"As for adopting the ways which the state has provided for remedying the evil, I know not of such ways." ~ Henry David Thoreau
We Are All Slaves!
Column by Stephen Nichols.
Exclusive to STR
This article was partly inspired by a video I recently saw: "The Story of Your Enslavement." I highly recommend that video to everyone!
slave - a person who is the property of and wholly subject to another; a bond servant (www.dictionary.com)
Modern government is the most ingenious form of slavery ever invented. If you really look at it, you'll be awestruck by the cleverness of its design and dumbfounded by the simplicity of its implementation. I aim to deconstruct the basis of our enslavement through this text and to prescribe a path to freedom. Being a citizen of the USA, I'm really only able to speak to the system of slavery that exists here. By way of observation, it seems that this ingenious system exists elsewhere, but I'm without doubt that it exists here. Quite literally, if you live in the USA, you are a slave. In most minds, it seems, slavery is thought of as an overt use of force to control the body of the slave and extract useful labor from him or her. One imagines chain gangs, sweatshops or prison-like settings where the imprisoned are confined and threatened with severe punishments if they don't do as they're told. This fanciful imagining, while clearly an extreme form of slavery, is demonstrably under-productive and, as such, is only utilized by the most unenlightened of slave owners. You need go no further than your own imagination to understand why this is so. Imagine yourself being overtly enslaved to perform some laborious task. Wouldn't you do just the work necessary to avoid punishment and no more? Of course you would. Thus, as an overtly enslaved person, you would be far less productive than if you were pursuing your heart's desires. This is obvious. Those who own slaves clearly want the most productive slaves -- as slave ownership exists to add the productivity of the enslaved to the masters. Clearly, the goal of any slave owner is to extract the maximum productivity from the enslaved. How perplexing it must have been for early slave owners to solve this problem. Relying on the whip to extract labor is terribly detrimental to the well-being of the slaves. And, as such, productivity suffers. What was needed is a way to effortlessly extract labor from the slaves while allowing them to pursue their heart's desires. If you disentangle moral qualms about slavery from your thinking, I'll wager you can see a clear path to achieving this "effortless" form of slavery. Put yourself in the shoes of the master. How would you design an ideal system of slavery? A system where the slaves don't realize they're enslaved. A system where the slaves pursue the kinds of labor that you desire. A system where you would benefit greatly from the productivity of the enslaved. It's my observation that such an ideal system of slavery exists today and that we're all inexorably caught in its grasp. There are several pillars to the existing system of slavery that we endure: brute force, economics, education, information control and illusion of choice. I call them pillars because that description best captures my desire. I want you to see them as I do . . . as things to be attacked and undermined. When sufficiently undermined, no pillar can hold its weight. And, if any one of these pillars fall, the entire system will be compromised. Let's dig in on each of these pillars: Brute Force
The starting point for any system of enslavement is brute force. The smart master will only punish when necessary. Yet, to keep all the slaves in line, occasional excessive punishments are required. Brute force is the first and last line of enslavement. The threat of force is pervasive under such a system. If you don't palpably perceive the undercurrent of force in America, you're not observing very carefully. Drive too fast? Punishment ensues. Don't pay your taxes? Punishment ensues. Ingest the wrong substances? Punishment ensues. Burn a flag? Punishment ensues. Disagree with a cop? Punishment ensues. There are literally countless numbers of laws (local, state and federal) defining criminal behaviors that results in punishment. The police and military serve as the physical form of brute force in America. Yet brute force is also economic. Indeed, many times punishment is exacted financially versus physically. Unless, of course, you can't afford to pay -- then it's jail time for you! Extracting time from the enslaved is the central theme in our system of enslavement. Economics
The most important aspect of slave ownership is to efficiently extract labor from the enslaved. And to do this efficiently, the master must avoid overtly interfering with the desires of the enslaved. What better way to do this than to enforce a common currency for all slaves to use? Once the system of brute force is implemented, forcing an economic system is quite feasible. A centrally-controlled universal currency is a most efficient means of extracting labor. Once the slaves have fully accepted the currency, then all of their labor is expressed as a quantity of that currency. Put another way, time is money. Taxation is a clear form of this labor extraction, and our masters have come up with an ingenious way to extract it mostly painlessly. They force the employer to withhold the taxes from your pay before you ever see it! You see, if you had to pay the taxes out of your own pocket every quarter (like those self-employed among us) then you might feel a sting. Sure, you may look at your paycheck and wish it were more, but in fact you can't really miss what you never had. I wonder if that has any bearing on why the USA enacts policies that make being self-employed so difficult? Fines, fees, taxes and bribes are all concrete forms of extracting labor from the enslaved. But there's a more subtle form of this labor extraction . . . a most ingenious form of it. The government is capable of spending money it doesn't have through borrowing and money printing. That money (your labor) is extracted indirectly through the resulting inflation that's caused. A country's debt is the promise of future labor of the citizens. When debt rises, the enslaved are on the hook for it! Quite literally, the master spends your future time! This abstraction of labor through centrally-controlled currency is what allows the masters to generously permit you to pursue your desires. Regardless of what you pursue, the required labor will be extracted. Yet, in truth, you can't be permitted to pursue anything you desire. And that's where education comes in. Education
Once the systems of brute force and economics are firmly in place, education is the next pillar to erect. Massaging young minds to accept, without question, the authority of the masters is most important. Otherwise, they might grow up to critically analyze the status quo. Critical analysis of how things are is the bane of any system of enslavement. The masters must permit those capable slaves to educate themselves enough to be happy, productive members of society. A happy slave is a productive slave! Yet, critical thinking must be carefully crafted and controlled. Core concepts underscoring the authority and benevolence of the masters must be instilled into young minds early and reinforced regularly. This is why there's compulsory schooling in America. And the quality of that compulsory schooling is dismally poor. The goal of our schools is not to create well-educated people. It exists to create capable slaves that will happily accept the status quo and quietly contribute to the system of labor extraction. Even in the states where homeschooling is a legal alternative, the percentage of slaves participating is very small. This is likely due to the myth that homeschooling is too difficult or that only the teachers blessed by our masters have the correct skills for teaching. It’s sad, but true. This massaging of the young purposefully undermines their abilities for critical thinking. As such, their ability to choose self-fulfilling work is also undermined. What is left is what is available . . . jobs in offices doing work that they don't care about; waiting for the weekend and dreaming about the possibility of "doing their own thing" but not knowing how to get there. A great attitude from the master's point of view! Information Control
After the pillar of education comes information control. Regardless of how well educated the slaves are, they are still capable of absorbing new information. So, controlling the information that slaves receive is critically important to the stability of the system. Some systems of slavery treat information control with an iron fist. Not here in America. We relish our First Amendment right to free speech! It's important to understand that disallowing any form of speech gives that speech a martyr-like effect. Denouncing speech just gives credence to it. It's much better to allow all speech than to deny the speech unpopular with the masters. All that needs to be done is to control the majority of the information received by the slaves. Sure, a minority of slaves will speak out against the system, yet they can be systematically ignored by the master's media outlets. And if a slave is lucky enough to influence a large number of his peers, then the master's media can denounce the speech. Not overtly, of course, but through "analysis" that is based on misinformation. Most of the slaves are incapable of truly critical thought, so they accept these flawed arguments as fact. Mass media in this country is undoubtedly controlled by the masters. Have doubts? Look no further than the systematic mistreatment of promising political candidates . . . and the lack of contrary views expressed on major media outlets. Mass media serves the master. And it's not to be trusted! Illusion of Choice
The final pillar of our enslavement is the illusion of choice. No matter how well the masters spin the news or educate the young, slaves are still likely to grow discontent with the system, especially after some egregious treatment at the hands of the masters. The slaves need an outlet for this discontent. Left to foment, it would boil over into rebellion, which is precisely what the masters are trying to avoid. The solution? Elections! Every few years, the slaves are permitted to vote for other slaves to represent their interests in government. On the surface, it sounds like an ideal system. But, like so many things, the Devil's in the details. Being elected into any office (except, perhaps, very local offices) is an expensive proposition. We're talking millions of dollars here. Travel expenses, marketing expenses and staffing expenses are not to be sneezed at! Now, unless the candidate is self-funded or can get a significant grassroots funding operation together, any significant public office is just out of reach of most people. Public office is not available to most slaves. And the more people you try to represent, the more expensive the campaign to achieve your goal! This means that most candidates need significant funding from outside sources. And that funding is generally only available to those career politicians who support the status quo. Sure, these candidates have some superficial differences. Yet, at the end of the day, the available choices are much alike. Regardless of who gets voted in, the system remains intact. No real change comes. This is by design. If, by chance, there is a slave who can get enough funding and support to make a run for a prominent office, then he or she is still at the mercy of the master's media outlets! So, in reality, their chances of getting elected are essentially zero. This pillar allows the slaves to vent their frustrations, but because of their limited faculties, they are unable to detect the sham of elections for what it is. So they lurch from election to election, feeling some measure of vindication as office turnover occurs. Yet nothing really changes. It's like running on a treadmill to nowhere! Conclusion
The five pillars of brute force, economics, education, information control and illusion of choice form the most ingenious and powerful form of enslavement invented so far. The first step to changing this is to see the pillars! Only when we see them clearly can we take steps to erode their strength. What can be done about this? If you're expecting quick results, not much. This system of enslavement has been built over a long time. Eroding it will take a long time, too. My prescription is simple: 1. Pick a pillar
2. Work hard to educate your fellow slaves about it
3. Proactively undermine the pillar's foundation As I stated before, if any one of these pillars were sufficiently undermined, then the entire structure of our enslavement will come crashing down. I'd love to see this happen. I long for true freedom! Don't you? If so, then work hard to see the pillars. Work hard to erode their strength . . . only then will change happen. Only then will we glimpse true freedom! Keeping it is another matter.