There are today on the plains of India and China men and women, plague-ridden and hungry, living lives little better, to outward appearance, than those of the cattle that toil with them by day and share their places of sleep at night. Such Asiatic standards, and such unmechanized horrors, are the lot of those who increase their numbers without passing through an industrial revolution.
~ T.S. Ashton, The Industrial Revolution (1961)
Our two-year old granddaughter was at our house recently. She was joyously stomping her feet, in rhythm to some piece that had been performed in her music class. The delight with which she carried out her highly-energized dance reflected a spirit that is particularly evident among small children, an approach that the adults in their lives are often quick to squelch. Our birth certificate announces to the institutional order the arrival of another conscript to be molded into servo-mechanisms programmed to serve "obligations" that are neither of our origins or to our benefit: dancing and other joyous expressions that serve no institutional ends are to be discouraged.
As I watch my grandchildren pursue their spontaneous senses of learning, pleasure, and action that inhere in life itself and require no abstract affirmation, I am reminded of the many misanthropic humanoids who will beset them with demands to restrain their sense of well-being and to temper their happiness. Unable to find meaning within themselves, such pathetic beings endeavor to compensate for this shortcoming by seeking power over others. They do so by identifying with and becoming agents of institutions, those well-organized entities that are destructive of both individual lives and civilizations. It is on behalf of the interests of such instrumentalities that most of our social pathologies get played out.
This campaign to draw children into the vortex of personal and societal destructiveness will initially be undertaken by parents whose best-of-intentions are matched by their own lifelong conditioning in the cult of duty. Soon thereafter, the child will be brought into schools and churches for further inculcation, while the media and, ultimately, the state await with their more persistent and forceful reinforcement.
If there was but one message I would hope readers would draw from my writings it would be an awareness of how we condition our minds to make our lives subservient to institutional interests. With the emergence of the current forces of perpetual war, ubiquitous policing, and state-managed economic dislocation that are combining to bring about the collapse of American civilization, there is no more opportune time in which to examine the mess we have made of ourselves.
Even as the virus of institutionalism continues to spread its deadly influences — dangers to life that far exceed the hyped threats of "swine flu" — a sense of desperation emanates from within the establishment. Even more regulations, more surveillance, more weapons of torture and suppression, and more laws to be enforced by more police, more prisons, and longer sentences are demanded by those who rule from the heights of a failed system. Even with a polychromatic display of "terror alerts," the specter of bogeyman "terrorists" no longer entertains most Americans. In a nation saturated with fear-objects used for political control, threats of a more far-reaching nature than child abductors, street-gangs, or drug-dealers must be dredged up. The power-seeking reasoning behind such efforts was well developed in the 1967 book Report From Iron Mountain On the Possibility and Desirability of Peace.
Until the collapse of the Soviet Union, the "communist menace" was sufficient to get Americans to part with their liberties, wealth, and intelligent judgment; to support the corporate-state in its fear- and war-mongering ventures. But with the disappearance of this bogus threat, a new peril had to be introduced in order for the political establishment to maintain and extend its power over people. The winning candidate became "climate change." Originally concocted as the "coming ice age," and later morphed into "global warming," the threat of "climate change" serves as a compromise that accommodates any deviation from a fixed point of reference! Recent revelations of the dishonest and institutional-serving "science" underlying this campaign, may force the political establishment to go in search of a new "threat." Perhaps we shall soon be told that, as the space-films warned us, there are extra-terrestrials out there waiting to attack us with their weapons of mass destruction.
It must be noted that there is nothing fundamentally new in the practice of controlling people through fear. Tribal leaders learned how easily their fellow tribesmen could be rendered subservient by reminding them of the threat of the "Nine Bows" from across the river; dangerous men who would certainly come in and destroy their village but for the protection provided by their chief. Some of the brighter tribe members soon figured out that they could profitably employ their minds to avoid the difficult and dangerous work of a hunt by convincing their fellows that they had a special pipeline to the cosmic forces that governed the earth; and that their powers could be used to foster the good of the tribe. Does anyone not see the modern parallel to this practice in Federal Reserve chairmen who presume the capacity to promote the economic well-being of a nation by controlling the supply of money?
I suspect that Johann Gutenberg’s invention of movable type made possible the second stage of the information revolution that quickly spread its liberating influences to the rest of humanity. The Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution, the Enlightenment, all contributed to that most humanizing period in human history: the Industrial Revolution. Mankind quickly discovered that its well-being was not to be found in obedience to earthly powers commanding them through structured political forms, but in the release of their own creative energies. Industrialism helped us learn how to produce and exchange the economic values that sustain life; we learned how to maximize human well-being; how to produce the surpluses that provided the earliest evidence of this most prolific system: an increasing population.
Such productiveness did not occur without costs. Through this system, we expanded our capacities for converting natural resources into material goods, a process occasioned only by mankind "increasing its carbon footprint" in the world. It is a biological fact that life itself — at least on this planet — is based upon carbon, and its interchange among living beings. Plants produce oxygen that is breathed in by animals, and expelled as carbon dioxide which, in turn, is taken in by plants. Whatever the source of the energy that fuels human action — be it carbon, sunlight, wind, or some untapped element — a consequence will necessarily be that humans will be expelling carbon dioxide. Unless, of course, Homo Boobus can become convinced that the expenditure of energy — whether in play or the production of goods and services — is somehow a threat to the human species. What better way for those who want nothing more — or less — than a universal control over their fellow beings than to convince them that the essence of life itself (i.e., the vigorous and lively interaction of an organism with its environment) is anti-life. They will be reminded of the basic tenet of their conditioning: that only by submitting oneself to the authority of rulers — who will never moderate their energies on behalf of schemes to extend their power over others — can they enhance their lives by renouncing its very nature. The pursuit of individual preferences for living will come to be regarded as a secular form of original sin, to be dealt with most severely. Even school children will learn that as harmless an activity as running on the playground is to be prohibited, lest the energies that inhere in childhood be allowed to carry over into the stultifying atmosphere of the classroom. Free-spirited dancing will quickly evolve into well-ordered and supervised marching.
As Josie Appleton of the Manifesto Club in Great Britain has so well expressed it, "climate change" is the latest secular religion, with the "climate" serving as the new god. A scientific priesthood presumes to interpret the will of this new deity. The aura of holiness with which true believers have endowed these secular clerics was illustrated when some of the enthusiasts stretched to touch the clothing of Al Gore upon his accepting an Academy Award for his indoctrinating film.
In Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King, two Englishmen decide to swindle the priesthood and others in the country of Kafiristan, by one of the men posing as a god. Their scam succeeds for a time until it is discovered that the god-pretender was but an ordinary mortal. For his troubles, the man was sent to his death. Might such a fate await the modern pretenders to scientific "truth," whose ambitions for power were kept hidden only to be recently revealed either by hackers or, as Sean Gabb has suggested, the Russian government? Perhaps not. The institutional forces — both political and corporate — that have a vested interest in the "climate change" orthodoxy, may be resilient enough to overcome the embarrassing disclosures that "science" was not what was being done. The conservation of resources that members of the environmental collective — people I call "Gang-Green" — try to convince us they are protecting, has a purpose more akin to what Mark Twain told us decades ago: "Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize it."
Be aware, my grandchildren, you may find yourselves beset by people-pushing gangs of sociopaths who have ambitions over the very ownership of your lives. They will likely cajole and coerce you into minimizing your "carbon footprint" on this planet. But to give in to their importunities is to abandon the creative and joyous nature of life itself. Continue to direct your energies over what is yours to own, and make your footprints as grand and glorious as your imaginations are capable of generating. If I am still fortunate enough to be around in your young adulthood, I may help you to discover the most polite but insistent words with which to tell such misanthropic humanoids to "go to the devil; I have more dancing to do!"
Butler Shaffer [send him e-mail] teaches at the Southwestern University School of Law. He is the author of the newly-released In Restraint of Trade: The Business Campaign Against Competition, 1918—1938 and of Calculated Chaos: Institutional Threats to Peace and Human Survival. His latest book is Boundaries of Order.