On the eve of the 2016 US presidential election I would have to classify the 18 month ordeal as a reality TV circus that highlighted deep cultural divisions and underlying tensions.
Next week Americans will choose one of two astonishingly horrible candidates to be the next leader of the once-free world.
Both candidates are the subjects of ongoing criminal investigations and have histories so sordid that the campaign has amounted to little more than an attempt by each side to convince voters that the other person is more horrible.
The mud-slinging has been so fierce and all-consuming that there has been precious little effort spent trying to discuss anything of substance.
No talk of ending the 15 year old war in Afghanistan; no proposals to avoid repeating the Obama administration’s mistake of adding $10 trillion to the national debt with nothing to show for it; no discussion of whether to scale back domestic surveillance programs or the forcible irradiation of millions of airline passengers every day; no admission of the government’s role in the nation’s growing income inequality; no solutions to Social Security’s looming insolvency.
Just never-ending insults interspersed with well-rehearsed sound bites promising more free stuff and police state tactics.
Heck I’m curious how many times the word “Constitution” even escaped these candidate’s lips during the entire 18 month ordeal.
The Worst Form of Government
In a 1947 address to the British House of Commons Winston Churchill stated:
“Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”
He was right. While monarchy, communism, fascism and socialism naturally lend themselves to tyranny and authoritarianism, democracy and republicanism at least put up some speed bumps.
But despite their checks and balances even these forms of government eventually succumb to the natural human weaknesses of those who love to tell everybody else what to do.
In his book Anatomy of the State, economist Murray Rothbard summarizes this eternal problem with government:
“Of all the numerous forms that governments have taken over the centuries, of all the concepts and institutions that have been tried, none has succeeded in keeping the State in check. The problem of the State is evidently as far from solution as ever.”
“The State,” or what many modern authors call “The Deep State,” is what results when a nation’s elite take control of the government and use its police powers to consolidate wealth and political power for themselves until they control and consume everything without producing anything of value.
The State is a leech on society; it replaces entrepreneurs with government sponsored rentiers and discourages productivity, industry and thrift while generating indolence, debt and dependency.
Though the State began to rear its ugly head early on in our nation’s history it was the “guns and butter” policies implemented by the Johnson administration in the 60’s that really jump started the State’s progress. These policies were perpetuated by Johnson’s successors and accelerated by the Bush and Obama administrations in response to the 9/11 attacks and the 2008 financial crisis.
After 50 years of warfare/welfare policies the State has gained near total control of the US government and economy.
Does this mean that every politician is an evil and corrupt person working towards the destruction of freedom and democracy or that every person working for the government is a mindless bureaucratic drone?
Of course not. I believe there are many honorable people in government.
What the State’s takeover means is that these people’s ability to influence the direction of the nation is extremely limited.
A Rotten System
The State is a system, operated by a few elitists that have consolidated sufficient political power to confiscate the wealth and freedom of the citizenry and do essentially whatever they want in order to advance their own goals at the expense of everyone else.
Bottom line, it’s the system that is rotten, not necessarily the individuals who are cogs within the system. That’s why no matter who the president is or which Congresspersons we elect nothing ever changes.
Until the system changes our march down the path of less freedom, less stability, less security and less prosperity will continue uninterrupted.
Lots of people sense the problem; people can tell that something has gone horribly wrong with our society. But they can’t quite put their finger on what it is and those running for office either can’t or won’t help them understand where the problems lie. As a result people continue to do the only thing they’ve been told they can do; vote and hope for the best.
As it turns out hope is a pretty poor change agent.
This year we’ve seen those who’ve been pushed to the breaking point revolt by nominating Donald Trump who they hope will be the kind of strong hand needed to reign in the power of the State. I’d argue that many on the other side of the aisle are hoping for the same kind of strong-handedness from Clinton.
This phenomenon is not limited to the US election.
We’re seeing this revolution throughout the world. Examples are June’s Brexit vote, the separatist movements rising throughout Europe, Argentina’s election of a non-establishment president and the election of Rodrigo Duterte in the Phillipines.
People throughout the world are tired of the State’s oppression and unfortunately they are taking drastic measures to fight back. Historically odds are this will not end well.
There is a better option.
Seeking Liberty through Education
So what are we to do?
Are we really limited to voting, writing to Congresspersons with limited influence/willingness to affect change or participating in angry conversations on internet comment boards and social media?
Although Murray Rothbard wasn’t able to offer a solution to the problem of the State he did offer this clue as to what more we can do:
“The greatest danger to the State is independent intellectual criticism”.
In other words the way to conquer the state is not electing authoritarian candidates, the first step is our classic Lever Building principle of Intellectual Freedom.
As with any form of freedom, political liberty begins with individual education. Education enables us to understand the world as it really is so that we know the questions to ask and the actions to take.
Until the State is faced with confronting the “independent intellectual criticism” of an electorate educated enough to force discussions on the hard issues we will continue to be subjected to the kind of entertainment based political campaigns we’ve seen this year.
So what should you study?
The possibilities are endless but a basic understanding of political philosophy and economics will provide an invaluable foundation for understanding specific issues
Recognizing that that these topics are not as interesting to most people as they are to me here is a list of relatively quick and easy resources that I would recommend to anybody desiring to gain a better understanding of the mindset that made America a superpower and how we’ve fallen into the State’s web today:
Anatomy of the State (free PDF download) – An excellent overview of what is happening in the United States today. From a mere 46 pages worth of text you will gain a deeper understanding of what’s happened to the United States government than you would from hundreds of hours spent reading internet articles or watching Fox or MSNBC coverage of politics.
Common Sense – A quick snapshot into the mindset and motivations that led to the American Revolution
Zero to One; Chapter 6 – The entire book is excellent for anyone interested in entrepreneurship but Chapter 6 talks specifically about how Americans use to dream big and accomplish astonishing things. He also discusses how we lost that and what we need to recover that virtue.
Guide to Investing in Gold & Silver – This book offers the most easy to understand overview of monetary history that I have ever found. A quick read to help you understand the nature and reasons for the cycle that all superpowers experience and help you understand where the US is in this cycle.
The Biggest Scam in the History of Mankind. Who Owns the Federal Reserve? – This 30 minute video is the fourth in a series called The Hidden Secrets of Money. The entire series is well worth your time but this particular video is a MUST WATCH if you want to understand why the national debt is exploding and how you fit into the international monetary system.
Rich Dad’s Cash Flow Quadrants – Not only an excellent book on the mindset needed to achieve financial freedom but also offers an excellent layman’s overview of why many of the current trends and tools in the financial system are making the average person poorer despite a lifetime’s worth of hard work.
Sovereign Man Notes from the Field – Publishes 5 minute reads several times per week that provides incredible insight into things happening within the US and international governments that you won’t hear anywhere else. Although it features many hard truths this is also one of the best resources I’ve found for learning about proactive steps one can take to prepare for likely outcomes. This newsletter is a must read for me.
Learning the Lessons of the Past
One common thread between many of these resources is a focus on history.
We are not the first generation to grapple with these challenges and we will not be the last. Learning the lessons of the past is one of the most important ways that we can empower ourselves to become the leaders that our friends and neighbors are desperately seeking to reclaim the land we love.
We are not powerless, but to be agents of change we must take action beyond casting a ballot every couple of years and hoping for the best.
As with anything else we discuss, we become agents of change by first seeking education and then acting within our Circle of Influence to educate others and effect positive change in any way possible.
I end with the words of James Madison, author of the Virginia Plan that provided the foundation for the discussions that resulted in the US Constitution:
“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives. A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both”