What Made The Light Go On?

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The “light” goes on for different reasons – and at different times.

light goes on 1

I entered young adulthood a “small government” conservative, probably because it appeared to jibe with my instinctive dislike of being told what to do (and not do) by various authority figures.

I even did volunteer work while a college student for the second presidential campaign of the ur god of conservatism, Rrrrrrrrronald Rrrrrrreagan. But there were aspects of this patchwork utilitarian outlook that nagged at me, even as a college kid.

One of the obvious problems with “small government” conservatism is its heavy dosing of busybody-ish moral unction – the “family values” schtick, for example. (Whose family? What values?). Another is its contradictory espousal of “freedom” on the one hand (in economics – sort of – but not consistently) alongside its insistence that people conduct their personal lives a certain way . . . or (here we go again) else.

In other words, aggressive violence. Just like any other brand of statist. Different label, same high fructose-sweetened soda.

I examined the “conservative” viewpoint at closer range – and quickly discovered it to be fundamentally the same as the “liberal” viewpoint.palin pic

Worse, in a very important way. Because of principles.

Conservatism has none.

Left-liberalism is at least open and principled about its core belief in the supremacy of the Great Collective, its absolute right to use force against the individual for the sake of the Great Collective – as defined by secular “priests” – the politicians and bureaucrats – who divine this ineffable thing called the “public good.”

Conservatism does not fundamentally disagree. It just wants a bit less force used – and for different ends – though the limits are never defined, which means the application of force against the individual is  essentially limitless in principle. With conservatives, you get to the total state  – and the negation of the individual – via a different route,  and perhaps a little more slowly.

That’s all.

And so, throw “small government” conservatism in the woods.

But, back to the light coming on.Paine pic

Franklin, Jefferson – and most of all, Tom Paine. Read their stuff. They come across as pretty “chill.” You can almost hear it: Live – and let live  . . .echoing down through the ages. Their lust not to control others, but rather to respect their self-ownership and leave them be. Jefferson cohered this into the elegant phrase we’re all familiar with but which many no longer comprehend: “The pursuit of happiness.” What a fundamentally benevolent sentiment! Paine even more than Jefferson held an optimistically high opinion of his fellow men and their innate capacity to reason. This, too, was a benign view of humanity’s basic nature.  Franklin, that salty old dog, was an Epicurean, a Libertine – and a self-made man who became famous for his inventions, his wit and his earthy good fellowship. He valued industry and thrift rather than coercion and debt. He advocated for the adoption of the pacific turkey as the national bird – rather than the avaricious eagle.

Statists of the era paid Franklin, Jefferson, Paine & Co. an unintended compliment when they called them freethinkers.

Yes, exactly.

Jefferson and Paine were not, however, conscious Libertarians. They never got quite that far. But they were on that road – and pointed in the right direction. None of these men ever penned the words (or said, so far as can be determined) no aggressive violence. But it was clearly on the tip of their tongues – and pens. They came so close. Consider Jefferson’s personal anguish – as expressed both publicly as well as in his private correspondence – about the loathsomeness of slavery. Even if he didn’t act on it (though as a young man, he tried to) in his heart (and more importantly, his mind) he knew.right road pic

Despite this – and other – flaws, men like Jefferson and Paine and Franklin, too are arguably John the Baptist figures of humanity’s slow-turning but hopefully inevitable evolution away from aggressive violence in all its forms.

And I owe them a debt for helping me to start thinking along those lines . . .

Mencken’s another.

His jeering contempt for what he called “uplifters” (in the South, the species is known by the sobriquet, Yankee) was Jefferson and Paine extrapolated. The Sage of Baltimore cut through the “flapdoodle” – as he put it – noting that “uplifting” always came at gunpoint. Paid for with other people’s money –  and at the cost of everyone’s liberty, including those allegedly “helped.” If one man can be enslaved – to whatever degree – for the benefit of another man, then any man may be enslaved, the degree to which ever increasing as inevitably as the progression of tooth decay.

Look around. Is it not so today?self ownership

But – like many – it was Rand who poured gas on my fire. She wasn’t the first to systematize the philosophy of liberty, but hers were the first works I read that did. She refused to countenance any infringement upon the sovereign I.  We each own ourselves – and no one owns (and thus has no right to control) anyone else.

Everything follows from this.

The scales fell from my eyes.

I sought out others – Bastiat, Leonard Read (FEE, for those who remember that outfit), Spooner . . . all the classics. And came to know the “Occam’s Razor” of the non-aggression principle (NAP). This is the ethical notion – the principle – that you are obliged to leave other people be. And they, you. Or at least, do them no harm – provided they’ve done no harm to you first. This is a simple but also extremely profound doctrine.

No first-use of violence. don't steal or hit!

It is an elegantly coherent and consistent principle that cleaves the ethically justifiable from the ethically not-justifiable.

At a stroke, it parses – it shames – the subjective, ends-justifies-the-means thinking (rationalizing, really) of the Left and Right. It eviscerates the demagogic, emotional verbiage used so effectively by both conservatives and liberals to undermine and (ultimately) outright destroy human liberty.

It is the means by which to reject them both – and thus, to defeat them.

You do it by confronting them with the violence they so casually and elliptically but relentlessly espouse. By not allowing them to hide behind smarmy euphemisms (e.g., “our” children) nor allowing yourself to get caught up in a debate about efficiencies, whether so-and-so deserves to be “helped” (or not). Hitler built great highways; Stalin great industrial plants  – both of them over the dead bodies of millions of victims.Voluntaryism pic

Never let them evade the murder and mayhem they live by.

Their vulnerability to such a direct challenge of their nostrums is immense.

Consider: Most people already embrace the NAP on a person-to-person level. They  avoid doing wrong things – like attacking other people or taking their stuff – because they know it’s not right. 

If the organized gang called government disappeared tomorrow, most people would not become thieves, or rape their neighbor’s wife. 

Most people would (per Paine) behave decently – not commit aggressive violence – because most people already instinctively follow the non-aggression principle in their everyday dealings. And not out of fear of punishment or because “it’s the law.”

They act decently because it’s the right thing to do.

This is a powerful weapon.    

How many of you reading this would personally waltz over to your neighbor’s home and threaten him with violence in order to compel him to give you money – or “help” you or “fund” some project you deemed worthy? No, of course not. You might ask for your neighbor’s cooperation – or his help. In a friendly, non-threatening way. Understanding – and accepting – that he has every right to say no. And that you have no right to take things further, by force.

Yet – “because government” – a depressingly large number of otherwise decent people feel at ease doing violence to their neighbors, provided someone else does it for them. When these otherwise decent people don’t have to confront the ugliness of it.

Of themselves

Think about this – and the light just might come on for you, too.

Throw it in the Woods?

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84 COMMENTS

  1. Rothbard. It took Rothbard slapping me around for me to finally leave the LP mindset and forget politics and embrace a world sans politics. I dont care if politics or governments are here or not. I will run my life via NAP. And the funny part is I have jury “duty” next month.
    I digress.

          • Love Floyd, beautiful
            Use to visit Chateau Morrisette for their jazz festivals

            Brother now has some well hidden property there and visit for the off the grid life.

            Originally from Roanoke now in NC

            Great article and have had the lights on for a couple of years

            • It is nice up here, Patrick!

              We’re about two miles off the Parkway; about 30 minutes from Chateau Morrisette and Tuggles Gap (locals will know this great little dive; highly recommend to any bikers traveling the Parkway).

              My big worry is that the word’s getting out – and “yankees” are going to ruin the place. I mean people coming from urban/suburban areas who find the area scenic and all that, move in, and then get busy trying to turn the area into what they moved away from.

              The older I get, the more I come to gloomy conclusion that liberty is proportional to population density. The greater the density, the less liberty there is. Because as population increases, almost like a mathematical axiom, the number of Clovers in the area also increases.

          • The older I get, the more I come to gloomy conclusion that liberty is proportional to population density. The greater the density, the less liberty there is. Because as population increases, almost like a mathematical axiom, the number of Clovers in the area also increases.

            100% true, Eric. Also, you start to deal with “mob mentality.” “The Mob” has no mind of its own. It is easily swayed by emotions, and I’ve noticed that the mob – whether it be a church congregation, democrat rally, Occupy Wallstreet, et al – it’s almost exponential or geometric growth of power. It’s dangerous, in a very bad way.

            Whereas, in a small community or group, a voice of reason can assert itself – in a Mob situation, with anonymity, the mob will kill the voice of reason if they cannot shut him up.
            Just as a herd drives away the sick and deranged.

            So we must sadly be ready to scrap these people…. For the good of thae PACK, if you will. For freedom to flourish, there can be NO mob mentality.

            The Mob Fears. The Mob emotes. It Reacts, often violently. (Best example, Philadelphia some time back, when they WON – I believe the world series – and then rioted and destroyed THEIR OWN CITY. )

            Time for a PURGE….
            A brief hunt, or a Warpath “festival” by a few Hannibals.

            Hunt the wolves who wear sheep’s skins. Won’t change much, from our view – but WE know who the enemies are. The herd isn’t smart enough to figure it out – they think WE are the enemies.

            and we just want to be left the F_CK alone. The Herd cannot tolerate that – and the less they know us, the MORE they need to CONTROL us. Population desnity makes it impossible for them to know us… So they only know themselves, and they are weak, and afraid, and vulnerable – so they must appear to be STRONG, BRAVE, and INVULNERABLE, CAPABLE in EVERY way.
            Because if they look like prey animals, then they’ll be eaten, they think.

            When I was “wealthy,” about a decade ago…. I’d inherited a good sum of money, see, I had a good stake in the bank and in investments – I could donate freely to charities, I could help the beggar on the street, I could loan friends money at zero interest and not worry about when I’d be paid back.
            then I went through a financial collapse, ending in bankruptcy, foreclosure, reposessions.
            Now I’m the nastiest SOB on the planet when it comes to money. No charity, no loans, no donations, no helping the beggars. I have to make sure I can eat, and there were days I didn’t know if I’d have food. I had to borrow money from my parents to keep heat on in winter.

            Only the STRONG have the POWER to be weak.
            Only those WITH control can relinquish control.
            Only those who face their fears can overcome them.

            You have to HAVE the qualities FIRST. Clovers et al do not HAVE these abilities, so it’s like a retard (ant head – look it up) limiting Einstein’s education – and then they get angry when Einstein overcomes that imposed limitation.

            I do not resent, for example, Trump, for being wealthy. Nor the Clintons, nor oNigger.
            It’s not the WEALTH.
            It’s their DISHONEST METHODS OF GETTING THERE – which, so far as I know, means Trump comes out smelling like a daisy. (Can’t be a rose, but he doesnt’ stink, even if he wasn’t as nice as he could’ve been in his deals: everyone got what they were looking for, it was honest. So far as I know.)
            But the Clintons? I WISH I was as poor as they were on leaving the white house! I could LIVE with that kind of “broke”!

            JUST as examples….

            The HErd must either do what it’s told, or be culled for its (and our) own good. Clover is a cancer. But the cancer is contagious. And emotionally, it infects instantaneously, and grows inside the host, and feeds on itself….
            And it will kill us for being “resistant.”

            Time for pre-emptive antibiotics. Chlorine in the shallow end of the gene pool…. 🙁 And it doesn’t end well for us, but it ends better than allowing Clovers to overpopulate the world and consume us.

          • Eric,

            Re: liberty is proportional to population density

            Do you mean inversely proportional? (ie as pop increases; freedom decreases and as pop decreases; freedom increases)

            If so, it may be due in part to less places for leeches to hide out in a lower population scenario. Everyone needs to pull their weight or they cannot survive. As population increases it becomes easier for some people to live of the work of others while providing little (if anything) of value in return.

  2. It took me quite a while, and the long way around. I am still not where many of you are, and may never be.
    In the mid-80’s my Dad gave me a Christian magazine. In that mag was an ad for a book I wanted. I ordered it, and a catalog came with it. In that catalog I discovered Gary North. Life went on, but eventually GN led me to Lew Rockwell. Then a few years late, LRC led to EPA. QED.

  3. semper fi would translate as – I always fi.
    Because fi doesn’t translate.

    You could add a period between each word.
    Since fi by itself is an interjection
    meaning bah! or pooh! and
    and semper by itself means always

    semper. fi! – always. bah!
    semper? fi fete! – always? if nearly!

    Perhaps adding another letter would help?
    semper fia – always knives
    semper fib – always The Forum
    semper fic – always so
    semper fid – always a pro
    semper fidens – always confident
    semper fiducia est- always trust
    semper fie – always took place
    semper fif – always Fife
    semper fig – I always figure
    semper fiji – always Fiji
    semper filius est – always a son
    semper fim – always base
    semper fimus – always swept away
    semper fin – I always end
    semper finis – I always end
    semper finitimus – always unrelated
    semper fio – always made
    semper fir – always firm
    semper firmo – always strong

    semper finitimus est – it is always near
    semper fi in die est venit – if the day ever comes

    • “Because fi doesn’t translate. ”

      fi is short for fidelis

      fidelis is “true” “loyal” or “faithful.”

      Semper Fidelis is “always/forever true/loyal/faithful”

      I’m guessing you knew that but were just joking around.

  4. Is it not interesting that so many new Libertarians/NAPers have come from the US military?

    It is like the old saying about Christian schools making great Christians but even better atheists.

    I once had a delayed insight: every enlisted man I ever knew hated being forced to participate in the mind numbing Change of Command ceremonies, the mutual self worshiping rituals of pompous ass-bag officers. The universal – and correct – enlisted view being that officers are asshat pricks.

    Yet these same troops would obey without conscience whatever orders these same ass-bag officers would command them to do. By what right does one man have to tell another man when he should kill/die? By what moral compass does one man agree to comply to such “orders”?

    Authoritah is a curious beast.

    • Skunk, there’s a big difference between officers and soldiers. Officers have not only been trained to lead and be superior, they’re already the kind of person that wants to control others and have an in-built superiority complex. The only reason a soldier salutes an officer is because he MUST, under military law.

      Officers are trained in a “corporate” manner. They separate themselves both physically and in classification from those they order around. They’re often despised because they act in a manner that wholly deserves it. Nobody likes saluting and following the orders of an arsehole.

      It’s a rare person that’s an officer and is saluted because he’s a good bloke. I’ve been lucky to have two of these officers in my various platoons.

      Soldiers are trained to follow orders and ensure the enemy dies for his country. He also has a moral compass that at times comes into conflict with such orders and, I believe that a part of PTSD revolves around this.

      Most soldiers joined the military either as a need to serve a higher purpose, or simply because he likes messing around with guns. I joined years ago for the latter and also because I liked parachuting. But some 80% of the orders I didn’t like, because they were either pointless make-busy or so grossly inefficient I couldn’t believe a human could ever conceive them.

      Authority is a curious beast, but in the Army you either carry them out without question or go to military jail – and from having seen such a thing first hand through prisoners in this area, NOBODY would EVER want to end up here. It’s worse than civil jail.

      • I came this close to signing up for ROTC/OCS while in college… because (like you) I was attracted to the physical thrill (I was interested in becoming a pilot). Thank Elvis, my instinctive aversion to screeching authority figures made me think twice before signing up.

        • You also would have been subjected to a lifetime full of “thank you for your service” comments that you would know in your heart were BS.

          Good for you for not joining.

          • It was a bullet dodged!

            Still, wish I’d found time to learn to fly… have to settle for two and four-wheeled fun, I guess!~

  5. 10,000 nudists, free spirits calling themselves the Rainbow Family are gathering now in Uinta National Forest, Utah
    http://news.yahoo.com/chinas-sheyang-county-says-funds-protected-rumors-spark-010251702–sector.html

    US Rainbow Gather Montana 2013
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAl41EK2Kd0

    We love you, from the cockles of our heart – Rainbows
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Wu4H-d_kAI

    Rainbow Family of Living Light
    http://www.standard.net/Recreation/2014/06/19/Rainbow-Family-to-gather-in-northern-Utah-forest.html

    Rainbow Gathering
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_Gathering

    Rainbows are all non-members who decide only through the consensus process
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consensus

      • You may be right about the current tribes. Especially those seeking forced imposition of LGBT or environmental agendas.

        We will co-exist with them in peace. While demonstrating the way of true peace. Our tribe will have many differing yet harmonious values than the current Rainbows.

        Free picnic in appreciation of first responders
        http://posttrib.suntimes.com/news/neighbors/22375949-418/center-hosts-picnic-for-first-responders.html

        Rainbow Gathering, Cuba, NM 2009
        http://flashingonthesixties.com/prints/1079-2/

        Russian Rainbow Family Gathering
        http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-russian-rainbow-family-gathering-image19249620

        The Rainbows are an expression of a Utopian impulse, combining bohemianism, hipster, and hippie culture. It’s roots are clearly traceable to the counterculture of the 1960s.

        Mainstream society is commonly referred to and viewed as “Babylon”, a term from the Christian New Testament connoting the participants’ widely held belief that modern lifestyles and systems of government are unhealthy, unsustainable, exploitative and out of harmony with the natural systems of the planet.

        The original Rainbow Gathering was in 1972, and has been held annually in the United States from July 1 through 7 every year on National Forest land.

        – Welcome to NAP Agora Rainbows. We welcome you. Preppers, survivalists, peaceful sovereigns, seditionists, anarchists. Even drug users, nudists, fugitive non-aggressing criminals.

        All peaceful countercultural individuals will find a home in our tribe. We accept you as you are, and have no wish to impose or trespass against you.

  6. There’s never really been an “ah-ha” moment, just a bunch of chinks in the armor.

    I think it maybe it started with the TV show M*A*S*H. There’s a healthy dose of anti-war, anti-establishment and what has become subversive thinking in just about every episode, especially the early years. Looking back, how we ended up where we worship “heroes” and put up with the TSAs shenanigans (and thank them for the “privilege”) is just crazy. I mean MASH was a top 10 show for a decade, and it wasn’t just because there wasn’t anything else on. Every afternoon in the 1980s it was on in reruns, I used to watch it while doing my homework. I forget how to do algebra, but I know that the powerful and power seeking are usually fools and blowhards who don’t know anything.

    The next big thing that comes to mind is the 1st “Golf War.” You’ll remember Saddam Hussein’s boarder dispute with Kuwait escalated to an international effort to keep the lines on the map from changing. Bush the first hyped up the war like he was going to put a ton of troops on the ground, and that the Iraqi army was this elite fighting force, having been hardened in the war with Iran. I was unemployed at the time, watching a lot of TV and afraid of being drafted. I learned a lot about marketing and politics when it turned out to be all a bunch of bullshit.

    Finally, I think Bush V Gore and the circus in Florida was the last straw. I couldn’t tell the difference between them. Apparently neither could anyone else. It was the perfect storm of modern political theatre meets 24/7 news cycle. Pointed out the fallacy of attempting to run a statically pure poll (which the founding fathers knew about, which is why they created the electoral college to choose the president instead of using a population poll). Really showed us who’s in charge in this country, and just how foolish we all are.

    After all that I was ready for Ron Paul’s message.

    • Dear EG.

      “There’s never really been an “ah-ha” moment… ”

      Ditto. For me it was also a gradual, cumulative process. One minarchist premise after another failed to live up to its theoretical foundation. Over time, it became impossible not to acknowledge that “limited government” based on “constitutionalism and the rule of law,” was a fraud that must by its nature trample over peoples’ natural rights and individual liberty from the very outset.

      The absurdity of “constitutions” becomes glaringly obvious once one rewords the historical process in plain language, instead of couching it in Latinate legalisms.

      To wit:

      A bunch of people are living in a certain geographical region. A few of them decide to form a “government.” They hold a meeting, and glorify it by calling it a “constitutional convention.” They make up a bunch of rules, write them down on paper, and glorify it by calling it “The Constitution.” They draw a line on the map, and glorify it by calling it their “territorial jurisdiction.”

      They then tell everyone inside that line “Guess what? We just made up a bunch of rules that you will now have to obey. Oh, and by the way, you will have to pay us money, the amount to be determined by us, once a year from now until the day you die.”

      The proper response to this of course is “Huh?” followed by “Fuuuuuck you!!!”

  7. The important thing to realise is that in most democratic countries, the Right of politics exists as little more than a form of “controlled opposition” to the Left. The purpose is simple. If the only alternative to outright socialism is so morally compromised and inconsistent, then there is no real way of opposing the growth of state control and social engineering.

    In many countries there is an established pattern where conservatives only come to power when socialist administrations wreck the economy or otherwise drive things off the cliff. When in office the conservatives do little or nothing to roll back government, the welfare state etc. They merely make some changes to effectively ensure that the system is more sustainable, thus saving socialism from its own excesses. The socialists then get back into office once the minimum time has elapsed for voters to forget about their past failures. Thus conservatism acts as a temporary safety valve/protest when the failures of socialism become too apparent, but they never really change any fundamental dynamics.

    I have often been surprised at the silly tactical mistakes conservative parties make. But then I realised that this is deliberate. Their real purpose is to support the Left, not to defeat them.

    • Dear Nick,

      Dead on.

      This wasn’t quite so obvious at one time. But the last several administrations have confirmed it.

      Bush Sr. / Clinton / Bush Jr. / Obama

      Not to mention the entire cast of 2012 Republican Party candidates. Except for Ron Paul, his GOP primary rivals could just as well have been Democrats.

  8. I can’t claim that it was any scholarly book or essay that turned the light on for me. Rather, when learning history as a child in school I quickly noticed that the bulk of it consisted of people being butchered by governments in a seemingly endless string of bloody wars and domestic purges. I started wondering why anyone in their right mind listened to these bloodthirsty rulers and did anything they said. It just did not make any sense to me. Then add in an early interest in science fiction which led to Robert Heinlein’s “subversive” stories that had a strong libertarian bent.

    All this lead to an early distaste and contempt for the State as an institution which persists to this day.

    • JASON, “…learning history as a child in school I quickly noticed that the bulk of it consisted of people being butchered by governments in a seemingly endless string of bloody wars and domestic purges. I started wondering why anyone in their right mind listened to these bloodthirsty rulers and did anything they said. It just did not make any sense to me.”

      Although it took me thirty years to learn the lessons you described per governments, ironically I reached the same conclusions about religions, especially Christianity (I was raised to be such), in the first day of Sunday school.

  9. What Made The Light Go On for me was reading Henry David Thoreau in high school. “Emerson missed the point of Thoreau’s protest, which was not intended to reform society but was a simple act of conscience. If we do not distinguish right from wrong, Thoreau argued that we will eventually lose the capacity to make that distinction and become, instead, morally numb.” … Thoreau as a Lone Crazy

    • Did you see the leaked TISA agreement yet? Disgusting.
      https://wikileaks.org/tisa-financial/

      But back to what makes the light go on.

      Light is a form of energy released by atoms. It’s made up of many small particle-like packets that have energy and momentum but no mass.

      These packets of particles, called light photons, are the most basic units of light. The atoms in a light bulb’s filament release light photons when their electrons become excited.

      The atoms of a filament’s electrons have different levels of energy, depending on several factors, speed and distance from the nucleus being most important.

      Electrons of different energy levels occupy different orbitals. Generally speaking, electrons with greater energy move in orbitals farther away from the nucleus. When filament atoms gain or lose energy, the change is expressed by the movement of electrons. The bulb appears to brighten or dim.

      When something passes energy on to an atom, an electron may be temporarily boosted to a higher orbital (farther away from the nucleus). The electron only holds this position for a tiny fraction of a second; almost immediately, it is drawn back toward the nucleus, to its original orbital.

      As it returns to its original orbital, the electron releases the extra energy in the form of a photon, in the case of light bulb filaments, some quantity of light photons.

      Light bulbs are quite simple. At the base, there’s two metal contacts, which connect to the ends of an electrical circuit. The metal contacts are attached to two stiff wires, which are attached to a thin metal filament.

      The filament sits in the middle of the bulb, held up by a glass mount. The wires and the filament are housed in a glass bulb, which is filled with an inert gas, usually argon.

      When the bulb is powered up, an electric current flows from one contact to the other, through the wires and the filament. Electric current in a solid conductor is the mass movement of free electrons (electrons that are not tightly bound to an atom) from a negatively charged area to a positively charged area.

      Electrons zip along through the filament, constantly bumping into the atoms that make up the filament. The energy of each impact vibrates an atom – the current heats the atoms up.

      A thinner conductor heats up more easily than a thicker conductor because it is more resistant to the movement of electrons.

      Bound electrons in the vibrating atoms may be boosted temporarily to a higher energy level. When they fall back to their normal levels, the electrons release the extra energy in the form of photons.

      Metal atoms release mostly infrared light photons, which are invisible to the human eye. But if they are heated to a high enough level — around 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit (2,200 degrees C) in the case of a light bulb — they will emit a good deal of visible light.

      The filament in a light bulb is made of a long, incredibly thin length of tungsten metal. In a typical 60-watt bulb, the tungsten filament is about 6.5 feet (2 meters) long but only one-hundredth of an inch thick.

      The tungsten is arranged in a double coil in order to fit it all in a small space. That is, the filament is wound up to make one coil, and then this coil is wound to make a larger coil. In a 60-watt bulb, the coil is less than an inch long.

      Tungsten is used in nearly all incandescent light bulbs because it is an ideal filament material. In the next section, we’ll find out why this is, and we’ll examine the role of the glass bulb and inert gas.

      The wavelength of the light emitted by the bulb, which determines its color, depends on how much energy is released, which depends on the particular position of the electron.

      As a result, different sorts of atoms release different sorts of light photons. The color of the light is determined by what kind of atom is excited.

      This basic mechanism is at work in nearly all light sources. The main difference between these sources is the way in which the atoms are excited.

  10. Free trade in finished goods breaks down on a global scale? Yet, if the states of the U.S. were sovereign jurisdictions – as they essentially were at one time – they would trade just as facilely and as effectively in finished goods as they do now. There’s no principle in economics that refutes the benefits of commercial trade – regardless of political borders, whether among the 50 states of the U.S. or among the sovereign nations of the world. What “political” goal is thwarted by the “economics” of trade?

  11. “Protectionists […] believe that wealth consists of particular domestic industries with high-paying jobs; they want to defend those industries and jobs from foreign competition. But high-paying jobs don’t just fall from the sky; they emerge from the process of market discipline that encourages ever-increasing productivity. By shielding producers from market discipline, protectionists interfere with and undermine the wealth-creating process that ultimately produces high-paying jobs.” … Are you an “economic nationalist”?

  12. “It is robbery, not free markets, that actually follows the mercantilist model: the robber benefits at the expense of the coerced. Exploitation occurs not in the free market, but where the coercer exploits his victim. In the long run, coercion is a negative-sum game that leads to reduced production, saving, and investment, a depleted stock of capital, and reduced productivity and living standards for all, perhaps even for the coercers themselves.” … What Is the Free Market?

  13. I had read Rand, and while some of her ideas are solid, the presentation makes her come across as a kook. 40-page long speeches in which Howard Roark goes on and on — was it really necessary?

    But what really got me to change was listening to Harry Browne talk during his presidential campaign in 2000. Changed my party affiliation the next week.

  14. “Mercantilism is the default setting for most people. It is based on trust in state power. As I have put it, it is faith in the economic productivity of men with badges and guns.

    I have never had any illusions about persuading people who trust in the creativity of badges and guns. The universal trust in state power in every area of life is an extension of what I call the power religion. It is the religion of every empire.

    Free trade means free choice. Power-lovers hate free choice, so they hate free trade.” … Free trade is the litmus test of economic reasoning.

  15. It was late 1991 and I was becoming very disillusioned with Bush 41 as he had previously signed the Clean Air Act of 1990 and the ADA (which I didn’t really care about, but still…). The country was in a recession and I was out of a job and then in a job that paid 30 percent less than before. I had to move 800 miles away, something that I have kept doing for the last 20 or so years.

    Pat Buchanan began running for president and I decided to support his run in the primaries. In early 1992, I was listening to a local radio show to this guy who had a property rights group. He talked about his dealings with the Army Corps of Engineers and the land management bureau. After attending one or two meetings, an older gentleman pulled me aside and talked about the whole way the government was run by elites in the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations. He showed me their stated goals. He told me to stop listening to Rush Limbaugh and start hearing other viewpoints. One of those was Chuck Harder. After listening to the program, I knew that my politics had changed from a Big R republican to a paleo conservative/libertarian type. Harder showed the fallacy of free trade while my instincts guided me towards more an isolationist view on foreign policy. My views on social issues have changed over time. I JUST DON’T GIVE A FRIGGING RIP about pro choice/anti choice or gay marriage. Those issues are meant more for people who give a crap and should be relegated to the individual or the smallest feasible unit of government.

    I will NEVER be a libertarian as they do not have a realistic grasp on the concept that free trade for finished goods and services (yes, I said that too) breaks down on the global level. It’s okay to trade for bananas and oil, but we should make our own shit. In 1970, we made over 80 percent of what we bought. Today, it is around a third. Over 102 million eligible people remain unemployed today as a result of two decades of back to back trade deficits and factory closures. When the hell will people say enough is enough.

    All that said, I think it’s too late. The American public is too stupid to know and care what is really going on. I give up.

    • RE: “Over 102 million eligible people remain unemployed today as a result of two decades of back to back trade deficits and factory closures.”

      Rather, the unemployment is due to minimum wage laws, taxes, fiat currency creation, and a multitude of regulations and protectionist measures. The trade deficits and factory closures were just a symptom.

      Free trade does not break down on the global level, it’s the guvnverment intervention you’re noticing.

      “I have sympathy for the plight of people whose interests have been hurt by foreign competition. If I had a friend in such a position, I would do what I could to help him. But when those so hurt contend that they should be able to employ the law to deny me the opportunity to freely trade with anyone I wish, my sympathy for them evaporates. At that point, they have become extortionists.” … Free Trade… or Foul?

      • Dear helot,

        ” The trade deficits and factory closures were just a symptom.”

        Correctamundo!

        Take trade deficits. If one understands Austrian economics, one knows that the alarm over them truly is Chicken Little nonsense. Let me rebut it using shorthand.

        Say Peter buys a car from Paul. Paul sets a selling price. Peter either accepts the price and buys it, or rejects the price and walks away. If he buys it, it means he considered the price acceptable, and is now the proud owner of a car he wanted. Paul meanwhile, has moved his inventory, and is equally happy.

        The protectionist however, goes into a tizzy. “But what about the huge trade deficit between Peter and Paul? Paul has a 30K trade surplus! Peter has a 30K trade deficit! Peter bought something from Paul. He paid him a lot of money. But Paul didn’t buy anything from Peter. That means Peter got gypped, right?

        Wrong!

        Nobody got gypped. Both got what they wanted. Peter got the car he wanted. Paul got the sale he wanted. The “trade deficit” problem is a bullshit non-problem.

  16. That would be nice Escher. Why don’t we form it right here right now.

    We can call it NAPland.

    This is something to do, after the light goes on. And you’ve met other likeminded people with similar lights.

    To live in NAPland, you’ll need an analog of everything you now have. An mailing address. A physical address. A way to instantly contact you. Some of us will want to remain anonymous throughout this.

    At a minimum. We all have emails. We all have a website or a free wordpress blog where we can “live” in full view of each other. Over time, a few dwellings, then a neighborhood, then a village. Might need a calendar. Marketing info. Guidelines.

    An IP packet agora can form right before our eyes. Trillions of packets can be exchanged eventually, we’ll transact more packets than the Fed reserve prints notes even.

    We’ll choose our online names. They can be similar to our real names, but need not be identical. Maybe a nickname for a first name, and your middle name, for a last name is easiest to remember.

    Choose a form of money. Small denomination prepaid gift cards are probably best.

    Choose a card
    http://usa.visa.com/personal/personal-cards/prepaid-cards/buy-online.jsp

    Use the card on paypal and Amazon
    https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/template-management/prepaid-gift-cards

    Share and learn from each other what we buy. How, where, when, and why we buy things. I like to track what everything costs by ounce or other objective measure so I can keep tabs on what’s happening pricewise .

    We can share fitness and medical regimens and other important info. We are the people and opportunity we’ve been waiting for. Why not act now.

    Keep an agenda. Minutes. Make future plans. Track progress. If we start tomorrow, before we know it, we’ll be big enough to build our own roads. We’ll just hand over our mafia payment and otherwise drop out of forced civilizaton altogether.

    We’ll want to develop common experiences and skills as a group. You can develop all the prepper skills you need, even if you can only afford 1% of your true prepping needs.

    If the SHTF does move nearer to the fan, you’ll be well versed in the details, and you can just max out your credit, or do something drastic to buy what you need in a hurry on the fly.

    If millions of us are prepped, chances are it will be unnecessary. It’s Murphy’s law that whatever emergencies you’re prepared for usually don’t happen.

    We don’t have to be stereotypical preppers. Just share with each other how our households function in general. Give advice on what can be eliminated. What can be simplified. We can all benefit from that I’m sure.

    Choose our roles and phyles/factions. If we do a thought experiment of what we need, we can go to Uruguay in our minds. And do group drills and shared exercises that would be needed to prepare and thrive in a new environment.

    Maybe somewhere down the road, we start Eric’s Gulch or something, where we meet and re-enact the last chapter of Atlas Shrugged, but for real. Or Heinlein, is also good.

    The Vikings Were Libertarians
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/2002/06/roderick-t-long/the-vikings-were-libertarians/

    Anarchism in Iceland
    http://www.anarchy.no/iceland1.html

    Intentional Community – promoting cooperative culture
    http://www.ic.org/

  17. How did I get here?
    In the 1980s and early 1990s I read Car & Driver.
    Then in the 1990s I started following usenet groups, auto groups primarily. Further research from those debates and discussions showed me various government frauds. Altered studies on the speed limits, cheating on statistics, etc and so forth. I also read Hemmings Motor News articles online in the era of the early web. (HMN would run a number of the articles for free online, including the legislation columns) All of this combined opened my eyes to how things really worked. From there I saw the scams in other things. Once you can see them, it’s clear.

    Now naturally I simply found the use of coercion abhorrent. It started as a child in the government schools. An institution that failed me more times that I can remember. This is where I learned I was on my own, government would not and could not protect me.

    So here I am, I know the government lies and manipulates. I know they don’t protect us. I know they are trying to steal from us at every turn. I hate coercion.

    As my readings expanded on the ever growing web I found LRC. First read a little, found it rather radical but sensible. Then read more and more until all the pieces I had in my head finally fit together properly with the missing ones filled in.

    It was also nice to learn there were other people who think like me. Everyone I know is ‘D’ or ‘R’, but my friends are open minded enough to be friendly about political things. I’ve just become the ‘dirty harry’…. you know the scene… Harry hates everybody…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnRkCemeV7k

  18. One way for free thinkers to put their ideas into practice could be for a large enough group to set up a NAP-based community in a small place that is below the radar of the powers that be. Uruguay sounds nice, but is probably not a good option any more since they legalized marijuana and attracted the wrong kind of attention.

    • The Galt’s Gulch scenario is the shimmering oasis just over the horizon… but it’ll take something like a new (and unanswerable) defensive weapon to make it safe from them.

    • ESCHER, “…but is probably not a good option any more since they legalized marijuana and attracted the wrong kind of attention.”

      Please clarify what you mean here. Are you against legalized marijuana? Thanks.

      • Au contraire. I was just saying that the busybodies in the UN and Uncle Sam are not happy about Uruguay’s decision and are likely going to pay more attention to what goes on there.

        • Dear Escher,

          Have you spent any time at The Daily Bell?

          There you’ll find there that ‘The Powers That Be’ have decided legalization is the wave of the future. It will spread across the land like a seatbelt law.

          Gawd is that ever going to get a bunch a people to get their panties in a bunch. And that does Not include the busybodies in the UN and Uncle Sam, they are OK fine by that.
          They have an agenda, don’tchya know?

  19. As a child, I quickly learned what others required of me, simply because it benefited them – compliance. The next step was to do as required until I learned enough of the situation where I could become a spanner in the works, where a “no” meant they couldn’t enforce their will any further, because when pressed, their explanation would ultimately lead to their exposure as selfish bastards.

    As a teenager, and as teenagers do, I was rather recalcitrant in any compliance, but still managed to become that spanner in the works when things went too far.

    I’m surprised I managed to survive 7 years in the Army, where orders were simply that, no matter how silly or pointless make-busy they were.

    That experience taught me to question every motive, and the answer is still the same. Comply because we want control, to have power over you and do as we wish, to take your money, to make more rules to ensure more control and make more money. Your non-compliance will show others our weakness, so we must stifle your freedom of expression, movement and life.

    No more. I am that spanner in the works and, I like it here.

  20. Eric,
    Outstanding article. I will print out and give to my “Conservative Republican” co-worker and watch him go purple!!!
    By the way, the book that allowed an unimpeded flow to my Existential Libertarian neurons, was Frederic Bastiat’s little pamphlet “The Law”. When I realized after reading this that 9/10ths of the laws we have on the books violate the basic principle of protecting Life, Liberty and the Personal Private Property of each INDIVIDUAL human being, with anything beyond this being UNLAWFUL, I had a tremendous (almost spiritual!!) AHA moment. Mix in the “Gun in the belly” attitude of almost ALL government entities nowadays, and you come to the realization that we are on the cusp of tyranny in this country. When I retired in 2009 from The Corps, and moved back to America here, I honestly did not recognize it, and felt I was a “Stranger In a Strange Land”. Every time I re-enlisted I took an oath to protect this land from enemies both without and within. I soon came to realize after retirement, that we had few enemies without and mostly within. I am now considered a potential terrorist according to DHS…you got to be kidding me. PLS my fellow Americans WAKE UP!!
    Eric keep on trucking bro. Eventually enough light bulbs will come on…at least I hope so.
    Semper Fi
    AJ

    • Dear AJ,

      As a Marine, you may enjoy this classic speech by Marine Corp Major General Smedley Butler, two time recipient of the Medal of Honor. He came to many of the same conclusions as you about “service.”

      War is a Racket
      http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4377.htm

      Note: Butler refers to “capitalism” in his speech. Clearly he means “crony capitalism” or “corporatism”

        • Dear Tor,

          I agree. I don’t understand why any libertarian would slam this highly principled forum. What is there to slam, really? What has anyone on this forum said or done that is so awful?

          Why nothing!

          America is being plunged into darkness. It has become a police state. Ordinary people who merely wish to live their lives in peace, unmolested, can now be gunned down by LEOs with total impunity.

          Many of the individuals who read this forum and leave comments, are doing whatever they can to defend our vanishing liberties. They are championing peaceful cooperation and the total rejection of aggression. What is there to slam about that?

          This forum has contributed substantially to the defense of liberty in America, and continues to do so, week after week. That is why LRC links to it. That is why after stumbling across it several years ago, I have considered it a forum worthy of participating in, as much as time allows.

          Sure, like any human community, there may be internal frictions. There may be an occasional petty squabble. There may be personality clashes.

          But so what? BFD!

          Isn’t what truly matters higher principles such as human rights and individual liberty?

          Mike From Wichita already tried to pass for libertarian, then strike from within when the opportunity arose. Basically he was a mole planted in our midst. Nothing new. The fibbers do that with militia groups all the time.

          He is not the first person to attempt this, nor will he be the last.

          But what he and anyone else who tries this doesn’t realize, is that larger forces are at work. Tricks such as these will at best delay, not prevent the inevitable march of humanity toward greater liberty.

          • @Bevin,
            thanks for the thoughtful response.

            i’ve concluded all of us are part clover and part market participant seeking a profitable solution.

            each of us land somewhere on a continuum with somedays being better than otherdays.

            any and all humans are welcome in our agora, provided they obey house rules.

            if their bid or ask be within strike price range, one of us will transact with them. if not, their ideas and proposals will remain unrequited, and given the response of: No Sale.

            we are antifragile – meaning: the more we’re stressed and attacked, the better we become.

            Taleb and 31,506 anti-fragilistas are here
            http://www.reddit.com/r/PhilosophyofScience

            David there are 984 of you here
            http://www.reddit.com/r/christiananarchism/
            David there are 323 of you here
            http://www.reddit.com/r/christian_ancaps/

            DR there are 563 of you here
            http://www.reddit.com/r/peakoil/

            Mama there are 12,773 gun lovers here
            http://www.reddit.com/r/progun

            Garysco there are 58,775 badge deniers here
            http://www.reddit.com/r/Bad_Cop_No_Donut/

            Bevin there are 20,615 SOA nomads here
            http://www.reddit.com/r/Sonsofanarchy/

            This might be the best page out of all 1.41 billion pages on the internet. No one is preventing it from being so anyway.

            Sure we’re outnumbered. Somewhere there are hordes of huddled masses sharing ideas about: How Can We Make the Light Go Out?

            Fuster clucks on Cloversquests to make Earth hour into Earth Century.

            Populist anti-intellectual zealots imagining a zero-emission content-free dark-net run with human hamster-wheels that’s an infinite egalitarian triumph over the current internet.

          • Dear Tor,

            “we are antifragile – meaning: the more we’re stressed and attacked, the better we become. ”

            You are so very right.

            I saw a movie many years ago, back in the 60s or 70s, called “The Battle of Algiers.”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Battle_of_Algiers

            What struck me about the film, and of course, the actual historical events depicted, in simulated documentary style, was how when the French colonialist/imperialists cracked down on the Algerian rebels, the harsher their crackdown the more intense the reaction and more determined the rebellion.

            Until of course, the attrition was simply unsustainable and the French were forced to evacuate.

            In the case of America, it all depends on whether the Amerikanische Schaffenmenschen can overcome their sheep conditioning and reject the myth of authority.

            If they can, then victory is not even in doubt. If they can’t, then nothing will change.

    • ANTHONY, I found your experiences to be somewhat similar to mine. I especially link in with Bastiat’s The Law. It is my “bible” if you will.

      I spent ten years in the corps and fought in Desert Storm. I was a “kill ’em all and let god sort ’em out” gung-ho jarhead.

      But it was then during the war that I had an epiphany on so many levels. Like Eric, a light went off within me. Since then I have proudly declared myself to be an ex-marine (none of that “once a marine always a marine” or “there are only ‘former’ marines” nonsense for me). And as such, I feel an eternal shame for ever being such a horrible human being for allowing myself to be so easily duped.

      So I must ask, please – and I do not mean to be contentious here – but exactly who/what are you pledging “semper fi” to?

      • @skunkbear – That is the problem. When you discover the fraud are you a victim or a suspect? There is no answer, only experience and knowledge to help fix it going forward. I think semper fi still has value, maybe more than before, now that you can be a credible voice for what needs to be done to fix it.

        • GARYSCO, I agree – going forward is all any of us can do.

          But I have yet to get a reasonable answer as to who/what one is “semper fi” to. I have the damn thing tattooed on my arm and I still have no idea what it means. The power of propaganda I suppose.

          • @skunkbear – What can’t you determine what you are “always faithful” to and run with it? I assume you had an original perception, so if was off a few degrees you can midcourse correct. Pilots and boat captains do it all the time.

          • Dear SB,

            “I have the damn thing [semper fi] tattooed on my arm and I still have no idea what it means. ”

            No need to remove it! Apparently it has a venerable history that dates back to the 16th century, long before the formation of the USMC.

            As a sovereign individual you can reinterpret it however you wish. You can for example, reframe “Forever faithful” as “Forever faithful to one’s conscience.”

            Leave it there as a record and souvenir of your journey towards individual autonomy.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semper_fidelis

  21. I thought this article was going to be about the idiot lights in cars! Ha ha!

    Love the site and the discussions that happen here!!!

  22. And, with all of this, we find ourselves here, at the intersection of technology and the oil age, with a worldwide oligarchy quibbling at Bilderberg meetings over the fate of some 7 billion souls who’ve managed to be born into this miasma of decline that is the climax of peak everything. Who will trumpet the cause of John Everyman? Who will take up his banner and unleash the productive minds of the too busy to be bothered with decline? Aye, ’tis a veritable mindfuck, it is!

    The fact is that AGGRESSION has been the watchword of civilization since the hunter-gatherers passed into oblivion. Once homo sapiens discovered agriculture, the ability to store harvests against the dint of winter, the ability to organize large productive efforts into SURVIVABILITY, the aggressors were there to take their cut. Aggression is part and parcel of civilization. Always has been. Always will be.

    Gemeinschaft-Gesellschaft. Tonnies wrote about it. From community to contract, essentially. Been going on since before the Greeks and Romans. How to survive in that? That’s the big question, isn’t it? Someone I respect once said we can only “survive because we are very small in relation to it (Leviathan).” We escape by fitting into small niches in the inter-fitting gears and cogs that make up the MACHINE.

    • Aggression is a natural part of the human being, absolutely. It is the well spring of the survival instincts and physiology, and the originator of innovation, and invention. It is a requirement for successful reproduction and protection of the family/community.

      Without those aggressive tendencies, human beings would be like overcooked noodles and would never have survived from the start.

      Aggression is to the human mind also a tool, one that he or she can very competently control and direct. As with any tool, it can be used for good or evil, to promote life and wellness or to indulge in destructive behavior.

      Most people do not choose to use their aggressive traits for evil, as Eric said so well. Unfortunately, human beings have long accepted the deadly superstition that “some people” have a legitimate authority to use aggression to control others, even when great destruction and evil results. This is what must change, and this is the change that Eric is writing about.

      The power and false “authority” of kings, pampered princes, politicians, popes and police is growing threadbare, and more people every day are starting to understand this and question just why they should be slaves.

      So, rather than cursing the darkness, DR… Eric is asking us to light a candle. With whom will you share this growing light?

      • You were doing pretty well there, if a bit solipsistic. When you lapsed at the end into the straw man challenge question, you lost me.

      • ML,
        I don’t think DR is on the same page here, his north star guiding light axiom is that we have entered the period of peak oil and peak prosperity.

        It seems to me to be just something non-negotiable with him. Much like David and religion. Or Tinsley Sammons and fully informed juries and overpopulation.

        This axiom has wide acceptance in the UK government, It fits their needs quite well. They have been hard-selling this notion for nearly 100 years now.

        It’s not that they’re in decline. It’s that other nations are over-producing in a harmful manner. The UK doesn’t need to ramp up their production to keep up with Germany, China, and the US.

        The UN and the UK Commonwealth’s 55/193 votes are all for carbon trading schemes and new green utopias based on the Peak Hypothesis which is the consensus hypothesis.

        Hard to beat a nation with dozens of sock-puppet nations all working in tandem behind the scenes.(my conspiracy axiom, not proven)

        There’s a peak disaster looming on the horizon, everyone in the world should reduce their economic output to deal with this peak crisis. We’re experts and elected leaders who know best. It’s genius really. Cynical Mao type genius of the worst sort.

        • Hi Tor,

          Yes, indeedy! “Peak prosperity” is the problem. That is, too many of the masses were becoming too prosperous… and financially secure, comfortable people have time for dangerous things like reading and noticing (and caring about) the scams being perpetrated by their dear leaders, et al.

          Better to keep them focused on important things – like working a physically/mentally draining job all day long for just enough money to put (bad) food on the table today… but maybe not tomorrow.

          • Holy crap, Eric.

            I hadn’t considered that the ptb might be purposefully trying to impoverish the masses, not to just enrich themselves, but to keep everybody preoccupied by having to run at full speed on the treadmill.

          • Dear ML,

            Yeah, pretty chilling thought.

            The Hunger Games was largely predicated on just that.

            The PTB deliberately keep the masses too demoralized and too preoccupied with mere survival (too hungry) to even think about rising up and overthrowing them.

  23. From the Age of Enlightenment appeared a man by the name of Montesquieu (full name: Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu).

    It is safe to say that without Montesquieu’s classical works, men like Jefferson would not have had a foundation of liberty on which to build or ideas to perfect.

    Montesquieu was one of those rare intellectuals (somewhat like but a more powerful thinker than Henry David Thoreau) whose life revolved around philosophic-geopolitical exploration which took place inside of his own mind. Incidentally, many men have read Socrates— a great muser, indeed— but to many neglect Montesquieu.

    Montesquieu was a discoverer of that which was there, naturally, but up until then lacked a treatise. Montesquieu lived during a time when such men as he risked a visit from church inquisitors. The constant threat of being “disappeared” by the higher authorities caused Montesquieu to often wake-up in a cold sweat— even when he was away from France he suffered severe nightmares. Post-traumatic-stress-disorder symptoms were not uncommon among “free-thinkers” and their family back then, e.g., Alexis de Tocqueville’s mother and father both barely escaped the guillotine; Tocqueville’s mother went insane and his father’s hair turned white as a result of the years of turmoil leading up to the French Revolution.

    Montesquieu had a complete library; by complete I mean he had almost every book in the known, western world. Like all great thinkers, Montesquieu sought solitude. When he wrote he mostly did so in an austere, quiet room located in the family castle, viz., the Château de la Brède. You may visit this castle and see where one of the grandfathers of the liberty movement thought out and then wrote down concepts we now take for granted.

    • A risky time if you didn’t tow the company “believe” line for sure. The Austrian and French church even hounded water dowsers as “of the devil”. If caught practicing the art they got the neck up and shoulder out body parts forcibly removed. That lasted until the robed ones figured out that having good water found at their own place of habitation was not such a bad idea. So much more so for “ideas.”

    • why did human beings begin to invoke creative processes? are there biological reasons for individuals to engage voluntarily in creative activity unconnected to the psychological motivation to produce something with important social value? a complete answer is not currently available, but one clear reason seems to be the biological factor of arousal, the intensification & activation of physiological processes. while engaging in the creative process, the creator is stimulated & aroused. though this arousal occurs in different ways, one manifestation is readily apparent on superficial observations of people while they are creating. while painting an artist is clearly highly stimulated; he is hypersensitive & hyperalert. easily bothered by the slightest interruption or distraction, he appears to be carried along by the impetus of the project. as he progresses in his work, enormous reserves of energy appear, energy that was not available at the beginning. he does not, in other words, necessarily begin his day’s work with a good deal of energy – my creative writer subjects, for example, report that they usually take a long time to “warm up” before they get into their creative work – & energy is created by engaging in the creative process itself. partly because of this hyperalert & aroused state, most creative people require solitude to carry out their work. there are other reasons for the solitude as well, such as concentration & internalized communication, but it is strongly plausible to assume that solitude is required because of arousal. solitude not only facilitates concentration on difficult intellectual work, but it is needed because of the irritability & intensity of the hyperalert & aroused state. the temperamental artist who flies into a fury when frustrated or distracted is a caricature, but it is a caricature based on an intrinsic difference between the creative process & other types of intellectual work. a major reason for this difference is the high degree of anxiety generated by creative activity.

      biologically, this anxiety is an aspect of the physiological readiness engendered by internal or external threat. this internal & external threat in creativity is, paradoxically, produced by the creator himself; he engages in a process of unearthing* unconscious material & seeking the internal & external new & unknown. these factors, as well as others, engender anxiety & a protective state of alertness.

      dreaming & creativity therefore function to reverse biological directions. while dreaming functions to keep the dreamer asleep, the creative process functions to arouse & alert the creator. on a biological continuum from sleep to wakefulness, the creative process operates at the wakefulness end. it functions to keep the creator awake. it is no accident, i believe, that we, the appreciators of art & literature, speak figuratively of “having our eyes opened,” “being waked up,” by a book or painting or musical work, or being aroused. our figurative language is derived from a subjective perception of the biological nature of creativity. the creator’s own arousal is preserved in the product he creates. when the full biological story of creativity is told, i believe that factors involving the reticular activating system of the brain, the system responsible for biological arousal & activation, will be demonstrated. berlyne, whose work is discussed at some length in the final chapter, has already shown some connections between the reticular activating system, & the experience of aesthetic pleasure.

      * throughout this book i shall use the term “unearthing” to refer to bringing unconscious material close or closer to awareness without necessarily bringing this material directly or fully into awareness.

      ~ albert rothenberg, the emerging goddess – the creative process in art, science, & other fields this is a worthwhile book…..

      • Ozy, that book is probably double-plus good. literally.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Rothenberg

        During Albie’s research on Nobel-prize winning and otherwise notable scientists, Rothenberg finds that interrelated creative cognitive processes were prevalent in their thinking that led to great achievements.

        More specifically, three processes emerged: the Janusian process, the homospatial process and the sep-con articulation process.

        Janusian process (previously designated as janusian thinking; derived from the Roman god Janus), consists of actively conceiving and using multiple antithetical or opposite thoughts simultaneously. Rothenberg found the janusian process to be a component of outstanding creativity.

        His work is being used to train future soldiers in double-think.

        ~”The current U.S. approach to military operations—strategic, operational, and tactical—is too linear for today’s contemporary operating environment.

        Future warfighters must move beyond linear thought and action to a realm of thinking and acting that recognizes and accepts paired yet opposite ideas and actions: “Look before you leap” and at the same time understand that “he who hesitates is lost.”~

        – Future soldiers will be trained to reason exclusively in doublethink! Ooh rahhh Orwell. Boo Yahhh!

        Janusian Thinking and Acting
        http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/milreview/pap_janus.pdf

        His other two processes common to high achievement scientists:

        The homospatial process (derived from Greek homo) consists of actively conceiving and using two or more discrete entities in the same mental space, a conception leading to the articulation of new identities.

        Sep-con articulation consists of using separation (sep) and connection (con) concomitantly. The sep-con articulation process is also disruptive of the past and usually it leads to integrative effects and integration in creation.

        – The other two may also be of interest, I don’t see any low hanging fruit there to opine pithily about.

  24. I came down a similar path Eric just sorta in reverse. I found your site from one of the regulars on boortz website in late 2011 when I was still some kind of libertarian leaning conservative. You responded politely to some of my questions on specifics and from there it snowballed for me.

    Jefferson is someone I especially admire now. It sickens me to know how much I used to agree with the O’Reilly types and others of his ilk. I should have come to these ideas on my own, or at least sought them out before I turned 30, but I didn’t. Can I blame my government education and my parents lack of concern?

    Well written article and I will share it with the handful of people I know that are starting down this path and won’t lose their mind when confronted with the R vs D nonsense.

    • CloverEric, Thomas Jefferson had slaves and Benjamin Franklin started the first police forces in the country. Those are you idols? I thought you were against everything they stood for?

      • Clover:

        Jefferson did indeed own slaves; as mentioned in the article, But he was also one of the few who tried to end it as a young man but was over-ruled. That doesn’t make his owning of slaves commendable. No one’s perfect. Not even you.

        On Franklin:

        Bullshit.

        A community watch is not a police force.

          • At most, Franklin reformed his hometown all private citizen police force.

            He went door to door, shaking down wealthy locals cajoling and shaming them into contributing to his pet causes.

            This kind of community wealth extraction and public proliferation would seem to be beneficial. And voluntary.

            And not a onerous burden upon every productive man without regard to ill effects and counter-productive imposition of force.

            This FEE article is misleading if you don’t understand how things differed nearly three hundred years ago.
            http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/detail/benjamin-franklin-the-man-who-invented-the-american-dream

            Libertarian institutions have threadbare budgets, you should keep your eyes open for errors of fact and insufficient clarity.

  25. For me, it was Ron Paul. I read his books, Pandora’s Box was opened. I think I’ve learned more in the last couple of years than I had in all of my previous 38 years. Now what am I going to do with this new found knowledge? That’s the question.

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