Like Magic!


Column by Mark Davis.

Exclusive to STR

Men have been creating supernatural entities since the first fires were harnessed by the smartest guys in the cave at the dawn of civilization. Conjuring up power into existence (state sovereignty) through the use of magic spells (social contracts, laws) is still used to this day by modern wizards (law makers) and priests (law enforcement). Repeating words from a book of spells (Constitution, Declaration of Independence, Articles of Corporation) and practicing precise rituals (passing laws, wearing uniforms, creating talismans and badges that have special powers) are age-old tools for population control that have been perfected and modernized as needed over the centuries. The state can only exist in the minds of people, but this illusion is long-established in human traditions and cultures throughout the world. Agents of the state have a powerful hold over the human imagination, one could say, like magic.

This is a condition that we alive today have inherited from our ancestors and many feel there is little we can do to change it. When so many people believe in magic, it is easy for them to reinforce each other’s belief in that magic. People hate to admit they have been duped or fooled, but the desire to use self-delusion as a coping mechanism is a powerful reason to believe in magic, even while denying it exists. Exposing delusions for what they are is something that we can do, although this is not as easy as it sounds.

It is not brute force that binds collective illusionists so strongly, but a fear of losing the warm feelings of security that a common belief provides. Look how many people in our culture perpetuate the knowingly false image of Santa Claus in order to create a “warm feeling” at Christmas for children. Who hasn’t either fallen for that one or perpetrated it upon their children? I did. Good intentions are thus used to institutionalize the magical belief of a jolly man who goes around the world in one night using a sleigh pulled by reindeer to deliver toys to all the good boys and girls. Parents unabashedly exploit this ruse in order to get children to obey them. The powerful goodwill created by self-delusion is embodied in this not-so-subtle tradition. And who wants to expose Santa Claus as a fraud? Exposing the state as a fraud is hard for the same reasons, but now it is adults and not children who have a vested interest in perpetuating the magical properties of state wizards.

Symbols and images are used to exploit fears and create a group identity among followers. Confidence and zeal by wizards in their ritual ceremonies create a sense of calm and purpose in those who follow along willingly. The personification of abstract ideas leads to leaders who claim to embody the spirit of collective consciousness (i.e., will of the people). Oaths, banners, music, pomp and circumstance all surrounding those that are able to cite “the law,” presenting incantations and documents with special powers, that bind the many to the few.

Often, we compromise with these impulses by creating competing forces of magic (e.g. black and white magic). Competing factions are quick to demonize opposition while sainting their own members. The people who put Jews and Gypsies in concentration camps and took their property were evil, but the ones who put Japanese people in concentration camps and took their property, using “the law” were good. Us and them, different standards, don’t you know? The draw of belonging to something big, powerful and meaningful allows elite wise men to exploit the pride and prejudice of the common man who is mostly concerned with just getting by in the world. Maintaining a sane predisposition in a world of people who believe in magic is not an easy task.

Ancient knowledge was used by early priests/rulers for mind control. At the root of social organization is the extended family, the clan, the tribe. These small units were expanded as people learned how voluntary cooperation with neighboring families for mutual benefit was desirable and led to prosperity, primarily through trade and a division of labor. As population centers created for trade and fellowship became more established and grew, the temple arose. Early civilizations grew around centers for religious rituals that became sources of power for the elite.

The proverbial Garden of Eden is a story about the world before cities and priests and kings. A romantic version of how the individual knowledge of understanding right from wrong can corrupt the relationship of those individuals to elite edicts. It thus inserts authoritarian rule as the solution to this fundamental human desire for self-rule. In the beginning as in the end, indeed. Today, states have largely replaced gods as the ultimate authority to be obeyed and worshiped.

Passing down these belief systems gives them more weight and they perpetuate themselves using the trust that children naturally have for their elders. Authoritarian belief systems are promoted and supported by elite desire to solidify and consolidate their holdings and wealth, not to enhance the common man’s quality of life. Once people recognize this fundamental understanding the magic spell can be broken. Maintaining a belief that you will be punished for thinking for yourself will perpetuate cognitive dissonance.

Acceptance (and rejection) of ideas/magic at an emotional level is superficial because there are many levels of consciousness. We may laugh at those who believe in supernatural forces and events, even as we ritually pull the levers in a voting booth, solemnly put our hands over our hearts and pledge allegiance to symbols of the state and join in songs praising the state before sporting events. Or, say, teaching our children about the jolly fat elf in a red suit who will give them what they ask for, if they are good. And most often, “good” is defined as obedience to parental authority. It is easy to fool ourselves as we march along with the herd believing that what we do is just because “everybody does it.” So why question the established order to see how we are being manipulated? It’s so much easier to go along to get along.

Once we have been indoctrinated in the rituals and common beliefs supporting the status quo power structure in society, it is difficult to break out of this magic spell. If we do overcome our childhood indoctrination, we will likely be branded as a heretic and cast out of polite society, becoming an outcast or outlaw. For challenging the mythology behind the magic spells that are used to justify elite rule is considered dangerous to the true believers. Just as the children who discover the truth about Santa Claus are branded pariahs for spreading the truth to their young friends and family.

The normalcy bias that derives from strong emotional attachments to the status quo is difficult to overcome with intellectual arguments, no matter how logical and reasonable. The state has attained an exalted social status of a religious nature where tradition trumps innovation and repeating rituals stand in for truth-seeking. When it comes to organizing society, the default mode from the family unit to the largest collectives is the authoritarian command-obey structure. Fear of fundamental change inspires obstinacy even when viable alternatives are offered. The process of expanding liberty is never easy, but always worth it--for the stakes are high.

The modern state has become a religion; it is a social system that postulates supernatural agents from which men seek approval. “The Law” is handed down from “lawmakers” ordained in rituals that are nothing more than popularity contests easily manipulated by elite power brokers. Yet these magical spells, being sold as deterrents to the evil demons wreaking havoc in society as if they were sent down from the heavens by God, are but a folly of man. The more laws that these legally sanctioned authorities create, the more crime there is. You see, when the law is your only tool, everything looks like a crime.

The only available authoritarian tactic is to escalate punishment/violence and expand the number of laws until everybody could be stopped at any time. We are at the stage of social evolution where civil disobedience to state authority is combated by attempting to instill more fear in the population. The propaganda used to provide self-serving justifications for the inherent violence in the command-obey structure is being exposed on the Internet and is losing its hold on the collective imagination. Events are moving more quickly now and as social institutions crumble, elite influence will be exposed, yet still likely embraced by the true believers. But the illusion of social control will eventually be seen by all for what it is: a magic spell. Voluntary organizations will then fill the vacuum that authoritarians fear so much because it will mean their power and influence has ended. Good riddance.

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Mark Davis's picture
Columns on STR: 65

Mark Davis is a husband, father and real estate analyst/investor enjoying the freedoms we still have in Longwood, Florida.


Samarami's picture

Good, Mark!

Your only "authority" is that which I grant you. Since I've read a number of your essays and communicated with you periodically, I've come to respect you and will generally follow your lead. To that extent I suppose we could agree that you have "authority" or "jurisdiction" -- as long as I do indeed follow the suggestions you present, which you have shown so far to be valid and valuable.

Larken Rose has produced a number of good videos that better illustrate that point. "Jurisdiction" is between your ears. "Legitimacy" is an illusion. "Consent-Of-The-Goverened" is criminal mind control. And if 90% of individuals would abruptly come to see that, "jurisdiction" would disappear. There would be anarchy. And anarchy, to the contrary of everything we've been told about anarchy, will be true liberty, security and safety.

We can burn all the Black's Law Dictionaries, and all the fairy tales and illusions they encompass. Bills of "rights" and "Constitutions" will be amusing memories of harder times.

We've skirted this issue recently on the subject of "circumcision". Of course on that topic the tiny newborn is definitely under "jurisdiction" -- and, whether he likes it or not his foreskin is going to get whacked -- for better or for worse. Unless the parents are "intactivists". But it is up to the parents, and nobody else.

I've insisted forever that the family is the only legitimate governing unit -- all else are criminal interlopers. Lots of controversy can be generated from that.

Wendy McElroy recently posted a good essay on state as religion.

Keep churning out good essays. STR needs them.


Mark Davis's picture

Thank you, Sam.  The term "governing unit" implies the use of force to "govern", if so, then I would agree with you.  As you note parents have the only legitimate assumption of power to govern without consent.  However, I believe that voluntary associations which include rules for behavior and mutual aid are legitimate as long as they maintain their voluntary status.  One could argue that these association result in voluntary "governing"; though that may also be considered an oxymoron.

Samarami's picture

Supervision by parental "authority" will naturally be from honest love. And genuine desire for their welfare. Hopefully. We know there are exceptions -- none of us likes to think of all the incapable and unfit parents out there who neglect and endanger their offspring.

It is with care and love that we restrain baby from falls and stairways and dangerous things like household chemicals. And later, deny permission for high-risk activities.

As time develops, the children will quite likely take more and more responsibility for our supervision and care. I took care of both Mom and Dad the last years of their lives. I well remember "coercing" Dad to allow me to shower and scrub and shave him every Friday, and trim finger and toenails. I threatened him with the "county-health nurse" (don't think I'd handle it that way nowadays) -- "Dad, all of us smell bad when we don't bathe, and if the county health nurse comes in here and detects you have no personal hygiene or clean clothes she will force you to go to a nursing home!..." No nurse ever came, but I used that as browbeating. He was retired post master -- highly statist and compliant by nature, always prepared for postal inspectors to show up unannounced.

I try to refrain from expounding "anarchist theory", because I'm no more capable than the newest member of STR to know how unfit parents are going to be dealt with in a totally free marketplace. None of us has seen liberty -- freedom from state. We've been so saturated with statolatry from childhood, and the legacy handed down by our ancestors before us, that it is truly difficult to even fantasize how hooligan kids and other of these perplexing problems will be dealt with in a totally free community.

But deal with them we will. Call that my "religious faith" if you must. As you've outlined, " institutions will crumble, elite influence will be exposed...the illusion of social control will eventually be seen by all for what it is: a magic spell..." Sam

Samarami's picture

At the risk of overwriting some of the intention of your essay, Mark, I'd like to add the link you posted over at a facebook site. I believe this presenter does a lot to clarify the "magic" that is "rulership":

José Barrera does in much better clarity what I've touted for the last two or three years by the late Delmar England: Insanity as the Social Norm.

The comparison of the science of religion with the science of rulership is fascinating to say the least.

Like Magic.


Glock27's picture

Delmar England's essay you referred is a rather dynamic piece until he comes to utilizing the terms of conscious and sub-conscious, terms he had to have been taught (coming form Freud who has been debunked a long time back). It is clearly an article to not be read once but must be analysed for what the content is actually saying. Simply to me it is everything we have been taught from birth onward is nothing more than lies running the course of life. A casual reading leaves my head swirling,wow, stop the merry-go-round and let me off. My mind is not as functional as it once was. Supposedly as we age we are to become more wise and filled with experiences vital to everyone. The longer I live the less I seem to know.
Thank you for the reference. It is deeply appreciated as it adds ammunition to my battle with the Morons. Again. Thanks.

Glock27's picture

Paragraph 2: "....many feel as there is little we can do to change it..." This has been my frustration. Many on this site will disdain me for my daily attacks on State and Federal Legislators, but it is my tool to fight rather than to philosophize. I believe we must accept the current situation, like it or not, and gain the temerity to strike. From my perspective, Striking the Root is not a philosophy. Striking is an active verb, implying an action is being taken. The Root is the Noun existing as a metaphor for what needs to be struck, and Striking the Root means to me taking the tools they use against the population and use it back at them. This is exactly what is happening with Muslim terrorist, they are using the "Magic books" to implement their goals in this country. Strike the Root I believe means action and not lack of action. I recognize I can take a huge amount of flack for this. But so far I concede too what you are presenting.
Paragraph 3: Fortunately for me I never told my kids about Santa. I expressed to them the actual, fundamental rational for Christmas. Yes. I forced them to church and bible school, and bible camps, but reached a point and told them. "You no longer have to participate. You must come up with your own responsible decision regarding the issue of Christmas, and church". None have returned to the fold, so I guess they made their decision. This topic aggravates me because far too many people accept the bible at word without any investigation. They fail to consider the time, the culture, the language, the metaphors and allusions in how they phrased conversation. The bible is mostly a political document. Is the bible a lie? I say no--its just that far too many people fail to honestly search the other sources which helps to clarify enormous amounts of misconception. Stop.
Paragraph 4: Beautifully illustrated. Reminds me of the House Boy blaming Christians from centuries past for the current terrorist brutality. They are just now getting even with us. Ha!
Paragraph 5: Like I said earlier the bible is first and foremost a political tool (the majority of it is) used by the patriarchs as well as a cultural history, linguistic text and etc.
No more comments Mark. I think you present some excellent philosophical points. As for me I am probably a mix of black and white magic. Political events sicken me, but I cannot sit and not do anything more than pine over the tragedies which are occurring. There is probably no one on this site who would dare respond to legislators local, state, or federal, as I do. It would be beneath them to take up the hatchet and hack away and to me philosophizing accomplishes very little. I attempt to use their own magic against them and draw from sources as this site for select remarks to shoot at legislators. I guess I am beginning to like the idea of calling myself the "Verbal Sniper". Currently I suspect that I am under scrutiny regarding my remarks when I call them liars, cheats, thieves, robbers, illiterate, ignorant, and stupid. Most of my shots seem to be misses, but, if I am lucky some lackey will get turned. All legislators have already made up their minds upon all issues. If it helps to control the people and turn us into a third world country then good. If it involves us not paying taxes, having a successful business and etc. then no.

Mark Davis's picture

There is no one best method or plan to strike at the root of the state and we should all do what we think is best.  As to engaging politicians, which did much of in my younger years, I think you summed it up with the statement "All legislators have already made up their minds upon all issues."  This is a futile quest; much like getting a department store who hires Santas at X'mas time for promotional purposes to put up a sign reporting he is a fake.  But keep doing what you're doing because others (perhaps lackeys as you say) in earshot may get a clue because of it.

Paul's picture

Santa Claus is arguably one of our better allies. After all, how many grownups believe in him? Who has not had some faith in magic shaken by the discovery he was just a fraud perpetrated on kids too young to know better? I wish all state fairy tales were as transparent as Santa Claus.

I think one great tool for fighting magic is the single word, "Why"? Asking this question of rituals exposes immediately the nonsense. Trying to justify rituals is actually quite difficult, because rituals depend so strongly on never being questioned at all, and because they are so ridiculous. I often wondered what would happen if I were called to testify in court and when I was supposed to swear to tell the truth, I said, "I'm not a Christian, and I try to avoid having religious opinions of any stripe. Why should I swear to anything?"

"If we do overcome our childhood indoctrination, we will likely be branded as a heretic and cast out of polite society, becoming an outcast or outlaw." I think that itself is a bit of magic. The rulers like to perpetuate this story but the reality is mostly different. One is less and less likely, over the years, to be cast out merely due to having different opinions. In fact it could be said that having a different opinion is a way to become popular because people get bored over the same old pablum time after time, and want to hear something different - even if they may not agree with it. We are not living in Puritan Boston any more. Of course I could be wrong due to my living in Portlandia, where odd opinions are routine.

Anyway, good article! I think you are right about the direction things are going.

Mark Davis's picture

Thank you Paul.  I also love Santa as an example of purposeful collective deception of a large group of people (children).  This quasi rite of passage prepares the young mind for later indoctrination.  This will go on because it also provides much joy from the spectacle of it all; and it does promote giving.  So intertwining some bacon around that pill helps people to swallow it.  Further, people like being in a show, to make-believe, pretending and what not.  The state provides a convienient outlet for those desires to be accepted by the collective in adulthood.

Glock27's picture

Thank you Mark for your kindly response. I don't have a whole lot of time left, and it seems to be the best that I can do as I have found no solutions. I watched some of the RNC debates the other night and could not help to find it more like a Circus event, yet a few did express a growing hatred of the three branches. Thanks again for the supportiveness you have supplied.