“The only “us versus them” that matters is not about race, religion, nationality, or income level; it is about aggressors and their victims.” ~Larken Rose
Who the hell are the “powers-that-be” anyway? You may not like the answer. The powers-that-be are us. Plain and simple. They are us to the extent that we each continue to give into the unhealthy, unsustainable, violent hype of a system that simply does not function well for healthy individuals. To the extent that we are aware of the hype but still choose to remain indifferent, apathetic, and ignorant to the violence around us, we are the powers-that-be. We are the ugly machinery of the monster that is the unsustainable, unhealthy state.
To the extent that we are aware of the hype, and we are systematically attempting to take apart the system, while also creating new, healthier, sustainable, non-violent modes of human governance, we are not the powers that be, but rather courageous Davids daring to challenge the overreaching, over-powerful, monstrous state that is Goliath. To that extent, we dutifully exert our power, in order to get power over power, by turning the tables on the powers-that-be, and thereby potentially preventing the state from harming others. As John Stewart Mill said,
“The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”
As healthy catalysts, as freedom facilitators, as sparks of courage in the otherwise cowardly dark, we who are aware of the violent ugliness of the goliath-state, will always be more powerful (no matter how powerless we might feel) than the powers-that-be; precisely because our power is in alignment with health, sustainability and freedom, and theirs is not (no matter how powerful they might feel). Here are four things the powers-that-be want you to remain ignorant about.
1. The Non-Aggression Principle
“Every man is free to do that which he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man.” ~Herbert Spencer
Violence is a huge problem for a species attempting to evolve into a healthier version of itself. To the extent that we are aware of others, and to the extent that we are capable of empathy and compassion, violence is actually a sign of cowardice and weakness and merely a lizard-brain knee-jerk reaction of our baser instincts. As Isaac Asimov said, “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” Indeed, violence is for cowards and idiots. The damnable misery of it all is, we seem to be surrounded by cowards and idiots. In a world where the majority of people allow violent states to run roughshod over each other, violence begets violence.
The cycle of violence has become the foundation of a culture when it has been brainwashed into believing that authoritarian violence can bring about gentleness and war can bring about peace. Violence only ever breeds more violence; war only ever breeds more war. As Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”
So what’s a non-violent, courageous, competent individual to do? In order to avoid going blind, we must be able to proactively teach and practice the non-aggression principle. The powers-that-be don’t want us to be aware of this principle of peace because they are still stuck in a dog-eat-dog, competitive one-upmanship type mindset that feels compelled to use violence to get what it wants. This mindset must be broken, or at least put into checkmate, by a dog-teach-dog, cooperative non-violent mindset that seeks healthy evolution through compassionate but courageous revolution.
2. Your Own Stockholm Syndrome
“It isn’t a coincidence that governments everywhere want to educate children. Government education, in turn is supposed to be evidence of the state’s goodness and its concern for our well-being. The real explanation is less flattering. If the government’s propaganda can take root as children grow up, those kids will be no threat to the state apparatus. They’ll fasten the chains to their own ankles.” ~Lew Rockwell
You are your most effective prison warden. How, you might ask? Almost anybody can suffer from Stockholm syndrome if the following conditions are met:
1.) Perceived threat to survival and the belief that one’s captor is willing to act on that threat (state military),
2.) The captive’s perception of small kindnesses from the captor within a context of terror (state security and safety),
3.) Isolation from perspectives other than those of the captor (corporate media),
4.) Perceived inability to escape (debt slavery). Indeed, as Stefan Molyneux said, “Distraction serves evil more than any other mental state.”
Alas, the shackles are nice and comfortable. The noose makes us feel safe and secure. The leash allows us just enough room to feel like we are free. The threats from the powers-that-be keep us codependent and obedient, baying like sheep in a farmyard. But the stakes are too high to continue remaining ignorant and myopic to the corrupt and destructive powers of the state. It’s not only the health of fragile ecosystems that’s at risk, but the health of our species as well. As Terence Mckenna said, “If a radical political alternative is not opened up, then I think we are essentially going to amuse ourselves into extinction. Business as usual at this point is a death sentence on the human race.”
The radical political alternative is a wide awake citizenry in David-like solidarity against the goliath-like state. It begins by recognizing, admitting, and then shedding the Stockholm syndrome that has fallen upon us like invisible chains through the course of our lives. Like Percy Bysshe Shelley said, “Rise like Lions after slumber in unvanquishable number –shake your chains to earth like dew, which in sleep had fallen on you. Ye are many-they are few.”
In our deep sleep, in our somnambulant stumbling through forefather-puked laws and hand-me-down ideals, we have inadvertently become the powers-that-be. We relate all-too-comfortably with the violent behemoth of the state. We turn the tables on the powers-that-be by first admitting that we are the powers-that-be, and then by being proactive about unbecoming the state.
3. How Taxation is Propagandized Theft
“If taxation without consent is robbery, the United States government has never had, has not now, and is never likely to have, a single honest dollar in its treasury. If taxation without consent is not robbery, then any band of robbers have only to declare themselves a government, and all their robberies are legalized.” ~Lysander Spooner
The powers-that-be don’t want you to know that taxation is theft because then the whole system would collapse. It matters little if the system is corrupt, unhealthy, unsustainable and violent if it is all the people know. The people will fight to keep it intact because the alternative is a scary unfamiliar unknown.
So people, especially people who don’t realize they are also the powers-that-be, continue paying taxes against their will and, through years of conditioning, reach the point to where they confuse their willingness to pay taxes with freedom, neglecting the fact that if they chose not to pay taxes their choice would be met by violent opposition from the state.
And so the sheep are willingly shorn, in perpetual fear that they may be skinned. Like Edward Abbey said, “Taxation: how the sheep are shorn.” But there is an alternative: become a well-armed lamb. Not just with guns, but with knowledge. Guns are only ever necessary when violence is necessary –in self-defense. Otherwise, knowledge will suffice. Indeed, the well-armed lamb, equipped with knowledge and wisdom, and the wit and acumen to apply it, becomes a lion –a cunning, wild and free force to be reckoned with. As Frederick Douglas said,
“Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.”
4. How Structural Violence Sustains Poverty
“If you really wish to put an end to war, poverty, hunger, and territorial disputes, you must utilize all the world’s resources as a common heritage of all of the world’s people. Anything less than that, you will remain with the same problems you’ve had continuously for centuries.” ~Jacque Fresco
Structural violence is, as Johan Galtung wrote, “an avoidable impairment of fundamental human needs.” The key word is “avoidable.” Within the violence appropriating system of the state it’s difficult to see how such things as war and poverty are avoidable, but, outside such a system, it’s self-evident. Poverty can easily be eradicated, as long as resources are dealt with properly and cooperation trumps competition. War is easily avoidable, as long as there’s no money in it. Both are problems of our infancy as a species. Our problem is a collective lack of imagination, a dearth of interdependence and a shortage of mature compassion.
The human condition has become a bureaucracy. The tragedy of our times is that we live for the state. We are people of and for the governmental machine. Instead of the machine being a tool for us to use, we have become a tool for it to exploit. The tragedy of this is that life itself becomes a bureaucracy, which brings about absolute decay in all order of things and crushes the independence of the individual. As David Graeber said:
“Bureaucracies, I’ve suggested, are not themselves forms of stupidity so much as they are ways of organizing stupidity –of managing relationships that are already characterized by extremely unequal structures of imagination, which exist because of the existence of structural violence.”
Here’s the bottom line: Until we can resolve the problem of resource shortages we cannot move forward as a species. If we can learn how to solve such problems, we will become healthy, and we might survive as a species. If we cannot solve such problems, then we will have neither health nor survival, and we will surely perish.
Our current social system, and the powers-that-be that drive it (the state), is a huge problem –a problem of resource shortages and distribution. The demand for unlimited growth on a planet with limited resources is clearly impossible. We have it all backwards.
Our system concentrates wealth and distributes poverty, while destroying the planet.
When what we need is a system in place that concentrates poverty and absolves it by intelligently distributing wealth, while healing the planet. Easier said than done, sure. But as Baruch Spinoza said, “All things excellent are as difficult as they are rare.”