Politics Makes Life Ugly

political ideologiesWe all know people, probably a lot of them, who are decent and well-meaning in most aspects of their lives but whose brains switch into an ugly mode of operation once politics comes up. They are fine neighbors or coworkers until you say something that goes against their ideology, and then they turn into bitter adversaries.

This abrupt change from Ms. Nice to Ms. Nasty can be rather troubling when you see it up close. And for good reason: it’s like a sci-fi movie where an alien takes over one of the crew.

The truth is that political ideologies are a devolutionary influence on us. They make us harsher, angrier, easier to manipulate, and almost impossible to reason with. In almost every way that can be examined, they’re bad for us.

The great problem is that people think they’re required to have political stances. This is a tremendously damaging and false belief, but the Western world is currently addicted to it. In our time, Politics is Almighty.

The truth, however, is that we are more than capable of examining the world and coming to conclusions without the mental partnership of a political ideology.

Ideologies Are Mind Parasites

People usually get pulled into one ideology or another at an early age. Very often they will be raised in an ideology and will slowly adopt it. Other times, teachers will lead them into an ideology or simply force it upon them. This is more or less standard at universities, where holding the wrong ideology takes a point or more off your GPA.

And beyond this, many people will routinely push you into one category or another without even meaning to: “Which party do you like?” “Who are you voting for?” and so on. Once you make a choice, they identify you as being within a specific ideology and will treat you that way. And unless you strenuously defy their categorization, that’s where they’ll keep you.

Once you come to see yourself inside of an ideology, there are emotional benefits. If you align with the Blue Party, you will be continually furnished with reasons why the Reds are to blame for all the ills of the world… and vice versa. The emotional benefit is that by being in the right party, you are absolved from all responsibility – the enemy party is always guilty.

This mind parasite shortcuts your thoughts and pays you off with some fake self-esteem and pats on the back.

People stay inside ideologies for the emotional protection they gain. And if they’re not careful, their identity will merge with their ideology. From that point onward, all political questions become blood feuds.

Politics turns your naturally limber thinking process into an animalistic and angry “us versus them.” The ideology – the parasite – shapes your thoughts to serve itself.

Ugly by Nature

Politics is ugly by nature. Think about what a political process really involves.

Once a political process is completed, people have a binary choice: either obey or be punished.

At the end of every political process are armed men, violently enforcing it. That’s barbaric, and it’s ugly.

The truth is that we really don’t need those embittering ideologies. And if we ever really did need them, we’ve outgrown them.

Most People Are Better than Their Ideologies

Consider your otherwise good neighbor who turns ugly over political opinions. He or she is better than their ideology. In daily life, they are considerate and cooperative. But when politics comes up, they instantly turn confrontational, oppositional… barbaric.

It’s politics that changes your neighbor from a nice person into an angry, hazardous person.

Most people are far better than their ideologies, and I think it’s a good idea to tell them so. You’ll have to wait for a good time, of course, but you might consider saying something like this:

Ron, you’re a good neighbor and a nice guy… except when you talk about politics; then, you’re scary. It’s not your opinions – I may disagree, but I can understand how you’d reach those conclusions – it’s that you change, and you defend them like you’re at war. As a friend, I’d really like for you to step away from that kind of political identity – it diminishes you.

I’m not promising that this will always work, but it is the right thing to do and you are at least likely to plant a good seed in this person. And if you say it at the right time, with genuine concern, it’s unlikely to cause a real problem.

As best I can see it, the truth is that political ideologies make people consistently barbaric and ugly. They make them worse. Our lives would be improved if we dropped them.

Paul Rosenberg

The Insane Dream

insanity wars peaceInsanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

– Albert Einstein (attributed)

The insane dream has streamed endlessly through my lifetime. I saw it as a boy, and I see it still. It has never really produced any results, and it certainly shows no promise of doing so in the near future.

In fact, by all historical accounts, the dream is nearly 100% false – the results are opposite to the hopes and prayers of the dream.

And yet, nearly the whole world believes in the dream to one extent or another.

What can be said about such a thing? It never works, but everyone keeps believing in it all the same. And when I say “it never works,” I mean that its failure is clearly demonstrable – in visible, concrete, measurable terms.

What Is It?

Okay, I’m about to tell you what this dream is, but please be aware: Your defenses are about to jump up against it. Slogans are likely to fly into your mind unbidden. You can expect emotional reactions.

Here we go:

The insane dream is hoping and praying for politicians to bring us peace.

Understand this clearly: It doesn’t happen. It has never really happened. Politicians do not prevent wars; they start them.

Sure, politicians sign cease-fire agreements from time to time, but they’re also the same guys who started those wars! And they’ll happily jump into new wars a few years later!

Please understand, I am not attacking or defending any political party, nor am I promoting any particular cure for war. I am saying one thing only, which is this:

Politicians – rulers of any type – have never really created peace, and they never will.

I say this for a very simple reason: In all of human history, they never have. That goes for all parties, all systems of rulership, and all periods of time.

We’ve just come out of the bloodiest century in human history, and yet we still have a dozen wars going at any point in time. Politicians have started all of these wars. And yet, by some peculiar insanity, most people still expect politicians to save them from more wars.

Are you seeing my point? This makes no logical sense at all.

People all around us are hoping, praying, and begging for politicians to preserve us from war. They may as well pray for purple unicorns to direct traffic in New York City.

I ran across a study on war back in the 1980s. It found that since 3600 BC, there have been more than 14,000 wars. That’s 14,000 wars over 5,600 years. And ALL of this took place in systems that were controlled by rulers of some type: politicians, princes, and so on.

We have 5,600 years of evidence, and yet people are doing the same thing that failed in every one of the previous 5,600+ years. Can you see why I opened with the Einstein quote?

Political systems have shown themselves utterly unable to create peace. They’ve failed every year for nearly six thousand years running. We’re certifiably nuts if we think that next year (or the years after) will be any different.

But Why Not?

This is the next question that people bring up, but I’m not going to explain it today. There are good answers as to why politicians can never really stop war, but I don’t want to derail my main point.

Today, I want to be very clear on one point only, and to let it stick:

Hoping for politicians to give us peace is crazy – fully crazy.

If we have any pretense of thinking rationally, we have to let it go.

I will, however, devote a few lines to internal issues.

The True Opiate of the Masses

Hoping is an act of imagination, divorced from reality and reason. You can hope for anything, and it produces… nothing!

Hope is the true opiate of the masses. Once you make people imagine how great they’ll feel when the impossible blips into reality, they may as well be on drugs… strong ones.

Opium makes people feel good for a while. So does hope.

Opium is addictive. So is hope.

Opium wastes you. So does hope.

Two Choices

Like I say, I want to keep this simple. On the question of politicians creating peace, you have two choices:

  • On one hand, you have approximately six thousand years of clear, unambiguous evidence.
  • On the other, you have an addictive opiate and emotions divorced from reason.

You might think about going with the evidence.

Paul Rosenberg

The Secret Appeal of Politics

politiciansThe Internet is full of stories about politicians acting badly and doing the opposite of what they promised. Talk radio is full of the same things, all day, every day. Even around office water coolers, almost everyone will admit that politicians are liars and thieves.

Given all of this, it’s rather bizarre that people still believe and obey the bums. If we knew such things about a neighbor, would we continue to take them seriously?

Yet, for some reason, politicians get a permanent pass on anything stupid they do.

The first reason for this is simply that most people have been bamboozled. They were taught that government is necessary and that without it, we’d all be ignorant savages, eating whatever few berries and roots we could scrounge… that without government nothing would be built, nothing invented, and nothing taught.

That’s all propaganda, of course, paid for by the people it praises. But, it’s what we were all taught and it’s hard for people to let it go, no matter how stupid it is.

The second reason is that people are afraid. We all know why.

None of that, however, is what I want to cover today. Instead, I want to look at the subtle reasons why people can’t let go of “politics.” These reasons are very powerful, but they lie beneath the surface and are harder to identify than self-serving, government-funded BS.

Reason #1: I Can Blame Anyone but Me

Somehow, people all across the West have become pathologically afraid of blame. It probably began as a corrosive fear of hell: If I’m to blame for anything, I’ll go to hell, and that must be avoided.

But be that as it may, this fear of blame allows political parties to provide a highly desirable service: They help you assign all blame to others. If you like the Red party, you can always affix blame to the Blues and not to yourself. If you’re in the Blue party, you can lay all blame onto the Reds.

It’s actually an elegant scam. The Blue v. Red show lets everyone avoid taking any blame onto themselves, while the big machine keeps right on running.

This fear of blame is ridiculous, of course: We’ve all made mistakes. What matters is correcting them and not repeating them. But if we pretend we never make mistakes, nothing gets fixed and the problems continue.

This neurotic avoidance of blame puts politicians in wonderful position – they don’t actually have to solve anything, and any blame is deflected to their evil opposition.

Reason #2: It Makes Me Feel Brave at No Expense

Politics lets us pretend that we’re fixing problems at no expense, save talking. Actually doing something is not required. Politics empowers our mere words to generate powerful results.

At least that’s what people want to believe. It’s the easy way out. You never have to get up and act. You never have to take a real risk. No blood, no sweat, no tears.

This is just another scam, of course: The politicians continue do what they want, and the people keep right on believing, even though their words seldom generate any real results.

All they need to do is keep you in the game. So long as you keep hoping that your words will affect the future, they can do whatever they please.

The alternative would be taking responsibility onto yourself and acting on your own. Gain would require pain… precisely the thing that people want to avoid.

So, instead, they keep believing that politics will magically turn complaints into results, and they remain tied into the system, no matter how badly it fails them.

Reason #3: It Makes Me Feel Noble at No Expense

Politics lets you pour charity onto the targets of your choice, without any personal expense. The magical money pot in the capital city dispenses it, and you feel no pain.

It doesn’t matter what your target of choice is, by the way. For some, it’s “the less fortunate,” to others, it’s people on another continent. It really doesn’t matter, aside from the fact that it makes you feel good to help people and that you never have to put your hand into your own pocket.

Again, this is clearly a scam: The money comes from ourselves (in ways we don’t think about), from others (those super-rich people), or, primarily these days, from generations yet unborn in the form of state debt.

But, those are things that can be ignored, and politicians are always quick to help us ignore them.

Paul Rosenberg

5 Reasons I Stopped Taking the News Seriously

newsBack in the early 90s, I felt a need to understand politics far better than I had, and I spent a lot of time and effort on it. Along the way – and partly by accident – I learned a few things that put me off broadcast news ever since.

Here are five of those stories.

#1: When a Decrease is Actually an Increase

At one point during this time, there was a furor raised over the funding of school lunches. So, I looked into it carefully.

After delving into the actual numbers, I was horrified to learn that what I heard from all the big-name news outlets was factually incorrect. Every single one of them got it wrong.

So, I called the newsroom of the biggest and most respected news radio station in Chicago (where I was living.) Amazingly, they put me right through. The conversation went like this:

Me: Listen, I have a problem on this school lunch thing. The numbers you guys are using are wrong.

News writer: What do you mean?

Me: You’re reporting a seven percent cut in school lunch funding, but I checked the real numbers – they are going up three percent. The democrats are saying “seven percent cut,” because they want a ten percent increase. This talk about a cut is false: it’s actually an increase, and you guys have to know that.

News writer: Yeah, well… the democrats gave us stuff to use and the republicans didn’t.

I was horrified, but it was, at least, an honest answer. What shocked me most was the fact that they simply didn’t care. This was the flagship news station in Chicago – the one people went to when they wanted to be sure – and they simply didn’t care about accuracy.

#2: To Make Their Voices Sound Better

Not long after this incident, I was listening to the other news station in Chicago (also an old and respected station) and in the credits at the bottom of the hour, I heard, “The news this hour is being written by Sandy ____.”

As it happened, Sandy was an old friend. A few weeks later I called her about it and asked if she enjoyed the work. The conversation went like this:

Sandy: Actually, Paul, I just quit.

Me: I’m sorry, Sandy. It sounded like a fun job. Why did you quit?

Sandy: Well, I was writing the news as accurately as I could, but they were changing it as they read it on the air.

Me: Some kind of political bias?

Sandy (laughing): No, they were changing it to make their voices sound better.

Me: What!?

Sandy: I kid you not, Paul. They thought their voices would sound better if they changed what I wrote, so they did.

Sandy is a person of integrity, so she quit. She was the only one.

#3: Editing Tricks

At one point, I was involved in a human interest story that ran on the big local TV station. I observed all of the filming and talked with the interviewer off-screen as well. (Seemed like a nice guy.)

But when the show finally aired, it had been edited so that people seemed to be saying things they never said or intended to say. The program didn’t present them saying anything horrible, but it was definitely not the truth. To the viewers, however, it looked 100% real.

#4: The “Real” Story

Another time, I had the insider’s view of a story that made the national news via quite a few major news outlets. The giant TV network that covered it (and their famous news anchor) simply got the facts wrong. So did smaller outlets. One newspaper got it right – The National Enquirer!

#5: The Short Term Weatherman

Granted, this one’s just for fun, but it still makes a good point.

Years ago, I was helping in the evenings at a radio station, in a regionally important Midwestern city. At one point the DJ started pushing buttons in an excited way, then turned to me:

DJ (urgently): Paul, stick your hand out the window!

Me: What??

DJ: We lost the satellite feed for the weather report. Stick your hand out the window!

I complied.

DJ: Now, is it warmer or colder than when you got here an hour ago?

Me: I don’t know, D… I think it’s a little warmer.

By the top of the next hour, we had the satellite feed back, and the solemnly reported temperatures for that evening ended up being:

Six o’clock: 66 degrees.

Seven o’clock: 69 degrees.

Eight o’clock: 62 degrees.


No Respect

The job of the news media is not to be accurate; their job is to be respected.

All of the expensive suits, the perfect hair, the conservative diction and bearing… it all serves the purpose of gaining respect. Accuracy and fairness would only become factors if they damaged that respect.

Have you ever noticed that there is no competition between news networks involving accuracy? There are no Fact Wars between networks. They spend millions to make people respect their chief news reader, but they don’t point out each other’s factual errors.

So, I don’t respect them or take them seriously. And now you know why.

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

Top 5 Reasons I Stopped Caring About Politics

stop caring about politicsWhen I was young, I felt a need to understand politics, and I spent time studying. But as time progressed, I received diminishing returns on that investment. And in the past few years, I have given it up altogether.

These days, my concern with politics is limited to things like these:

  • Who is making war, and where?
  • Where is the crime occurring in my area?
  • Are there laws that will force me to move my businesses offshore?

Beyond that, I’m really not interested. I see the headlines, but I seldom read the stories. And I’m very happy saying, “I haven’t looked into it,” when people ask my opinion on the day’s ‘news.’

Here’s why:

#5: It eats up a horrifying amount of time and energy

Seriously, start counting the number of hours you spend on this stuff. How many hours listening to political radio, watching political TV, and reading political newspapers?

Then start thinking about the intense energy you spend on it. We all have limited reserves of energy; do you really believe that politics is the highest and best use for yours? What about using your energy to build your business? Or to nurture your children? Or to help a neighbor? There must be a dozen things that are more important than obsessing over the votes of congressmen or Supreme Court judges.

#4: It’s an addiction

If imagining yourself dumping politics makes you feel bad, you probably should dump it.

Try it: Imagine your life, devoid of all politics. How does it make you feel? Empty? Forsaken?

The truth is that millions of us are addicted to politics. People can’t pull themselves away from it – it’s the script that runs in the back of their minds 24/7.

The political addiction is so bad that even strongly religious people spend more time on politics than they do on God. Politics is the obsession of the age.

#3: It doesn’t change anything

There was a popular bumper sticker in the 60s that read: If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.

Let’s be honest and admit that the bumper sticker was true. Even the best examples – such as Reagan on the right or Obama on the left – have failed to change much. Government is bigger than ever, the US government is involved in more wars than ever, and the Constitution is being trashed in more ways than ever before. This is progress?

And what of the vaunted elections that they always promote? Personally, I think Alvin Toffler was right when he called them “reassurance rituals.” But, that aside, it is certain that elections are tightly controlled. In the US, two parties firmly control who gets on a ballot and who doesn’t. Everything is scripted; everything requires approval of the party. (The situation is slightly less bad in Europe.)

And please understand that ‘the government’ is far more than 600 faces in DC – it is millions of people in thousands of offices, all pulling together to get more of your money and to spend it upon themselves and their departments.

But even while politics doesn’t actually change much, it does keep everyone locked inside the system and servicing it. To illustrate, here’s a quote I never could forget, and that I hope you’ll never forget either:

Let them march all they want, so long as they continue to pay their taxes.

– Alexander Haig, 1982

So long as everyone obeys the government, why should it care about their complaints? Americans are nearly 100% obedient, so why should the government bother changing anything at all? There is no need.

Politics doesn’t change anything, because its actual goal is to keep the populace reassured and compliant. And in this it has succeeded brilliantly.

#2: In the end, it’s about violence

Here’s a passage from my novel, A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, that expressed this idea:

Coercion is the sine qua non of politics; the thing, without which, politics would not be politics. Indeed, if you remove coercion, politics becomes something else – economics.

Politics cannot exist without force. In the end, it rests on violence. No matter how much they color everything red, white, and blue, violence or the threat of violence underpins it all. As Jim Rogers once wrote, “Somewhere in every process of taxation, a pistol is involved.

Politics – government – is based upon a single transaction: Taking money from people against their will. Everything else they do falls apart without that.

You may think me rude for pointing this out, or you may come up with justifications for it, but the statement stands: Governments take money that they didn’t earn, by one type of coercion or another. If not, taxation would be voluntary and government would be just another business.

I don’t like dealing with violent enterprises.

#1: Politics is a relic of a barbaric past

Being that I study the ancient past, I can trace men ruling over men back to about 6400 BC. I can trace a government that resembles ours back to about 5000 BC.

So, what else from two thousand years before the Pyramids still rules the lives of men?

If there is any example on Earth of humans failing to evolve, this has to be it.

Men no longer pull plows. They no longer start fires with flint. Nor do they pull sleds or wooden-wheeled carts or rely upon animals for power. We have learned to write, to invent, to navigate, to cover immense distances, to drive, to fly, to reach into the heavens…

And yet this one relic of a primitive past remains. And please don’t tell me that it remains because it is good – people complain about government more than they complain about cancer.

To illustrate government’s barbaric nature, consider this: Thousands of people like me would like to experiment with different ways of living, but we are forbidden. No one is permitted to leave the game. If you try, large armed men will assault you and lock you in a cage, or perhaps they will merely steal your money from the bank you entrusted it to. But in either case, government sycophants will solemnly inform the world that you are an evil-doer.

No exit is permitted and all escape attempts are met with violence. How is this not primitive barbarity?


So, there you have it. You’re big boys and girls and you can make your own decisions, but I have to tell you: I am ever so happy with mine. I am less stressed, more productive, and a clearer thinker.

Every so often, a friend asks me to examine a political issue. And, nearly always, I politely decline; it makes me feel the same as when my mother wanted me to eat liver.

Paul Rosenberg