Sunday, December 30, 2012

Political Misuse of Language: The Trick

In "The State" we explored the notion of the so-called "state" and concluded that it does not in fact exist per se.  In "Language and Freedom" the central importance of language in everyday life, particularly its significance to questions of human freedom, is examined and emphasized.

Today we will use the basic ideas contained in these two essays in a particular way to bring to the fore of our awareness a condition of our daily existences that bears attention and understanding.  It effects the lives of virtually every soul on the planet in the most profound and often deleterious ways. In specific, we will focus our attention on a particular manipulation, a trick of language and cognition that persons of a political bent have been using for thousands of years, the continuing use of which makes felt its manifold effects in both nature, degree, and its nearly perfect reliability.

I call it simply, "the Trick"

Language has been a primary tool of manipulation and force of the political class since the reprehensible practices of fraudulent and forced subjugation by one human being of his fellows began long ago. While the sword has been language's partner in crime, shrewd rulers have always recognized the word as the preferred instrument of thrall and tyranny.  After all, is it not preferable to gain power and compliance to one's will without exposing oneself to the risks of open violence or assuming its costs? Cleverly crafted words have been a staple for securing the assent of a people and to establish justification by their rulers.  Such craft often involves fraud, though not in all cases. That is to say, it should be recognized and acknowledged that the Trick to which we shall pay our consideration here is not always employed with explicit knowledge of it as such or with malice.

Quite the contrary, it seems that in a majority of cases this Trick of language is used in a monkey-see, monkey-do fashion.  This is because use of the Trick results in the establishment of false beliefs in the minds of individuals who fail to identify the fact that a trick has been employed.  In such cases the individual most often accepts the result of the Trick as truth and integrates it into the truth that he claims to "know".  Once such falsity is accepted as "fact", it can and often does become very difficult to dislodge, regardless of how much logic, reason, or dynamite one may employ to that end.

It also appears that the more intimately such information touches the emotions of the individual, the more difficult it is to correct, once accepted.  It is the threshold of acceptance that appears to be the crucially damaging event in such cases.  One truly disturbing aspect of all this is that even users of the Trick may employ it without explicit awareness that they are doing so.  They use it without understanding that they are propagating and perpetuating falsehoods.  Monkey see, monkey do, a common human proclivity that may be regarded as cute in small children, but proves very destructive when retained by adults.

In the wake of acquiring these "truths", which tend often to be accepted unquestioningly and consequently to become unquestionable, once accepted, all manner of undesirable things can and frequently do follow. The history of human political life is littered with countless examples of the pernicious effects of this Trick, most of which are ugly, sad, and very destructive.  The vast proportion of human tragedy has been the direct result of the Trick because it attacks us at so fundamental a level of our psychology such that we are lead away from truth. 

In considering the material presented, it will be most helpful to bear in mind the chain of relationships between word and action.  Your words form your thoughts, your thoughts form your beliefs, your beliefs form your cognitive reality beyond the mere reflexes, and finally, your personal reality drives your actions.  Be aware that this chain is a two-way road.  Word and deed, therefore, are inseparable, each effecting the other in ways that can be both subtle and powerful.

The Trick most often results in the formation of conceptual errors (words to thought) in people's minds that in turn give rise to a great plethora of faulty ideas and beliefs (thoughts to belief), which then drives faulty behavior (belief to action). Judicious and clever use of the Trick has been the greatest ally the politician has ever known.  The misapprehension of truth that the Trick brings about are most often of a strongly convincing and compelling nature because they speak so directly to emotion with great force.  It is also most often the case that such misguided beliefs are by their very nature fundamentally dangerous and injurious to the individual and, by extension, to humanity taken as a group. 


Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the Trick.


A very common form of expression, especially from holders of public office and other agents of "government" is to refer to non-independently existent and materially insubstantial entities as if they were otherwise.  This is what I call "the Trick".  Why is it a trick?  Because even though there is nothing truthful or otherwise valid in its nature, it still manages to persuade people to think and to behave according to specifically intended ways.  It is a cognitive sleight of hand that uses language as its means of affect. It is the intellectual equivalent of pulling a rabbit out of a hat or sawing one's fetching assistant into halves.  Flawed, yet compelling devices are used to drive one to accept the impossible as real and true.

There is a great litany of such devices constructed with carefully chosen fallacies such that they mislead the mind with great reliability and force.  So compelling are these instruments that people come to believe all manner of ridiculous things that, when all is said and done, amount to nothing better than outright lies gussied up in fancy and emotionally compelling language.  A short-list of some of the more immediately relevant examples might include:

  • "The state"
  • "The government"
  • "The people"
  • "The union"
  • "The court"
  • "The public"
  • "The corporation"
  • "Society"
What are these terms, really, and why is their common use so often pernicious and dangerous in effect?  The terms themselves have two fundamental things in common.  Firstly, they are objects of a strictly abstract conceptual nature, possessing no material reality of their own.  As such, they exist nowhere in reality save within the confines of a human skull. Secondly, the materially real objects to which these terms refer are most often sets of individual human beings to which one is referring collectively and nothing more.  These attributes relate directly to the four-part structure of the Trick, which includes:

  1. The use and treatment of objects that are non-existent per se as if they actually existed otherwise,
  2. The attribution of human- or human-like characteristics to these inanimate and abstract concepts,
  3. The often tacitly forwarded presupposition or implication that the individual humans to which these abstract objects refer all share the precise same characteristics, opinions, desires, etc. such that they may each be treated as purely interchangeable entities, which is to say as being essentially clones, and
  4. Vague or nonexistent definition of the terms.

The Trick may employ any or all of these devices in a given instance.

The "state", for example, exists nowhere in reality save the confines of the human skull.  Remove all the people from the planet and then point to "the state".  Upon what may one lay his hands such that he may rightly and truthfully and rationally declare, "this is the state"?  Nowhere.   Remove all the people and the same happens with "the public", "society", "government", "the court", and so forth.

If one retreats from the assertion that the "state" exists in and of itself, falling back to the position that asserts that it is comprised of those in positions of governance, then they will not be able to establish a "state's" rights, authority, interests, etc. because it cannot have such attributes.  The only rights of which to speak there are those of the individuals that comprise the set and those cannot be additive.  Since the "state" has no rights of its own, separate and independent from those of the people that comprise it.

Such terms refer to nothing other than abstractions and possess no material reality of their own.  Having established that such conceptual constructs represent no a discrete real object per se, it then follows that the abstract object cannot perforce possess the attributes of a such objectively real entities.  The "court" cannot have neither rights nor compelling interests, the same to be said for the "public", "government", "the state", and so on.

The third attribute of the Trick involves the implication that a given conceptual term, for example, "the public" speaks authoritatively for all the people to whom the term may be said to refer.  This, of course, is almost never true.  Save for the most basic considerations, human beings almost never agree universally on any given issue in so much as principle, much less its gory details.

Consider the issue of gun control laws.  A legislative body will draft a law that will have the support of some, the indifference of others, and the enmity of yet others.  Some will agree that we need more "gun control" while many will simply not care either way.  And on the other end will be those who wish to keep and bear arms unconditionally as per their natural right to the means of defense.  Therefore, such a politician when talking about such laws or policies cites "the public interest" he is clearly speaking either out of deplorable and inexcusable ignorance or is employing fraud to secure sufficient support of a law that will clearly meet with the displeasure of some portion of the population.  In such a case the "public interest" is not a uniform monobloc as the usage implies.  And here we see how imprecise or nonexistent definitions of such terms is employed such that politicians may employ endless innuendo such that they can never be pinned down to a specific meaning.  This use of semantic fog and implication enables them to lead people to the conclusions they seek and relies heavily on the bad habits and poor reasoning skills of such people.

Despite the rank absurdity of the structure of the Trick - absurd in that when the structure is made clear one wonders how it manages to succeed at all, much less in the wild fashion it so widely enjoys - countless people use such terms in precisely this manner with no apparent problems.  Politicians and political agents use these terms as if they referred to independently and materially identifiable and tangible objects in the real world, possessing human-like attributes and that speak universally for all people.  The vast majority of the rest of the population accept these endless absurdities most often without question, seemingly unable to identify, analyze, and defeat them, which represents a clear, present, and profound danger to all people.

Would these same people accept my assertion that the Floof exists, has authority over them such that it may prohibit some behaviors and mandate others, holds interests of its own and possesses the right to exist and act in accord with its authority?  Given enough time and the right introduction, I do believe the answer to the question is, "yes".  Really?  Floof?

Even if one were able to demonstrate, for example, that "government" actually existed, how does it follow that it possesses human attributes such as rights, authority, and power?  Accepting that "government" possesses such attributes is in principle little different from claiming the same to be the case for an automobile or one's kitchen sink. When one draws away from his acceptance of the key premise that abstract and therefore inanimate objects possess human attributes, the enormous houses of cards built upon such impossibilities collapse in spectacular fashion.

Examples of the many ways in which the power class uses the Trick can be found in the legal system.  In the body of statute as well as that of case law one often encounters references to the "public interest" or the common assertion that "society has the right...".  These are indeed prime examples of how the Trick is employed to convince people to accept the imposition of restrictions upon their liberties and other violations of their rights that they would likely reject were they in possession of an understanding of the true nature of the reasoning used to gain their assent.  Those in positions of power, political or otherwise, often make reference to such fallacious notions as the "public interest" so as to present emotionally compelling, if highly tacit and logically flawed arguments in order to gain the acceptance of rubrics which they seek to impose upon others.  This, of course, is a gross misuse of such conceptual instruments and represents, at best, ignorance and incompetence and at worst, a ruthless willingness to employ fraud to achieve one's objectives.

Because there is no such thing as the "public" per se, which is to say that it does not exist objectively and materially in any manner independent of the components that comprise it, which are the individual human beings to which "public" refers collectively, what then is the purpose of the term?  Why does it exist and to what legitimate use is it to be put, if any? The answer is simple.


The proper role, purpose, and usage of terms such as "public" is to serve as a conversational short-hand by which one refers to the individual members of the set in a conceptually abstracted and collective manner.  This device allows us to save ourselves from having to name each individual when referring to populations or greater than trivial sizes, which in virtually all cases would prove onerously time consuming and inaccurate. The adoption of such referential terms and their attendant conventions for use does not include or confer upon the conceptual object ("public" in this case) other characteristics and qualities such as solidity, unity, or existence per se, as those are solely demonstrable as being attributable to the individuals in question to which the term refers and nothing more.  The Trick, then, has been to convince people otherwise; to accept that such things as "public" exist per se and as implied  and even explicitly claimed at times and possess qualities and attributes of their own independent of the real-world objects to which they ostensibly refer.

Being further the case that individual rights can in no possible way be construed as additive in nature, there exists no composite right attributable to the "public", an assertion that is rife in common political discourse like a plague. Such a right, for example, is implied and even explicitly claimed by courts and political office holders on a regular basis!  Therefore, they are either too corrupt or too incompetent to be allowed to hold such positions of trust because they pose enormous dangers to the rights of the individual.  These behaviors should be met with the most ironclad intolerance.

Used in the ways described here, terms such as "public interest", "societal rights" and so forth qualify as nothing better than nonsensical gibberish describing impossible creatures.  

This, my friends, is your lesson in semantic analysis for today. Learn it, keep it, and meet the false arguments in which they are employed with your knowledge so that you may expose them to the light of truth and help your fellows gain a better understanding. Rebut these sorts of fraudulent arguments such that they are not just proven false, but are utterly destroyed for all to see. Leave their advocates NOTHING upon which to cling. Deny them the smallest splinter upon which to hang their bankrupt assertions.

Until next time, please accept my best regards.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Government v. Governance

Much as "the state" is a fiction possessing no material reality of its own, so may we regard the concept of "government".  This may come as a great shock and surprise to a large number of people, yet I assure one and all that this is indeed the truth of the matter and shall explain myself forthwith.  As usual, let us begin with some definitions.

From the Samuel Johnson dictionary of 1785:


GOVERNMENT. n.

1. Form of a community with respect to the disposition of the supreme authority.

2. An established state of legal authority.



AUTHORITY n.

1. Legal power.

2. Influence ; credit.


3. Power; rule.



 SUPREME. adj.

1. Highest in dignity ; highest in authority

2, Highest ; most excellent.  



Notice that nowhere is there any reference to any material reality.  It does not describe buildings, people in uniforms, weapons, prisons, tax collectors or anything whatsoever upon which men may barely lay so much as their thoughts, much less their eyes, and farther less still their hands.

The first entry refers to nothing more than an arrangement of elements by convention, which by its very nature refers to a strictly conceptual construction.  In other words, there is no tangible object to which one may point and say, "that is government".  This being the case, one must upon reflection ask why it is then that so many people regard and refer to this vaporous notion of "government" as if it were an object per se?  We constantly hear people referring to government as having "rights" and "interests", but how can this be so if government does not in fact exist as a stand alone entity?  And even were it so existing, is "government" a living and sentient being?  If not, how can it be said to hold claims of right and to have interests?  Is this not disturbingly similar to asserting that a stone has rights or that one's toilet bowl holds interests?  Assert those latter claims and those around you will be reaching for their phones to call the nice men in which jackets for to pay you a visit.  Consider also that convention implies voluntary agreement of the parties, further implying no authority exists to force the compliance of those not signatory to the agreement.

It is therefore clear that in order to regard and refer to government in a conceptually sensible way, we are behooved to disabuse ourselves of these highly tacit, latent, yet powerfully effective false notions about it.  When stripped of all the semantically bankrupt connotations people drag along with their conception of "government" a new and radically altered truth emerges.  Government is actually nothing more than an arbitrarily constituted subset of the population who act in manifold accord with a set of conceptual conventions, some of which are commonly called "law", some "policy", and some whatever the hell their moods may dictate at any given moment.

Large and imposing edifices are not government.  Words on paper are not government.  Men with guns are not government, nor those in  costly suits or impressive looking black robes. None of this is "government", but rather only the agents and incidental artifacts of the various functions of governance.  Government does not in and of itself exist.  To my way of thinking, the term itself should be stricken from use because it represents a very dangerous fairy tale; one which has been the root source of endless misery, suffering, disease, and death.

At this point of the reading some will be scratching their heads, wondering whether I am gone mad or, if not, what then are all these people who claim to be "the government"?  That, my friends, is a question easily answered.  Such people are nothing more than agents and instruments of governance.  What, you ask, is the difference?  The difference may seem subtle to some, but it is also fundamental.  "Government" refers to nothing that exists such that a man may lay his hands upon it and declare, "this is the government!"  The term "governance", however, refers to a set of functions, the nature of which may be readily identified, qualified, and even quantified in many cases.  Its definitions:


GOVERNANCE

1. Government, rule ; management.

2. Control, as that of a guardian.


Ignoring the somewhat circular references to "government", we are left with the notions of management in pursuit of the goal of control.  The functions or governance are those of control and nothing more.  In many internal combustion engines there may be found a device called the "governor".  Such devices mostly serve to control the engine by limiting its operating speed to some predetermined upper limit.  The purposes of such devices are several, including limiting the power and speed of the engine in question to a specific usable range, to minimize the rate of wear, and to prevent mechanical failure.  Without such a device, many engines would fly apart or become otherwise unsuitable to their intended tasks.  But in order for such engines to be useful, their governors must be properly designed, built, installed, and adjusted, lest the engine run too slow or too fast.

In a similar way human beings are governed, mostly by themselves.  The process of properly controlling oneself may be called, "autodiathesis".  Those who so govern are "autodiathists", and that speaks for the vast and overwhelming proportion of the world's human population.  There are, however, external mechanisms of governance - that which we erroneously refer to as "government".  Those mechanisms are made real and tangible in but one form: other human beings.  Such governing function is established because human beings are well known for their occasional failures to govern themselves, some of them qualifying as "catastrophic".  Therefore, assuming that there is in place a morally correct standard of human behavior, such functions of governance become practically justifiable in their application to those cases where people have failed to self-govern in accord with that standard.  The salient question that naturally arises is that of what constitutes the proper standard and how do we know it is proper?  That question is answered at least in part in "What Is Freedom?", and "The Canon Of Individual Sovereignty".

The great problem that arises is one of conceptualization gone wrong and the places to which such errant cognition inevitably leads us as individuals and as groups acting in some concert.  When the concept of governance, a readily identifiable function that operates in accord with a presumably reasonable framework of application, is supplanted by the concept of government, things begin going awry such that subsets of a population inevitably end up running amok in all manner of very bad ways.  The twentieth century along was rife with such examples of men getting together as a "government" and in the name of ostensibly good intentions proceeded to plunge vast swaths of humanity into endless horrors of seemingly endless barbarity and butchery.  That century alone may lay claim to the destruction of up to 220 million souls in the wakes of mechanized warfare and technologically leveraged political purges.

The problem that arises in such cases is that of the usually slow (at first) march away from readily identifiable, if not always completely agreeable principles of governance toward the often opaquely constructed dictates that issue from the black-hole of that conceptual monobloc we know as "government".  Functions are not unassailable.  If a function makes sense to people, they will accept it. But when a function makes no sense, people will reject it and raise their objections.  For example, the function of the murder laws is fairly clear in the minds of most people.  Because they make sense, most people abide by them and agree with their application to those who commit acts of murder.

But what about a law prohibiting the opening of one's doors for business on Sunday?  There was a time when these so-called "blue" laws were widely accepted and whereby shop proprietors were forced to keep their doors closed on the "Lord's day".  No doubt the Jewish people during those times may have taken some exception to this and in time ever growing proportions of the population followed suit.  Why?  Because of the ever more obvious arbitrariness of such laws that called for acts of governance against those in violation but where no crime is evident.  Such law represents the arbitrary and capricious will of those who assume the authority of kings over the rest.

So, why are the two examples so different?  Because on the one hand we are governing against a crime, whereas in the other we are not.  People know the difference, even if only tacitly so, and if called to task even those in agreement with such blue laws will, if they are reasonable and honest, admit that such laws are arbitrary and therefore unjust in the sense that they are enforced ultimately at the end of the sword against those who have committed no crime.

So why, then, do people tolerate the existence and enforcement of such arbitrary law that calls for what is always unjust and draconian acts of governance?  Mainly because government has issued its fiat that it be so.  Those in positions of power have been very clever to persuade the rest that there exists an actual and objectively extant entity called "government" and that this so-called government possesses this authority or that, and that by such virtue all are required to comply with the mandates that issue therefrom regardless of how ridiculous and unjust they may be.  In the minds of a great many, "government" cannot be questioned, either in principle because people have no right, or at the very least practically speaking because it will avail them no good and may in fact bring even worse circumstances upon them by men with guns.

"Government" is the cognitive monobloc edifice behind which those in power hide and by which they justify their power, the exercise thereof such as it may be made manifest, and arrogate ever more to themselves at the expense of the rest.  This has got to be perhaps the oldest political trick on the books, going back heaven knows how many millennia when the first man figured out that people can be made to believe that he is somehow superior to the rest and therefore holds higher claims to life than to the others and that they need him.  That, my friends, was the beginning of the end for humanity.  That moment marked the birth of empire.  From that moment on the cat was out of the bag for those whose personalities were such that they would rather live off the toil of others than the fruits of their own labors.  This is one of the most crucial, most centrally salient points with which any human being can ever come to grips.

Government is the greatest, oldest, most widespread, most profoundly rotten, yet most wildly successful scam ever foisted upon the race of men and it is in a greater state of good health today than at any time in known human history.  The vast and overwhelming majority of the human population of this planet are staggeringly drunk on the Koo-Aid.  These Red-pillers are so utterly lost in the illusion of government that I fear nothing short of a truly monumental global catastrophe will shake them out of their deluded states.  Some will certainly remain as they are even unto their own destruction. That is how powerful these lies are and how utterly cowed some people have been by them.

I enjoin one and all with even the least curiosity for truth to give what I have written some honest consideration.  For some it will be all too easy to harden up their thoughts and dismiss what I assert as wrong.  To those very people I ask but one thing: soften your minds in the sense of opening them up and for argument's sake assume that what I say is in fact true.  Then attempt a proof by contradiction.  If you are correct in believing that my thoughts and assertions are false, then you should have no problem contradicting them with valid force.  But if you cannot produce such an ironclad contradiction, then at least be honest enough to hold that what has been written here may actually hold some truth.

My suggestion to the righteous skeptics among us is to begin by refuting the claim that government, per se, does not in fact exist anywhere on the planet.  A good device I have recommended to folks is the thought experiment where one sweeps every human from the earth.  With all persons now gone from the planet, point to "government".  Where is it?  How is it embodied such that it remains after all humanity is swept away?

Please do not fall for the lie that is "government".  It is naught but a conceptual manacle by which those in power cause the rest are diminished by their own hands in favor of those who can lay no superior claims to life.  Holding no such claims, they hold no authority over their fellows.  Having no authority, it becomes clear that the only thing that they do hold is the threat of material force and the means to make those threats physically real.  They are barbarians and tyrants and nothing better.  They act simply because they have the guns and the ready will to use them.

Bear ye all this in mind and think on it for all the best that you are and be not afraid of where such thoughts may lead for truth should never be feared even if it is otherwise fearsome.

Until next time, please accept my best wishes.

Time To Wake Up

Lohud.com publishes personal information on NY gun owners!

They are publishing the names and addresses of EVERY gun permit holder in the lower counties of New York State. One can only wonder how many of these people are going to become the targets of robbers in the coming months.

I am sure the editorial staff are very proud of themselves.  I wonder whether they would feel comfortable were someone to publish all their names and addresses.  Perhaps we should find out?

http://www.lohud.com/interactive/article/20121223/NEWS01/121221011/Map-Where-gun-permits-your-neighborhood-?gcheck=1


From the comments:

Teri Davis Newman · Top Commenter
Sauce for the goose or, home address and phone number of Journal-News publisher White Plains newspaper The Journal- News, a Gannett publication, has published the full name and address of every licensed pistol permit holder in three New York counties. I don’t know whether the Journal’s publisher Janet Hasson is a permit holder herself, but here’s how to find her to ask:

Janet Hasson, 3 Gate House Lane, Mamaroneck, NY 10534.

Phone number: (248) 594-2197; you might also try (914) 525-1923, but the area code is just a guess on the assumption that this number is a land line.
Here’s a photo showing her Mamaroneck house – interior shots are on Zillow:

Gannett’s CEO-

Gracia C Martore
728 Springvale Rd
Great Falls, VA 22066
(703) 759-5954

The reporter on the story is

Dwight R Worley
23006 139 Ave
Springfield Gardens, NY 11413 (718) 527-0832

Janet Hasson herself is married with one child

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Autodiathism (AKA "Diathism")

It has been a while now that I have been in search of a term, a word, to symbolize the concept of self-rule.  Without the option to rule oneself there can be no freedom.  "Anarchy" is perhaps the original term, but because it has taken on such universally bad connotations thanks to the adroit and tireless work of bottomlessly misguided and in some cases stupid or just plainly ignorant people, I have come up with a new word for the self rule of the individual: autodiathism, from the Greek, "αυτοδιάθεση" (transliterates to, "aftodiáthesi"), literally "self determination". Diathism for short. One who practices self-rule, an autodiathist or diathist for short.

I believe a new term would be helpful at this time to provide for the world with a clean psychological and semantic break from the past. As the world plunges headlong into a new Dark Age , many of us are simultaneously digging and climbing our way toward the eternal light of proper, living freedom. I cannot say how things will turn out in the end and acknowledge that the prospects for the future of human liberty are not looking very good at the moment, but we can do only one of two things: keep clawing our ways toward that which we know to be the good or lay down in defeat. I see no virtue in the latter even though in the end we are all inevitably defeated by old age. Though we may have no choice in our ultimate dispositions, we always have in our hands the power to choose how we shall meet them. We can go out with a bang, heads held high or we can go out wheezing and whimpering. That choice can neithert be taken from us nor can it be made for us.

That said, for those brave and worthy souls who choose to press on, come what may, I believe our only hope lies in educating as many as possible to the virtues of freedom and all that it implies and requires of us. We cannot educate if we cannot get people to listen and we cannot get them to listen if they reject out of hand the words we use. It is therefore convenient, both conceptually and conversationally, to have concise terms that embody ideas. We use such terms every day. "Anarchy", however good a word it may be in terms of its true semantics, has been polluted by the corrupt, the ignorant, and the stupid such that it now connotes chaos and doom to far more people than it does anything else. One can spend inordinate resources correcting this misapprehension in but a single individual and still not break them of the bad habit of false connotation.

I therefore submit to the world these new terms for use in describing self-rule, autodiathism (diathism) and Autodiathist (Diathist).

Research reveals about 48 unique references to "autodiathesis" and it appears every use constitutes jargon specific to political issues related to Greece, Cyprus, Albania, and that general region of the world. Autodiathism derives directly from autodiathesis.

I will, therefore, assume the privilege of declaring myself the first Autodiathist. 

Being a Diathist, I bid one and all welcome to the fold.


Until next time, please accept my fondest regards.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Fiduciary Responsibility In Relation To Ethics.

There has been a perennial battle between those who view business as good and those who view it as greed besotted evil that must be held on a strong and very short leash.  Each side has legitimate points in favor of the positions they assume on the issue and each has points against.

On the anti-business side, among other things, some argue that business is cold and unconcerned with human rights and welfare while being utterly consumed by the drive for profit.  While this is sometimes true, there are tacit elements at play just below the surface that are blatantly false.

On the pro-business side, people argue in favor of free market capitalism on the premise that the freedom to engage in business and pursue profit is a fundamental human right that provides real and practical benefits to all.  While demonstrably true on the whole, the tacit belief that such pursuits can be conducted blindly without much consideration of side effects and unintended consequences to others presents a host of problems of its own.  The assumption here is that the fiduciary responsibility to shareholders can trump one's ethical responsibilities to his fellows.

The central issue in this debate is one that few people are able to identify, much less articulate with clarity and sufficiency.  The issue in question is that of the proper relationship between fiduciary responsibility and ethics.

The pursuit of profit is an eminently legitimate undertaking and the fiduciary responsibility of corporate managers from the CEO all the way down to first line managers is to maximize profit for the shareholders. That much is clear, sensible, and is one of the first and most fundamental lessons business students receive.  What is not given sufficient coverage, however, is the context of ethics within which profit maximizing goals must be pursued.  This omission represents a ubiquitous and grave error on the part of the business schools in general who hint at it but rarely if ever make the clear and explicit connection between ethics and fiduciary goals.  Ethics comprise the framework that underpins and defines much of the character of busainess activity.  That is to say, such activity is bounded in certain ways by the requirements of proper ethics.

Business schools do in fact teach and even strongly emphasize ethics, but they do so in a way that does not appear to connect them directly, explicitly, clearly, completely, and correctly to the fiduciary drive. The responsibility a manager holds to the shareholder must in some respects be subordinated to the ethical obligations he holds to his fellow men, and in all cases must be tempered by it.  It is obvious to most that one must avoid marketing products that perforce kill customers, for example.  It is, however, quite an interesting phenomenon to observe the difficulty many organizations face in arriving at decisions that are sufficiently sound in terms of ethics where the cases in question do not enjoy the easy clarity that such extremity lends.  The less obvious cases appear to pose serious problems for many managers who seem willing and even eager to move forward with plans pursuant to a fiduciary goal.  In such cases managers often feel entitled to act without giving very much weight to ethical questions if the known results of their decisions do not obviously expose them to criminal or civil liability and they are not personally effected.  The results can be terrible in some cases and are perhaps most often unintended, but managers will nevertheless proceed because they usually fail to see the ethical lapses in their decisions, having been blinded by the vigor of their pursuit of maximum returns for investors and the rationalizations to which such pressures often lead.

On the other side of the coin are those who tend to rail against business as being unethical and even criminal in nature.  Such persons also fail to understand the nature of the relationship between fiduciary motives and ethics and indeed tend to hold a significantly flawed understanding of proper ethics in general.  They, too, fail to understand where the lines lie, what the definitions are, and therefore make the error of declaring unethical attitudes and practices that are in fact perfectly legitimate, even though they may generate regrettably unpalatable results at times.

One example of this may be found in the business of leveraged buyouts (LBO).  Companies in the business of conducting LBOs purchase other businesses, ones that are often in trouble. Regardless of the causes, a common enough characteristic of LBO targets is that they are often in danger of failure.  The goal of LBO businesses is to purchase such companies that they have assessed as having attractive but under-realized market potential, determine the precise nature of the needs, and devise and implement action plans to correct the problems and return those companies to the path of profitability and healthy growth.

During the analysis phase it is often the case that certain areas of the business may be judged as non-viable in terms of its long term prospects.  Such operations may not only be unsustainable, their very presence often threatens the survival of the business as a whole.  When this is determined to be the case, much as a surgeon may remove a gangrenous leg in order to save a patient's life, so may the LBO company sell off or dissolve portions of a purchased company in order to restore it back to health, thereby avoiding total failure.  This often involves loss of jobs and this aspect is one against which the ignorant, if well intending, anti-business personality rails and offers as proof that the businessmen in question are nothing but greedy people who seek to destroy jobs and take some unarticulated pleasure in putting employees on the street.   Such activity is often referred to as "gutting the business", the implication being that it is an unethical thing to do.  This, of course, is mostly false and disturbingly irrational, particularly given that such people appear to hold the belief that a man is somehow entitled to his position once he assumes it, which of course is strongly and even dangerously mistaken.  Those who hold such beliefs hang on to them with the fervor of the religious zealot such that no amount of fact, reason, or TNT is likely to dislodge it.  This is a manifestation of good intentions running seriously afoul of truth and cold hard reality.

We therefore are presented with a twofold problem.  On the one side we do have businessmen who at times suffer significant lapses of proper ethical judgment that often occur due to conflicts between ethical requirements and the demands of their fiduciary responsibilities.  On the other hand we have large numbers of people whose ill-conceived  ideals of how business should operate lead to outrage.  This anger stems in large part from a blindly steadfast refusal to accept truths that do not comport themselves "properly" with  their unsound ideals.  Were such ideals to be forced into practice, the world would come crashing down into a great smoking pile of rubble in very short order because they chafe so violently against the sometimes unpleasant but nevertheless inescapable truths of daily reality.

Many of those on either side of the issue need to reevaluate their positions in some manner and degree in order to understand, think, and act properly.  Business per se is decidedly neither evil nor immoral, but fiduciary responsibilities can never trump our ethical obligations to each other.  Businessmen need to keep this in the forefront of their thought with every decision they make.  Likewise, others may not make unreasonable demands of businessmen simply because they do not care for the results of legitimate business decisions.  Understanding ethics properly and accepting the occasionally unpleasant aspects of life is a moral obligation each man must bear.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Mind Of Empire

Today we will discuss the notion of "empire" and the psychology that underpins it.   The Samuel Johnson dictionary of 1785 gives us the following definitions:


E'MPIRE. n.

1. Imperial power ; supreme dominion; sovereign
command.

2. The region over which dominion is extended.

3. Command over any thing.


DOMI'NION. n.f. [dominium, Latin.]
1. Sovereign authority; unlimited power.

2. Power ; right of possession or use, without
being accountable
.

3. Territory; region ; district : considered
as subject.

4. Predominance ; ascendant.

5. An order of angels.


I'NSOLENCE. "1 n. /. \infolente, French ; /-
I'NSOLENCY. J Jolentia, Lat.] Pride exerted
in contemptuous and overbearing
treatment of others ; petulant contempt.


SOVEREIGN. adj.

1 . Supreme in power ; having no superiour.

2. Supremely efficacious ; predominant
over diseases.

SOVEREIGN, n.f.

Supreme lord.


Cl'VIL. adj. {civilit, Lat.]
1. Relating to the community; political;
relating to the city or government.

2. Relating to any man as a member of a
community.

3. Not in anarchy ; not wild ; not without
rule or government.


CIVILISA'TION. n.f. [from civil.] A law,
act of justice, or judgment, which renders
a criminal process civil ; which is
performed by turning an information
into an inquest, or the contrary.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Empire is relatively new to humanity.  There appears to be some contention as to how long empire, often incorrectly confused with "civilization", has existed but it seems safe to say that it has been around at least eight to ten thousand years.

During most of that time empire was confined to those geographic regions that were  materially able to support it to the degree and in the ways that contemporary technologies allowed. Technological evolution eventually enabled empire to expand into areas where only ruler-less societies had previously existed and proceeded to systematically wipe them out as such, either converting the indigenous populations to those of empire of flavor X, or murdering them. This is the nearly universal pattern and it tells you much (perhaps enough) about the fundamental nature of empire. Given this, ask yourself just how well has empire (AKA "the state") worked out for people? To my eyes, not so very well. In fact, it has amounted to nothing better and nothing less than a catastrophic plague that has ravaged the face of the planet.

The single, sole, and so very lonely advantage that empire holds over free society is that of raw, brute power. People working in well controlled concert constitute what becomes functionally indistinguishable from a super-organism. Much as the power of a single cell of a human body generally pales in comparison with that of the larger organism, so the power of the individual similarly and generally shrinks into insufficiency beside that of a large population of individuals acting as one. The power of the concept of the division of labor and of workforce management cannot be denied. We experience its effects every moment of every day of our lives. That this be the case, it does not of necessity follow that such an arrangement is superior to that of greater material weakness in other terms.

Human beings are almost universally fascinated with power. It tickles and titillates them endlessly. They seduce themselves with the illusions that arise in power's presence. This is all well and good in terms of individual choice for oneself, but it tends to fail spectacularly in practice because of the overwhelming tendency for a materially more powerful individual to impress his will upon others regardless of whether it is wanted. Welcome to Empire.  The Empire Mind is precisely that which chooses to ignore what is morally justifiable for the sake of exercising power over others to the greatest degree that material might will allow. The Empire Mind, knowing at its very core that what it wants and does is morally unjustifiable, concocts and contrives all manner of rationalizations to absolve itself for its actions.  These stratagems range from absurdly and pathetically transparent to those that are very emotionally compelling.  All of them, however, are rotten to their cores with fallacious presupposition and wildly flawed logic.

It has been endlessly argued in justification of Empire that it has provided us with "more" than freedom ever could. Technologies that improve our health, enable us to travel to the moon, computer networks, and so forth would not have been possible without the cooperation of many. This is arguable, but even if we accept it for the sake of argument, it is a great presumption to assert that these things have made our lives better, particularly when the sum total of the associated costs are taking into consideration.  Is one's sacred right to free life worth throwing to the winds for the sake of video games or whatever other trinket might be used to entice one to give it up?.

By what standard are we judged as having been improved? By the elimination of certain manifestations of Empire past, only to be replaced with new and often worse ones? Perhaps, but how, exactly, does one fix the evils of empire with more of it, regardless of superficial differences in appearance? Empire brought much suffering, death, and misery; it has stamped out our abilities to live in accord to the dictates of our consciences when they do not coincide and comply with the mandates of the "state". Empire always employs force in some form - whether directly or through having imposed such an environment that allows for nothing better than misery and death for those who exercise their "freedom" to decline participation in "the system".

One would have to be able to go back to a time prior to empire, to a time where small societies of truly free people lived and, apparently, flourished. Those people, so it seems, were not living in misery despite the dearth of technologies that today so many regard as absolutely essential to survival. How, pray tell, did those ancient people manage without them? How miserable their lives must have been! The provisions of empire have been often used to justify its imposition upon those who preferred not to participate. This is a cornerstone of the Empire Mind - of the thought process that underpins the concept and the consequent practical implementation.

This is essentially what your "state" is. That is all it has ever been. That is all that it ever CAN be. The "state" is non-existent, yet functions within the confines of peoples' skulls as the somehow credible cover, justification, and excuse for one group of human beings exercising arbitrary power over the rest. The exercise of this power invariably leads to, and in fact depends upon, the application of force to obtain compliance with the will of that mob, AKA "the state".

Was the time prior to empire an idyllic period in human existence?  The answer depends on one's definitions and what it is that is considered more important.  But to be conversational, it may be plausibly answered in the negative.  No, life was not perfect.  It was most likely very difficult at times, but was it worse than it is now?  Back then, men were free to live as they saw fit.  Having not developed the great technological infrastructure we now have, the nature of life was very different in certain details.  From the medical standpoint, puncture wounds and broken legs could be a death sentence.  There were the hazards of wild predators, not to mention the predations of other human beings whose cultural orientations constituted perhaps the seeds of empire to come.

But now consider today's reality: we are free, but to exercise that freedom poses very direct and possibly terminal threats to our lives.  We have war on scales the ancients could not imagine where entires cities can be wiped from the face of the earth literally in seconds.  We still suffer the ravages of disease, polluted environments, levels of stress that are often fatal, anger, hatred, misery and a host of other very destructive effects that have arisen directly as the result of the sum total effects of the Empire Mind.

Has it been worth it?  Trading our ability to safely live in freedom for the token fortunes offered by the lie that is empire?  Can you say that trading your freedom in exchange for museums, public school, ball parks, roads, and all the other bright and shiny things empire has provided been equitable?

And who is to say that had we avoided empire that these minor wonders would not have come eventually anyway?  It is a most arrogant presumption to accept the premise that without the tyrant we would have no roads, no hospitals, and that we would still be living in trees, scratching our asses with twigs as we waited for the lions below to skulk off in search of other meals.  It is interesting to note, and indeed a credit to the human spirit that virtually ALL of the creative genius of humanity has issued from the efforts of the individual and never from the end of the sword.  There is no doubt whatsoever that we could have built everything we now have, probably better than it has been, without the violence of the whip upon our backs.  People by their nature are social beings and are well disposed to cooperatively creative projects.  So why, then all this violence against our inborn freedom?

What is accomplished with violence and force that could not be accomplished with freedom?  Nothing save for one: the realization of goals that NOBODY ELSE shares with you.  If your goal is to do 'A' and everyone around you says, "WOW!  That is so cool!  Can I be part of it?" there is no need for threats and force.  But if the response is negative, you have a choice to make: accept that you will have to give it up (or try to do it yourself) or employ FORCE to make others toe your line.  Things are as simple as that.  The King wants to build a great monument to himself.  He announces the project and nobody could care less.  The King then gathers up his army of bully boys and "acquires" bodies for his task of self-aggrandizement.  Those  refusing are welcome to join others in the dungeon or to die on the spot, or perhaps have an eye put out or a hand cut off as a message to the rest.

This is the essence of Empire.  It is founded and fueled by nothing less than outright slavery, for if you are compelled to act against your wishes you are in fact a slave and nothing better.  Freedom is an all or nothing deal.  If you are not free, you are in fact a slave of some form and of some degree.  Make no mistake about that; do not fool yourself into believing otherwise, though it is very easy to do so.  It is the easiest thing to fall for the cleverly contrived justifications that tell you that you must concede your rights for reasons such as "the greater good", "need", "social justice", "the planet depends on it", and so on down a nauseatingly long litany of phony baloney.

Empire is the greatest scam of all time.  It is based on pure pragmatism as its only guiding principle, which in this case predicates as right any act that one may pull off successfully while avoiding all  undesired consequences.  Success, therefore, becomes its own goal and its own justification in the minds of all tyrants, though some may be of a nature to cloak this truth under a veil of good intentions and rationalizations of false morality.  Might, in whatever form it may take, makes right and by its very nature the Empiure Mind denies human equality and in so doing justifies the hand of the tyrant in all he may do, no matter how capricious, arbitrary, and barbaric.

Empire can take any of a grat multitude of forms in its manifestations. For example, there are no defining physical limits for Empire in terms of size or numbers of people. This makes empire difficult for many people to identify.  If there is no Stalin or Mao at the head of state or an absence of death squads, many people fail to recognize empire and the tyranny that underpins it even as they are dragged away to cells, perhaps never again to be seen or heard.

The only thing one must apprehend in order to identify empire is the underlying tyranny that says this group of individuals over here are empowered to impose their wills upon the rest regardless whether that will is welcome.  It is as simple as that.  It is in fact rather easy once a person makes the quantum mind shift in perception, that shift being the most difficult thing that many people will ever attempt to do in their lives.  Or not attempt.

Perception is 90% of nearly everything in our lives.  Changing deeply seated notions can be terribly difficult, but in the case of empire it is the only thing that will put one on the road to a proper understanding of the nature of the relationship between the presumed master and the mastered.  I say "presumed" because there are no actual masters of other men.  The tyrant knows this and he knows too well the hazards of openly violent force against those over whom he would reign.  Therefore, the intelligent and prudent tyrant works to gain the willful and even eager acceptance of his position as master of the rest.

Perhaps 99% or more of all that the usurpers do is made possible only through the voluntary cooperation of those upon whom their wills are imposed.  Could the US Congress prevent an active rebellion of even five percent of the population?  Not likely.  Therefore, those in power have endeavored since the earliest times of empire to attain and keep the good will of the people in pursuit of their agendas with every manner of deceit, nonsense, and outright lie imaginable.  How else could any nominally intelligent and rational man regard assertions such as "divine right of kings", "manifest destiny", "God's vicars on earth", and so on as anything but the utter nonsense used by tyrants to cow others into doing their bidding?  That is the bulk of the operational basis of empire.  The rest consists of threats of force (the stick complementing the carrots) and actual application to make examples of the few who resist in some conspicuous or otherwise undesirable manner.

It is a very perfect system of control that relies on all the worst proclivities of the great majority of human beings.  Most of all, it relies upon ignorance and lassitude such that the lazy will choose to believe pretty lies that comport well with some personal desire.  A chicken in every pot!

Empire is a scourge upon the face of the earth.  It is responsible for the brutal slaying of hundreds of millions of people over the ages, the twentieth century alone accounting for well over one hundred million souls put to the sword in an orgy of technologically mechanized slaughter.  For all practical purposes, empire may be credited for virtually every woe suffered since its unpropitious inception so long ago.  It alone has provided the conditions that have lead to endless human suffering, death, disease, and poverty.  It has waylaid the human race utterly and yet so few people see it.  Most of them have been bred into timidity such that they not only accept the master's whip, they demand it and will actively aid the master in maintaining his death grip around their own necks in the event any of their fellow quotidians step out of line with the orthodoxy.  To stand outside of this macabre vignette one begins to see the freakishly disturbing truth about humanity as a statistical body, but he also sees the tenuous nature of empire in terms of its reliance on cooperation.  This keeps open the possibility of enlightenment through education and therein lies the thinnest hope for the race of men that their futures may one day be brighter.

Give these lines some consideration and if you doubt what you have read here, ask yourself whether you can identify the sorts of behaviors described.  What are the relationships like?  Are we equal or do some stand above the rest; above even the law?  If they do, upon what basis do they do so?  Divine right?  Need?  What?  In your mind imagine a "great leader" as an infant and place him next to the son or daughter of a ditch digger.  Which is superior?  Which one's rights stand above and beyond the other's?  Is the future leader superior?  Does he possess superior rights?  Is he entitled to rule over the ditch digger's child?  If so, by what right?  By what means is it so?  And if not, then at what point along the timeline of growth does it change?  By what virtue is he suddenly superior in  his rights over his fellows? If he is not, then b y what right does he impose his will upon the rest?  By what authority does he violate the rights of others?

Consider these issues carefully because the quality of the lives of your children and their great great grandchildren may well depend on the conclusions that you reach and the actions that you take, or fail to take.

Until next time, please accept my best wishes.






Friday, June 1, 2012

A Strategy For Handling The Mainstream Media




Our esteemed media are well known for the hack-jobs and hit-pieces they perpetrate upon those with whom they conduct interviews when the interviewee's opinions vary disgreeably with those of the interviewer or, perhaps more often, the people who sign their paychecks.

There is a very simple countermeasure available to all persons who expose themselves to the risks posed by the unscrupulous editor: arrive at the interview with your own camera crew. If media representatives object to their presence, walk away, having had your crew recording the process of their refusal.  This way, when they air the false claim that you refused to be interviewed, you are at least free to counter the usual implications of their expressive styles in such cases with your small snippet of the truth and let the chips fall where they may in the forum of public opinion.

If enough people would put their egos back behind their zippers where they belong, the media would soon come to the realization that they need the interviewees more than vice versa.

Imagine showing up with, say, a 2-lens crew. Everything they record, you do as well, and perhaps more. When they broadcast a hack, your full-length and uncut recording finds its way to the net via a number of popular media venues, available for the world to view for comparison's sake. Were this tactic to become widespread, the MSM would be faced with a choice to straighten up and cut the misleading cherry-picking or face what could prove to be a costly erosion of credibility and perhaps more importantly, revenue. This tactic would also provide concrete bases for litigation in the cases where misrepresentation of an interviewee's positions prove concretely libelous or result in demonstrable torts.

In this age of low cost, high quality video equipment, there is precious small excuse for almost anyone not to show up with a small crew of their own as, shall we say, "insurance".

I feel it is time we start becoming more creatively assertive in the use of such technologies in ways that work best in the favor of our interests as free individuals. If they can use them to bring us to harm, we must use them equally for our protection. It astounds me that so many people place themselves at the mercy of people whose nearly total absence of knowledge and//or ethics in this age of advocacy "journalism" offers at best even odds of being represented in so much as the most marginally honest way.

Don't be a chump. Fight back. Use what they use to best ensure you do not become the victim.

Until next time, please accept my best wishes.