Breaking the Authoritarian Cycle

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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Breaking the Authoritarian Cycle

May 27, 2016
Emerald Isle, NC

"Are you for peace? The great test of your devotion to peace is not how many words you utter on its behalf. It’s not even how you propose to deal with people of other countries, though that certainly tells us something. To fully measure your “peacefulness” requires that we examine how you propose to treat people in your own backyard. Do you demand more of what doesn’t belong to you? Do you endorse the use of force to punish people for victimless “crimes”? Do you support politicians who promise to seize the earnings of others to pay for your bailout, your subsidy, your student loan, your child’s education or whatever pet cause or project you think is more important than what your fellow citizens might personally prefer to spend their own money on? Do you believe theft is OK if it’s for a good cause or endorsed by a majority? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then have the courage to admit that peace is not your priority. How can I trust your foreign policy if your domestic policy requires so much to be done at gunpoint?" - Lawrence W. Reed

The S&P closed out Tuesday at $2,090. Gold closed at $1,222 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $49.48 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.82%. Bitcoin is trading around $474 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

We have spent this past week on North Carolina’s beautiful “Crystal Coast”. As I look around at the rows of beach houses lining the island, I can’t help but imagine what this place looked like back in the early 1700’s when the legendary Blackbeard roamed these islands on the Queen Anne’s Revenge.

What secrets have been covered up by mass-development? How many hidden coves have been forgotten as we marvel over heated swimming pools by the sea with pool tables and mini-bars nearby? What drove commerce on these islands before tourism, seafood restaurants, and ice cream parlors?

Not that I am opposed to development. The market system has created wealth unimaginable by the pirates and fishermen who inhabited these islands three centuries ago.

Where they, I suspect, lived a simple life barely above sustenance, we sit on 3-story decks overlooking the sea with cold drinks in our hand.

Where plunder was a profitable venture for everyday folks like Blackbeard and his crew in the pre-capitalist world, only governments and their cronies are able to carve out a quality lifestyle via plunder today.

Where Blackbeard’s raids were periodic and limited to small fishing villages, governments are able to raid the wealth of entire nations today over and over again… and we still maintain a superior quality of life!

That’s how much wealth the market system has created in just a few short centuries.

At 19 months old, little Madison has different thoughts on her mind as she experiences sand between her toes for the first time in her life. Seemingly an individualist like her father, Madison strays from the group of children splashing, digging, and screaming to explore the beach on her own terms. She trudges through the dry sand ten or so steps at a time, then she bends down to examine the variety of sea shells waiting to be discovered.

Her father, careful not to disturb her exploration, follows slowly at a distance. He gazes out at the vast sea, seemingly infinite in scope and power, then he gazes back down at his little girl immersed in exploration… and he can’t help but notice the same scope and power within her. Then he turns his gaze back to the world at large, and his mood evens. It’s going to be an uphill battle…

Authoritarianism is everywhere today. The notion that it is a moral responsibility for individuals to unconditionally obey worldly authority is constantly propagated at seemingly every level of institutional society. This has created a world which seeks to curtail and control the infinite power and creativity inherent in every single human being.

Sadly, authoritarianism is thrust upon humans at a very young age by their parents. While Peaceful Parenting principles are growing in popularity, the dominate-and-control model of parenting is still widely employed.

This parenting model typically seeks to control and modify behavior by means of force and coercion. Proper action is rewarded with praise and treats; unacceptable action is punished with scorn and threats.

This model makes it decisively clear to children that they are to obey the edicts of their parents without question, no matter how arbitrary the edicts are. When they ask ‘why’, the children are likely to receive an emphatic “Because I said so!”. Parents employing this model will say things like:

"Do ‘this’ or you can’t do ‘that’!”

"Adults are talking – leave me alone and go play!”

"If you don’t share your toys then no one gets to play with them!"

"Stop crying or you will go to time-out!”

"Always do what your teachers say!"
I am so saddened when I witness this style of parenting because I know it is gradually eating away at the child’s willpower and creativity. It is setting them up to be compliant cogs in the institutional wheel, content to spend their entire lives following the orders of their superiors without question.

I know this sounds harsh, but I am confident that it is true for many children. I also know that the parents who employ this model do so because they think it is best for their children. Indeed, if they are going to subject their kids to the ills of a public school then such a model very well may be in their best interest so that they are not endlessly bullied and tormented for being non-conformists.

Which brings us to the next level of authoritarian programming: the public school system. I have written about this numerous times here, here, here, here, and here so I won’t commit any more detail to the topic in this entry. Suffice to say, the public school system was set up by governments to mold a compliant populace. Don’t take my word for this, take theirs.

Of course most kids mechanically go to an institution of “higher education” upon completing the K-12 system which serves to complete the authoritarian conditioning.

After sixteen years of state-sanctioned education, the idea that “might makes right” and “everyone must participate” is firmly entrenched in most young people. This is true on both sides of the modern political spectrum. The principles of voluntarism and non-coercion are nothing but a dreamer’s ideal or a radical's credo in this environment.

But it looks like the tide is turning on the authoritarian paradigm. Socio-cultural conditions tend to move in cycles, and these cycles change when the economics of the existing paradigm changes. In other words, cycles change when the current model no longer pays.

Prior to capitalism, the fastest way to amass wealth was to take it from someone else by force. This is why Blackbeard roamed and pillaged the coast of North Carolina – it was much more profitable than small-scale fishing.

Market capitalism changed the economics of coercion and theft. Within the market system, the fastest way to amass wealth was to create goods and services that other people wanted. The capital markets and voluntary exchanges that developed enabled the scalability of production and distribution to make this profitable.

In just the same way, the economics of authoritarianism are very clearly changing right before our eyes.

For the past one hundred years or so, it has paid for the average person to submit to the authoritarian model. There was an unwritten and unspoken deal that made submission worthwhile. In exchange for obedience, governments would offer free primary education, free or highly-subsidized higher education, a strong job-market, social safety nets and welfare programs, and retirement programs capable of providing a decent standard of living in old-age.

For your part, all you had to do was go to school, get good grades, go to college, graduate with a decent GPA, take your place in the workforce, and vote for one of the two acceptable political parties in each election.

These promises are crumbling rapidly.

The quality of public education at all levels is likely as low as it has ever been. I suspect the value of public education is negative in many cases. The industrial job-market is being hollowed out by technology, automation, and robotics which is leading to large unemployment rolls. The welfare state is speeding towards a collapse as governments all over the world continue to rack up unsustainable debt and unfunded liabilities.

Only empty rhetoric and subtle propaganda keep public confidence in these promises from disappearing, but cracks are widening in the authoritarian model at every level.

Parents are gradually realizing that they can craft a world-class education for their children outside of the traditional school system. They are starting to understand that they can implement simple strategies for their children to make the welfare state completely obsolete. Parents are starting to realize that encouraging a fundamental understanding of money, economics, and finance is far more beneficial to their children than the memorization of meaningless facts.

People are beginning to realize that they have all the tools necessary to engage in commerce and earn a living without needing permission or approval from anyone else. They can now transact using money that is completely outside of State control. People are beginning to realize that their government confiscates a huge portion of their earnings while providing very little real value in return. And they are beginning to see that politics is already dead.

The authoritarian cycle may linger on for a while longer as the trends continue to play out, but I suspect its days are numbered.

More to come,


Joe Withrow
Wayward Philosopher

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