The challenge facing us now, and in coming year, is about power – who will have it, how it will be wielded, and to what end. The US government has spent literally trillions of dollars to concentrate its power, and to design systems with which to manage and control all materials, resources, human lives and activities.
The COVID “response” is an excellent barometer of the real aim of government, and its proficiency at driving the human herd. H.L. Mencken’s observation from a century ago has certainly aged well.
Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.
Power is being extracted from individuals, families, and communities by a voracious federal government. Many Americans, as Mencken would have predicted and did observe, are voluntarily ceding power to politicians and bureaucrats today, in a vain hope that “things” will get “better.” A small minority have not and will not, and a growing number of people who were not paying close attention before are starting to reject and call out the ongoing power grab.
If our government is the enemy, it would pay not to underestimate its strengths, its greed, and its overwhelming desire to survive and grow. The US Government has already labeled those of us who actually plan to survive in our little corner. We are not just citizens busy planning next year’s garden, and looking to expand our independence in areas of food, shelter, energy, transportation, health and communication – we are terrorists and enemies of the state.
A strength of the USG is its ability to message, and to control the “message.” It shares Stalin’s idea that a big lie repeated often enough becomes truth. Again, the COVID era has been revealing of how far a nervous government, with the help of its allied and co-dependent cronies in the mainstream media and the non-profit organizations of billionaire “philanthropists” like Bill Gates, will go to control outcomes in their favor.
Hannah Arendt, in her The Origins of Totalitarianism wrote, “Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”
Government propaganda has evolved rapidly since Arendt fled Germany in 1933. The goals remain the same, but the means and methods now include all of social media (Meta), global database and logistics companies (Amazon and Google), and communications and government subsidized electricity and energy industries integrated with a progressively intrusive and sophisticated surveillance state. The target of government propaganda is mapped, studied, measured, and monitored. That target is us.
How is such a situation resolved, contained, or eliminated? Allowing centralization of power to the extent envisioned by our political leaders and their well-funded bureaucracies and agencies, is terminal for not just the antique idea of a Republic, but for life and the environment. The rule of eventual disorder prevails, and when powerful totalitarian systems collapse, whether they are kingdoms, democracies or fascist states, millions of people are spiritually, economically and physically crushed, resources are squandered and destroyed, environments trashed and productive capacity abandoned to decay and destruction. It’s in the history books, over and over again, but we somehow believe it can’t happen here.
So what can be done? So much is possible! Etienne De La Boetie as a young man in the 1500s came to the clear conclusion that we as individuals are not forced to submit to bad political leaders, and bad government, or any government. Instead we choose to submit, and we voluntarily give away our power because of what we believe about both the state, and our own capabilities.
I’m sure Etienne would cheer “Let’s Go Brandon” – millions of people speaking to power in an era of fear with this veiled repudiation of the current US President, and his coterie of fascists, communists and socialists.
De La Boetie, Arendt, and Mencken – and thousands more thinkers and historians around the world who have studied government practices and society with an eye to liberty as our natural condition – would probably recognize and support the growing minority in the country who are becoming, at various rates of speed, intellectual and material refuseniks.
I propose a five point plan. Many of us are already on it, and some of us are all over it.
1) Personal economic independence, and interdependence.
2) Prioritization of what is important.
3) Proclaiming our sincerely held beliefs, and keeping them simple.
4) Preparing for life in a collapsing state.
5) Pray without ceasing.
In terms of the first point, this means taking control of inputs and outputs in your own life, and your families’ life. Produce more of what is important to your life, and less of what assists or supports a grasping growing government. I spent a career in the USAF, but I advised my children to avoid military service, which seemed counterintuitive given that that my career no doubt helped the whole family economically and intellectually. I succeeded in my small goal, and I was happy about that recently, given the DoD’s roughshod approach to mandating experimental, emergency use order, largely un- or im-properly tested mRNA vaccines. Personal economic independence is going to be different for everyone – having a lot of good friends, or having skills that others need, or attributes they want can be as good as a flourishing garden, and affordable or paid for house, some livestock and a woodlot somewhere. If you have friends, skills, a reliable shelter, the attributes of a good neighbor, and a food source, this is the goal. Interdependence at the local level, and in the global marketplace, is possible in ways undreamed of by people in the 1500s or even the 1900s. As you take stock of your personal economy, and prospects, you will examine your consumption habits as well. You may find that if you vote with your pocketbook, resisting government and its cronies is possible every day. Reducing your tax load, in sales and income taxes is laudable, from the perspective that continuing to feed a corrupt government is at best, ethically questionable.
Prioritization sounds simple, but it might be the most difficult task of the five. Most of what we get done is because we “prioritized” that thing over twenty or thirty other things we might have done. But we often, for a variety of reasons, don’t prioritize effectively. Our ineffectiveness is common knowledge – hundreds of books and thousands of articles and blogs address the topic. Part of this is just human biology – we are designed or have evolved to be good at constantly reassessing our environment and adjusting. A more mundane explanation is just life gets in the way. But I think a weak or nonexistent value-weighting of the choices we make about how to spend our time comes from lack of self-knowledge, and a lack of a personal system for how we go through the day. It may be that we have no long-term goals, and no short-term goals, and just live our lives in such a way as to avoid boredom. But how many of us have actually sat down with ourselves, and had a talk about what makes us happy in the sense of eudemonia – Aristotle’s idea of happiness as “the result of an active life governed by reason.” It’s worth a conversation, maybe a daily conversation.
Point 3 is extremely important in a world beset with rapid fire information, and the technical ability to temporarily “control” and “define” what is “true.” The U.S. Constitution is largely archival and extremely tattered. But some of the founders opposed concentration of government power, and sought to counterbalance that predictable trend. They gave us a few rungs on a ladder to liberty. One is the right to exercise sincerely held religious beliefs. A recent proposed law in Congress – aptly named “Biden Can’t Force Me” Act – uses the term “sincerely held belief” and the courts have already begun to recognize this as worthy of “protection.” Do we regularly think about what we sincerely believe, at a macro level? For me, I sincerely believe that concentration of power is dangerous, and that decentralization of power is beneficial. I sincerely believe that government when it integrates with economic functioning, i.e. fascism or what we have in the US, friendly fascism (a term popularized by Bertram Gross in 1980) is to be resisted, and as long as it is evident, and prevails, we will not have economic or political clarity. Corporate authoritarianism socializes the risk and privatizes the profit on a grand scale, but more than that, it obscures reality from the average person and relies on corporate/government messaging as an alternative to actual facts. Hannah Arendt was certainly on to something! Our COVID era has demonstrated this fundamental, as well as something those who worked in and studied the US military perceived, and that is the incredible waste of public resources and abhorrent quality control that is offered up by government funded “production lines” whether it’s utilities, weapons systems, education or medical products. So when I see articles like this detailing that certain vaccine production lots seem to be associated with more VAERS reports of death, it fits into my sincerely held belief that government funded activities tend to be more wasteful, sloppy, and suffer poor quality control than non-government funded and directed activities. Of course, an interpretation that this was done “on purpose” also fits into my sincerely held belief that government and the corporate authoritarian model sees the people as at best, quantifiable assets, like cattle, and sometimes, as a potentially lethal opponents. The point is, I can read such a report without becoming overly emotional and without being compelled to take a deep dive into the internet over it, in turn giving me more time to do higher priority activities.
Knowing your sincerely held beliefs, your philosophy of life can and should frame how you view government, and its handmaiden of politics. Rules for me and thee should be in concord with rules for government – and when they are not, that violates a sincerely held belief. To phrase it another way, I have no sincerely held belief that allows, envisions, or supports such government as we have today. Whether I am a full blown enemy of the state or simply not interested in a serious relationship is a matter of interpretation. Government coined labels of refusenik or domestic terrorist or conspiracy theorist should not interest me, or anyone I care about.
The fourth point is simply emphasizing the urgency of the first three points. Start now, because our government, and others, have been on this path for well over a century. Technology has facilitated some of this, by making everything more efficient, including the intellectually lumbering and congenitally inefficient government in its quest to micromanage the human farm. We should not only be thinking about truly decentralizing power for ourselves, but setting the stage for the successful maintenance of that decentralized state for our children and grandchildren. In this regard, educating others and sharing what we have learned and our sincerely held beliefs, articulating what we know throughout our spheres of influence, and doing so with an eye to a dystopian future, or as we have to admit, a dystopian present, and a dystopian past. Government, corporate authoritarian and politically allied religious leaders – past, present, and future, have endorsed and facilitated racial, ethnic, and religious division of society, and have arrested and murdered those who disagreed with, much less challenged, the state. This is such a predictable function of government that we cannot honestly say we were not warned. We can only say we didn’t examine the historical record. So yes, we should prepare for life in an angry, failing, fearful state. We are in it now, as we have always been.
The fifth point, I believe is prayer, and it should be prayer without ceasing, as mentioned in 1st Thessalonians 5:17. Students of the Bible agree that to pray without ceasing is also related to thankfulness and joy, perseverance, and consistency. We can ultimately only control ourselves, and if we are honest, we have to admit that we are a handful. If we become better, wiser, more grateful, and more brave, we are well positioned to resist, and help others to resist, overly centralized governmental power, and banality of evil – a term coined by Hannah Arendt referring to the generally normal and not particularly “evil” enforcers and compliers that enable a powerful central government to do what powerful centralized governments do. No doubt Etienne De La Boetie would agree, as his idea of “voluntary servitude” spells it out today just as freshly as in 1552.
Mencken wrote, “The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out… without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, intolerable.” If he was correct, and you are on the path of the five points outlined here today, you may reach the same conclusion as other men and women who can “think things out.” Will we become the most dangerous men and women to our government? Will that knowledge and our sincerely held beliefs lead to our good fortune, or to our demise? It’s hard to say for sure, but history tells us the alternative – being men and women who are NOT dangerous to the state – will definitely lead to every torment of hell.
This originally appeared on Freedom’s Phoenix and is republished here with the author’s permission.