to feminist groups in Iraq]: They are very strong. Their approach
is unique because they have no leaders. They do not have a head
or branch offices. . . . This movement is made even stronger by
not having leaders. If one or two people lead it, the organization
would weaken if these leaders were arrested. Because there is
no leader, it is very strong and not stoppable.
~ Shirin Ebadi,
2003 Nobel Peace Prize recipient
generated important questions whose pursuits were unfortunately
abandoned in favor of a return to the status quo. From a variety
of social perspectives, inquiries began to coalesce around the
core issue: why are the lives of individuals dominated by an
institutional order whose interests are enforced by state power?
The civil rights movement, college free-speech campaigns, the
resurgence of feminism and libertarian thought, and the anti-war
demonstrations, were the more prominent expressions of this concern.
initially encouraging about such questioning was the emphasis
on individuals asking themselves: why have I allowed myself
to become exploited by systems that do not serve my interests?
One saw this particularly in the feminist and libertarian movements,
with people asking themselves such questions as: "what attitudes
and beliefs do I embrace that have led to my loss of control over
In the cosmic
sense of time, such inquiries generally lasted anywhere from five
to ten seconds. Exploring how one’s thinking has contributed to
his or her downfall is particularly discomforting. When one becomes
aware of the presence and influence of "dark side" energies
within, the desire to rid oneself of such traits often leads to
projecting them onto others, and then taking punitive actions
against the designated scapegoat. It is this tendency – which
Carl Jung so thoughtfully analyzed – that underlies Ron Paul’s
difficulties in explaining to the boobeoisie how American military
aggression in the Middle East led to the 9/11 attacks. By repressing
our own dark side ambitions for coercive power over others, it
becomes easy for Boobus to fall for the line that others wish
to dominate us; that those upon whom we trespass want to
destroy us because of our virtues!
have been within us for centuries, and provide the foundations
for the divisions and conflicts upon which all political systems
depend. Thus have Americans succumbed to the Civil War fiction
that the inflated power of the state over people’s lives was occasioned
by the desire to end slavery. Likewise, many post-World
War II Germans were convinced that "they were free"
under Nazi rule.
In much the
same way, the self-awareness explorations undertaken in the 1960s,
and which spanned race, gender, political dispositions, and often
age, quickly deteriorated into a reinforcement of the divisiveness
and inter-group conflicts upon which state power depends. The
civil rights and feminist movements began turning to the state
to use its powers to rectify past wrongs; a split occurred among
libertarians, with many continuing to insist upon a transformation
of individual thought, while others turned to electoral politics
and/or moving their organizations to the Washington, D.C. area
which, to their minds, was the meaningful setting for change.
reflected rudimentary inquiries that too often lacked a central
focus. For the same reason that recent converts to a political
cause or religion become eager proselytizers – out of a felt need
to shore up their own thinking – those who had a brief glimpse
of a world better suited to their interests became impatient for
change. This lack of focus was nowhere more evident than in the
anti-war movement of the ‘60s and early ‘70s. Reactions to the
Vietnam War – responses that could be either increased or diminished
by the intensity with which that war was conducted – had little
to do with exploring the conditions that generated peace. More
recently, anti-war sentiments have taken on a partisan tone: wars
conducted by Bill Clinton received scant attention, while those
begun by the George W. Bush administration evoked vigorous reactions
that continued until Barack Obama took over their management.
contradictory, and irrational thinking has been a major contributor
to the demise of Western Civilization. Most of us have lost a
principled center to our lives. We have conditioned our minds
to look to institutions – particularly the state, schools and
universities, organized religions, the media – for our identities
and direction, a theme I explored in my Calculated Chaos
book. We have, in other words, bought into Plato’s pyramidal model
of society run, from the top-down, by "philosopher kings."
decades, we have experienced the fallacy of the idea that complex
systems could be organized and managed by elites of "experts;"
that social order could be mandated by the few, if only they enjoyed
sufficient coercive powers to enforce their edicts. The failure
of one group of authorities to accomplish such ends has generally
led only to demands to replace this group with another, and rarely
to a questioning of the model of formally-structured order itself.
But as the
failures of collective thinking continue to pile up; as systems
of centralized economic planning are outperformed by free markets;
as political systems – to which people looked for the protection
of their lives, liberty, and property – expose their savage, plunderous,
inhumane foundations; as wars, looting, and police brutalities
come to be seen as the raison d’etre of the state; and as other
institutions were unable to make any principled responses that
might rehabilitate the avowed purposes of governments, societal
turbulence arose. Such qualities as respect for life, liberty,
contractual obligations, and property; the inviolability of the
individual; and the insistence upon voluntary as opposed to violent
relationships among people, went into free-fall and were sucked
into an existential black hole dominated by the collective energies
that bring down civilizations.
seem to recognize that something is amiss in a world that no longer
meets their expectations. But lacking in what the late Joseph
Campbell referred to as "invisible means of support,"
they remain rudderless regarding the direction to be taken. Like
their 1960s’ predecessors, their frustrations have led many of
them into such cul-de-sacs as the Tea Party or the Occupy Wall
Street demonstrations, efforts that allow the political establishment
to marginalize and redirect their energies to reinforcing the
status quo. Such appeasements are offered in the form of politicians
who pick up the rhetoric of "peace" and "liberty"
but continue advocating statist practices; and legislative or
judicial inquiries into peripheral matters that do not challenge
the sacred center of political interests.
of course, many others who see through the gossamer fabric of
promised change offered by a system that has no intention to change
or to tolerate those who seek change. These are the men and women
– many of them quite young – who see the sharp contrasts between
existing institutional systems and the conditions that are necessary
to life; whose minds can distinguish fantasy from realism.
They know what others may unconsciously sense (but lack the
courage to express), namely, that the entire institutionally-dominated
social system is one intricately-connected racket, engaged in
at the expense of their lives.
I have long
been of the opinion that adults have a moral obligation to protect
their children from tyranny. I have failed to meet that duty as
to my children and grandchildren, but I am encouraged that so
many of the next generation are aware of what my generation has
ignored, namely, that peace and liberty are essential – not simply
convenient – to their existence. While aged supporters of the
old order continue to show up at political rallies on behalf of
the dinosaurs who promise to remain faithful to the status quo,
and who promise to increase the rain of death upon foreign nations,
so many of the young are infusing their energies into the campaign
of Ron Paul.
magma that bubbles beneath the earth’s surface and periodically
erupts as volcanic activity is part of the process by which the
planet sustains and renews itself. By analogy, similar pressures
have long been at work within human societies to keep social systems
within parameters that sustain life. The collapse of the Soviet
Union a quarter-century ago was one example of such dynamics.
An earlier effort was undertaken in Germany in 1941, wherein several
young men and women formed a group, known as the White Rose, to
peacefully resist the system of National Socialism. The better-known
members of this group, brother and sister Hans and Sophie Scholl,
were medical students in Munich. They, and their White Rose associates,
distributed anti-government leaflets, for which they were later
arrested and charged with "treason" as "despicable
criminals." They were quickly tried, convicted, and immediately
beheaded for their "crimes." It is to the memory and
spirit of such persons that my soon-to-be-published book, The
Wizards of Ozymandias, is dedicated.
I call upon
the history of such courageous and principled people who remind
us that human civilization has always depended upon the kinds
of values and practices with which our institutionalized world
is at war. There is a life force beneath the turmoil of events
that will continue to insist upon its primacy; an awareness of
the interconnectedness of our individualities that is threatened
by our collective madness. Such life-sustaining energies are always
at risk of being co-opted by institutional interests and being
channeled into the maintenance of establishment authority.
force finds expression in persons who understand what Albert Jay
Nock identified as the underlying principles of "the humane
life." Nock called such independent men and women "the
Remnant" who, following the collapse of civilization, would
help to "build up a new society" grounded in the "august
order of nature." No purpose will be served in trying to
locate such people, Nock tells us. They will seek those who share
in their understanding that the restoration of civilization will
not rest on slogans, propaganda, or political programs and posturing;
but on principles that transcend fashion, and remain true no matter
how many public opinion polls deny their relevance.
I have no
idea how the 2012 presidential race will turn out. I do know that,
unless Ron Paul should prevail, the outcome will make not one
whit of a difference in lessening how the political structure
will operate. Whatever the outcome of the elections, it is clear
that the political establishment’s chosen sock-puppet-in-chief
will continue – and, doubtlessly, expand upon – the state power
and violence that has been in place since 9/11. In the course
of trying to solidify its weakened foundations, the state will
waste no effort in trying to harness and redirect the energies
of those who understand and oppose its threats to humanity. Great
pressures – as well as temptations – will be offered to persuade
critics to return to their assigned stalls; to content themselves
– in the words of Frank Chodorov – with "cleaning up the
whorehouse, while keeping the business intact."
fails to make a fundamental change in its thinking and behavior
– and quite soon – we may be the first species to have engineered
its own extinction. How will you and I respond to the opportunities
and the necessity for contributing to the intellectual and spiritual
transformation of our world? Most of the men and women of my generation
will prove as disinterested in confronting this question as they
were, decades ago, in failing to see the destructive path upon
which institutionalism was taking us.
As is usually
the case, the youth of the world – those generally under the age
of forty – will be left with the task of cleaning up the collective
mess that their parents and grandparents were disinterested in
preventing. The young know that it is the fate of every Ponzi
scheme – whose logic underlies most government programs – to reach
a point where no additional succession of suckers can be generated
to absorb the pyramiding costs from which predecessors will benefit.
Like the denizens of Orwell’s Animal
Farm who finally recognized the cozy relationship between
the ruling pigs and the human exploiters, our children are learning
that the politically-directed institutional order wants neither
more nor less than to dominate every facet of their lives; to
reduce them to the status of organizational livestock.
To whom can
the young look for self-liberating encouragement and insight?
Certainly not to the kinds of adults who plaster their cars with
bumper-stickers reading "support the troops" or "proud
parents of a soldier." I have never understood the mindset
of parents who failed in what is, perhaps, their highest moral
duty: to protect their sons and daughters from harm or destruction
brought on by others. How any human being can love the state
more than they do their own child is beyond my capacities
middle-aged or older men and women who can help to inform and
inspire these younger people. Ron Paul has done the most in this
respect, serving as both an outlet for the expression of the deeply-held
sentiments of millions, as well as a catalyst for a more fundamental
understanding of the conditions necessary for human well-being.
But others need mentioning: Lew Rockwell and the contributors
to the Lewrockwell.com website; Justin Raimondo and contributors
to Anti-war.com; readers of both websites who forward writings
on to others; everyone associated with the Ludwig von Mises Institute;
The Independent Institute; the Institute for Justice; and individuals
from a variety of political and social perspectives, including
Bob Higgs, Chris Hedges, Amy Goodman, Julian Assange, Robert Scheer,
Tom Woods, Glenn Greenwald, Walter Block, John Pilger, along with
others too numerous to list. Nor can we overlook those defenders
of peace and liberty who are no longer living, such as Murray
Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Ayn Rand, H.L. Mencken,
Albert Jay Nock, and stand-up philosopher George Carlin.
As has always
been true, however, the next generation will have no other source
of energy with which to transcend the utterly insane world in
which they find themselves, than to look deeply within their own
minds and souls. Unlike the limited efforts of so many in the
1960s and 1970s, this generation has far more immediate costs
at stake to be able to settle for partial or superficial alternatives.
The political system will waste little time trying to seduce the
younger generation into embracing some make-believe libertarian
or "peaceful-warrior" politician as a substitute for
the Ron Paul it could not bend to its will.
In the years
to come, those devoted to preserving the kind of thinking and
values upon which decent society depends, would do well to consider
Nock’s Remnant as a model. To move beyond this abstraction, I
would suggest Sophie and Hans Scholl and the White Rose, as more
vivid images. Consistent with the informal, decentralist processes
by which men and women now organize with little or no formal organization
(e.g., the Internet, flash mobs, Wikileaks, Anonymous, YouTube,
Craigslist, e-Bay, Facebook, Occupy groups, etc.) a modern White
Rose might be brought into existence. It might be formless in
nature, with men and women coming together more in spirit than
in body, and with a shared mindset that celebrates and defends
life instead of institutions. It would have no corporate
charter over which members would fight for control; no officers,
organization charts, membership cards, or secret handshakes; no
flags or logos; not even an official website.
As the French
discovered in both Algeria and Vietnam; as the Soviets discovered
in Afghanistan; and as Americans continue to learn in their efforts
to control people on their home soil, resistance to tyranny is
most effective when its energies are diffused among tens of thousands
of people who insist upon their liberty. Shirin Ebadi’s words
at the start of this article remind us of a lesson applicable
to all forms of social behavior: informal networks are far more
effective than structured, top-down corporate systems in synthesizing
the spontaneity and resiliency that so expresses the life process.
If we pay
close attention to events in our world, we are reminded of the
fallacy of the long-standing belief that "in unity there
is strength." Formalized, structured systems foster strength
for the organization only to the degree it promotes the weakness
of its members. Centrally-organized behavior creates a jugular
vein of vulnerability, a point which, when attacked, allows
the attacker to control or destroy the entire group. The ease
with which Adolf Hitler took over so many European nations by
causing the surrender of their officials contrasts with the difficulties
the French underground movement caused Hitler’s armies. It also
helps to explain how Switzerland has managed to stay free of wars
for so many years.
no guarantees that informal, leaderless networks of people intent
on maintaining their liberty will always prevail. Sophie and Hans
Scholl did end up being murdered by German Bushobama role-models
(Sophie at the age of twenty-one). A modern version of the White
Rose could increase the opportunities for free minds to discover
what it means to live in peace and liberty. Its adherents would
enjoy not only independence and anonymity, but access to a myriad
of ever-expanding technologies that promote the centrifugation
of information and ideas. As F.A. Harper reminded us, "the
man who knows what freedom means, will find a way to be free."
the state continues to insist upon its vicious ways, and as the
vision provided by the White Rose continues to inform seeking
minds, individuals might draw further inspiration from the poem
The Seedkeepers, written by a Palestinian whose name I
do not know, but whose sentiments are to be found in Nock’s Remnant:
Burn our dreams.
Pour acid on our songs.
Cover with sawdust the blood of our massacred people.
Muffle with your technology the screams of all that is
free, wild and indigenous.
Destroy our grass and soil.
Raze to the ground every farm and every village our
ancestors had built.
Every tree, every home, every book, every law and all
equity and harmony.
Flatten with your bombs every valley.
Erase with your edits our past, our literature, our
Denude the forest and the earth till no insect no bird
no word can find a place to hide.
Do that and more.
I do not fear your tyranny.
I do not despair ever.
For I guard a seed, a little seed, that I shall
safeguard and plant again.