THE PARADIGM SHIFT INTO ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL POWER
The concept "paradigm" was popularized by Thomas S. Kuhn through his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. A paradigm is a worldview or a vision of reality. It is how we see things. For example, here are some elements of a paradigm:
In his superb book Future Edge: Discovering the New
Paradigms of Success Joel Arthur Barker defines paradigm as
"A paradigm is a set of rules and regulations (written or unwritten) that does two things: (1) it establishes or defines boundaries; and (2) it tells you how to behave inside the boundaries in order to be successful."
We measure success by our ability to solve problems. The test of our paradigm above is: How good is it at solving problems? - more accurately, how successful are people at solving their problems when using the above paradigm?
In The Arizona Republic of September 13, 1992 reported
under the heading "Nation in major decline, most citizens
say in poll" that:
"Two out of three Americans believe the United States is in a serious long-term decline - economic, moral and spiritual - according to a new national poll and long conversations with representative groups of citizens across the land.
The pessimism, breathtaking in its sweep and intensity, goes well beyond today's sluggish economy to deep anxiety about the future of the nation. It infects every generation, from young adults who came of age under Presidents Reagan and Bush to senior citizens who lived through the Great Depression and World War II...
On issue after issue, citizens say the United States has been losing ground: the economy, 65 percent; crime, 68 percent; health care, 52 percent; poverty and homelessness, 54 percent."
Now let me propose an alternative to the above paradigm - a different way of looking at the American system:
Above we have two paradigms. If you as an individual choose to operate according to the first paradigm, you are powerless to do anything about "changing" the system. If you choose the second paradigm - which is more accurate and closer to reality - then some powerful options become available to you. But first, you have to discover that you are free - or choose to be free.
BECOME A FREEPERSON
In some very important aspects a Freeperson is a special breed of human. Below is an example of the kind of basic assumptions, assertions, or affirmations that a Freeperson lives by:
Each Freeperson has his or her own set of basic assumptions, whether explicitly formulated or not. Some of the implications of the above assumptions follow:
1. I am free
You can't become free by merely asserting that you are free. I also suspect that it is very difficult for people who haven't lived free to discover that they are free. But people can discover that they control the energy that animates their bodies, and that - ultimately - every action they take follows from a decision in their brain. Reading The Discovery of Freedom by Rose Wilder Lane may assist this discovery.
My mind and my body are in my power... Whatever beliefs I might have about not being free are beliefs in my mind. I chose those beliefs. I can change those beliefs.
2. I am sovereign
The discovery that you are sovereign follows from the realization that you are free and that all coercive political systems on planet earth today are fraudulent hoaxes. Reading No Treason - The Constitution of no Authority by Lysander Spooner may assist this discovery. I do not rule others, nor am I ruled by others. I am sovereign over my mind and body.
3. I am responsible
The realization that you are responsible follows from an increasing awareness of the links between your actions (and non-actions) and their consequences. Your choices have consequences. The kind of life you now lead, your degree of freedom, and the state of your health are consequences of your choices. You have created your life. You are responsible, whether you know it or not.
To a very large extent, I cause my actions, I produce my own outcomes, and I determine what happens to me. Though I realize that while I am free to choose my actions, I am not free to choose the consequences of my actions.
Being responsible also means that I keep the agreements I make.
4. I choose the values by which I live
Whatever moral code you live by you chose it - even if by default. If you decide to live by the "laws of a country" (so-called), that is your choice. A Freeperson knows that there can be as many moral codes as there are conscious individuals.
5. I live my life the way I want to
For the most part, this is really an obvious statement of fact. To think otherwise is to deceive yourself. If you wanted your life to be different you would have created it differently through your choices. Of course, we do realize that "chance events" have considerable influence - but it is the victim or slave mentality who blames external factors and feigns helplessness.
6. I practice association by consent
Force or coercion by human against human is a remnant of the practice of slavery. I believe in voluntary association. I do not force or coerce others. I organize my life so as to reduce coercion from others against me to a minimum.
7. I want others to enjoy the same freedom
Other Freepersons enrich my life. Social contact with them tends to be rewarding, business mutually profitable. In general, life is more fun and rewarding among a circle of Freepersons. Benefits result from my successful attempts to assist others to increase their freedom.
Parallel: A rational person seeks associations with other rational individuals, and profits from their existence through voluntary exchange in which all parties gain value.
SEIZE YOUR FREEDOM
(This section is based on a flier written by the mysterious author "J.E.T.") So you want to be free? Then become free! All the freedom is yours which you are able to seize! How do you seize freedom? By avoiding, evading, escaping, discouraging, overpowering, destroying, or otherwise frustrating anyone who initiates force or the threat of force against you.
Do you beg for freedom? - "But the oppressors ignore my pleas for freedom", you complain. Do you expect them to set you free? (Graffiti in a Las Vegas shopping mall: SLAVES NEED MASTERS.) As you yourself point out, your oppressors have the morals which would shame a beast of the forests. As long as you obey their rules, no matter how onerous, and pay their taxes, no matter how burdensome - why should they set you free? - why should they relinquish the easy life of a parasite?
"And the oppressors dupe my neighbors who are confused, unaware, and apathetic," you protest. Do you expect them not to deceive? - not to tame their flocks? The herdsman can milk only tame cows; the shearer can shear only submissive sheep; the tyrant can drive only obedient slaves...
"We must overturn the oppressors," some of you proclaim, "and rule wisely and justly in their place." Then go do it - if you can! But don't be surprised when the oppressors stampede their bewildered subjects against you.
"We must educate - teach increasing numbers our values and ideas," others shout, "And some day truth will prevail and evil will be banished from the earth." But as even you admit in your more reflective moments, this will take time - much time. So how shall you live the only life you will ever have? And how many followers can you attract and hold if you offer only visions of a paradise for their great grandchildren?
"I do want freedom," you cry, "But there is no way to get it now - no chance to elect, no means to revolt, and no place to go." I reply: If you want freedom, seize it.
"But my oppressors are organized into a powerful government, an omnipotent state - their laws shackle me," you object, "And they have thousands of agents and millions of police." I reply: However, each of their minions has only the same two eyes, the same two hands, and usually not as much brains as you or I. They are individuals. They cannot be everywhere. They cannot see everything. They cannot understand everything. They cannot do everything. You do not have to obey them.
"But they collect a tax on my earnings before I even see it," you protest. Only if you are so craven as to hand it over. Discover ways to avoid their extortions: Get your earnings under your own control; trade with those who practice freedom; or be a Gypsy who sells - and flees!
"But they will confiscate my property," you quaver. Only if you are so foolish as to lead them to it. Convert your wealth into forms you can conceal. Put it where they can't get at it. And rent your shops and homes - or mortgage them to the hilt.
"But they will throw me in jail," you object. Only if you are so careless as to stumble over them - they who have trouble apprehending morons and psychopaths. Make yourself difficult to find.
"But that is too much trouble," you complain, "I would rather follow their rules and pay their taxes - lick their boots and hone their axes - do everything they demand - and maybe, oh maybe, they will leave me alone just a little." Then tag along with the sheep to slaughter, you who expect freedom on a silver platter. For how long can you appease the tyrant who will demand more and more, until he owns you completely?
And what do we know of this libertarian utopia that some of you dream of? In every land of which we hear, there are some who covet the lives and creations of others - predators who rob and enslave the weak, the foolish, and the cowardly. And when have they failed to recruit millions to vote for them, finance them, and work for them as humble agents and police?
Some predators prowl alone or in small gangs, slinking about as criminals. So the Freepersons go about like tigers - armed and ready for self-defense.
Some predators join together, masquerading and strutting about as "rulers." So the Freepersons go about like foxes - inconspicuous and ready to hide.
(Occasionally some "Freepersons" form an alliance to put down the predators - only to become slavers and looters in turn.)
However, in almost every land, those with the courage to assert their freedom seldom need to fight or hide - for the predators live off the easy prey.
Now, at last, I have the key -
The elixir of liberty -
For the first time in history -
And once sufficient numbers see...
Well, maybe... but in the meantime, all the freedom is yours which you are able to seize.
HUMAN POWER GROUPS
We can now extend our vision of Human Power Groups. Here are some additional things they can do:
PAINE, JEFFERSON, AND GANDHI
Thomas Paine is the author of Common Sense, first
published in 1776 in Philadelphia. It became an immediate
bestseller. Here are the first two paragraphs from Common Sense:
"Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.
Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities are heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer."
Thomas Jefferson was a friend of Paine. Jefferson is generally credited with the authorship of the Declaration of Independence, though Paine must have had a hand in it. Jefferson was also our third President, a wise philosopher, and a master strategist.
Jefferson believed in natural rights. In The Philosophy of
Thomas Jefferson Adrienne Koch quotes Jefferson's original
draft of the Declaration of Independence, before Congress
"... that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it... " [emphasis added]
In Inventing America: Jefferson's Declaration of
Independence Garry Wills quotes the 1774 Declaration of
Rights of Virginia - where Jefferson was Governor:
"All men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by any compact, deprive their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety." [emphasis added]
Mohandas Gandhi was the master strategist who effectively defeated the British Empire in India - practicing nonviolence, without a military army, and without ever seeking or accepting any political office. Gandhi, in my opinion, like no human before or since, demonstrated the power of choice. His choices defeated the armed might of the British Empire.
But I want to add a word of caution. In my opinion, Gandhi had a masochistic side to his personality, philosophy, and strategy. We need not self-sacrifice, suffer, or starve. We want to have boundless fun and make fortunes through the power of our choices.
My "Gandhi library" can be found in the Annotated Bibliography - the books by Erik Erikson and Gene Sharp.