2/27/2010

To the graduating class of ...

Congratulations to each and every one of you, who, through diligent attention to your studies, through hard work, determination, and in many cases, good luck, have achieved an essential element of that great American dream: a college education; a degree from a prestigious and accredited university. This is not only an American dream, but a dream for all civilized people everywhere in the world.

Your degree will open doors to opportunities that are not available to those who do not possess one. You are now among the elite of the nations; the best, the brightest; the educated. And, you now have the documentation to prove it.

However, although you may have thought otherwise, the truth is that your true education is just beginning.

I say beginning, because most of you have yet to master the most important skill of all: how to think. It is true that you know how to study, you know how to research an assigned topic, you know how to argue persuasively, and you know how to pay attention.

But, do you know how to form your own opinion, based on facts, even in the face of extreme peer pressure, in spite of your own ego? Do you truly understand the many levels of human motivation that may be behind the assertions made by many? Are you able to objectively examine your own beliefs? Are you even interested in facts, in truth? You have learned much. You have been told much. Undoubtedly, some of what you have learned is not fact; it is unsubstantiated and unjustified opinion.

Most of you are young. You are energetic, idealistic, compassionate, sincere, eager to show the world how to do it right. Some want to go out and change the world, to make it a better place for all. Some are interested in personal success. Some want to be respected, or famous, or feared. Some want to be left alone.

The world has no shortage of deceivers, demagogues, and deluded “leaders”, who want your unwavering support and loyalty. If you are unable to think for yourself; if you base your decisions and beliefs on your emotions, then you can become the pawn of those who can arouse passionate emotions within you. You would become like a member of a cult – always supporting whatever you are told is right, without even knowing why. Think of the millions who supported fascism, Nazism, communism, because each of these causes had eloquent spokesmen who aroused passion in their followers, and promised a better life for all. Think of the billions who blindly follow religious ideas and traditions, without even thinking about the reason they do so. Think of the unspeakable suffering of humanity throughout the centuries, and even occurring at this very moment, because of blind devotion to political, cultural, and religious institutions and ideas.

This world is indeed a mess. If you listen to some, the end of all humanity is near. Insurmountable problems seem to be facing us. Religious fanatics seem poised, even anxious, to cause the destruction of millions, of billions of their fellow human beings. Tyrants have set their sights on ruling the world, or at least large parts of it.

The list of the world’s ills is long. It seems like you have inherited inconceivably difficult problems to solve. But, it has always been like this. In all ages, mankind has been faced with problems, the mere contemplation of which can leave one weak, trembling, and despairing. There has always been a wolf at the door, waiting to devour. Yet, somehow, we manage to survive.

Over time, most things have gotten better. But what our ancestors and forefathers have achieved over centuries, and millennia, can be lost in a single generation, if we allow it. And, once it is gone, who can say how many centuries will pass before we get it back, if ever? We, you, must continue the fight for what is right, for human freedom. Freedom to be what we want to be. Freedom from fear. Freedom from those who would dictate how we should live and what we should think. Freedom from dogmas; physical, economic, and intellectual slavery. Every child, every little girl and every little boy born into this world must have every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment that the world can provide.

Thornton Wilder wrote: "I've never forgotten for long at a time that living is a struggle. I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for - whether it's a field, or a home, or a country."

Every good and excellent thing. Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. As Americans, you are heirs to a great tradition of liberty. Cruel policies have been made, atrocities and great injustices have been committed in our nation, and by our nation. We must see where we have been wrong, and admit it. We should not let that stop us, though. We must go forward, promoting the ideals upon which America was founded; political, economic, social, and intellectual liberty for all. Justice, peace, and security.

Now go forth, as leaders among men and women, as true thinkers; challenge your own beliefs, examine every assertion, be willing to admit that you may be wrong. Listen to the arguments of intelligent advocates for each position. Weigh the facts. Let your dedication to truth motivate you to dispassionately decide, based on the facts. Let compassion and idealism be your guide, but do not deceive yourself because you wish a thing to be true.

You have your whole life ahead of you. Spend that life wisely, for you only have one.

Do something important.

2/11/2010

The New Fascists - by James Hudnall (BigGovernment.com)

“My dear brothers, never forget, when you hear the progress of enlightenment vaunted, that the devil’s best trick is to persuade you that he doesn’t exist!”
- Charles Baudelaire, Le Joueur généreux, February 7, 1864

Forget everything you think you know about politics. It is probably wrong.

There is no left or right. Communist, Socialist, Liberal, Conservative, Progressive, Democrat, Republican, those are all meaningless terms. They are used to confuse people so they miss the point. The most important point about politics there is. There are only two schools of political thought and they have predictable results. All the names and labels for them are just smoke and mirrors.

Political ideology is designed by elites to trick the masses into doing what they want. Each side tells you something designed to get your emotions going so they can play you. They get you to agree to give them more power, money and control over your lives by telling you some kind of story.

We need to put that vicious cycle to an end. It’s time to understand what their real goals are. But to free your mind, you need to be educated first. Only by seeing the road ahead can you avoid tripping on stones or falling off cliffs.

There are only two real political choices to make. And it has nothing to do with parties. It has to do with core beliefs. You are for one side or another. These sides are diametrically opposed. The best way I can describe the two choices is, freedom or slavery. That is what it boils down to. And the slave in question is you.

Do you want to be a slave or a free person? It’s your choice.

I’m sure some of you reading this have your guard up now. So take a deep breath and walk with me for a second. I am going to open your eyes.

There are only two forms of government. Every kind of government is a branch or variation of one of the two forms. All the side issues, are just window dressing because the root form of government determines a lot of crucial matters that effect everything else.

The first form has many branches and is called many by names. It is common. It is the oldest form. It is, in fact, ancient. It has many names because so many of those names have fallen into disrepute. So they keep re-branding it and try to sell it in a different package. But no matter what name it takes, it still leads to the same end result.

The second form has very few branches and is rarer than any precious stone. It is something many people want but few have had. The believers in the first form are always trying to destroy this second form. They lie about it. Try to corrupt and subvert it. Because they know it will always be more popular with the people if they knew they had a choice. So the second form must always be defended from the predators from the first, because it is precious. I like to refer to each system as the minus and plus system. But we’ll call them BG or LG here. Big Government or Limited Government.

Those who believe in BG go by many names, and many of these believers don’t even know that they’re supporting the same goals as people they think are bad. But they have been tricked into selling out their own freedoms to enrich someone elses. All BG systems lead to the same result. I classify this as a minus system because it’s negative. The end result of a BG system is bad for most involved.

The BG system is designed to feed all resources to a few at the top. All else are diminished in power and wealth. But the citizens are told that they must support the government and its rules in order to receive some kind of “benefits.” In order to get the treats the government doles out, you have to give up your freedoms and your property. It sells the idea of some glorious future that is never attained and only gets worse over time. But it always maintains that it will lead to some kind of paradise.

It never does. It usually leads to some kind of hell. But it always finds people to subscribe to its ideas who become fanatical in defense of it, no matter how much the system abuses them. And it deludes many others into wanting it because it preys on their human nature, the very thing that destroys it in the end.

The LG or Limited Government system is the best system for human freedom. As a result it has been very rare in human history. Where it has been allowed to flourish, human beings have flourished. But those who believe in BG are always trying to corrupt and destroy LG societies. This is because LG denies ultimate power to those who seek it. An LG system is more fair because you get what you put in. You have the ability to advance to any level as long as you don’t abuse the success that you have made or use it against others.

Before we explore how each system works, we need to understand the mindset of the people who believe in either system. I once did a cartoon illustrating the philosophies ( http://thehud.com/2009/12/clash-of-the-titans/) in the form of two Greek Philosophers, Aristotle and Plato. Each philosopher created the groundwork for understanding these schools of thought.

LG (Plus) believers are Aristotlian. They are like engineers. If something is proven to work, then they believe in it. They are not opposed to experimentation, but only if it involves proven principles. Ideas that are demonstrated to fail are rejected. They understand that human beings are flawed creatures. Humans are born hungry and spend their lives seeking to fulfill those hungers. In science terms, humans are driven by genetic hard wiring. It is part of their nature. In religious terms, humans are born with “original sin”. We can’t radically change who we are and remain human. We can only seek to improve ourselves through discipline, education, reason and morality.

LG believers understand that humans are often given to a lust for power because we all want some kind of control. LG societies are designed to limit governance so the state can never become tyrannical. It realizes that human nature is a constant so you have to develop a system that works within its framework, and keeps its basic problems in check. That way a politician’s greed is limited by what they are allowed to do by laws. The less interference a government has in human affairs, the more free the people are to progress on their own and flourish. LG believers are for individual rights. They believe a perfect society may not be possible, but it can be best achieved by respect for others rights and liberties. They believe in a social contract and the rule of law. They want people to be free in order to live their life without interference, as long as they respect other’s rights. The LG is there to enable the society to function and keep the peace, but it is not there to dominate or dictate how one should live.

BG (Minus) believers are Platonic. They posit that there’s an ideal form of society somewhere in the future, a utopia populated by an idealized form of humanity. This can only be achieved by forcing people to change through rules, laws and governance. It wraps itself in good intentions, but it ignores human nature, believing people can be changed by rules. Making the public follow orders will correct their bad behavior as the state sees it. It does not believe it can be tyrannical because BG systems are always sure they’re correct, not matter what happens. Dissenters are ridiculed or punished. No matter how many mistakes a BG society makes or disasters it causes, it does not admit its fault. BG believers preach dependence on the state. It denies individual empowerment or freedom and instead promotes group think. It pushes the group over the individual to keep people in check. It does not want leaders so much as followers. Its leaders are usually the hungriest for power that make their way to the top by gaming the system.

BG societies are constantly creating diversions to keep the public focused on policies it wants to sell. So it often creates “crises” of some kind that the people are supposed to rally around. In order to get them to give up more freedom or personal wealth, it often uses scare tactics. Threats of invasion, threats of nature, etc. The elites in a BG system always live vastly better than those at the bottom, but it always promises some kind of “equality” that never exists in reality. And because the BG system is large and complex it relies on bureaucracies to manage them. But because bureaucracies are made of humans, human nature always corrupts these systems. A bureaucracy becomes inefficient and corrupt in direct proportion to its size. The larger, the less effective, the more corrupt.

BG systems usually lead to economic collapse and stagnation. Usually with dire consequences for millions of people. That is why citizens in BG societies often yearn to go to LG societies. Many of them risk their lives to escape from BG societies that hold them captive. Because in worst case scenarios, BG systems imprison their citizens. They are all, to some extent, anti-freedom. It’s a matter of degree.

In contemporary American terms, the common names for BG and LG is “progressive” or “conservative”. Those terms have been used misleadingly by the media and others, so I avoided them. In part two I will do side by side comparison of the two systems performed in history. And I will explain the title of this series.