Category: Articles

Without government, wouldn’t warlords take over?

If you believe government is needed, and someone suggests that it isn’t, you might be rather distressed. You might start to picture bands of rogues roving the land without cease, raping and stealing. In the minds of many statists, this fear is so real that it seems certain. But of course, little is certain in life, and we can no more say for sure that warlords will take over than we can say that they won’t. However, we can at least begin to estimate the likelihood.

If you’re like most people, it’s almost certain that you are threatened by group of people which claims to help you, a group which takes your money without asking first. Just as we can’t be sure that warlords won’t take over in a stateless society, it’s not certain that this violent group won’t grow larger, to expand to a level of control where many are fearful and even people with friends in high places can be destroyed without anyone being punished. In fact, such a case is much more likely to be found in a society with a state, than a society without a state, as the power structures are already there. In a stateless society, if these structures form, they’re likely to be smaller. It’s easier to go from 8 to 10 than it is to go from 0 to 10.

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To get to a society that has no rulers, first there has to be a cultural change. People have to learn to do things without the help of their rulers, and instead depend on each other. The less they can solve problems on their own and working in teams, the more chance they have to be seduced by a person offering easy answers, or threatened by someone who comes along with a few guns and a few demands. If certain states vanished tomorrow, there would be a 99% chance that warlords would take over. However, the more the people learn to support each other, and the more people love liberty, the less chance a tyrant has of taking hold. The tragedy is, the more people cling to these concerns about warlords, the less people who learn to love liberty.

In the end, the reason cling onto these ideas is because of a deep-seated fear. People want to feel like everything is under control, even if it’s by a someone who, in their hearts, they know is a devil. Their fear leads them to fearmonger, spilling endless “what if” cases, none of which can be allayed by logic alone. As I said, nothing in life is certain. Yet, by embracing our uncertainty, and our fears, we can learn to overcome them. It’s scary to stand at the edge of darkness, not knowing what lies within. It takes heart to put your foot over that threshold, yet, that is the only way that humans grow – by putting ourselves in realms where nothing is sure, but everything is possible. Screw your courage to the sticking place, and feel just for a moment, what it would mean to be free.

Trump’s wall: A futile conversation

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Maybe there are still some arguments about Trump’s border wall which I haven’t heard yet… But the ones that I have heard are rather pathetic. The wall conversation seems to go like this:

We need a wall to keep people out to stop them taking welfare.

Really? Do naturalised citizens actually take more welfare than natural born citizens on average? Do you have any statistics to back it up?

Hm I uh… I do have some statistics about how immigrants are more likely to vote Democrat.

Alright, that’s something – not exactly what I was looking for though. You don’t have statistics about why they vote Democrat. You know, even if people come to work in your country, they don’t need to have citizenship, voting rights or welfare. People can get residency or working visas.

Ohhh yeah… I’m sure all the socialist politicians will maintain that rule even if it costs them votes.

Okay… but if you’re going to play that card, there’s nothing you can do politically to solve this problem. A wall certainly won’t help. The socialist politicians will just fix things so people can walk right over.

Alright alright, we can go around like this forever. If we didn’t have welfare, we wouldn’t need a wall. But we have, so we do.

So building a wall that costs billions of dollars is a perfectly reasonable, rational and possible thing to expect, but attempting to curb welfare is impractical and impossible. I see.

Here’s an interesting article which talks about why such a wall would be pretty useless: 8 things you need to know about Trump’s wall

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Catholicism in Mexico: A death cult?

When I walk into a church in Mexico, I can’t help but escape the images of death. There will normally be several idols of Christ, bloody and beaten, on a cross or in a coffin. In the Cathedral in Guadalajara, there is a mummy in a glass coffin, which supposedly belonged to a martyr, a young lady beaten to death by her father, enraged by her ambition to be a nun. I saw a similar mummy in Pachuca, Hidalgo, with a similar story. Apparently this story is repeated in churches all over Mexico – an archetype, a story too good to be told just once, like a rerun of ‘I Love Lucy’.

The other day I walked into the sacred art museum, which is attached to the Cathedral. In the first room we walked into, while looking at the paintings, I had the uncanny feeling that the people in the paintings were looking at me, or waiting to look at me. My companion also felt that there was something dark about the place. (Unfortunately, I can’t show you any pictures of the museum as they asked us not to take photographs.) In another room, there was a stand intended to hold books for a chorus, in the shape of a ziggurat or burial mound, with Christ on a crucifix at the top. The whole thing was painted black. Again, I felt I shouldn’t turn my back on it. I wondered about the dark things this object had seen, wondering if children had been abused while perched on its shelves.

In another room, there was a particularly gruesome picture of Christ, apparently already very dead, with Mary Magdalene by his side, holding his hand. His hand was by her mouth, but instead of kissing it she appeared to be sucking it. In front of Christ stood a dark female figure in a black robe with very white skin, tears streaming down her cheeks. I assume it’s supposed to be Mary, but it looked like Death.

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In the entire museum, I saw Christ as an infant, as a dying man, and as a corpse – almost always in states where he wasn’t capable of teaching anything. The only exception was a handful of paintings depicting the scene “Christ among the doctors”, in which Christ is about 12 years old. The Sermon on the Mount was never portrayed. I wonder if that’s a decision of the curators, or of the Mexican artists over the centuries, or of their commissions from the church. Perhaps there are different ways to interpret it, but to me the message seemed to be: your god is impotent and helpless.

I hope I don’t offend anybody with this post, as this is just my experience as an outsider looking in, and obviously there are subtleties that someone more familiar with Catholicism would notice. However, I do think that people should be wary of these types of images. A man might make a fine idol for you to pray towards, and you might even kiss its feet, as I’ve seen many people do. If the man controls the image that you pray to, you can be sure that he also controls you. God needs no intermediaries.

Ayahuasca: You don’t have to hike through the Amazon or pay $11,000

I’ve noticed a few times that when I post articles and videos about ayahuasca in Facebook groups, occasionally I’ll get a rather unexpected and violent reaction, talking about how ayahuasca is an experience for the elite only, that the cost is prohibitive, and when will regular people be able to try this experience which purports to be so life-changing.

When I first saw these comments, I was a little confused, as I’ve taken ayahuasca two times (here in Mexico), and both times it cost somewhere in the realm of $60 USD – more than an LSD trip surely, and perhaps more than a night at the movies, but not exactly in the realm of “maybe if I take out a second mortgage…”

My perspective changed when my buddy Aaron pointed out how the media portrays ayahuasca – with all the poetic visions that go along with it – hiking through the jungle, travelling by canoe along the Amazon to reach a 70 year old shaman holding a palm tree shaker, speaking in an incomprehensible native American tongue, which he later uses to sing incantations, conjuring tigers by the campfire.

Or people read about it in articles like this one from Business Insider casually mentioning the figure of $11,000 without explaining that, well, you don’t have to pay that much.

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In an ideal world…

Of course, in an ideal world, everyone would be able to take this mystic medicine with a shaman who has a 1,000 year lineage, after a month of eating a pure vegan diet, abstaining from X, Y and Z, meditating every day, with spiritual guidance on hand… But, if you can’t get the ideal conditions, sometimes it’s best to just fucking do it. And you can do it.

Solutions

I’m told that in the US, you can take a ceremony for around $400. In Europe, about €300 – still rather expensive for some. However, new groups are popping up all the time, and that’s sure to drive the price down.

In some countries, you can order the plants online to make the medicine for yourself or find a supplier who makes the brew ready-to-use.

As I said, both times I’ve taken it so far, it cost about $60 USD – 1100 MXN, and for that I slept on the floor of a shaman’s house on my sleeping bag, listening to musicians play hymns and ícaros. But for someone looking for a more all-inclusive experience, I know of at least one group in Mexico which will provide a 3 day retreat with food, accommodation, psychotherapy, and complementary medicines such as rapé, for around 6000 pesos or $310 USD.

Ayahuasca isn’t yet something that you can obtain with extreme ease in a lot of the world. But it is getting cheaper, and it is getting more accessible. When the media tells you that you have to travel to a Peruvian jungle – don’t believe the hype.

Disclaimer

This article is for entertainment purposes only; don’t take it as medical advice. If you are going to do ayahuasca, do your research, and especially be aware that psychotropic drugs can interfere with the medicine, introducing serious risks.

Steemit’s New Economic Paradigm

An introduction to Steemit

I (Kurt) have been posting on the new social media platform, Steemit, for more than a month, and it seems to be promising for several reasons.

One of the most obvious is that, people can get money on there, which means that many starving artists and writers finally have a platform where they can quickly monetise their content, without having to know too much about website design, sales or marketing.

A deeper point – one which will most likely drive the more constant growth of the platform – is that the system is structured to incentivise helpful, constructive interactions. The system is designed to encourage people to be cool. That’s no small feat. I’ve thought in the past, that if someone really wants to change the world, they have to change the incentives, and that exactly what is what the creators of this site have done.

Since joining, I’ve had to stop myself a few times on other social networks, thinking “Is this the way I would phrase this if I were writing on Steemit? Can I find a way to be softer, more compassionate, more inclusive?” Of course, some people persist in unconstructive feedback, even despite themselves, but the signal-to-noise ratio on the site is still extremely impressive.

In this video, I give an introduction to why this new platform is interesting and may be the way of the future, and I read out an article which I published on the platform, which many people enjoyed, talking about what makes the site and its associated currency, Steem, valuable, and the reasons it may well succeed in the long run.

If you enjoy our posts, please have a look at The Paradise Paradox’s page on Steemit where you can join, earn money, and upvote our posts to help support the show! You can also find a lot of additional content which is not posted on this site, with Kurt’s posts on Steemit and Aaron’s posts on Steemit.

Here’s my original article, and here is the article I mentioned by Leah “Stellabella” Stephens.

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How does it feel to be free?

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How does it feel to be free?

When you know that nobody can make demands of you. When you know that you are the greatest authority in your life. When you know you get to choose what you can do, and others can choose what is right for them. How does it feel to be free?

When you can travel the world without asking permission, without having to pay to pass an imaginary line. When the skies and the world are open like a great big adventure. When you can cross a continent, without having to prove to anybody who you are. When your face is your passport. How does it feel to be free?

When you can work for whom you like, and whoever likes can work for you, in the way you both choose. When you know your life is your own responsibility, and you know it’s your responsibility to take care of those around you. When you never say “Someone (else) should do something about it.” How does it feel to be free?

When your projects grow like spearmint on a wild and open plain. When you don’t need a licence to innovate. When you know you can make it, because the evidence is all around you. How does it feel to be free?

When everyone you love, you do so not because you’ve been trained to do so, not because you’ve been forced to do so, but because you choose it. When everything you hold dear sits in that purest place of your heart. When your beliefs are aligned with your spirit. How does it feel to be free?

How does it feel? That’s how you should feel.

Cover image modified and used under Creative Commons – https://moyanbrenn.com/

Would you prefer to live in a just world?

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There is a principle of law that is acknowledged and often enforced all around the world, that if someone interferes with another’s person or property, they will be punished. For example, if you break down someone’s door without a damned good reason, such as the prevention of harm to an innocent, if you are caught and proven guilty, you will be punished. Likewise, if I approach someone and threaten them into giving me money, if I am caught, I will be punished. Of course, if it is found that I was in a very desperate situation such as having to feed my family, this will be treated as mitigating circumstances and the sentence will be reduced. However, I will still be punished.

Given the choice, would you prefer to live in a society where everyone who broke down doors without a very good reason were punished, and everyone who threatened others into giving them money were punished? Or would you prefer to live in a society where certain classes of people had an exemption, where they could break down doors indiscriminately, without good reason, and threaten people into giving them money without being punished at all?

If a person doesn’t give the question its full consideration, most people will say, of course they would prefer to live in a society where the law is applied evenly. But what is the full extent of this proposition?

Police, having no right to arrest anybody whom they didn’t reasonably suspect of harming someone or their property, will decide to keep mostly to themselves, or find productive ways of maintaining the peace, by establishing ties with the community and gaining its trust. Instead of demanding someone pull over for driving too fast, they would calmly and politely ask, and attempt to persuade them that their actions exposed themselves and others to undue risk.

Judges, knowing that they will be liable for any command they make, will be unwilling to enact any punishment against peaceful people, for example, for buying or selling drugs.

Politicians would be scared to pass any legislation punishing anyone who hadn’t harmed another – making the job of politician almost completely unnecessary. And they certainly wouldn’t call for acts of war which endangered the lives of innocent civilians, because every innocent killed could be a charge of manslaughter. Likewise, soldiers would refuse to attack unless they could be certain they were only attacking a legitimate threat.

Tax collectors would decide to change tactics, knowing they couldn’t threaten anybody into getting their money, and so they would instead canvas for donations, or turn to charging for individual services.
If you agree with the premise that those who injure, threaten or steal from others should be punished, you might have to rethink what the problems with the world are, and what your idea of an ideal world might be. If you disagree, and believe that certain classes of people should be free to attack, threaten and steal from others, and even commit mass murder, then again I would suggest you reconsider where your ideas might lead, what kind of ideal world they imply, and whether that is really the kind of thing you want to support, in your heart or in your actions. Do you really want to be a detractor of civilisation, welcoming violence as necessary, along with all of the abuses of power that come with it?

Making a more peaceful world isn’t easy. There will be challenges along the way, inventing new ways of solving problems with less and less violence, or no violence, when previously we believed they were only solvable with violence. And maybe we’ll never achieve such a thing in our lifetimes, or in any lifetime. But when you look back on your life, with your dying breath, will you be content in knowing that your entire life you supported the status quo, that violence is a requirement? Or would you be more content knowing that you dared to dream, to imagine a world without war, without police brutality and abuses of power, where the word “civilisation” is not a euphemism for a society dominated by the threat of violence, but, through an entire population becoming civil, is a literal fact.

I’m not asking much. I’m not asking you to do or say anything, or even exert any effort. I’m just asking you to let go of one idea, the idea that “violence is necessary” – the conviction that even an ideal world must include threats of violence – because whatever happens, the thought of dominating your fellow man out of necessity can never make you happy. To liberate yourself from this idea is to open up new possibilities, to open yourself to compassion for your fellow man, and to embrace the innocent as worthy of your protection.

Episode 101 – Choose Liberty, or Choose Domination

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What do you value? What’s important to you in life? I can name a few things that are important to me: liberty, peace, respect, human rights. Some people don’t value those things, or at least, they’re lower down on their list of values. Instead they value things like certainty, convenience, and even feeling good, and their own ignorance.

Now a lot of people will say that they value liberty, but once you get into it a little more closely, you can see it’s not quite so true. So let me as k you: did you ever value liberty enough to say “Free Irwin Schiff”, a man who was in prison because of his belief in property rights – his belief that his money and other people’s money, shouldn’t be taken from them by force, and used as collateral to fund central banks, and fund expansive, endless wars.

Did you ever value liberty enough to say – at least just say the words – “Free Ross Ulbricht” – a man who provided a service for hundreds of thousands of people, a man who provided a service that was very much in demand, the service of allowing people to buy and sell drugs on the Internet.

The thing is, if you value certainty over liberty, then you must either value your ignorance, pretending that humans rights abuses don’t happen, because of institutions such as taxation – or, you must value the certainty that human rights abuses are going to happen, because that’s exactly what does happen, when you give people the power to rule over others.

Liberty is dirty; you don’t get any guarantees in liberty. Sometimes liberty is even violent. But you know, liberty also gives you personal responsibility – that’s the thing. That’s the great lie; that’s the great trick. Because what they’ve told you is, by giving up some of your liberty, you’re actually going to limit your personal responsibility, which is something that can never, ever be true. Nobody can ever take that power from you – nobody can ever take the fact that you are captain of your own soul, that you are architect of your own destiny. And any responsibility that you have, for the rest of humanity, can never be delegated to someone else. It cannot.

Whether you choose the certainty of domination, the certainty of people abusing their power, or you choose liberty – that beautiful chaos, that beautiful space that allows the human race to transform, to transcend, to create something new and different – whatever you choose, I advise you to choose. Because people may call you many things. They may call you delusional, a pinko, an idealist, a fool, a warmonger, a violent sociopath. They might even call you a freedom fighter. But, as long as you choose, they will never call you the worst of all insults. They will never call you wishy-washy, they will never call you vague, and they will never call you indecisive.

The System Works

You tell me that the system works, that things are going well, that the government feeds the poor, that their regulations prevent people taking advantage of us, that we are safe, and presumably, that we can put our trust in them. You tell me that phasing out governments (and the central banks that back them) might cause chaos, and why should we take a risk when everything is fine right now? You tell me that the system works. I’m inclined to disagree.

Yesterday, I sent my friend in Venezuela a few dollars’ worth of bitcoin. Far away from your mind, people are suffering because of a more-corrupt-than-usual central bank, and a more-corrupt-than-usual government. Many lives have been ruined, and many people are confused, because their fiat currency is collapsing. The official rate for the Bolívar, for bankers and government officials in denial, is 6.35 Bs to the dollar. The real rate of Bolívares to the dollar, is 841.67, and as the value of the currency slips away into the night and into Madero’s buddies’ pockets, laying the foundations of Chavez’s daughter’s three-storey mansion, the remainder of the country dives into poverty.

It’s easy not to think about that, and justify social programs for the poor, that are funded with money from central banks, and believe that these programs do good – without thinking about the real consequences. These programs may have continued for your lifetime, and so, in your mind, you expect them to always be there – these programs which, at best, provide help in a difficult time, and at worst, incentivise people to become trapped in a cycle of poverty or dependency. These things are fine, for now. The poor don’t scream in the streets, for now, because they are well-fed, though every year the old-aged pension of $200 a fortnight is worth less and less, and you don’t hear the cries of the old because they’re too old to cry out. The system feeds those whom it has disenfranchised, and so, you assume that everything is fine. The system works, you say.

The system works, until one day when it doesn’t. The system works until one day when you wake up to find out that it’s a bank holiday, and the government has authorised the bank to take everything over $1,000 in your account, and limit your withdrawals to $50 a day, leaving you unknowing if there will still be money there tomorrow to withdraw. The system works until one day the Deutschmark slips over the fiscal cliff, leaving you wondering how you’re going to find that last billion marks to buy a loaf of bread to feed your family, while central bankers in their country villas sleep on beds of gold ingots. What becomes of the poor then?

The system works if you pretend that there aren’t millions of young men in prison for victimless crimes, a ridiculously high murder rate in Ciudad Juárez, kids killed by stray bullets in Medellín, farmers in Antioquia extorted into growing coca by paramilitaries, made profitable by the War on Drugs, funded by the Federal Reserve.

Tell me that the system works, and all we need to do is take more money from the rich, and everything will be fine, apparently without realising that there has never existed yet a tax system which isn’t built to favour the rich and powerful, and without realising that any tax system will invariably be used to provide collateral for a central bank, which will invariably be used to kill.

The system works as long as the media don’t publish pictures of those wars which central banks have funded. They don’t show you the dead bodies, and they don’t show you the radicalised veterans who have cast the scales from their eyes with anger, who repeat those words “War is a racket.” They don’t show you the millions of dead civilians, the children who only ever wanted to play in peace, suffering from white phosphorous fume inhalation, the images of a father holding his dead babies in his arms and asking God why? Oh no, they don’t show you that.

And as long as they don’t show you that, and as long as you don’t look for yourself and put the pieces together, you can come here and tell me without irony: the system works.

No, the system doesn’t work. And what you don’t realise is, the system is already finished. We already have the technology to solve all of these problems. The system is a dead man walking, and for those of us that see it, when we observe the extreme force that it uses over the coming years in an attempt to maintain dominance, we can take solace in the fact that what we are watching, are the death throes of a millenia-old beast.

 

Kurt reposted this article on his Steemit account here.

Currency Collapse Normalcy Bias

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If you’re not looking for alternatives to government, modern democracy and economies dominated by centralised control of currency, then you’re just not aware how bad things are. To go about your daily life, you might not have to confront these issues. Though you complain to the cashier about prices rising and blame the person or company that’s right in front of you, though you never stop to think about the deeper causes. You complain to your insurance agent that his prices have risen 10%, while the CPI is at 2.6%, but you never question why such a thing as a CPI exists in the first place.

It’s something like living in what you think is a happy marriage – a “satisfied” marriage . You’re more or less nice to your partner and your partner is more or less nice to you. You live together; you’re both financially comfortable; perhaps you even share intimacy from time to time. Yet, one day you wake up and can’t ignore the signs that your partner is cheating on you, or has no passion, or is completely indifferent to your presence. You drive to work and yell at the guy who cuts you off, and that sudden outburst gives you the chance to bury your overwhelming suspicions. You distract yourself with your work, forget about your paranoid, careful, and accurate analysis, and push yourself in denial for another few months. That is something like how a first-world central bank-dominated economy is. You can ignore it, and deny it, until one ominous day, in which you cannot.

Many people in the world don’t have that privilege – the privilege of ignorance of how badly they are being fucked. They have that personal knowledge because they have lived through several economic crises, currency collapses and devaluations. They’ve had to walk in the rain to trade Deutschmarks for pounds with shady characters in a dark alley. They’ve had to walk into a supermarket with the dread that a ruble is no longer worth five “standard units”, and they may not have the money to cover their groceries.

Normalcy bias affects everyone who has some semblance of normalcy in their life, and the more normalcy they have, and the longer it is sustained, the greater the bias.

The question is, what is going to happen in those countries where people have never really gone through an economic collapse or a currency crash, when it finally happens? What happens if the US dollar collapses, reducing central banks’ reserves to worthlessness? How far do the dominoes fall? Are people going to panic? Will there be a state of anomie, with people looting and killing for food and water? Will people be reduced to shock when they realise things that were once commonplace are, at least for today, impossible? What happens if there’s nothing in the supermarket? What happens if there is something in the supermarket, but the hundreds of dollars in your bank account are not worth anything by the time you get there?