Consumption Doesn’t Make Us Happy

We live in a culture that presents consumption as the ultimate end: Party with the pretty people drinking the good beer, get your husband to give you a car with a huge ribbon on it for Christmas, prove your love with a diamond, and so on without end. And it’s been going on for so long that most Westerners don’t see much else.

Consumption, however, doesn’t make us happy((You can, of course, debate definitions of happiness.)). Or, to be more precise, it imparts no real satisfaction: It’s all ephemeral, fleeting, temporary… if and when it’s even obtained. 

What keeps people eternally seeking more consumption is not the feeling they’ll get from the good beer and sleeping with the hot girl/guy, but the hope of claiming the prize… the imagination that they’ll find magic when they get the girl-ring-car-house-job-jet-whatever.

I Know Because I’ve Seen

One of the great strokes of luck in my life was falling in with a fascinating group of older men at 15 years old. Here’s how I described it in issue #45 of our subscription letter:

As a very young man, I got to know mobsters and politicians, geniuses and maniacs, doctors and bus drivers, millionaires and bust-outs. And these guys let it all hang out in the workout room: business problems, family problems, girlfriends, booze, drugs, people who had cheated them, political scams, bribery… all of it. It was an education that I couldn’t have obtained anywhere else, for any price.

A wild businessman (whose briefcase sported marijuana, cocaine, and booze) took me to sporting events… although I had to call my mom first, to get permission! A professional football player became my friend. Millionaires told me their troubles. I experienced all of this, and much more, while I was in high school.

So, please believe me that the dream babe, the dream house and so on will not make you happy. They will for a moment, but not for long. I’ve watched that game play out over and over. More than that, I’ve had a few of the “dream” things myself. Some of them are nice enough, but they will not satisfy you over time. They simply aren’t the right vehicles for satisfaction… they can produce it no better than an apple tree can produce onions.

And here’s a quote from Neal Cassady, who had to be the number one party guy of the 20th century. He was the hero of On The Road, idol to multiple rock bands, and much more:

Twenty years of fast living—there’s just not much left, and my kids are all screwed up. Don’t do what I have done.

So, please don’t imagine that the advertised image will satisfy you. It won’t.

The Illusion Is As Bad As Cocaine

Actually, the illusion is a lot like cocaine. Do you remember the famous rat experiment, where they give the rat a shot of cocaine if it pushes a lever… and then the rat starves to death because it will do nothing except push the lever? Well, substitute modern man for the rat and the hope of consumption for the cocaine and the model holds.

The cocaine is not actual consumption, mind you, but the hope of consumption. And in that hope millions of humans spend their lives, chasing images and dreams that will never satisfy them for more than a moment… presuming they reach them at all.

The entire model – from the advertising complex to the hijacking of youthful hormones to dreams of status – it’s all an addiction, and the people selling it are “pushers.”

The supermodel will not make you happy.

The billionaire will not make you happy.

The mansion will not make you happy

The Ferrari will not make you happy.

They can not.

Some of these may give you a short burst of excitement and perhaps a feeling of triumph, but all are fleeting.

What Does Satisfy

What actually satisfies is knowing that you are a good and beneficial being. Not by hoping (“I’ll be made good someday”) or implying (“I keep the rules, so I must be good”), but by doing good and beneficial things… by having, as a few old preachers used to say, a conscious sense of righteousness.

In practice, this feeling – this recognition – comes from production: Knowing, based upon concrete actions, that you are a beneficial being.

The satisfaction generated by accomplishment endures through all of life, and they needn’t be gigantic accomplishments. Hang out with an old carpenter or bricklayer some time; take a drive through their home town. Invariably they’ll point out the stores, houses and factories they built. And each time they do they’ll feel satisfaction… that they created things that served and blessed the world. And that satisfaction will remain in them through the end of their days.

The same goes for raising good children, and other real accomplishments.

Why This Is Important Just Now

This is especially important just now because nearly all the fixes that come from the powers that be involve consumption: Reinvigorate your town with coffee shops and diners. More production is seldom even considered.

There are reasons for this (we covered them in FMP #103), but they are misguided and destructive. Consumption will never deliver what production does.

Without being productive, we degrade. Consumption isn’t remotely enough.

**

If you want a deeper understanding of these issues, see:

FMP issue #45

FMP issue #103

Parallel Society issue #2

Production Versus Plunder

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

PJ’s Q & A

This is a set of questions and answers that I included in A Lodging of Wayfaring Men and later removed because the book worked better without them. And even though I’d write it quite differently today (I wrote this 20 years ago), I still think it’s a meaningful discussion. And so I’m passing it along.

* * * * *

Q: PJ, you are founding your version of good and bad upon self-interest. How can you leave doing things for others entirely out of the picture? No selfless deeds? Sounds like hell to me.

            Seminary Steve

A: Steve: First of all, using the phrase “doing things for others” creates confusion. Who you do something for does not make an action good or bad. It is what you do that makes it good or bad.

Everything people do is for self-interest. That includes giving to charity and nursing the sick. You do it because you value the people you are helping. You think it is worthwhile to birth some kindness into the world. You are doing this because it makes you feel good. It may make other people feel good, too, but you are doing it for yourself.

Choosing not to use other people wrongly – to treat them well and to be benevolent – that is not selfless. That is an expression of integrity, based upon your self-understanding of what being treated wrongly is like.

Using selflessness as the definition of good is a scam. It is contrary to human nature, it is dishonest, and it never works. And don’t think that it comes from the Bible, because it does not. “Loving your neighbor as yourself” assumes that you first love yourself. This commandment is built entirely upon self-interest, and without self-interest it has no meaning at all.

Let me tell you something, I’ve done the “selfless” thing. And I mean that I have really done it, not tried to do it “as best I could.” I did it full-out, with all my strength. And do you know what? It’s a fraud. The people who have really lived altruistically are either in deep guilt over their inner inability to enjoy it, or have realized that it is BS. It is a doctrine that contradicts human nature. It has never worked and it never will, unless we someday become a race of hive-bound robots. If you don’t believe me, go do it! Go live completely altruistically – do everything for others. But really do it! No half-hearted attempts – you go give it everything you’ve got. Then you’ll know the truth of the matter.

Do you want to make the world a more beautiful place? Wonderful, go do it. But don’t ever think you are being selfless. You are being the opposite of selfless. When you are making the world better, you are upholding yourself. You are honoring your own love of beauty, life, and peace; you are working to bring your version of goodness into being. Be proud of what you are doing!

Don’t degrade yourself to say that the only good you can do is when you get your evil self into some sort of coma! It’s a lie. Take credit for the good you do! And unless you are doing it at someone else’s expense, don’t ever feel bad about doing good to yourself!

            PJ

Q: PJ, I suppose you’ll think I’m not willing to let go of this subject… and I suppose you’re right. Again, you go back to self-reference to establish goodness. I can’t argue with you about the scripture that says “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Yes, that is built on self-interest, though I’ve never had it pointed out to me before.) BUT, isn’t man’s nature flawed? All the evil we see every day should at least tell us that. And if human nature is flawed, doesn’t it follow that it is not a reliable guide, and that a definition of goodness must come from somewhere outside of flawed man? I know I sound like I’m challenging you here, but that’s not my only point. I really think I am correct.

            Seminary Steve

A: Steve: Please don’t ever think that I’d like you to disregard your own judgment. You are to be commended for sticking with it until you are convinced otherwise.

As I see it, you are making a couple of assumptions that I do not. First, I do not think that man’s nature is necessarily flawed. Most men’s actions are obviously flawed, but not necessarily their natures.

Next, even if man’s nature were flawed, that does not mean that he could not use other tools to ascertain the true and the good. In fact, that is exactly what science does. By careful observation, reason, and verification, we can discover truths that we were initially blind to, or even opposed to.

Steve, I know you are a seminary student, so I want to give you a couple of things to think about:

When man was in the Garden of Eden, there is only one thing ever mentioned about their thinking: “and they were not ashamed.” So, the only thing we know about the inner life of someone living in paradise is that they are not ashamed. Interesting, no?

There is obviously a great deal to be said about the Bible’s story of the fall of man. But Adam and Eve’s big mistake comes before they eat the fruit. They erred when they judged their own natures to be insufficient. The serpent says that if they eat the fruit, they will be as Gods. But God had made them in his own image, and had said that everything he made was “very good.”

Were they fully developed? No. But they could have grown and matured into being “as Gods.” They were, by nature, suited to such growth, and they didn’t need the fruit of the tree in order to get it.

Remember now the line in Philippians where Paul says that Jesus “did not think it robbery to be equal with God.” Adam and Eve decided that their natures were insufficient to be equal with God. They were wrong. Jesus, on the other hand, did believe that his nature was sufficient.

Adam’s mistake was to undervalue his nature.

If this is correct, then it may well be the mistrusting and devaluing of one’s own nature that causes the evils that we see around us every day. If our natures are not automatically bad – but if we nonetheless treat them as if they are bad – wouldn’t that lead to a host of problems and mistakes?

If a man did believe in the sufficiency of his own nature, what would he be like? What would it feel like to be completely unashamed?

            PJ

* * * * *

The novel that helped put the crypto revolution into high gear.

Comments from readers:

“Of the twenty five or so people I worked with last fall, all of them revered A Lodging of Wayfaring Men as a bible. They referred to the house and their community effort as a Lodge. We all felt it was modeled on the Free Souls.”

“Actually, I am somewhat at a loss as to how I might explain how I feel about this book other than to say what a great mind to write such an awesome story!”

“I’m an Old guy and find that Rosenberg has captured many Real-World truths in this novel. I wish the Millennial Generation would read this novel and consider the concepts and rationale presented here.”

Get it at Amazon or on Kindle.

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

The Necessity of Being a Well-Rounded Person… and How to Pull It Off

I regularly go on about the necessity of forming your own opinions and making stands upon them. And while I’m quite certain about that, there’s another side to such things. We are complicated creatures, after all.

The more we express and defend our own opinions, the more we tend to get locked into them. And that part can be a problem, because none of us – not even the best of us – knows enough to claim that his or her opinions are beyond questioning.

No matter how sure we are about something, we need to leave an opening for better information to change our minds. Most often, we’ll need only modify a long-held opinion rather than jettison it altogether, but we have to be ready to jettison anything that doesn’t stand up against new information.

Where we hit danger is when we become set in our ways and can’t let things go. That problem tends to get worse with age, with persecution, or if we become well-known for a particular opinion. But whatever way it comes, being overly devoted is a grave problem.

The most common threat, however, is considering oneself part of a group and being so emotionally tied to the group that you lack the emotional strength to disregard it.

Ask anyone who has left a strong and clannish religious group how hard it was. They know. The people who quit such groups have to face losing all their friends at once. That takes guts, and such people deserve credit for what they did.

Political, academic, or other types of groups can become clannish and controlling in just the same ways, and exert the same pressures.

All such pressures are poisons, and protecting ourselves from them, in my opinion, is a duty we owe to ourselves, our friends, and to the truth itself.

How to Pull It Off

It’s one thing to say, “Don’t allow yourself to get clannish,” but making it a practical reality is something else.

I have three specific tools that have worked for me, and I’ll pass them along to you.

#1: Stay warm to the opposite view. Pay attention to opposing viewpoints, but not with the intent of chopping them up. Face them sympathetically. You don’t have to read every opposing viewpoint, but when you find one that seems to be clear and thoughtful, stop and check it out. More than that, try to find some good in it. Stay open and stay out of us/them imagery. What matters is the truth, not who says it.

#2: Keep friends who don’t believe the same as you. Make sure you spend quality time with people who don’t share your views. Make those people your friends… and I mean actual friends, people you come to care about. Try to find people who are competent, experienced, and different. And try to see them regularly. Two or three times per week would be ideal.

#3: Have someone to try your ideas upon. It would be ideal to have one person in your field or a near one who’s really good at what they do but who doesn’t entirely agree with you; then bounce critical ideas off this person. (Such people tend to be busy, so you should probably ask their thoughts for only the most important things.) This person can be hard to find, but if you do find one, hold on to them.

But More than All That…

Beyond all that we’ve said above, being well-rounded is vital. People who get rigid have a nagging little voice somewhere in the back of their minds, testifying that something is wrong. You don’t want to carry that with you for life.

On top of that, your family will be damaged by inflexibility of character, which is what you’ll get by holding your opinions above examination and change. Likewise, your effectiveness in cooperative ventures – everything from business to your local little league – will suffer.

We need to recognize people as they are, not how they line up with our beliefs.

So, I suggest that you start using the three tools I’ve noted above. Being a well-rounded person is dramatically to your benefit.

* * * * *

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

Comments from readers:

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

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

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

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

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

Get it at Amazon or on Kindle.

* * * * *

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

How to Gain Confidence and Courage

courage

For more than two years I wrote a free monthly newsletter called Individual Virtue. Recently I’ve received some interest in those articles, so I thought I’d republish some of them (with light editing). This is the first.

Confidence and Courage

All of us enjoy feeling confident, or at least we dislike feeling confused and weak. We also like feeling that we’ve been brave and not cowardly. But how do we get these things? If you’re at all like me, how to get them was never really explained to you. It all seemed like magic. Either you have the secret ingredients or you don’t.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s start with the basics:

Confidence is an opinion that you hold about yourself. It would have to be, wouldn’t it? You either believe that you are able to do a thing, or you don’t.

Courage is your ability to make decisions and hold to them in the face of fear. Courage is about what you do, not what you feel. Someone who feels no fear at all in the face of real danger isn’t brave; they’re irrational.

Building Courage

Confidence and courage are not magic. They are built, just like most other aspects of human character. Do you want confidence? Do you want courage? You can have them! But you’ll have to develop them the old-fashioned way: by working on them.

By the way, this is the only way you’ll ever get them. The ‘fast and easy’ methods of building character traits don’t work; they are empty promises from people who have something to sell. Don’t fall for them; you’ll waste your time and end up no place better than where you started.

So, beware of counterfeits. There are many people and groups that will tempt you with them. Their game is this: They give you something that looks and feels like confidence or courage, but only if you are inside of their group. Don’t fall for it. Real confidence and courage come from inside of you, not from an exterior group.

Now, let’s start with specifics on getting confidence and courage. We’ll start on courage with a quote from John Wayne:

Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.

And this is true. Courage is your ability to act in the face of legitimate fears. You have to build this ability like you build your muscles. That means you start at a low level of courage and build up to a high level. Courage grows little by little and only with effort.

So, if courage is built, then something else is true: To act cowardly does not make you a permanent coward.

Imagine a weightlifter who can lift hundreds of pounds. But when he started, he failed many times to lift a fraction of the amount he lifts now. He only became a champion after he decided not to quit – even when he failed repetitively and things were very hard.

It’s the same with courage. If you face a scary situation – and act as a coward – that is not the end of it for you. You can come back next time and do better… and come back the time after that and do still better. And after a long time, people will watch you and wonder how you can have so much courage in the face of adversity.

This has been done by millions of others and you can do it too, but it requires hard, consistent effort.

Building Confidence

As we said earlier, confidence is an opinion you hold about yourself. If you believe you can do something, you are said to be confident. If you don’t believe you can do it, you are not confident.

Judging yourself is where confidence gets complicated. For example, many of us have vaguely decided not to acknowledge our abilities because we fear that people would dislike us for having them. Turning your back on your own ability might have made sense at one time in your life (such as when we were children), but we must always acknowledge our abilities to ourselves, even if we hide them from the world.

Thinking that you can do more than you can is usually only a temporary error; once you try, you learn the truth.

The second part of confidence is having ability. This part is simple, but not easy. All types of ability are built by practice, from physical skills to making moral judgments. If you want ability, act. And as you continue to act, analyze your actions and improve them.

Analyze yourself from time to time. Find your gaps and decide which abilities will be more or less important to you in the future. Keep acting and keep improving. Soon enough, you will begin to be a confident person. In time, you will be highly confident.

Here’s a tip: Don’t think that you should be able to do everything. You can’t. No one can. There are simply too many things that are done in the world, and no one has the time and energy to learn them all.

Carefully choose the abilities you will develop, and never be afraid to say, “No, I’ve never learned how to do that very well.”

And remember this:

Other people’s opinions of you don’t really matter. It’s only when you accept their opinions that you suffer.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

Switching Scripts

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

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

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

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

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

It No Longer Works

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

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

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

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

So, what is to be done?

Switching Scripts

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

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

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

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

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

So, What Is the New Script?

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

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

Come to Dallas in October

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

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

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

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

 

Are You a Gorilla or a God?

god or gorillaHumanity stands about halfway between gorillas and gods. The great question that looms over us, is this: “Which will we incorporate into our lives? Gorilla things or God things?”

The choice is ours. Yes, various choices are thrust upon us all our lives, accompanied with various levels of intimidation and threat, but at some point, all of us find ourselves able to choose freely. And it is then that we go in one direction or the other. We are able to change directions of course, but every time we choose, we move a step in one direction or the other.

What We Are

Please understand that I am not endorsing any specific theories here – religious, scientific, or otherwise. I’m merely describing the situation in which humanity finds itself. We are halfway between gorillas and gods: The worst things we do are gorilla-like, and the best things we do are god-like. Either direction is open to us.

Strange as it may seem, we are a lot like apes. Our bodies are built in the same ways, our body chemistry is nearly identical, and the worst aspects of human nature are essentially the same as the worst aspects of primate behavior.

We are also a lot like gods. We transcend entropy; we create. We can touch the soul in others, and the best aspects of human nature are essentially the same as the best characteristics attributed to the gods.

This is not what we can be; this is what we are. What we become in the future depends on whether we choose gorilla things or god things, here and now.

What Are Gorilla and God Things?

Gorilla things are those which operate on a dominant/submissive model. Hierarchy (high-level individuals controlling lower-level individuals) is the blueprint of the gorilla world. Dominant gorillas seek status and the power to control others. The submissive apes seek to pass along their pain to the apes below them (females, juveniles, etc.) and to avoid punishment. They are servile toward the dominants and cruel toward those they are able to dominate. Females trade sex for favors.

God things operate on a creative model. Blessing is the blueprint of the god world: distributing love, honesty, courage, kindness, blessing, awe, gratitude, and respect into the world and to other humans.

Gorilla things are these:

  • The desire to rule.
  • The desire to show superiority and status.
  • Servility.
  • Avoidance of responsibility.
  • Reflexive criticism of anything new.
  • Abuse of the weak or the outsider (women, children, Gypsies, Jews, immigrants, homosexuals, etc.).

God things are these:

  • Producing things that preserve or enhance life.
  • Invention and creativity.
  • Expressing gratitude and appreciation.
  • Experiencing awe and transcendence.
  • Adaptability and openness.
  • Improving yourself and others.

The Two Wolves

You’ve probably heard the old story of the two wolves: A young boy becomes angry and violent, and then feels guilty about his violence. He goes to his grandfather for advice. The old man says, “You have two wolves inside you: one of them is nice, the other is dangerous, and they’re fighting inside of you.”

The boy then asks his grandfather, “Which one will win?” The old man replies, wisely, “Whichever one you feed.”

In the same way, humanity becomes like gorillas or gods depending on whether we put gorilla things or god things into our lives.

I’m not going to tell you this is always easy, but the difficulty hardly matters: Somehow, we’ve been given a choice between becoming gorillas or becoming gods. No other creatures in this world have been given such a choice.

Bring god things into your life, and reject gorilla things. It doesn’t matter if these things are hard – you are defining your own nature between two wildly different options, every day.

Leave gorilla stuff to the gorillas.

Building god stuff into your life is your job, my job, everyone’s job.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The Beauty and Dignity of the Productive Class

dignityAt one time I lived very close to the Field Museum of Chicago; I had a membership and spent a good deal of time there. One evening, about ten minutes before closing, I noticed that workmen had begun preparing the first floor for an evening event. I had a panoramic view from where I stood at the second floor balcony, and what I saw has stuck with me ever since.

What I saw was a lone man setting up tables and chairs – simple work, the kind that any teenager could do. But what I watched this man do was every bit as beautiful as dance. He moved with integrity, with precision, and with intent. He carefully spaced the tables in a precise geometry, he moved every chair with efficiency. This was more than just work; it was also art. This man knew that he was doing his job well, and, perhaps most importantly, he enjoyed doing it well.

I was transfixed by it all, and I stood there until the guards asked me to leave. And even then, I moved very slowly until I lost sight of him.

There is real beauty in doing a job well, even a simple job. It is our great loss that this form of beauty is never mentioned in public these days – double-sad, because at one time, such beauty was acknowledged.

This brings us to an obvious question: What happened? How did we lose the beauty and dignity of work? I’ll answer that in a moment, but first I want to explain what I mean by “the productive class.”

What Is the Productive Class?

The productive class includes all those people who are engaged in improving life upon Earth: The people who build and repair our cars, our houses, and our computers. The people who provide us with air conditioning, electricity, plumbing, and food. The people who make, clean, and repair our clothing. The people who treat our sicknesses and wounds.

If you can drive around town and point out places where you repaired things, or delivered things, or fed people, or made human life better in any of a thousand ways, you are a producer.

If you survive and persist at the expense of others, on the other hand, you are not a producer.

But if you are a producer, there is an inherent dignity in what you do. You are actively making the world better. You are directly creating benefit for yourself and for other human beings. What you do every day is morally virtuous and worthy of respect. And you should never let anyone tell you otherwise.

And, it’s worth pointing out: Money is not a measure of your worth. In a perfect world, that might be true, but this isn’t a perfect world. In our time, morality and money don’t always travel together.

Money is certainly useful, and getting it should matter to you, but merely having money is no measure of your dignity or your value as a producer. Actively improving the world, however – producing – is a proper measure of dignity.

What Happened?

So, how were the beauty and dignity of work ruined?

The short answer: They were killed by hierarchy and status. I’ll explain briefly:

Humans have been carefully taught to accept, respect, and respond to hierarchy for thousands of years. As a result, we respond emotionally to images of kings, ‘great leaders,’ and so on. But it was the industrial era that finally did in the respect for work. After all, this was a time when millions of people accepted deathly boring jobs simply for better pay. The meaning of their work became a paycheck and nothing more.

And in the industrial setting, there was one clear marker of status: the position of ordering other people around.

The bosses got status and the workers got checks, and both lost meaning and satisfaction from their work. The assumption that was planted in us over the industrial era was this:

Only people who order others around matter. Everyone else should feel shame in their presence.

This, of course, played perfectly into the hands of politicians. This can be seen in the plague of “great leaders” and world wars that erupted at the height of the industrial era, in the first half of the 20th century.

In any event, status is gorilla-level garbage; what matters is what you are, not which position you hold within some kind of hierarchy. By believing in hierarchy and status, we lost the satisfaction of work.

What, Really, Is Work?

It’s important to look at things directly; to focus and see them for what they really are, not just by what other people say about them.

This is what I see when I focus on work itself:

Productive work is the insertion of creativity into the world. It is the birthing of benefit into the world. People who do this should be deeply satisfied by what they do.

Compared to productive work, status is merely ornamental puffery, a shiny coat with the word “Important” emblazoned upon it, and worn by a sad little man.

If you are a member of the productive class, you should re-arrange your mind and stop responding to the demands of hierarchy and status. Instead, pay attention to things that really improve human life in the world.

Creating things, improving things, or making it possible for other people to create… these are noble, beautiful, and important things. We should gain a deep and enduring satisfaction from doing them.

And, indeed, when we put our minds and efforts to it, that’s exactly what we will gain.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Liberty And Art: How And Why Libertarians Have Failed

liberty artAs I have noted in my “Failure of the Libertarian Movement article,” libertarians have generally limited their activities to marginally useful areas like politics and economics but have seldom used them to illuminate and free the human spirit. Liberty is ideal for freeing the human spirit, but we really haven’t used it very well.

In fairness to the economic and political folks (and I’d have to include myself as one of the guilty), a lot of analytic ability was required to push through the thick web of statism that we grew up with in the 50s and 60s. Often, highly analytical people were the only ones who could push through it all without serious emotional damage. As a result, most of the early libertarians were moved, by both their skills and the situations they faced, into economics and politics.

But regardless of libertarianism’s unique past, politics and economics are not rich fields – they certainly matter, but they leave huge sections of the human experience unaddressed.

Music, on the other hand, is a much richer field, as are painting, sculpture, and a dozen other artistic endeavors.

Doing Art, Not Politics

There have been a few libertarians pursuing art (God bless them), but they have often felt a need to use the early libertarian model of political and economic analysis as fodder for their art. The results were not as good as they could have been.

Let me be clear about this: Mixing politics with art demeans the art. Actually politics plus art more or less equals propaganda. And it is not beautiful.

Mixing philosophy and art can be done, but it can’t be preachy, doctrinal philosophy. It needs to be immediate and real – the fruit of life lessons that you personally experienced – not someone else’s ready-made doctrine.

Art has to be fresh and exciting: authentic, soul-birthed emanations of light and love and passion. It can be wise passion, even intelligent passion, but it may NOT be formulaic or analytical.

There is nothing wrong with analysis, but it is not soul-breathed like good art. As much as I love passages from Rand, Rothbard, and Mises, they cannot be simply set to music and expected to take on a life-giving beauty.

Politics is external and economics is external; art is primarily about internal experiences and visions. Art is not at all mechanical; it is organic.

The Fields Are White for Harvest

The truth is that we libertarians hold the answer to the world’s problems in our hands, but we’ve never spread it beyond a few small and contained areas. There are vast areas lying open before us, and it is time for us to go out into them.

Liberty is the great handmaid of life and beauty on the earth. It is the great catalyst of new visions, the key that unlocks the barriers between people and their impossible dreams. Liberty empowers the life-force inside a billion individuals, and when touched by it they find new ways to release hidden talents, to remember lost epiphanies, and to reanimate their crushed spirits.

I am not trying to be poetic here – I am trying to describe the real situation that sits in front of us.

Let me say this again, in a slightly different way:

Liberty is really about life. The purpose of liberty is to allow human life to flourish. And it is art that reaches inside of people and touches the frustrated life inside of them, that draws it out of them and makes them believe that it can thrive in the world. Economics and politics, however necessary they may be, cannot do this.

What Now?

Here’s the great thing about art: There is – and can be – no plan.

Art is an expression of life. It must be planted and nourished separately in each of us. It grows differently in each of us, and it emerges differently from each of us and thus enters the world. We are each a unique womb of sorts, in which our art grows and matures.

It is our job as artists to take in the best seeds, to nourish them as best we can, and to be as purely honest with what we produce as possible.

When we create, we should not be focused on external things like approval, style or reward. (Though we must seriously develop our skills; they are essential to expression, after all.)

To create great art, we must focus on the thing itself: this new expression that is growing inside of us, the people we will give it to, and most of all, the unique nature of what we are producing.

Life improves every living thing it touches, and our job as artists is to birth these emanations of life into the world and to love the people we hope it will reach.

Each creation of yours will have its own nature and should be used in its own way, not according to anyone’s expectations. Plant and nourish the best seeds you can find, but let each thing that grows inside of you choose its own direction and nature.

But, most of all, go out and create. Don’t wait. Start small if you must, develop your skills at whatever pace you can, but do NOT sit still and wait for some magic day when “it happens.” Make passable art at first if you must start there, because passable art has a way of developing into good art, and that often becomes great art. But it will never develop at all until you are in motion.

And by all means, cooperate with other artists. Learn from them, teach them, collaborate. Think of this as cross-pollination: We are all unique, and we can pass those unique characteristics from one to another, and all benefit from the experience. To borrow a phrase from my economic training: Creation is positive sum game.

Creating art can be hard, frustrating and even disappointing. But if you give honest expressions to the things that really matter to you, to the things that mature within you, the effort will enrich you for life, and many others with you.

I wish you all the best.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

The Systemic Abuse of the Productive Class: It Ends When We Say it Ends

productive classThe productive people of this world are being abused. We all know it and we all complain about it. And most of the things we complain about (taxes, stupid laws, politicians and bureaucrats doing ridiculous things) are backed by large, powerful systems. That is why I chose “systemic abuse” for this article’s title.

The idea of a system being abusive by nature often bothers people in a deep and obscure way, but that characterization is true. If we try to blame “one bad actor,” we are lying and we know it.

I’m not going to waste time on the abuses of the current world systems. You must be aware of them, and you can get lists of complaints from many other sources.

Instead, I want to explain how we producers are really the controlling group in the world, even though most of us don’t know it. We as a group can end our abuse whenever we change our minds about it, and we as individuals can do a lot to bring that about.

But in order to face a life without abuse, each producer will have to do some serious soul searching and adjustment. That sounds strange, I know, but it is true. It will become clearer as we proceed.

Knowing Ourselves

Let me begin with this: You don’t have to be a superstar to count yourself among the producers. In fact, you don’t even need to have a job. What matters is that, given a choice, you would rather create than live off of the production of others.

If you feel good coming home from an honest day of work; if you like pointing at something and saying “I made that;” if you care about your work as a carpenter, trucker, housewife, nurse, welder, shopkeeper, clerk, farmer, rancher, engineer, or any of a hundred other professions, you are a producer.

This desire for production is in us from childhood and perhaps from birth. It is natural to beings who have the ability to perceive, to will, and to compare before/after results. Even infants get satisfaction from willing and succeeding. Buckminster Fuller said it well: Every child has an enormous drive to demonstrate competence.

With these being the essential characteristics of producers, it would seem natural for them to generally feel good about themselves and to be generally confident. You would expect them to be proud of being the source of all the products and wealth in the world.

This, however, is not what we see. Rather, we see producers who are morally timid, who shrink when someone accuses them of being offensive, who fear being envied. Most modern producers don’t feel they have full rights over their own lives. They believe it in measure, of course, but they also believe that other people (namely the operators of institutions) have a legitimate right to tell them how to drive, educate their children, spend their money, ingest substances, report their business dealings, and on and on and on.

As we’ve said a lot recently, this comes back to a perverse root assumption:

It is right for other people to order me around.

It is easy to see that so long as producers keep believing this, those who order them around will abuse them without end.

On the other hand, if the producers ever stop believing that their role in life is to be ordered around, the world changes in an instant – radically and dramatically for the better. The values of production, if ever dominant in the world or any section of it, generate not only prosperity, but morality.

The System and the Productive Class

As long as the productive class think it’s right for systems to order them around and siphon off their production, the producers will be abused forever. It is as simple as that. So, let me say something clearly and even with indignation, which I think is warranted:

We build the system’s roads, we build their monuments, we supply their banquets, we build and drive their limousines, we build their governor’s mansions, and we cut their grass and install their air conditioning and repair their roofs. We pay their policemen and their firemen and their tax men. We pay for their cars and their gas and their guns and their bullets and their uniforms.

Without us, they have nothing but words. If we ever decide not to play their game, they are done. It doesn’t matter how many enforcers they have on their payrolls – the moment we stop complying, those enforcers will see the end of their paychecks and will return home at night to face strong questions from us, their neighbors.

We producers are manifestly unhappy about what the systems of the world are doing to us, but most of us don’t think we have any right to dictate to them. The truth, however, is this:

Without us, they are destitute, and we don’t need them.

How This Happened to Us

What has happened is that we’ve been demoralized. We understand quite well that our wealth has been damaged; we understand much less well that our souls have been damaged.

In all of our lifetimes, the inherent dignity of work has been absent. Since the industrial revolution, when people took boring jobs simply for better pay, work has become something that most people try to escape. This has been a mistake.

Work is the insertion of creativity into the world. Creating things, improving things, or making it possible for other people to create is rewarding and important. Work is good, noble, and deserving of respect.

In our times, however, work has been replaced as something to respect by status, a gorilla-level instinct. It was a devolution.

We all learn about status at an early age, hearing stories about the rich, handsome prince and the most beautiful woman in the kingdom. We are told that only the exceptional few count.

All through our lives we are shown images of the unique and the few. For example, fashion models are not chosen merely for beauty, but for exclusivity. There are plenty of short, beautiful women, but they never show up in the ads, for the simple reason that they are many. Only the 1/50th of 1% who are exceptionally tall and good-looking are shown. The rest of us are then provided with products to make us feel we are approaching their exclusive level.

We have been living through a period dominated by hierarchy – where people who order other people around are important, and all others are an undifferentiated mass.

All of this is fraudulent and manipulative. Worse, it has left most of us with an inferiority complex. We are the unnamed peasants, the mundanes, the “workers.”

There are many types of beauty in the world, many types of greatness, many reasons for respect. We can all partake, not just the rarest among us.

The importance of work should be judged by its creativity and by the benefit it brings, not by how much it controls. People should esteem others because of their virtues, not because of their positions. People should do good deeds based on their personal sense of benevolence, and this should not be limited to things that are chosen by ‘leaders’ in high positions.

What the productive class needs most is to have their confidence restored. They need to see status and exclusivity as the barbaric and manipulative ideas that they are.

We can be much more than we have been, and we would enjoy it a great deal. The problem is that we haven’t considered ourselves worthy. After all, we’re not the people in high places who get to order everyone else around.

We need to get over this.

[Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt from our flagship newsletter Freeman’s Perspective – Issue #14: “The Systemic Abuse of the Productive Class: It Ends when We Say it Ends.” If you liked it, consider taking a risk-free test drive. Not only will you gain immediate access to the rest of the issue (which includes 3 ways in which you can just “opt out”), but you’ll also be able to enjoy the entire archive – more than 520 pages of research on topics of importance and inspiration to those looking for freedom in an unfree world. Plus valuable bonus reports and all new issues as well. Click here to learn more.]

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Turn On Tune In Drop Out – A Modern Interpretation

turn on tune in drop outThis was a big phrase in the 1960s, as young people turned away from the corporate conformity of the 1950s and decided that they wanted more out of life than being an adequately-fed cog in a big machine.

Let’s be honest and admit that the modern corporate script involves selling your own wishes and dreams for paychecks. I know that a lot of us have played along with it because of necessity, but this is not a way of life to cling to, it’s a way of life to escape.

You are meant to live your life. Yes, I know it can seem hard, but it’s the only life that’s really worth living. You have to give meaning to your life, and you’ll never get it by following the televised script and hoping for pats on the back from the people who are playing along with you.

This life you have is precious. Human beings are engines of creation; we are able to imagine and to turn our imaginations into reality. And we are capable of supercharging our creative abilities by sharing our lives and loves with other people. We are astonishingly capable creatures.

Don’t waste all your life’s abilities in a corporate cubicle. You’ve already seen how that goes: Work excessive hours, go home tired, watch TV, sleep, and start over. Your kids end up in mini corporate worlds called “schools,” where they are taught to sit, be quiet, obey, and turn off their internal desires and loves. If you play that game you’ll miss most of your life in the process, as well as most of your children’s lives.

Once you get some corporate inertia going, it is all too easy to get sucked into it permanently. Don’t let that happen to you.

So, here’s my modern (and slightly adjusted) interpretation – Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out:

Tune In

Wake up and see the world as it is. Turn off the talking heads on TV and get to know the real world. Stop spending all your brain cycles on celebrities, sports heroes and gossip hounds – get to know your neighbor and the old woman who lives around the corner, strike up a friendship with someone on the other side of the world. Travel. Spend your time with real people; get to know them, and reveal yourself to them. It only seems weird because the people who programmed you didn’t want you to think freely.

Do you think I am being dramatic by referring to “the people who programmed you”? If so, read this:

Education should aim at destroying free will so that after pupils are thus schooled they will be incapable throughout the rest of their lives of thinking or acting otherwise than as their school masters would have wished.

That was from the highly esteemed Bertrand Russel, by the way, and I’ve got plenty more of them. Take this seriously, because your programmers have been.

Tune in to yourself rather than your programming: What do you really want? Most people can list a dozen things that bother them, but not a single thing that they really want. This is a problem. Find out what you want. What do you love? What do you want to work for?

Do you remember all those times in the Bible where Jesus berates people for being “hypocrites”? Well, the real word he used was actors – as in stage actors. And whether you are religious or not, this is crucial: Stop acting in someone else’s play. Take off all the masks and find yourself.

Turn On

Start doing what you love. Don’t wait for someone else, do it yourself. Start helping your friends and neighbors, spend serious time with your children – not at a game or a party, but just you and them, talking. Find out what they love. Tell them what you love, what you are proud of, what you regret. Tell them you love them. Tell them things you don’t tell your friends. Let them know you.

Start living, not merely existing. DO the things you feel an urge to do. And don’t fall into the usual trap of “what if I make a mistake?” That’s simply fear-based conditioning. Resist it. Do what you love, and in so doing, you will turn yourself on.

Are you going to go through your whole life and never follow your own wishes, always sacrificing them to the tyranny of other peoples’ opinions? Please don’t do that to yourself – you’ll suffer greatly for it when you’re old.

Screw all the expectations and turn on – act on your own will.

Drop Out

Stop wasting your time and energy on governments and arguments and politics. Drop out of their mindset and start reclaiming all those wasted hours. Lying politicians are simply not worth your devotion. Drop the endless party fights and stop arguing about them. Politics is ugly, and politics on the brain makes us ugly.

Stop paying attention to the hundreds of ads you see every day – they are scientifically designed to grab your thoughts. Turn away. Stop buying trendy things, and definitely stop buying things for the purpose of impressing other people.

Stop trying to fit in, and stop living according to other people’s expectations. Let them call you weird. Let them talk about you. Stop caring about it. If they were real friends, they wouldn’t treat you like that. So if they are willing to call you names, you’re better off dropping them now.

Don’t fight the system – that just keeps all of your energy and attention focused on them. Forsake the system and start creating a better life for yourself, the people you love and the people you respect. Stop giving all your life’s energy to a barbaric system of force and manipulation.

Let the system go; all of it. Move on and let it rot where it sits.

But We Need A Plan!

No, you don’t. You need a life!

Let go of the plan addiction. Life is organic, not mechanical.

First of all, you need to identify what you want to create with the precious life you’ve been given. Not what you want to stop, but what you want to make.

If you’ve never been told to do this before it may seem hard, but you can do it if you try.

Don’t sit and wait. Stop talking and start doing.

ACT!  NOW!

Paul Rosenberg
Turn On Tune In Drop Out – A Modern Interpretation
www.FreemansPerspective.com