Who’s subsidizing government?

April 8, 2007 at 7:37 pm 13 comments

Many of you know that I recently ended my ten-month stint as a weekly guest editor at Strike the Root. A few have asked me why I did so. And, if you know what I mean, I didn’t want to go making up reasons that put the blame on others. So I tried to answer from a simple, individual perspective, that I didn’t feel that the work was giving me what I wanted and needed for the time I spent on it.

Frankly, though, I grew somewhat disillusioned with STR. I was so excited when I found that site at first! Here was a place on the net that quoted Thoreau at his fiery best and was dedicated to showing freedom seekers how they too could strike at the root of the evil called government.

Well, over time, I came to realize two things – that it wasn’t necessarily so, and that even if it were, that wasn’t perhaps a good thing either.

What we focus energy on, grows and abides, whether a love relationship or a cancer. Libertarians like to phrase it more along these lines: whatever government subsidizes, it gets more of. But what we’re overlooking when we think that way is that by granting government such an important place in our daily thinking, our moment-to-moment life, we’re feeding that damned beast. We’re giving it power that we don’t believe it deserves.

We’re subsidizing and legitimizing government’s power with our own thought energy.

Look at most any day on Strike the Root, that illustrious haven for anarchists. (And I don’t mean to single out STR here. It’s just that I had higher hopes for that site than I’ve had for about any other on the net.) Almost every linked article is about some new horror or scandal perpetrated (or about to be) by government at some level, and/or the bloated corporate cronies it enables so well. Iraq, Iran, Big Brother cameras in Britain, police abuses of power, stolen databases, you name it.

The whole damned self-styled “journal of liberty” is about GOVERNMENT!

If I were a bureaucrat surveilling that site, I think I’d be wearing a big smirk.

Please know that I mean no offense to anyone at STR. I fell into the same trap. Felt I had to include a few newsy links in every edition to appear “hip” enough to keep the job. I hereby duly flagellate myself publicly.

I once taught history to middle school students. They came into my class mostly hating the subject and/or being bored stiff by it. So I began to ask them why. Isn’t history kind of like gossip or a television drama – things most eighth-graders indulge in – isn’t it about people and the things they do?

Nope. Duh. I should have thought it through. They wised me up. For them, the way it had been taught to them, history was only about the dates of wars and elections, the names of generals and politicians. History to them was nothing but government.

No wonder they didn’t give a crap about it. They were young enough that it had nothing to do with them. Same with current events – they hated watching the news, didn’t care a rat’s ass what the newspaper had to say. Neither did I when I was their age. The only kids I knew who did were the wannabe politicians, the dutiful showoffs, and a few smart geeks who probably were already pondering how to live underground for the foreseeable future. Major duh. I should have thought it through.

Over the years since my own junior high days, somehow I had let myself be co-opted into the belief that every adult is required to tune in to mainstream media sources several times daily, because this is the only way we can know what is going on in the world. And we must always know what is going on in the world, or at least in the American sector of it, in case we are quizzed about it at work or at social events attended by other adults who are better news-watchers than we and might show us up as defective.

Do you get this concept? That we have allowed ourselves to be subversively convinced that “news,” and history, and the “real” world are all entirely the domain of government and its doings? That this very attitude extends, sadly, even to the most anarchistic of information sources?

And do you still wonder why there’s never any positive news on the nightly media broadcasts?

I’ll follow up on this train of thought in my next post.

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Entry filed under: Big Picture, Doing Freedom, Free Your Mind, Living Free.

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13 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ff42  |  April 8, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    I look forward to your follow up. I usually “read” (click open every link and read every first paragraph and say to myself, AGAIN?) STR daily. I’ve been mentally (and physically) ‘twisted’ these last couple years (after I took the red pill). I assume it is because I now realize how bad government (and the sheep) are, but maybe it’s because I’ve been focusing on the negative also. Thanks for the wakeup. I’ll have ponder this some.

    Reply
  • 2. morrigan  |  April 9, 2007 at 9:27 am

    Funny, but I have been thinking about this very subject myself. For the most part, I don’t even care if I watch/hear main stream media “news”.
    I have found myself avoiding news programs, sites and even posts. I know that things are bad and they don’t report the truth anyway.
    I see no reason to wallow in it everyday and have it sap my energy, brain cells and time. The atrocities will continue whether I participate or not in reading such gak.
    Do I care about what is happening? Do I want things to change and get better? Absolutely.
    It is like being in an abusive relationship, I don’t need to get beat up, either physically or emotionally on a daily basis to re-enforce the fact.
    I refuse to feed the monster. I would much rather concentrate on making my life better by spending my time actually working toward self sufficiency.

    Reply
  • 3. Fjolnirsson  |  April 9, 2007 at 9:32 am

    I’m with you so far. Darned good stuff. I eagerly await the next post.

    Reply
  • 4. PintofStout  |  April 9, 2007 at 9:59 am

    I’ve been thinking about that aspect of news lately. I even thought of a post for it, but it required so much time that I didn’t have to research it that it hasn’t gotten written. It was along the lines of a quantification of the stories directly about or related to government on NPR (since that is my news source). I would have to be strict about the stories I counted, since government touches just about every story to some degree. I was trying to see what was left after taking those stories out.

    While thinking about it I realized that the news organizations have a vested interest in the status quo. If it were gone, so would better than half of their business. Perhaps a comparison to a national news show to a local news show would shed some light on…something.

    Anyway, I agree with your assessment and try not to fall into the trap myself with varying success.

    Here’s a quote for you:
    An “anti-something” movement displays a purely negative attitude. It has no chance whatever to succeed. Its passionate diatribes virtually advertise the program that they attack. People must fight for something that they want to achieve, not simply reject an evil, however bad it may be.

    — Ludwig von Mises in The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality

    Reply
  • 5. Marc Swanson  |  April 9, 2007 at 10:54 am

    Harry Browne’s 1970’s book “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World” covered many aspects of enhancing personal freedom. His later political activism, however, proved that he was also concerned about reducing the size of government. Perhaps one can do both, but concentrate on living your life to its fullest while intelligently opposing the statist misconceptions of others when possible.

    Reply
  • 6. Taran Jordan  |  April 9, 2007 at 11:40 am

    Great comments and quotes, guys. Especially the von Mises one. Thanks for all your thoughts. I’m glad you all enjoyed the post enough to leave comments.

    I think this concept we’re looking at is spreading in the blogosphere. Shoot, it’s ages old. “Accentuate the positive.” “Be careful what you wish for.” “No one can make you feel foolish without your consent.” “Anything’s possible.”

    And yet even the label “anarchist” is an anti-concept. I suppose that’s why there have been so many subdivisions of anarchists over time: socialist anarchists, market anarchists, etc. Since “anarchist” only defines what one is against, there’s a huge hole of a question remaining about what one is in favor of.

    More soon! 🙂

    Reply
  • 7. Nedda  |  April 9, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    Kudos on this post.

    The more of the “news” I hear and read, the more irritated and cynical I get.

    I think (actually I know) news is a form of psychological warfare. It shows how “benevolent” the government is for those who worship at its feet. It shows the punishment and or ridicule of those who disagree with its propaganda or disobey its rule. It reminds the watchers that their vote matters and that they are needed for “good” government. It assimilates the average mind into the collective. And for those of us who scream at the TV in rage at the idiocy that spews forth, it reinforces the idea that we will never be heard.

    I try to avoid it whenever I can. Life is difficult enough. Being cynical and irritable doesn’t make life any easier to enjoy.

    Reply
  • 8. Sharon Secor  |  April 10, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    STR guest editor Sharon Secor here, and I wanted to thank you for your thoughtful criticism. You make a great point, something I’ll be sure to think about while putting together my next edition. Best Regards!

    Reply
  • 9. George Potter  |  April 11, 2007 at 1:22 am

    Much of the anti-government news prevalent on libertarian/anarchist websites is a much needed antidote to the gov-loving version featured in mainstream news. It is both wake up call and rallying cry.

    Basically, what you are saying is that you no longer find such stories necesarry. That’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing — a sign that you have achieved a state on your path where anti-government evidence is no longer needed to fuel the fire, so to speak. You realize the beast is the beast on a basic enough level that you no longer require reminders.

    Those stories are still useful, though. To newbies. The people just now awakening to these ideas, who are tempted — every day — to roll over and forget about it. To jump off the wagon and return to the line where questions are never asked and the benevolence of Big Brother is never questioned.

    You can do your part by making your blog the kind of place where folks can come once they’ve reached the state you’ve reached. A place to find positive stories of finding freedom in everyday life, freedom lovers helping each other, and new ideas for the future.

    🙂

    Reply
  • 10. Taran Jordan  |  April 11, 2007 at 6:51 pm

    Nedda – Hang in there, lady! I’ve said more at your blog just a day or two ago. It’s a joy to know you’re out there growing in your own path. And you’ve given me one heckuva concept to ponder there with your mention of “psychological warfare.” Many have said the same, I realize as I think it over, but your way of putting it has captivated my mind.

    Sharon – it’s great to have you drop by! I regret now that I didn’t make an effort to get acquainted with the other guest editors in my time at STR. Every one of you has a unique perspective and it would be cool to learn how you arrived at it. I wish you all good things in your life walk.

    George – Wow, I’m thrilled you came by for a read. 😀 Your comments are wise and wonderful. And you bring up a point that sometimes troubles me … as a writer, can I manage to return to that space of “beginner’s mind” and retrace the steps that brought me where I now am? Can I find that kind of empathy and deep memory and perspective and offer it to the reader, regardless of his or her own stage of thinking?

    Scary question. And secretly titillating too – with that writerly “heheheh” that knows it won’t rest until it finds a way. 😉

    Thanks to all of you for readin’ and respondin’!

    Reply
  • 11. David Houser  |  April 18, 2007 at 2:52 am

    It’s funny, this made me think of what I’ve been doing at STR and a lot of other sites I used to devour every word of lately, which is exactly what ff42 says – I basically scan the headlines and think “yeah, what’s new?”. Stuff like Eleutheros’s blog is much more inspiring to me nowadays (and I believe I found that by way of a link at STR that you ran).

    But I do still thrive to a certain extent on the criticism aspect rather than the creative. A large chunk of that is being stuck in a place that I hate, but I definitely see a light up ahead, and a day when I will be busy doing freedom rahter than wallowing in the lack of it.

    Reply
  • 12. Taran Jordan  |  April 21, 2007 at 10:59 am

    “But I do still thrive to a certain extent on the criticism aspect rather than the creative.”

    David, it took clarity and candor to say that. I have to admit, I’m right there too.

    Even on this “non-news, non-politics, do-freedom” blog, I sometimes find myself ranting about Alan Greenspan or what the Thought Police are up to. I try to do so in ways that inspire proactive steps, or at least thinking – but I know I’m not fully free of the world as the media presents it.

    I do think, though, as you point out, that progress is the vital thing, not purity.

    Thank you for your thoughts! 🙂

    Reply
  • 13. Freeing your mind « Restored Spirit  |  May 23, 2007 at 8:04 am

    […] Taran Jordan had two phenomenal posts about who is subsidizing the government and the freedom that we already have in our minds. This is something that I’ve actually been […]

    Reply

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