By Neil Lock
This is the final essay of six in in a re-appraisal and re-working of my philosophical system. I am calling the new version of this system “Honest Common Sense 2.0.”
Today, it’s time (at last!) to offer some thoughts on how we might seek to move from where we are today towards a better world. Some of these ideas, I’ll warn in advance, may seem radical to many people. To some, even scary.
I’m going to try to make this essay as stand-alone as I can; so that even those who haven’t read the preceding five parts should be able to appreciate my points of view. To that end, I’ll begin with some brief summaries culled from the earlier essays.
Five Revolutions and Five Counter-Revolutions
In the second essay, I elaborated my view of human history, based on the “Ages and Stages” concept of Jason Alexander, whose ideas I introduced in the first essay. He sees human history as a series of revolutions, in each of which we human beings open up, and start to explore, a new level or dimension of our humanity. And each of which is followed by a counter-revolution from those that are hostile to our progress.
Our forward movements are driven by a process which Alexander calls Understanding, and which I think of as a progression from the bottom up. Our enemies’ counter-movements are driven by the opposite force, which Alexander calls Overstanding or Superstition; and I see as a movement from the top down.
Clearly, there are two sides here: bottom-up versus top-down, Understanding versus Overstanding, revolutionaries versus counter-revolutionaries, Us versus Them. I refer to our side simply as human beings, or succinctly as “We” or “Us.” But I do have a specific name for our enemies as a class, beyond “They” and “Them.” That name is Downers (short for “top-downers.”) Alexander calls them LOWers; Lovers of Wisdom.
In common with Alexander, I see five historical eras of revolutionary forward movement. But my list of revolutions is not quite the same as his. In each of these eras – which I see as the Neolithic revolution, ancient Greece, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Industrial Revolution – we began to open up a new dimension of being human, and we made progress also in our other dimensions. The paradigms of these five periods of progress I identified as: Humanity, Reason, Discovery, Freedom and Creativity.
We began our journey about 40,000 years ago, after the Neanderthal extinction left homo sapiens as the sole extant human species on our planet. Our first revolutionary period came in Neolithic times, when we settled down, began to cultivate crops and to domesticate animals, and so discovered our identity and our Humanity. We became what we are: human beings, capable of building civilizations. Our second revolution took place in the time of ancient Greece. We learned how to use our ability to Reason, in order to gain Knowledge; a process which Jason Alexander calls Identification.
At our third revolution, the Renaissance, we entered an era of Discovery; of new (and old) ideas, of new places, of ourselves. At the Enlightenment, the fourth of our revolutions, we sought to institute the rule of law and justice, and rights and freedom for individual human beings. The paradigm of our fourth revolution was Freedom. And at the fifth or Industrial Revolution, we began to unleash the Creativity which is natural to us.
Each of our revolutions, however, was countered by our enemies. The counter-paradigms, with which our enemies fought back, I listed as: One, the political state. Two, institutional religion, and the church that embodied it. Three, political dishonesty, and the psychopathic and tyrannical behaviours that go with it. Four, collectivism, and the ideologies it spawned. And five, suppression of us and of our human spirit.
The origins of their first counter-revolution, the rise of the state, are shrouded in antiquity and mystery; but we have been suffering under states for many thousands of years. Their second counter-revolution, which led to the rise of the Christian church of the dark and middle ages, was seeded by the Roman emperor Theodosius, just a few decades before the sacks and subsequent fall of Rome.
Our enemies’ third counter-revolution, which took place in reaction to the Renaissance, had two parts: the religious and the secular. The religious part, the Counter-Reformation, led to wars in many parts of Europe. But the secular part was even more damaging to us. Niccolò Machiavelli’s advice to rulers to be dishonest, sly, deceitful and unscrupulous has been followed with enthusiasm by most of our enemies ever since. And Jean Bodin’s underpinning of the state with a new intellectual justification has led to the increasingly dysfunctional system of nation-states and bad political governments, under which we still suffer today.
The fourth counter-revolution, in opposition to the Enlightenment and its values, was in my view seeded mainly by two individuals. Jean-Jacques Rousseau perverted the bottom-up values of the Enlightenment into a top-down system, that seeks to transform us into something that is not in any way natural or human. And Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel devised a collectivist philosophical system, in which the state is everything, and the individual is unimportant. These ideas strongly influenced Karl Marx, and many other such thinkers over the last two centuries. The result was an array of very nasty, collectivist ideologies; such as socialism, communism and fascism.
Meanwhile, the collectivists perverted “democracy” into a system that allows dishonest politicians to claim that they “represent” us, while acting against our interests. And that gives a false legitimacy to the policies of whatever faction is in power, and ends up destroying social cohesion among the people.
The fifth counter-revolution began in the 1950s, and was seeded among the intellectual and academic class. The funding of universities by the state had been increasing steadily for decades; so, it is little wonder that academics had begun to play the statist tunes their paymasters demanded. But the major thrust of the fifth counter-revolution has been the green agenda, foisted on us by the United Nations with the eager support of local political élites. Through this monstrous scam, they are seeking to suffocate our industrial economies, and to destroy freedom and prosperity for everyone but the élites.
But the counter-revolution has many other strands, too. Dishonesty and corruption have increased in politics, in government, in the media, in big business. Taxation has risen inexorably, and continues to go up and up. It is also used as a weapon to hurt people (like me) whom the powerful don’t approve of. Bad laws are made, and enforced, with increasing frequency and stringency. Our enemies are trashing our human rights too, such as privacy, freedom of expression and the right to protest. Moreover, they are aiming to silence dissent, and to suppress our humanity and creativity.
Today, we human beings are under attack by our enemies from all directions. Yet, at the same time, dissatisfaction with the existing social and political set-up is growing among many ordinary people. Tensions are building towards a crux point.
Ethical and political insights
Next, I’ll give an overview of the main ethical and political insights, which I have found while developing my system. Some were in the original Honest Common Sense of seven years ago; others are newer.
Identity determines morality
I have come to understand that what is right and wrong for a living being to do comes from the nature of that being. Or, put succinctly: Identity determines morality. In particular, what is right and wrong for human beings to do comes from human nature. Thus, it is the same for all human beings.
The ethical equality principle
From this insight flows what I call the ethical equality principle: What is right for one to do, is right for another to do under similar circumstances, and vice versa. This principle may sound innocuous; even simple common sense. But it is fundamentally incompatible with the idea of sovereignty, as claimed by the Westphalian nation-states under whose sway we suffer today. For sovereignty requires that the sovereign, be it an individual or a group, must have moral privileges over everyone else, the subjects. For example, the sovereign is empowered to make laws to bind the subjects, and to impose taxes on them. Whereas the subjects are not empowered to do the same to the sovereign in return.
As I wrote in the third essay of this set: “… under the ethical equality principle, a sovereign cannot rightly exist; and so, the state cannot rightly exist… If you accept the ethical equality principle, you must reject the state. And if you want to accept the state and sovereignty, you must disprove the ethical equality principle.”
The existing political system, therefore, is incompatible with the common-sense idea of ethical equality. And therefore, it is not legitimate.
As I noted in the first essay, Belgian philosopher of law Frank van Dun has drawn my attention to a marvellous word, “convivial.” Literally, the word means “living together.” But in English, it has a secondary meaning of feasting in good company. Otherwise put, living together well. And conviviality is the attribute of being convivial.
In my terms, to be convivial is to be fit to be lived with. That is, to be fit to be accepted into a community of human beings worth the name. So, I have re-written Aristotle’s (in-)famous “Man is by nature a political animal” as: Humans are by nature convivial animals.
The Convivial Code
It follows from the ethical equality principle that there exists a code of conduct, which specifies what is right and wrong for a human being to do. Frank van Dun calls this the “laws of conviviality.” I call it the Convivial Code.
The Code is very close to the idea of “natural law,” presaged by Aristotle as “a natural justice and injustice that is binding on all men, even on those who have no association or covenant with each other,” and accepted by many fine thinkers of the past, including John Locke. But this is law which, coming as it does from inside us, from our nature as human beings, does not require a law-giver, whether human or deity.
As I said in the third essay: “The Convivial Code is law. It is ‘the law of the land’ for all convivial people; and thus, for all human beings worth the name. But it is law that is written in the hearts and minds of human beings, not on tablets of stone or in government edicts. As Frank van Dun has told us, it must be discovered, not invented. It is ius, not lex.”
And, as I said in the fourth essay: “convivial conduct, in the round, is human conduct. Put succinctly: human is as human does. In contrast, disconvivial conduct is criminal, or inhuman, conduct.” And: “The Convivial Code encapsulates a minimum set of standards of behaviour for all human beings worth the name. It is, in essence, a touchstone for humanity.”
The Code is independent of place, culture or the social status of an individual. It is also, to a large extent, independent of time. As Sophocles put it: “Not of to-day or yesterday it is, but lives eternal: none can date its birth.” And, as I said in the third essay: “Neither changes in human nature, nor the finding of new knowledge about it, happen very often. And for that reason, within a timespan such as an individual’s lifetime, the Code will be applicable retrospectively, when and where that is appropriate.”
While there will be a procedure for changing the Convivial Code at need, the procedure will (by design) be cumbersome and slow. And even when it does change, pre-existing contracts will continue to use the old code, unless all parties agree to use the new.
I plan in the future to produce a preliminary draft of this Code. In the fourth essay, I sketched how I expect to go about doing that. But for the moment, I will simply repeat the brief summary of some salient points of the Code, which I gave in the third essay: “Be peaceful. Seek the facts, and tell the truth. Be honest. Strive always to behave with justice, integrity and good faith. Be tolerant of those who are tolerant towards you. Respect the rights and freedoms of those who respect your equal rights and freedoms. Don’t interfere in other people’s business without a very good, objectively justified reason. And take responsibility for the effects of your voluntary actions on others.”
Rights and Obligations
In the fourth essay, I discussed human rights, and the obligations which go back-to-back with them. My conception of rights is far broader than the view taken by many freedom lovers. I am certainly not one of those who consider a “non-aggression principle” against persons and property to be the be-all and end-all of right conduct for a human being. Such a principle is, indeed, necessary; but I do not find it sufficient. There are valid rights, such as privacy and the freedom to express your ideas, which are not protected by this principle on its own.
I divide rights into three categories. First, fundamental rights, which arise out of general prohibitions of the form: “Thou shalt not…” Second, rights of non-impedance, which arise from prohibitions like: “Thou shalt not put any obstacle in the way of…” with the proviso at the end, “…provided it does not violate anyone else’s rights.” And third, procedural rights such as the presumption of innocence, which must guide confrontational situations; and, in particular, must guide any new form of governance to supersede the state.
I take the view that many (but not all) of the ideas, commonly put forward as “human rights” in such platforms as the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights, are indeed valid rights. The ones which are not valid (I call them “misguided”) are those which, in order to be implemented, require violation of someone else’s rights. Such as, for example, an indiscriminate “right to work,” or a right to “social security.” But such “rights” can usually be adequately replaced by rights of non-impedance. For example, the right not to be impeded in trading with others in whatever way is mutually convenient; or the right not to be prevented from insuring against, or associating with others for protection against, economic hardship.
In contrast to those who see rights as absolute, I identify four conditions, which can justify violating a right in certain circumstances. The first two are self-defence, and defence of others, against aggression. The other two are required to enable future systems of governance to be effective. One is for proportionate acts in the execution of common-sense justice; such as enforcing judgements made by honest courts. The other is for proportionate acts, based on reasonable suspicion of real violation of the Code; such as arresting someone to bring them to trial. Which of these four exceptions apply to a particular right, depends on which right it is.
I also take the view that your rights depend, to a large degree, on your behaviour. As I said in the fourth essay: “An individual’s rights are conditional on the individual himself or herself respecting the equal rights of others. Thus, rights are earned, not granted by any individual, organization or deity. And those that do violate others’ rights can’t complain if they, in their turn, suffer violations of their own rights in reasonable proportion.”
In my updated system, Honesty lies at the centre of our central dimension, the ethical dimension. I’ll repeat what I said in the fourth essay: “Depending on your dictionary, ‘honest’ may mean truthful, sincere and free of deceit; morally correct or virtuous; honourable in principles, intentions and actions; or trustworthy and not likely to steal, cheat or lie. Ayn Rand defined honesty as never attempting to fake reality. And then, there’s my own definition, which is all of the above and more: ‘Honesty is being true to your nature.’ Honesty is behaving as a human being.”
Judgement by behaviour
In the fourth essay, I described what I call judgement by behaviour. “It represents a practice of judging individuals by examining how they behave. It means that you should not take too much account of things outside the individual’s control, such as race, social class, received religion or disability. You should judge people by their actions. And, of course, their motivations for doing what they do, as far as you can work them out. To sum up: It isn’t who you are that matters, but what you do.”
The convivial community
In the fifth essay, I introduced the idea of the convivial community. This is the community of those, who choose to behave up to the standards which are natural for human beings. And I said of it: “The convivial community is, indeed, the ‘great and natural community’ identified by John Locke. And from which we human beings would have no need to separate, if it were not for the ‘corruption and viciousness of degenerate men.’ (And degenerate women).”
Community versus society
In the fifth essay, I made the vitally important distinction between a community and a society.
A community is a group of people who have something in common. Being a member of a community may be voluntary or involuntary. In contrast, a society is a group of people who choose to work together for a common aim. Membership is always voluntary. A society usually has a constitution of some kind. It also has officers, and likely a committee.
Of the convivial community, I said: “This community is not, and never can be, a society. It has no president or chairman. It has no officials, no goals as a group, and no politics. And it is (or eventually will be), by its very nature, world-wide.”
The voluntary society principle
Understanding the distinction between community and society led me on towards what I call the voluntary society principle: All societies must be voluntary.
Like the ethical equality principle, at first sight this seems innocuous and merely common sense. Indeed, it is enshrined in Article 20(2) of the Declaration of Human Rights: “No one may be compelled to belong to an association.” Nevertheless, this principle has led me to reject the commonly held notion (seemingly accepted even by John Locke!) that there is an implied “social contract,” that gives a political state or government the right to rule over people without their explicit consent.
A consequence of the principle is that the people who live in an area, such as the territory claimed by a nation-state, are not a society. Not, at any rate, unless each individual among them has explicitly, voluntarily and provably given consent to join such a society; and has not withdrawn such consent. Without this, they are merely a community. They do not have a “general will” as postulated by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and they cannot be assumed to share any political ideals or viewpoints. Thus, no-one has any right to force any political agenda or policies on the people of such a community.
This means that today’s governments are illegitimate at a fundamental level. And that goes even for democratic ones! For “one man one vote,” however well it may work as a way of making decisions within a voluntary society, is not appropriate when the people voting form only a community, not a society. Moreover, as I wrote in the fifth essay, the voluntary society principle “totally blows away the rather vague, yet still contentious, idea that those on the political left call ‘social justice.’ Absent a society, you can’t have social justice; only individual justice.”
The common-sense justice principle
A core concept I have carried over from the original Honest Common Sense is the principle of common-sense justice: Every individual deserves to be treated, over the long run, in the round and as far as practicable, as he or she treats others. Common-sense justice, briefly put, is individual justice.
Yet again, this principle at first sight looks innocuous; and obviously fair, to boot. And yet, it directly contradicts the ideas of sovereign immunity and “the king can do no wrong,” that are built into the nation state system; and that allow state functionaries to get away with what, done by others, would be crimes. Indeed, since the wrongdoer with political power is likely to have done more harm than those without, the (formerly) powerful will often be the hardest hit by stringent application of the principle. Scary, eh?
Much of the fifth essay is devoted to sketching the outline of a new system of government, which I call “just governance.” I define this as: “a future system of minimal governance, to enable people to live together in an environment of peace and tranquillity, common-sense justice, and maximum rights and freedom for every individual.” And I compared it to a referee governing a football match.
Just governance is based on the three principles I gave above – ethical equality, voluntary society and common-sense justice. Under just governance, the Convivial Code represents the core “law of the land” for all human individuals. But individuals and societies can agree, by mutual consent, to vary or to waive provisions of the core Code between themselves, either for one transaction or on a more regular basis. And societies can impose extra rules on their members, as long as the members agree to them.
A key feature of just governance is that it will have no legislative function, apart from a very restricted power to make rules on matters of local scope, or in the event of proven emergency. There will also be a procedure to maintain the Convivial Code; but it will be (by design) cumbersome. And that’s all. As I said in the fifth essay: “Just as a football referee won’t last long if he tries to change the rules of the game, so those entrusted with power in just governance won’t last long if they try to go beyond their remit and change the rules.”
Moreover, while there will be an equivalent of police who will perform an “executive” function, any adult individual will have the same right to do whatever police may do; like the English tradition of the “citizen’s arrest.” Thus, in just governance, everyone can be a part of the executive, if they wish and if they feel capable.
As I wrote in that fifth essay: “Just governance will be bottom-up and de-politicized. That is: First, it will focus on the individual, and on small communities. And second, it will not allow any political ideology or agenda to be imposed on any of the governed against their wills.” I sketched out a possible implementation, with community organizations at the neighbourhood level and at the level of a town or small city; and those services of governance, which need to be delivered on a wider scale, being provided by companies operating in the free market.
Further: “Just governance will never interfere in matters like religion, personal health, education or welfare, that are outside its remit. Moreover, it will not seek to control or to meddle with economic activity in any way. It will not interfere with any such activity, unless there is rights violation, fraud or actual harm being done to someone; or intention to violate rights, to defraud or to cause harm; or criminal negligence; or recklessness beyond the bounds of reason.”
And: “Its de-centralized and networked nature should enable it to be scaled up to areas inhabited by hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of people. Eventually, so I foresee, it can grow to become world-wide. But this will not be a ‘world government,’ or anything like it. Its growth and its modus operandi will be bottom-up like the Internet, not top-down like the European Union or United Nations.”
As to payment for just governance, I set out the principle that what an individual is expected to pay should be in proportion to the benefit he or she gets from it. What this means in practice, I think, is that periodic payments should be in direct proportion to the individual’s total wealth at the time. And there will be no “taxes” at all on incomes or on transactions.
Politics is illegitimate
Two points, culled from the above. One, the state and politics, as they exist today, are incompatible with the ethical equality principle and the common-sense justice principle. For they give some individuals moral privileges over others, and allow them to do injustices to others without being held accountable for the results. They are incompatible also with the idea of the rule of law, supposedly built into “modern” systems of government, that those with government power should have to obey the same rules as everyone else.
And two, the people who live in a particular geographical area do not constitute a society. They are merely a community, bound together only by their place of residence. And because a community has no “general will,” it is wrong to try to impose on them any political agenda or policy.
Even democracy is not legitimate, because it assumes that there exists such a “general will.” And because no dishonest politician can ever genuinely represent any honest human being.
Thus, all politics today is illegitimate.
World War Three
At the end of the third essay, I identified that – without most people even being aware of it – World War Three is already happening. I said this about it: “It’s a war that pits political élites and their hangers-on against the people they claim a right to rule over. World War Three is a war between ‘them’ and ‘us.’ On one side are we human beings, who behave, for the most part, peacefully, truthfully, honestly, justly, responsibly and with respect for others’ rights. On the other, are those that want to use politics, propaganda and force in order to get themselves riches, or to hurt those they dislike, or both.”
That is why I chose, as the title for this the final essay in the set, “Us and Them.”
Next, I’ll take a look at our enemies. Or, as I call them, the Downers.
How they operate
Downers favour top-down organizations and top-down politics. As I said in the third essay: “For Downers, the agenda, the ideology, the collective, the state, the laws, the propaganda narrative, are everything. And the individual human being, rights and freedoms, truth and honesty, right and wrong, and objective, common-sense justice all count for nothing.”
Moreover, they pervert the natural human urge to take control of our surroundings into an un-natural, malevolent, destructive urge for control over other people. Thus, Downers are a down on us all; a drain on us, and a danger to us.
Among Downers, there is a cadre of what I call politicals. They use Franz Oppenheimer’s political means; that is, the “unrequited appropriation of the labor of others.” Many also desire to impose on people, through government action, a particular agenda of how they think things should be. They may have, for example, a green agenda, or a communist or fascist agenda, or an agenda that seeks to grow the size and power of the political state, or an agenda that empowers big companies and their bosses at the expense of ordinary people. These politicals are the worst of the Downers. They are our enemies’ general staff.
Because they have little or no idea of right and wrong, Downers – and politicals, in particular – have little or no respect for the rights or freedoms of us human beings. Moreover, they think that laws are right just because some bunch of politicians made them, regardless of how much those laws hurt people or violate rights. And they are dishonest through and through. Many of them are, or are on the verge of being, psychopaths. They will lie, deceive, cheat or do whatever else they find necessary to try to justify their actions and to promote their desired agendas.
And the politically correct narrative or dogma of the day, trumpeted by Downers and their cronies everywhere, overpowers in their minds any idea of objective truth. Thus, they create an atmosphere of lies and propaganda, deceptions, hype and fearmongering. And they season this atmosphere with fake or misleading news, smears and insults, and suppression of dissenting views.
How they measure up against the Code
Next, I’ll look at how our Downer enemies – and the politicals among them, in particular – behave, in comparison to how human beings ought to behave. For that standard, I will use the very brief summary of the Convivial Code, which I gave above.
Are our enemies, and specifically the politicals among them, peaceful? Well, not many of them are directly and personally violent. But they have no qualms about ordering warlike aggressions in places like Iraq or Syria, if they think such aggressions are likely to produce good results for their state. Do they seek the facts, and tell the truth? Not if they’re looking to make a case for the “human emissions of carbon dioxide will cause catastrophic global warming” scam; nor if they are promoting some other scam that helps their agendas. Are they honest? The phrase “honest politician” has become an oxymoron. And it isn’t just the politicians that like to mislead and cheat people.
Do they always strive to behave with justice, integrity and good faith? Not a chance. They will happily disrupt innocent people’s lives, or ruin careers, if they think it will produce the results they want. As to integrity, its opposite – hypocrisy – is rife. As shown, for example, by those that want to make flying in aeroplanes and driving cars too expensive for ordinary people to afford; yet themselves fly to climate conferences, where they ride in limos. As to bad faith, it’s almost a cliché that people today don’t trust politicians; and with good reason. And it’s just as clear that the politicians have little or no concern for the people they are supposed to serve.
Do they respect our rights and freedoms? No. They spy on us with cameras, and snoop on our Internet activity. They want to suppress ideas that are not “politically correct.” They take away huge amounts of our earnings, and use them on things that bring no benefit to us. And they like to meddle in our lives, as the COVID virus has given them many excuses to do. They even like to go so far as to ruin people’s careers – including mine. And shifting blame and evading responsibility are built in to the characters of politicians and bureaucrats alike.
Perhaps, though, I am being a little unfair to our enemies? For, however hard you try, it is often very difficult in real life to attain virtues like honesty and good faith. For this reason, in the fourth essay I suggested that the obligations which correspond to such virtues may be better couched in terms like “Strive to…” followed by a statement of the virtuous behaviour. So, I’ll ask a softer question: are the politicals trying to live up to these virtues – are they making all reasonable efforts to be peaceful, truthful, honest and so on? Unfortunately, in most if not all cases, even the answer to this softer question still has to be: No.
Now, the standards I’ve been applying here are very basic ones; no more than a simple touchstone for humanity. Most politicals fail that simple touchstone by such a margin, that we should regard their behaviour, and consequently them, as less than human. As I said at the end of the fourth essay: “Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny; as Edmund Burke, rightly, told us almost 250 years ago. Then are not those that promote bad laws, that support bad laws, that make bad laws, that enforce bad laws, the worst sort of criminals? Should we not demand full compensation for what they have done to us? And if they cannot or will not compensate us, should we not reject and ostracize them? Indeed, are they even fit to be accepted into any community of human beings worth the name? Is it not, then, fair and reasonable to regard them as not human? And so, not us?”
Comparison with the Renaissance
In the second essay, I quoted from an article about the Renaissance by 19th-century scholar John Addington Symonds. I am struck by several parallels between the situation we face today and the conditions under which the Renaissance was seeded. I’ll give you two longer quotes from Symonds’ article.
Of the revival of classical learning, he said: “That rediscovery of the classic past restored the confidence in their own faculties to men striving after spiritual freedom; revealed the continuity of history and the identity of human nature in spite of diverse creeds and different customs; held up for emulation master-works of literature, philosophy and art; provoked inquiry; encouraged criticism; shattered the narrow mental barriers imposed by mediaeval orthodoxy.”
And he described the Renaissance as a whole as: “a comprehensive movement of the European intellect and will toward self-emancipation, toward reassertion of the natural rights of the reason and the senses, toward the conquest of this planet as a place of human occupation, and toward the formation of regulative theories both for states and individuals differing from those of mediaeval times.”
Do you see the parallels between those times and today? Our enemies deny us our freedoms and rights; and they aim to make us lose confidence in ourselves and our capabilities. They deny that there is such a thing as human nature, independent of culture. They do not tolerate inquiry or criticism. They want to confine our minds inside narrow shackles of orthodoxy and political correctness. They reject our use of reason to seek knowledge. Far from wanting to make our planet a fit place for civilized humans to live and thrive, they want to make us drastically cut, or even halt, our use of Earth’s resources. And they don’t want any change at all in the climate! Or in the political system, that enables them and their ilk to oppress us human individuals.
Then could what we need, perhaps, be another Renaissance? One which will restore and revive our rights and freedoms, and our confidence in ourselves? Will smash the fetters of political, religious and green orthodoxy? Will blow away the state, the church hierarchy, the current failed systems of politics and government, and all those of our enemies that depend on them? Will emancipate all human beings worth the name, and bring us all, regardless of race, culture, social class or creed, into a world-wide, convivial community? Will set us, once again, on the right track – a track which has already led us to discover our humanity, our reason, our planet, our rights and freedoms, and our creativity? Will enable us to renew the spirit of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution? Will provide the framework, in which we can make our planet into a home and garden fit for a civilized species?
My answer to these questions, as you will surely have guessed, is: Yes! But the revolution that we need to inspire will be, initially at least, more like the Renaissance than like the Enlightenment or the Industrial Revolution. It will be a mental revolution; a change in the human mind-set. Indeed, in Jason Alexander’s terms, it will be the continuation and completion of the Renaissance, his third revolution.
In the original Honest Common Sense, I provisionally called this revolution the Resurgence. It will indeed be that: a resurgence of our human spirit, and of our confidence to go forward. But now, I think I have an even better characterization of it.
The paradigm of the Renaissance was Discovery. The paradigm of our new revolution will be Re-discovery. Re-discovery of ourselves, and re-claiming and renewal of our human nature. Re-discovery of our reason, and our ability to think. Re-discovery of how we should see ourselves and others, and of natural ideas of right and wrong and of justice. Re-discovery of how best to organize ourselves for the good of all. Re-discovery of our creativity, of honest business and trade, and of aesthetics.
The new mind-set
I can claim some expertise in the new mind-set; for I have been, mostly unknowingly, working towards it for more than half a century. And I have been explicitly working towards it for around 20 years now. Here is how I, personally, experience the new mind-set today.
My view of myself
I am a human being. I am a member of the most advanced species living on planet Earth today. I have a nature, which I share with all other human beings worth the name. My nature leads me to use my reason to seek knowledge; to strive to behave in a convivial and civilized manner; to associate with others for mutual benefit; to take control of my surroundings, and to make them into a better place to live for human beings.
I am an individual. While not at all unsociable, I have my own body and my own mind. I reserve always the right to make my own judgements, and to act according to them. I am also by my nature economically productive and independent; and it is unjust and wrong for anyone to put any obstacles in the way of my productivity or my independence.
Where appropriate, I will enter into and carry out agreements with others for mutual benefit. And I will join with others into societies, when and where I and they benefit from doing so. But so long as I strive to behave as a convivial human being, I do not accept that any collective, or any individual or organization, may unjustly usurp my rights to judge and to act as I see fit.
My way of thinking
In my thinking, I demand, and seek to determine, the facts and the truth in any matter I address. For in any situation of dispute, whenever there is disagreement about the facts, there can never be any constructive way forward.
I use my faculties of perception, conception, logic, reason and objectivity as best I can. I am always on the look-out for lies, half-truths, bullshit or obfuscations; for these, along with suppression of dissenting points of view, are our enemies’ stocks-in-trade. And I always demand hard, verifiable evidence, rather than hearsay or other people’s narratives.
I take responsibility for the reasonably foreseeable effects on others of my willed actions. But I accept no guilt for anything, without both objective evidence of real wrongdoing, and my guilt being proved beyond reasonable doubt. My first response to any accusation is usually, “Prove it!”
I do not accept any guilt for my earned successes. Nor do I accept guilt for wanting good things for myself, or for favouring those who can and do deliver things I want over those that fail to deliver. I do not accept any guilt for doing or saying things that are politically incorrect, as long as they harm no innocent person. Nor do I accept labels like “selfish” or “denier,” slapped on me by those that want to shame me into political correctness. Further, I accept no responsibility for what others do, unless I have agreed to take on such a responsibility. And I do not accept any kind of communal guilt for anything.
My view of others
I recognize that others are individuals, too. I see everyone as an individual. I recognize that each of us is different, and has a different combination of strengths and weaknesses. I seek to judge others not by surface characteristics such as race, received religion or social class, but by their actions. And, where appropriate, by what I can infer about their motivations.
I care, very much, about my fellow human beings. These are the people, who will make up what I call the convivial community. But to qualify as my fellow human beings, they must measure up to two sets of standards. First, they must be human; they must always strive to behave as convivial human beings. In particular, they must always strive to be honest, and respectful of rights, and peaceful – unless they are attacked, of course. And second, they must be my fellows; they must never have promoted, supported, made or enforced any political policy that unjustly harmed me, impoverished me, inconvenienced me, or violated any of my rights or freedoms. Those that have failed to measure up to convivial standards, or have done these bad things to me, obviously haven’t cared about me. So why should I care about them?
I know that I have human rights, which arise from the nature of human beings to treat each other in a convivial and civilized manner. I also know that I must earn these rights, by respecting the equal rights of those who in their turn respect mine.
In my conduct towards my fellow human beings, I strive to be peaceful, truthful, honest, just and tolerant of difference; to live and let live; and to deal with integrity, and always in good faith. Even though I know that I am not perfect; none of us are. And I refrain from interfering in other people’s business without a good and objective reason.
But those that fail even to try to be peaceful and honest, or to respect my or others’ rights, I regard as criminals and worse. I feel no sense of “we” with them. And if they are violent, dishonest, interfering, lying or hypocritical, or if they show psychopathic tendencies such as arrogance, bad faith, corruption, deceit, recklessness towards others, or untrustworthiness, I feel contempt and loathing for them. They are neither human beings, nor my fellows.
My view of the state
I have contempt for all states, and in particular for the one commonly dubbed “the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” I reject its claims of moral privilege. I reject its aggressions. I reject its politics. I reject its bad laws. I reject its lies and dishonesties, and its collectivist and control-freak propaganda. I reject its rapacious, unjust taxation. And I reject its debt; no part of that debt, whatsoever, is my debt.
Moreover, the idea that a silly old woman, who lives in a castle and has never done a decent day’s productive work in her life, has a right to rule over me as a “sovereign,” I find ridiculous. That she takes, without even asking our permission, more than £80 million a year of our money to support herself and her family, I find insulting to all of us. As to her son and heir, he is such a hypocrite that he flies in helicopters and private planes, rides in limos, and drives nice cars; while, at the same time, telling ordinary people that we should stop flying in planes, and should walk or cycle instead of driving.
Of course, as with most things political, it isn’t quite as simple as that. The actual seat of “sovereignty” in the UK today is, supposedly, something called the “crown in parliament.” This is some amalgam of parliament and the monarchy, in which the monarchy appears to have become very much the junior partner. So, it’s by no means impossible that Silly Lizzie as an individual may, in reality, be as much sinned against as sinning. Indeed, a parliament as mad as the one that in 2019 consulted with Extinction Rebellion, then passed a “net zero” carbon dioxide emissions bill, is a worse danger to people under its power than any mad, bad English monarch has ever been; even Charles the first.
My view on politics and government
I still retain respect for the culture I have inherited; which I would describe as English, with a splash or two of other cultures I have lived among, notably Dutch and American. Though I know well that English culture has deteriorated very badly over the last 40 years or so. I can still feel an attachment to the land and the people of my part of the world, Wessex. But I feel no respect at all for any kind of political “society,” or for the idea that there is some kind of political community coterminous with the state, or for political government. Indeed, I have contempt for politics, for all the mainstream political parties, and for almost all politicians.
In particular, as long as I behave in a convivial manner and respect the equal rights of others, I do not accept that any government has a valid “authority” to impose any political agenda on me; or unjustly to harm me, to impoverish me, to inconvenience me or to violate my rights in any way. I have not signed, or otherwise consented to, any “social contract” which would make me subject to any such government. And even if I had, I would withdraw my consent as soon as I had once been wronged by that government.
I have contempt for those that use or have used politics to enrich themselves or their cronies, or to violate people’s rights, or to try to impose their agendas on others. I have contempt for politicians that claim to serve and “represent” ordinary people, but do no such things. I am well aware that most of what they claim to do on behalf of “the people,” they are actually doing either for their own benefit, or for the benefit of the political state that succours them.
I have contempt for those that use tax money for any purpose that fails to benefit the people who paid those taxes. I have contempt for the cronies, whether bureaucrat, corporate, academic or otherwise, that hang on to the coat-tails of the politicians, or profit from their agendas. I have even more contempt for supranational political organizations, such as the European Union and the United Nations.
I feel strong contempt for anyone that has promoted, supported, made or enforced any “law” that has unjustly harmed or inconvenienced me, or any other innocent person; or violated my rights or the rights of other innocent people. I consider those, that do these things, to be enemies of humanity. And cowardly to boot, for using the state to do their dirty work. They owe compensation to us, their victims; we don’t owe them anything.
I have not voted in any general or local election in the UK for almost 35 years. I cannot allow myself to vote for any of the mainstream parties, because every party that has been in power in my lifetime has made bad laws, or done other bad things, that have caused harm to me and to other innocent people. I consider voting for a political party to imply an expression of satisfaction at what the party has done, and what it says it plans to do. I therefore consider a vote by anyone for any of the parties that have harmed me to be, in effect, a slap to my face.
Moreover, those that have used politics to harm, restrict or inconvenience me as an individual, I regard as enemies. I have no fellow feeling or concern for them. For decades now, I have felt a rising anger at what the UK and European political classes and their cronies have been doing to me. That anger has now reached a level of intense exasperation, bordering on explosion. Do you not feel something similar?
But I reserve my strongest loathing and ire for those that have promoted or supported the green scam, and its lies, dishonesties, bad faith and destructive agenda. That includes all politicians that have had opportunity to speak out against and to oppose the scam, but failed to take the opportunity. Those, that want to force us down to “absolute zero” nett carbon dioxide emissions, without providing even a shred of proof that human emissions of carbon dioxide have caused any overall harm to our planet, and while also inverting the burden of proof, requiring us to prove a negative, and seeking to silence our arguments, deserve in their turn absolute zero from us. Absolute zero concern, absolute zero sympathy, absolute zero compassion. They are traitors to human civilization. They deserve to be expelled from our civilization, and denied all its benefits.
I take the view that innocent people have nothing to be forgiven for; and therefore, we have no obligation to forgive. I, for one, will not excuse those that have used politics against me or others. I will not forgive them, unless and until they have compensated me and all others to whom they have done wrongs. I will not forget what they have done. And I feel no more compassion or fellowship for them than they have shown to me; or than a Jew should be expected to feel for nazis.
Comparison with the Neanderthal extinction
As I told in the first essay, 30 years ago Jason Alexander foresaw a coming split in the human species, which he described as being “on the order of the Neanderthal extinction.” I think he may well have been right. There is such a gulf today between Us and Them, between revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries, between the honest and the dishonest, between We who by nature use Franz Oppenheimer’s economic means and They that use the political means, that the two may well indeed be divergent species; at least mentally.
Am I right that the nature of a species determines what is right and wrong for members of the species to do? And am I right that it is part of human nature to build civilization and prosperity for all who deserve them? If I’m right, and assuming They are the same species as Us, then their conduct makes them degenerate members of the species, and we ought to be treating them as the criminals they are.
I am amused that our enemies accuse us of “speciesism.” They think it is wrong for us to put the welfare of human beings above those of animals. I say, so what? They may think that they are no more important than animals; and they’re probably right. But I am a human being. I take the view that it is part of our nature as human beings to take control of our surroundings, and to make our planet a better place for humans to live. And if we need to make use of animals in order to do that, we have the right to do so, according to our nature; though we should never unnecessarily be cruel to them.
Besides which, are not animals themselves “speciesists” by our enemies’ definition? A lion, for example, puts the welfare of itself and its cubs ahead of the welfare of the zebra it preys on. What’s wrong with that?
Further, our enemies seem to think that making our planet into a better place for humans to live is a bad thing, not a good one. They even question whether it is our planet. But consider: If it isn’t our planet, it sure as hell isn’t their planet! And if they think it’s wrong to put our human welfare ahead of the welfare of animals, it sure as hell must be wrong for them to put their own welfare ahead of ours!
The Great Panic
As I said in the second essay, I am coming to see that what we are suffering today has many of the characteristics of what is known as a “moral panic.” Our enemies are the instigators and spreaders of this moral panic; and we ordinary people, who want nothing more than freedom, justice, our human rights and the chance to earn prosperity, are the innocent victims, the so called “folk devils.” But why would any human being worth the name ever create, or take part in, such a moral panic?
I am coming to think that the lies, hype, fear and ad hominems our enemies spout may be more than just propaganda tools. I think our enemies may be genuinely afraid of something. Deep down inside, do they perhaps feel panic and fear for their own futures? Might they have divined, for example, that the political system, on which their entire privileged, parasitic way of life depends, is not sustainable? That the state is, ethically, already bankrupt; and perilously close to financial bankruptcy, too? And that, on its present course, it will soon fail?
Such a sense of imminent bankruptcy could very easily explain why so much that states and governments do today is directed towards getting in more, more, and more “revenue” for their state. Such a sense of panic and fear might also help explain why they rant so much about “safety” and “sustainability,” why they think their scares are “existential” problems, and why they keep on stridently crying, “It’s worse than we thought!” And it could help explain why, every time people lose interest in one set of scares, our enemies dream up new scares to replace them. If it isn’t air pollution, it’s global warming or plastic waste. If it isn’t Reds under the bed, it’s terrorism. If it isn’t paedophiles, it’s pornography. If it isn’t obesity, it’s COVID. If it isn’t over-population, it’s “habitat destruction.” (And yet, they want to destroy our habitat! – the freedom and justice that we need in order to fulfil ourselves.)
Such a phobia could also explain why they refuse to acknowledge, or even to look at, the facts; they don’t want anyone (least of all themselves) to find out that their apocalyptic claims are unfounded! It could explain why they like to “adjust” data, or even fake the “facts,” to fit their narrative. It could also explain why they are never prepared to debate publicly and openly on the issues; and why they fail to produce hard, objective evidence to prove their accusations. It could explain why they brook no contrarian views, and will often seek to suppress those views, for example by forcing their removal from YouTube or social media. Even though, as they ought to know, such suppressive actions merely make it plain to rational people that they cannot refute those views. Could it be, perhaps, that they have so much invested in their scams, that they feel they can’t afford to let the truth come out?
I wonder, also, if this phobia might help to explain their hatred of “capitalism.” Their hatred of true capitalism – that is, economic actors interacting with honesty and integrity in the free market – seems to run very, very deep. So much so, that I wonder if they are worried that they themselves, in a system of true capitalism where they cannot use the state to procure unearned riches, might be unable to survive?
Such a sense of panic and fear could also account for their desire to suppress all change; to lock us down into stasis in as many ways as they can. And it would help to account for their mad, breathless rush to get their plans implemented right now. Oh, and why is extinction one of the things they are so worried about?
So, the possibility of a parallel between the situation today and the run-up to the Neanderthal extinction is not quite as far-fetched as it might at first seem. Of course, this time round, the differences between Us and Them are not things like stockier physiques or prognathous jaws. The differences are mental. And the area of thought, in which our enemies lack most when compared to us, is ethics and morality.
Our enemies have little or no idea of honesty or good faith, or of right and wrong in the way they treat others. They are the “degenerates,” whose “corruption and viciousness,” in the words of John Locke, are the cause of our woes today. Myself, I am inclined to dub them “moral Neanderthals.”
There is another parallel, which may be useful. We know that the Neanderthals, in the end, managed to contribute a small percentage of our genome. I can only assume that some of them managed to adapt their behaviours sufficiently, to be able to co-operate with sapiens. This parallel would suggest that all is not lost (quite yet) for those Downers who are prepared to commit to reforming themselves. Making themselves peaceful, honest, convivial and economically productive. Fully compensating all those they unjustly harmed – with interest and damages, too. Taking the punishments that are due to them. And then, joining humanity.
What we must not try to do
I come, at last, to the strategic coda of my six missives. But before I look at what we human beings who love individual freedom, justice and earned prosperity might do to fix the problems we suffer today, I’ll briefly mention two things we must not do.
First, violent revolution is not an option. To try to use violence would be a tactical error; for our enemies are far better at violence than we are. As well as having weapons we don’t, and manpower trained in their use. It would also be a strategic error. For to try to use violence would risk losing the moral high ground.
Second, to form a political party, and seek power through the ballot box, is to commit another strategic error. It’s trying to play the enemy at his own game; a game natural to him, but not to us. And even if, through some freak occurrence, we did manage to get some power, we would be trying to pull down the system from the inside. The last person to try that was the legendary Samson; and look what happened to him!
What we might try to do
No: whatever we do, we must retain the moral high ground, and capture more of it whenever we can. Our methods must match our philosophy. They must be peaceful, just, honest, and truthful to the best of our knowledge. They must clearly distinguish us from our enemies, with their lies and dishonesties, violations of our rights, bad laws and injustices, and penchant for force.
But we must not let ourselves be tempted to compromise with our enemies in any way. We must allow them no more concern or compassion than they have shown for us. We must not excuse. We must not forgive. We must not forget. We must do everything we can not to let even a single one of them get away with anything.
Engage on topical issues
There are many unjust political impositions on us and violations of our rights taking place now. And more in the pipeline. Not just in the UK; these things are spreading through the Western world. We must each of us do what we can to work with and to help those, who are bravely resisting these impositions and violations. We should engage on single issues, which are important to us. We should be willing to work with honest people who come from both the “left” and “right” of the (increasingly irrelevant) old-style political spectrum.
Each of us, obviously, should use our particular skills to best advantage in what we do to help these causes. And we should only do things we are personally comfortable with.
A topical example is the incipient movement against the UK’s “online safety bill,” which Big Brother Watch describes as “state-backed censorship and monitoring on a scale never seen before in a liberal democracy.” I’ll repeat something I said in the second essay in this set: “Under such a régime, this essay itself would not be safe from de-platforming; and the final essay in this set would probably get me sent to the Gulag.” (You’re reading that one right now!) This is probably the most urgent issue for freedom lovers in the UK today.
Another such movement, to which for many years I have been giving all the help I can, is the one against draconian policies to cut carbon dioxide emissions. This is a really important issue; because it can show up, in John Locke’s words, “a long train of abuses, prevarications and artifices, all pointing the same way” in the way the political élites and their hangers-on have handled this matter, and environmental policies in general. As I said in the second essay: “when the true magnitude of the deceptions and dishonesties that have kept the scam going for so long eventually enters the consciousness of the general public, I think the bubble will burst with a bang.”
Another movement potentially worth allying with is those who are exposing the cronyism that seems to lie at the heart of most of what the UK government does these days. As shown, for example, by government contracts being awarded to political donors without a proper tendering process.
Those who oppose proposals to give police extra powers to curb peaceful, rights-respecting, non-disruptive protests also deserve our moral support. Even if we may disagree on their political stances, or on some of their protest methods, or on the merits of some of the issues they want to protest about.
Suggest improvements to government processes
Something I would like to see, but as far as I know does not yet exist, is a movement for proper quality control on government. In the fifth essay, I sketched out a system of Honesty Audits, to be built in to just governance. These audits would assess the degree of honesty and good faith, which has been displayed by individuals who have had positions of power, or have been paid by governance for work done. If an audit finds serious failings, the matter can be sent to a court for review, which may result in the dismissal of those responsible. And, if the failings are serious enough, in their permanent exclusion from all jobs in governance.
Such a system could bring about a great improvement in the way in which government treats people, even if merely tacked on to the current system. For politicians would no longer be able to get away with lies, or with flouting regulations they themselves were involved in making. Bureaucrats would be held far more accountable. And government projects, that cannot be shown objectively to be a nett benefit to the people whom government is supposed to serve, would be swiftly cancelled.
Who should do these audits? Ordinary people with lots of experience of life. And particularly those who have run businesses, or done technical or industrial work. And where would we get these people from? That one’s easy: from those, among the almost 20% of the population aged over 65, who are able and willing to get such a job done. Oh, and many of them will be more than happy to work part-time to supplement their pensions.
Spread the Re-discovery mind-set
But for me, the most important single thing for freedom lovers to do is to spread the new mind-set, which I described above from my own personal perspective. I don’t expect that many will (yet) feel able to go quite as far as I do. For I’ve always been cynical about politics; and my attitudes have evolved and hardened over several decades. But ideas like re-discovering our nature and our spirit, restoring our confidence in ourselves, smashing the chains of political orthodoxy, reviving our rights and freedoms, and making our planet into a home and garden fit for a civilized species, have the potential to be attractive to very many people. These ideas can help to create climate change; that is, change for the better in the mental climate.
The more “philosophical” ideas of ethical equality, voluntary society and common-sense justice, too, may set people thinking in new and better directions. They are easy to understand in themselves; and yet, they can spur us to think, each in our own way, more deeply about the issues we face, and possible solutions to them. If they can help people to start thinking more deeply about ethics, about what is right and what is wrong for human beings to do, that would be good too.
The idea that, as long as you respect the equal rights of others, your own human rights are sacrosanct, is another important one to spread. We should help people to know what their rights are, and help them to argue against those that want to take those rights away. The other side of the coin – that those that violate the rights of innocent people are in reality criminals, is also worth stressing. Even if (most of all if!) they are from the government.
Moreover, the nastiness and criminality of our enemies and their politics is becoming plain to all who are willing to look hard at what is going on. Judged by their behaviour, our enemies are not the kind of individuals any human being worth the name would want to associate with. This has already led to a strong undercurrent of distaste and resentment against the establishment in many Western countries. And in democracies, almost everyone hates at least one of the major political parties. The idea that many or most politicians, and by extension the establishment and its political class, do not behave like us and therefore are in a real sense not us, is one that many people could quite easily accept, if prompted to think about it.
We should aim to help people to reject the idea of political society or community. By this, I do not mean that people should be unsociable, or try to live as hermits, or reject the human beings around them, or give up their patriotism (that is, their love for the land, culture and people of their part of the world). I mean only that they should reject the idea of political “Society” (singular), and the idea that there is a single entity called “the community.” In reality, each of us is a part of many communities, and a member of many voluntary societies.
Moreover, we should make plain how scary the simple, natural idea of common-sense justice is to our enemies. “As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.”
The Personal Transition
I think there is the potential now, in the West at least, for a mental revolution, comparable with what happened at the Renaissance. And to trigger that revolution, what we need to do is reach and teach as many people out there as we can. We are all teachers now.
What is it that we need to teach? To answer this, I can do no better than to repeat words from my science fiction novel, “Going Galactic,” which I published back in 2012:
“But then, the Personal Transition began to kick in among human beings. Many people, at much the same time, woke up from the zombie state in which they had been held by the battering of lies and propaganda from the politicals and their media and ‘educators.’ People started to think: Why should I put up with this claptrap any more? And they started to feel better about themselves.
“It was as if, after decades of ever-increasing madness and badness, some threshold had been reached, beyond which the political system could not hold together. It was as if, after a long, dark night, there had come a sudden, bright dawn. And people began to see clearly where they were, and what was around them.
“Good people, who all their lives had been bombarded with false guilt by politicians, educators and media, snapped out of it. They no longer felt guilt for using energy, or failing to recycle, or because they were – falsely – accused of wasting natural resources, causing dangerous global warming or endangering species. They no longer felt guilt for being successful through their own efforts, or being prosperous, or looking after their own interests. They no longer felt guilt for spending their fairly earned wealth on the goods and services they wanted, and on the people who provided those goods and services.
“They no longer felt guilt for driving cars, or flying in aeroplanes, or eating meat, or not eating enough fruit or veg, or drinking alcohol, or smoking. And they no longer accepted any guilt at all for anything they as individuals had no control over.
“People came to understand that as long as they behaved up to basic human standards – such as honesty, peacefulness, responsibility and respect for others’ rights – they were not guilty of anything. And it didn’t matter what ‘laws’ anyone made.
“Instead, good people started to feel pride in their own achievements. They felt a renewed love of individuality, independence, economic productivity, progress and justice. They felt change for the better in the mental climate. They felt a new atmosphere of optimism, of expanding horizons, of confidence in themselves and in the future.
“Very suddenly by historical standards, people stopped believing, or even being interested in, what they were told by the politicals and their media. They began to understand the frauds that had been committed against them. People fell out of love with politics, and with the political state. And they began strongly to react against its worst abuses. Against aggressive wars. Against violations of rights and liberties. Against lies, dishonesty and double standards by politicians, officials, celebrities and media. Against re-distributory or confiscatory taxation.
“Perhaps the strongest reaction was against the environmentalist or green agenda. The greens had almost succeeded in taking over the world with their humanity-hating agenda of destroying prosperity, stopping progress and ending individual freedom. Of course, they didn’t put it like that. They bleated about the environment, or polar bears, or ‘saving the planet’ from climate change. But they put no value at all on us human beings, our nature and our rights and freedoms.
“But, with the Personal Transition, people saw this agenda for what it was. They came to understand that the environment which we must preserve and cherish is the environment for human beings. That peace, prosperity and justice for human beings are far more important than polar bears or saving a few watts of energy. They saw that there was a way to a sustainable future, and it wasn’t the greens’ pipe-dream of using less and less resources. Instead, the way forward was to create more and more wealth.
“And people felt a new kind of fellowship. They cared about the good people they dealt with in their daily lives. They cared about their customers and their suppliers. And they cared about those good people worldwide, who shared their basic human values like honesty and peacefulness. But, on the other side, people also came to understand that those that failed to make the effort to behave up to human standards were not their fellows.”
A moral wedge
We must seek to drive a mental and moral wedge between Us, the natural human beings, and Them, our enemies. For the area of thought, in which we and our enemies differ most fundamentally, is ethics; the study and the knowledge of what is right to do, and what is wrong. In my view, therefore, it is in the ethical and moral area that we should concentrate the focus of our work and our messages. And, in particular, on those characteristics of our enemies, that good, ordinary people – once fully aware of them – are likely to find repugnant.
We should expose, for example, the arrogance of those that claim they are superior to others, yet fail to behave up to basic human standards. The conceit of those that think they have a right to interfere in people’s lives, or to make arbitrary “laws” to bind other people. The bad faith of those that seek to shift the burden of proof on to those they accuse of wrongs; and so, to deny the presumption of innocence, and to require the accused to prove a negative. The hypocrisy of those that preach one thing, but practise quite another. The lack of empathy and remorse, shown by those that use politics to violate the rights and freedoms of innocent people. The lies and deceit, that seemingly are built into the current political system, and into the minds of those that take part in it. The recklessness of those that promote, support or make political policies without concern for the harms those policies are likely to bring to their victims. The dishonesty of those that seek to evade responsibility and accountability for the effects of their policies on innocent people. The fraudulence of those that use politics to make themselves or their cronies rich at the expense of innocent people.
And we should not stop at raising people’s ire against these unpleasant and psychopathic characteristics. We should aim to raise people’s awareness of how badly they have been, and are being, treated. And of who is treating them so badly.
If there is one message we want people to take away more than any other, it must be that politics, as it exists today, is the problem; it is not a solution to anything. And the mainstream political parties, and those that take an active part in politics, are a big part of the problem.
To whom should we direct our ideas? Obviously, to those who are likely to listen. Thus, there is no point at all in trying to talk to our enemies. We should talk about them, rather than to them.
For the general public, we should seek to express our ideas in simple enough terms, that even people who don’t consider themselves in any way “intellectual” can still relate to the ideas, and think about them for themselves. We should stress the idea that people have human rights, which each of us earns by respecting the equal rights of others. And that those of us, who do not violate others’ rights, must not have to suffer our own rights being violated. We should stress that each of us has the right to withdraw our consent from bad government. And we have a right, in John Locke’s words: “to put the rule into such hands which may secure to them the ends for which government was at first erected.”
Moreover, we should look to offer to ordinary people some things that are sorely lacking today; a sense of hope, and a prospect of a better future.
One group of people, who may be particularly worth pursuing, consists of those who are coming to realize that their reputations or even careers are in danger of being tarnished, or worse, by our enemies’ activities. For example, scientists and other academics, who see that green policies are likely to lead to a public backlash against bad science and against academe in general; and who may soon feel a need to publicly distance themselves from what our enemies are doing. Or honest people who work in government, and are perhaps starting to sense that many people are becoming less and less happy about what is going on, and that they themselves will be in danger of getting caught in cross-fire.
Those very few politicians, at whatever level and from whichever party, who genuinely do want to work for the “public good” of all against the state and the current ruling establishment, may also be worth a little bit of our effort. But we shouldn’t trust them too far.
How to organize ourselves?
No man is, entirely, an island. By that same token, no one lover of freedom can accomplish alone the immense task that we face today. For a start, no single individual in the world has all the necessary skills to succeed in such a task. Thus, we need to co-operate.
This does not mean that we should be seeking to construct new freedom organizations with snappy acronyms, plush offices and lots of corporate sponsorship. That’s the old model; and it has failed. If we do build new organizations, I think they must be of a new type. A type that will reflect the new world we want to build. De-centralized. Networked. Informal. Friendly. Free and tolerant. Growing from the bottom up.
At present, the most effective approach is for each of us simply to publish our best efforts when and where we can, and try to draw the attention of those who may be able to help us with new or better ideas. Today, on-line blogs can work for this; though this will become more difficult if the censorious extremists manage to get their way, and non-establishment thinking has to go samizdat.
Oh, and then there’s the matter of how, when the time comes, we actually go about building the new world. I’ve put down a few jottings in the section below about dismantling the state. But all this will need much planning, and evaluation of alternative approaches. And when the time comes, we will need many trustworthy people able and willing to work together towards the new world.
What is missing from my vision?
I have used almost 60,000 words in this set of six essays; many more than in my “Honest Common Sense” book of 2014. But I’m well aware that, despite the length, there are many things missing from, or insufficiently thought through in, my vision of a better future.
One obvious, and deliberate, omission is a first draft of the Convivial Code. That in itself, I expect, will be a daunting effort, requiring months of work and several tens of thousands of words. It is something I have had on my “to do” list for some years; and it looks as if it has now reached the top of my philosophical priority list.
Another deliberate shortcoming is that in the fifth essay, I didn’t specify my proposed system of just governance in very much detail. I did this partly to avoid being too Utopian, and partly because there are areas (particularly economic ones) in which I don’t have the knowledge and skills to develop the solutions in detail. So, I invite constructive feedback on all these essays from everyone who cares about human beings, human civilization and human freedom.
I am sure there are many other things missing too!
How to dismantle the state
For a first cut at some of the things we might do once we are in a position to dismantle the state, here are some more words from “Going Galactic,” my novel from 2012:
“The Social Transition began in different ways in different places. But, once a government friendly to Galactic principles had been installed in a country, they took broadly the same steps in each case.
“They repealed bad laws en masse. They ruthlessly pruned all unjust or intrusive laws from the statute books. They withdrew armies from conflicts around the world, and radically downsized them. They reduced the functions of government to their core – civil justice, criminal justice, and defence against aggression. They took down spy cameras, and closed communications interception centres.
“They abrogated all commitments to the EU and UN. They sacked all government employees that failed to deliver a service people were voluntarily willing to pay for. They transferred control of services like schools and hospitals to the people who delivered those services. They freed universities to set their own fees, and to teach whatever they thought was best.
“They cut taxes enormously. They converted politicized ‘welfare’ into honest insurance. They converted pensions into savings schemes. And they made sure that those, who had already paid for future expected benefits, did not lose their investments.
“They stabilized their currencies, by ceasing to print money that did not represent wealth. They wound up the morally and financially bankrupt political state, in the same way as any other bankrupt entity. And they distributed its assets among its creditors.
“They brought to justice those that, in the name of or in collusion with bad governments, had committed crimes against innocent people. And those, that had ordered, promoted or taken part in redistribution or confiscation of others’ fairly earned wealth, were made to compensate their victims.”
Those words, I wrote in 2009. Things were bad, even back then. But in the intervening years, the trend has been all but continuous towards higher taxes, more bad laws, more hare-brained schemes, more intervention in our lives, more violations of our rights, and in general more power to a state that shows every sign of wanting to tighten its grip over us into a death-grip. It has become increasingly obvious that, before human civilization can move into a new era of peace, freedom and prosperity, the political state has to go.
How do you get rid of a state? That one’s easy. You take control of it for about 30 seconds, and do what General de Gaulle did with Vichy France; declare it “abolished, together with all its laws.” Thus, at a single stroke you get rid of all its unjust taxes and confiscations, bad or unworkable laws, unnecessary restrictions, destructive political programs and all the rest of that state’s impositions. As to how to get that control in the first place, I don’t know; and if I did know, it wouldn’t be wise to tell yet. All I’ll say is, that it may well prove easier for such an outcome to eventuate in the last days of a failed monarchy, than it would in the collapse of a failing republic.
You would need a group of key people, who are honest, trustworthy freedom lovers. They would act as “official receiver,” and manage the winding-up of the state. They would also be responsible for co-ordinating the transition to the new world of just governance; including defence of the people of the former state against potential incursions from other states, and financial arrangements to ensure that innocent people do not lose out during the transition.
You would need a “law of the land” to replace the former state’s laws; in our case, that law would be the Convivial Code. Supplemented, where appropriate, by those common law precedents which are compatible with the Code. This pre-supposes, of course, that the Code will have been reviewed and agreed by sufficiently many people to make it credible; and will have been promulgated, or at least is publicly available to those who wish to read it.
You would immediately sack, and cancel the cushy pensions of, legislators and bureaucrats, at every level of government, that fail to deliver anything that benefits the people. After all, the state that used to pay them no longer exists. And as it was a criminal organization, any contracts they may have thought they had with it are now null and void. What they need to do is reform themselves, make themselves economically productive, and become convivial human beings.
You would immediately de-fund all those that have received tax money for jobs done, yet have failed to work for the interests of the people who paid those taxes. You would encourage good people to start to come together into voluntary associations, to implement the new system of just governance. Meanwhile, you simply let all economic actors go about their own businesses. Without any unnecessary constraints on economic activity, and without the dead weight of the state holding it down, the economy would start to grow as never before. Think, for example, what happened in Germany’s Wirtschaftswunder in the 1950s.
And as the economy improves, you would hive off more and more services previously controlled by the state into the hands of those who provide those services. The “public sector” would shrink rapidly, and before long would cease to exist. Meanwhile, you would cut, and cut, and cut, and cut, and cut taxes. Until the only things still being paid for by taxes are the core functions of just governance. At which point, you switch to a better and more permanent solution for financing just governance.
Dealing with the backlash
Of course, we must expect a backlash from our enemies. As soon as the first just governances are established, legacy states will try to impose as many difficulties on us as they can; just as the EU is trying to impose as much as it can on the UK after Brexit. They will seek to impose barriers to data, barriers to trade, barriers to travel. Perhaps they will even try military force.
Our response should be to defend ourselves with all the means available to us. And to treat each state, as a unit, as it treats us. But to avoid, as far as we can, harming the ordinary people in those states. They are our friends of the future.
Once one state has been dismantled and replaced by just governance, many people elsewhere will see how much better life is in the new world, so will want to follow suit. This will, in time, lead to a domino effect, in which states all over the world will start to collapse.
The Great Restitution
There would, of course, need to be a transition period into just governance, probably of some years in each place. You couldn’t simply cut off things like old age pensions and disability payments, which the people who receive them have already paid for. Nor could you transfer, all at once, the control of services like education and health care to the people who deliver those services. All this will need careful planning, and just and honest management. Oh, and as long as there are legacy states still in existence, you would need a nuclear deterrent – just in case.
As just governance starts to bed in, one of its first priorities will be what I call the Great Restitution. Put simply, this will identify those individuals, who have been victims of unjust harms, rights violations, inconveniences and predations from state activities; to identify which individuals have been responsible for those damages; and to assess and route appropriate compensation from the perpetrators to the victims. It will be financed by a (small) percentage of the restitution.
Each individual who considers they have been harmed will be encouraged to submit a claim for restitution from the former state and its cronies. These claims will cover both direct harms, such as unjust acts that caused damage, pain or inconvenience, or taxation or fines that were re-distributory, confiscatory, or based on false accusations or unjust schemes; and indirect harms such as exclusion or restriction from the free market as a result of bad laws or political favouritism. They will be objectively assessed, and appropriate compensation orders made. To include substantial damages and interest, too. Moreover, all those, that thought that taking or re-distribution of others’ earned wealth was morally OK, and profited from it, will find themselves hoist on their own petard.
The Great Restitution will look well beyond former politicians and government employees as potential perpetrators. Company bosses (and key employees) that took subsidies, lobbied for advantages or otherwise used politics to enrich themselves; pressure groups that lobbied for bad laws; media that lied; all these, too, will be assessed for the damages they caused to innocent people. And it will provide those, that have lived by moral panics and false scares, with a real reason to be scared: the bill for compensation to their victims for the bad policies their panics and scares spawned.
Those wrongdoers that have sufficient assets to pay their share of the compensation, will have to sell the assets to pay off their share of the debt. Alternatively, or in addition, they may be subjected to an indenture, so they can work off their debt while living at a rock-bottom third world standard.
The Great Restitution will also identify what, if any, criminal punishments are appropriate for each of the perpetrators. And those punishments, as I identified in the fifth essay, surely will be appropriate to the crimes! Most of all, to those that peddled the “net zero” carbon dioxide emissions scam. They will have to live in a zero-carbon enclave, without subsidies or any other kind of assistance. And if their project fails, as I expect it will, that will both prove them wrong, and serve them right.
Can our enemies reform themselves?
As to Downers in general, politicals, moral Neanderthals – whichever you want to call them: They can join humanity if they want. It’s entirely up to them. All they need do is: Cease all disconvivial actions, including violence, dishonesty and violations of rights and freedoms. Ensure they never again do such actions. Make themselves productive and independent in the free market economy. Compensate all those they wronged, in full, and with interest and damages. And take whatever criminal punishment is appropriate for what they did. It’s not much to ask. Any human being worth the name should be able to do it. And each positive result will be a win-win-win situation. We get some of the compensation we are owed; they get a fresh start in life; and all of us get another human being to trade with.
But one thing I am sure of: there must be no forgiveness without compensation. And those degenerates that cannot or will not reform themselves, and fail to become convivial human beings, we will simply ostracize. We don’t need them. We don’t want them.
Thusly, I expect, will homo sapiens (the ape too smart for his own good) of today evolve into homo convivendus (the human being fit to be lived with) of tomorrow. And we human beings will claim at last the habitat of peace, freedom and justice, that is rightfully ours.
Quicker than you might expect, we will reduce the quantity of politics in the world to “absolute zero.” The use of Franz Oppenheimer’s “political means” will no longer be tolerated; all human beings will use the “economic means” instead. Our world will become free from political injustices, from wars, from bad laws, from concerted violations of human rights, from re-distributory, confiscatory or otherwise unjust taxes, and from all the other destructions that have been caused by the state. All human beings worth the name will come together into a world-wide convivial community. And our economy will become truly sustainable; in the same way in which a bush fire, or a nuclear reaction, is sustainable. At last, we will be on our way to a free, just, prosperous, happy future for all human beings.