Tucker Carlson’s War on Official Narratives. Fired from Fox News. What’s Next?

[Author’s Note: this was written for NewsWithViews.com, but was just taking too long to appear. Given that Tucker Carlson could surface almost any day on Substack or with his own site and that would render the observations in this article dated, I’ve chosen to post this here instead of continuing to wait.]

If I wanted, I could make this the shortest article I’ve written for NewsWithViews.com. After all, Frosty Wooldridge scooped me with this excellent piece you should read right now if you haven’t already, and which deserves the widest possible dissemination.  

As of this writing, Tucker Carlson himself has not said why he and Fox News “parted ways.” He surfaced on Twitter on Wednesday, April 26. Here (we’ll look at what he said below).

I’ve no original theories of my own on this, and it wouldn’t matter if I did. It’s pretty obvious, is it not?

Carlson is a truth-teller. Powerful people today don’t like truth-tellers. Many others who identify with authority, for one reason or another, also don’t like truth-tellers.

For example, Carlson routinely criticized the U.S. involvement in Ukraine, and exposed the special forces on the ground going directly up against Russian forces in violation of the law. He interviewed others such as Glenn Greenwald who are among the few voices that have criticized the assumptions on which the U.S. federal government throwing hundreds of billions of dollars at Ukraine are based.

Let’s pause and just ask ourselves: isn’t it weird — Charles Fort level weird — that with what is arguably the most dangerous war in human history, a war in which there have been more than mere hints of the use of nuclear weapons coming from both sides, that there is no substantial antiwar movement anywhere to be seen???

No visible protests in the streets! Nothing on college and university campuses, not on any media network or platform with visibility!

Just the opposite, in fact. If you question Ukraine’s being the totally innocent victim of the vile, violent, and corrupt Russians, if you challenge the claim that Russia’s Feb. 24, 2022 invasion was “unprovoked” and question the wisdom of “our” government sending hundreds of billions of dollars to the Zelenskyy regime in Kyiv, that makes you “pro-Putin”!

This smear is now sufficient to demonize anyone who criticizes America’s deepening involvement in what is clearly a proxy war for which, like “our” government’s disastrous incursion into Iraq in 2003, there is no end in sight. The same sorts of things were said against those of us who criticized that war, that we were “Saddam lovers”!  

Careers have been derailed over this, which may be why the only visible antiwar voices are now-independent journalists/writers like Greenwald and Caitlin Johnstone (there are very few people further outside the boxes supplied by official narratives than she is).

Now Tucker Carlson joins them — one hopes!

I’ve no doubt, he’ll land on his feet. How much of his audience of around 3.5 million strong he’ll take with him from Fox News remains to be seen. He’ll have hurdles to clear. He replaced Bill O’Reilly, whose audience diminished significantly after he left Fox. Were I Carlson, though, I’d not give that a second thought. The people who count will stick around. I would therefore already be putting together my own news-and-commentary platform. When you’ve been getting paid tens of millions a year for several years and have an audience of that size, who needs an employer?

Carlson’s firing appears to have come from the top: Rupert Murdoch himself. Assuming the man is not senile — not impossible as he’s 92 years old — from a financial standpoint what he did was grade-A stupid. Fox’s market shares plummeted last Monday after Fox announced Carlson’s sudden departure.

In one day, the corporation lost more money than it will probably pay to Dominion Voting Systems ($787.5 million according to the settlement).

One takeaway: Fox’s reputation is as a conservative news network, but its uppermost enclaves are still billionaire class. They are therefore wedded to official narratives. Billionaires like Murdoch don’t have to care about the bottom line if narrative control is at stake. They’ll lose money before they give up control.

Could it be that Carlson figured all this out???

The real bottom line was that Tucker Carlson could not be controlled!

He did not help the power elites “manufacture consent” (Chomsky).

Thus he criticized the official narratives on Ukraine, Hunter Biden’s laptop, January 6, covid, the mRNA shots, and much more. He exposed Big Pharma and gave Robert F. Kennedy Jr. airtime, allowing Kennedy to speak for himself so that an audience of potentially 3.5 million could hear about the merger of governmental and corporate power which is RFK Jr.’s central message (not “antivax conspiracy theories” as Establishment corporate media would have you believe).

Big Pharma has tentacles everywhere, of course. One estimate I have is that the multibillion dollar pharmaceuticals industry funds 70 percent of corporate media. This is one reason every third television commercial you see is for a drug. And why you’ll never hear anything critical of the industry or its products on CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, or even from other Fox News hosts.

Tucker Carlson, though, on a recent show:*

Is any news organization you know of so corrupt that it’s willing to hurt you on behalf of its biggest advertisers? Anyone who would do that is obviously Pablo Escobar level corrupt!…

Suppose the Trump administration had made it mandatory to buy My Pillow [Mike Lindell’s company].

Imagine if the administration had said that if you don’t rush out and buy at least one My Pillow, and then get another “booster” Pillow, you’d not be allowed to eat out, couldn’t reenter your own country, you couldn’t have a paying job.

My Pillow, they told you with a straight face, was the linchpin of our country’s public health system.

Now imagine, as they told you that, Fox as a news organization endorsed it, amplified the government’s message. Imagine if Fox News attacked anyone who refused to buy My Pillow as an ally of Russia, an enemy of science.

And then imagine that Fox kept up those libelous attacks even as evidence mounted that My Pillow caused heart attacks, fertility problems, and death. If Fox News did this, would you trust us? Of course you wouldn’t, you would know that we were liars.

Thank heaven Fox News never did anything like that. But the other channels did. The other channels took hundreds of millions of dollars from Big Pharma companies, and then they shilled for their sketchy products on the air, and as they did that, they maligned anyone who was skeptical of those products.


Carlson routinely delivered monologues very much like that one on Russia-Ukraine — including the unintentional irony of corporate media embracing RussiaGate back in 2016-18 which implied that with the help of Russian collusion (which never happened) the Trumpists basically stole that election, while branding doubts about the legitimacy of Election 2020 as “baseless conspiracy theories” and “election denial.”

Carlson openly called out the DOJ’s utter lack of interest in what was on Hunter Biden’s laptop (a topic Big Tech suppressed). Also labeled “Russian disinformation.”**

His material on January 6 should have been enough to raise doubts about that event being an “insurrection,” however many times the Establishment calls it that.

The only thing he did not do, at least not openly that I ever heard, was talk about the globalists, and the encroaching techno-feudalist political economy globalists are gradually laying into place. Probably well over 90 percent of the technological infrastructure necessary for a world government now exists.

Maybe it’s a good thing that, again to the best of my knowledge, he left such topics alone. He might have been let go by Fox long ago. (Glenn Beck was gotten rid of, let us remember, following his exposing globalist-leftist George Soros who, through his Open Society Institute and the organizations it bankrolls, also has tentacles everywhere.)

Tucker Carlson surfaced a day ago as this is written, with this video. I think it’s worth a look:

Good evening, Tucker Carlson here….

[W]hen you take a little time off, you realize how unbelievably stupid the debates you see on television are. They’re completely irrelevant. They mean nothing. In five years, we won’t even remember that we had them. Trust me as someone who participated….

And yet at the same time … the undeniably big topics, the ones that will define our future, get virtually no discussion at all. War. Civil liberties. Emerging science. Demographic change. Corporate power. Natural resources.

When was the last time you heard a legitimate debate about any of those issues? It’s been a long time. Debates like that are not permitted in American media. Both political parties, and their donors, have reached consensus on what benefits them, and they actively collude to shut down any conversation about it.

Suddenly the United States looks very much like a one-party state. That’s a depressing realization, but it’s not permanent. Our current orthodoxies won’t last. They’re brain dead. Nobody actually believes them. Hardly anyone’s life is improved by them. This moment is too inherently ridiculous to continue, and so it won’t.

The people in charge know this; that’s why they’re hysterical and aggressive. They’re afraid. They’ve given up persuasion; they’re resorting to force. But it won’t work. When honest people say what’s true, calmly and without embarrassment, they become powerful.

At the same time, the liars who’ve been trying to silence them shrink. They become weaker. That’s the iron law of the universe. True things prevail. Where can you find still find Americans saying true things? There aren’t many places left, but there are some. And that’s enough. As long as you can hear the words, there’s hope.

See you soon.

In other words, Tucker Carlson will be back. What “current orthodoxies” is he talking about? We enumerated them above, and as owner of his own platform (hopefully!), he’ll be able to talk about them more openly.

Contrary to what the Establishment will push, the above message offers hope. For as I’ve previously noted, empires built on lies and brute force never survive. Eventually they go down in flames, often at the hands of their own. People who can get out from under their reach, do so. Those who cannot, are increasingly likely to start burning things down when they get the chance, in numbers eventually too large to stop.

There is a vast difference within the human race. The difference is psychological as well as philosophical. On the one hand there are the few, sociopaths who literally worship power and believe themselves most fit to rule, like the Philosopher-Kings of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato’s Republic. Think: World Economic Forum, the most visible organization that fits that bill. Think of some of those at the helms of global corporations, entities like the EU, and of course the U.S. Deep State. Think finally of the American cultural left, which talks a lot about “freedom” and “democracy” but exhibits no actual faith in either. Collectively these few fancy themselves as having dethroned God. They have what Thomas Sowell called “unconstrained vision”: given sufficient time and resources (and a capacity to enslave whole populations), they’ll build Utopia!  

And then there is the rest of us, the many, who would like to think we live in the real world. At least we try. We do not worship power. We honor prescriptions like “Thou shalt not murder” and “Thou shalt not steal.” We wish only to be left alone. Some of our best philosophers, long ago, formulated such notions as the “natural rights of man,” of freedom of speech, of due process, of the rule of law. We have what Sowell described as “constrained vision.” What constrains society is human nature, which is sinful, fallible, not perfectible; but with tremendous potential to solve problems and build limited greatness.

Fail to recognize limitations, though, and you end up with Dystopia!

It might be worth noting, though, that there’s a heck of a lot more of us than there are of them.

Maybe this is why they are fundamentally afraid of us, afraid of people making their own choices, especially when those choices are circumscribed by a morality that does not position them and their institutions at the center, and refuses to regard human lives as expendable and disposable.

Tucker Carlson will continue to be praised by some and denounced by others. When you’ve taken stands that threaten powerful people and moneyed interests, that is inevitable. Just note who is giving him praise, and which voices are condemning him, or simply calling him names (e.g., “fascist”).

He hasn’t really gone anywhere. I, for one, look forward to his next venture. Something tells me it’s going to be good. Maybe he’ll do a massive information dump at some point and post all the January 6 footage he still presumably has in his possession. What an exercise in transparency that will be!

*I can’t see the point of linking to this, or other YouTube videos where Tucker Carlson appears, because I expect them to be scrubbed any day now, either by Fox itself or YouTube. Which means any links I put in will cease to work, obviously.  

**Some with free minds might wonder in their idle moments, why are we being encouraged to hate Russia so much? Well…. 

Russia is a Christian nation (Orthodoxy) and has been, for centuries. Its population is lily-white. It has traditional family and social structures. The perversions being celebrated in the West are therefore not accepted there. Putin, moreover, is a nationalist if he’s anything, and will do what he can to protect ethnic Russians. One reason for his invading Ukraine was to put a stop to the brutalizing of Russians by the Kyiv regime in the Donbas. The Russian political philosopher and geopolitical strategist who most likely has Putin’s ear, Aleksandr Dugin, defends a multi-polar (not globalist-controlled) world, and wrote a book entitled, in English translation, The Great Awakening Vs the Great Reset (2021).

In other words, Russia’s Establishment is everything ours is not, and vice versa. What better explanation could there be for the visceral, irrational hatred being spewed at everything Russian by our Establishment via its countless shills in government, media, academia, Hollywood, and elsewhere?  


Did one little-known American astronomer singlehandedly destroy Big Bang Cosmology? To find out, access Issue #4 of Truth, Freedom, Validation here.  (You can read it, and future issues, by becoming a Patron for just $1/month!)

ANNOUNCING: an online course/tutorial entitled The Philosophy of Responsible Freedom, directed by Jack C. Carney with myself as chief partner: a Zoom-based intellectual encounter between an atheist (Carney) and a Christian (Yates) exploring the history of ideas using Academy of Ideas videos and supplementing them with the thoughts of others. Carney is an autodidact in areas ranging across psychology, psychiatry, and anthropology who emphasizes the importance of human relationships in a world where loss is omnipresent (he also teaches English online). I am an author and trained philosopher with a doctorate in the subject who taught philosophy courses in years past, walked away from academia, still writes philosophy emphasizing the need to identify, clarify, and evaluate the success (or failure) of worldviews in civilization, on stages of civilization, on the quest to build free communities in the face of encroaching globalism and technocracy, and how worldviews either enhance or hobble responsible freedom. Course/tutorial outline here. For more information or to get on our email list: freeyourmindinsc@yahoo.com.

Steven Yates’s latest book What Should Philosophy Do? A Theory (2021) is available here and here. His earlier Four Cardinal Errors: Reasons for the Decline of the American Republic (2011) is available here.

While admittedly the real world can be scary enough, he has also written a novel of cosmic horror. The Shadow Over Sarnath will be published later this year.

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What Intellectuals Get Wrong. (Contrasting Nietzsche, Hoffer, Marx; and the Mindsets of the Masses, Intellectuals, Elites.)


To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever compared and contrasted the philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900) and Eric Hoffer (1902 – 1983). So this is bound to be an adventure in ideas. Nietzsche needs no introduction, of course. The late Eric Hoffer was the American “longshoreman philosopher”: a complete autodidact who’d dropped out of grade school, learned all that he knew from self-study in libraries, while earning a meager living getting his hands dirty with America’s working class — the masses, if you will.

Nietzsche, predictably, did not much care for the masses. For example:

“To me, the masses seem to be worth a glance only in three respects: first as blurred copies of great men, presented on bad paper with worn out printing plates, then as the resistance against the great men, and finally as working implements of the great. For the rest, let the devil and statistics carry them off!”

He saw them as mostly mindless followers. His worry was that any attempt to open intellectual doors to the rise of the overman would also open it to the masses who instead become “last men” indulging mindless pursuits, not greatness. In our last post, we saw how Nietzsche actually went as far as to suggest that such inferiors ultimately should not even be allowed to breed.

Eric Hoffer, the American autodidactic sociological philosopher best known for his The True Believer (1951), took a more positive view of the masses. In the 1960s he told CBS’s Eric Sevareid (I’ve edited slightly for flow):*

“You know the only people who really feel at home in this country are the common people. America is God’s gift to the poor…. For the first time [in] history, the common people could do things on their own. Nobody mentions it! But this is a business civilization! This is the only mass civilization to ever work! The masses, Mr. Sevareid! [They] eloped with history to America and we have been living in common law marriage with it — without the incantations of the intellectuals there.  

Hoffer goes on to opine that intellectuals have generally been better off elsewhere, e.g., in Europe. Europeans listened to intellectuals. Americans, by and large, found them uninteresting.

But the intellectual was coming into his own in the America of the 1960s. Hoffer expressed discomfort with this. From the same interview:

“ … I’m convinced that the intellectual, as a type, as a group, are more corrupted by power than any other human type. It’s disconcerting, Mr. Sevareid, to realize that businessmen, generals even, soldiers, men of action, are not corrupted by power like intellectuals…. You take a conventional man of action. He acts right if you obey, huh? But not the intellectual. He doesn’t want just obeying. He wants you to get down on your knees and pray to the one who makes you hate what you love and love what you hate. In other words, whenever intellectuals are in power, there is total raping going on….

Take that! I doubt he would have put it so strongly today. Hoffer has an addendum to Lord Acton’s well known adage, how “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” He says: “Power corrupts the few. Weakness corrupts the many.”

The Mindset of the Masses.

I will speak of the masses, intellectuals, and elites, in order to compare and contrast Nietzsche, Hoffer, and other writers who might be relevant, then drawing my most important conclusion about what intellectuals do wrong that alienates them from guys like Hoffer, who might be taken as exemplifying the mindset of the man in the street, we shall call him.** Where can we begin, talking about these three separate aggregates of humanity? Where is each strongest and dangerous; and where, weakest and corruptible, and therefore as dangerous if not more so?

One way is to note their quite different apprehensions and organizing of their experience. I’ve written in two places (here and here) of “piercing the veils.” The masses are mostly “behind the first veil,” learning the skills they use to keep their lives together, but typically not much more. “First veilers” make up at least 90 percent of the human race. This description can be enhanced. We are all problem-solvers, but we do not all apprehend the same things as problems. Perhaps more importantly, we do not apprehend them as our problems. The “first veilers” — the masses — see and try to solve the problems closest to them, problems in their immediate surroundings, of family, home, work, health, and personal comfort and convenience. At work many will excel at what they do, be it using their hands, driving vehicles, or selling (which, interestingly, if it is to be effective, implies some instinctive understanding into what motivates people to buy). At home, they may enjoy stable and loving relationships with spouses and children, even if they cannot articulate the core values behind their enjoyment. They will be content in the present — something difficult for intellectuals and elites as we’ll see presently.

In other words, the problems the masses apprehend as important are proximate to them, and local: what affects them or their families directly (or, in some cases, what might affect them). They do not see much beyond, or believe they need to see much beyond, a horizon of immediacy.

Intellectuals (and perhaps a few of the more intelligent of the masses) might be “second veilers,” “third veilers,” or in a few cases “fourth veilers.” The “second veiler” gains some insight into politics and policy, studies an issue perhaps, takes a position, articulates a defense of it. He may be right or not, insightful or not. The “third veiler” goes deeper, discovering systems of governance such as constitutionalism, theories about markets, and so on. The “fourth veiler” finds himself exploring how elites operate to control both visible government and business through money flows, thus circumventing governance and markets in order to dominate. The “fourth veiler” might be an elite, or just an observer of elites.   

The Mindset of Intellectuals.

The intellectual is driven by ideas, by reason, and by the sense that even if he doesn’t have it all yet, he’s on his way to learning comprehensive truth about the way the world (or some part of it) works, or how society should work and can be made to work — if only he were in charge! Abstract truth and systematicity is what he cares about — for better or for worse, and sometimes to the neglect of the problems the mass man is motivated to solve immediately.

According to intellectual historian Paul Johnson, the mark of an intellectual is that he cares more about ideas than he does about people, and thus has a highly idealized view of “humanity in the abstract,” about which he’ll say he cares a great deal. Meanwhile he might neglect his family (think: Karl Marx). The problems he sees as important are “big picture” issues of societal order, not “little picture” matters such as ensuring enough food to eat.

In other words, the intellectual either doesn’t see the masses as they are — or, when he does see them, he dislikes what he sees either because the aggregate “beneath him” has no interest in these “big picture” problems, or because it refuses to behave as his abstract theory says it should. The masses, of course, are too busy keeping food on the table — or perhaps safeguarding what they have so that their children can inherit it, as opposed to intrusive others getting their grubby fingers on it.  

This difference helps explain, I think, the disdain most intellectuals have always felt for the masses. Problems such as “global poverty” (e.g.) don’t resonate with them.

Let me take this one step further. The mass man is a native empiricist. He goes off what his five senses tell him, and what he is told by those he knows and trusts, especially if he has been around them all his life: parents, other relatives, friends, neighbors, pastor or priest, coworkers. Thus the proximate nature of his problems, e.g., I need to get up at a certain hour to get to work on time. Does the car need a tune-up? The roof is leaking; who can I call to have it fixed (or should I try to fix it myself and save money)? What should I bring to the church picnic this Saturday?

Eric Hoffer was very sympathetic with all this. Having been born working class, with no special privileges and probably some major disadvantages (losing his mother at a very young age, for example), he was around the working class mindset his entire life. Where he differed was in his insatiable curiosity, which drove him into libraries during his off hours. He learned plenty about professional intellectuals just from reading them. A few, such as French philosopher Michel de Montaigne (1533 – 1592), earned his respect. Most did not, especially those of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Intellectuals and Elites; the Elite Mindset.

Hoffer notes in his essay “The Intellectual and the Masses” (in The Ordeal of Change, 1963) that intellectuals in the past tended to align their interests with those of elites. Sometimes they saw themselves as part of the elite, which would accord with Hoffer’s conviction that their primary motive was fascination with power.  

Elites, of course, are not merely fascinated with power, they have it. Having a certain amount of power, not accountable to the masses, is what it means to be elite. How to maintain power, and what to do with it, are the elite problem sets. Elites have solved the immediate problems of living that are ongoing concerns for the masses: they hire servants to do the real work. Specific ideas or strategies or lines of thought from intellectuals might or might not have helped them. If so, it was because they addressed problems of governance in ways that resonated with them. The right institutions or other scaffolding of societal support then worked to the intellectual’s advantage.  

Thus in what I call Second Stage civilization (pre-scientific, pre-industrial), many intellectuals dwelt in monasteries and implicitly supported the feudal system of king, landowners with vast estates, and church, as they lived cloistered lives and debated the fine points of metaphysics and philosophical theology. Nothing overt emerges to bring the two mindsets into conflict.

The scientific revolution, the Protestant revolution, and then the Enlightenment, however, mostly dethroned those older elites. In Third Stage civilization, the new elites were bankers and financiers (think: Rothschild), industrialists (think: Rockefeller), military men (think: Bismarck). Though having far greater resources than the masses, most elites probably share a native empiricist epistemology. Because of their resources, they can see over that horizon of immediacy.

In Third Stage civilization, though, at first glance intellectuals are out of place. They are not a part of the banking/financial elite which does not need them (except, perhaps, for the occasional Adam Smith to theorize the system). Capitalism’s triumph was its capacity to sell to the masses, enabling them to sell to each other. Intellectuals rarely had any goods or services to sell. Their monasteries closed, they ended up warehoused in “research universities,” or in other institutions that would pay for research and writing, provided they behaved themselves. Naturally, there were intellectuals who found this oppressive and refused to kowtow.

Intellectuals and “the Proletariat”  

Alienated from centers of power, some intellectuals began to fancy themselves spokesmen for the masses. Marx is the obvious case, differentiating between bourgeois capitalists (elite captains of industry, new owners of land, controllers of money flows) and the proletariat laborers (owners only of their labor). He saw history as the history of class conflict — between those who owned the means of production and those who did not. According to Marx, processes put in motion by the former would increasingly impoverish the latter until the latter revolted and instituted a new society that would benefit “humanity in the abstract” instead of the elite few.

Thus the Marxian dialectical materialist theory of history. The history of Marxism, though, is an object lesson in what happens when intellectuals get their hands on power. Here the great difference in problem sets and motivations made all the difference in the world. Lenin, Stalin, Mao, all became tyrants in the name of “humanity in the abstract,” which by its own dialectical “law” would advance the world toward Perfect Communism.

There was no place in that mindset for the masses as they are. Their “uncontrolled impulses,” e.g., to buy and live according to their own choices and not those of the elites, to start businesses of their own when and where they could, to join the hated bourgeoisie if they could, and deal with each other without the permission of the intellectuals, could not be tolerated. Markets were far too anarchic for those thinking in terms of the “ideal system.”

The mass man usually disdains socialism if he learns about it. People should carry their own weight, he will say. The intellectual tends to favor socialism, since socialism favors him. The elites, I often suspect, do not care that much about “isms” except perhaps as tools to be used.  

Returning to both Nietzsche, definitely an elitist, and Hoffer, a mass man: both disdained socialism, but for entirely different reasons.

Nietzsche saw socialism as continuing the slave morality it had inherited from Christianity while removing God from the world picture. Abstractions all. The overman, Nietzsche felt, would embody a master morality doing away with Christian meekness and self-sacrifice.

Hoffer just tells us that there is no real affinity between pro-socialist intellectuals and the pro-capitalist masses. The former’s mind is essentially aristocratic. The intellectual seeks to be a leader. His vision of himself (akin to that of the elites) is as a superior form of life. He is a man of ideas. But he is also striving for validation in these terms (unlike the elites whose power constitutes self-validation).

The masses do not seek to be a “proletariat,” or to conform to any other intellectual construction. This was clear by the time of the Frankfurt School, which was responding in its own way, that the masses wanted to improve themselves economically by their own means, i.e., becoming “bourgeois.” The masses sought leadership, but from those who understood them — who spoke their language and could claim to have at least some competence at solving practical problems they could not solve on their own. (This goes a long way to explaining Donald Trump’s appeal and why he defeated first far more seasoned elitist Republican politicians getting the GOP nomination, and then arch-elitist Hillary Clinton, back in 2016 — just piling on the reasons why intellectuals hated all this so much.)  

The intellectual can’t lead the masses. His thinking is too abstract. So the masses ignore him. Not on purpose. They simply don’t see him. He is invisible to them. Perhaps it is fortunate that Third Stage civilization made a place for him in academia.

He then looks down his nose from his academic cubicle at what he considers the abject stupidity of those who do not “get” his superiority. The masses notice this, even if they cannot be troubled to articulate what bothers them about this university guy who uses big words and acts so superior. They just sheer off. Arguably they did this with Nietzsche, whose books were ignored and who, once outside university life because of poor health, never had any real connections or was able to make any contributions of the sort the masses treasure. The intellectual burns with resentment about his relative invisibility in Third Stage industrial civilization. He soon ceases to be a champion of the masses and becomes their detractor, as Nietzsche did. “Mass society” repels him as much as his abstract intellectualism bores the mass man.

Elites Over Intellectuals and Mass Society.

Intellectuals may be drawn to power, but they do not really understand power (though Machiavelli might have been an exception). Elites are therefore able to exploit intellectuals’ emotional reactions to their sense of powerlessness. They can encourage — through what their agents, especially in universities, choose to bankroll — intellectual movements that elevate victimhood to near-religious standing, exploit historical grievances legitimate or not, divide groups based on the identities thus resulting, and above all: further encourage the burning resentment that tears apart a society based on principles able to serve as a basis for resisting total domination by the elites. Let’s realize that they, like intellectuals, believe themselves most fit to rule — to redesign a world with themselves at the helm. Unlike the intellectuals they have the resources to attempt the project of global rule. It used to be called the New World Order. Now it’s called the Great Reset. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

One can view mass society in either of (at least) two ways, or embodying two systems, which given the complexity of actual Third Stage civilization surely exist side by side.

The first is of what Eric Hoffer observed all around him: common people helping common people. Some see or think of solutions to problems not yet solved, and these lead to new products and services, and therefore to interactions in markets of various sorts. Again, the intellectual doesn’t see those kinds of problems (or if he does, he doesn’t deem them important), and so isn’t interested in solving them. But this is the basis of what there is of the free marketplace.

The second is to look at the whole of industrial civilization as best we can, as a system, and realize that it really is centralized, coordinated, and filled with control mechanisms that operate from the top down. Third Stage elites—banking, etc.—were created an empowered by its mechanisms.***  It has established numerous parameters within these, in which a wide variety of largely free interactions and transactions are possible (free in the sense that the masses can choose A over B, or B over A without constraint).

These controls, to ensure that most mass behavior is predictable, because it responds to incentives and “nudges,” may well be a structural requirement of the industrial system itself. Generally it operates to protect and grow the moneymaking or power interests of the elites, even as it keeps the system maximally stable. This process is generally so subtle that the masses do not see it. If the intellectuals see it, they filter it through some ideology such as Marxism, and they probably benefit from it (if paid by a university).

This reflects their training. Microspecialization diverts their attention away from the whole, even if they still profess great concern about “humanity in the abstract” or “planetary issues” (e.g., climate). Those not diverted by microspecialization, who pursue inquiries into the nature and activities of the elites, have found their reputations and careers as professional intellectuals sullied, as their books are disdained by reviewers however thoroughly researched (part of the elite-protection system). Think: Antony C. Sutton who demonstrated quite clearly the role of specific financial elites in supporting both the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the rise of the Nazis in Germany in the early 1930s, among other behind-the-scenes activities.

If all else fails, the “fourth veiler” intellectual who is manifestly outside the elite orbit and looks to close and too deep down the “rabbit hole” of elite activities for comfort — especially seeing those I deemed superelite in my book Four Cardinal Errors — can be delegitimized by being labeled conspiracist. His subsequent work is then simply ignored. In many respects, though, these superelites constitute the overman Nietzsche claimed to foresee. They operate “beyond good and evil.” Their primary interest is in maintaining and increasing their power. Their secondary interest is in doing this maintaining stability — though they will disrupt this stability if they are facing major challenges from within the peasant classes (think: covid lockdowns!). Their third is money. (The past three years have seen some of the largest transfers of wealth from the bottom and middle to the top in human history.)   

The Cardinal Error of the Intellectual.

The intellectual likes the idea of ruling over society. That would give him validation. He generally doesn’t appreciate that society already has a ruling class. That would be too “conspiratorial,” and he thinks that to be “irrational.”  So he forges ahead with his abstract plans.

In the end, the intellectual, the man moved by ideas such as “humanity in the abstract” and the restless sense that the existing ordering of society doesn’t validate him, wants to live in a society that does. He cannot identify with either the power elites or the masses, neither of whom need him. He’s typically warehoused in a university, although these days he may not have been fortunate enough to obtain academic warehousing.  

We come to his biggest and deadliest mistake: the mistake made by Plato fortunately at a time when there was no means of implementing the society depicted in his Republic, made more recently by Marx when very shortly it would become possible, and being made by globalist-minded technocrats of the Klaus Schwab ilk today when more than enough technology exists to at least try to implement it.

The mistake is to think in terms of a comprehensive and often very detailed vision of society as a whole that can only be implemented, its policies imposed, from the top echelons downward.

At the ideal best, you’ll have place for everything (everyone) and everything (everyone) in its (their) place(s). Since the ideal is almost never realized in practice, one conspicuous result is that there will always be some who do not “fit the plan” and will have to be discarded via eugenics or genocide. For the Nazis this was the Jews. For the Soviets, this was any of their masses who had the temerity to resist Soviet collective farming. Anyone who objects to the plan on intellectual grounds will by definition not fit: a reason actual power elites, even those who started out as intellectuals, have always found intellectuals threatening and vowed to keep them on short leashes.

All of which makes top-down comprehensive visions for social order inherently dangerous, in addition to whatever intellectual objections may exist to their Utopianism. To those whose core moral values include freedom, such visions are immoral to their core and to be resisted wherever and however possible.

So what is the intellectual to do?

What the Intellectual Can Do.

At first glance, the intellectual who realizes all of this is a complete outsider, unable to identify with the masses or offer them anything they want, cast out by the elites (as Nietzsche would have been in a heartbeat), not even really fitting in with his fellow intellectuals to the extent they support the top-down globalist agenda and most of its methods, by their silence if not through direct complicity.  

How should he respond?

He should respond by taking a different approach to what he wants to accomplish for the betterment of society. He should embrace first the great difference between constructing abstract visions that can only be implemented from the top down, and instead work from concrete realities and build better communities from the bottom up. Starting with himself.

What does this mean?

It means that Hoffer had essentially the right idea. Intellectuals are not going to change the masses, and can only do harm in trying. The intellectual who wants to do good in this world must therefore become more of a native empiricist as I defined this above, or at least try to understand the native empiricism of the masses from the inside.  

He must discern what they care about. What do they care about? I supplied the beginning of a list of their commonplace concerns above. That was not intended to be an exhaustive list. They also want validation, even if on a much smaller scale. They want to be able to live ordinary lives more effectively, and to believe that their ordinary lives made a difference in the lives of those around them. What barriers do they face? Can the intellectual as counselor help them overcome these barriers?

Is the intellectual not ceasing to be an intellectual by getting so down-to-Earth? There is a way he can advise, and even invoke the sort of abstract principle he likes. This is by embracing the starting point the Stoics relied on when giving counsel: the difference between what one can control and what one cannot control. Elsewhere I called this Stoicism’s first and greatest principle.

It is both the easiest principle to understand — one does not need a PhD or any university education whatsoever to “get it” — and the hardest to learn to implement. 000

Doing so, however, is manifestly the path to a better, more peaceful, and therefore contented life.

Is this not something the masses want? Of course they do!

And it is something the intellectual who takes the right attitude can supply: first by mastering the principle himself, and then in training others how to do it. The ancient Stoics — many of whom began, or sometimes subsisted, in far worse situations than any of us are likely to find ourselves in today — did this.

Perhaps this is why we have seen an awakening of interest in Stoicism. Some are disdainful of the “Silicon Valley Stoic,” of course. Whether this judgment is justified, I’ll leave to others. For whether a Silicon Valley billionaire embraces Stoicism or not, or claims to do so, is not something I can control. But even Silicon Valley billionaires face death. Their billions won’t help them against it. There are therefore potentially frightening realities not even they can control.  

What have we accomplished? We started with the idea of comparing Nietzsche’s intellectual mindset with Hoffer’s mass mindset, and then working with the latter’s observations on how intellectuals once aligned their interests with the elites, realized the elites had little use for them, turned to the masses, only to see the masses go their own way (especially in America!). Nietzsche disdained the masses, and as we saw earlier this month, his disdain led him to anticipate eugenics — an idea I would argue is very much alive whenever an intellectual such as Yuval Noah Harari informs us of the all the “useless people” out there (or however he put it). Hoffer embraced the mass mindset as it manifested itself in America. He saw the rising intellectual mindset of the 1960s as a danger since so many intellectuals are drawn to power and prone to abuse it. They are drawn to power because they want a societal order that will validate them when the existing one does not. Few have any understanding of real power, which has no need of abstract ideologies and principles (besides, perhaps, “money talks”).

When intellectuals get their hands on power, the results have generally been disastrous. Think: Lenin and Stalin (both trained intellectuals) in the former Soviet Union, and Mao Tse-Tung (a trained intellectual) in Communist China. Hitler, too, had a vision he originally presented in Mein Kampf. In that sense he was an intellectual. There are any number of other such visions penned by intellectuals who never acquired power. One might object that we don’t have that many examples of intellectuals who obtained power to work from. The answer is that this is probably fortunate.

The wise intellectual will forget about power in this sense. Self-mastery is enough of a challenge. Most intellectuals have not truly mastered themselves, especially their capacity to focus their energies on what they can control (or learn). Once an intellectual can clearly articulate a few basic principles that, if executed, will significantly improve his life and the lives of those around him, he may have something valuable to the masses around him, and possibly therefore even the validation he craves.  

*          I first read The True Believer when I was an undergraduate in the 1970s. I am grateful to Jack Carney for drawing my attention to this material and reviving my interest in Eric Hoffer’s life and thought.

**        Re: my use of he and expressions such as man in the street and mass man: I am taking the liberty of using the generic he throughout this essay not to offend feminists but because it greatly simplifies our language by, e.g., avoiding awkward “he or she” locutions in every other sentence in order to virtue-signal, or avoiding the issue by pluralizing and using them or themselves.

***      Industrial civilization could not really develop apart from processes such as the extraction of fossil fuels, their transportation over varying distances, and their refinement into usable products. These required large operations, for which money had to be available up front, not from profits earned later. Where was this up-front money to come from? From moneylending institutions, of course. These lent out what was needed for industrial operations and charged interest on it. The interest was never loaned out and so could not be repaid. Though a fuller account goes well outside the scope of this piece (I suggest starting here), this process alone helped create an elite able to dictate policy since money is generally not lent without strings attached.

Posted in applied philosophy, personal development, Philosophy, Political Economy, Political Philosophy, Where is Civilization Going? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Controlled Demolition of Trumpism

Here: https://newswithviews.com/the-controlled-demolition-of-trumpism

Posted in Media, Political Economy, Political Philosophy, Where is Civilization Going? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Year 2022: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

[NOTE: This was sent to NewsWithViews.com, has not appeared yet, and will be dated unless I take action by publishing it here. This version is slightly updated and corrects a couple of errors such as misspelling California Governor Gavin Newsom’s name near the end.]

In light of the idea that a philosopher should have something to say about events in the real world, Lost Generation Philosopher has just compiled a hefty list of the converging crises of the 2020s:

  • The aftermath of the plan-demic
  • The war in Ukraine
  • Supply-chain problems caused by both of the above
  • Energy scarcity caused by the second of the above
  • Scarcity of farming necessities such as fertilizer caused by the second of the above
  • Roaring inflation (caused by relentless money printing, but aggravated by both of the above)
  • Labor shortages (people who can do so are opting out)
  • A looming recession (which Federal Reserve policy will doubtless cause and aggravate)
  • A mental health crisis, including rising suicides and drug abuse
  • An epidemic of mass shootings; worsening violent crime generally
  • Polarized politics (made worse by both legacy and social media eager for clicks and to grip your attention)
  • Doubts about the legitimacy of the Bidenista regime
  • Multiple hot spots of civil unrest around the world
  • The rapid growth of technologies of surveillance and control, moves toward vaccine passports and central bank digital currency, among other trappings of globalist technocracy, or techno-feudalism.

The plan-demic 2020-22 was the biggest global-scale power grab I’ve ever seen. It still looms like a colossus over a more tense and fearful world.

The Russian incursion into Ukraine last February was the inevitable long-term result of the CIA-backed coup that took place there back in 2014. A democratically elected but Moscow-sympathetic government was overthrown and replaced by an autocracy sympathetic to NATO and hostile to Moscow, and to Russians more broadly.

The two governments, Kyiv and Moscow, were on collision course from that time forward, especially after Ukrainian forces started brutalizing ethnic Russians in the two breakaway regions. Putin doubtless waited to annex those regions into the Russian Federation until he saw the weakness of the regime in the Asylum on the Potomac. 

The war in Ukraine and the “opening up” of the world are doubtless the top two stories of 2022. Inflation probably runs a close third. The Federal Reserve just raised interest rates. This will dampen spending and guarantee a recession in 2023. Does anyone really believe these things aren’t planned? At the very least, I have trouble believing people with a minimal ability to think really believe in Modern Monetary Theory. If creating money out of thin air brought wealth, Zimbabwe would be the richest nation in the world, would it not?!

We see unrest everywhere except perhaps Antarctica. Most readers probably know about the anti-lockdown protests in China, the product of Xi Jinping’s zero-covid policy. Having been unable to leave their residences for months at a time, people have literally starved to death. The protests were triggered by a fire which burned a dozen or so people alive when they couldn’t get out and rescuers couldn’t reach them in time.  

The technocrats in Beijing thus saw the worst protests since Tiananmen Square, and interestingly, they’ve started reopening. Predictably, we’ve seen a wave of illnesses. I say predictably, because we know — from reputable scientists whose views were suppressed back in 2020 — that lockdowns do harm! Immune systems get compromised through lack of exposure! People get sick who otherwise wouldn’t have! A bare-bones understanding of systems thinking applied to public health tells us this, or should!  

South America has its share of unrest, with a fresh upheaval in Peru which has seen several years of political instability. Pedro Castillo, elected president 17 months ago, tried to dissolve the Congress before it could impeach him for corruption. The Congress retaliated by having him arrested. He has plenty of support, though, and some of that support took to the streets of Lima. Around 20 people have been killed in clashes with police. Castillo, who says he’s a Marxist, has support from leftist governments in Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia, and (a bit surprisingly) Mexico.

Interestingly, Chile has stayed out of it, with leftist Chilean president Gabriel Boric stating that Castillo violated his country’s constitution when he tried to dissolve its Congress.  

Castillo’s opponent last year was Keiko Fujimori of the Fuerza Popular — whom global corporate media denounced as a proto-fascist (where have we heard that before? these people really need some new material!). They never failed to note that her father Alberto Fujimori was put in prison — as was she, briefly. (This is the mark of a second world country, something that should be kept in mind in light of those in the American Party of Chaos and Debauchery who want to imprison Donald Trump.)  

Meanwhile, over in Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro voiced suspicion of fraud against the recent election that by the narrowest of margins put corrupt leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (whom everyone calls Lula) back in power. While this may seem like November 2020 – January 2021 in the U.S. all over again, unlike Trump Bolsonaro has strong backing within the Brazilian military. A coup in South America’s largest country in the foreseeable future is not impossible.

These are just the situations I’ve been watching. There are others, too many for one person with no staff to keep track of. One thing seems certain: if corporate media denounces a candidate as an incipient (or proto) fascist, or an autocrat, or a threat to democracy, that person is probably worth at least a second look. He or she may have a track record of standing up to globalists, whom corporate media mindlessly serves.   

Globalism is the enemy, folks. The visible enemy, anyway.

Bringing us to the corruption and unreason at home. The Bidenistas are riding high following Election 2022 and the “red wave that didn’t happen.” Corporate media keeps spinning this as voter rejection of “election denialism” and “MAGA extremism.”

But what really happened? I doubt we’ll ever know for sure. I have two friends, Arizona residents (one in Maricopa Co., the other elsewhere), who are convinced that Kari Lake was indeed robbed in broad daylight.

Other outcomes make no sense, such as the victory by a man who can barely articulate a sentence against a popular doctor (Pennsylvania).

One of those friends told me in an email, “I don’t trust any of it!”

I’ve no idea how widespread this sentiment is — but millions of Americans no longer consider American elections to be honest.

Lake has filed suit. Dr. Oz has struggled to get his older career back on track and has found himself blacklisted, which can happen when you’ve gone up against approved narratives, or been endorsed by someone the Establishment hates (e.g., Trump).

The former will actually get her day in court. I am not hopeful, however. Her allegations would be precedent-setting, and could bring down the entire fake-democratic house of cards in the U.S.

Moving on: I’ve never been a fan of Twitter — which has been enabling gnat-length attention spans for well over a decade now. I figured that when Elon Musk bought the platform I had no dog in the fight because I don’t trust the man. He’s a technocrat and definitely on board with transhumanist types even if he seems to enjoy triggering lefties, who blew a few gaskets apiece the other day because of the lefty European journalists Musk unloaded.

Be that as it may, the Twitter Files have definitely brought some revelations! It is now crystal clear that the platform suppressed information on Hunter Biden’s laptop back in 2020 that could have revealed the Biden family’s connections both in Ukraine and to the Chinese. I recall that Facebook was suppressing claims, then backed up with evidence in the form of the now-memory-holed 3 am vote spikes, that Election 2020 was stolen.

We also know that Twitter suppressed reputable scientists such as Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya when he criticized covid lockdowns as ineffective and likely to do more harm than good.  

The plain truth is, platform owners, hired moderators, “fact checkers,” and algorithm programmers have all they need to control the online visibility of scientists, investigative journalists, writers such as myself, if we express an opinion or present information that goes against approved narratives. Countless people were deplatformed off YouTube, kicked off Twitter, or “shadow banned” on Facebook, because they wrote something disapproved of by a “fact checker.”

This is especially troublesome for those for whom writing is their primary source of income. Downgrading income is one of the ways technocracy punishes dissent. Medium writer (at least that is where I see her articles) Tessa Schlessinger thus writes:

It doesn’t matter who you are, if you express an opinion contrary to the status quo, the owners, or even a moderator, you will have the reach of your work limited.

The outcome of that is that it’s fairly difficult to trust any site for any length of time….  

In order to protect income, it has become necessary to widen one’s reach. This means that one has to work on several sites, use multiple skills, ensure that you are on multiple payment platforms, plus be serious about becoming an expert at SEO — search engine optimization.

Schlessinger recommends writing for sites like SmashWords, Post.News, and Vocal Media, all of which are recent and small but growing rapidly as writers struggle for the right combination of visibility and free speech (and income).

My view, for whatever it’s worth, is that we need our own platforms!

The press is free only if you own one.

The downside: there are probably too many platforms now. The Internet is clogged with conflicting voices, incommensurable truth claims, and information overload. In our attention economy, those who can keep you on their sites — and then use it to hock stuff — will be the victors. Sadly, that long ago ceased to be those with truthful content (if it ever was). The masses naturally gravitate to what is titillating, exciting, and above all, easily consumed, so they can get on to the next bit of entertainment. I don’t expect this to change anytime soon.

Those of us trying to present broad perspectives on how we got into our present mess, as a prelude toward finding strategies that might get us out of it, are at a structural disadvantage.

My most recent contributions to Medium include this, this, and this: a three-part series, the point of departure for which hearkens back to a series done on NewsWithViews.com — here, here, and here — integrating insights from this.

It’s doubtless demanding, and readership (especially of the hefty third segment) has been negligible. The truth about Medium: those who can write fluffy inspirational pieces or colorful “listicles” that take five or six minutes to read tend to reap the site’s windfalls.

We do what we can….

Looking ahead to 2023 (and beyond), which will be here in less than two weeks even if we don’t especially care to look:

Expect the recession I mentioned, if it hasn’t technically begun already (it used to be two straight quarters of economic contraction until the Bidenistas rewrote the dictionary).  

Expect more irrational Deep State provocations against Russia, which as everybody knows has both tactical and long-range nukes. Given that we are probably closer to nuclear war than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, I have to wonder, What are these lunatics thinking? I don’t know, but the American Deep State is probably just following orders. There is no telling how long the war in Ukraine will drag on, and no way to predict how it will end.

Realizing that the globalists have their underground bunkers will doubtless help us all sleep better at night!

Expect more fearmongering over variants. Because if your aim is to control behavior on a mass scale, fearmongering works. Those who want to establish a global control grid have figured out, moreover, that scaring people to death over their health works better than ideology or even economic incentivizing.

Anyone who thinks this is over are probably kidding themselves, therefore; the same is true of those harboring doubts that the elites will find some other excuse to lock down populations in the future. (Think: climate, carbon footprints, etc.)

Earlier this year I wondered if we might see a major cyberattack that would turn out the lights for several weeks over a substantial geographical region. This hasn’t happened, but the possibility remains … if the globalists believe they are losing control, whatever the circumstances.

We can be sure they will do whatever they can to prevent a second Trump term.

Expect vaccine passports and central bank digital currency to continue to inch forward quietly. Those considering international moves probably better make them no later than this year, especially if you are unvaxxed (or if you are but aren’t “boosted”).

Expect political polarization to continue, with sporadic outbreaks of violence when one side can gaslight and use lawfare to suppress the other without consequence.

Mass shootings and other violent crime, most of it apolitical, will continue as more and more people “snap.” White male shooters will be denounced as such. If there is no mention of race in corporate media reporting, you will know that the shooter is black, Muslim, or some other protected ethnic minority.

Expect the culture war to continue, since although the cultural left / abortion death culture axis controls academia, corporate media, and most of government except the Supreme Court, it has been unable to suppress conservative voices completely. There are simply too many of us even if it does seem like Wild West out here, and it remains to be seen what happens when Republicans assume control of the House in January. Although given their performance in the past, again I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

But where is the person many of us have put our writing careers on the line defending for almost seven years?

Trump may have announced, but his effort seems to be floundering amidst reckless ventures such as the dinner with Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, or other gestures that are simply embarrassing, the most recent as of this writing being these NFTs or “digital trading cards” depicting The Donald as a cartoon superhero (not especially good quality from what I hear, but sold for an absurd $99 a pop).

This followed a promised “major announcement” (Thurs, December 15).

Baked Alaska, the infamous Jan-6er, was quoted as stating incredulously, “I’m going to prison for an NFT salesman?”

Even Steve Bannon, about to accept four months of political prisoner status for having gone to bat for Trump, is now saying, “I can’t do this anymore….”

Trump has not held any rallies, and has none planned that I know of.

He’s done other dumb things recently. I just happened to be a student at the University of Georgia when Herschel Walker was the resident football hero there. Details aside, I can certify — no doubts whatsoever on this point! — the man is dumb as a brick! He proved this in a statement before the Georgia election when he said he didn’t know what a pronoun was.

What was Trump thinking when he endorsed this clown?

Not that Walker’s opponent in the Party of the Death Culture was a viable alternative. Voters in Georgia simply didn’t have any options this year. Were I still a resident there, I would have gone fishing.

Finally — and this might turn out to be the last straw: Trump recklessly posted on his Truth Social platform that “A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution. Our great ‘Founders’ did not want, and would not condone False & Fraudulent Elections!”

Now to be sure, we’ve not had Constitutionally limited government in the U.S. in so many decades (well over a century, I’d say) that you might as well stop counting. But I wouldn’t want to see what the Party of Chaos and Debauchery would do — or its left wing billionaire bankrollers such as George Soros would do — if the document was scrapped altogether!

It is as if Trump is giving the globalists what they want: someone who is not electable in 2024. To be sure, he has plenty of time between now and the next round of primaries to get it together. But we need more from him than we’ve seen so far: much more.

[NOTE: a follow-up piece to this discussing the criminal referrals of the January 6 (Un)Select Committee is coming between now and Christmas Day.]

And he’d better stop wasting time. Some of his supporters are casting about for another standard-bearer: Trumpism without Trump. I have said from the get-go that the idea of Trumpism is larger than the man. It’s not hard to see why Trump supporters might be looking elsewhere. The country needs real leadership and a vision for the future, a clear and viable alternative to what the World Economic Forum globalists are preparing to shove down our throats. It needs to be able to get people on board in large enough numbers to make a difference.

Trump did this back in 2015-16. He does not appear to be doing it now.

I have no idea whether Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will challenge him for the GOP nomination. Corporate media is pushing him, hard — countless articles read almost as if he had already announced.

Obviously, should DeSantis run and claim the nomination from Trump, these same legacy outfits will turn on him like wolves. Much of his thinking, after all, is too close to Trump’s for comfort, and he’s considerably more focused. He has the woke cult’s number. He has Big Pharma’s number as well. His new state-level grand jury might help determine how much long-term damage the mRNA shots can be expected to do.

DeSantis could easily become the standard-bearer for conservative populism and economic nationalism, and potentially, therefore, a bigger threat to the globalists than Trump was.

But as I’ve also said, I don’t know that he wants the job. He’s not stupid, and he has to know what it could cost him and his family, personally as well as politically.

Lastly: Sleepy Joe has been kept in the Oval Office longer than I anticipated, possibly because he’s been a really good boy (so to speak), doing the bidding of his real owners, and possibly because VP Giggles would be an even bigger disaster than he has been. Everyone knows that. Should Biden be replaced in 2024, though, whatever the stated reason, it will likely be by someone even further to the left than he is. Think: California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Imagine the entire country looking like San Francisco by 2028!  

Newsom can cobble sentences together, though, and make them sound intelligent. I doubt he dozes off in meetings. He doesn’t look and sound like he’s suffering from dementia. I don’t think he giggles like an idiot. These all put him ahead of Sleepy Joe and VP Giggles.

In the end, though, if nothing is done to secure elections by controlling the broad-based swing towards mail-in voting, ballot harvesting, etc., it won’t matter which party runs which candidate, because the globalist-approved candidate will be the one who “wins.”


ANNOUNCING: an online course/tutorial entitled The Philosophy of Responsible Freedom, directed by Jack C. Carney with myself as chief partner: a Zoom-based intellectual encounter between an atheist (Carney) and a Christian (Yates) exploring the history of ideas using Academy of Ideas videos and supplementing them with the thoughts of others. Carney is an autodidact in areas ranging across psychology, psychiatry, and anthropology who emphasizes the importance of human relationships in a world where loss is omnipresent (he also teaches English online). I am an author and trained philosopher with a doctorate in the subject who taught philosophy courses in years past, walked away from academia, still writes philosophy emphasizing the need to identify, clarify, and evaluate the success (or failure) of worldviews in civilization, stages of civilization, the quest to build free societies, and how worldviews either enhance or hobble responsible freedom. Course/tutorial outline here. For more information or to get on our email list: freeyourmindinsc@yahoo.com.

Steven Yates’s latest book What Should Philosophy Do? A Theory (2021) is available here and here. His earlier Four Cardinal Errors: Reasons for the Decline of the American Republic (2011) is available here.

While admittedly the real world can be scary enough, he has also written a novel of cosmic horror. The Shadow Over Sarnath will be published early next year.

The Patreon.com campaign I have been running improved a little last month, with one new Patron since my last article. The reality remains: people are exiting such sites, often for reasons beyond their (or my) control. I might still have to return to pursuing copywriting, copyediting and ghostwriting clients as a source of income in this era of roaring inflation.

Thank you, “Joe Biden”! 

To prevent this while there is still time (i.e., before a new client accepts my offer), please consider pledging today by going here and signing up.

Posted in Coronavirus, Culture, Election 2016 and Aftermath, Media, Philosophy, Political Economy, Where is Civilization Going? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nietzsche, Materialism, and Eugenics: A Brief History of the Connection

The course/tutorial sessions about which I posted a couple of weeks ago have taken us into Friedrich Nietzsche’s infamous declaration that “God is dead,” his subsequent call for a “revaluation of all values,” and his prophesy that the next century (the twentieth) would witness a potentially catastrophic “advent of nihilism.”

Arguably this final prediction of Nietzsche’s was spot on. Understanding what Nietzsche meant has been challenging, however; scholars are not always in agreement about what he was driving at.

Nietzsche was not a systematic thinker (the closest he comes is probably On the Genealogy of Morals), and this complicates matters. If the history of philosophy divides (somewhat) into system-builders and system-smashers, Nietzsche was more the second than the first. Elsewhere I’ve distinguished “neats” from “scruffies.” The former are pristine and logical, concerned with precision, consistency and comprehensiveness. They tend to like mathematics, geometry, and formal logic. The find all such things fundamentally inauthentic, artificial, and falsifying our actual lived experience which they see as far from systematic. “Neats” (system-builders) include Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Hegel, the early Wittgenstein, and Whitehead; “scruffies” (system-smashers) include the ancient Sophists, Montaigne, Hume at least some of the time, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche obviously, and in the twentieth century, the later Wittgenstein and those he directly influenced such as Paul Feyerabend.

What our course/tutorial turned up surprised me — possibly because I’d not looked at Nietzsche in quite a while (although I do not recall this from history of philosophy seminars when I was a student). The question Jack Carney and I found ourselves confronting over the past couple of weeks: was Nietzsche an incipient eugenicist? Pursuing this further, should the answer be a resounding Yes: does this supply another reason for not being a materialist? My answer will be another resounding Yes!

First things first: although Carney and I are on opposite sides of the worldview fence (he is a materialist; I am not), I need to credit him for turning up the bulk of this material. This is important, because it connects one of the pivotal figures of around 150 years ago both with what I describe in my book What Should Philosophy Do? A Theory (2021) as the replacement of the worldview of Christendom with that of materialism (Ch. 3) and, from there, with some of the most dangerous tendencies afoot in the world today.  

What is eugenics? Here is a thoughtful discussion:

Eugenics is a social movement based on the belief that the genetic quality of the human race can be improved by the use of selective breeding, as well as other often morally criticized means to eliminate groups of people considered genetically inferior, while encouraging the growth of groups judged to be genetically superior. Since first conceptualized by Plato around 400 BC, the practice of eugenics has been debated and criticized. 


Coming from a Greek word meaning “good in birth,” the term eugenics refers to a controversial area of genetic science based on the belief that the human species can be improved by encouraging only people or groups with “desirable” traits to reproduce, while discouraging or even preventing reproduction among people with “undesirable” qualities. Its stated goal is to improve the human condition by “breeding out” disease, disability, and other subjectively defined undesirable characteristics from the human population.

Influenced by Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection and survival of the fittest, British natural scientist Sir Francis Galton—Darwin’s cousin—coined the term eugenics in 1883. Galton contended that selective human breeding would enable “the more suitable races or strains of blood a better chance of prevailing speedily over the less suitable.” He promised eugenics could “raise the present miserably low standard of the human race” by “breeding the best with the best.” 

In other words, Plato was the first philosopher to toy with the idea, which may be an occupational hazard with those who either believe themselves most fit to rule, or that the question of who is most fit to rule others, or humanity as a whole, can be given a meaningful answer.

Eugenics become quite popular among many forward-looking intellectuals with a social-engineering bent starting in the late 1800s. This interest continued into the 1900s. Note the close tie to Darwinism. Sir Francis Galton, Darwin’s cousin, coined the term and became its first avid promoter. The idea was soon picked up by other intellectual elites.

It fell out of favor because of its connection to the Nazis, under whom it went by the term National Socialist racial hygiene. Arguably, though, the idea never went away completely, and has been revived in our time — without anyone being so bold as to call it that, of course.

Was Nietzsche in the camp of early eugenicists? Leaving aside the fact that if anything, he wasn’t a “joiner,” when we consider his later writings collected in The Will to Power, we find this (Pt. 4, 734, Kaufmann translation):

There are cases in which a child would be a crime: in the case of chronic invalids and neurasthenics of the third degree. What should one do in such cases?… [S]ociety has a duty here: few more pressing and fundamental demands can be made upon it. Society, as the trustee of life, is responsible for every botched life before it comes into existence, and as it has to atone for such lives, it ought consequently to make it impossible for them ever to see the light of day: it should in many cases actually prevent the act of procreation, and may, without any regard for rank, descent, or intellect, hold in readiness the most rigorous forms of compulsion and restriction, and, under certain circumstances, have recourse to castration.

This material, dating from 1888, surely puts Nietzsche in that camp! So our answer is indeed that resounding Yes!

What makes eugenics wrong, morally condemnable? From where philosophers such as myself are sitting, eugenics is unacceptable because it is entirely incompatible with the idea that human lives have intrinsic moral value — even lives that some deem “botched” in one way or another. What entitles anyone to make that judgment? Is it necessary to provide a list of people with physical and even mental infirmities of various sorts who have made important and sometimes magnificent contributions to civilization???

Nietzsche despised Christianity; this is a given. His despising Christianity motivated his call for a “revaluation of all values.” What did this mean? Nietzsche wrote:

“We need a critique of moral values, the value of these values should itself, for once, be examined?. [What if] morality itself were to blame if man, as a species, never reached his highest potential power and splendor?”

Christianity stressed love, charitability, humility, forgiveness, family, church, community — and, I would argue, it paves the way for responsible freedom within the bounds of a moral view of the world. The Christian worldview saw us all as “equal” in the eyes of our Creator (which obviously did not mean equal in an economic sense). The idea that human lives matter, that the autonomy of each of us should be respected so long as we are respecting the autonomy of others, begins here.

But if Christianity is removed from your conceptual map of the world, on what can any of these notions stand? Even a moral principle that justifies non-aggression or non-coercion with a proposition such as, “If everybody refrained from aggressing or initiating coercion against others, the world would be considerably better off,” is vulnerable. The proposition is true enough, but as we’ll see presently, irrelevant. Everybody won’t. Globalists, for example, are not impressed with it (any more than were the Nazis or the Communists). They are in a position to simply ignore it and do as they please, answering only to each other, without larger consequence.

If Nietzsche was anything, he was a dedicated antagonist to the idea that you could have a fundamentally Christian ethos without a Christian foundation: God and original moral commands as found in the Old and New Testaments. Not only did it make no philosophical sense, it was self-deceptive and intellectually dishonest.  

Nietzsche thus scorned utilizing any Christian notions in one’s ethos because he was fundamentally a materialist even if he doesn’t defend materialist explicitly (that I know of). If anything, he assumes it, at least for his purposes here. The above passage (734) continues:

The Biblical prohibition “thou shalt not kill” is a piece of naiveté compared with the seriousness of the prohibition of life to decadents: “thou shalt not procreate!” — Life itself recognizes no solidarity, no “equal rights” between the healthy and the degenerate parts of an organism: one must excise the latter — or the whole will perish. Sympathy for decadents, equal rights for the ill-constituted — that would be the profoundest immorality, that would be antinature itself as morality!

Life, that is, has a first imperative: survive! Do more than survive. Be strong and vigorous! If life is strong, vigorous, and healthy: reproduce. Improve the strength of the species in the drive for empowerment within the material world.  

My conclusions are two.

First, the materialist worldview does not compel eugenics in any strict logical sense. But neither, as we saw above, does it provide any basis for ruling it out. It is one possible consequence those so inclined are likely to draw.

For second — and let me be just a tad Nietzschean here myself! — those so inclined will sometimes have the money and therefore the power to infer just these kinds of conclusions, perhaps almost unconsciously — or not! They may present what they have to say cleverly, that is, disguised in philanthropical sounding language about “making the world better.”  

Beginning around the time of the Fabian socialists, the idea was that there are people in this world who may not be physically or mentally infirm but are nevertheless “of no use.” George Bernard Shaw (one of the founding Fabians and author of the very Nietzschean play Man Into Superman) put it this way:

“You must know half a dozen people at least who are no use in this world, who are more trouble than they’re worth, just put him there and say: now will you be kind enough to justify you, if you’re not pulling your weight, if you’re not producing as much as you consume, then clearly we cannot use the big organization of our society for the purpose of keeping you alive because your life does not benefit us and it can’t be of very much use to yourself.”

Shaw, like Nietzsche, was severely critical of the mass of humanity. Both philosophers looked at the common people and saw only herd animals: the moral equivalent of cattle. Perhaps they had the capacity to be more than they are; or perhaps not. The point being: you don’t have moral qualms about moving cattle around by force, covert or overt, rearranging them in such a way that (1) there is a place for the cooperative, with all the cooperative in their places; and (2) those who don’t get with the program can simply be eliminated from the gene pool.  

The Fabian socialists, as I outline in some detail in my Four Cardinal Errors (2011), infiltrated the U.S. government, universities, think tanks, and eventually corporations transforming them from within. Theirs was the consummate social engineering project, because for decades virtually no one noticed what was happening. It took author Rose L Martin to document this multi-generational effort with her treatise Fabian Freeway: High Road to Socialism in the U.S.A. (1968).

By then the transformation of the U.S. was well underway, and subsequent events suggest that it may have been unstoppable even then. It is not that those in positions of power were Fabians. Most in the American political and corporate classes were not; most have never even heard of them. But they were members of organizations that had adopted, at the top, Fabian mottos such as “make haste slowly” and “penetrate and permeate.” Their symbol was the tortoise: moving inexorably along, but always moving forward, barely noticeable. They were not Marxists because they were not revolutionists but evolutionists. They recognized that revolutions were messy, difficult to control, and often precipitated periods of chaos. Far easier, it was, to transform societies by transforming their dominant institutions from within, by stealth — until the change was so far along that opposing it from the inside was impossible. Institutions had been not just penetrated but permeated. Those who noticed could be branded “paranoid” or “reactionary” or “conspiratorial.”  

Today, as I suggested, a variation on the eugenics theme is back full force, without anyone calling it that (the word transhumanism appears to be in vogue among the “scientific” elites). This, I would argue, is the actual the culmination of around 150 years of materialist dominance of the world’s intellectual centers. Its latter-day theme is that there are simply too many people in a world in which, e.g., jobs are disappearing due to technology. Also, in the recent past — perhaps during the years 1950-1970 which experienced a real economic boom — too many of the peasants earned too much money and began to travel around too much (their children are still doing it). They are spreading their diseases! The herds of cattle therefore need to be controlled! For the good of the planet!

Yuval Noah Harari has risen in stature over the past decade or so as one of the world’s leading public intellectuals. He is an Israeli and a full professor of history at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. For our purposes his biggest claim to fame is his status having the ear of arch-globalist Klaus Schwab who founded and, since the 1970s, has directed the World Economic Forum who organizes the globalist superelite each January in Davos, Switzerland. Harari’s books have titles like Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2014) and Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (2017, the title alone probably tells you all you need to know!). A good compendium of quotations illustrating Harari’s views can be found here:

What Harari has said recently (note how he echoes what Shaw had said a hundred years before):

“… I think that the biggest question in maybe in economics and politics of the coming decades will be what to do with all these useless people. I don’t think we have an economic model for that …

Is there a direct connection between latter-day eugenics (transhumanism) going back through the Fabians and including Nietzsche? That would be a Yes.

Nietzsche’s variant on the materialist worldview held that we find meaning — if we find it — exclusively between birth (the start of our journey through life) and death (the extinguishing of the human personality). There is nothing else to draw from. There is no “transcendent” world in which to find meaning, not that of Christianity, not that of Plato (“forms”), not that of those philosophers who attempt to maintain a fundamentally Christian ethos, emphasizing being truthful, keeping one’s promises, etc., but place it on a different foundation (Kant would be an example).

Nor is there any “future transcendence” to look forward to and serve in the present, such as Marxism. There is only this world — with all its trials, tribulations; occasional victories amidst many failures and losses; and within which there is a great deal of suffering.

We must build an ethic, asserts Nietzsche, based on overcoming all of this, which otherwise suggests nihilism if your reference point for meaning remains outside this material world. Such an ethic would go “beyond good and evil.”

What would that ethic look like? We (Carney and I; him, actually, more than me) have figured out that it might look very much like what Schwab and Harari are proposing.

Consider Nietzsche’s words, again from The Will to Power (Pt. 4, 954, 960):

A certain question constantly recurs to us; it is perhaps a seductive and evil question; may it be whispered into the ears of those who have a right to such doubtful problems — those strong souls of to-day whose dominion over themselves is unswerving: is it not high time, now that the type “gregarious animal” is developing ever more and more in Europe, to set about rearing, thoroughly, artificially, and consciously, an opposite type, and to attempt to establish the latter’s virtues? And would not the democratic movement itself find for the first time a sort of goal, salvation, and justification, if someone appeared who availed himself of it — so that at last, beside its new and sublime product, slavery (for this must be the end of European democracy), that higher species of ruling and Cæsarian spirits might also be produced, which would stand upon it, hold to it, and would elevate themselves through it? This new race would climb aloft to new and hitherto impossible things, to a broader vision, and to its task on earth.”

From now henceforward there will be such favourable first conditions for greater ruling powers as have never yet been found on earth. And this is by no means the most important point. The establishment has been made possible of international race unions which will set themselves the task of rearing a ruling race, THE FUTURE “LORDS OF THE EARTH” [my emphasis] — a new, vast aristocracy based upon the most severe self-discipline, in which the will of philosophical men of power and artist-tyrants will be stamped upon thousands of years: a higher species of men which, thanks to their preponderance of will, knowledge, riches, and influence, will avail themselves of democratic Europe as the most suitable and supple instrument they can have for taking the fate of the earth into their own hands, and working as artists upon man himself. Enough! The time is coming for us to transform all our views on politics.”

What matters, of course, is the chain of thought that begins with ideas like these, from the 1880s (which was also the decade in which the British Fabian Society was founded) leading straight to today’s globalists, who fancy themselves as Platonist philosopher-kings, Lords of the Earth, redesigners of humanity — those most fit to rule by virtue of their superior “preponderance of will, knowledge, riches, and influence….”

There is much, of course, that Nietzsche could not have anticipated — most importantly, the role technology would play and the idea of incorporating it as an omnipresence force in our lives. Compare the above to this comment, then, from Klaus Schwab’s book Shaping the Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (2018):

The lines between technologies and beings are becoming blurred and not just by the ability to create lifelike robots or synthetics. Instead it is about the ability of new technologies to literally become part of us. Technologies already influence how we understand ourselves, how we think about each other, and how we determine our realities. As the technologies…give us deeper access to parts of ourselves, we may begin to integrate digital technologies into our bodies.

For more quotations on the kind of future Harari envisions, go here. We are dangerously close to that state of affairs. Or this, from Homo Deus:

The notion of superhumans is using bioengineering and artificial intelligence to upgrade human abilities. If they use the power to change themselves, to change their own minds, their own desires, then we have no idea what they will want to do.

Harari thinks that Homo Sapiens will be transcended, made obsolete, by the end of the present century. There are plenty of people who do not want to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the dystopia that would herald their obsolescence.

What will be done with them all? Does anyone really want to know?

The question is worth asking, because this is where the advanced world, empowered by money, is heading, and at breakneck speed! The first problem with all forms of humanist ethics — humanist ethics here meaning all those ethical theories that begin with human beings in this world alone — starts with their having led to a babble of incommensurable voices. Consider he past 150 years of the subject. How many secular ethical theories has this era produced, anyway? They divide loosely into the deontological ethical theories that follow Kant and the utilitarian ones that follow Bentham and Mill, but then there are more divisions based often on little more that political ideology. (Identity politics has done all it can to create an ethos in which some have more “rights” than others because of past or present “victimhood,” and because those others had historical “privilege.”)

The leads us to the realization that the minority I’ve often mentioned — a subset of sociopaths, most likely — who are fascinated with power, know instinctively how to exploit this incommensurable babble for personal gain, and how to use money/financial systems to gain global dominance. If the globalist ethos can be reduced to a single sentence, that sentence would read something like, “If I want global domination, i.e., power, I have a right to it by virtue of my superior intellect, wealth, and will.”

Nietzsche may well have concurred!  

There is much more to be said that cannot be expressed in a blog post as brief as this. These connections, from the materialists of the second half of the nineteenth century, scientific or philosophical, down through the genocides of the twentieth, and to the proposals for today, all require a longer and more involved essay. What I’ve done here, hopefully, is to get the discussion started.

Suffice it to say: would it not be best, now, to “reinvent ourselves” by imagining (or reimagining) a worldview that does not permit a chain of inferences leading to these kinds of consequences, because its analysis of life in this world starts with the idea that human lives have intrinsic worth: that we are not cattle, not pawns to be moved around as on a chessboard, and above all, not mere objects to be experimented on (as with some interpretations of the covid-19 jabs).

That sort of worldview, I submit, is only possible if we reject materialism in all its forms. (See my article series here, here, here, here, here, here, here.)

Posted in Christian Worldview, Philosophy, Science and Technology, Where is Civilization Going? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Philosophy of Responsible Freedom – Announcing An Online Course / Tutorial with Jack Carney and Steven Yates


Online & Ongoing, Free & Freeing, Adventure in the Academy of Ideas



Join Two Contrarian Minds in the Rock Tumbler of Time Along with the Great Minds and the Grit of Truth

Academy of Ideas Videos Brought to Life for You By Two Very Different Philosophers

STARTING SATURDAY, 4 PM EST, OCTOBER 22 – Jack Carney and Steven Yates


Worth noting is that there are three presentations.

1. Fridays 9 PM New Zealand Time where Jack will be the sole facilitator-teacher. These days and times are targeting Oceania, S.E. Asia, and Asia.

2. Saturdays 9 P M New Zealand time where Jack will be the sole facilitator-teacher. These days/times are targeting Oceania, S.E. Asia, and Asia.

3. Sundays 9am New Zealand time which are Saturdays 5pm Chile and 4pm E.S.T. time, where Steven will be joining Jack  and Co-Presenting. This day/time is targeting the U.S., Canada, S. America, Europe, and Africa.


1. FRIDAYS, 9PM, starting October 21, 2022 New Zealand time

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 828 7050 1796

Passcode: 772388

2. SATURDAYS, 9PM, starting October 22, 2022 New Zealand time

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 860 9663 1190

Passcode: 772388

3. SUNDAYS, 9AM, starting October 23, 2022 New Zealand time / 4 pm Eastern Standard Time.

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 841 5629 1310

Passcode: 772388


“It is important to note that we will be presenting and reviewing video material from our independent perspectives. Our presentations will involve, therefore, disagreements but we pledge to keep our disagreements mutually respectful, and to respect our audience by encouraging them to do their own thinking on the topics we shall be covering. We hope that by engaging polar opposites this way, we can set an example for others to follow that may help get us past the divisions currently rending Western civilization — or point toward a new way forward, in case that ship has sailed.”

Jack’s perspective: Materialist Naturalism, Atheism, Voluntarism, Autodidact.

Steven’s perspective: Christian Worldview (non-denominational, non-dispensationalist), Conservative “Populist,” with a PhD in Philosophy and four books the most recent of which is What Should Philosophy Do? A Theory (Wipf & Stock, 2021).

Jack is seeking an audience in the East (including China), given his New Zealand location, but is also seeking a Western audience, hence his joining with Steve.

Steven seeks an audience in North and South America, and perhaps Europe if Europeans by any chance see this.   

The same video(s) will be presented in three sessions. You are welcome to attend all. Not to worry, these sessions are free. (Perhaps we will put up a tip jar. 😊 )


“My conception of Responsible Freedom (includes Self-Actualization):

To be Free means that you understand how your Mind from birth has been captured (programmed, indoctrinated, ordered) by Nature (Genes) and Nurture (Upbringing) to obey Authority — Something or Someone other than You. We are born to conform to and obey the Authority of our Parents, Culture, Government, Religion — the totality of the Belief Structures we inherit. To be Free is to discover and disable this default setting of Obedience to Authority and to reset it so as to become your own, sole, ultimate Authority.

To be Responsible for your Freedom means you have taken the time and effort to free your Mind as described above and that you allow no one to control your Mind. You think your own thoughts rather than being thought by them; you regulate your emotions rather than being driven by them. You control yourself using the scientific method, reason, and your own experience. You become your own, sole, ultimate Authority obedient only to Reality.

These four Au- words comprise the Gold (Au) Standard of the Responsibly Free Individual (etymological definitions):

AuTonomy (Self Law Maker)

AuThencity (Self Doer/Being)

AuThority (Master, Leader, Author)

AuThor (Originator, Creator, literally “One Who Causes to Grow”)

To Self-Actualize is do the above and become as fully as possible, Responsible for your Freedom. The degree to which you do this is the degree of your Self-Actualization. This is a never ending, forever ongoing task that must be committed to, reviewed and renewed, consistently and frequently. This Self-Education to value Freedom and become Responsible for it is generally not taught anywhere and it does not come naturally. To help others discover and disable the default setting of Obedience to Authority is why I have created this Adventure of Ideas. See my Free Friends Project  https://www.resourceforyoursource.com/9_free-friends 


My provisional definition of Responsible Freedom:

The conscious capacity to live according to one’s own choices, not those of someone else (or the dictates of an institution not of one’s choosing), establishing goals of one’s own choosing and working toward achieving them, learning what one needs to learn or acquiring the skills one needs to acquire, in association with those of one’s own choosing provided those others have made the association one of their choices.

Why I have introduced this as provisional should become clear shortly.

The caveats and qualifiers: (1) The chooser has agreed de facto to accept the consequences of his/her choices and associations. (2) Freedom is not the freedom to do anything one pleases. Freedom is not an absolute — an abstraction — but a concrete reality or particular. Freedom is enhanced by systems (physical, historical/cultural, behavioral). These are all around us, and part of our heritage. They have been maintained because, sometimes with necessary modifications, they have solved the major problems of civilization. The good news is that you can create behavioral systems for yourself, and these become your habits, including habits of thought.

This all means that responsible freedom is both made possible by, but also invariably constrained by, physically/systemically available options, one’s knowledge of those options, and one’s capacity to make use of them. This will include one’s beliefs or mindset about what is possible for oneself and one’s associations. (3) Absence of immediate physical coercion is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for freedom, if other forms of coercion are present: hidden and unrecognized perhaps (psychological), or systemic (sociological or organizational). Recognizing their existence is the first step towards getting rid of them.  

Final caveat (4): this is a reflection of freedom understand where we are now: in a liberal civilization that arguably is collapsing (collapse being understood as a process, not a singular event as a Hollywood film would depict — see, e.g., Dmitry Orlov’s work on the topic). As we’ll see in a minute, there are almost surely societal states of affairs in which my conception of responsible freedom might not even be understood. I don’t consider it “frozen in time,” as it were.

It is also a given that believers in different Worldviews will come to different conclusions about What is responsible freedom? The question will also be answered differently in different Stages of Civilization.

It is also a given that believers in different Worldviews will come to different conclusions about What is responsible freedom? The question will also be answered differently in different Stages of Civilization.

Auguste Comte gave us what he called the Law of Three Stages. We do not have to be “disciples” of his (I am not!) to find the idea at the beginning of his Introduction to Positive Polity useful. Comte also calls them states or conditions. His conceptual system implied Progress: each stage invalidates its predecessor. I will suggest that we jettison that assumption. In most advanced nations in the West we find all the stages existing side by side, however uneasily. I believe that stages of civilization are more akin to stories or floors of a building with competing enterprises on the various floors. There are, moreover, stairwells and elevators connecting them despite the competition between them, and possibly a commons area on the ground floor where all can meet and discuss, perchance over morning coffee, hopefully in front of a picture window with a view able to remind those inside that we inhabit a common world.   

With that as background:

At the First Stage of society in its highest development, the worldview is invariably monotheistic or some equivalent, and so it could be called the stage of faith. Institutions develop accordingly. Obvious examples include Christian, Judaic, and Muslim societies. Freedom in these societies is the freedom to submit to and serve the will of God/Yahweh/Allah (the word Islam means submission in Arabic). Focusing on Christianity since I know it best. Freedom according to Christianity is found through the process of acknowledging one’s sin (separation from God), that one cannot save oneself, that one must therefore appeal to Jesus Christ for salvation (absolution for one’s sins, for which Christ paid the price on the cross). It is then service to one’s fellow humans in Christ’s name, especially the attempt to win more souls. The long and short of it: freedom is found in the submission or subordination of one’s private will to God’s will as best as one understands it. (Caveat: none of this denies that in-house disputes will not arise, as they obviously have. Muslims have Shiites and Sunnis; Christianity has its broad divisions between Catholicism, Protestantism, and Orthodoxy. Judaism has its own divisions, although Ashkenazi Jews have become strikingly dominant.)

Worth noting here is that in all these cases, God’s existence is a given, not the product of a philosophical attempt at proof. One could therefore speak of the Age of Faith.

Key drawback of first stage thinking: philosophical thought does not bow to institutional authority and its claim to speak for God, meaning that philosophers (even theists) are likely eventually to rebel against first stage thinking. The human tendency to ask questions, even within the bounds of the assumption of the Authority of Scripture, is one of the main reasons the in-house disputes happened, and why they remain.

At the Second Stage of society — at least as it emerged in the West — the dominant worldview (beginning around 300 A.D.) remained Christian, but philosophers had emerged who sought to prove the truth, e.g., of God’s existence with a philosophical argument. In other words, reason (logic) and not faith is the bottom line in this stage. Even for the theist, that is, reason is epistemically more basic than unaided belief. Institutions have developed which are able to nurture the intellect and enable theological debate at a level that the first stage will not permit. By medieval times, monasteries served as examples. Freedom is the freedom to use one’s reason to arrive at one’s own conclusions independent of that of ecclesiastical or other institution-bound authorities, within a community of likeminded thinkers (e.g., Kant’s “kingdom of ends”). Second stage civilization eventually gave rise to both the scientific revolution and the Protestant revolution in Christianity (helped along by the Gutenberg press!).  

Worth noting: the variant on the Christian worldview that emerges at the highest level of this stage affirms God’s ideal rationality (logos) and ethos — as Creator of a universe that is therefore rationally ordered (designed), and of beings created in His image (us) who therefore have the cognitive ability to grasp the Creation as it is, at least in part if not in whole. Science becomes possible if fallible. The capacity of technique to solve specific grand problems (e.g., of energy-production, propulsion, etc.) and make dynamic advances is explained.

Theologians made peace with the idea of offering a philosophical proof of God’s existence, such as the ontological proof of St. Anselm of Canterbury or the cosmological proof of St. Thomas Aquinas, or the second ontological proof of René Descartes.

Steven’s opinion: this was a wrong turn. If second stage thinking subjects belief in God to the rational test of philosophical argumentation (ontological, cosmological, etc.), it leaves theism in limbo if/when the proofs cannot stand up to criticism. Descartes in particular made God just a stepping-stone of his methodological quest for absolute epistemic certainty (“I think; therefore, I am.”)

Another potential drawback: in seeking explanations for physical phenomena, how far can scientific explanation go? Why, given the failure of the philosophical proofs, should science presume the existence of a Creator? It might have seemed like a logical question to ask at the time. Why not just be an empiricist — in epistemology, empiricism is the thesis that all our knowledge comes through the senses (that pure reason discloses nothing except abstract logical relations and that claims to divine revelation that cannot be publicly validated disclose nothing at all). (Rationalism is the contrary stance in epistemology holding that some knowledge of matters of fact can be reached through abstract reasoning alone.)

This progression began the shift within Western civilization from the Christian worldview to the materialist one, i.e., an extrapolation from sense experience allegedly corrected by emerging scientific method: the ideas that the universe is self-existing, not created; that it is known exclusively through science / scientific methods, which are empiricist. This shift was underway by the start of the 1800s among the more avant garde Enlightenment thinkers. It got legs within the intellectual centers (universities) at large when Darwin published his theory of evolution by natural selection (1869), and began to infiltrate the larger culture in the early 1900s, especially under the spreading influence of Freudian psychoanalysis. Turning points included such events as the Scopes Trial and, later, the abolition of prayer in government schools. By this time, we were in the third stage of civilization.

The Third Stage of civilization — what Comte called the Positive stage — is the stage of empirical science, technique (technology), commerce (even though Comte himself was a socialist and would not have enjoyed capitalism’s triumphs), and universal education. It encourages cosmopolitanism and liberalismhaving replaced the idea that all men and women are equal in the sight of God with the idea that all are rational beings and therefore, on this basis, moral equals. Respect for tradition dissolves if its basis cannot stand up to scientific scrutiny; there is no respect for place if respect for place inhibits the spread of markets and monetization. The idea of Progress already noted is especially important to third stage thought: yesterday’s theories in science are supplanted by today’s better ones; today’s techniques improve on yesterday’s; commercial enterprises (corporations, businesses) bringing new products into the marketplace are making our lives better and better as they spread across the globe; universal education is making even the masses smarter so that they can work for corporations or (in a few cases) create their own, etc., etc.

That could be viewed as a very long historical background for our subject matter in this course.

It is during this period — late 1800s onward — that things get very interesting for our purposes. And, I would argue, a shift began from a third stage of thinking to a fourth stage Comte did not see and would not have understood.

We were all increasingly a part of “the system” (supervening economic systems driven by the need to earn one’s living under the circumstances of emerging industrial civilization). Søren Kierkegaard was the first philosopher to stand up and shout, “I am not in your system! I demand the right to be free, by being different!” (Nowhere did he say this literally, of course, but his voluminous writings that are regarded as “founding Christian existentialism” began a trend of rebellion towards what were perceived as the strictures of industrial, third stage civilization resulting in unfreedom.)

Friedrich Nietzsche proclaimed the “death of God,” by which he meant: everything that God’s existence had given meaning to was gone, had been destroyed by scientific progress as he understood it, which had fostered the materialist worldview as it then existed. Nihilismbelief in nothing — knocks on our doors, like the proverbial figure in black bearing a tall poker whose eyes are hidden by a black hood. All previous ethical systems, including the “secular” ones of Kant and other Enlightenment philosophers, are useless, because they try to maintain a fundamentally Christian ethos stripped of its supernaturalist foundation (God). They must go. We must have a “revaluation of all values.” We must recognize that our actual freedom is found when we create our own values. For Nietzsche, these were the values of survival and advancement in the universe described by materialists: strength (including physical prowess), health, determination, and resilience in the face of the universe’s manifest hostility to human life.

Fyodor Dostoevsky, over in Russia, however, had warned that “if God does not exist, then everything is permitted.” Except, perhaps, getting caught. Or, if one has sufficient power via the backing of others, or through having instilled fear in them, one can do essentially as one pleases. In this he probably anticipated Communism (and Nazism and other twentieth century “isms”). Dostoevsky also scolded us for any temptation to think the masses really want freedom. “The Grand Inquisitor” portrays them as having been told by Christ, “the truth will set you free” and then having laid that freedom at the feet of the Almighty Church! (Later merged into the Almighty State!)

Bertrand Russell, writing in “A Free Man’s Worship,” described the materialist’s universe, emptied of transcendent meaning, and stated that “in it our highest ideals must find a home,” these being peace and social justice (Russell was jailed more than once for his pacifism, so at least he put his money where his mouth was). Russell eventually embraced the slowly emerging technocratic view that the masses could be conditioned to accept and even love their servitude through proper forms of conditioning being served up by behavioral psychology.

Arguably, right around 1914, the Utopian tendencies of third stage civilization collapsed at once, with the Great War (later: World War 1) illustrating how little real, moral progress the human race had made, including its governing elites and the intellectual and technological forces now driving them consciously or otherwise.

Was a materialist world a meaningless world, and human life in a materialist world therefore meaningless, morality a meaningless concept?

The early twentieth century art world was already portraying a meaningless world by producing meaningless art (Duchamp’s “found objects” are an example). Music would follow when composers such as Schoenberg abandoned the tonality of his predecessors, producing compositions that verged on unlistenable. Literature was, more and more, portraying human beings acting in, and responding to, a meaningless world, a world they found nauseous (Sartre’s La Nausée) or in which murder could be committed for no reason because meaningless lives are expendable lives (Camus’s L’Etranger).

Science was not helping. It was furthering its own shift from a third stage to a fourth stage interpretation of the world (Nietzsche would have called it). Via some of the interpretations of quantum mechanics, theoretical physics was beginning to cast doubt on the knowability of physical reality as it is, in itself. Whether light consisted of particles or waves seemed to depend on how the experiment was set up and how observation took place. Reality came to seem “observer dependent.” Was Schroedinger’s cat alive or dead? Neither: until you opened the box and looked!

Philosophy, sadly (with rare exceptions), had become an exclusively academic enterprise retreating completely into the articulation of formal logic and detailed explorations of “ordinary language”: perfect for an industrial civilization that placed no commercial value on ideas that did not lead to something that could be sold to consumers.  

Meanwhile, evidence was emerging that this civilization was empowering a sociopathic elite embarked on a campaign of global dominance. Although you had to know where to look, because increasingly, mass media, mass education, and other dominant institutions were structured to hide this development. This elite did not philosophize about freedom much. They just saw it as the freedom to do as they pleased, answerable (perhaps) only to each other.

Third Stage thinking regards truth as determined by empirical science — the scientific method. Practical problem solving, science applied to technology — plus the generalizing from particular results — was the test. Knowledge is had through the five senses, not from revelation (because God either does not exist or can be treated as nonexistent: operational atheism) or pure reason which yields only the empirically empty truths of logic (Kant’s analytic-synthetic dichotomy, emerging as the difference between truths of logic and definition, versus truths of empirical fact.

As far as ethics goes, we are on our own — to pursue what Russell called our “highest ideals,” Maslow’s “self-actualization,” or anything else, because we do not answer to anything Higher.

Third stage thinkers see science and technology (some) and commerce (others) as having set us free from superstition, slavery, institution-bound authority, and in principle, poverty, injustice, and war. They saw a future of boundless prosperity and unending progress.

In that case, they failed. The Great War was behind us, after all; an even more destructive war loomed, and we still had to learn about how many people totalitarians who certainly believed they answered to nothing / no one Higher than themselves could kill!

Fourth Stage thinking (and civilization) is the result of the manifest failures of third stage thinking (and civilization).

In various ways, fourth stage thinking either denies the reality of objectively-knowable truth, or denies the meaningfulness of such: objectively-knowable truth doesn’t matter even if is obtainable, because it is obtainable only in limited and trivial cases (e.g., “The cat is asleep” is objectively true if whatever cat you are talking about is indeed asleep). If its purveyors were fully honest with themselves (they are not), they would acknowledge Nietzsche as their most important forebear and add that we did not “transcend” nihilism because, given only the tools of third stage thinking, we could not — because the designing of a workable universal ethic on the foundations supplied by materialism in metaphysics and empiricism in epistemology make this impossible.

The twentieth and (so far) twenty-first centuries have witnessed a playing out of this unpleasant reality.

Even as leading intellectuals have struggled mightily to evade or avoid it!

Postmodernists are fourth stage thinkers in my sense, although I would not limit fourth stage thinking to postmodernism. Everyone who looked at where industrial civilization was going and saw Dystopia instead of Utopia and thus threw cold water on the third stage “myth of progress” (as he/she would call it) could be classified as a fourth stage thinker (this includes Huxley, Orwell, others).

Fourth Stage thinking celebrates hedonism (“the good is pleasure”) and the absoluteness of personal choices and associations, because it sees no reason not to celebrate them. It views every moral norm not of one’s own creation or choosing — or the creation or choosing of one’s peers — as an unjustifiable imposition of “authority.” Ultimately human life itself is a mere option, and not a gift (along with one’s abilities) from that which is Higher however we understand this last. Hence life’s ultimate cheapness and expendability (think of the abortion-mill death culture, the longstanding Western war machine, and the likelihood that the covid-19 “vaxes” will bring about a hidden euthanasia of “useless eaters” before the latter can gobble up scarce resources).

The test of this worldview, which is the worldview of materialism, is that the civilization that embraced it is collapsing. The collapse is becoming so obvious that the mainstream can no longer avoid it.

Money long ago became its real god — even as its monetary/financial system collapses. Note the one thing that the abortion death culture, the war machine, and the covid-19 “vaxes” have in common: all are extremely profitable, with profit being an end in itself for corporations and not a means to a better life for all concerned.

During the mid-twentieth century (before materialist premises had fully taken hold in both business and popular cultures), the economy really was a rising tide that lifted all the boats. During the 1970s and 1980s, capitalism shifted from this towards a financialized system that redistributed wealth upwardscorporate welfarism, or the welfare state in reverse.

Now we have a state of affairs in which the top .001 percent, a group of people that would fit comfortably into a high school auditorium, control more wealth than the entire bottom half of the world’s population.

The middle class created from the 1940s up through the 1960s began to diminish in size during the 1980s and beyond. Today it threatens to pinwheel over the economic cliff.

Government is everywhere, of course. But the real locus of power is the global corporation, or the superelite-controlled network of such, partnering with government and non-governmental organizations of various sorts (the UN, think tanks, semi-secret societies such as the Trilateral Commission and others). The reason for this is simple: corporations have the money, and ways of getting more. Their CEOs have mastered the art of “passive income,” (i.e., money obtained without working for it, or contributing anything to the real economy:“money making money”).

In other words, poverty has not been extinguished. If anything, it is increasing (stats showing income increases aside: all they mean is that more and more people, the world over, have been pulled into the global money political economy, even as their currencies lose their purchasing power). Economic hit men have gone around the world, luring “developing nations” into the web of global indebtedness. Local leaders who resisted often died in “accidents” or were overthrown, and someone “more reasonable” replaced them. (See John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man 2004; 2nd Ed. 2015,)

War has not been extinguished, because wars are profitable!

Nowhere to be found is a “justice system” that can be trusted to deliver justice, anymore than there is a public school or university to be found that dispenses real education (the “liberal arts” including academic philosophy fell to the agendas of the wokesters long ago—possibly because very little that preceded their rise, going back at least half a century, was exactly setting the world afire).

The Superelite, mentioned above, gravitated into the corporation long before that, so that legitimate institutions could be hijacked. Its members created the Federal Reserve (1913), the Bank for International Settlements (1930), the U.N. (1947), and other means of dominating the world by dominating the economic systems of individual nations. (“Free Trade” agreements going back to GATT furthered their goals for specific nations.) They did this not based on any system of “rights” but because they could.

They had sought to dominate mass media by the 1910s (so that the Great War could be presented in ways favorable to their interests), and set out to dominate “public education” before that.

They understood that the masses could be controlled if the information reaching their more intelligent members could be controlled (the rest would then go along, and the populations as a whole could be herded like sheep). Hence control over public education, which actually goes back well into the 1800s.

Being responsibly free, if it means anything it all, means transcending and getting past this kind of civilization! At the fourth stage (with plenty of the third still admixed), freedom is freedom from all constraints whatever — except those approved by wokesters, of course, which typically work against real freedom (which includes free speech). This includes freedom from constraints imposed by Reality (e.g., the reality that there are two and only two sexes, and that this is not a fact we can be responsibly free from. 

I am assuming the unlikelihood that we can go back to earlier stages — any more than you can unscramble an egg (though anyone who wants to, is welcome to try). We are where we are, and we can only go forward — not into the Brave New World or the Great Reset but around them, and past them!

Into what I call a Fifth Stage, difficult as it will be to envision.

We can, of course, speculate — using such ideas as a means of negotiating our way in the direction we want to go even if we aren’t entirely clear where we will end up.

At the Fifth Stage …   we’re still trying to find out … but should it be possible, it might include freedom from the hidden authority and tyranny of a money political economy.

How might we accomplish that?

Perchance by reinvestigating and then making use of Nikola Tesla’s ideas (?), learning how to create systems based on the possibilities of abundance, especially regarding energy and food, instead of maintaining systems based on a presumption of scarcity which enables the further enrichment of corporations able to control governments. Abundance by its nature brings down prices to next-to-nothing. We need energy to power an advanced civilization, and an abundance of energy would bring down its costs far more than anything being done now (because what is being done now keeps the corporate-governmental machinery in business).

This would enable decentralization of power away from central points dictated by that corporate-governmental machinery for those who claim it. Recent technological marvels such as 3D printing have the potential to create abundance in other areas such as housing, bringing down costs in that realm.

This, of course, is just one theme to be explored in transcending the morass where third and fourth stage thinking have left us.

Others including revisiting the earlier stages and identifying specific strengths they might still offer. (I do this in the final chapter of my What Should Philosophy Do?

The Fourth Stage teaches us to at least be skeptical of authority structures of whatever sort, and to be wary of those who indeed confuse positions enabling authoritarian gestures with knowledge of what is true; or which confuse consensus with truth.

The Third Stage teaches us that objective knowledge is at least possible, that what science and technology do, they do very well, and that no other enterprises are as well suited to discovery of truths about spatio-temporal reality. It tried (unsuccessfully) to caution us about demanding absolute certainty as a condition for knowledge.

The Second Stage gave us the structures of reasoning, which are well suited for the organizing and classification of ideas.

The First Stage teaches us, finally, that in the absence of certainty — if we are ruthlessly honest about it — that our first premises, ultimate starting point, is a profession of faith in those premises. (Obviously we cannot “prove” them, because whatever we used as proof would then be more basic than those premises.)  

Steven will thus ask, is your faith going to be in God as Creator, or in that which is Higher; or in something called Matter (Mammon?)?

Steven will invoke the most important advance in philosophical theology in the past century: Presuppositional Apologetics: a challenging term for a fairly simple concept: that (as was the case for the first stage thinker) God’s existence — or nonexistence — is your starting premise logically speaking, or starting point, not the result of a chain of reasoning or inference from a range of experiences. There are—surprise, surprise—different versions of it, such as that put forth by Cornelius Van Til and that of Gordon Clark, but we need not get into what divided them.

Being free surely includes being free to choose your first premises, based on your best judgment given all that you have learned and all that you have experienced. Being responsibly free surely includes recognizing the gravity of the matter, because the choices we make as individuals do not just affect us. They affect those around us, and thus have ripple effects within our families, associations, and communities. Thus, the importance of choosing wisely — fully conscious of the reality that choices have consequences, not just for us but for those our words and actions will affect. 




“This is not, first of all, an academic philosophy tutorial. It is presented with the intention of providing a thoughtful but practical and relevant exploration of ideas, both historical and more recent, that are critically important to anyone who wishes a freer life and a more peaceful world, in which the barriers to these are neutered. My portion of the discussion will draw on the stages-of-civilization material presented above, and what it might mean to “progress” to civilization’s fifth stage—which I firmly believe we either do, or the West soon goes out of business! We will be going through, and discussing, 50 videos from the Academy of Ideas http://www.academyofideas.com/ 

Our presentations will be conducted over Zoom. This is necessary because Jack and I are on different continents, and those who join in will be on still other continents. This is a global scale (but not globalist!) project, in other worlds.”

It is free, no charge; and hopefully, freeing. There is no commitment required. Each of the three sessions, two with Jack only and the other with the two of us trading ideas and sharing our individual perspectives, will last around one hour + (up to 1.5).

The only thing we ask is that you enter the Zoom session a few minutes before the starting time. We will close entry to the session around 10 minutes after the starting time. You will be recorded with the possibility of the video being published. You can have your video and audio on or not if you want some degree of anonymity. You can leave the session whenever you want without notifying us. You can participate to whatever degree you wish including remaining silent and simply watching. You will be allowed to record each Zoom session which will appear on your device after the end to watch again.

Please inform one (or both) of us letting us know ahead of time if you plan to attend a session — although this is not necessary. You can just drop in unannounced if you want.

Email Jack at responsiblyfree@protonmail.com

Email Steven at freeyourmindinsc@yahoo.com


The “Academy of Ideas” is a Canadian based (two brothers) Voluntaryist education service with some 200+ YouTube videos on all aspects of philosophy, especially as they relate to Responsible Freedom and Self-Actualization. Each video is 7 to 12 minutes long, and includes beautiful, classical paintings to illustrate the ideas presented as well as many focusing quotes from a variety of ancient to modern philosophers, especially those concerned with living the morally good life and not abstruse academic arguments. There are transcripts as well as copies of the paintings, so you can prepare ahead or explore more afterwards.

Each video explores and explicates a set of ideas on a central topic or theme.

The first of the fifty videos is “The Benefits of Reading Great Books.”

The theme is how the body, or canon, of cultural classics of both the East and the West including literature, music, philosophy, and works of art can serve us if our goal is to free our minds, especially from the dominance of institutions and the constant barrage of noise from the political system and mainstream corporate media. 

These quotes give the flavor of this first video, from the transcript:
“Books are the best of things, well used; abused, among the worst. What is the right use?…They are for nothing but to inspire.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We need to learn not simply to read books but to allow ourselves to be read by them.” Mark Edmundson

The Brothers’ script and the concluding quote: 

“And if we decide to be one of the few to make reading great books a priority what we are likely to discover is that as we become more fixated on the wisdom contained in them, the pull of technology and the white noise of culture around us, will lose its grip on our mind. For as Edmundson explains: ‘People who have taught themselves how to live — what to be, what to do — from reading great works will not be overly susceptible to the culture industry’s latest wares. They’ll be able to sample them, or turn completely away — they’ll have better things on their minds.’”

The final, 50th, video is “How to be Free in an Unfree World”.

From the transcript:

“If such epics were the highest values of life — our peace, our independence, our basic rights, all that makes our existence more pure, more beautiful, all that justifies it — are sacrificed to the demon inhabiting a dozen fanatics and ideologues, all the problems of the man who fears for his humanity come down to the same question: how to remain free?” Stefan Zweig, Montaigne

“Moral autonomy is life promoting under any conditions it is especially important at times of social upheaval and rapid change. If this crisis proves significant enough to fundamentally re-order the structure of our society many of us will soon discover that the ways of life that supported us up until now have become obsolete. Change or perish is the motto of a Brave New World, and unless we are willing to take responsibility for our own future, to act with autonomy and to cultivate the traits that autonomy necessitates, such as curiosity, self-directed learning, a willingness to take risks, and an openness to new experiences, then the only alternative is to place our life in the hands of another. Asserting our moral autonomy and doubling down on our psychological freedom has benefits that extends beyond the merely personal. For in choosing to retain our status as a free man or woman, and striving to behave in ways that reflect this, we become a force that pushes the world back in the direction of freedom.”


Jack will oversee playing the videos, with English subtitles (for English-as-Second-Language learners).

Sometimes we play them once only, stopping to give our explanations and interpretations of ideas we find inspiring or to clarify words and ideas we think might be challenging to understand.

We invite your responses — comments and questions — as we go, inviting each of you to share your questions or understandings of the ideas being discussed.

Sometimes we play them twice: once all the way without stopping for comments; then a second time stopping for comments.

Our aim is to facilitate — make useful and enjoyable — your exploration of the ideas presented, adding our respective own comments as we go that we hope will deepen your understanding.

Before, during and after our seminars we will also mention and supply access to relevant books, articles and videos (as well as URLs) so that you can prepare for or review and add further to your exploration and understanding.

Jack has put the 50 videos below into a specific sequence that he believes will be progressively accumulative and synergetic, leading you at the end to understand what it means to Self-Actualize Responsible Freedom.

Steven used to ask his classes, at the end, “Are you free? Why or why not? How can you become more free, i.e., what beliefs and specific courses of action does this call for?”


1.The Benefits of Reading Great Books

2.Suffering and the Meaning of Life

https://academyofideas.com/2012/11/suffering-and-the-meaning-of- life/

3.Ernest Becker and the Fear of Death

4.What is Religion

5.Nietzsche and the Death of God

https://academyofideas.com/2012/11/nietzsche-and-the-death-of- god/

6.Introduction to Nihilism

7.Overcoming Nihilism

8.Nietzsche and Morality–The Higher Man and The Herd

9.Abraham Maslow and the Psychology of Self-Actualization

https://academyofideas.com/2018/05/abraham-maslow-psychology-of-self- actualization/

10.Life as a Quest

https://academyofideas.com/?s=Life+as+a+Quest+- +The+Antidote+to+a+Wasted+Existence

11.Philosophy as a Way of Life

12.Diogenes the Cynic

13.The Ideas of Socrates

14.Epicurus and Ethics

15.Introduction to Stoicism & Stoicism vs. Epicureanism

16.Ralph Waldo Emerson and The Psychology of Self-Reliance

17.Introduction to Existentialism

18.Introduction to Ethics

19.Frans de Waal and Our Inner Ape

https://academyofideas.com/2017/08/frans-de-waal-inner-ape-evolutionary-origins- war-peace/

PW: innerape83

20.The Psychology of Conformity

21.The Psychology of Authenticity

22.Why You Should Strive for a Meaningful Life, Not a Happy One

23.Social Media and the Psychology of Loneliness

24.Performing Therapy On Yourself–Self-Knowledge and Self-Realization

25.Existential Psychotherapy–Death, Freedom, Isolation, Meaninglessness

https://academyofideas.com/2016/08/existential-psychotherapy-death-freedom- isolation-meaninglessness/

26.Collectivism and Individualism

27.Fear and Social Control


28.Machiavelli–The Rulers vs The Ruled

https://academyofideas.com/2019/08/machiavelli-the-rulers-vs-the-ruled- struggle-for-power/

29. The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind – Gustave Le Bon

30.Eric Hoffer — The True Believer and The Nature of Mass Movements


31.Edward Bernays and Group Psychology

https://academyofideas.com/2017/07/edward-bernays-group-psychology- manipulating-the-masses/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOUcXK_7d_c&t=25s

32.Introduction to Propaganda

33.What is Brainwashing?

34.Do We Live in a Sick Society

35.Public Schools, the Fixation of Belief, and Social Control

36.Why Public Schools and the Mainstream Media Dumb Us Down

https://academyofideas.com/2019/03/public-schools-mainstream-media-dumb-us- down/

37.How We Enslave Ourselves

38.The Psychology of Obedience and The Virtue of Disobedience

39.How the Greater Good is Used as a Tool of Social Control

40.George Orwell and 1984: How Freedom Dies

41.Aldous Huxley and Brave New World

42.Democracy and the Road to Tyranny

43.Spontaneous Order vs. Centralized Control

44.Why We Can’t Vote Our Way to Freedom

45.The Individual vs. Tyranny

46.How Civil Disobedience Safeguards Freedom and Prevents Tyranny

https://academyofideas.com/2020/12/how-civil-disobedience-safeguards- freedom-and-prevents-tyranny/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=gnodcLLEZw4&feature=e mb_logo

47.The Psychology of Power – How to Dethrone Tyrants

48.Freedom vs. Force — The Individual and the State

https://academyofideas.com/2020/08/freedom-vs-force-the-individual-and-the- state/

49.How to Fortify the Mind in Times of Crisis

50.How to Be Free in an Unfree World


STEVEN YATES. EMAIL freeyourmindinsc@yahoo.com

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PhilPaper – Works by Steven Yates https://philpapers.org/s/Steven%20Yates

Greenville to Santiago: Why I Left the United States for Chile Should You Do It Too? http://thestatelessman.com/2013/04/01/chile/

Prof. Steven Yates Speaks To The Remnant

JACK CARNEY EMAIL responsiblyfree@protonmail.com


1.Responsibly Free School for Self-Directed Learners, Home-Un-Schoolers


2.Pairing Today for Committed Consummate Relationships


3.Parent Effectiveness Training for Peaceful Parenting www.parenteffectivenesstrainingnewzealand.com

4.Resource For Your Source for Self-Actualization and Everything Voluntary


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October 13-17, 2022

Posted in applied philosophy, Education (Independent) - Course Materials, Philosophy, Where is Civilization Going?, Where Is Philosophy Going? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Saul Kripke, R.I.P

Saul Kripke (Nov 13, 1940 – Sept 15, 2022), one of the most important logicians of twentieth century philosophy and possibly the last analytic metaphysician of note, passed away at the age of 81. Another philosopher of genuine importance who rose to prominence in the last century is gone, and given the overall deterioration of academia in our time, including academic philosophy, he is not likely to be replaced.

I first heard of Kripke when I was a graduate student in the early 1980s. We were assigned “Naming and Necessity” in a philosophy of language class I took winter semester 1981. I recall my amazement at learning that he had delivered the entire work as a series of three lectures without using notes. His lectures criticized the descriptivist theory of reference and offered an original causal theory. Later we studied Kripke’s possible world semantics (an implication of the causal theory of reference developed in “Naming and Necessity”), the most original contribution to analytic metaphysics (probably analytic philosophy generally) of the second half of the twentieth century.

Kripke was one of the few analytic philosophers to be noticed outside professionalized academic philosophy, having been profiled in a few general publications aimed at educated readers. This is not surprising. He appears to have been a child prodigy and was unquestionably a genius. One of the profile articles records that he was asking his parents complex questions about the implications of God’s omnipresence at the age of six, and was reading Descartes when he was in elementary school. He basically taught himself symbolic logic as a teenager and was publishing papers in professional journals with original developments in the subject before he was out of his teens, e.g.,  “A Completeness Theorem in Modal Logic” (1959). When he began his teaching career he was no older than the average university undergraduate. He was able to lecture at Harvard without having completed a doctorate (apparently his genius was so overwhelmingly obvious that he was given a pass on this).

A good summary of Kripke’s contributions to professional philosophy, especially modal logic, semantics, and analytic metaphysics, can be found in the Wikipedia article on him. Brace yourselves: the article is dense and technical! But then again, Kripke was light years ahead of probably 99.99 percent of his fellow academic philosophers.

He spent the bulk of his career at Princeton University, the press of which published Naming and Necessity as a slim volume in 1982 (the version we read was one chapter of a volume of works on semantics and natural language which came out in 1975; Kripke had delivered the lectures themselves back in 1970 (he was 30 years old and already clearly one of the leaders in philosophical logic). Later he moved to CUNY Graduate Center which eventually established the Saul Kripke Center.

Why do I respect Saul Kripke? When reading him in the past, I had the sense of being in the hands of a first-rate intellect, a very streamlined thinker who sought the truth in whatever areas he explored. The fact that he did not write papers with meaning-of-life themes should not count against him. One of the things that struck me about him is that despite the fact that his work was difficult and technical, he managed to write it with sufficient clarity that a patient graduate student (that would have been me at the time!) could follow it. I would have described his writing as gripping; no one else wrote analytic philosophy the way he did. I have information suggesting that he was actually a pretty nice guy, although obviously we moved in entirely different circles. Pancreatic cancer is what got him. I learned of his death here.

Posted in Academia, analytic philosophy, Philosophy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Is Alex Jones Defensible? A Look at Heresy.

It’s been a while, again, but the time is passed to revive this blog … if only because my days on Facebook may be numbered. I had plans to start off with a post on the need for a “broadening” of the purview of philosophy to accommodate the kinds of public issues I post about elsewhere, but the refusal of Facebook to post a censored URL drove me here prematurely. So here we are. This platform does not appear to censor, and Lost Generation Philosopher does not accept censorship.

In any event, on to the question in the title. Paul Craig Roberts thinks so. Read his article here.

Like Roberts (who long ago became one of my favorite online writers), I do not claim to know the full truth about what happened at Sandy Hook. Do you? Were you a witness? Given that neither of us was there, who do you trust to bring you accurate information about what happened, assuming you care?

The point is … people claiming that the government has lied, whether about this or about other significant events, cannot be convicted a priori of being tinfoil hat wearers, when it is clear that a confirmed list of government and corporate media lies would probably fill several pages of printable text.

Or so argues Roberts in his highly provocative and politically incorrect defense of Alex Jones, which cites Lew Rockwell and Ron Unz (censored by most of Big Tech). The latter has inquired into the activities of one Cass Sunstein, Obama-era operative, and his strategy of cognitive infiltration, I picked up on in a recent article I wrote for NewsWithViews.com.

This is not really about Sandy Hook, of course. It is about corporate media failure. This is assuming corporate media was ever about reporting the truth, accurately. Arguably, it has been about reporting events, some real and some manufactured, within the parameters of elite-approved narratives. Big Tech just further reinforces these narratives with censorship.

The point is, most “news” today, like most “education,” is about indoctrination, cognitive programming, and the reinforcement of elite-approved narratives. That may sound blunt for a philosophy blog. Can it be further explored and demonstrated? Of course it can, had I the time or inclination to post those pages of documented corporate media lies, often reflecting government lies (some now half-a-century old, and some older still).

But read Paul Craig Roberts defense of Alex Jones here.

Heresy? Maybe a little heresy is good for us!

Decide for yourself what you think. You still have that right. It has not been taken from you. Yet.

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Who Are We, Really?

Human Nature

In his celebrated Treatise of Human Nature (Book II, Section 3) David Hume opined:

Nothing is more usual in philosophy … than to talk of the combat of passion and reason, to give the preference to reason, and to assert that men are only so far virtuous as they conform themselves to its dictates…. The eternity, invariableness, and divine origin of the former have been display’d to the best advantage; the blindness, unconstancy, and deceitfulness of the latter have been as strongly insisted on. In order to shew the fallacy of all this philosophy, I shall endeavour to prove first, that reason alone can never be a motive to any action of the will; and secondly, that it can never oppose passion in the direction of the will….

We speak not strictly and philosophically when we talk of the combat of reason and of passion.  Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than so serve and obey them….

Back in the eighteenth century when Hume wrote, this was a controversial opinion. A certain kind of rationalism dominated Western letters. Its dominance would only grow, and Hume would be credited with contributing to it (for, e.g., his assault on the credibility of belief in miracles). In recent decades rationalism has lost a lot of ground. It still has forceful voices, but its credibility as a system seems to be overall on the wane. What (if anything) will replace it?

Theories of Human Nature.

The history of Western thought alone discloses at least nine theories of human nature (Leslie Stevenson, in an interesting little introductory volume, aggregated seven).

  • (1) “Man, the rational animal.” The theory of the Platonist-Aristotelian axis, in which reason or rationality is our essence and uniqueness among the many life forms we see around us, and the job of working out both the structure and applications of reason falls to philosophers. For Plato, as with Descartes much later, reason is first exemplified in mathematics and geometry, where exactitude reigns supreme, where operations provide complete logical closure and deductive epistemic certitude, and which point to a realm of perfect Universals or Forms apprehended in a prior existence and relearned in the course of education for wisdom (Plato’s “The Cave” in The Republic being one illustration of the process). Aristotle followed up with his working out of the first (that we know of) comprehensive systems of logic in words such as Prior Analytics. Hume, though, was not the first philosopher to argue in response that this applies only to relations of ideas as he called them, not matters of fact. (Leibniz, for example, distinguished truths of logic from truths of fact.)  
  • (2) “We are sinners.” The view of Christianity, as seen in the Old and New Testaments. We are capable of reason, but as “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Our reason has fallen as well, and is as vulnerable as any other human capacity to error and corruption. In his Summas St. Thomas Aquinas tried to unite Aristotelianism and Christianity into a single system, and the result was such concepts as natural law as well as the cosmological argument. We have “two books,” the Holy Scriptures and the “book” of nature, and can learn something of the divine intellect by studying the latter. But when push comes to shove, because we are sinners only Christ can save us. For quite a while after Aquinas’s time, few major philosophers would have argued with this. Even the first architects of the scientific revolution would have agreed with its essence.
  • (3) “We are machines.” The view of early materialists such as Etienne de la Mettrie, author of L’Homme Machine (Man, the Machine) — in which we are, first and foremost, made of material substance (as Descartes called it) with all that this implies, including no Christian “life everlasting.” The view that death is the end for us — lights out, totally — goes back at least to Epicurus. In modern times, early materialism is one consequence of the failures of Cartesianism: explaining, for example, how two fundamentally different “substances, corporeal and incorporeal, could interact. Far easier to cut one or the other out of your ontology. Idealism or immaterialism eliminated “matter” (Berkeley). Materialism eliminated “mind” (de la Mettrie and several  Enlightenment philosophers who came in his wake).  
  • (4) “We are products of class.” The view of Karl Marx, noted for the detailed analysis of capitalism (he coined the term) in his multi-volume Das Kapital, in light of his “materialist theory of history”; his materialism differed markedly from that of de la Mettrie and Enlightenment materialists, from his incorporating Hegelian dialectic into his thinking. History disclosed a progression of revolutions. The bottom line for human societies: we have to produce the means of our survival and advancement. Consciousness is thus tied to the means of production, and to who owns / controls it. That is, those who own the means of production (the bourgeoisie) “dictate” this consciousness and all its manifestations, including philosophy and religion, while those who own only their capacity for labor (the proletariat) are subverted into a false consciousness. Under capitalism, Marx argued, the conditions of the proletariat would worsen until they precipitated mass revolution on a global scale, during which control of the means of production would be wrested from the bourgeois capitalists and placed in the hands of the proletariat workers. We need not review the whole worldview. Human nature, for the Marxian, is tied to history and economic arrangements. It changes when these change. Utopia will someday be not only possible but an inevitable product of economically-based historical development.
  • (5) “We are products of drives” such as the unconscious: Sigmund Freud’s view. What our unconscious is doing may be revealed in dreams; hence Freud’s first major work was The Interpretation of Dreams. We have different drives, those of the id (which is instinctive, biological, and sexual, seeking immediate satisfaction), the ego (the conscious mind in its dealings with the world around us), and the superego (the “societal mind” from which the ego derives societal “right versus wrong” obtained in childhood and continually reinforced, by religion, public education, and other institutions). These can clash with one another, and the result will be neurosis, to be cured or at least diagnosed and alleviated through psychoanalysis. Freudianism became the first “depth” psychology.
  • (6) “We are products of conditioning of various sorts,” argue behaviorists such as B.F. Skinner whose first premise was that only empirical science can tell us anything useful about human behavior, that its methods are experimental, not merely intellectual, and that what we’ve learned is that not just can we understand behavior in terms of conditioned responses to stimuli but actually learn to control behavior by supplying stimuli that lead to desired forms of human mass behavior. Skinner held that not taking charge of the causes of human behavior was jeopardizing civilization. “We can no longer afford freedom” in the conventional sense: a single-phrase paraphrase of his bestselling Beyond Freedom and Dignity. While the idea of technocracy had been around since the 1930s, its programs received a boost with this kind of thinking, from Skinner’s specific idea of a “technology of behavior,” although he had lesser-known predecessors such as Wilhelm Wundt and Edward Thorndike. Where Skinner excelled was in being a kind of scientific celebrity who could sell his ideas to the scientistic wing of the literati. What some picked up on were hints of an actual scientistic-technocratic Utopia.
  • (7) “We are innately aggressive as products of evolution,” contended Konrad Lorenz in his On Aggression. To be sure, all of the above except (1) and (2) accepted Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection, and it is likely that adherents of (3) would have accepted it had they known it was coming. Adherents of (4) made some changes to it (not approved of by “orthodox” Darwinists). Where Lorenz and his associates believe the behaviorists and others go wrong is their being compelled to play down the innate drives that explain our aggressive and warlike tendencies. We are, in the last analysis, an aggressive species. Conflicts are inevitable; resolutions only temporary until the next source of conflict erupts. Historically, perceived scarcity of the resources necessary to power an advanced civilization have become a source of conflict, even when ideological differences are blamed.
  • (8) “We are absurd, a ‘futile passion.’” This is the view of existentialists such as Jean-Paul Sartre, and in a less extreme form, Albert Camus. We are born into this world, not having been asked, and in the absence of a God to reveal morality and give us direction, it is up to us to decide what to make of ourselves. We have absolute freedom to decide; we are “condemned to be free,” Sartre said. To rely on any theory — even an evolutionary one — or any justification outside one’s own will and choice is to refuse to assume responsibility for our choices and lives. When choosing, what we are saying is that “This is what it means to be a human being.” Yet since there exists no “rational” (logical, eternal) basis for choice any more than there is a theological one, our choices must be made “in anguish.” Full recognition that life is absurd but must be lived anyway is what it means to live “authentically.” Unless one decides life is not worth living. For Camus, this was the fundamental philosophical problem: suicide (“The Myth of Sisyphus”). A person can still enjoy life in its moments, though, even if death extinguishes it. What is interesting is how the existentialists expressed themselves most clearly not in philosophical treatises or essays but in novels, plays, and short stories (e.g., Sartre’s La Nausée and Camus’s L’Etranger). Arguably, members of the Beat Generation (1950s) and possibly some of the Hippies (1960s) became “native existentialists” (see Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, or Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aide Acid Test).
  • (9) “We are problem-solvers.” This view seems to be inherent in a form of pragmatism that may or may not embrace some of these other views in modest form, but emphasizes our capacity as creative agents, relying on experience, discerning patterns within it, and turning to reason for explanations, predictions, and solutions. While there are elements of a “proto-pragmatism” in Hume, pragmatism that is conscious of itself is an American phenomenon. The founding American pragmatists are C.S. Peirce who wrote essays such as “The Fixation of Belief” and William James who penned “The Will To Believe” among many others. John Dewey is typically cited as a third figure in a triad, but Dewey’s thought has always seemed to me to derive from a cross-pollination of Hegel, Darwin, and perhaps behavioral psychologists such as Thorndike. More likely follow-ups to Peirce and James might be George Herbert Mead and Clarence Irving Lewis; later, Willard Van Orman Quine “shifted” analytic philosophy “toward pragmatism” (see his famous article “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”) having incorporated technical logic and analyses of science. The final figure worth mentioning is doubtless Richard Rorty, whose book Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature subjected epistemology and philosophy since the time of Kant to a detailed critique and found it “optional”; drawing on the later writings of twentieth century philosophers Dewey, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein to more recent thinkers such as Kuhn, Feyerabend, Derrida, and others, he urged a rejection of any kind of philosophy that seeks to be “foundational” with respect to the rest of culture or any specific institution such as science or practice such as politics.

For a pragmatist the bottom line is that we are problem-solvers. This is as open-ended as it looks. For what is a problem? It can be anything that motivates a person to at least consider pursuing a course of action that will relieve or solve the problem. This will doubtless change from person to person, and will definitely change from one historical epoch to the next, and from community to community. But if a person believes his/her actions really will succeed in solving an identified problem which may be a severe pain point, that is a definite plus! It seems to me that a pragmatist could look at the edifice of modern technological systems and what economic progress we have made and conclude that some of us have been very good at problem-solving — and that there are literally millions of unsung heroes out there who are competent and in control of the bulk of their lives because they have faced and solved a sequence of immediate problems. These may be problems associated just with growing up and facing setbacks along the way, assuming the responsibility that comes with becoming an adult, identifying some scientific puzzle and coming up with an original solution for it, or developing some new instrument or using some new technique not seen before, but which solves a problem for a group of people.


These are bodies of ideas, not facts, of course. Some are compatible with others; for surely it is conceivable that no one “theory of human nature” does the job. I’ve not here delved into whether human nature is “fundamentally good” or “fundamentally evil.” Whatever else one says, we’re fairly complex entities with a lot of facets to our personalities and makeup. Many of us are motivated by quite different things. We can all draw on specific events of our lives, or in some cases events in the world we observed, that became turning points and shaped us. I have a certain amount of sympathy for (9), but I see us as still being very far away from having fully faced, much less solved, the massive problem of how to get along with one another, especially in the face of ideological differences, or how to grapple with the problem of how to control that minority in our midst that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that is obsessed with power, or even how to master ourselves where we need to. We remain trapped in illusions, not just about power and the fact that some seek it as an end in itself, but about ourselves and our unwillingness to face truths sometimes staring us in the face but are too unpleasant to spell out. Suffice it to say, I do not believe we will ever see the see the Utopias of (4) or (6).

I doubt that my list above is comprehensive. Readers will doubtless think of ideas I missed, or important variations on those I did discuss. They should feel free to note this in comments. Reviewing such ideas as these seems to me helpful, if we are to arrive at some kind of preliminary answer to, “Who Are We, Really?” That is, after all, the first great problem of philosophy-psychology. And in a world that manifests great simplicity in some contexts but great complexity in others, we might not want to rule out anything even if we disagree with some of their premises or think they got some specifics wrong.


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Superpowers (With Notes on Rules Versus Controls)

What are superpowers?

A decade or so ago, an artist friend of mine and I had an enlightening conversation. I’ll call her Julie. We were comparing notes on our childhoods. What she told me, best as I can remember:

From the time Julie was old enough to grasp a crayon, she was trying to draw. Soon she could draw near-perfect images of faces. Then houses, buildings, landscapes, getting the depth perception just right. How much “work” was involved? Some say it takes hundreds of hours of practice to learn any skill. But if, as a child, you are obsessed with something, you don’t have to be “motivated” to practice it. You just do it, every day. It comes to look like you had a “knack” for it.

Julie’s “motivation” came from within. She didn’t merely enjoy art. It made her feel fully alive in a way no one can put into words when they are doing it. They simply lose themselves in it.  

As an adult, Julie became a photographer, and a good one! Many of the skills transferred. For a while she had her own company, which did weddings, banquets, and personal portfolios.

What I found interesting was the parallel with my own experience. As a child I was writing things down. I copied from books and encyclopedias. I began integrating and piecing together information in new ways, writing my own small items, just two or three pages of handscrawl. I had little booklets on various subjects (the planets were a biggie) by the time I entered grade school. I’d probably spent hundreds of hours writing such things. So to someone observing, it looked like I had a “knack” for it.

Like Julie, I didn’t have to be “motivated” to do this. The “motivation” came from inside. I lost myself and felt fully alive when writing. The hours flew by!

Obviously, upon growing up writing became central to my life, and I’ve written hundreds of items of various lengths for various audiences: articles, reviews, blog posts, forum posts, ghostwriting projects, lectures, and also five books (counting a published novella as well as the nonfiction, and not counting my MA thesis and my doctoral dissertation).

We do have superpowers, I call them: activities we seem born to do. They come natural to us as a drive that appears when we are children, and in which we can simply lose ourselves. I have no trouble imagining others. Think of the kid who figures out how to take his dad’s wristwatch apart and put it back together and it still works! Or the one who becomes fascinated with car engines, studies them obsessively, and is a sharp mechanic by the time he is in high school. The boy (or girl!) who becomes physically adept at a sport at a very young age, and can’t practice at it enough. The boy (or girl!) who has a “knack” for playing the piano (or guitar) and is composing his (her) own tunes as a child, as Mozart is supposed to have been able to do.

It’s not that we can’t learn other things. We can probably learn to do anything we put our minds to and spend the time and effort on, or any subject we choose to take up. But these won’t come as easily and naturally, which means we’ll have to work harder to gain mastery. It will seem like more work. It may even seem like a “drag.” Because we often have to be “motivated” from outside. Grades may be a motivator. Later, the promise of money may be another. Either way, the “motivation” does not come from within, and there is no disappearance of self into the activity.

Thus despite mastery, the person is never as fully alive or as happy doing the work he/she is doing.

Think of the clerk who is a competent number cruncher, let us say, but watches the clock all day. Or the insurance salesman who goes home exhausted after work and does whatever he can to forget about it.

How many middle-schoolers say to themselves as they jump out of bed in the morning, “Boy, I can’t wait to grow up so I can sell insurance policies for a living!”

Superpowers and Formal Education: Ally or Foe?

Do we all have superpowers? Possibly. What percentage of humanity is actually using whatever  superpowers it has? I suspect the number is quite small. This is why so many people honor Thoreau by living lives of quiet desperation.

What does this have to do with education and (since this is a philosophy blog) philosophy?

Imagine, first, an educational system that encourages children to develop their superpowers, instead of one that (intentionally or not) stunts them through regimentation, divides the vast array of information out there into discrete, disconnected boxes called “subjects,” and measures “learning” by an ability to memorize enough content to pass tests. Oppose this to actual learning which involves constant exploration, asking increasingly better questions, challenging assumptions, and getting better at identifying problems and coming up with original solutions.

Seems to me the latter would view children as they are — their default setting one of natural curiosity about everything around them. Curiosity that can be encouraged, or thwarted until it is literally killed.

It is hardly a cliché that “public school” kills most kids’ natural curiosity in short order!

The death march may start as early as kindergarten. The idea of kindergarten is Prussian in origin, not American; translated from German the word means “child garden”: as if children are akin to plants to be grown in a garden!

This became part of a “theory” of education, usually attributed to Horace Mann, a founding father of American “public education”  back in the 1830s, based on a European, not an American, philosophy of personhood and society. The basic idea was that “society” owns the person. The consequence was that children (unless they were children of the ruling elite) should not be encouraged to be autonomous and freely acting agents but instead subordinated to developing industrial civilization, i.e., to business’s need for servile employees, government’s need for loyal subjects (later, taxpayers), and cannon fodder to fight its wars.  

Was this a good thing?

What we can say at this point is that the free use of one’s superpowers may put one at cross-purposes with the needs of industrial civilization.  

The Trajectory of Industrial Civilization.

It can be said for industrial civilization that the standard of living gradually improved — by leaps and bounds.

Diseases were eradicated; new technologies enhanced our capabilities and made life less precarious and more convenient. Violence dropped steadily. People grew wealthier and their capabilities grew still more. Communications eventually spanned the globe. Travel across oceans was eventually reduced from weeks to less than a day.

Probably because enough people were using cognitive superpowers, which can lead to inventions that solve problems.

You will find arguments that the “first world” has never had it better. Although the honest will concede the existence of numerous troubling processes.

Let me mention a couple such developments: at least since the 1970s (1971 being the year Richard Nixon killed the gold standard),. Since then, currencies have lost most of their purchasing power, real incomes have fallen relative to a rising cost of living, and wealth and power have consolidated in the hands of ruling elites.

We’ve also seen a seismic shift in medicine and health care from curing acute conditions to managing chronic ones — because the latter are more profitable to the elite owners of, e.g., pharmaceutical corporations. The masses, who may have become that because their superpowers have been forever stunted, have seen a steady rise in (often stress-related) health problems. Because life, once at least tolerable, has become increasingly precarious with the rise of the “gig economy.” It’s a cinch you cannot really maintain even a developed superpower in the sense I described at the outset if you are working multiple jobs to keep the rent paid, the lights on, and food in the fridge.

Has anyone checked the suicide rate lately?

In many respects (culture is another) we have started slipping backwards. Pollyannish views of Western civilization don’t deal honestly with matters that have had us divided all along (e.g., the division of elites versus peasants, which long precedes that of “left” versus “right”). So much for an honest assessment of the exact factors that are widening the divisions between different groups today.

So perhaps the superpower-dependent gains of industrial civilization were only temporary (?).

Rules and Superpowers.

Civilization needed boundaries, some will argue the obviousness, and these have to be instilled in children if they are to grow up to be responsible citizens. This means learning to live according to rules. These rules may seem to force a curtailing of one’s private superpowers, whether to become that clerk, supplying something some market needs (or an employer needs), being obedient to the law, or for some other reason coming under the general term socialization so that one becomes “well-adjusted.”

We can all agree that we live in a world of causes and effects, and that the whole basis of political economy is supply and demand. In this world we have to produce the means of our survival and advancement. We not only produce but then oversee the distribution of these means. Most serious economists believe that market-driven systems, emerging within populations, are better at supplying people’s needs than command-driven systems that start at the top and go down. Many will claim that industrial civilization did this.

The man or woman who can use his/her superpower to succeed in the market, in that case, is a man or woman to be praised — although envy is more common! I think one of the unnamed factors behind the opposition to market-driven economics is the alienated realization that for most of the human race, this is a dream that will remain a dream. Hence all those lives of quiet desperation. For every writer who earns a good living cranking out bestsellers, there are tens of thousands of us out here who earn little or nothing from it. Some of us teach. Others, less lucky, became bored clerks or insurance salesmen.

The late Gary North thus advocated the sort of personal enlightenment that distinguishes one’s occupation from one’s calling.

Your occupation, whatever it is, is how you pay the mortgage, keep the lights turned on, and put food on the table. Becoming a successful insurance salesman will accomplish this, among many other humdrum “day jobs.”

Your calling is then the exercise of your superpower, whatever it may be. You use your occupation, North explains, to fund your superpower, with each in its place so that the former can accomplish its specific goals while the latter puts you on course to leave a legacy. That legacy may be your version of the next Great American Novel or it may be something else. North penned detailed commentaries on the various books of the Old and New Testaments knowing he would earn very little if anything at all from them. With superpowers, money isn’t “a thing.” They’re labors of love!  

In this way of looking at things, in developing and using your superpower, if the market won’t support it, you are on your own. For some, this means liberation. For others, it has meant deep alienation and resentment. There are analyses, moreover, that industrial civilization does not really liberate but suppresses superpowers the free and full use of which will threaten its structures.

Where Did Nikola Tesla’s Superpower Take Him? From Industrial Civilization to an Economics of Abundance.

Suppose we could create a civilization based on an economics of abundance instead of an economics of scarcity, which is what we have now. Scarcity implies, of anything, that there is never enough to go around — even if “we make a bigger pie,” as Ronald Reagan once put it.

I have elsewhere written, perhaps too optimistically, about the possibility and the prospects. A key is energy and its production. Produce anything in sufficient abundance, and by the law of supply and demand, its price to consumers drops. This applies to energy as much as it does anything else consumers purchase and use.

But this means that an economics of abundance will render today’s leviathan energy corporations obsolete! If the price of energy drops, their profits disappear! Hence the energy leviathans — indeed, all corporate leviathans — have seen technological systems able to generate abundance as an existential threat. They have opted to maintain systems based on a presumption of scarcity, which can be lessened or aggravated through the right manipulations.

But the questioner in me still asks, What if? Specifically: suppose we ask, perhaps pointedly, what was Nikola Tesla working on when J.P. Morgan pulled his funding, and when his laboratories were raided and his scientific papers confiscated and classified?

J.P. Morgan was ruling class, of course.

Was Tesla working on an energy technology that would have created abundance and thus made corporate-based centralization obsolete? I can’t prove it, but some have thought so.

Presumably no one who has read this far would quarrel that Tesla had a definite superpower, had gotten results with it, and that the structural needs of the kind of elite that industrial civilization generates moved to suppress it.

The matter bears thinking about, since allegations of the existence of so-called “free energy” technology have appeared again and again, always in the shadows, their inventors not merely defamed as “cranks” trying to build “perpetual motion machines” but often coming to bad ends.

The better to maintain scarcity, because the demands of an economics of scarcity keep the population under control. Even if it means most live lives of quiet desperation, forgetting whatever superpowers they might have sensed in themselves as children.

Is it just conceivable that corporations, no less than governments and perhaps even more than governments, prefer controlled populations to populations of freely acting agents?

Rules Versus Controls.

What do we mean, controls, and how do they different from rules? For it is true enough, we could not imagine civilization without rules. No one serious has ever proposed such a system — which would not be a system at all. Rules can be moral, legal, or institutional. Without moral rules presupposed within a community (however we “ground” them), trust would be hard to maintain, and those practices (business and otherwise) that form the warp and woof of communities would not even develop, much less be maintained.

Legal rules — “the law” in the formal sense, is there because no one really believes everybody is going to live by the agreed-upon rules of the community, the “social contract” if you will, and there needs to be accountability. Institutional rules are going to be specific for organizations, and are products of those who created the organizations for specific purposes. Their rules exist to ensure that things get done and the goals of the organization are achieved. The better organizations will subordinate these to morality and make as much use as possible of human psychology, so that the actions they desire will emerge automatically.

Including the superpowers of their participants!  

Ultimately, rules as I am using the term reduce to the way the world is put together: cause-and-effect again, to be discovered; the natural world or the human world. Call this natural law if you wish. Rules are necessary conditions for survival, community, and advancement of any sort. They are necessary for people with different personalities and different goals to live together and work together in society. They emerge naturally when adult human beings interact and decide they have common problems that are better solved working together than working separately. Education — the real thing — helps!

Controls are a different animal. Above, we mentioned controls, and the likelihood that corporations (i.e., those running them) prefer a controlled society to a free society, however they couch their explanations around such terms as “the marketplace” and “liberal democracy.”

Rules, articulated, are just formal expressions of conditions for survival, betterments, and advancements of various sorts. Given the right social philosophy, they allow one’s superpowers to come out. The caveat, of course, is not to forcibly interfere with others in using them.

Controls, on the other hand, stifle superpowers (unless someone in the ruling class can put them to immediate use). Among the many things wrong with “public education” is that it depends on controls, not rules in my sense. If anything, such institutions assume that rules in my sense do not work, are not enough — that human beings interacting freely to learn and solve problems is not enough, as it will not allow a sufficient foothold for a ruling elite to increase its power. It is too “messy” and unpredictable — but above all, too decentralized!

Controls, it should also be clear, are imposed from the top down, as opposed to emerging from the bottom up. As opposed to natural, ongoing discoveries of what actually works in the sense of making things better for an increasing number of people, controls tend to be the inventions of ruling elites, those fascinated with power, who develop lines of thought on what is necessary to impose controls on people and either persuade them to accept a life based on controls, or force them to accept such a life.

The majority of political systems, whatever political philosophies and ideologies they embody (if any), are systems based on controls, not mere rules. They often spring full-blown not from natural developments of people working together to solve problems but from the mind of some isolated intellectual, whose ideal could be described as “a place for everybody and everybody in his place.” The idea of the Perfect Society, or Utopia, goes back at least to Plato. Many later philosophers have put forth their versions. Rousseau, Marx and Engels, Skinner — and most recently, Klaus Schwab (mouthpiece of the World Economic Forum).

So against these, free minds (relatively speaking) have counterpoised Dystopias. Huxley’s and Orwell’s are the best known, obviously, but there are numerous others, with more appearing all the time. Science fiction in particular is a gold mine of Dystopian themes, especially “technology gone awry,” having gotten away from its creators who made false assumptions about its possibilities. Generally speaking, Dystopia is Utopia gone away, because human nature cannot be fitted into the boxes the Utopian intellectual wants to shoehorn it into. If people have superpowers that constitute threats to structures built by the ruling elites, these will be suppressed. Since the appearance and use of these is inherently unpredictable, a population subjected to controls instituted in childhood is more desirable to any state of affairs permitting their free development.

Back to Freely Used Superpowers — Someday….  

One day, we might be able to undertake, on a sufficiently large scale, accessible and intellectually honest studies of why industrial civilization has taken the trajectory it has (centralization), what mindsets were responsible, whether any specific groups aided and abetted this project, and more. We might arrive at a better explanation of alienation than Marx gave us (his explanation was purely economic), considering how some, especially intellectual and artistic types, have tried to rebel in one way or another, and why so many of these rebellions have been destructive instead of constructive.

More important is that suppressing people’s natural inclinations always eventuates some form of totalitarianism. This may be covert if it can rely on deception and subterfuge, but will turn overt if its lies are exposed. In any such system, the individual person is invariably a cipher, whatever he/she is told (that he/she can “vote,” and so on). He inhabits “a place for everyone with everyone in his place”: controlled, and ultimately monitored for signs of individual thought that could lead to dissent.  

We might also someday come to grips with what will be necessary to build a civilization based on actual abundance, not scarcity, which would transcend all this, and how we can presently design systems, first personal and eventually societal, that whatever the present conditions will better enable people’s superpowers to come out.


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My book What Should Philosophy Do? A Theory is available here and here.

My earlier book Four Cardinal Errors: Reasons For the Decline of the American Republic is available here.

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And please watch for future announcements.

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