by Frederick Mann
Some people learn a few things about freedom. Then they assume that their version of freedom is the one and only gospel. And to save the world, all they have to do is get others to accept their gospel.
The more I learn about freedom, the more I find that there's still more to learn. In order to broaden our freedom perspectives it may be useful to think in terms of the Freedom Steps we take. We don't necessarily take these steps in the sequence I've classified them. Some of us take only some of the steps. And some of us may take a step only partially and later come back to take more of that step.
Freedom Step #1 is PAIN - discovering freedom for the first time
Most people have little or no conception of freedom. Many equate democracy with freedom. They think that because everybody gets a social security number, a driver's license, car registration, and pays taxes, therefore these things have nothing to do with freedom.
A few of us have discovered that being forced to get a number, driver's license, car registration, and having to pay taxes are violations of our freedom. We may describe "freedom" in many different ways. To some of us it means self-ownership - I own my life, mind, and body - and the right to own property, including the fruit of our labor. It means voluntary association and exchange. It means I can do anything which doesn't harm others or their property.
It can be very painful to wake up to these principles of freedom and discover the extent to which they are being violated - the evils of the IRS and the federal reserve system. Many people who experience Freedom Step #1, don't do anything about freedom because the violators of their freedom are too strong, it's too hopeless and painful. Or they join some group fighting, politicking, or begging for freedom - they make sacrifices for the noble cause. Despite their best efforts, the systems violating their freedom seem to get worse. Many freedom fighters experience their lack of results as painful. Some get disillusioned and give up.
How to Discover Freedom
If you have not yet discovered freedom, you may want to read one or more of the following:
The Benefits of Freedom Step #1
Although discovering freedom for the first time can be very painful, there are some benefits:
IF FREEDOM IS SO GOOD AND SO MANY GREAT MINDS HAVE ADVOCATED FREEDOM FOR SO LONG, THEN WHY IS FREEDOM DIMINISHING IN SO MANY PARTS OF THE WORLD?
Please make a list of your favorite freedom advocates and organizations. Now evaluate them to see the extent to which they have gone beyond Freedom Step #1.
Let me suggest to you that unless, in addition to Step 1, you also personally take Steps #2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc. - and unless you lead others by your example - our freedom will continue to be at risk. Unless you personally take Steps 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc., the violations of your personal freedom will probably get worse.
IF YOU LIKE FREEDOM, YOU CAN TURN YOUR LIKING INTO HUGE ADVANTAGES ... PROVIDED YOU TAKE YOUR NEXT FREEDOM STEP.
Freedom Step #2 is Saying "NO" to the system
In 1962 I was "drafted" (more accurately, kidnapped) into the military. Although I hadn't learned anything about freedom as a subject or set of principles (I knew nothing about Freedom Step #1), I instinctively said "NO!" to the system. I decided that I would obey as little as possible and cause maximum problems for the officers who tried to push me around, while enjoying myself and having fun.
In the army, after breakfast, our day started with roll-call and square bashing. After about ten days of this torture I got the bright idea one day of simply deleting my name from the roll-call book. During lunch time I slipped into the office, found the roll-call book, deleted my name, and reduced the total number of troops by one!
For the rest of the six months I spent in that camp, I never had to suffer any more parades, roll-calls, or square bashing. I turned my "military slavery" into a vacation! I visited a nearby golf course almost every day and reduced my handicap to 9.
My "military experiences" much later gave birth to the idea of Freedom Technology. In the army I developed all kinds of ways to elude those who tried to push me around. For example, I learned that a sergeant doesn't speak to a captain - the hierarchical structure must be followed without jumping levels. So, if a sergeant asked me where I was going or had been, I simply told him Captain So-and-so had told me to do whatever - or had asked me to play golf with him! It worked like magic without exception.
After a few months it became an axiom among the troops that "Mann never gets into trouble."
In looking back it's quite extraordinary that philosophically I didn't know anything about freedom, yet I developed a whole array of techniques to literally run rings around the military tyrants.
I also became pretty good at embarrassing them in public. One day a particularly nasty sergeant said to me that he had seen me in town wearing civilian clothes. I asked him what time? He said four o'clock. I told him there must be a mistake because I had been in camp at that time, cleaning guns. Then I told him I had a "double" in town who looked just like me. One of the onlookers said that he had also seen my "double" in town. Someone else said that he had seen me cleaning guns at four o'clock. The sergeant felt a real idiot.
What actually happened was that immediately after the sergeant saw me in town in civilian clothes, I returned to the golf club (where I kept my civilian clothes), changed into uniform, and returned to camp. (I had also developed a way to quickly get into and out of camp without being seen by the guards at the gate.) I joined the gun-cleaning crew and made sure that others noticed my presence - to establish an alibi.
That sergeant and most of the other officers eventually became reluctant to ask me what I was doing or where I'd been because I always had an answer that left them unable to proceed and they hated losing face.
I also discovered that practically all the officers had very low self-esteem - little nobodies who needed their uniforms and the insignia of their rank to be able to pretend that they were big shots. Threaten their "authority" - in subtle, covert ways they couldn't counter -and they became scared little wimps.
So these experiences later gave birth to Freedom Technology and the ability to say "NO!" to the system without getting into much trouble.
One of the most important areas in which to say "NO!" to the system is taxes. Another is the "draft" or "conscription." It's up to each of us to choose the areas in which we say "NO!" There are areas where I don't say "NO!" because I do what works best for me. For example, I carry a government-issued driver's license. If I get pulled over by the cops I want to be able to continue to my destination with minimum hassle.
It's imperative for each of us to find at least one area where we say "NO!" to the system. This is how we begin to experience our personal power and freedom.
How much good is it to talk freedom as a Libertarian or Patriot, but to live like a slave?
How to Say "NO!" to the System
Generally, the lawyers who draft legislation, deliberately leave loopholes to exploit for themselves and their clients. For example, I practiced as a computer consultant in Belgium. I operated as a British company. Because the company did no business in Britain and had no income there, it didn't have to pay any taxes in Britain. And because it was a foreign company in Belgium, with no office there, it didn't have to pay any taxes in Belgium. (My company didn't even have to charge my clients the value added tax, which was about 16% at the time. This was a significant competitive advantage.) All this was perfectly legal.
So, there may be relatively simple ways to say "NO!" to the system. You just have to look for them. In America there are probably 30 to 40 million people who successfully say "NO!" to the tax system.
The Benefits of Freedom Step #2
Freedom Step #3 is THINKING SKILLS - improving your intelligence and ability to think
Most of us take it for granted that we know how to think. But consider the possibility that your freedom starts in your mind. What if the degree of freedom you experience in your life is determined 95% by how you think and the contents of your mind? What if the degree of your freedom is determined only 5% by external factors?
In his "Redemption Song" Bob Marley sings, "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our minds."
Consider the possibility that the degree of freedom in the world is a function of the thinking skills of individuals.
Often, we don't respond to reality as it exists or occurs, but to our thoughts about or interpretations of reality. We see something, and we say, "It means so and so." Then we respond to the "so and so," rather than to reality itself.
A very important thinking skill is to observe ourselves responding, and to question all aspects of what we see, what we think it means, what we do, and the consequences of what we do.
The single most powerful book on thinking skills I know of is Software for the Brain by Dr. Michael Hewitt-Gleeson (Wrightbooks, Victoria, Australia; 1993). Edward de Bono, Hewitt-Gleeson's mentor, has written about two-dozen books on thinking skills. He coined the term, "lateral thinking."
How To Improve Your Thinking Skills
The Benefits of Freedom Step #3
Freedom Step #4 is Rejecting COERCION - rejection of the initiation of violence, fraud, and threat of violence
Consider this: We are naturally free; we have freedom of choice; we have advanced brains that enable us to learn and think for ourselves and make conscious decisions.
So why do some people think they have to force their will onto others? Answer: because they themselves lack thinking skills. For thought they substitute force. To persuade someone usually requires thought.
Coercion is usually described as "overwhelming the will of another by using force or the threat of force."
During my "military escapades" I somehow naturally applied my thinking skills to thwart those who sought to coerce me. I never even considered using violence or threats against them. They commanded superior force. I had superior thinking skills. I won practically every time.
When you coerce someone you are essentially implying that your victim doesn't have a mind with the capability to think. You think for your victim, therefore you force him or her to do your will.
Coercion needs to be distinguished from persuasion. In its strongest form, coercion involves killing another. Next comes threatening to kill someone unless he or she obeys you. Threatening to beat, rob, or incarcerate comes next. The strong forms of coercion involve force or threat of force, sometimes deadly force. Government tends to operate at these levels as a last resort. Political power comes from the barrel of a gun, said Mao. This is also the level of the violent criminal, the robber or murderer.
The lowest or weakest level of coercion is to use misrepresentation or fraud to induce someone to do something (usually harmful to themselves) that they wouldn't do if they knew all the relevant facts. Much of government operates at this level. This is also the level of the sophisticated criminal, the conman, the embezzler. They lie to get your money. It is also the level of the brainwasher (government teacher). They lie to get your mind.
A distinction needs to be made between initiated force, and force used in self-defense. Force and deception used to prevent others from coercing you is perfectly acceptable. You just have to be careful to minimize being coerced.
We also need to examine indirect coercion. When I buy gas for my car, some of my money goes to the government in the form of taxes. When I buy almost anything, I practice indirect coercion. The system is rigged so that for most of us this is inescapable.
Whenever I pay taxes, I practice indirect coercion. Many of us think we don't have a choice in this. In Freedom Step #5 you'll discover that you always have a choice.
There is also a form of indirect coercion we might call "coercion by proxy" - instead of killing someone myself, I hire a hit man.
We can also make a distinction between individual coercion and organized coercion - the difference between the individual mugger and the criminal gang - for example, government.
Sometimes it's necessary to use coercion against children to prevent hurt or death. If my daughter is about to run in front of a speeding car, I grab her and yank her out of the way. Her ability to observe, think, and act appropriately isn't fully developed, so I use force to overwhelm her will and save her life. (If my absentminded friend carelessly steps onto the road, I might do the same.)
When coercion is perpetrated, there is almost always a loser. Coercive government is a win-lose game - it's destructive. In contrast, voluntary exchange is win-win - it benefits all parties. This a major reason why free enterprise works.
Many of us need to do some thinking about coercion:
How To Discover and Reject Coercion
Most people are relatively blind to coercion, particularly its subtle forms. Many people who are very aware of coercion are blind to the fact that most people are blind to coercion. Recently I had a discussion with a Libertarian friend. I indicated to him that as far as I know no one has yet written a description of coercion that the "person in the street" or "common person" could really understand. He said, "Why don't they just look it up in the dictionary?"
I don't know how to describe coercion so that it can be generally understood. Can anyone help?
What thinking skills are necessary in order to understand coercion?
The Zeno Press publications cover the subject of coercion in some detail - Your Personal Independence Package, #Z-01: Property, and #Z02: Why Government? - available from Build Freedom.
The Benefits of Freedom Step #4
Freedom Step #5 is PLEASURE - Discovering that you are FREE BY NATURE
The next Freedom Step is a very big step. In all of human history, very few have taken it. This is the step where you discover that you are free by nature. You are free in that you control the energy that animates your body. You choose the thoughts you think. You make decisions that move your muscles. You and only you. In fact, you are free whether you know it or not. You cannot be anything but free.
If you decide to lift your finger, it's your decision that lifts your finger. If someone points a gun at you and says, "Lift your finger or I'll shoot," it's your decision to lift or not lift your finger. It's always your decision. You decide whether or not you vote. You decide whether or not you pay taxes.
Your actions (and inactions) have consequences. Step-5 Freedom means you control your actions - but you don't control the consequences of your actions. This is where responsibility comes in. You learn, more and more, to choose those actions that produce desirable results.
To discover that you are free you need to experience this freedom. You may need to be in a bad, even hopeless, situation. Then you realize deep down that you are free to choose. You feel the exhilaration and ecstasy - pure profound pleasure - of being free. Then you take the necessary steps to create a wonderful situation.
It's very difficult to take Freedom Step #5 by only reading about it. You need to experience your freedom. My military experiences, described above, laid a foundation for me to later discover that I was free. After reading Harry Browne's How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World, I decided to live as free as possible from government interference. I had many experiences of outwitting the tyrants. This had much to do with discovering that I was free, that I always chose my actions, that I never had to obey tyrants - unless I chose to do so.
How to Discover that You Are Free
The Benefits of Freedom Step #5
IN ORDER TO CREATE ANYTHING
YOU NEED TO FIRST CREATE THAT PICTURE
IN YOUR MIND
Personal power is the freedom and the ability to create. When you've taken Freedom Step #5 you've discovered a muscle. Then you need to develop that muscle to achieve personal power.
Freedom Step #6 is PERSONAL POWER - to maximize your freedom, you may have to increase your personal power in several areas of your life
If you're too weak to lift your finger, your "freedom" isn't of much use. You are also free to choose your attitudes. In order to realize your power you need to choose power-attitudes.
One person buys the Build Freedom materials. He studies and integrates them. Then he applies them to his already successful business. He gets the government off his back. The business booms. Assets and profits increase over 400% in six months.
Another person also buys the Build Freedom materials. He struggles and complains. It's as if his head is in a noose made of failure-attitudes. He hasn't taken Freedom Step #5. He doesn't know he's free. He's not even aware of the debilitating failure-attitudes that weigh him down.
You may need to learn how to identify your failure-attitudes and replace them with power-attitudes. You may discover that you're 10 - or even 100! - times more powerful than you thought you were.
How to Increase Your Personal Power
The Benefits of Freedom Step #6
Freedom Step #7 is PRODUCTIVITY - why you may have to PRODUCE MORE in order to increase your freedom
To actualize your freedom you need to create value. Contrast this to Step-1 Freedom where people sacrifice for a noble cause. Often the result is a painful loss of value. Unless positive results are produced, the net result is a drain on everyone stuck in that step.
In Freedom Step #7 you learn how to apply your personal power to produce and multiply value. You discover what works and what doesn't. You discover what is useful and what isn't. You discover what people want and don't want. You discover what is valuable. You begin to discover some of what you can produce.
There are many people who philosophically know nothing about freedom. But they are productive in creating value. In return for value created they earn lots of money that provides them the options to do much of what they want. They may enjoy a great deal of freedom.
Then there are many Step-1 Freedom lovers who use their "lack of freedom" as a scapegoat for being unproductive. They moan and complain because BIG BAD GOVERNMENT curtails their freedom and prevents them from being productive. They get together for Step-1 Freedom conventions where they moan and complain about how bad everything is. They're almost like hungry, cold, wet, helpless victims huddling together around a little fire in a cave where they get a little warmth (for a change!) and make each other feel good - "charging our batteries" they call it.
Taking Freedom Step #7 involves shifting from being unproductive to being productive - or from productive to more productive. For some it's a shift from talking about freedom to actually living freedom. You implement practical freedom in the way you live and do business.
Other aspects of productivity are setting goals and time management.
How to Become More Productive
The Benefits of Freedom Step #7
Freedom Step #8 is PROFIT & PROSPERITY - profit or die is the motto of the universe
Next you learn how to make your productive efforts more profitable through applying the knowledge, skills, and methods of practical freedom - or "Freedom Technology," as we call it in Build Freedom. One of the keys is to find something you can do profitably, and that you can also do many times. If you can make and sell one widget for a profit, you may be able to make and sell 1,000s or 1,000,000s and make a fortune.
If you work for a boss this is very difficult. The boss usually gets the profits. The boss can make a fortune because if he can get one person to do something profitably, he can organize 100 or 1,000 people to do the same thing profitably.
When you take Freedom Step #8 you learn how to make your productive effort more profitable. A major way this can be achieved is to get government off your back - by applying Freedom Technology. You may also need to learn MARKETING and how to make marketing more productive and profitable.
A further aspect of Freedom Step #8 is to learn to sell freedom itself for profit. This is very different from Step-1 Freedom where organizations beg for contributions and sacrifices for the noble cause. The most powerful way to expand freedom is to develop a profitable freedom-promoting action that can be duplicated and multiplied. More than any other, this is the factor that makes possible the explosive growth potential of Build Freedom.
How to Become More Profitable
The Benefits of Freedom Step #8
Freedom Step #9 is PROTECTION from PREDATORS - how to protect your life, mind, body, income, and assets from government and other predators
Politicians, bureaucrats, and lawyers tend to hate the successful creation of value. Intellectually, psychologically, and emotionally they tend to be sick. Generally, their jobs involve value destruction on a large scale. The more successful, productive, value-creative, and profitable something is, the more they tend to hate it.
There is a very powerful legal principle you can apply to reduce the risk of being attacked by government marauders. I call it "the embarrassing issue principle." I recently heard a story about a prosecutor saying to judge, "But you honor! You can't allow this matter to be entered as evidence, because if you do, it'll destroy the judicial system!"
Suppose you operate some business or activity which is perfectly legitimate, but the government criminals don't like it, and they've passed some unconstitutional statute prohibiting it. Suppose you have taken a certain legal precaution such that if the government criminals haul you into court, they'll be unable to prevent you from bringing one or more "embarrassing issues" before the court. As soon as they discover your precaution, they may very well back down and leave you alone.
In 1993 government criminals raided the free-enterprise bank of Anthony Hargis. They illegally seized money, records, and computers. The contract Hargis has his clients sign, includes several "embarrassing issues." Hargis also submitted an "Affidavit of Truth," containing "embarrassing issues" to the appropriate government agencies. Earlier this year they returned everything they had seized.
In addition to personal or individual protection, we also need protection on a wider scale. We need an alternative defense system based on voluntary cooperation. Such a system already exists in America, called the militia. The militia system needs to be greatly expanded.
How to Protect Yourselves
The Benefits of Freedom Step #9
Freedom Step #10 is RECOGNIZE POLITICAL & PREACHER PRANKS - Your freedom can take huge leaps forward when you realize the extent to which some politics and religions may be pure HOAXES
Many people have analyzed political systems and come to the conclusion that fundamentally government (or state) is an agency of coercion or violence - the cult of coercion. Government or state is a Mafia protection racket clothed in legitimacy. This is a Freedom Step #1 insight.
Freedom Step #10 is much more difficult to take. To take this step you have to realize that political systems are essentially hoaxes - all smoke and mirrors. The so-called "U.S. Constitution" was never signed by anybody in any way that makes it a legal contract that binds anybody. The pretended "U.S.A." is and has always been a fraud and a hoax.
The lawyers, politicians, and bureaucrats pretending to be (and masquerading as) "presidents," "senators," "representatives," "secretaries," "generals," "judges," "prosecutors," "ambassadors," etc. have all been liars and impostors. As far as I know, this applies to all political systems on earth.
So then, is Bill Clinton really "the president of the U.S.A.?" Or is he just an ordinary liar and an imposter masquerading as "the head of state?" What about all his predecessors? What would happen if 5 or 10% of people just laughed when they heard Slick Willie referred to as "president?"
Most people believe that some of the noises and scribbles emanating from the mouths and pens of the lawyers, politicians, and bureaucrats (masquerading as "government" so-called) are somehow special and constitute "the law." The Step-1 Freedom activist thinks the law must be changed or repealed, or new laws are necessary. The Step-10 Freedom activist thinks that the noises and scribbles regarded as "law" by some, are better described as absurd curses to be ridiculed.
If the supposed "U.S.A." is really a fraud and a hoax, what about other pretended "countries?" In his superb pamphlet, No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority, Lysander Spooner strongly argues that none of these political systems have any legal basis in reality. Once, when I tried to explain Freedom Step #10 to a Step-1 Freedom activist, he pointed to his globe of the world and said, "Obviously, where I think the U.S.A. is, you think there's just a big hole in the ground!"
Of course, the physical land, buildings, people, and papers exist. But treating "government" as a volitional entity - that is, having a living, breathing consciousness of its own is fundamentally absurd. Individual people have consciousness - not abstract concepts.
The Step-1 Freedom activist grants an unjustified reality to the political system. He sees the political system as big and powerful and sees himself as small and weak. He takes the political system very seriously. The Step-10 Freedom activist regards the political system as a cruel hoax maintained by the liars, impostors, gullible, naive, and weak. He sees the political system as a cruel, absurd hoax to be ridiculed. He sees the perpetrators of the hoax as silly little idiots. He sees himself as more powerful than the hoax. Generally, his insights about and attitudes toward the political system provide him with powerful options to run rings around the little idiots.
The Step-1 Freedom activist says, "The Emperor has no clothes." The Step-10 Freedom activist asks, "Why do you regard a naked man as "Emperor"?" The Step-10 Freedom activist realizes that the political system is kept in place primarily by words - as indicated by Robert Ringer in his excellent book, Restoring the American Dream, Chapter 8: "Keeping It All In Place." Words like "King," "Emperor," "President," "Prime Minister," "Ayatollah," "Government," "State," "Country," "Nation," "Authority," etc. These words are better regarded as false concepts, jokes, or curses.
The Step-10 Freedom activist really takes only one thing about political systems seriously - the threat posed by individuals in the system to his life, property, and well-being.
Some religions might also be tyrannical frauds and hoaxes. As examples, the Spanish Inquisition and the "Ayatollah" (so-called) Khomeini's reign stand out.
Most people overestimate the power of government by a multiple of at least 100. At the same time, most people underestimate their own power by a fraction of at least 100. This debilitating misperception of reality is corrected during Freedom Step #10.
Author Kurt Vonnegut coined the word "granfalloon" to describe abstract concepts like "nation," "state," "country," "government," etc. He wrote, "To discover the substance of a granfalloon, just prick a hole in a toy balloon."
People who take the political system seriously also tend to FEAR it. "You can't do all kinds of things because the BIG BAD GOVERNMENT will catch you and put you in jail." People who fear "the government" reduce the number and the scope of the options available to them.
Once you take Freedom Step #10, you realize you only have to fear individual government agents who pose a direct threat to your life, property, or well-being. In some parts of the world - like most of North America - it's relatively easy to live your life so you have contact with a government agent no more than once or twice a year.
There's another way to look at politics that may help you to take Freedom Step #10. Imagine you're a Martian who knows nothing about earth culture. You see these earthlings slipping pieces of paper into boxes. The result of this activity is that a few people are somehow magically transformed (or transmogrified or transmuted) into "presidents,' "governors," "congressmen," etc. - and these "superhumans" have gained the magical ability that makes their words "the law" that everyone else must obey. The Martian would regard all this as one of the silliest, stupidest, and most primitive superstitions imaginable!
After careful observation of human politics and religion, the Martian might conclude that earthlings suffer from mass-hallucination and that they should be avoided by the civilized inhabitants of the universe.
How to Discover the Nature and Politics and Religion
The Benefits of Freedom Step #10
Freedom Step #11 is POSITION yourself to OUTCOMPETE the ENEMIES OF FREEDOM
We need to apply business dynamics to defeat the enemy - business dynamics backed by superior legal strategies. The legal strategies are covered in Freedom Step #12.
The first thing to consider is that we can create a free-enterprise economic sector that has the potential to replace both the public and private sector. (Of course, parts of the public and private sectors could simply shift into the free-enterprise sector by abandoning coercion.)
We distinguish three economic sectors: the public sector, the private sector, and the free-enterprise sector. The public sector operates on the principle of coercion: the force of the gun. The private sector mixes coercion and freedom - politics and business. People in the private sector enjoy a modicum of freedom. However, they obey, bribe, and finance the freedom-violators of the public sector. They often obtain special privileges such as monopoly licenses, subsidies, tariff protection, and welfare from the freedom-violators. People in the free-enterprise sector practice real, true, or pure free enterprise. Build Freedom is the free-enterprise sector of the world.
The second thing to consider is that the free-enterprise sector enjoys huge advantages over the other sectors. (Currently there is a major disadvantage in that people in the public and private sectors generally try to kill the free enterprise sector. But in Freedom Step #12 we'll see that in America very powerful legal means are available to prevent those in the public and private sectors from killing the free-enterprise sector.) The free-enterprise sector is potentially vastly more profitable than the other two sectors. We can exploit this potential to bring about a huge shift of resources from the public and private sectors to the free-enterprise sector - and some of us will make fortunes in the process.
The third thing to consider is that the public and private sectors could suddenly collapse. The US$ (and some other currencies) have been gradually collapsing for decades. But a sudden financial panic could completely wipe out most paper currencies within a week or so. This could bring major economies to a virtual standstill. Such a scenario has been described in the book Bankruptcy 1995 by Harry Figgie.
If enough alternatives are created ahead of time, maybe a "soft landing" can be engineered. We particularly need alternatives in currencies, banking, energy, utilities, agriculture, defense, and education. Such alternative institutions are covered in Freedom Step #13, except for militia, for which see Freedom Step #9.
The fourth thing to consider is that if you work in the public or private sector, or even own and run a private-sector business, your means of survival could be wiped out almost overnight during a currency crisis. Furthermore, all financial instruments denominated in paper currencies (such as the US$) - like insurance policies, retirement funds, government securities, and shares - could be wiped out almost overnight.
However, if you immediately start operating some of your economic activities in the free-enterprise sector - even if on a small scale initially - you can begin to prepare for the coming bust in the public and private sectors and the boom in the free-enterprise sector. And if you play a leading role in the new free-enterprise sector, you can position yourself to make a fortune.
And how do you position yourself? Well, you learn as much as you can about practical freedom. You find some economic activity you can perform, or participate in, in the free-enterprise sector. You start using the alternative institutions already available, like alternative banking. You form networks with others in the free-enterprise sector. Learn all you need to about business and marketing. Learn how to defend a free-enterprise business against attacks from the public sector.
How to Position Yourself to Out-compete the Enemies of Freedom
The Benefits of Freedom Step #11
Freedom Step #12 is REDUCE POLITICAL POWER for PEACE and PROSPERITY
The political power of the tyrant depends on the personal power forfeited or given up by his victims. The weaker the victims, the more political power they grant the tyrant and the stronger he becomes. The first antidote to the tyrant is personal power - individuals developing their personal power to the point where they largely or completely refuse to sacrifice their personal power to the tyrant - the point where they say "NO!" to the tyrant's system.
The second antidote to the tyrant is the economic power of the free. But this economic power must not be used to support the tyrant, it must be used to expand the free-enterprise sector, to shift people, money, and resources away from the tyrant.
The third antidote to the tyrant is legal. By exposing the frauds and hoaxes of the tyrant - particularly in his kangaroo courts - he can be stopped in his tracks. Jury Nullification comes into play here. In a jury trial the jurors have the power and the duty to judge both fact and law. The individual juror can say, "not guilty; it's a bad law!" This effectively nullifies the law - at least in a particular instance. For more information about the rights of juries, or to find out how you can help spread the word, call 1-800-TEL-JURY.
Many organizations in America are engaged in developing the legal means to stop the tyrant. In my opinion, right now the legal means have been developed to the point that the tyrant is finished. His game is over. The marketing and implementation of the solution is growing explosively with unstoppable momentum.
To bring about lasting PEACE, the tyrant has to be laughed out of existence. To do this you need to realize that his political power, based entirely on a hoax and fraud, is bogus. And you need to realize that your own personal power is vastly greater than you thought - see Freedom Step #10.
Personally, I believe that voting in a political election amounts to giving away your power - no matter who you vote for, even if your candidate promises to implement everything you believe in. Furthermore, when you vote, you participate in a questionable procedure, to say the least.
One of the things politicians fear most is that nobody (or very few) will show up to vote. They like to say they have a "mandate from the people." If nobody showed up to vote it would become much easier to laugh the tyrants out of existence.
How to Reduce Political Power for Peace and Prosperity
The Benefits of Freedom Step #12
Freedom Step #13 is ALTERNATIVE INSTITUTIONS
In general, the tyrant (with the complicity of his victims) has created a system in which it is almost impossible for the victims not to support the tyrant - it's almost impossible for the victims to live their daily lives without relinquishing power to the tyrant. For example, just by using the tyrant's money and banks, or sending your children to the tyrant's schools, you support the tyrant and you relinquish your personal power.
The easiest way for individuals to withdraw their support, is for there to be alternative voluntary institutions. Such alternative institutions are necessary in areas such as coinage, currency, banking, education, communication, justice, health, defense, energy, utilities, etc.
We already have some model institutions:
How to Launch an Alternative Institution
The Benefits of Freedom Step #13
Freedom Step #14 is PERSONAL HEALTH
What you can and can't do with your body is a major measure of the degree of freedom you enjoy. When you're ill in bed, you have little freedom. The healthier you are, the more freedom you have.
The most important factor in personal health is to assume personal responsibility. Second, probably, comes good diet; and, third, exercise.
How to Achieve Personal Health
The Benefits of Freedom Step #14
Freedom Step #15 is PERPETUITY- how to overcome DEATH, the greatest enemy of freedom
Unless you believe in "spiritual phenomena" like "life after death," and "reincarnation," death is the end of freedom. It is therefore incumbent upon those of us, skeptical of "life after death" theories, to do our utmost to overcome death - to develop the technologies necessary to achieve biological or physical immortality. Death is the biggest enemy of freedom.
One of the important technologies that will bring about immortality is "nanotechnology" - the technology of the very small, technology that makes possible the manipulation of matter at the atomic and molecular levels. Through nanotechnology, nano-machines will be developed, capable of being injected into the body, finding damaged cells, and repairing them.
Technology in areas like genetics and understanding aging processes will also make major contributions. But one of the most important issues for immortalists to confront is coercion. Coercion is a death-process. Some time ago I wrote as follows to an immortalist friend:
"One of my primary purposes is biological or physical immortality. If it were not for the prospect of immortality, the motivation for creating Build Freedom would have been much less.
The phenomenon of "coercive government" manifests as kinds of "death machines." The origin of these deaths machines is the contents of individual minds. As long as a critical percentage of humans carry the "coercive government meme" in their brains, the "government death machines" will continue to manifest and wreak their havoc. ("Meme" is to mind as gene is to body - see The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins.)
To the extent that immortalists (or aspirant-immortalists) carry the "coercive government meme" in their heads, are they still deathists? If you are blind to coercion - or the more subtle forms of coercion - do you remain a deathist? If you accept coercion in principle - some people have the right to initiate force or violence to impose their will upon others, to overwhelm or violate the will of others, to live off the values created by others - do you then still accept a form of deathism? In practice, is the acceptance of coercion as an organizing or operating principle by those who call themselves "government" the acceptance of deathism? - does such acceptance inexorably result in people killing people?
I'm sure you appreciate the extent to which "government death machines" directly and indirectly destroy human lives. I'm sure you appreciate the magnitude of the resources consumed and wasted destructively by "government death machines." If it were not for this destruction, imagine what resources would be available for immortality R&D.
My interactions with people in the immortalist movement indicate that many of them seem blind to coercion, oblivious to the "government death machines," the "coercive government meme" firmly entrenched in their brains. Are they to this extent deathists and traitors to their own cause? I don't know what is necessary to induce immortalists to wake up to the nature and consequences of "government death machines," and what needs to be done about them. Maybe you can help.
One way of describing Build Freedom is that we replace the "government death machines" with "voluntary life organisms" - alternative currency & banking, private & secure communication systems, voluntary education, etc. In order to do this, we have to induce individuals to replace their "coercive government memes" and other "failure memes" with memes resulting in individual freedom and responsibility, voluntary exchange, personal power, success, health, wealth, etc.
Build Freedom has become spectacularly successful because of the memes of the principals. Our overall strategy for "creating a better world" is probably more advanced than that of any other organization or group. And we are totally open to improving any aspect of it. I am very optimistic about the probability that we will succeed in replacing the "government death machines" with "voluntary life organisms." Your support could produce phenomenal results."
How to Achieve Physical or Biological Immortality
The Benefits of Freedom Step #15
Freedom Step #16 is Confront COMPULSIVE KNEE-JERK NEGATIVITY without reacting in like fashion
Some time ago a friend of many years visited me. Let's call him Tom Blackmore. Tom is an accomplished Professional Gambler. He makes his living by beating the casinos. He and his associates have developed practical knowledge, methods, and skills to gain statistical advantages over certain casino games with a high degree of predictability. To succeed in this activity requires a high degree of numerate skill, concentration, and self-discipline.
Such skills constitute an aspect of Freedom Technology. They enable you to enjoy a high degree of freedom. They could also be very useful if you have to survive in bad times. They can be profitably applied in many casinos around the world. They can also be used to amass a fortune.
Tom is a former schoolteacher who became a Libertarian many years ago. He rightly abandoned his teaching career in disgust. Tom has certainly taken Freedom Step #1 - he discovered freedom when he became a Libertarian. He took Freedom Step #2 when he abandoned his teaching career, became a Professional Gambler, and started operating in the free-enterprise sector. He has done a great deal of work on developing thinking skills (Freedom Step #3), in fact, he is one of the most advanced thinkers I know. He certainly rejects coercion (Freedom Step #4). I'm pretty sure he has discovered he is free by nature (Freedom Step #5). He has developed considerable personal power in the area of professional gambling (Freedom Step #6), but I don't know that he has much power in other areas. What he does for a living does not in itself create value and isn't particularly productive, however, the proceeds may be used to create value (Freedom Step #7). As far as I know he's not involved in selling freedom for profit. His work is highly profitable and enables him to travel all over the world (Freedom Step #8). He has also organized his life so he's pretty well protected from government criminals. (Freedom Step #9). He has made considerable progress towards understanding that politics and religions tend to be fraudulent hoaxes - phenomena of mass hallucination (Freedom Step #10).
During his visit I had a discussion with Tom and his girlfriend. After a while I noticed that he frequently made unjustified negative statements, and that these were automatic and unconscious. I tactfully indicated to him that he sometimes sounded like an "automatic negativity machine." His girlfriend nodded in agreement.
I also indicated to Tom that, in my opinion, our biggest challenge was to overcome the fact that most freedom-activists operate at a productivity level of maybe 1%. I don't think Tom realized that I was also referring to him personally. At that time, his compulsive knee-jerk negativity was quite debilitating.
The following day a friend of Tom met with us to tell us about some promising freedom-promoting ideas he had developed. The meeting lasted about two hours. To practically every freedom-promoting suggestion his friend made, Tom reacted with automatic knee-jerk negativity. It seemed unconscious and compulsive to me. I just observed it without saying anything.
Tom talks a great deal about promoting freedom and provides me with all kinds of suggestions. Since I met him eight years ago, he's been writing a book on freedom. It seems like he'll never finish it. As a freedom-activist he hasn't been very successful.
Tom also demonstrated that someone can be highly positive and successful in one area of life, while being very negative and failing dismally in another.
There is also a form of compulsive negativity that borders on fraud and coercion. It's often used by political candidates to smear their opponents. It involves spreading falsehoods and half-truths.
About seven years ago when I lived in Belgium, I was involved with a freedom organization. We advertised in several libertarian publications around the world. Suddenly one month, the editor of a particular libertarian newsletter decided to stop accepting our ads. I found out about this when I called his office for the next deadline. The person answering said that he didn't know why and the editor would be away for a week. I wasn't told that they had also pulled our ad for their latest issue for which they'd accepted our advance payment.
When I received the latest issue of that newsletter, I discovered to my surprise that the ad for which we'd paid wasn't there. I contacted a friend who was also an acquaintance of the editor. She told me that he'd told her that I'd worked in a company where my job was to delay refund requests so customers' refunds wouldn't have to be paid. This falsehood came from a Libertarian I'll call X. A few years before I'd had a conversation with X during which we'd discussed this unethical practice of not paying refunds. X apparently had a reputation at the time of spreading falsehoods about other Libertarians. Anyway, X then used the contents of our conversation, and twisted it into a falsehood to tell the editor. To my surprise, when I got that newsletter, X's ad appeared where ours should have been.
Naturally, I felt quite upset. Usually, in situations like this, it's assumed that one has been falsely smeared, betrayed, stabbed in the back, defrauded, etc. - and in a cowardly fashion. I wrote a letter to the editor in which I accused him of the following:
I reacted that way because I was not yet aware of the phenomenon of compulsive knee-jerk negativity and how to deal with it. Note that everything I accused the editor of was "justified." There's an almost automatic impulse to react to negativity with more negativity. When someone strikes you, you strike back. And that's what I did. As a result, that editor will probably be my enemy forever!
Recently, a friend in England wrote to me that he experiences considerable resistance to Build Freedom, both from some people he knows in "cryonet" (a computer network of people interested in cryonics). The resistance is because I supposedly have been involved in "failed business scams." But when my friend asks his correspondents to provide specifics, they refuse.
Ayn Rand suffered from severe compulsive knee-jerk negativity. At one point her negativity got so bad that she "excommunicated" any of her followers who questioned any aspect of her philosophy. Her movement was characterized by vicious infighting and schisms.
One of the speakers who had undertaken to speak at our Orange County seminar, sent me a fax outling the theme of his talk. Among other things, he said that it was impossible to make a living selling freedom and activists should curtail their proselytizing. I faxed him back a long letter on why you could make money selling freedom and how we were doing it. A few days later I heard third-hand that he'd decided to dishonor his agreement to speak at our seminar, because "Build Freedom is a chainletter!" He didn't even show the courtesy of informing me.
The automatic knee-jerk negative reaction on my part would be to simply write off this person as a "useless asshole." A more positive attitude would be to simply say, "Too bad. If I run across this person again, I'll do my best to have a friendly conversation with him. Maybe something worthwhile will develop out of that."
I apologize for all this negativity. But it needs to be confronted. Most humans suffer from debilitating knee-jerk negativity in at least one area of life. Much of this negativity comes from all the times their parents shouted "NO!" at them, and all kinds of other negative warnings - "You'll hurt yourself!"; "Get away from that... ! (whatever)"; etc.
There are other psychological sources for negativity. Generally, freedom-activists see the political system as a huge negative. To some extent their identities are defined by having to "fight" this negative. Many of them use big bad government as a scapegoat for their lack of success and freedom. They tend to be diehard altruists who believe in sacrifice and suffering for the noble cause. Few of them have progressed beyond Freedom Step #1.
When Build Freedom comes along and says that you're free by nature and you can make a fortune selling freedom, some freedom-activists see this as a horrendous threat to their very identity. They see the threat as so strong that they'll resort to the most vicious lies and cowardly back-stabbing attacks .
Jealousy and envy also play a role. Imagine that you've been gallantly fighting for freedom for several decades. You've invested thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars. You've produced only marginal results. Overall, the experience has been painful (Freedom Step #1). Some upstart comes along with some new ideas about freedom. His organization seems to be growing rapidly. Full-page and multi-page ads start appearing all over the place. The thought that the upstart organization might succeed, where they have predominantly experienced only failure is unbearable. Therefore the upstarts are fair game and must be attacked.
It's ironic that so far the only attacks against Build Freedom have come from people in the freedom movement (except for a mother whose son wanted to work with us).
This debilitating compulsive knee-jerk negativity is pretty pervasive among freedom-activists. It probably reduces the effectiveness of our movement to less than 10% of what it could be. The time has come for us to become more positive.
How to Transcend Negativity
The Benefits of Freedom Step #16
Freedom Step # 17 is Shift to a HIGHER PLANE - Move to a META-POSITION - Focus on Your OBJECTIVE and What You Have to Do to Achieve It.
[Acknowledgment: Don Winfield contributed extensively to the formulation of Freedom Step #17.]
Have you ever observed a husband and wife involved in an angry, emotional, make-wrong argument - a spiral of escalating negativity? The husband says something negative to his wife. She reacts with something more negative. Soon, negative insults just go around and around. They continue until one or both are emotionally exhausted. It's almost like two boxers in a ring: blow and counter-blow.
By "higher plane" I mean stepping out of the ring. "meta-position" means the same thing. "Meta" means beyond. If someone hits you, you don't just automatically stand and fight; you step back, you analyze the situation, you reflect; you choose your objective and you figure out how to achieve it. In order to do this you need to appreciate certain factors:
But when we are verbally attacked, it's a very different matter. We don't have to fight or flee in order to survive. We can step back and think, analyze the situation, reflect, choose an objective, decide what we have to do to achieve it.
Similar experiments have been done with teachers and students, with the same outcome. If teachers are told that their students are stupid, then the academic performance tends to be poor. On the other hand, if teachers are told that their students are clever, then the academic performance tends to be much better. What the teacher is told, creates an expectancy in the teacher, which affects the performance of the students.
When someone "stabs you in the back," you may then decide he's a "mean, dishonest, cowardly son-of-a-bitch." This judgment creates an expectancy in you that makes you interact with the "son-of-a-bitch" in a certain way. As a result of your attitude, that person becomes more of a "son-of-a-bitch" in respect to you than he normally is. Your expectations affect the behavior of others.
For example, when I first started discovering Freedom Step #10 - recognizing the most fundamental nature of political systems and what keeps them in place (they are scams or hoaxes kept in place by certain words) - I thought I would just tell Libertarians, they would grasp it, hail me as a hero, and change their behavior to become much more effective freedom-activists. I was very naive. My expectations were unrealistic. My empirical observations indicate that only a small percentage seem capable of grasping it.
So if you want someone to do some specific thing, you may want to think in terms of: (a) What is he or she capable of doing?; (b) What does he or she like doing?; and (c) What stimulus do I have to provide so he or she might be triggered into doing what I want. This is an elaboration of the Power-Message Principle - see Report #TL10: How To Achieve and Increase Personal Power.
Our conscious, intelligent, reasonable, civilized appearance is a thin veneer. Underneath that, many of us, at times, have crazy thoughts going around and around in our heads - and strong emotions churning around inside our bodies, disrupting our physical functioning. That's why so much human behavior - even by our own standards - seems quite insane.
Political systems are organized so people can perform evil by proxy. They are unaware of the consequences of voting and paying taxes. Albert Camus indicated that we've organized the world in such a way that if you lift your finger, someone somewhere dies as a result - a slight exaggeration! Just by buying the paper to produce this newsletter, I commit murder by proxy. Some of my money goes to government people so they can kill someone - and this is no exaggeration!
This is also why most people can't confront and understand coercion. It's much easier to blind yourself. It's much easier to be unconscious or half-conscious. Yesterday, a man hanged himself from a tree in the grounds of a Phoenix school. They showed pictures on TV of his legs and feet dangling below the branches. They explained at great length that because of the location of the tree, very few children saw the body on their way to school. Even the police cars of the officers dealing with the matter were parked out of sight of the children - so they wouldn't be upset. Apparently it's OK to see dead bodies on TV, but not "in the flesh."
This is also why it's very difficult for most freedom-activists to confront the deadly compulsive knee-jerk negativity in themselves that renders our movement relatively impotent.
Recognizing and confronting all the above about myself and my fellow humans, enables me to behave more effectively. First I observe my reaction, particularly any negative emotions. Having gotten over that, I analyze the situation, and choose an objective. Because our ads in his newsletter had been profitable, the only objective should have been to get the editor to accept future ads. And, because there was some negativity, I should have attempted to handle that. I should have tried not to make the editor wrong. I should have given him the "psychological out" of blaming X for the negativity. Today, this is how I would respond to our editor from Freedom Step #16:
I'm a long-time and loyal reader of your newsletter. I really appreciate the consistent high quality of your articles. Without a doubt, yours is the best libertarian newsletter I know of. I also appreciate that you and your staff work very hard long hours. And I understand that you have some volunteer workers.
It's also evident that in running your business, and the way you respond to readers' letters and requests, that you manifest the highest level of ethics that could be expected.
Now, when I read the current issue of your newsletter, I was surprised to find that our advertisement was missing. I thought I might have failed to pay for the ad, but when I checked my records I found that I did indeed pay and that the check had cleared.
I assume it was a simple oversight, because I run a business myself, and I know how easy it is to make a mistake - especially when personnel are overworked. Every week we get a few calls from customers who haven't received the product they've paid for. We then do our utmost to satisfy these customers, even sending them their product a second time and including a bonus product to make up for the delay.
But then I heard something disturbing from a friend. She said that you told her that X had told you some "bad things" about me. She also told me that X had a reputation for smearing and back-stabbing people, including a former Libertarian candidate for the Presidency. I understand that X can be a very negative person and that his negativity may have influenced you. From another friend I heard that you had called Mr. C, and that he had confirmed the "bad things."
I trust your integrity, and until I hear from you personally, I'll regard what my friends said as groundless hearsay and speculation.
Because of the high esteem in which I hold you and your newsletter, I want to continue to support you by placing ads in every issue. I trust that the money I paid for the ad in your current issue will be used as a credit towards our ad in your next issue.
I look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.
Sincerely, Frederick Mann."
How to Shift to a Higher Plane, Move to a Meta-Position, and Focus on Your Objective and What You Have to Do to Achieve It
The Benefits of Freedom Step #17
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