All around us formal, officially approved avenues of freedom seem to be closing down at an unprecedented rate. The Grand Pooh-Bahs of the system want you and I on their grid, numbered and registered like sheep on their animal farm, so we can be herded, fleeced and sheared at will with no way of escape.
Unfortunately for the Pooh-Bahs with their puppet politicians, insiders and officials, they are in the minority. There’s just not much room at the top of a pagan pyramid. Even the brainwashed people below will go along only as long as they are not really annoyed, inconvenienced or made flagrantly and obviously the poorer by doing so.
The bigger and more out of control the system gets however, the more such undesirable effects are manifest and thus in ordinary society, pockets of discontent always arise. The elite vested interests thus have little choice (given their moral condition) but to turn to that age old default mode for much of the world: tyranny – backed by violence and the fear of punishment, publicly underlined in recent times by an overt willingness to torture opponents or lock them up for life.
In the past I lived in one such society for a few years; in a part of what was known as the “third world”. True, I missed the very worst peak of tyranny – for example, when a relative’s house was raided for firearms, which he had the wisdom to stash elsewhere. Thank God, the worst peaks of tyranny rarely last long, as people finally have their eyes opened and popular support begins to wane.
But hyperinflation was still in full swing, while the rules and arbitrary powers of officialdom were piled high, chiefly so that the officials could extract a “dash” – otherwise known as a bribe. As for this way of life and doing business, that’s just the way it is in much of the world. I can highly recommend a reading of the recent LewRockwell.com article, “The Art of Bribing Bureaucrats” which describes the situation exactly.
Some officials were actually helpful – after all, they were not responsible for the rules – and would only accept a “dash” after they had assisted you round the obstacle. I paid those gladly. Others, the petty tyrants, would overtly extort money by refusing to do their job at all unless an amount was paid in advance, usually to be followed at the last minute by more.
All this seems pretty bad and, at least to those with their heads out of the sand, looks like the way western civilization is heading. Well, it was bad in some ways – mostly whenever direct contact with officialdom could not be avoided – but it would be a big mistake to end the discussion there.
Yes, on paper, formal freedom was lacking and anything under public control could be relied upon not to work. But in practice it must be said that doing business was actually freer than it was in the then stable, but also highly regulated “first world”. There were more informal risks of course and cheating was common, but after a period of acclimatisation this became manageable. Even so, this cannot be compared to the level of formal fleecing in the first world – today an average overall, of around 50% of western economies, but officially exceeding 57% in places like France. Others credibly estimate closer to 75% for some even in the US.
This way of informal freedom is exactly how much of the world operates – and not just in the third world but also in the “second” world, like the European “PIGS” countries. As long as I can remember for example, the Italian economy has been saved from complete disaster by the so-called “black” – but actually the somewhat free – economy. Wherever this kind of economy prevails, it acts as freedom’s escape valve and all of the official headlines, on-paper rules, facts and figures must be completely ignored. Apart from large favoured companies, which represent the easiest focus for mass tax extraction, access to the real economy is simply not available through these formal avenues.
Networks of Fellowship
To avail oneself of the wild but free informal economy, everything comes down to private networking and most of all, not just what you can do but who you know. There may well be a central hub – such as a particular bar or club – in some sectors of this free economy. But this hub in turn interacts with other networks of fellowship and business, which may centre round anything from a profession or trade, to family ties or old school mates. On the periphery, there will therefore likely be secondary contacts within the key bureaucracies that are otherwise an obstacle to all. In many parts of the world, this is the only way to get anything done – to know somebody who knows somebody who can get something done by going through, under or around the rules.
Obviously the members of core private networks will only be accepted if they are proven to be reliable. And usually, what they do is legal – the main obstacle to be overcome being the arbitrary, interfering and obstructive nature of super-empowered bureaucracy. Typically, these networks are not criminal secret societies at all – but with public criminals at the reins of power, both private criminals and private businessmen do end up coming under the heading of the “informal sector”.
One notable example of such networking is prevalent across the Far East and India in the realm of money transfer. The system is known as “hawala”: Money is paid in at one end (which may be in another region or country) and an unrelated but willing partner (an individual or a business) at the other end delivers the amount in the desired currency or form to its destination, less a reasonable fee. Although of itself morally sound as a neutral conduit, “hawala” can be illegal, depending upon the countries involved, but it is nevertheless a system universally known and utilised by all from the least to the greatest.
There are always many such interconnecting private networks that help maintain productivity in oppressive environments. Where I was located, most serious deals were and still are sealed at a certain club, between good friends over a beer. Any paperwork comes later.
The main point to take away is that today’s state approved headlines, with their psychologically directed and spun events, to justify political and regulatory announcements are not the whole picture by a long way. In the third world, this lesson is learned quickly: As oppression increases, so the legitimacy and esteem of the government decreases in the eyes of the people, with a near total disregard for its media mouthpieces, while life – mostly – just goes on regardless.
The Formation of Ideas
Yes, it seems disappointing when the balance of formal liberty tips: Even the Swiss have to some extent been purchased by an unsustainable welfare state which has eroded dependence upon (and belief in) the natural bonds of family – and the independent family homestead as their social safety net. In the absence of the militarism that has plagued many other western countries; it is this, more than any other factor, which has eroded their instinct for liberty. The same balance however, tipped long ago in the highly militaristic UK, as it has now to varying degrees, within the states of the US.
Hand in hand, the spiritual balance has tipped also: Statist-in-chief Stalin had enough evil insight to claim that “religion is the opium of the masses” and so proceeded to institute a state approved church, serving to pollute the faith of those in whom state-worshipping atheism could not be fully inculcated. In a similar way, but in slower motion, it is likewise the pollution of Christian teaching that has facilitated the rise of western tyranny over the ashes of the family and church. As the Lord himself said, “You are salt of the earth… but if the salt loses its savour, it is good for nothing but to be thrown out…”
But still there is hope, and it lies outside the permitted realm of thought that the state controlled media constantly preach over the air. To counter this, our fellows must be presented with the ideas of liberty and truth in all realms: From economics and civil order, which encompasses the outward sphere of all our lives; to social provision – where there can be no lasting alternative to the decentralized family framework; to, above all, spiritual truth that liberates rather than enslaves.
Soon, people will be more receptive – once the utter failure of the carefully crafted pack of lies they have been fed day and night from that same media system has been revealed. They will also recall any truth they heard but dismissed in the “good” times, by those faithful enough to present it then, regardless of cost.
Society today reminds me of the way it felt before a rain storm in the tropics – the heat was intense and the humidity oppressive. So when the torrent finally came, it stopped all activity for a while, but it was actually a great relief.
Economically, we may not know when the real trouble will begin – perhaps things will stagger along for some time, though I doubt it. But in the meantime, we need to maximise whatever freedom we can and wherever possible, establish trusted private networks of fellowship and business.
When we cannot meet or do business in person, there are always the wonders of modern technology which can facilitate private meetings online, such as the CryptoCom private communications hub (OK past the certificate “warning” – temporary password “freedom1“). In this way, we can make the most of every window of opportunity, and help others avoid pitfalls.
Reprinted with the author’s permission.