The Eye of Sauron

© Andrey Kozlov |

Just for fun, let’s say you find yourself in possession of a vast cache of documentation showing the depths of evil being perpetrated in the world. People need to know about this, you think, for the good of humanity. 

You realize that the truth is not pulling back the curtain to reveal the wizard is really a fumbling and incompetent but ultimately well-meaning old man. You learn that the truth is pulling back the curtain to reveal that Sauron or Voldemort has been in charge, and a darkness is settling over all the world.

Do you say to yourself, “People have to know this; I have to share this information”?

Careful before you answer: That’s what Julian Assange did, and he has not been a free man for more than a decade. The dark forces of the world have made it their mission to destroy him.

A long time ago the cartoonist and wise man Walt Kelly had his character say, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” What if we wake up and find that our rulers have indeed made us into the “Great Satan” our adversaries claim us to be? What if we find that we have lost our way? And, by “we” and “us,” of course, I mean the rulers of the land where we live.

What if the whole idea that we even need to have rulers is “the big lie”? What if we taught our kids how to self-regulate?

Individuals band together in small groups in order to achieve a certain purpose. These groups of neighbors — call them companies, churches, villages, towns — tend to grow larger and larger, and even though the idea was to work together, the group loses its neighborliness once it expands too far. The individual neighbor gets lost in the Mass.

The adversaries of freedom all seem to go by the adjective Big: Big Government, Big Corporations, Big Pharma, Big Tech. All of this Bigness started out with a small, simple, well-meaning intention, then lost its way.

I say we start over, go small, and watch out for signs we’re getting too big. And when we see those signs, avoid them like the plague. A Big plague.

We can start by letting Assange go free, go home, and – if he so chooses – go back to work.


© Flownaksala |

It caught me off guard, and I have no idea if anyone else even noticed. But it was an interesting omission.

I was at one of those events where they decided to start by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Everyone dutifully put their hands over their hearts, and the leader led the way.

“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”

I felt like I was the only one who thought, “Wait, what?” The event went on unabated, and no one remarked that the pledge leader had forgotten the word, “indivisible.” 

The more I thought about it, the more I thought how appropriate a mistake it was. 

Most people think the nation is more divisible than ever. For years the practitioners of practical politics have been working as hard as they can to drive a wedge between people, to the point where the phrase “civil war” finds itself on people’s lips and poll questions.

H.L. Mencken’s famous line is, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

The pending civil war is another one of those imaginary hobgoblins, and the politicians who play with that fire are hoping the populace clamors to be led to safety from civil war by, say, suspending the Constitution and rounding up all the people who disagree with the party in power. By playing with that particular fire, of course, they risk getting us all badly burned.

The best way to counter the foolishness that is contemporary politics is not to take the bait. When someone tries to divide us into “us and them,” talk about how much we have in common. And you know what we have MOST in common? Most of us are sick and tired of people who try to divide us. 

I think people in general are more indivisible than the politicians give us credit for.

W.B.’s Book Report: How to Survive Dystopia (With Your Humanity Intact)

We entered a new dark age in 2020 when governments around the world closed down economies, restricting people’s business, pleasure and their very movements, citing the danger from a novel coronavirus not, it seems to have turned out, dramatically different from other viruses that had achieved pandemic status in recent years.

The coordinated attack on our freedom was so complete, sudden and unexpected that most people complied without thinking. Of course, then more and more people started thinking, and they thought even harder when it became clear that independent thought was being systematically suppressed and censored.

Starr O’Hara’s helpful little book lays down a concise summary of what happened, along with practical ways to maintain one’s sanity and independence in the resulting dystopia. 

As I wrote the other day, I feel conflicted about introducing a book called It’s Going to Be All Right at this particular time. On the other hand, someone needs to encourage people to remain calm and think things through while alleged leaders are screaming messages of fear and loathing at us, waging proxy wars, and otherwise behaving as if they’d love to incite an apocalypse to reduce the surplus population. So I’m moving forward with plans to release my latest collection curated from this blog on Oct. 18.

In the meantime, I strongly urge anyone who is alarmed at the totalitarian excesses of recent years to get hold of Ms. O’Hara’s book — and to obtain a paper copy, as I have. It’s available as an ebook, but ebooks can be erased as if they never existed or lost if the grid goes down. They haven’t yet succeeded in burning every last book.

I choose a book and explain the why

I have made the choice I promised to make 11 days ago. The book I will complete and send to the publisher this month is called It’s Going to Be All Right, and I plan to ship it to the printer by midweek. By this time next week, it ought to be available for pre-order with a publication date of Oct. 20.

Wait a minute, wait a minute. Wasn’t I going to publish a book a month? Why, yes. So why can’t you buy the September book before Sept. 30? Well, I have slowly learned in these challenging times that there are important things to do before a book’s release, and so I’m parsing words a bit and saying I promised “send to the publisher” instead of “publish.” Once we get past this month, when I completed a book but didn’t actually release it, my intention is to ship a book to the world at least once a month, starting with this one.

So what is It’s Going to Be All Right about? It’s another short book mostly collected from these daily writings, 117 pages, and here is the blurb:

It has become almost a cliche to refer to these times with anxious adjectives: These challenging times, these trying times, these unprecedented times, these stressful times, these times, these times, these times.

For more than a decade now, the world has gotten angrier and meaner and more afraid. Log into your favorite “social media” site, anytime, and someone will alert you about some outrage, someone will warn you about some threat, and someone will be shouting down voices of reason and calm and peace.

This book has a simple but powerful message: Never mind that the world is scary and raging; if you reach inside to a calm place, you’ll find the most basic of truths: It’s going to be all right. Oh, change is inevitable, and tomorrow will not look like yesterday, but it’s going to be all right.

Of course, second-guessing yourself is in the job description for anyone who puts a part of themselves into the marketplace, and as I’m currently reading Starr O’Hara’s very cool and insightful book How to Survive Dystopia (with your humanity intact), I wonder if it’s wise to be putting out a book called It’s Going to Be All Right, because there are often days when it seems it isn’t going to be all right for a very long time.

Then I remember that it depends on what we mean by “It.” If by “It” we mean society and the world in general, things are indeed going to hell in a hand basket, and much of the bad stuff is in the “things I cannot change” bin.

But the stuff O’Hara writes about — independent thinking, freedom, honesty, resourcefulness, peace of mind, faith, gratitude, a sense of humor — and the knowledge that the secret is not electing the right boss, it’s about realizing that I am the boss of me? Those are definitely in the “things I can change” bin.

And a book that encourages people to take heart and not despair as the rhetoric rages and the fear mongers ramp up their mongering, because evil cannot prevail for long? It might even be a nice complement to O’Hara’s outstanding book. A book with a subtitle “Reasons for hope in troubled times” might be just what we need.

It’s certainly going to get worse before it gets better, but like anyone who believes that humans are slowly growing, I believe freedom will out in the end, and it’s going to be all right — eventually. And it’s precisely because it doesn’t look like it’s going to be all right anytime soon that people need to hear this message.

I’ll let you know when you can pre-order.

Refuse to Get Angry

Wendy McElroy, my favorite aggregator of news and opinion (find her site here) linked last week to Jonathan Turley’s article about rage rhetoric, which the author said has arisen from time to time in U.S. history, even as far back as John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

It’s interesting that for all the bile those two men heaved at each other, they were friends who respected each other, to the point where Adams’ dying words are said to have been, “Thomas Jefferson survives,” not realizing that Jefferson had died five hours earlier. The raging rhetoric of the 1790s was forgiven, forgotten, or always understood to be just part of the game.

The best advice anyone can offer in times of rage rhetoric is not to get mad, because the politicians want you angry — for which “mad” is an apt synonym because anger is a short form of madness, which claws reason aside and replaces it with a blinding flame.

I have the same question about rage politics that I’ve always had about fear mongers, and I suspect the answer is similar. Why? Why do they want you to be afraid? Because they can offer you comfort and shelter in exchange for giving them more power, in exchange for your freedom. Why do they want you angry? Because you may do something foolish, like lash out, which would give them an excuse to exercise more power and take away your freedom altogether.

It’s crucial, then, when politicians are fanning the flames, to resist the urge to start raging, because an angry person, like a fearful person, is too easily manipulated.

“Refuse to Get Angry” is my mantra for these times, from the same arsenal where I found “Refuse to be Afraid.” Resist rage rhetoric, for the sake of your own peace of mind and for the sake of peace in general.

How the state deals with a clear and present danger

I see where old Uncle Joe gave a speech Sept. 1 — the anniversary of Germany’s invasion of Poland and the start of World War II — declaring that supporters of his predecessor present “a clear and present danger.” I knew that phrase had a precise legal meaning, so I looked it up.

It seems “clear and present danger” is a term lifted from a Supreme Court opinion, written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, that for many years was part of the test to determine when it is appropriate for the U.S. government to violate the First Amendment. In other words, the rights to free speech, free press, religious expression, assembly, etc., may be suspended in the face of “a clear and present danger.”

In 1969 the test was tightened to require the presence of “imminent lawless action,” but before that — when, for example, Joe Biden was studying in law school — it was OK to violate the Bill of Rights when “a clear and present danger” existed.

Biden’s speech, then, was a justification for the countless assaults on our inalienable rights that have been building for at least two decades and have escalated under the Biden regime. It’s all OK, folks, because we’re fighting a clear and present danger here, don’t ya know.

It was a campaign speech in which the alleged president intended to incite his political base but gave no clear explanation of what his handlers intend to do about this “clear and present danger,” but words mean something — that phrase means something — so we may expect a doubling down of the assault on liberty. The beatings will continue until morale improves.

I am sad for America. I am sad for the world. When I was young, I thought the concepts in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights were a beacon for humanity. They still are, of course, but the people now in power don’t believe in them.

Occupy your life

(“One of these days” I’m going to begin a systematic catalog of all the stuff I have written, so that I don’t forget pretty good stuff that I wrote, and so I can find it when — when I need it? When I want to remember what I’ve written? When I’m compiling a new book? All of the above. I found this again this week, from November 2011, and wished I’d remembered it when I was putting Refuse to be Afraid: Tenth Anniversary Edition or Echoes of Freedom Past together. But I’m glad I rediscovered it now, because it is as relevant as ever.) 

I am not one of the 99 percent – and neither are you.

I am not one of the 1 percent – and neither are you.

The masses are an invention. There are no “masses.”

We are each created equal – but we are not created the same. Neither are we created as a mass. The act of creation did not produce dozens of you; it created only you (or in very rare cases, it created you and your twin, or your fellow triplets, etc. – but even then, it did not create you exactly and precisely alike).

What does this mean?

It means that no generalization can be made about any single individual. You may make the observation that most people who believe X also believe Y, but you cannot conclude that just because a person believes X that it follows he believes Y. You may collect information that most people with dark skin believe A, but you cannot conclude that the dark-skinned person you have just met believes A.

We are not part of a mass. We are individuals. We are not factory-made components. We are snowflakes, in the original sense — no two alike.

We are connected, but we are not machines – nor is any one of us merely a cog in a machine.

It is easier to deny this and turn responsibility for our lives and decisions over to a collective unit or a corporate entity, but to do so is to let our lives become less than they can be.

It is easier for me to deny your individuality and to make assumptions about you based on what group I have lumped you into, but that is a way to avoid the work of getting to know you and understand you as the unique being we both know you are.

Each of us is a singular work of art, singular in the sense of being one of a kind. Each of us has within us the potential to make art, a special art that no one else can achieve quite the same way or with quite the same perspective.

This, by the way, is why war is such a waste: Because thousands of artists and artwork are destroyed.