’s go full-Caesar on ’em. Let’s conquer everything, steal what we like, and live it up.

Or, if that’s not what we really want, then let’s get the golden age started; let’s dump the hierarchies that steal half our earnings and labor to keep fear alive. Let’s build and plant and thrive; and let’s welcome others to thrive with us.

Thank you for not shooting me.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com