by Alvin Lowi
Number 101 – Dec 1999
I am keenly aware of my personal identity, a cherished gift from my parents. I would boast of my individuality as though it was a privilege were it not for the fact that all other people are similarly endowed. Yet, we are all different and in my case, I may celebrate my individuality more often than most. Thus, I have become known as an incorrigible individualist and I rather enjoy the distinction.
From my perspective, I observe a lot of anguish is being suffered among those people newly disillusioned over “the system,” its injustices and absurdities. To them I say beware of all public plans and policies! More specifically, be aware that the “public” is a fictional entity. The only real entities are individual persons. The “public” is merely and excuse for a gang of ambitious political adventurers and exploiters to ride herd over others. It is an illusion that figures into all “government” mischief. How such an illusion came to pass is a story no less clever than The Wizard of Oz and a lot more factual.
The history of politics and its notions of “government” leads me to the conclusion that all political government is naked conquest and politics is but a scheme to subvert self-government and monopolize all “government” in the hands of an elite few. Self-government consists of self-discipline, and politics simply takes its cues from this fact and constructs a paternalistic Leviathan of regimentation over all in outrageous mimicry of the self-governing individual parent. This politics does as if it had the legitimate authority.
I set aside the word “government” here in quotes to indicate that the political version of government is irrelevant to if not destructive of real government. Real government is self-government else there is no government whatsoever. Without self-government, which is natural, government degenerates into a bunch of rackets. While rackets are natural, too, just like cancer, smallpox, syphilis, and AIDS, they tend to produce anarchy (no rule) resulting in social atrophy. Without a modicum of self-rule, society contracts and humanity declines inasmuch as the world can support few people without the benefactions of social processes such as exchange and specialization. Who cares? Certainly not the rulers who, come what may, expect to survive on the loot they can forage from whatever humanity is left.
Although the contest between the individual victim and the political state that is out to conquer him seems most poignant and grossly unfair, I resist the urge to engage in reform activity. I am a naturalist when it comes to humanity and society. Thus, I regard politics as an epidemic disease. As I see it, “public” health can be improved only as individual competence, initiative, and prudence are perfected, practiced and spread throughout the population. These traits are not only essential for making a life worthwhile but they also provide resistance to political infection. I observe that all people still alive have some grasp on such traits so that an expectation that they will exercise them from time to time and to some extent is not too unrealistic, provided they are not deluded by false promises of protection without effort.
Clearly, some level of social life is continuing notwithstanding the insults and assaults of political government. Such continuity is attributable to a residuum of individual initiative and responsibility. Paradoxically, the state is depending on a continuation of the same thing.
Looking at the political disease from this perspective, I suppose the most virulent “public” infection is the state monopoly of “public education.” The compulsory, tax-supported institutions known mistakenly as “public schools” are where innocence, curiosity, critical thinking, and self-confidence are systematically stolen from the children in order to make them more docile subjects of the paternalistic system when and if they become adults. In the absence of educational alternatives that can effectively compete with the state’s compulsory regimen, the indoctrination and brainwashing inflicted thereby will continue resulting in a lasting intellectual injury for most children. From this viewpoint, gun-run schools are a better accouterment to the state than the armed forces, the police, or the prisons. The seemingly intractable problems of statecraft are readily understandable when the true mission of the “public schools” is comprehended. That mission is first and foremost the perpetuation of the state. Good citizenship (read obedience and loyalty to the nation, right or wrong) takes precedence over all mere learning. In this campaign, the teachers’ unions conspire with the bureaucrats to protect their exclusive franchise for the convenience of the state.
However, I am optimistic about the natural inclinations of people when they are sober, i.e., not intoxicated by illusion, delusion, bemusion, and confusion. I observe that in a strictly private and confidential encounter, most people who have no status in the system other than citizenship, will sober up for the duration of their seclusion. A few will remain so and live by the courage of their own convictions thereafter. How they may reconcile their intrinsic and indispensable selfhood as they grapple with their superstitions regarding citizenship is a curiosity for me and, no doubt, a concern for them.
It is well known that the banana that leaves the bunch is generally skinned and eaten. But what of a bunch of undifferentiated individuals? Their lives are not their own, which is contrary to their natures. In such a collective, normal, innocent human life becomes furtive, perhaps even subversive. Submerged in the collective, the individual is a guaranteed victim no less at risk of free-lance criminality than he would be as a solitary human. Apart from the collective, the naked individual human has a chance of survival in the presence of some feral Homo Sapiens. His chances improve in proportion to his prudence, knowledge, and skill. State protection is an utter illusion. Ask any of the multitude of its victims.
I belong to no group other than my family and humanity as a whole. This “membership” I inherited. Thus, politics has no relevance to any of my legitimate concerns. Therefore, there is nothing for me to Do with or about politics but to understand its pathological consequences, which persuades me toward studious abstention. I try to avoid letting my nose be counted in any political poll whatever lest I inadvertently sanction a continuation of the political process that threatens my existence.
While there is no way to avoid exposure to political propaganda, I rejoice in not being compelled to participate in plebiscitary activities. Reclaiming the time I would have otherwise spent at the polls agonizing over ridiculous choices among false alternatives leaves me time to study more significant phenomena and practice more fruitful activities.
For example, when I discovered that over 80% of the mass media menu consists of political hash, I found I could readily live on a no-hash diet. By excluding political hash from my diet, I awakened to find I was saving myself a lot of time and anguish. Substantially relieved of these constraints and burdens, I was able to attend to matters more [central] to my life, which greatly improved my sense of well-being. More and more, I was able to ignore irrelevant “information” and concentrate on more significant (for me) but less “newsworthy” data. It was a great comfort to discover I could make such judgments on my own recognizance without the benefit of journalistic “assistance.”
In France, the media is known as the “Fourth Estate,” and its is becoming recognized in this country as the fourth branch of government. No wonder, then, that the media thrives on the status quo or threats to it. Actually, it is the status quo that is the enemy of the people. So in a real sense, the mass media is a big part of the “government” problem. This explains my delight in discovering the internet phenomenon growing as a competing source of information, served up by and accessible to individuals without obligations to sources or regimentations of interest.
Inform yourself and speak your own mind!
You have nothing to lose but your chains.