One Line in the Bible They Need You to Ignore

There’s one particular line in the Bible that is conspicuously shunned. It sits openly in Luke’s gospel, but it is nearly always glossed over… mentioned briefly and grudgingly at best. On one hand, I condemn this on grounds of intellectual honesty, but on the other, I can very well understand why people run away from it. Believing this line would turn anyone into a radical, and that could be dangerous.

one-line-bible

There’s one particular line in the Bible that is conspicuously shunned. It sits openly in Luke’s gospel, but it is nearly always glossed over… mentioned briefly and grudgingly at best.

On one hand, I condemn this on grounds of intellectual honesty, but on the other, I can very well understand why people run away from it. Believing this line would turn anyone into a radical, and that could be dangerous… and indeed it has been dangerous.

Today I will be ill-mannered enough to address this line. But first, please understand that Luke records these words as coming from Jesus’ mouth. That’s a fact, and no amount of evasion will change it.

Here It Is

The verse I’m referring to is found in Luke 16:15 of the New Testament, and here’s how it reads in the King James translation:

… that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

For comparison’s sake, here’s how the more modern Revised Standard Version renders it:

… what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

I could go through other versions, but you get the idea: What is held highest among men is abomination to God.

It’s quite possible to roll right past this line, but only if you never ask, “What is most highly esteemed among men?” If we dare ask that question, we run into trouble – big, ugly, hairy trouble.

Shall We Be Brave?

We all enjoy looking brave and being thought brave, but are we ready to do the hard things that make bravery real? Most people find excuses to skate past such things; they’re scary and risky, after all. But so long as we do that, we’ll never be clear in our own minds that we are truly brave.

So, here’s your big opportunity, especially if you’re a believer of any sort. This is a chance to face ridicule and shame, and to defy it: to be brave.

Humans are great at avoiding these moments, by the way. They’re particularly brilliant when making up strings of excuses that nullify the whole subject.

But presuming you’re ready to do this, here’s what you need to determine:

What is most highly esteemed among men?

That’s it. And the answer, if we face it rather than dodge it, is astonishingly clear:

There is one type of entity on Earth – and one only – that enjoys this position:

  • It takes a significant percentage of whatever humans in its vicinity earn, by threat and by force, and is held to be righteous while practicing this extortion.

  • It decrees what people are allowed to do or not do.

  • It pursues and punishes people who do not obey their decrees, then is held to be righteous while forcing their will on people.

  • It orders millions of young people into fights to the death.

  • It is held to be righteous while refusing to inform the about-to-kill-and-die young people of the reasons for their death and dismemberment.

  • It is held to be righteous while making decisions that will affect the lives of millions, but without letting them know the reasons for those decisions.

We all know what class of entity fits this description, but we also hesitate to admit it… which only confirms its position.

There is no other entity on Earth that can come close to the position held by our “unmentionable” group. In the worst days of the medieval Catholic Church – even as imagined by those who hate it – they could not have made claims as grand as these.

And yet, our Unmentionables enjoy all this esteem and are reflexively defended on all sides. Without any question, they stand alone at the top. They are, very clearly, the “most esteemed among men.”

“But, But, But…”

So, it couldn’t mean that? Was Jesus confused that day? Was he playing a sick joke? Was he merely a crank?

If history is any guide, many of the responses to this article will have the precise goal of making this line go away. But examining its context, the line stands (Jesus was talking to people who sought status from men). And by linguistic analysis it stands; the word for “highly esteemed” is also found in both Matthew and Luke where Jesus is taken to a “high” mountain and offered all the kingdoms of the world.

So, who on Earth has more status and dominance than our Unmentionables? The answer is, “No one.”

We can pretend that Jesus was demented, or we can presume that he was a crazed radical, or we can assume other nasty things… but if we accept him as anything more than that, we have to take this line seriously… unless we willingly blind ourselves of course.

Jesus put himself at risk when he said this, Luke put himself at risk by writing it, and we face risk by championing it today. That sucks, but that’s the way the world is.

We can face this or not, but no one who evades it can honestly call him or herself a follower of Jesus.

* * * * *

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 Breaking Dawn: a book review by Jim Davidson

Many of the readers of this publication will remember Paul Rosenberg’s book A Lodging of Wayfaring Men with considerable fondness. Some may be aware that he co-authored, with Sean Hastings, a book titled God Wants You Dead. I don’t think very many people in our community are aware that Paul has also written extensive technical manuals on electricity and electronics. He’s quite prolific.

cover
The Breaking Dawn
by Paul Rosenberg
trade paperback or Kindle
ISBN-10: 0979987768
ISBN-13: 978-0979987762

Many of the readers of this publication will remember Paul Rosenberg’s book A Lodging of Wayfaring Men with considerable fondness. Some may be aware that he co-authored, with Sean Hastings, a book titled God Wants You Dead. I don’t think very many people in our community are aware that Paul has also written extensive technical manuals on electricity and electronics. He’s quite prolific.

His latest book is The Breaking Dawn. I think it is a very important book. Certainly it has a great deal to do with the very most formative ideas in Western culture.

Suppose you took all the books of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, and attempted to understand them from today’s perspective. Take it as a given that the events described actually took place, and try to understand them from a contemporary, scientifically educated, human perspective. In doing so, look at exactly what is written, look at what is not written but has been imposed as doctrine by various religious groups, and try to understand how things might “work out” if we extrapolate both back into the past and on into the future.

The ideas are not all that different from various stories of interstellar and intergalactic human civilisations that have been written about by traditional science fiction authors such as Asimov (Foundation series) or Heinlein (Citizen of the Galaxy) to give some examples. One of the things Paul has done in his book (and I call him Paul in this review because he is a very good, very kind, and very wise friend of mine) is look at what the consequences are for people of all faiths in facing the kind of authoritarian future that is apparently the objective of Deep State agencies like the CIA, NSA, and DoD.

One of the things that most impresses me is that Paul sees the division between good and evil as I believe it really is: a division between how people choose to live and how they might choose to live if they were willing to completely amputate those aspects of their mind and heart which tell them what is wrong and what is right. The division between good people and evil people has mostly to do with the choices they take, and a little bit about their intentions in taking those choices, and nothing at all to do with what spirituality they were taught, or adopted, or converted to, or rejected.

Given the very large body of documentation about God, Jesus, the origins of our universe, the origins of our species, and the outcome of various conflicts over how people should be governed or govern themselves, as well as what is written about what to expect about the future, represented by the books of the Bible, you can see that Paul’s novel The Breaking Dawn has certain limitations on what directions might be taken. Within that framework, the novel is epic.

It tells the story of men and women who oppose authority, who resist the state’s encroachments, and it tells the story of men and women who acquiesce. The novel goes into considerable detail about how people are controlled by mass media, how they are being controlled by online media such as Facebook and Twitter, and how those in power seek to manipulate every waking moment, and perhaps even sleeping moments, of everyone. Moreover, Paul looks directly at the consequences of resisting tyranny and the consequences of acquiescing to it. To say that there is a lot of struggle and death is an understatement. But to say that there is no hope for mankind is to deny not only the title of the novel, not only the basic underlying message of possibility found in the Bible, but also to deny the fundamental nature of human beings.

Human beings have an amazing capacity for good. And, left to their own devices, they will do great things for one another, and for their world. Forced to obey, their minds will break down, and either become numb to nearly everything, or become broken. Many of those who try to acquiesce to authority end up having psychotic breaks, and that is true both in our real world and in the world of Paul’s novel.

The idea that there are other civilisations out in space is not a new one, and it is not one that Paul has any difficulty conveying. The idea that there is a connection between all things in the universe is one that is very consistent with current knowledge of quantum mechanics and other sciences. The idea that doing good things in your life is a good idea, that how you choose to act really matters, and that resisting evil is a fundamentally good idea, these are thoughts that permeate The Breaking Dawn.

I can say a great many more good things about this book. I think it is extremely well written, brilliantly conceived, and enormously important. You should read it.

Jim Davidson
Originally posted at The Libertarian Enterprise

* * * * *

TheBreakingDawn

* * * * *

The Military-Evangelical Complex

Military-Evangelical

There are evangelical Christians whom I love and respect. Nonetheless, it’s time to face this: The military-evangelical complex is not just politically dangerous; it’s a corruption of the Judeo-Christian tradition and thus of Western Civilization itself.

Definition

Let’s start by defining this clearly: The military-evangelical complex is an intricate partnership between the US government and thousands of churches, typically evangelical. These churches support and glorify government-authorized violence. Their messages to their members are clear: To enforce laws is noble and righteous; to bleed on a foreign battlefield is godly; the US military is a great force of goodness upon Earth; America, manifested especially through military action, is God’s special tool.

Every American past high-school age should recognize this description, but to be clear, here are a few exemplary images:

  • It is announced in church that Johnny has joined the military. He is asked to stand and is heartily applauded by all.

  • Memorial Day church services (or Veteran’s Day or July 4th) feature dedicated sermons and proud displays of flags and uniforms. There is effusive praise for soldiers, casting them as godly heroes.

  • Military-themed ceremonies are held before every major sporting event.

  • Children are encouraged to choose “service” as a life plan; if not in war, at least enforcing state laws.

  • Enacting violence on behalf of the state is certain to get you public praise and pats on the back.

  • Government-ordered violence is prejudged to be good and right.

  • Funerals include the ritual touching of flags by military veterans.

  • Churches promote slogans like, “Jesus died to save us; soldiers die to keep us free.”

  • Rituals of saluting flags, singing anthems, and thanking soldiers for ‘service’ are obligatory.

Now, let’s be honest about this. Military service has become a sacrament in these churches; soldiers are the new missionaries, and wounded soldiers are the new martyrs.

And let’s be honest about something else: If we found records of such things in ancient inscriptions, we’d define them as the rituals of a military cult… and we would not be wrong.

How Did This Happen?

It happened because it was the easiest thing to do.

Christianity, however, was never meant to be easy. Not only did early Christians risk serious persecutions, but Jesus had warned them that “all men will hate you for my sake,” that they would be persecuted, and that they would “suffer for righteousness’s sake.” A follower of Jesus is supposed to lead mankind “into the light,” thus angering those who remain in darkness. (“He that dwells in darkness hates the light….”)

Most Christians, however, don’t want to suffer and don’t want to be hated. On top of that, leading mankind into the light is hard work. Alternatives to such things – easier ways – have always been popular.

And so, joining with the state – the biggest and most powerful entity – is the safest thing to do; once joined, no suffering and no hatred are required. And to gain that position, all you have to do is spin a theology that makes church-state partnership into a righteous thing.

Christians began making such arrangements just a few centuries after Jesus’s time. The Middle Ages had their versions, and modern times have theirs. And right now, among the most vocal advocates of Christianity, we have a military-evangelical complex.

And we all know what has supercharged this process over the past decade and a half: 9/11.

In a single day, people in uniforms were promoted into a new Hero caste. Minds stewing in fear skipped right past contrary facts and the lessons they had learned in the 1970s. (The Pentagon Papers, the Church Committee reports, the Gulf of Tonkin, etc.)

All of this gave Christian leaders an immediate opportunity to fill their pews and keep them full. So they jumped at it. Presently, they are clinging to it. Military leaders jumped at it too and have spent millions of dollars promoting it, notably at sporting events.

We Were Warned

There is a great deal more to say about this, and I am tempted to ramble on about the military-evangelical complex inverting the most fundamental elements of the Judeo-Christian tradition, how it turns government into an agent of sanctification, and how the Scriptures condemn it. But I shall not. I’ve made my point and I will leave it where it stands, adding only this:

As he was stepping down from the US presidency in 1961, Dwight Eisenhower warned about this. He talked about the threats of “an immense military establishment,” that it was “new in the American experience,” and that Americans “must not fail to comprehend [the] grave implications” of this “total influence – economic, political, even spiritual.”

And yes, this was the speech where he warned Americans to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence… by the military-industrial complex.”

But, like all the great warnings of history, Eisenhower’s were flatly ignored.

It was the easiest thing to do.

* * * * *

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

Justice Without State

justiceYou always know you’re venturing into interesting territory when you arouse defenses like “Because!,” “You’re an idiot,” or “Everyone knows…”

Such are the defenses that pop up when touching the concept of justice separate from the state. It was, in my experience, something of a verboten subject, considered ridiculous and rude at the same time. It was – again in my personal experience – something that everyone just “knew” was impossible and which they also knew was dangerous.

And yet, they had no real reasons upholding their opinions. Certainly they struggled to assemble reasons once I said, “I don’t think so” (humans are really good at that), but it was very clear that the decision was made first and the facts assembled second.

I was thrust into this subject quite a few years ago, as cypherpunk projects ran into the reality that humans are unfinished creatures and sometimes end up in disputes with each other. Once cyberspace appeared, quite a few of us realized that it was a kind of terra nova, the first new continent opening since 1492. (1606 for Australia.) We wanted to do something good with it, something better than the territorial overlords were doing to humanity.

To give you some feel for the moment, here is a passage from J.P. Barlow’s A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, published in 1996:

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

So, with a separation imperative in mind, we were confronted with the fact that some kind of law or justice service was necessary. And so, I began digging into the subject.

What I Found

I learned that justice without state was common throughout history. And more than that, it seemed to have worked quite well over long periods of time. That seems utterly impossible to any mind that has gone through the modern school “curriculum,” but the facts remain, no matter how many knees may jerk at the thought.

Here, briefly, are some of the instances I found:

The Greek reset and the early Hebrews

At about 1200 B.C., nearly every civilization in the Eastern Mediterranean was plucked out by the roots. (Egypt just barely survived.) Then, for some 400 years, government was all but absent, and the cultures reset. This is commonly called the dark ages of the Greeks.

During this period, Greek law was nonexistent, and justice was handled almost on a family level. We haven’t a great deal of written matter from the Greeks, but we do from the early Hebrew civilization, which thrived during this window of time.

The early Hebrews – for some number of centuries – were a tribal anarchy, with no state at all. Aside from religious rules, their “laws” amounted to don’t lie, steal, or kill; don’t oppress the weak; don’t speak derogatorily of others; don’t take revenge; and don’t hold a grudge. And they were far more interested in justice than in law. For example, we find these passages in their earliest writings:

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

Justice, justice shalt thou pursue.

Early medievals

After the fall of Rome, Europe had its reset period. And during this time, the many towns of Europe all developed and enforced their own justice. As historian R.H.C. Davis writes:

Even the law might change from village to village; a thirteenth-century judge pointed out that in the various counties, cities, boroughs, and townships of England he had always to ask what was the local customary law and how it was employed before he could successfully try a case.

Historian Chris Wickham explains what these people did, then provides a nice example from a French town:

When disputes were dealt with, it was the villagers who reached judgment; they also acted as oath-swearers for the disputing parties, as sureties to ensure that losers accepted defeat.

In one notable case of 858 in the plebs of Treal, [a man named] Anau had tried to kill Anauhoiarn, a priest of the monastery of Redon, and had to give a vineyard to Redon in compensations, as an alternative to losing his right hand; here, six sureties were named, and could kill him if he tried such a thing again… most judgment-finders and sureties were peasants; the villages around Redon policed themselves.

So, even the hard case of attempted murder was dealt with quite well by the locals of a “Dark Ages” town in rural France. There is absolutely no reason to believe that we couldn’t do as well.

The Vehm

By about 900 A.D., the people of Westphalia (now Germany) were operating their own justice system, even though there were (at least intermittently) princes in the area who wouldn’t like it. Running what they called “Vehm” courts, they issued warnings to troublemakers, issued warrants, and occasionally had to execute someone.

The Vehm did have secret trials but only as necessary. Their meeting places were always known to the locals, and they never used torture, even though the princes did.

The Vehm was taken over by the state in 1180 A.D.

Lex Mercatoria

The great medieval trade fairs had their own system of justice called the Lex Mercatoria or Law Merchant. Separate from state justice, it operated quite well over a long period of time. Eventually, however, the states took it over and more or less rolled it into their systems of law.

Jewish self-rule
As historian Paul Johnson writes in A History of the Jews:

The Jews always ran their own schools, courts, hospitals and social services. They appointed and paid for their own officials, rabbis, judges… Wherever they were, the Jews formed tiny states within states.

Under less-than-hospitable conditions, Jewish self-rule, including the provision of justice, thrived from the fall of Rome until just the past few centuries.

Arbitration

Right now, arbitration – more properly known as alternative dispute resolution or ADR – is thriving as an alternative to state justice, which has become so expensive and cumbersome as to be impractical. This is true for high-end commerce, for labor disagreements, and down to the level of disputes among construction contractors.

ADR works very well and is far less expensive than government justice. It is restricted only by governments, who enforce specific limits.

Internet

Right now there are quite a few Internet arbitration providers. They stand in a fairly murky area, but the states haven’t clamped down on them yet. I haven’t had any experience with them, but so far as I know, they provide good service.

And Compared to What?

Whenever something new comes along – like providing justice outside of state power – people instinctively look for flaws in it. Then, finding even one, they leap to the conclusion that “it won’t work.”

The truth, of course, is that the current systems of law are full of flaws from end to end. They are corruptly applied; laws are bought and sold; they are insanely expensive; and they are unforgivably slow. And perhaps worse, they change with every new session of the legislature.

So, if we are to take perfection as a standard, state-provided justice fails, and very, very badly.

Why All the Hate?

Having given you a quick overview of non-state justice, the question remains as to why modern people are so biased against the very concept. To answer that question, at least partly, I leave you with a short passage from Carl Jung’s The Undiscovered Self:

[I]n order to turn the individual into a function of the state, his dependence on anything beside the state must be taken from him.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

Man Is Not Always Blind

manblindThese words (which I picked up from Abraham Joshua Heschel) are true, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Humanity may be blind – willingly blind – for sickening lengths of time, but mankind is not always blind.

Our present government/corporate culture – the loud, flashing, vapid cloud of distraction and fear that surrounds us – not only promotes blindness toward anything outside of itself, but requires this blindness for its very continuance; this is true.

Still, man is not always blind.

Back Then

I will begin making my point with an old example:

Would you expect thousands of peasants, in deepest medieval France, to walk for scores or even hundreds of miles, through early 12th century mud and wilderness, and to sleep outdoors, just to hear a philosopher teach? A man who was rejected by Church and secular authorities, and who was mutilated beside?

Regardless of how implausible that may sound, it happened. The teacher’s name was Peter Abelard, this is how he described these events:

Forthwith I sought out a lonely spot known to me of old in the region of Troyes [in north-central France], and there, on a bit of land which had been given to me… I built with reeds and stalks my first oratory.

No sooner had students learned of my retreat than they began to flock there from all sides, leaving their towns and castles to dwell in the wilderness. In place of their spacious houses, they built themselves huts; instead of dainty fare, they lived on the herbs of the field and coarse bread; their soft beds they exchanged for heaps of straw and rushes, and their tables were piles of turf.

This happened. These people grew tired of being blind. Then they did something about it.

And Now

And even in our age, which beats out the 1950s as an age of abject conformity, thousands of good people are breaking away from it.

There are people who can see and feel and think independently – or, even more horrifying to the overlords of the age – people who can and do act on their heretical beliefs. These people don’t show up on TV, of course, and seldom on radio, but they exist all the same.

New branches of civilization are sprouting, and the people of these branches care about seeing. Voluntaryists, Bitcoiners, homeschoolers, cryptoanarchists, hackers, makers, religious non-conformists… Such people are sick of being blind; are sick of living a hypnotized, acquiescent life of chasing symbols and illusions, while being systematically reaped by a corrupt system.

The extent to which such people have broken out of the Western Autopilot Life is greater – far greater – than any I’ve seen over my lifetime. Furthermore, the very number of them is greater than any I’ve ever seen.

And not only that, but to a larger extent than most of us realize, this is flowing into the low spots of mainstream culture. During my youth, politicians were held to be important men; wise and virtuous men. And that is simply no longer true. I don’t think there is any place left in the West where the phrase, “Politicians are liars and thieves” would fail to garner general agreement at a bus stop. That is a big, serious change.

For all of our lifetimes, we’ve been living through a perfect storm of authority. Authority has benefited from a group of temporary conditions and has gone, in stock market terms, through the roof. But this will not last forever, and it is thinning as we speak.

Authority has become brittle and fragile. It remains in place, but the people who still believe in it are those who are least-informed, least-awake and least-alive. The more informed the individual, the more likely it is that they hold authority to be stupid and abusive.

I haven’t space to go through this in length here, but those so inclined can find it in issue #40 of my subscription newsletter.

What Fuller Knew

Among the people who I’m sorry to have missed in his lifetime was Buckminster Fuller. So, I’d like to conclude by quoting a few passages from Fuller’s last book, Cosmography, published nine years after his death:

The dark ages still reign over all humanity, and the depth and persistence of this domination are only now becoming clear.

I find it very interesting that Fuller says that the depth and persistence of life’s domination on Earth is “only now becoming clear.” And he is entirely correct – it is only now becoming clear to us. Why that should be is a question I will not touch today, but the statement is both true and important. Domination is abuse, and its vileness is only now becoming clear to us… but it IS becoming clear to us.

Man is not forever blind.

This Dark Ages prison has no steel bars, chains, or locks. Instead, it is locked by misorientation and built of misinformation… We are powerfully imprisoned in these Dark Ages simply by the terms in which we have been conditioned to think.

And that’s really what all our efforts are about: Changing our minds and seeing the vile conditioning that has been imposed upon us; cutting life free of its constraints and letting it flourish, unhindered. Once we do that – and ignore the medieval thugs who seek to keep us chained to their chariots – our dark ages will end.

Dear reader, traditional human power structures and their reign of darkness are about to be rendered obsolete.

It’s hard to add much to this passage, aside from a hearty “amen” and “we’re not nearly as far from it as we may think.”

Press forward and savor every bit of progress you see.

Darkness will not reign forever.

Man is not always blind.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

We Need to Get Past Our Gurus

guru

Two friends of mine have recently written articles on the subject of famous leaders, or gurus. I would like to add my hearty agreement to their messages. In particular, I want to stress that clinging to gurus makes things worse, not better. Following a guru is a downward path, not an upward path.

Specialists: Healthy and Otherwise

There is a serious difference between appreciating someone’s work and hanging on their every word and joining yourself to their cause. The first is healthy; the second is not.

There are some of us who specialize in patching ideas together in new and useful ways. And let me tell you, it’s not easy work… and I think it’s important that the people who do such work should be paid for it.

That’s why, for example, I charge for my monthly newsletter – it’s a lot of work, and I have bills to pay like everyone else. (It’s also why I’ve paid other newsletter writers for their work, over many years.)

But even in my favorite case, where you all buy my monthly newsletter, I should not be your guru – I’m just a guy doing an unusual job. If I do my job well, I provide you with useful ideas, which will improve your mind and your life. That’s worthy of respect, but it is not something that anyone should blindly follow.

The things that I say (or that anyone says) should never be considered right just because we say them, but rather because they make sense, are supported by evidence, and so on.

My job is to provide you with good ideas. Your job is to recognize them and internalize them – to build them into yourself. Both sides of that equation are necessary.

The Subversion of the Gurus

The more guru-ish someone is, the more likely they are to go off the edge. For example, consider what the two articles I mentioned above have to say:

David Galland writes this:

You see, the truth about Gurus is that they’re mere mortals. Which is to say they have good points to their personalities, and they have flaws. Unfortunately, the grander their Guru status, the most enhanced are their flaws.

Julia Tourianski, whose experience was in some ways worse, writes this:

The preachers, the activists, the writers, the videographers, the organizers, the youtubers; I’ve met you all, and many of you have shaken my assumption in the good of the human being. You do not believe in freedom, you believe in exploiting fringe thought for clicks and semi-internet-fame.

And, as such things tend to do, guru worship frequently ends with perverted gurus.

David reports:

One of the stellar Gurus of the day was in the habit of sitting in his hotel room with a bottle of whiskey, drinking himself senseless and then calling for maid service. When the maid opened the door, she would find him parked naked in a chair facing the door, bottle in one hand and his manhood in the other. Since he was a noted VIP, the hotel would have the courtesy of calling me rather than the police, and I had the pleasure of admonishing him to cease.

And Julia notes:

Do not promote a female counterpart’s work in order to later guilt her into dating and/or sleeping with you.

Don’t use your fame to go on sexual rampages after your divorce while calling the women you sleep with “sluts” to your male colleagues.

Why the Gurus Keep Coming

We can expose one guru after another, but so long as people keep looking for them, a new guru will always follow the fallen guru.

The truth is this: It’s the fawning group members who make the guru. Without a willing crowd, the guru – no matter how much he or she craves fame – would be left standing alone.

Far too many people look for the easy way through life. And taking what the guru says as gospel saves them from the work of thinking and the responsibility of forming conclusions.

Added to this is the usual group problem: Being a member of a group gives you instant acceptance and instant self-esteem. It’s the same trick that keeps people emotionally chained to governments. By joining yourself to the larger and nobler entity, you save yourself the hard work of improving yourself.

It’s easy to forget about your problems when wrapped in a group.

Serious thinking is hard work, and improving yourself is hard work. It’s easier to pick up the gospel from the guru and join his parade. But that’s also fake, and it sidetracks you from bettering yourself for real.

The Point…

The point here is that the guru model is degenerate. It bears bad fruit. We may have different jobs that we do, but that doesn’t place anyone on a pedestal.

Listen to the specialist, and if you think they’re doing their job well, respect them for it. But your role is not to idolize them, and definitely not to petition for membership in their crowd.

Your role is to internalize the good ideas they bring to you… and then to use them in the world.

Unless your interaction with a teacher ends with you improving and acting on your own, there is little point to the exercise.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

Does “The Land of the Free” Have Any Rational Meaning?

I once knew a man who was a deacon in the Catholic Church. During certain ceremonies, his job was to raise his hand in a gesture of blessing over a church member and say some Latin words. The problem was, this guy had become a fairly serious atheist. So, instead of the prescribed Latin blessing, he would say the Latin words for “can’t help you, can’t hurt you.” No one noticed, not even the priests.

I feel like I’m watching something similar when I see the beginning of a sporting event and hear thousands of people singing “the land of the free” as a benediction over themselves. They don’t assimilate the words that their mouths are forming; they may as well be singing Latin.

What I mean about not assimilating the words is this: People understand these words as a type of self-blessing or self-praise, but they never examine their actual meaning. “The land of the free” has become holy dogma—an uncritically accepted truth. To critique those words is to reveal yourself as a heretic.

So much for our progress from the Middle Ages. Reason has again become treason.

But if reason makes us heretics, let’s at least be explicit heretics.

The Knee-Jerk Responses

Rather than explaining what freedom is or isn’t, I think I should start with the knee-jerk responses to disagreements with the American state’s holy words. They do, after all, erupt instantly upon the appearance of heresy.

“If you don’t like it here, go to North Korea!” Translated into honest speech, that means this:

If we’re not as bad as North Korea, we have freedom.

And that is simply a lie. Worse, it confuses people. There are degrees of evil, after all. The guy who was just shot in the stomach is far better off than the guy who was just shot in the head, but we never say that such a person is uninjured.

Likewise, someone who is half enslaved is better off than someone who is fully enslaved, but it’s a lie to call that person “free.”

So North Korea being worse does not mean that we are free. That’s pure BS.

“You’re a blame-America-firster!” Actually, there’s a lot about America that I really like and even defend. For example, the people here still retain a gut feeling that they should be left alone. That’s a big, important deal, even if they’re confused about what it should mean. There’s also an assumption of productivity and adaptation among the American people, and I like that a lot too.

I think the American people have a lot to offer. As for their rulers, I don’t think much of them, but the two aren’t remotely the same thing. Listen to Americans complain about their government, and you’ll see that most of them land on my side of that argument.

The issue here is that I don’t reflexively endorse US military ventures. And that accusation is true. I don’t like sending young people out to be wounded and killed, and I don’t endorse the stirring up of wars.

It’s telling that American pro-military dogma excludes relevant opposition. To believe in it, you must blank out the most decorated Marine of his era declaring that “war is a racket,” and Dwight Eisenhower solemnly warning the American people about their military industrial complex.

So if I’m blaming America first, I’m joining Major General Smedley Butler and the supreme Allied commander of World War Two.

“You hate soldiers!” That one is simply a lie. I feel compassion for most soldiers. I’m sure there are a few monsters among them, but every large group has a few monsters in it. Moreover, war turns normal people into monsters.

I feel sorry for the kid who joins the Army because he or she doesn’t know what else to do, sees no job prospects, wants the benefits, and knows that he or she will get rivers of praise for joining. At 18 years old, none of us is particularly good at perspective and choice-making.

And over recent years, the odds have been fairly good that such a kid would be thrown into combat… a situation I’d wish upon almost no one. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again, but no one is made better by killing people. Our children are not coming home better; they’re coming home worse. Is that something to celebrate?

And how come the emotionally wounded soldier is shuffled aside by the VA and the flag worshippers? Maybe it’s because he or she is no longer useful for spreading the dogma?

“You are…” Someone is always going to come up with a new response. It happens automatically once you tear into one of their old defenses.

Dogma in humans leaps to defend itself. It is (as I explained at length with my friend Sean Hastings) a type of parasite that hijacks the human brain in order to reproduce itself. All dogma—ancient, medieval, modern, Eastern, whatever—abuses humans in this way.

New responses are fairly easy to deal with if you can take a bit of time to examine them. The difficult moment is when the new response is delivered to an emotional crowd. Emotional effects (which bypass reason) can be countered quite well, but not within a two-second timespan. So a clever defender of dogma can usually land the first blow.

That first blow, however, is more or less all the heretic hunter has. If that blow is parried or countered, dogma loses. That’s why these people go for fast, emotional kills, then scurry away from the subject.

Land of the Who?

Ah yes, “the free.” But to call US citizens “free” puts a hell of a strain on the definition of free.

(Liberty and freedom, by the way, mean the same thing. Freedom comes to the English language from German and liberty from French. Both mean “unbound” or “unrestrained.”)

As I mentioned above, freedom in the dogmatic context merely means “oppression is worse somewhere else.” And that’s not much consolation once you stop to consider it.

What, then, can we say about productive Americans? Their money is taken from them by income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, gas taxes, and probably a dozen taxes on their utility bills. Together, these impositions remove half of their earnings, much of it before they hold it in their hands. Can we call such a person free?

I can tell you that neither Sam Adams nor Thomas Jefferson would have called this situation “freedom.” Neither would most of the American founders. The dogmatics can emotionalize however they like, but they are not standing with the Americans of 1776.

Here, for the record, is Thomas Jefferson’s definition of freedom, which is very close to my own:

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add “within the limits of the law” because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

So here’s the Jefferson Test: How free are Americans to act according to their own will, limited only by the equal rights of others?

  • If we allow others to keep all their earnings, can we be free to keep ours?
  • If we agree that others should be immune from speed traps, can we be immune too?
  • If we agree that others should be free from mass surveillance, can we be free of it too?
  • If we allow others to self-medicate peacefully, are we free to do so?

We all know the answers to these questions, and we all know that freedom in America fails this test. The problem lies in having the guts to admit it.

In the end, characterizing modern America as “the land of the free” has to be judged as a dirty lie.

So

So, if we were to honestly sing the national anthem, we’d have to reference North Korea and sing “the land of the less enslaved.” Singing the dogmatic way would propagate a lie, even if it was melodic and in unison.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

This article was originally published by Casey Research.

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
FreemansPerspective.com

Have the Atheists Become the Gorillas?

atheistsEvery time I write an article that mentions god – even if used as a descriptive reference to “the gods” – I get insulting and arrogant comments from atheists. And it’s not just me; you can see the same thing all over the Internet.

To put it simply, these people are bullies, striking unbidden with fast, hard blows. It’s not about truth; it’s about dominance.

Not all atheists do this, obviously. I have quite a few atheist friends who are decent, kind people. But an abusive strain of atheism has taken root in recent years, and I think it’s time to confront it.

Here’s the key:

The goal of these bullies is not to find truth or even to defend it; it’s to put down other people – to insult, humiliate and laugh at the fools who believe in any sort of god, even people who use references to god.

These people slash and burn. They labor to destroy, not to build.

I used to have a standing offer: that I would publish any atheist book that did not criticize, but instead told people how atheism would make their lives better. The result? No one ever submitted a manuscript.

The Irony of It All

Last week I wrote an article entitled Are you a Gorilla or a God? In it, I explained that the worst of human behavior is gorilla-like and the best god-like. I went on to explain the gorilla side this way:

Dominant gorillas seek status and the power to control others. The submissive apes seek to pass along their pain to the apes below them.

In response to the article (which mentioned gods!), I received the business end of that atheistic slash and burn. But these people never realized that they were placing themselves precisely into the position I had assigned to the gorillas: slapping and biting smaller animals to make themselves dominant.

A Defense of Atheism

I don’t have a problem with atheism per se. I was actually raised as an atheist, by a mother whose love I never for a moment doubted. And, as I say, I have friends who are atheists. The opinion, by itself, doesn’t bother me.

I think atheism is a valid opinion. I happen to disagree with it, but I disagree with a lot of things – that doesn’t mean I go about to destroy them all. Our goal should be to improve people, not to chop them up.

One essential flaw I find with strident atheism is that no one can know enough to make that pronouncement. Here’s what I mean:

  • I think it is 100% fair to say, “I’ve never seen evidence of a God, so I don’t think there is one.”
  • What I don’t think is fair, is to say, “I know there is no such thing as God.” This is especially true regarding the Judeo-Christian God, who is said to exist beyond our universe. Until they can look beyond the universe, no one can say for sure.

Some atheists will say that putting God outside of the universe was merely a trick to avoid evidence. But even if it did begin as a trick, the idea stands on its own, and saying, “I know that there is no god at all, anywhere,” is unsound.

But, again, to say, “I see no evidence and don’t think there’s a God” is an entirely fair and rational opinion.

The Unfair Atheist Argument

You’ve all seen the technique: The aggressive atheist picks their spot and pounces with references to the very worst examples of theism, and implies that all believers are that way.

But most believers have no desire at all to burn witches or stone homosexuals. To paint them as being that way is not only unfair; it is abusive.

These atheists will, of course, pull together abstract arguments, saying, “Your book says that, and you say you believe the book, so you defend burning witches.”

The truth, however, is that modern believers want nothing to do with burning witches, inquisitions, or any other horrors. (In fact, they would oppose them strongly.) The atheists know this, of course; they’re just trying to slash and burn.

A kinder, better atheist would say, “You believers really should explain why you no longer accept some of the things written in your book.” That would be honest and helpful.

Can We All Get Along?

Yes, of course we can. Only one thing needs to be absent (on both sides): the desire to injure and dominate.

Atheists and theists can be friends and co-travelers. I’ve spent pleasant hours with evangelists for atheism. We disagreed, we got over it, and we enjoyed each other’s company.

It really comes back to the basic principles that we learned as children: You don’t try to bully them, and they shouldn’t try to bully you. Play nice.

It isn’t that hard.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The Road to Hell Is Paved… With Fear

fearOne of the cool things about the Bible is that it contains some very interesting passages that no one seems to read.

Understand, please, that I’m neither promoting a literal interpretation of the Bible nor giving you a sermon. I’m just pointing out a fascinating fact that most everyone seems to have missed, religious folks included.

In this case, I’m referring to a passage that comes at the very end of the book, where a list is given, itemizing the kinds of people who will be condemned to “the second death.”

Who would you expect to stand at the top of the list? Murders? Idolators? Maybe adulterers?

Nope, none of those. The first people heading off to destruction are “the fearful.”

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Not what you expected?

You can look it up if you like. That’s from Revelation 21:8 (King James Version). And I even checked the original Greek: fearful is the right translation.

Fear as a Tool of Damnation

I’m not going to get into theological engineering here, but yes, this would mean that the promoters of fear are sending people to hell.

And, considering that we live in a fear-based culture, that’s an interesting thought indeed.

Now, if you want to be truly bold, think about this: Who is it that currently promotes fear?

We know the answer, of course. The people who live on fear are the majesties of the age: politicians being chief among them but followed by the entire ‘law enforcement‘ complex, military and intelligence organizations, television news-readers, religious bosses, newspaper operators, and, increasingly, anyone who wants something and has access to the public stage.

If the Bible is correct, people who profit from fear are profiting from the destruction (nay, the damnation!) of their fellow men and women.

Religion Isn’t Necessary, of Course

The conclusion that fear is the enemy of mankind doesn’t require religion, of course. We can reach the same conclusion just by recognizing that fear (and especially the chemicals associated with fear) damage our health.

Literally, people who make you fear are making you sick. (We covered this in issue #38 of Free-Man’s Perspective)

Beyond that, it is clear that fear is the number one tool of manipulators. If you want to get large numbers of men and women to do your will, scare them. Every tyrant in history has known this and used this technique.

What To Do About It

First of all, start paying attention to your feelings and notice when things make you afraid. Stop your thinking and pay attention to the whole fear process. If you do, you can deal with most of these attacks quickly, rather than leaving an indistinct fear to roll around the back of your mind all day.

Second, start analyzing the words that convey fear to you. Are they really true? Is the response the fear merchants deliver to you really the only course of action? The hard part of doing this is that the words come too fast; by the time you’re ready to analyze one statement, another one is halfway complete. Analyzing them in writing is far easier, or getting a live speaker to slow down and go one phrase at a time.

Third, start discounting the people who consistently throw fear at you. If that’s all they have, they’re not worth paying attention to. Turn off the TV; excuse yourself from the conversation; walk away. You don’t have to take it.

Finally, start pointing out these things to other people. They may be defensive at first, but isn’t that worth facing, to clear the minds of your friends and family? Why should they suffer under the lash of fear all their lives?

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com