Katrina Cuts to the Core

Reflecting upon the fundamental issues of Katrina:

Anyone who takes authority over another acts with malice and incompetence.

Same principle/formulation, with qualifiers:

Anyone who, whether through voluntary submission or forced subordination, takes authority over another or others acts with malice and subsequent incompetence.

"Authority over" is grossly different from "responsibility for," however . . . .

Anyone who consciously gives up responsibility for their own life, welfare or survival retains responsibility for the consequences of that grant (as well as the perpetual right to reverse it at any time, even if they have lost the ability to do so). [This principle of transferring responsibility may pertain in cases of medical or other emergencies, or diminishment of abilities due to old age; it does not pertain to children, who are ' moving in the opposite direction ' in the process of attaining self-responsibility from the moment of birth. Moreover, in regard to children, adults have no authority over them; parents have responsibility for them; decreasing over time, as it is assumed by the child for himself. The child's autonomy ' sovereign authority over itself ' is sacred.]


Anyone who voluntarily submits to the authority of another acts with malice and incompetence.

Same principle/formulation, with qualifiers:

Anyone who voluntarily and knowingly submits to the authority of another or others acts to the detriment of others and themselves, causing harm to both parties, and is responsible for the consequences, whether of victimization/abuse of themselves or of the subsequent degeneracy/violence of the others.

"Submission to" is grossly different from "deference to," however . . . .

Anyone who consciously gives over their authority over their own self, which includes their capacity of responsibility, retains no rights or powers to any portion of their existence, until and unless they repudiate such a breach and reclaim their autonomous authority in whole. From the position of sovereignty, they may subsequently defer to the advice, opinions, or suggestions of others, upon their personal responsibility and authoritative control, including decisions to obligate themselves to verbal or written contracts (as agreements to follow a certain course of action in the execution of a plan) in conjunction with others (who are similarly obligating themselves upon their personal authority).

Second corollary:

Anyone who teaches the value of submission to authority acts with extreme malice.

Same principle/formulation with qualifiers:

Anyone who, by word or deed, teaches submission to authority (as a personal, social, political or cultural value) acts with extreme malice (commensurate with sexual child abuse or rape) and gives evidence, therewith, to a history of deep personal abuse crying out for treatment and healing. [I.e., this is evidence of psychosis, which in abusive cultures passes for normalcy, though is betrayed by chronically re-surfacing neurotic symptoms and actions.]

Some definitions:

Authority over: the power to determine, adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes; jurisdiction; the right to control, command or determine.

Sovereignty: ultimate authority, as for an individual human being over its own existence.

Responsible for: answerable or accountable, as for something within one's power, control or management; able to discharge obligations or pay debts.

Responsibility for: the capacity/ability to assume and fulfill obligations.

Submission: to yield in surrender, compliance or obedience.

Malice: desire to inflict injury or suffering on another; evil intent on the part of one who commits a wrongful act injurious to others.

Incompetence: lacking qualification or ability.

Those who would presume to assume authority over anyone else are inherently incompetent, since no one is ABLE to be in authority over anyone but himself; any actions performed upon that premise will be incompetent and, further, can only be incompetent.

Part of my thinking over Katrina had to do with the difference of the public and private sector approaches to offering and executing help in the situation. The public sector assumed authority and presumed to control people, usurping their personal authority and control (any exercise of which was considered defiance of the authority of the "officials"). The private sector in many cases assumed responsibility for the care of people who were not able, by circumstances, to care for themselves, yet without any presumption of control over those afflicted by the hurricane. They volunteered assistance to those who were receptive to the particular assistance being offered ' and they adjusted their assistance ' on the fly ' to the needs of the afflicted, directly and personally. They had no authority over anyone but themselves, didn't want it, and didn't need it. They came equipped with respect and love. In those cases where the situation demanded that they assume responsibility for someone else's survival, they did so with a deep sense of personal obligation ' as a personal responsibility ' and with deep respect for the autonomy and humanity of the recipient. The public sector officials who commanded authority came in the door (when they finally bothered to show up) with fundamental disrespect and no-love (no human caring or empathy, and perhaps even with contempt or suspicion).

The consequences of these two approaches are predictable . . . in every facet of human existence, and not just in emergency situations. Katrina should not come as a "lesson" to anyone with more than two grey cells to rub together. It is merely evidence of what happens when authority is taken from the individual ' in any circumstance. It is sad that we need such evidence in order to see the obvious. It may be even more sad that the majority of the population ' through socio-governmental indoctrination/brainwashing ' will continue to ignore the evidence. But, from these same principles, that, too, is predictable. The social psychosis that I mentioned is the meme of authority, of government, of priesthood. It will take more than a little hurricane to smash through that meme, regardless of whatever else gets smashed in the aftermath. Those who wish to acknowledge fundamental principles and dismantle the structure of usurped authority are likely to be overridden by those who vie to strengthen the governmental power structure. However, there is considerable possibility of a loud challenge to the authoritarians, perhaps with sufficient follow-through to rebel, and possibly instigate an insurrection or provoke a civil war. Jefferson thought that this might be a good idea ' once in a while ' for the health of the nation. I think, considering the present "health" of the nation, that it's undoubtedly long overdue.

However, I would like to caution awareness (though not restraint). Due to the prevalence of the authority-worshipping meme, we live in a very, er, neurotic culture. Due to this meme, even when we are fighting against it, we are often embroiled in internal battles with our own indoctrination (and our personal histories of institutional abuse), and we will often be inconsistent ' as the apparently contradictory elements of the New Orleans fiasco demonstrate over funding for the levees, government/military response time, and official emergency plans (as to the existence or effectiveness thereof). In other words, much of the reaction is to the failure of the government to perform effectively prior to, during and after the disaster, instead of cutting through this to the essential ineffectiveness of government period, and to the destructiveness of usurping the authority of the individual to any degree or in any situation.

The major battle in the immediate aftermath is over just this issue, as the politicos and their lackey media attempt to spin the focus to addressing the failures of the government by strengthening the government. And there is considerable question whether the opposition can muster the clarity to address the same issues by asserting that the specific problems that arose are caused by the fact of government and gives evidence of its inherent and unavoidable incompetence in ANY arena . . . and do so with sufficient consistency, clarity and power to breach the meme. Foggy thinking or relying on party platforms (or someone else's thinking, even as a deference to the authority of someone else's thinking) is contraindicated by the nature of the principle at root.

The focus should not be to sell libertarian solutions or philosophies ' at this stage. Don't be a know-it-all ' "what we should have done is . . ." or "what we should have is . . ." The libertarian approach gets repeatedly mucked-up by its dubious references to classical this or that philosophies which are very debatable. What is not debatable, and should not be glossed over, is that the government ' at every stage and every level ' is directly responsible for the disastrous effect of hurricane Katrina. Forget the might've-been solutions. The solutions are private and personal and VARIABLE according to individual situations and circumstances. Don't even bother to suggest them. The only solution that is critical is to get the government out of business and restore authority to the individual. That's it. Game, set, match.

When people want to know what to put "in its place," the answer is a simple and unequivocal: "nothing." This is the absolute removal of a negative ' in all aspects. There is nothing else to discuss . . . and doing so will only alienate people. Government is a cancer. What do you put in its place after you cut out a cancer? Nothing, folks. Nothing. Don't even need to go there.

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Richard Rieben's picture
Columns on STR: 14

Richard Rieben was a world traveler, house remodeler, and sometime author and philosopher. The thesis of his manifesto, Reciprocia, is, briefly: “Sovereignty is the base; reciprocity defines how to make it work.” Aside from harping incessantly on the theme of liberty, he led a fairly normal life in middle America, where he scouted for silver-linings. His internet articles are featured at TakeLiberty.com.  He passed away sometime after 2005.