Chapter 12 
                    THOUGHTS ON THE FUTURE OF CIVILIZATION 
   * Alienation  
   * The Nature of Pleasure  
   * Principles have Consequences  
   * Freedom/Slavery schizophrenia  
   * Financial Manipulation  
   * Standard of Living  
   * Dependency  
   * Dictatorship American Style  
   * The Alternative of Freedom  
   * Cultural Value-deprivation  
   * Inheritance  
   * Conservation - Environmentalism  

    
   * Alienation 
   It is not necessary to prove that something is wrong with the world. 
Everybody - of any creed, color, or intellectual persuasion, old and young, 
rich and poor, conservative and liberal, foreign and domestic - senses that 
something monstrous is destroying civilization. But no one can figure out 
what it is. 
   The reason civilization is declining may not be loss of resources, or the 
uncontrolled obsession to reproduce, or the decline of literacy, or the 
continuing increase in government tyranny, or any such thing. Those may be 
mere effects, while the real cause may be a collective subconscious revolt 
against this steel, concrete and machinery. Since we evolved among forests, 
do we dare cut down every tree on earth? The thousands of visible stars that 
defined the night sky for our ancestors are now too washed out for urban 
eyes to see. Our loss of the velvet night is profound. Not only have we lost 
the stars, we have lost even the night itself. Here in central Wyoming, I 
live in one of the least populated regions of the country. Even so, I must 
trek well up into the mountainous wilderness before I can experience a 
darkness that is not encroached upon by artificial lights. Along with 
darkness, we have lost silence. The incessant and inescapable clamor of 
modern civilization is pounding continually against our eardrums, hammering 
its way inexorably into our subconscious minds. Surely this must have 
similar consequences to the Newspeak phenomena that I discussed in Chapter 
2. 
   See reference
   There has been a social loss also. Many people exist like zombies, 
refusing to run the risk of interacting emotionally or intellectually with 
other people, but this leaves them with a vacant feeling in their hearts and 
minds so they switch on the TV and live vicariously, watching some actor 
having a make-believe experience when they no longer experience anything for 
themselves. This enables them to run no risk of being hurt but to experience 
emotions they are otherwise missing. This counterfeit practice fills the 
need for emotional experience only until the next day when it has to be fed 
again. Before TV, people had no phoney out. They had to get their emotional 
satisfaction from relating to other real live people. But today they have 
become a gum-chewing, bag-rattling crowd of couch potatoes. A crowd that 
wants its entertainment overplayed so that it won't have to think about 
what's going on. A crowd whose senses are so dulled that its laughter comes 
out of a can. A value-deprived crowd that doesn't want to reach OUT for a 
feeling or a meaning. It wants to be clubbed in the head with the meaning, 
so that it doesn't have to reach. A situation which hardly predisposes to 
virtue. 
   Maybe man can survive on earth this way, but his dreams can't. There is 
too much "civilization" and it has crowded out all the dreams. And there's 
no LIFE left for anyone. Just day-to-day survival. Average life in America: 
you're born, you go to school, you grow into an adult and join the rat-race, 
you get a job to survive and pay taxes, then you die. 
   Happiness and beauty are psychological necessities. That's why we 
experience beauty in such natural-world phenomena as sunsets and rainbows, 
and why we experience happiness in successful value-achievement. But it must 
be authentic happiness - the brain is a natural, not artificial, organ. Many 
people have very little authentic happiness. There is a difference between 
the joy of creative achievement and the mere pleasure of release from work. 
TV watching is not authentic. Nor is the mad scramble to earn a living while 
focused not on genuine productivity but on extraneous things like keeping up 
with the Joneses or keeping your boss satisfied. 
   Nathaniel Branden once commented on "the biological forces deep within 
our organism that speak to us in a wordless language we have barely begun to 
decipher." I rather suspect that it is more likely the case that we have 
forgotten how to decipher their language. The trappings of civilization have 
cozened humans to sever their direct links with fundamentally important 
values and "the biological forces deep within our organism" that impel us to 
the achievement of those values. Thus we live in what Rand has so aptly 
described as a condition of "cultural value-deprivation." 

    
   * The Nature of Pleasure 
   From "The Psychology of Pleasure" by Nathaniel Branden, in The 
Objectivist Newsletter  Feb1964: 
   "Just as the pleasure-pain mechanism of man's body works as a barometer 
of health or injury, so the pleasure-pain mechanism of his consciousness 
works on the same principle, acting as a barometer of what is for him or 
against him, what is beneficial to his life or inimical. But man is a being 
of volitional consciousness, he has no innate ideas, no automatic or 
infallible knowledge of what his survival depends on. He must CHOOSE the 
values that are to guide his actions and set his goals. His emotional 
mechanism will work according to the kind of values he chooses. It is his 
values that determine what a man feels to be for him or against him; it is 
his values that determine what a man seeks for pleasure." 
   His feelings merely confront man with the need for action; they do not 
determine what the action will be nor whether it will be appropriate. It is 
his predominant philosophy that determines the action. (This is equally true 
of a society, that's what makes this phenomenon important for assessing the 
future of civilization.) For example: Hunger will impel a man to eat 
something - but it will not dictate precisely what that something should be. 
(Likewise, practical problems will impel a society to create institutions to 
deal with those problems.) The man's (or society's) knowledge, values and 
ideas will be the governing factors in what actions are chosen (or what 
institutions are created). Another example: Loneliness doesn't tell you who 
you need, only that someone is missing. It is up to you to define the 
emptiness of your soul, and make an appropriate choice of companions. 
   Pleasure is like hunger or loneliness - it only tells you that something 
feels good, it does not tell you that the thing is actually beneficial to 
your life. Thus we see that a little child will get sick after indulging in 
the pleasure of eating too much candy, or an adult will die of lung cancer 
after indulging in the pleasure of smoking too many cigarettes. 
   To hold pleasure itself as a fundamental value is to operate on the 
principle of hedonism. This view of life is not limited merely to those who 
seek continual stimulation by food, drink, and sex. Another form of the same 
principle is represented by the adventurer, who seeks the stimulant of risk. 
And another form can be seen in the connoisseur, who seeks refinement in his 
pleasures. Pleasure as a central value may take many different forms. What 
unites them all is the attitude that the meaning of life lies in the 
immediate experience of pleasure. 
   But in that immediacy lies the problem with making pleasure one's central 
value. Human life is lived through time. As Aristotle observed, it is the 
integrated sum of a lengthy series of events. Someone who pursues pleasure 
as a basic value tends to discover at some point that his life has not added 
up to anything, that he has drifted along without significant achievements. 
Pleasure pursued as a primary value leads to a hollow spirit, unlike the 
kind of enjoyment that is a response to values one has created. It is 
pleasing to see a beautiful garden, but there is a much deeper sort of 
pleasure in the sight of a garden one has designed, planted, and cultivated 
oneself. 

    
   * Principles have Consequences 
   To understand the state of a society, one must discover the extent to 
which a given philosophy has been institutionalized and has penetrated the 
spirit of its citizens. On this basis, one can then explain a society's 
history - and forecast its future. This is what makes intelligible the fact 
of Hitler's rise, and the inevitability of America's decline. 
   If you have been taught - and accept - that oppression is proper, then 
you will participate in a form of gradual social suicide. You will, as a 
matter of course, help to spread within your society the attitudes that must 
be nourished in order to accept oppression. (They are, after all, your own 
attitudes.) As a result, a greater and greater percentage of the population 
will come to embrace social institutions that eventuate in the self-
destruction of society. (Thus the continual victories for collectivist 
politics.) 
   For example: Starting with the premise that sacrifice is a fundamental 
requirement of human existence, it is inevitable that laws will be passed 
mandating sacrifices. The unwillingness of an individual to accept the 
sacrifices that "the law" demands will be perceived as a violation of 
civilized decency. Thus even if a man starts out as benevolent, a consistent 
application of the collectivist principle of sacrifice will drive him, 
against all his better feelings, to accept the necessity of violating 
individual rights. Here you see the indirect - and largely unrecognized - 
influence of philosophy on human existence. 
   Principles do count. If we destroy the principles by which we live 
through cowardice, expediency, fear, or any other reason, we will destroy 
the basis of our existence.  

   Imagine passengers riding on a train which, they have been told, is 
taking them to a distant utopia. At first all seems well, but as the train 
moves closer to its destination, the scene outside the windows becomes 
ominously bleak. Finally, the passengers catch sight of the destination. 
Instead of the utopia, they see starving children, chain gangs, and, in the 
distance, the barbed wire and sentry posts of a concentration camp. 
Frightened and angry, they attempt to negate their forward motion by running 
back INSIDE THE TRAIN. The attempt, of course, is hopeless; to save 
themselves, the passengers must get off the train altogether. In the same 
manner, the moral code of altruism will carry society to tyranny, regardless 
of short-term backpedalling. The only hope is to fully reject altruism and 
enable man's right to exist for his own sake. 

    
   * Freedom/Slavery schizophrenia 
   It is prerequisite to mental health that a man be in spiritual contact 
with his own knowledge of reality. (See PSE chapter 6.) Thus an ignorant 
man, whose conceptual view of the world is limited, can live in a successful 
state of mental health if he will just recognize and act according to the 
view of reality he does have. However, a man with greater knowledge MUST 
recognize and act according to his advanced view or else he will be neurotic 
- by being out of spiritual contact with the reality he perceives. 
   A man living under a totalitarian government, who has no real knowledge 
of what freedom is, suffers a condition of enslavement, but he does not 
misperceive his situation, thus his only burden is that of being a slave. 
   Citizens of the United States also suffer a condition of enslavement, but 
they have been taught that their nation was established in freedom, and that 
their ancestors were free, and all their lives they have been led to believe 
that they themselves are free. Devoutly but falsely believing themselves to 
be free, they refuse to acknowledge the fact of their enslavement. But the 
reality of that fact is inescapable. Once they are released from the school 
system and enter mainstream society, these slaves - having been thoroughly 
indoctrinated by the government with the notion that America is a free 
society and that they are free people - immediately encounter such coercive 
phenomena as: selective service, driver's licenses, vehicle registration 
(read a New Hampshire license plate: "Live free or die"), income tax, 
property tax, business licenses, and the myriad regulations that control all 
aspects of their daily lives. Thus they have a double burden: the 
enslavement itself and also the psychological effects of the hypocritical 
discord between the reality they live in and the falsehood of their beliefs. 
   The polite voice of a policeman is nothing more than a mocking, 
hypocritical expression of tyrannous authority - the arrogant inhumanity of 
power - even if the policeman truly believes he is being polite! The fact of 
government's omnipotence over the individual renders his politeness a mere 
hypocrisy. In fact, the truant officer is a kidnapper; the tax collector is 
a thief; the soldier is a murderer. This all-pervasive hypocrisy also 
contributes greatly to the spread of criminal behavior among the populace: 
most people have decided the system stinks because the politicians are 
corrupt, in one way or another, so why should ordinary folks punish 
themselves by always being honest? 
   Is it any wonder that the subconscious attempt of a mind to integrate the 
firm belief in freedom with the inescapable facts of slavery should result 
in massive psychological distress? Enough to drive one to drink - or 
addiction of an even more self-destructive nature - or even suicide. The 
victim has chopped himself into pieces which he struggles never to connect - 
and then he sees no reason why his life is in ruins. Not knowing precisely 
what has happened to his life nor who to blame, he sees only that the 
quality of life has shockingly deteriorated, and that life is now so beset 
by apprehension for the future, difficulty in remaining solvent, and actual 
physical danger, that it is hardly worth living any more. His life has been 
a slow slide into anesthesia, a bleak life, the sadness of which is like a 
slow-acting acid on his soul. He survives by becoming less and less 
sensitive, until he no longer cares even for himself. This is the cause of 
his apathy and lack of emotion. One can respond emotionally only on account 
of something for which one cares. 
   And it is immensely difficult for him to fight this situation: having had 
his concept of freedom thoroughly depraved, he lacks the derivative concepts 
needed for active resistance to tyranny. 
   When I hear someone say that Americans are free, I consciously and 
explicitly recognize that statement to be false. I also know subconsciously 
that it is false. Thus there is no conflict between my conscious mind and my 
subconscious mind. When you hear the same statement, you consciously and 
explicitly accept it as true. Your subconscious mind, however, knows - 
because of its inability to integrate the contrary observations you have 
made - that the statement is false. In order to avoid the psychologically 
devastating (or at least distressing) process of seeing your most cherished 
beliefs refuted, you must suppress the knowledge of your subconscious mind - 
so that it will not conflict with your consciously held convictions - and 
accept only a selected subset of your observations. You must divide your 
mind into two parts: the set of observations that you consciously accept, 
and that disturbing set of observations that contradict your conscious 
beliefs. As time passes, this alienation process becomes more pervasive, as 
you come to deny a larger and larger body of your observations, and it 
becomes more intense, as you force yourself to deny a more and more 
important body of observations. Since the fundamental function of a human 
mind is the process of integration, this continual segregation process 
results in a growing nervous tension, as your subconscious mind tries harder 
and harder to integrate these two bodies of knowledge. Eventually there will 
occur an explicit recognition of this conflict, accompanied by a emotional 
trauma proportional to the amount and degree of segregation that had 
previously occcurred. The rage and frustration resulting from this trauma 
(and/or from the sudden destruction of your most cherished beliefs) may so 
seriously derange your mental processes that you drive your pickup truck 
through the front door of a restaurant and then kill two dozen people. 
   A man can accept enslavement - after all, most people throughout history 
have lived in a state of enslavement, and they have accepted this (although 
in many cases they did not like it at all). But what a man CANNOT do is 
believe that he is free while simultaneously realizing that he is a slave. 
It is not possible to integrate a contradiction. Any attempt to do so will 
make you insane. This is a major reason why half the hospital beds in 
America contain people who have mental, not physical, illness. Being unable 
to resolve the conflict between their environment and their upbringing, they 
wind up in mental institutions. It is also a major contributor to the 
widespread cultural derangement, and its accompanying violence, that so 
plague modern America. 
   Facts are facts, whether you believe in them or not. They are immutable. 
The thing that depends on your cognizance of them is not the reality of the 
facts, but the effectiveness of your behavior - and your mental health. 

    
   * Financial Manipulation 
   When you manufacture products, you add value to raw materials, and you 
literally create wealth. But America is turning more and more to a different 
economic perspective: Americans make money now by paper manipulation, the 
error of which is bound to catch up to us because paper profits don't 
reflect real wealth. The fascination with Wall Street and junk bonds is so 
misplaced as to be crazy.  
   Instead of goods, services, and work - realities of the physical world -
Keynes' economic realities are mere symbols: money and credit. 
   The advice of economic counselors is usually very good in times of 
affluence when the game is played with intangibles such as dollars, stocks, 
bonds, etc. These things have value in the same sense that bubble gum cards 
have great value among children. but a dollar is no more money than a 
hatcheck is a hat. Sooner or later you've got to have a hat. 
   Contrast the great fortunes of the early 20th century with those of the 
late 20th century. Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Ford made vast fortunes, but 
these were productive fortunes: they produced steel, oil and automobiles. 
The great fortunes of the 1980s resulted not from production, but from 
manipulation of financial assets. Never have so many made so much in return 
for producing so little. 
   The world no longer has the patience for long-term investments. The vast 
increase of government interference in the market has resulted in a general 
economic thrust away from far-sightedness and the building of capital for 
the future, and toward destructive short-term looting of the stock of 
capital. Political Man is narrow-minded and short-sighted. He loots 
resources for short-term benefit. It is capital ownership in the free market 
that encourages Economic Man to look to the future, to safeguard resources 
in order to maintain their long-term value on the market. 
   The increasing scope of government's control and its associated transfers 
of property rights from private individuals to government or to political 
interest groups undermines the private property arrangements that support a 
free market system. This process creates considerable uncertainty about the 
future value of those private rights that have not yet been taken. When 
resource owners are relatively uncertain about their continued ownership of 
those resources, they tend to use them up relatively rapidly and have less 
incentive to enhance future production capabilities. Resources are then 
overused and underproduced. 

    
   * Standard of Living 
   I recently came across a prediction made by futurists back in the 1950s: 
   "People in the 1980s will be commuting from their rooftops via personal 
helicopters, filing flight plans instead of fighting freeways." 
   I got to thinking about this and said "Why not? There is no technological 
reason why personal helicopters are not widely available, or perhaps small 
VTOL aircraft." This led me to a related line of inquiry - a comparison of 
the American standard of living of the 1950s with that of the 1980s. 
   Has it been going up? Down? Remaining about the same? Or is this a 
spurious question? It might be better to ask "Whose standard of living?" 
Some people do better, some do worse. Is it even possible to measure an 
aggregate "standard of living"? 
   And what is the difference between the state of the economy and the 
standard of living of the people? I think there is a difference. I can 
conceive of a healthy, robust and growing national economy in which most 
people have a rather low standard of living (compared with what we have 
today). This would be true of America in the first half of the 19th century. 
The country was free, the economy was growing rapidly and uninhibitedly, but 
the people were starting from a rather low standard of living. On the other 
hand, during the 1930s most people were materially better off than their 
ancestors had been a century previously - but the nation's economy was in 
dismal condition. 
   I surmise that "state of the economy" could be measured in absolute 
terms, but "standard of living" is only comparative. 
   In terms of electronic appliances there can be no doubt whatsoever - a 
staggering increase in wealth has taken place during recent decades. The 
same is true for some other industries also: bicycles, fabrics, junk food 
(but whether this one constitutes a rise in standard of living is 
debatable). 
   My tentative conclusion is that people have more material wealth today, 
but they have to work more to get it. So is their standard of living higher 
or lower? I don't know. 
   Think back to the fifties (if you are old enough to do so), when an 
American family of three or four could live comfortably on the income earned 
by the father, the sole breadwinner of the family. That father could own a 
house, raise a family, and send the kids to college, all on a single 
paycheck. Today, however, one income alone will usually not suffice for a 
comfortable living for such a family. Both parents must work and still many 
families can't even afford a house. In a family of my acquaintance, the 
father, the mother, and the teenage daughter (this is the whole family) all 
work full-time jobs. And I don't think this is at all unusual. The dollar 
buys less, everything is more expensive. People struggle just to hold on to 
what they have, and can't seem to get ahead. 
   Here are some data from the 1992 edition of the US Statistical Abstract: 
   Families with working wives           1950:24%    1991:58% 
   Families with working children        1960:6%     1982:12% 
   Percent of total population employed  1960:29%    1990:44% 

   Here is a comment by Harry Browne, from his book HOW YOU CAN PROFIT FROM 
THE COMING DEVALUATION. (Published in August, 1970):        
                Can you imagine being asked to pay $3500 for a Volkswagen? 
              That's stretching your imagination quite a bit, I realize. 
              And yet that day may not be very far away. 

   And here is an item from NEWSWEEK magazine, August 29, 1977: 
                 After 28 years in the US market, the homely little 
              Volkswagen Beetle is on its way out. Last week, after sales 
              of 5 million models, Volkswagen stopped shipping them here. 
              Since 1968 the Beetle's base price has raced from $1699 to 
              $3699. 

   No matter how much more wealth per capita improving technology makes 
possible, it seems there is always something to soak up the surplus and 
condemn ordinary people to a lifetime of labor. (And then at the end, 
Greenspan & Co. recently arranged to knock two years off your retirement by 
increasing the Social Security start age from 65 to 67.) No matter how much 
productivity increases, people never seem to work less, only differently. So 
if they don't reap the fruits, who does?  Who sucks up the surplus? 
   For every worker there is at least one drone - someone who "works" for 
government or who is being supported by government, so you are working 
enough to support at least two people. 
   People today have a lot of material goods, but they have a crushing 
burden of debt and very little equity. In 1950, about one-third of the 
after-tax income of the average family was used to pay off debts. By 1980 
that proportion had risen to three-quarters. America is a nation that has 
forgotten how to finance growth through earnings rather than debt. 
   In the early 1960s, interest payments made by American corporations were 
5% of their cash flow. By 1989 that had risen to more than 20%. This makes 
them more vulnerable than in the past to an economic downturn. If falling 
sales hit their cash flow, and many find themselves unable to service their 
debts, a wave of bankruptcies could follow in a domino effect as one 
company's inability to pay reduces another's cash flow even further. 
   A key to the continued existence of any business is its ability to 
generate a stream of profits sufficient to finance future capital 
expenditures for replacement and growth. Small or large, it doesn't matter - 
this fundamental economic requirement must be satisfied. But the profits of 
American businesses are more and more being eaten up by interest payments 
and government regulations. This bodes ill indeed for future prosperity. 
   Throughout history some nations gain power while others lose it. The 
evidence shows that nations that pursue policies of respect for an 
independent economic sphere - private property, the market economy, sanctity 
of contracts, low taxes, sound money, free trade, and unrestricted 
experimentation with technological advancements - tend to grow the fastest, 
establishing national bases of tremendous economic power. But this economic 
power always tempts governments to seize control over it, so they can pursue 
policies of military expansion and foreign adventurism or, in general, for 
the basic purpose of aggrandizing governmental institutions. But these 
policies become parasitic on the very forces that led to the economic growth 
in the first place; nations become militarily and bureaucratically top-heavy 
and overextended, saddled with debt and high taxes, and ever resistant to 
further change and necessary economic adjustments. In the end, such nations 
are usually wrecked by a growing disparity between statist ambitions and 
economic realities. 
   We can see this happening in America in those areas (especially inner-
city ghettos) where there is a growing similarity of life to that of some 
Latin American republics where all attempts of enterprising people to rise 
in life and make something of themselves are systematically squelched by the 
reigning bureaucracy. 
   For the last hundred years in America, statist intervention tried to 
preserve and even extend an industrial economy, while scuttling the very 
requirements of freedom and the free market which in the long run are 
necessary for its survival. For half a century, statist intervention could 
wreak its depredations without causing clear and evident crises and 
dislocations, because the free-market industrialization of the nineteenth 
century had created a vast cushion of "fat" in the economy against such 
depredations. But now statism has advanced so far and been in power so long 
that the cushion is worn thin; the "reserve fund" created by laissez-faire 
has been exhausted. So that now, whatever the government does brings about 
an instant negative feedback - ill effects that are evident to all - and 
what had been a problem solvable by free-market pricing and advancing 
technology has become a complex puzzle the resolution of which will require 
the complete dismantling of an all-pervasive system. But can the dismantling 
occur without catastrophe? Consider just one aspect of it: If all government 
subsidies were ended tomorrow morning, without any changes in the economy 
having been effected first, there would be much suffering, and probably 
starvation. 
   The government is very cunning, and the economy of America is very 
resilient. But though the government may be very flexible, the principles it 
is violating are not - and sooner or later the causes being implemented will 
have their inexorable effects. The people I really feel sorry for are the 
little children - who will have to live with those effects as they become 
adults. 
   
    
   * Dependency 
   Millions who are now on Valium or other narcotic tranquilizers might go 
insane if their supply were cut off. They represent a frightening dependency 
on an outside life-support system. A simple edict of the government (or a 
terrorist bomb) is all it would take to cut off the supply of tranquilizers, 
electricity, propane, petrol or anything else (even food) which is 
centralized in its production and distribution and therefore centrally 
controllable. If the electric power went off in Wyoming in the middle of 
winter, people would die. (A few years ago it did just that for four days - 
and indeed, some people did die.) This possibility should scare everybody - 
but hardly anybody even thinks about it. My idea of anarchism is not just 
opposition to a centralized State, but the advocacy of as much economic 
decentralization as is feasible for a civilized life. For example, I would 
like to see a solar panel on everybody's roof, and the consequent extinction 
of the power companies. Not that I have anything against the power companies 
(except, of course, when they have a legal monopoly on utility provision), 
but I am opposed to the institutionalized centralization of life-support 
that they represent. 

     
   * Dictatorship American Style 
   The Nazis and the Communists achieved their power not by destroying but 
by subverting the capacity of the individual to implement values. They 
simply used propaganda to swindle him into implementing values they had 
chosen. Today in America it is realized that any similar attempt would soon 
be recognized, by comparison with the tactics of the Nazis, and rejected. So 
today's American totalitarians must use another means to accomplish their 
ends - a different kind of swindle: Newspeak. Thus has been taken the next 
step in philosophical degradation: the individual's capacity to implement 
values has not been subverted - it has been destroyed. 
   An understanding of the subversion process leads readily to a 
comprehension of the Nazi and Communist systems. But what of a system in 
which individuals are bereft of the motive to achieve any values at all? For 
their future I can see only degeneracy into total chaos. If a dictator were 
to rise up and command them, would they obey? This problem is compounded in 
America, where the "dictator" is not a value-oriented individual but is a 
bureaucracy itself comprised of valueless individuals. No centralized, 
cohesive, value-oriented structure can arise from the American populace. I 
am inclined to prognosticate a future for America not of dictatorial 
tyranny, but of a chaos in which barbarians will overrun and destroy 
civilization. Not the sort of barbarians from without who overran the Roman 
civilization, but a new sort of barbarians from within - the illiterate, 
non-cognitive, valueless denizens of America's inner cities, who will rise 
up in their unfocused outrage and destroy everything. 
   The presently existing political structure does not have the potential to 
function cohesively in a dictatorial manner such as the Nazi government did; 
it contains too many disparate and mutually conflicting subgroups. 
   Through the system of checks and balances the Founding Fathers 
established a political system whose operation is independent of the moral 
character of any of its temporary officials - a system impervious to 
political subversion. However, there are economic ramifications to this 
idea: whereas the Nazis and the Communists channeled their nations' economic 
power into the lifeblood of centralized government, the American government 
is merely dissipating the nation's economic power into porkbarrel projects 
proposed by the myriad of competing federal and state bureaucracies. It is 
much more likely that all these will collapse from economic anemia than that 
they will coalesce into a centralized tyranny. 
   Along with this, voters in America will keep on clamoring for the 
government to violate the laws of nature. Perhaps the most significant 
difference between the American government and a totalitarian government is 
that a totalitarian government has a form of institutionalized intelligence, 
but the American form of government is absolutely brainless. A dictatorial 
government at least has the unifying mind of the dictator behind it. A 
democracy has no mind behind it. For this reason it is unlikely to become a 
centralized tyranny, for it cannot select and implement a unifying central 
theme. 
   Even with the imposition of martial law, could the FedGov deploy enough 
troops to control the entire country? And do so without the consent of the 
local authorities, who control the local police? As a local policeman once 
remarked to me: "The Lander police are not governed by the Supreme Court, 
but by the laws of the State of Wyoming. We do not change our behavior until 
we get a ruling from the State government." 
   Before a dictator could arise in America, the present political structure 
would have to be largely or completely abolished. 
   What would another civil war be like in this country if the participants 
were not divided into geographical factions? Maybe like the Spanish Civil 
War? But that was a strongly ideological war, and my contention here is that 
Americans lack ideology, so who would fight? Real power is institutionally 
dissipated into a large number of separate foci and there is no provision 
for its centralization. 
   There is one, and only one, group in America that comprises a potentially 
effective totalitarian entity: the police. Their communally held goal is to 
exercise total dominance and control over the citizens. If, in the 
implementation of this, they can obtain the complete cooperation of the 
other agencies of government, America may become literally a police state, 
with the rest of government functioning primarily as a supportive 
substructure for the police. It will probably not be the sort of centrally 
organized police state that is common throughout the world, because the 
American police are not centrally controlled, but they are coordinated and 
cooperative. 

   Since the time of Hitler and Stalin, our age has lacked easily 
identifiable villains of stature commensurate with their crimes against 
humanity. No longer the transgressions of exceptionally cruel and notable 
individuals, evil has been bureaucratized by the twentieth-century State and 
made the charge of relatively faceless bureaucrats, small in character and 
comprehension. Who knows the names of those who burned little children in 
Philadelphia and Waco? Throughout the world, natty figures in suits or 
uniforms have carried out monstrous suppressions, uprootings, and 
exterminations without entering the pages of history as striking despots. 
Considered individually, their outstanding characteristic is their 
mediocrity. There are no large-scale villains anymore, only colorless 
bureaucrats competing for common power and common booty. 
   There now flourishes a class of State-funded social scientists whose 
professional status requires an ideology to justify the continuance of State 
funds. Their work consists in discovering and defining particular "social 
problems" which will become the material for further State activity. An army 
of cops, judges, jailers, social workers, psychologists, therapists, 
sociologists, counselors, and other petty bureaucrats have swollen the 
payrolls of government and public institutions. In order to justify their 
budgets, they have had to postulate ever newer and more threatening social 
pathologies from which they can claim to protect us. More and more areas of 
life have been criminalized at the same time as the techniques of 
surveillance, interrogation and repression have been extended, refined and 
made more powerful. For all these groups the "discoveries" of child abuse, 
sexual abuse and drug abuse have been godsends. And each has benefited from 
the others' legitimization of an increasingly generalized attitude of 
repressive intolerance for any non-conformist belief or practice. 
   For example: Homosexuality is the name we give to the preference for 
sexual intercourse with members of one's own sex. Would calling preference 
for marriage with members of one's own race and religion "homoraciality" and 
"homoreligiosity" make them mental diseases? Would the members of the 
American Psychiatric Association vote on whether or not they are mental 
diseases? (See Chapter 7  * The War On Drugs) 
   See reference 
   Psychologist Adrian Raine of USC observes that teaching parents more 
consistent, less coercive discipline techniques reduces their kids' 
misbehavior, and concludes: "We should make parenting skills classes 
compulsory for high school students." The idea that "we shall coerce you 
into learning how to be non-coercive" is a gruesome self-contradiction. 
   The next step in this process is to reconceptualize crime as a "disorder" 
and explain criminal behavior as the product of "disease" rather than 
choice. 
   For example, C. Ray Jeffery, criminologist at Florida State University, 
maintains: "If we are to follow the medical model, we must use neurological 
examinations in place of the insanity defense and the concept of guilt. 
Criminals must be placed in medical clinics, not prisons." 
   Diana Fishbein, professor of criminology at the University of Baltimore: 
   "Treatment should be mandatory. We don't ask offenders whether they want 
to be incarcerated or executed. They should remain in a secure facility 
until they can show without a doubt that they are self-controlled. They 
should be held indefinitely." 
   Another ghastly example: 
   "In an unjust society a man may violate laws for valid social or economic 
reasons. In a just society there are no valid reasons except mental illness. 
Recognizing this fact protects the violator as well as the society whose law 
he attacks. It affords the violator an opportunity to be quarantined until 
his illness can be expertly treated. Therefore you see how vital it is that 
investigators have their own psychological consciousness raised so that they 
may detect those subtle signs of the pathology before the deviant has a 
chance to violate the law. It is our duty to spare society from injury and 
to save a sick man from the consequences of his acts." 
   This raises the prospect of a tyranny so malevolently vicious as to be 
incomprehensible to any sane mind. It is one thing to convict someone of a 
crime and then compel them to do something. It is another thing entirely to 
seize upon someone who has not done anything wrong and say, "You look like a 
high risk, so we will force you to do what we wish." I see an imprisoned 
mind frantically darting from framework to framework, pursued inexorably by 
the psychosurgeon with the implements of torture in his hands - a mind 
trying to find a framework which the psychiatrist will approve and so 
slacken the torture. The psychiatrists call this a return to sanity, but is 
it really anything more than an induced psychopathic attempt to escape from 
an insanely impossible situation? 
   There are moves being made by the psychiatric profession to implement 
this grotesque parody of justice: 
   During the past half dozen years there has been an explosion of cases in 
which adult men and women - most frequently, young women undergoing 
psychotherapy - have seemingly remembered childhood sexual abuse that they 
had forgotten for years or even decades. Are these memories accurate 
recollections of terrible traumas, or artificial phantoms of events that 
never happened? Have therapists developed effective new memory-retrieval 
techniques, or have they employed misguided procedures that surreptitiously 
help to create the memories? Indeed, examinations of the interview 
techniques used by these "therapists" reveal many cases of blatantly 
suggestive lines of inquiry. Are the patients who recover memories of sexual 
abuse being empowered to speak out, or are they being diverted away from the 
truth and toward a psychological frame-of-reference that the therapist finds 
more desirable? 
   Many therapists have reported on patients who have clearly recalled 
savage acts carried out by satanic cults. Yet in most instances, no memories 
of ritual brutality existed prior to therapy, and no one has produced hard 
evidence of such acts. Investigations by the FBI of more than 300 such cases 
have failed to turn up any proof. These reports include bizarre but 
fascinating cases in which people "remember" exceedingly improbably events 
such as past lives and alien abductions. Multiple-personalities are often 
fabricated in therapy, but just as often, once the patient ends therapy the 
memories are retracted and the pseudo-personalities are abandoned. A growing 
number of people are retracting ALL their "recovered" memories. 
   Some therapists interpret patients' symptoms as "implicit memory" - that 
is, nonconscious effects of experience on subsequent behavior and cognition. 
They cite this as justification for interpreting their patient's fears, 
dislikes or attractions as subconscious "memories" of abuse. Many trauma 
therapists infer that a woman who hates bananas is necessarily reacting 
subconsciously to a memory of her fathers's erect penis.    
   In an attempt to buttress this turpitudinal twaddle, some analysts have 
proposed something called "robust repression" a special mechanism which 
could cause someone to forget completely about years of repeated sexual 
trauma. But there is a lack of scientific evidence that extensive, severe 
sexual trauma can be pushed into the subconscious through a mechanism of 
memory repression. Validated research indicates that emotionally traumatic 
experiences tend to be well remembered. 
   Other practicioners dispense outright with any attempt at rational 
justification: On being asked to cite scientific support for her ideas, 
Ellen Bass (one of the foremost propounders of the "memory recovery" 
movement) replied: "Look, if we waited for scientific knowledge to catch up, 
we could just forget the whole thing. My ideas are not based on any 
scientific theories." 
   On the other hand, extensive laboratory research indicates that 
suggestion and other factors can lead to profound memory distortion. There 
are solid indications that a phenomenon known as source amnesia (in which a 
person forgets the source or context in which a memory originated) renders 
people vulnerable to memory distortions. When people cannot remember the 
source of a memory, they are apt to confuse whether it relects an actual 
event, a fantasy or something that was said or suggested. When there are no 
external records that you can refer to, even the outline of your own life 
loses its sharpness. 
   Therapy techniques that involve visualizing or imagining abusive 
incidents are used as a first step toward inducing remembrance of them. Thus 
a therapist who believes in the reality of forgotten abuse can help validate 
imagined experiences as bonafide memories. 
   There is no scientific documentation of the efficacy of these techniques 
but good reason to believe that they pose a danger because they encourage 
patients to blur the line between imagination and memory. 
   The September 1997 issue of SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN contains an essay by 
Elizabeth Loftus, the president of the American Psychological Society, on 
the subject of implanted memories. She contends that the mechanisms 
underlying such false memories are not known. However, Nathaniel Branden, in 
his identification of Social Metaphysics, presented an explanation of the 
psychological principles underlying this phenomenon over 30 years ago. (see 
Chapter 10 of his book THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SELF-ESTEEM.) 
   In Chapters 8 and 9 of his book, THE DEMON-HAUNTED WORLD, (Ballantine 
Book #345-40946-9) Carl Sagan deals with the unreliability of memory, memory 
manipulation, fraud, hallucination and fantasies. 
   See also the WouldChuck fallacy  

   Taken together, these considerations lead inexorably to the conclusion 
that some recovery therapists have helped create pseudo-memories of events 
that never occurred. If, for no defensible reason, some therapists are 
causing the same emotional and psychological trauma as an actual rape or 
sexual assault, they, like those who physically victimize people, deserve 
moral condemnation. 
   I strongly suspect that those people who are so intensely concerned with 
getting you to remember and re-live a distressing experience are not so much 
concerned with identifying the experience as they are with controlling your 
mind. 

   In 1952, Hans Eysenck of the University of London reported the results of 
an "outcome-of-therapy" study of neurotics that showed that 44% of the 
patients who received psychoanalysis improved; 64% of the patients who 
received psychotherapy improved; and 72% of the patients who received no 
treatment at all improved. 
   In a recent (1995) conference on Psychoanalytic Theory and Practice, one 
participant asked whether a therapist might aid a patient simply by doing or 
saying nothing. Another described a patient who began to improve after 
deciding to spend her therapy sessions sitting alone in her car in her 
therapist's driveway. 
   At a 1996 convention of the American Psychological Association, these 
observations were made: 
   Freudians cannot point to unambiguous evidence that psychoanalysis works, 
but neither can proponents of more modern treatments, whether Jungian 
analysis, cognitive-behavioral therapy or even medications. Indeed, claims 
about the "wonder drug" Prozac notwithstanding, numerous independent studies 
have found that drugs are not significantly more effective than "talking 
cures" at treating the most common ailments for which people seek treatment. 
   The theoretical framework within which therapists work has little or 
nothing to do with their ability to "heal" patients. That power stems, 
rather, from the therapist's ability to make patients BELIEVE they will 
improve. In other words the placebo effect is the primary active ingredient 
underlying all psychotherapies and even most drug treatments. It is surmised 
by some practitioners that placebo treatments have succeeded simply because 
they allow healing while not harming. 
   Studies of antidepressants conducted over the past 30 years showed that 
two thirds of the patients placed on medication either showed no improvement 
or responded equally well to a placebo as to the antidepressant; drugs 
produced significantly superior outcomes in only one third of patients. The 
studies also showed that the effects of medication wane for many patients 
after the first several months, and those who discontinue treatment have 
high relapse rates. 
   Many patients report more satisfaction with Alcoholics Anonymous than 
with any of the mental-health professionals or medications. 

   These, and similar, findings have never been refuted, and other studies 
have confirmed their negative results, no matter what type of therapy was 
used. How, in all good conscience, can therapists and psychiatrists continue 
to practice? 

   That scholars still debate Freud's ideas suggests that the profession's 
grasp of the mind is still rather tenuous; after all, experts on infectious 
diseases do not debate the validity of Louis Pasteur's ideas. In mature 
scientific fields one usually doesn't critique ideas more than three or four 
years old. 

   Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined. I told 
the last psychiatrist I met that I would make an appointment with him just 
as soon as I decided he was saner than I am. From the wall-eyed look he gave 
me, I think he considered me to be overdue already. 

    
   * The Alternative of Freedom 
   In early 1991, Mary Margaret Glennie claimed that she had received over 
600 inquiries, about half of whom were serious about moving, and that thirty 
libertarians had actually taken up her suggestion to move to Fort Collins. 
Although her idea is, in principle, a good one, I think her implementation 
of it is specious. The population of Fort Collins is 88K, a number hardly 
likely to be affected by even a large influx of libertarians. If she could 
instead get 30 libertarians into Loving County, Texas, they would constitute 
a substantial fraction of its population of 107. 
   I first saw this idea for a "gathering of libertarians" in an essay in 
Reason magazine about 1985. That was the only sensible presentation of the 
idea that I have ever seen, as it gave an estimate of the potential 
political impact of such a gathering on several locales chosen for their low 
population. Every one of the numerous subsequent proposals (including Mary 
Margaret's) has merely suggested that the gathering should occur at the 
location where the author happens to reside! All these people expect 
everyone else to bear the inconvenience of moving - none of them is serious 
enough about implementing the proposal to be willing to move themselves to a 
location where such a gathering would have political significance. 
   I have been watching the "new country" and "libertarian enclave" 
movements for many years and have yet to see any of them get off the ground 
(or out of the water - with the island-based projects). They have all been 
schemes requiring mass participation (such as the Fort Collins proposal): if 
they can't enlist thousands (literally!) of libertarians, then their time 
and energy are mostly wasted. I think that this has been a major factor in 
the failure of these projects, and that if they were focused on individual 
participation for personal benefit rather than on mass involvement for 
political suasion they would have a much higher probability of success. They 
should be arranged in such a way that success does not depend on the number 
of participants, and should be set up so that an individual can see a 
personal benefit to be gained by participating. No immediate personal 
benefit would ensue to me from moving to Fort Collins - that's why I won't 
do it, and that's why that project will never get off the ground: few others 
will do it either. 
   It's really an unfortunate waste - if the advocates were to devote their 
energy to freeing THEMSELVES as individuals they would no doubt achieve 
considerable success, but they're wasting their lives in futile attempts to 
"free the world." I don't believe a thousand people are required - or 200  - 
or even 20. If there were just TWO people in this country who really wanted 
to be free they would find each other, and profit from a mutual association. 
 
   The LP has been presented to the American people continually since 1972, 
but never has it gained the support of more than a tiny fraction of the 
general electorate. As of July 1995 the LP has fewer than 20K members and 
has only about 140 people holding elected office. This represents about one 
one-hundredth of a percent of the elected officials in America, yet the LP 
hypes it as a significant success. Much similar Libertarian hype is merely 
an equivocation between the recognition of rights and a pragmatic loosening 
of controls necessitated by economic difficulties. 
 
   It has been argued that untapped support for the LP lies in the 50+% of 
the population that does not participate in politics, but the Australian 
experience belies this. The LP has made no more headway in Australia than in 
the USA. 
   Leonard Peikoff claims there is still time and opportunity to save 
America: "The American spirit has not yet been destroyed.... There is only 
one antidote to today's trend: a new, pro-reason philosophy." He does not 
mention the history of the Libertarian movement during the 1970s, when a 
new, pro-reason philosophy was indeed presented to the American people. They 
turned it down. 
   David Kelley makes the same error, claiming that the American body 
politic is "a public that is hungry for values." 
   If, as Kelley believes, the public is hungry for values, I wonder how he 
would explain that public's enormous rejection of the LP. 
   (Neither Peikoff nor Kelley are libertarians. What they advocate is 
merely a variant of political conservatism.) 
   What would it take to convince these men that the American voters do not 
want a libertarian alternative? 
   In any case, after 1980, vote-getting gained ascendancy over 
philosophical vision, and the LP became too involved in electoral politics 
and succumbed too easily to compromise. By 1990 the Libertarian movement and 
the LP had been so co-opted and corrupted that neither had any consistent 
pro-reason presentation to make any longer. 

   Consider an alcoholic who has been drinking a quart of whiskey every day 
for the past 20 years. It is not now possible for the alcoholic to come into 
possession of the health that he would have had in other circumstances. It 
doesn't matter at all if he now swears off whiskey and takes up gin or vodka 
instead - these choices would simply continue him along his path into 
physical degeneracy. His only hope for any health, or even partial recovery 
in his old age, would be to swear off alcohol altogether. 
   I view human society as being similar to that alcoholic. The accumulated 
effects of government institutions (effects which are increasing in 
intensity at an exponential rate) are reducing society to a state of 
degeneracy similar in malignancy to that of the alcoholic. 
   No matter how much you may want to, you cannot grow into a decent human 
being while drinking a quart of whiskey every day. No matter how much you 
may want them to, your children cannot grow into decent human beings while 
living within the context of the forfeiture laws and the Internal Revenue 
Service. 
   Society can no more save itself by implementing a different kind of 
government than the alcoholic can save himself by drinking a different kind 
of alcohol. Society's only salvation lies in the total abolition of 
government. 
   In this respect Rand was correct: you cannot have a political change 
without a preexisting philosophical change. But here too I believe there is 
no hope. The prevalence of Newspeak and the decline in intellectual caliber 
of the general population precludes the adoption of the philosophical 
rationality that is prerequisite to the restructuring of society. 
   As an individualist, I seek ways to implement changes that are not 
dependent on mass philosophical conversions or mass political persuasion. 
Objectivism has created a technology for individual enlightenment and 
growth. Only through such individual change can major cultural 
transformation occur. 

    
   * Cultural Value-deprivation 
   Rand describes the sensory-deprivation experiments, and then carries this 
notion further, to the idea of conceptual deprivation, observing that 
today's individual lives in an intellectual desert - in the equivalent of an 
experimental cubicle the size of a continent - where he is given the sensory 
overload of screeching, screaming, jostling media assaults, but is cut off 
from ideas. If severe enough and prolonged enough, such a distortion of the 
natural, active flow of cognitive experiences may paralyze a man's 
consciousness by telling him that no significant thinking is possible. This 
chronic lack produces a gradual erosion of man's emotional vitality, which 
is recorded and preserved by his subconscious, until the day when his inner 
motor stops and he finds himself with no desire to go on living. If a person 
is deprived of his values, he will have little to live for. 
   Another aspect of this conceptual deprivation phenomenon is what might be 
called principle extinction - the process by which people's ability to think 
and act on the basis of principles is extinguished. 
   Visual agnosia is a condition in which the visual association cortex has 
been injured, resulting in the victim's inability to perceive the world as a 
whole picture. He sees only bits at a time and has lost the ability to 
recognize patterns. He is, in effect, a visual illiterate. A closely 
analogous effect results from the destruction of his ability to think in 
principles. Then he will be able to perceive only specific concrete 
instances of reality. He will have lost the ability to recognize the 
underlying patterns. Perhaps we could call this "cognitive agnosia." (See 
the SPURIOUS SUPERFICIALITY fallacy.) 
   Americans are taught NOT to think in principles, and then - just to make 
sure they are thoroughly corrupt - they are given principles that are 
depraved. Victims of cultural value deprivation can easily be persuaded to 
attach "value" to things which are in fact valueless. Newspeak goes even 
further, by distorting the very concepts used to formulate principles. 
People deprived of their ability to formulate values will trash their 
civilization with very little incentive. As a consequence of being value-
deprived and value-depraved they become value-destructive. 
   In the long run, a tyrannical society is possible only on the basis of 
cognitive deprivation. So long as people are not permitted to have standards 
of comparison they never even become aware that they are oppressed. (This 
may explain the widespread manifestation of the Fallacy of Relative 
Privation.) 
   Value deprivation means not only the absence of positive values, and the 
actions taken to achieve them, it also means the absence of any effective 
actions taken to combat a negative. People lose any impulse to rebel against 
tyranny since, lacking a principled basis for judgments, they are bereft of 
any way to decide who their real enemies are. Thus the mad bombers - people 
driven over the edge of insanity by the contradictions they endure, but 
lacking a means of directing their rage toward an appropriate target. Thus 
also the widespread apathy we see in American society: many people, losing 
values and principles, also lose the power of grasping that the world could 
be other than it is. 
   They can be granted intellectual liberty, because they no longer possess 
intellect. They can be made to accept the most flagrant violations of 
reality, because they never fully grasp the enormity of what is being 
perpetrated upon them. They remain sane, in part, by lack of understanding - 
in a sort of protective stupidity. The more intelligent they are, the less 
sane they must be. The prevailing mental condition must be one of controlled 
insanity. 
   But sanity is not arbitrary. Rulers of all ages have tried to impose a 
false view of the world upon their subjects, but they cannot afford to 
encourage any illusion that impairs military efficiency. In philosophy, 
religion, ethics, or politics, two and two might make five, but when one is 
designing a gun or a bomb they HAVE to make four. War is the main instrument 
by which governments are kept in touch with physical reality. 
   This thesis has great significance for modern America, not so much as it 
applies to war, but as it applies to technology. We live in a society that 
is entirely dependent on advanced technology. If any major aspect of that 
technology is not sufficiently maintained, our entire civilization may well 
collapse. 
   There are many people for whom work is the primary touch with reality. 
When important functions, such as personal autonomy and perception of 
accomplishment are removed from their work the result is impaired contact 
with reality, and a consequent decrease in their job performance. We can see 
the results in automotive recalls, on Three Mile Island, and other 
indications that the technological underpinnings of our civilization are 
eroding. 
   
    
   * Inheritance 
   At the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man's nature and 
of life's potential. This view of man has rarely been explicitly asserted in 
human history. Today, it is virtually non-existent. Yet this is the view 
with which - in various degrees of longing, wistfulness, passion and 
agonized confusion - the best of mankind's youth start out in life. It is 
not even an explicit view, for most of them, but a foggy, groping, undefined 
sense of enormous expectation, the sense that one's life is important, that 
great achievements are within one's capacity, and that great things lie 
ahead. 
   Then all of these vanish in the vast swamp of a culture which tells them 
persistently that maturity consists of abandoning one's mind; security, of 
abandoning one's values; practicality, of abandoning one's self-esteem. 
   Many who cannot dispense with their natural sensitivity turn to suicide: 
they see too clearly what sort of existence awaits them and, being too young 
to find an antidote, they cannot tolerate the prospect. If a young person 
sees no real future to look forward to, his choices may well resemble those 
of a terminally ill person. 
   People who cannot control their own lives feel either despair or 
rebellious frustration. This is the situation of the youth of America. What 
people don't understand is that the children soon learn to detach themselves 
from these emotions, but in the process they lose a large part of their 
capacity to feel ANY emotions. We hear of sensational, coldblooded crimes 
being done by children and youths, yet few wonder how these children and 
youths became so insensitive to the pain of others. You must remember that 
morality and ethics are NOT instincts! They are LEARNED phenomena. 
 
   Here is a letter printed in the Casper (Wyoming) Star Tribune, Sept., 
1988: 
   "I would like to thank the Natrona County Sheriff's Office, and 
particularly McGruff the Crime Dog, for recently visiting my day-care home 
and presenting their program 'Stranger Danger.' The children enjoyed the 
visit and McGruff helped the children understand the importance of staying 
away from strangers." 
   Most people believe this sort of thing is commendable, even necessary for 
the safety of their children. And within the context of the violent society 
we live in, it is indeed desirable to alert one's children to potential 
danger. 
   But consider the inevitable result of this sort of training: witnesses 
watched from scores of windows in surrounding apartment buildings as Kitty 
Genovese was murdered, but none of them did anything to help. And everyone 
wonders why, but the answer is quite simple: from nursery school to 
adulthood they have been trained to avoid strangers. On their TV sets, from 
prime-time dramas to live coverage of the Vietnam War, they watch strangers 
suffer and they remain passive observers. 
   Viktor E. Frankl, in MAN'S SEARCH FOR MEANING states: "At first the 
prisoner looked away if he saw the punishment parades of another group; he 
could not bear to see fellow prisoners march up and down for hours in the 
mire, their movements directed by blows. Days or weeks later things 
changed....the prisoner who had passed into the second stage of his 
psychological reactions did not avert his eyes any more. By then his 
feelings were blunted, and he watched unmoved.... Disgust, horror and pity 
are emotions that our spectator could not really feel any more. The 
sufferers, the dying and the dead, became such commonplace sights to him 
after a few weeks of camp life that they could not move him any more." 
   Here is a sociologist's description of a family living in an American 
inner-city ghetto: 
   "They had got used to the sound of gunfire. Everyone heard shots from 
time to time. After the first few occasions they had become curiously 
indifferent to them. Whoever was speaking would pause, then continue when 
the shooting stopped, just as he might when a jet aircraft passed overhead. 
It was as if they could not imagine that shots might be aimed at THEM. 
Surely, they were telling themselves, if we just lie low and hang on, the 
trouble will blow over." 
   Just as one can, in the field of economics, analyze the "logic of 
choice," so one can focus on the "logic of coercion" - on the unintended but 
entirely predictable results of dishonesty and violence. And it need not be 
"real" violence. If you spend all your childhood and adult life watching the 
violence on TV, you may begin to believe that the normal, the usual, the 
only method of dealing with any sort of distress is to start drawing pistols 
and killing people, or calling on the government to do the coercing for you. 
   Defenders of TV violence argue that anyone can distinguish between 
television and reality. But Saturday morning children's programs now (in 
1995) average 25 acts of violence per hour. At the very least this 
desensitizes young children to aggression and random cruelty. And if 
impressionable adults can so easily have false memories implanted in their 
minds, what is being implanted in our children when they are exposed to tens 
of thousands of acts of violence even before they graduate from elementary 
school?  

   The center of America might be insane. The country has been living with a 
fiercely controlled schizophrenia which has been deepening with the years. 
Every person who is devoutly Christian and works for the American 
Corporation is caught in an unseen vise whose pressure could split his mind 
from his soul; a state of suppressed schizophrenia so deep that the foul 
brutalities of the war in Vietnam were the only temporary cure possible for 
the condition - since the expression of brutality offers a definite if 
temporary relief to the schizophrenic. 
   Many common people greet warfare as the first glad sense of a great 
definite purpose dawning into their stagnant and unillumined lives - as the 
opportunity to support something that might shed some meaning upon an 
existence otherwise apparently without significance. 
   Socially and psychologically repressed, people are drawn to spectacles of 
violent conflict that allow their accumulated frustrations to explode in 
socially condoned orgasms of collective pride and hate. Deprived of 
significant accomplishments in their own work and leisure, they participate 
vicariously in military enterprises that have real and undeniable effects. 
Lacking genuine community, they try to discover or create a sense of pseudo-
community, if only that of fighting some common enemy. They thrill to the 
sense of sharing in a common purpose, and react angrily against anyone who 
contradicts the image of patriotic unanimity. The individual's life may be a 
farce, his society may be falling apart, but all complexities and 
uncertainties can be temporarily ignored in the self-assurance that comes 
from identifying with the State. 

   The child knows no other way of life than the slave's way. Born free, he 
has been laid hands on from the moment of his birth and brought up as a 
slave. How is he, when he is at last "set free," to be anything else than 
the slave he actually is? Clamoring for war, for the lash, for police, 
prisons, and scaffolds in a wild panic of delusion that without these things 
he is lost. 
   Eye the ever expanding systems of prisons, the ever expanding branches of 
law enforcement agencies, and the myriads of laws being churned out by 
delirious lawmakers who are flushed into office by pandering to this insane 
slave mentality. Yes, eye them well, for tomorrow there might not be anyone 
left to speak out for sanity and civilization. 
   You cannot govern men brought up as slaves otherwise than as slaves are 
governed. Nor can you expect them to behave in any other way than as slaves 
and barbarians. In school, misbehaving students are punished for a host of 
reasons - but adults in positions of authority (i.e., government school 
administrators) initiated force against them to make them go to school in 
the first place. The discipline system the students have been immersed in is 
basically contradictory. When a child sees this kind of irrationality 
institutionalized in his social environment, what does this do to his sense 
of ethical values? Blaming the children for their misbehavior is unjust. 
Juvenile delinquents have no 'better natures'; the experience inflicted upon 
them has taught them that what they are doing is the proper way to survive 
in this society. They have been enslaved and subjected to torment. Now they 
strike back and subject others to torment. Since they have been taught, and 
believe, that causes do not necessarily have subsequent effects, they are 
not able to perceive the real cause of their torment. Thus they cannot 
identify the justified target of their anger. They vent their anger 
indiscriminantly, treating people, as representatives of society, in the 
same way that "society" has treated them. Calling the students animals is 
unforgivable; it's an insult to animals. Animals generally behave quite 
rationally, but there is very little rational behavior in a public school. I 
prefer to call the students barbarians. However, this does great injustice 
to some of the students. Although there are many children who would be 
gentle and civilized individuals, they must cope as best they can with their 
irrational environment, which means many of them finally relent and join the 
barbarians. The moral and intellectual rot spreads and is handed down as, in 
several years, these barbarians begin to take part in community activities 
(what will happen when they get on the Board of Education?) and teach THEIR 
children the values they have learned. Thus viciousness becomes embedded in 
the social structure of society. Student behavior had better be improved 
upon soon, or it will be too late, because the new generation won't see the 
necessity of it when they come of age and join the establishment. 
   This, I believe, is the basic cause of the decline in American education. 
The system is fundamentally self-contradictory and thus fundamentally self-
destructive. And since causes do inevitably have subsequent effects, those 
effects are what we are seeing manifested in the schools today. 
   What schools mostly do is practice rigid age segregation, socialize 
children into narrow roles, label them into limiting categories, create 
meaningless problems, compel obedience and compliance above all other 
virtues, teach that life is segmented by ringing bells, and deeply 
indoctrinate children with the profound belief that government is an 
absolute necessity for civilization. School is the first coercive 
institution most of us endure, and it wears down our resistance to the later 
ones. It makes them seem normal. 
   Sure, there are good and decent teachers, but the abstract logic of the 
institution drowns their individual decency in a sea of wickedness. 
   One can understand why the contradictions of our society weigh so heavily 
on the young: no sane mind can integrate the contrast between the 
righteousness of a Secretary of State and the ruthlessness of a B-52; 
between the sanctimony of "a kinder, gentler, America" and the savagery of 
the Los Angeles Police beating Rodney King; between the notion that violence 
is fine against people 10000 miles away but shocking against injustice in 
our own land; between the equality demanded by America's constitutional 
structure and the equality denied by America's political structure; even 
between the accepted habits of one generation and the emerging habits of the 
next, as when a parent tipsy on his fourth martini begins a tirade against 
his son's marijuana. 
   The generation that's growing up today has been thoroughly brutalized by 
the system. It's in their schools, their media, their political ideology - 
everywhere. They're conditioned to the worship of violence and the statist 
cult - to view the power and strength of the State as the only criteria for 
establishing right. Their teaching idealizes the right of the strong to 
subdue the weak and glorifies the triumph of brute force as the expression 
of natural law. A nation settled by men who refused to uncover in the 
presence of kings is now populated by people who grovel before petty 
bureaucrats - and are proud of doing it. 
   How do you get rid of a regime like this once it has taken root? You 
can't reason with it, because all you'll get is indifference, or contempt 
for what it sees as weakness. You can't bargain with it - a trading 
relationship implies equality, but all the State understands is domination. 
You can't hope to coexist peaceably because the very existence of a free man 
represents either a threat or an opportunity for exploitation. 
   One of the things that makes us so different from other animals is our 
ability to pass on to our children the sum total of what we and our parents 
have accomplished. That legacy of accomplishments - intellectual, artistic, 
spiritual, and material - is the content of human culture. To the extent 
that a society inhibits the transfer of this legacy, it is dooming its 
children to stagnation or retrogression. Even worse is the future of a 
society that transfers to its youth a legacy of ignorance and brutality. 
   "We will descend into a new Dark Age, made more sinister by the lights of 
perverted science." ... Churchill 

    
   * Conservation - Environmentalism 
   Conservation is not synonymous with any lessening of one's standard of 
living. It is synonymous with more wealth, power, and freedom. The idea is 
not to make do with less civilization. The idea is to do all the things you 
are doing now - heat your house, cook your food, drive your car - using 
fewer resources. More efficient heaters and more efficient cars mean cleaner 
air, better health and greater prosperity. 
   Many environmentalists assert a significant distinction between consuming 
or conserving one's resources, but the important distinction to make is 
between two forms of resource consumption: dissipation or production. Mere 
conservation is economically irrelevant - to conserve something rather than 
to use it makes no contribution to prosperity. A sensible approach to the 
subject of human well-being is to USE resources, but in such a way that they 
are augmented or regenerated as much as possible (and thus, in a manner of 
speaking, "conserved" for future use) and in such a way that their present 
use PRODUCES future well-being. The real crime in this context is to 
destructively dissipate resources in order to achieve only a transient 
benefit. Perhaps the best example of this process is the gluttonous 
dissipation of the world's supply of fossil fuels, much of which is consumed 
for no other purpose than to transport imbecilic adolescents back and forth 
from one end of Main Street to the other. (But even this is insignificant 
when compared with the amount of the world's resources that are poured into 
the enterprise of War.) A sane practice would be to use the fossil fuels, to 
as great an extent as necessary, for the purpose of establishing a nuclear 
fusion or solar power technology. 

   Here are some comments by a Randite: 
   "I see nothing unnatural about man's activities. It's called natural when 
beavers dam a stream, flood a valley, and change the ecosystem, but not when 
men do the same thing. This distinction is false. From the time men 
discovered that they could keep warm by wearing animal skins, to the 
cultivation of crops and the domestication of animals, to today's 
skyscrapers, man has flourished by adapting his environment to himself. It's 
our method of survival, and it's just as natural for us as it is for cats to 
prey upon mice. What inclines me to doubt the sanity of many 
environmentalists is their insistence on reading human life out of the rest 
of nature. As if we were not natural, did not belong with the rest of the 
world - Indeed, as if we had been dumped into reality by some runaway dump 
truck disposing of unnatural trash. The plain fact is that we are every bit 
as natural as are snail darters, spotted owls or wetlands. This means that 
housing developments, too, are part of nature. As are high rise buildings, 
bridges, freeways, parking lots, dams and disposable diapers, and even 
nuclear waste. What a natural being does is by definition natural. When a 
zebra is destroyed by a lion, this isn't depicted as the sad demise of some 
natural thing at the hands of an alien, unnatural force." 

   Of course it is "natural" for man build homes, provide for his needs, and 
to produce waste. These are inevitable concomitants of the life process. But 
there is another "natural" attribute of man which, if not taken into 
consideration, results in a grossly distorted and inaccurate analysis of 
man's relationship to his environment. That is the attribute of "choice." 
   I do not at all have an "insistence on reading human life out of the rest 
of nature" what I do insist on is identifying the proper relationship 
between human beings and the ecology in which we live. After all, the beaver 
doesn't really have much (or any) choice about his dam-building activities. 
But man DOES have a choice about such things as the puddle of slag beneath 
Chernobyl, the toxic waste dumps in New Jersey that poison his unborn 
generations, and the combustion of the Cuyahoga river. I do not regard any 
of these three phenomena (and many more I could specify) as being "Natural." 
   "Natural" for man is to make the environment better - because he has the 
CHOICE to do so. There is nothing better about the slag puddle and the 
poisonous waste dumps. Does that jerk really think the Cuyahoga river is 
better when it burns? That was not natural. Nothing that makes the world 
unliveable for our descendents is natural. Doing so is a form of social 
suicide. And if he thinks suicide is natural, let him start with himself. 

   As long as we share a planet with the hydrogen bomb, human beings, too, 
are an endangered species. 

   There is no such thing as a balance of nature. The world of nature is 
continually in flux, and it is up to man, with his power of choice, to 
control the direction and nature of that flux. 



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