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America in
Chains

WANNA BUY A FUTURE? June 2, 2009

One of the most important lessons in improving your life consists
of unlearning verbal habits that you may not be aware are holding you
back.

If, every time you made a typo, broke a dish, or pulled the last
shot in an otherwise accurate string, you said something under your
breath — like, “I’m so stupid!”, “I’m a clumsy oaf!”, “I can’t shoot
for sour owlshit!” — that was highly self-denigrating or insulting,
what you said, through repetition, could become a self-fulfilling
prophecy.

What you’d be doing, whether you know it or not, is teaching your
unconscious mind, a part of you that learns very slowly — mostly
through repetition — but that seldom, if ever, forgets what it’s been
taught. Whatever you teach it — perhaps that you’re stupid, clumsy,
and a bad shot — your unconscious mind will act consistently, so that
you’ll go on making typos, breaking dishes, and pulling shots, to meet
the poor expectations you taught your unconscious mind to have about
you.

We call this a “loser mentality”.

Other people can do it to you, too, of course, if you allow them.
My evil paternal grandmother deliberately brought my dad up to believe
he was stupid. Without a father of his own to compensate for her cruel
insanity, it took the poor guy a great many years, almost an entire
lifetime of experience, to discover that, his malicious mother to the
contrary, he was both intelligent and wise, and that, in particular
areas, often where he least expected it, he was quite positively
brilliant.

Recently I’ve been pondering the tragic fact that, if you’re
determined enough, and you have enough accomplices and useful idiots
to help you, you can do the same dirty deed that my grandmother did to
my dad to entire cultures, races, nations, and, ultimately, to whole
civilizations.

“But why would anybody want to do that?” I pretend to hear you
asking.

Well for one thing, it’s very difficult to loot or lord it over a
population of competent and self-confident individuals. Even worse,
it’s impossible to persuade such people to accept your “help” when
they can see plainly what it really is, and neither need nor want it.
And if you aren’t particularly competent or self-confident yourself,
it can become extremely annoying simply to live among individuals who
are. Those with inherited power and money in Europe, for example, have
always resented American competence and self-confidence. They have
longed to watch the civilization it has generated be humiliated and
destroyed.

Somebody once said that America is the best idea anyone ever had
for a country, and it’s on that basis that I am moved to defend it. In
the minds of many, here and elsewhere in the world, America has always
represented freedom and opportunity absolutely unprecedented in human
history.

Nobody would claim that America has never made mistakes, never
failed to live up to its own rhetoric. Nothing in the universe is
perfect. There isn’t a nation anywhere on the planet whose record for
slavery and slaughter isn’t worse. What the British did to the Irish
and the Scots would have had their leaders doing the hemp dance right
along with the Nazis at Nuremberg. And even the Swiss thought it was
acceptable to inflict unspeakable cruelties on Gypsies and their
children.

The difference, for better or worse, is that America never seems
to stop examining and reexamining its historical failures, while other
countries do their damnedest to sweep theirs under the rug and forget
them.

No, America is not remarkable for the mistakes it’s made. But it
is remarkable for its accomplishments — because it has generally been
a nation of unabashedly capable individuals who tend to think well of
themselves — despite any inclination to evil that it may share with
every other country over 8000 years of human history or in the world
today.

Aside from a degree of certainty and self-esteem that still drive
many of the European mindset (both foreign and domestic) crazy with
envy, outrage, and hostility, Americans have long enjoyed a view of
the future — it almost amounts to a personal relationship — that is
wholly unique in human culture. It can best be expressed the way folks
did in the late 19th and early 20th centuries: “What’ll they think of
next?” With science and engineering joined in a partnership that
very effectively tag-teamed the future, each day seemed to dawn with
the offer of new wonders — telephones, electric light, powered
flight, automobiles, the movies — and even greater possibilities to
come.

It was an age, not incidentally, that regarded Colt’s revolvers
and Browning’s repeating rifles as worthy of the same admiration and
respect accorded any other invention that advanced the abilities of
humanity.

Then two things happened that began to change everything. The
first, World War I, was a strictly European affair we should have
stayed well clear of. Although, owing to the War Between the States,
Americans were more accustomed than others to the concept of Total
War, what happened in the trenches and the bloodsoaked battlefields
came as a crippling shock to the American spirit, giving rise to what
was later called the “Lost Generation”. Many of them were gullible
enough to listen to phony intellectuals who wanted to blame it all on
the same science and engineering that, only a few years before, had
been credited with making a wonderful world even more wonderful every
day.

The second item that began to change everything was the so-called
“Progressive” movement, which managed somehow to persuade a population
– whose fathers and grandfathers had shot, shoveled, and carved their
way across an unfriendly “desert” continent, despite weather, disease,
starvation, thirst, and hostile natives, without anybody’s help but
their own — that they were unqualified and incompetent to live their
own lives without the constant advice and assistance of certified
“experts”.

_Expertism_, invariably backed by the latest junk science, is the
enemy we still face today. Since about World War I, “scientific”
Progressivism has taken over more and more of our daily lives, telling
us what to do and what not to do, based on unproven and undefendable
assertions: the assertion, just to begin with, that we mere peasants
are simply too ignorant and stupid to read the plain language of the
Constitution and determine for ourselves what our rights are. We must
pay heed, instead, to those formally vested with the power to tell us
that they are not, and never were, what we foolishly imagined them to
be.

The assertion that we peasants are incompetent to defend ourselves
from criminal violence and must allow police “experts” to do it for
us, instead, even when they come too late, smash down the wrong door,
shoot the wrong person, and beat you half to death if you complain too
much.

The assertion that we peasants are incapable of raising our own
kids properly and must accept the guidance of licensed professional
quacks like B.F. Skinner and Benjamin Spock — or risk having our
children stolen from us at gunpoint by “experts” in the child welfare
industry.

The assertion that we peasants are no longer fit to produce or
process our own food, but must be forced to rely on an illegal federal
bureaucracy and bloated mercantilist corporations to ensure it’s done
right.

All of that hardly scratches the surface. With everywhere we go,
and with everything we do, we find ourselves lectured incessantly
about how we really shouldn’t be there or doing that on our own. We
must be assisted or supervised by “experts” with licences, degrees, or
badges.

Think of the pathetic exercise these vile creatures have made of
the 4th of July, Independence Day, because a nation of revolutionaries
– a people who once told a King to go fuck himself and made it stick
– can no longer be trusted to light a fuse on a tiny Black Cat by
themselves, but must a sit back, instead, with idle hands, while the
very tyrants they once overthrew do it for them at City Park or the
stadium.

“Global Warming” represents the last gasp of so-called “scientific
progressivism”, a mass of pitifully transparent falsehoods being
employed to justify reducing mankind under the absolute despotism of
“experts”, the obvious implication being that we can’t even _breathe_
responsibly. Environmentalism, Gaianism, is a religion on the basis of
which — illegally under the First Amendment — public policy is being
generated. Exhaling carbon dioxide is Original Sin, a reliable source
of unlimited power and wealth to a Parasitic Class of politicians,
bureaucrats, and cops with which our civilization now finds itself
infested.

The media have done their part in bringing us to this unenviable
point. The overwhelming majority of journalists, actors, writers,
directors, producers, network heads, editors, and authors could be
accurately described as “progressives” and would proudly accept the
sobriquet.

My own field — that’s what I really wanted to write about, here
– is plagued by the same disease. I don’t know anything about Jules
Verne’s politics — he always seemed more of a technogeek to me than
anything else — but science fiction was soon co-opted (if not created
outright) to promote the progressivist ideas we call socialism. That’s
what H.G. Wells was about. So were most of those who followed after
him.

When I began reading science fiction myself, in the late 1950s, it
was dominated by progressives of the type who were calling themselves
“liberals” at the time. Thanks to the non-aggression pact that Stalin
signed with Hitler (to nobody’s surprise or disillusionment but the
left’s), and to the activities of Senator McCarthy (Joe, not Gene)
being a communist was no longer fashionable and euphemisms were called
for.

There were exceptions, of course. I’ve written about how I found
Heinlein and Rand and Piper. Add protolibertarians Poul Anderson and
Gordon Dickson to that list. But the future — that is to say, the
sad times we’re living in today — was being shaped by writers of a
collectivist bent that was as demoralizing as they could possibly make
it. And with each failure of socialism, be it the great tyranny that
put a wall up across the city of Berlin, or the petty tyranny of every
City Hall across the land, socialism’s advocates either turned inside
themselves and bathed in nihilism or ignored the lesson and practiced
denial.

To a greater extent than many individuals suspect, science fiction
helps to create the future by predicting it. Over and over again. In
the 1950s and the early 1960s science fiction was preoccupied with the
possible nuclear destruction of the planet, and, although that failed
to happen, it shaped our expectations of the society we lived in, in
part by creating out of whole cloth a false moral equivalence between
this country and the mass-murdering “progressive” dictatorships it
opposed. Somehow, we were uncouth because we were prepared to defend
ourselves.

From the late 1960s onward, we all permitted science fiction to
predict a beak collectivist future, fertilized by the death of
freedom, and that’s exactly what we ended up with. By my estimate,
there are a total of 748 hours of _Star Trek_ alone, stories set in a
military dictatorship that pretends not to be a military dictatorship,
one that has given up money and local sovereignty, regards all
businessmen as sleazy crooks, employs a transporter buffer to disarm
you when you’re helplessly suspended between being and nonbeing, and
“no longer enslaves animals for food” — 748 hours of socialist
propaganda repeated over and over again endlessly for more than 30
years.

The jackbooted military command structure of _Babylon 5_ routinely
confiscates even religious ceremonial knives — while making fun of
the faithful — and backs up its threats against civilian ownership of
weapons and self-defense with cheap trickery and heavily-armed thugs.
The universe of _Firefly_ is even worse, its people resigned to the
eternal expansion of totalitarianism and unable to imagine reacting in
any way but constantly fleeing the advancing front of the governmental
onslaught.

We are what we eat — or at least what we swallow — and for most
of our lives we’ve been swallowing what the Libertarian Party platform
calls “the cult of the omnipotent state”. In 1977, I decided that our
diet must be changed if we are to survive. I have worked for the past
three decades, more or less alone, at giving people a better future to
imagine.

And ultimately to live in.

That, more than anything else, is what I am about, as a writer, a
thinker, a husband, and a father. That’s what my books are all about,
and why, most likely, those in power (to any extent they are aware of
me at all) have done their best to see that they remain unread by the
vast majority of those whose lives, liberty, and property are being
plundered by the lawless state and its mercantilist cronies. If more
individuals had paid attention when I started writing three decades
ago, we wouldn’t be in this bloody mess today; that really says it
all.

I don’t speak to them much these days, but if a New York editor
ever shows the bad judgment to complain to me about what Bush and
Obama have done to this country, I will tell him he has nothing to
say, having helped to muzzle someone who might have prevented this
disaster.

I guess what happens in the end depends on the few of you who are
not unaware of what I’ve struggled to accomplish since 1977. Do you
really want merely to survive for the next few years, and — as the
very best that can be expected — to endure a long, slow, painful
recovery that may not end until our grandchildren are in the ground?
Do you want to see the same deadly, stupid mistakes made over and over
again?

I didn’t think so.

My regular readers (you know who you are) have always been very
kind and loyal to me, and I don’t want to burden them unduly, since a
lot of them are already doing what I’m about to ask you to do, below.
But the world badly needs what I do and the establishment (excepting
publishers like Mountain Media, BigHeadPress, and Phoenix Pick) isn’t
interested, even as their civilization falls apart around their stupid
ears.

So help me, if you will. Send folks e-mail, mention me in blogs
and commentaries to news stories. Bring my name up on talk radio. Use
FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, to encourage people to read my articles
and books. Increase my visibility and I’ll do my best to increase your
freedom.

We don’t have much time left.

Comments

1. Kent McManigal - June 2, 2009

I do try. I know of a few people who have bought “Lever Action” on my recomendation, and “Hope”, too, I think.

2. Administrator - June 2, 2009

Yep, you’re one of those who know who you are, Kent, and I appreciate it.

3. Jim Davidson - June 2, 2009

Neil Schulman says that “Alongside Night” which, in 1979, was a novel of the future, and I guess is now a novel of the present, has been pirated. It is now available for free as a bitTorrent stream on Pirate Bay and the like. The exciting part is that, while he’s sold only 15 copies in the last two months, the book was downloaded 69 times in the first hour.

Based on this limited data, Neil proposes to add advertisements to the new pdf and offer up a 30th Anniversary version. Yay. Maybe he can get rich putting ads in books that are stolen?

Since the Lever Action essays appear in many other places separately, perhaps you could try that model, Neil. Put the word out, get some advertisers, maybe add a bunch of sponsored link and pay per click and pay per sale type ads, and put together a .pdf of the book. Then turn it over to the lady who stole “Alongside Night.”

Think of it as an experiment in business models.

4. al perez - June 2, 2009

Both my copies of The Mitzvah are out on permanent “loan” and your ideas (as well as Heinlein, Rand and others) inform what I teach in US History, Government, and Economics.

We’ll see in a few years if anything positive was accomplished thus.

5. Ron - June 2, 2009

I’ve had two copies each of Mitzvah and Hope stolen, and am now on my third copy of Hope. Same thing happened with Tappan, another man who was called many derogatory things. I’ve had at least four copies of each of his books stolen, and now “suburban survivalism” is becoming all the rage, when just a few years ago, ‘survivalists’ were called nutcases!

6. BJ - June 2, 2009

As usual, very well stated Neil. This has been coming for a long, long time. We’ve all done what we could to prevent it, but human nature and power being what they are, the sorry situation we find ourselves in was predictable. The Anti Federalists warned of this future more than two centuries ago, but too few listened to them. As it is, I suspect even many of the Federalists would be sickened by what our once grand republic has become. Far too many people have looked to government for “solutions” that they should have provided for themselves.

7. wes carr - June 3, 2009

Last night I watched Earth 2100, and it was just what I
expected it to be: fearmongering, pseudoscience and
a call for UN “solutions” to the problem. Don’t think
that politicians won’t use scenarios like this to grab
more power “for our own good.”

8. Administrator - June 3, 2009

Jim — I’m going to think very hard about this idea. _Lever Action_ might indeed be the book to try it with. Thanks.

Ron — sorry people think I’m Abbie Hoffman. (^_^) I still have my ancient copy of Mel Tappan’s _Survival Guns_, and enjoy looking at it from time to time. My probem is that I can’t just acquire hardware for practical purposes, I just plain like guns and get as much pleasure from my cartridge-converted cap’n'ball revolvers as I do from my modern high-capacity sport-utility pistols. I appreciate rifles and shotguns, too, and on moe or less the same basis. I wouldn’t trade my .45/70 Marlin M95CB for all the AK-47s in China.

Alberto — you are one of the main folks I meant when I said “You know who you are”. You are my friend, ally, and colleague, and I’m happy to know you. And of course when you’re through teaching public school at the end of the day, you can always go home and take a shower, right?

BJ/Wraith — I don’t know why people never paid attention. I can think of scholars in the 1950s who tried warning them. Then there was a guy on TV in the 60s called Burke (can’t remember his first name) and a local pundit named Gordon Barnwall. Even Al can’t correct all the damage the public schools have done.

Wes — I’ll have to look up this “Earth 2100″ thing. I think we can make use if the First Amemndment violaton that government enforcement of Gaianism creates.

You guys know anyone who wants a book (or series of books) ghost-written or “with-written” on these topics? I’m (almost) always available at standard rates.

9. al perez - June 3, 2009

A very long, hot shower (gotta kill the cooties).

Assuming there is any truth to the need to do somthing now to save the environment screamss government and socialists are the wrong ones to do it. This is because they disparage profit. In the long term, profit is the consequence of using resources efficiently. Therefor governments, which ultimately exist to keep ruling class in power, not utilize resources efficiently for the society in general. therefor governments and socialists are already inclined to use resources inefficiently.

Between the desire to restrict new members from joining ruling class and the desire to expend resources to maintain current power of ruling class, achieving both these goals by taxation, war, regulation and nationalization, the statists are the wrong people to trust to maintain an environment like the one we currently live in.

extending human life to where we could enjoy benefits of long term investment and suffer consequence s of being dumbasses would also help environmental stewardship.

To accomplsh anything worthwhile make it profitable, or at least don’t penalize it with taxes and regulation.

10. Andrew G. Eggleston - June 3, 2009

Very well done Neil, did find a rough spot.
“There isn’t a nation anywhere on the planet whose record for
slavery and slaughter isn’t worse.”
I think it was the double negative that tripped my read alarm.
It just seemed a bit confusing the first time through.
I also liked the positive thought process instruction, you are what you think.

11. Ken Holder - June 3, 2009

Neil wrote

“The difference, for better or worse, is that America never seems to stop examining and reexamining its historical failures, while other countries do their damnedest to sweep theirs under the rug and forget them.”

Which puts me in mind of the old “insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome this time.” I think we can pretty much call most of the people actively involved in government/politics “insane” without fear of contradiction. Psychopaths, sociopaths, and nutters. Certainly in the Old World, the Eastern World, and … well … everywhere else this is the case. Here in the New World, too.

The “Intellectual Class” used to re-examine our history regularly looking to learn lessons and promote the idea of Progress. Then they started being the lap-dogs of the Ruling Class and it’s been downhill from there.

Hey, this thing has a spell checker in it — COOL!

12. Dennis Wilson - June 4, 2009

“… encourage people to read my articles and books. Increase my visibility and I’ll do my best to increase your freedom.”

I am Signatory to and ardent advocate of your Covenant of Unanimous Consent and have written articles about it and other libertarian/anarchist issues which I have published in The Libertarian Enterprise (where I also advertise when possible). I have also created three websites where I promote the Covenant and other article you have written.

I think that the “experiment in business models” that Jim Davidson mentions is VERY important for libertarian/anarchists. Getting free of the Intellectual Property monopoly created by & supported by government is the “last mile” to being free of governments.

Libertarian writers have shown us how to live without government in all other fields–from private roads to private courts–and are just now demonstrating how government has distorted patents and copyrights for their own tyrannical purposes.

New business models for writers in the age of computers (and without depending on government) is vital. The less we depend on government “services” the more we have freed ourselves and undercut the rationalizations for having government.

Care to “brainstorm” new business models to give L. Neal a head start? I’ve opened up the subject on my website…: http://dennisleewilson.com/simplemachinesforum/index.php?topic=314.0

13. Curt Howland - June 4, 2009

L. Neil, I’ll post a request on FreeTalkLive.com to have you on as a guest, maybe anyone who also knows what that is can add their $.02FRN

_Forge of the Elders_ has been circulating in .lit format, but I haven’t seen any other of your works on the torrent sites I frequent (only for unlicensed fan-subtitled anime and Linux distributions, really!).

I was reading this month’s Freedom Daily (FFF newsletter), and one of the writers said (paraphrased), “People cannot know what America might be like if Hamilton’s attitudes hadn’t flourished. It’s comparable to Cubans who generally cannot understand how much better their lives would be without Castro.”

Obviously the writer has never read _The Probability Broach_. I think I’ll forward the suggestion to him…

14. Steven H. Wilson - June 5, 2009

L. Neil — well said!

I’ve added your link on the Prometheus Radio Theatre blog, and I’ll talk up Ceres on my podcast’s next feedback show in a couple of weeks.

I think my friend Eli Senter also asked — have you thought about putting Pallas and Ceres (and others) on Podiobooks.com as audio? It doesn’t pay, of course, but I’ve gotten a lot of exposure for my stuff there. About 15 times as many downloads as I’ve sold printed books.

15. John Dougan - June 7, 2009

> “But why would anybody want to do that?”

It’s not the whole story, but if you’re someone who is an ideological opponent of the United States, it would make sense to help it along the path with a few memetic weapons:

http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=260

Of course, memetic weapons are like biological weapons in that they can outlive the original attacker.

16. al perez - June 7, 2009

It is true that the old USSR was better at propaganda and misinformation than the USA was back in the Old Cold War.
It is also true that the paranoid “they” ( both their own paranoia and the paranoia of those who fear ) are quite willing to use simple brainwashing techniques to keep the rest of us in line. For example there is the media blitz telling us we aren’t properly trained so we should not take up arms to defend ourselves from criminals. Never do they encourage people to get trained, always they tell them “resistence is futile.” Never mind that even their spokeswoman Oprah long ago had an interview in which it was admitted that for many crimes compliance with your assailant will not be rewarded
with mercy but be interpreted as permission to go further.
Fight back they admitted, then amended the statement, but without weapons.

If I’m going to do a carpentry product I need hammer, saw, drills, and screwdrivers, in other words tools. If I must defend myself I need fist, feet, guns, knives and other tools. It is considered necessary to learn certain minimum skills of one use of tools (carpentry) to be a competent (and therefor good) human; learning how to defend oneself with or without weapons, or at least demonstrating a minimum natural competence in fighting, should be part of being a competent (good) person.

Those who wish us to be helpless slaves and those who’ve bought into their meme (usually involuntarily because it’s presented successfully as the only game in town) disagree of course.

17. ansonmacdonald - June 7, 2009

Hello Neil and well said, as usual. I’ve been buying your books and reading anything of yours that I can lay my hands on for years. I do indeed forward links to your essays by email to my contacts (even though it honks some of them off :) )

I have bought an extra copies of The Probability Broach (my favorite) and placed them in with a box of books donated to the local library. I checked back later and they were out on loan!

I will continue to help in any way I can, simply because your work deserves it.

18. Ken Valentine - August 31, 2009

“If, every time you made a typo, broke a dish, or pulled the last
shot in an otherwise accurate string, you said something under your
breath — like, “I’m so stupid!”, “I’m a clumsy oaf!”, “I can’t shoot
for sour owlshit!” — that was highly self-denigrating or insulting,
what you said, through repetition, could become a self-fulfilling
prophecy.”

What I said under those circumstances was the exact same thing I said when I smacked my thumb with a hammer, or cut myself when chopping vegetables: “DAMN! I wish I hadn’t done that!”

19. KiloSeven - September 23, 2009

Sure wish I could buy your e-book… but my Palm and my (Symbian) smartphone don’t work with Kindle downloads. Please consider the honor system DRM-free model John Stith used.