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bindependentTo the men and women of the mind - go on strike
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Oct 21, 2010
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Making generalizations always comes with challenges. After all, just because a claim is oftentimes true doesn't make it fact in all cases. Although intellectual dishonesty abounds, I generally categorize intellectually dishonest people into one of two groups: those who refuse to know (e.g., willingly ignoring/evading evidence to the contrary, intentionally limited research/facts/analysis) and those who know the truth but intentionally lie.

Unlike most who believe that, overall, government is good with a few bad apples, I personally believe that, overall, government is bad with a few good apples. However, regardless of which ideology you support, I think it is intellectually dishonest to ignore that government is a primary contributor to a majority of destruction in the world. I can't do justice to the plethora of data supporting my contention, but just consider these few examples:

The Problem

In all of human history, governments are the largest murderers of people, estimated at 262 million people in the 20th century alone. In fact, the US government hasn't any issue with killing people without any due process whatsoever.

Governments around the world, especially purported "free" democracies in the West like the United States, are gross violators of human rights. Governments oppress their citizens with many laws and regulations. Remember - it was governments who made slavery legal before they made it illegal. It was governments who made women's suffrage illegal before they made it legal. It was governments who made segregation legal before they made it illegal. As they admonish terrorists, it is governments who sanction torture. Right to privacy? Governments don't recognize one. Many governments even make it a crime to be homeless. Anyone who has been in a courtroom on the opposite side of the government can tell you that due process exists in name only and is otherwise an outright Newspeak fraud.

Contrary to popular belief, there aren't any nations that operate solely under the free market or capitalism. Government monetary policies are constantly destroying economic values (the latest throwing us into the Second Great Depression) with all sorts of techniques such as printing/manipulating fiat currencies (e.g., Zimbabwe, Weimer Republic, US), going trillions of dollars into debt (a concept that even Saturday Night Live understands is wrong), freely giving tax money to bailout big businesses (e.g., too-big-to-fail banks, General Motors, AIG) while everyone else suffers, subsidizing so-called "government-supported enterprises" that distort and disrupt the market from operating properly (and even put the financial industry in crisis - e.g., Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae), outright lying about statistics such as unemployment, and even preventing much-needed corrections to occur. In summary, government officials are openly bribed so that redistribution of wealth schemes benefit certain groups. (As an aside, labor unions make up 11 of the top 20 "special interest" groups buying politicians and associated political "favors.") That's not capitalism, or even remotely close to capitalism.

For all intents and purposes, governments generally only seek to expand their power. Although there are exceptions, rarely do governments repeal laws. Government surveillance efforts of innocent people are going through the roof. Crimes against humanity by government officials are protected from view through assertions of "state secrets" laws, providing wrong-doers with total immunity. Tyranny always increases.

The Alternatives

Although I agree with "V" from the movie V for Vendetta that violence can be used for good, I'd rather it not come to what I fear will happen: violence of men and women in uniform against men and women in uniform. As I see it, I think there are two reasonable alternatives to preventing the bloodshed of which governments are so fond. Granted, I'm not sure either will make much of a difference, but I do think one has much more chance of success if implemented than the other.

The first alternative is what is already occurring: people properly directing their anger at government, publicly declaring that they are "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore," supporting alternative political parties and populist movements (e.g., the Tea Party) or just not voting at all, continuing to educate others about where the blame for the underlying causes belongs, and overall civil disobedience. I don't see any logical reason to stop these actions, especially considering I think these individual displays of integrity are philosophically important. However, I do think that, at this point, their impact will be rather limited.

It is the second alternative that I think would make an enormous difference, and one that could impact our world rapidly. Ayn Rand's most famous and influential book Atlas Shrugged called on the "men of the mind" to go on "strike." Without giving away too many spoilers, the central theme of Atlas Shrugged was that the mind, being the source of all values and the means to attain them, is what provides the "destroyers" with the tools and the sanction to destroy. Effectively, it is those who create wealth and prosperity, promote humanity through innovation and hard work (as opposed to theft), and live rationally that support the lives of the moochers (e.g., government). Her premise is that, should these thinkers remove their minds, the destroyers' capabilities will collapse. Then we can rebuild.

How would the men of the mind going on strike manifest? Consider scientists, engineers, and computer technicians who are helping the government build and maintain technologies that support war - what if they were to quit? The computer system professionals who support the too-big-to-fail banks, or the court systems, or the local police? Quit. Doctors, nurses, or other medical professionals working for government-run hospitals (e.g., Department of Veterans Affairs)? Quit. Working for the government division of an otherwise private company? Quit (or transfer to another division). Architects designing modifications for government buildings? Quit. Mathematicians developing new models to analyze Internet traffic and data which enable government surveillance? Quit. News reporters regurgitating the press releases that the government gives you? Quit. Investors looking for new opportunities? Don't invest in any company that sells its products or services to governments.

Is anyone doing this, especially considering how terrible the economy is? The most recent and visible example I could find is the very public resignation of Professor Emeritus of physics Hal Lewis from the American Physical Society in protest of "the global warming scam," which he described as "the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist." Of course, it is government all over the world pushing and funding this "with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists."

Hal Lewis, a man likely to have a high IQ, took a public stand based on principle and went on strike. He refused his mind to those who were using it to destroy the very principles of his love: science. Can you imagine if the leadership from high IQ organizations like Mensa, Triple Nine Society, Intertel, The International Society for Philosophical Enquiry, The Mega Society, or The Prometheus Society issued formal declarations that, as organizations, they did not support specific government policies (based on whatever explicit definitions, axioms, inferences, consequences, etc. they chose) and, more specifically, they were encouraging members to remove their sanctions? Although it wouldn't have to be binding on members, a formal statement to its membership (and the public-at-large) stating its rejection of government force could have a profound effect on setting an example for others. "We, as an organization who knows the importance of a free mind, reject the government's use of our capabilities to force the minds of others. We, therefore, encourage our membership to reject and/or leave organizations and projects that support the government's use of force."

Granted, members in these high IQ societies might not want ideological statements from the leadership, especially considering that these organizations are not for the purposes of lobbying. One of their primary purposes is to bring people together to discuss topics and raise questions, oftentimes with discordant views. I spoke with one high IQ society member who considered high IQ organizations issuing formal declarations as problematic and would oppose any official statements in the political realm. To quote him: "politics makes stupid... and official stupidity is the worst." In addition to the fact that, generally, official ideological assertions from these organizations are either not allowed or are frowned upon, his argument was "that the discussions in these groups should not be limited to any creed whatsoever." (He did approve of individual statements, such as "We, members of [Mensa, 999, etc.], representing ourselves as individuals and not our organizations, affirm...") As he told me, these organizations "welcome frank discussions and friendships across professional, class, ideological, religious, and all other divisions (except that of intelligence)." So an attempt to take official stand on, say, politics "would be the beginning of the destruction of this broad welcome mat."

But, of course these organizations are, by their very nature, selective and limited. After all, you have to meet certain IQ requirements to become a member. And isn't an ideology necessary for practically all thinking in life? What is an ideology? According to Merriam-Webster:

1 : visionary theorizing
2 a : a systematic body of concepts esp. about human life or culture
   b : a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture
   c : the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program

Ideologies, like mathematical axioms, don't require proofs for every conceivable problem. That would be impossible (not to mention impractical). But I personally question whether you can have an intelligent, intellectual discussion about any topic without some ideology. For example, how can you discuss Euclidean geometry without understanding the five axioms or proofs that are fundamental to its "nature?" In fact, how can we even enter the realm of evaluating solutions to problems without an ideology?

The Solution

We cannot expect to solve mathematical problems without understanding the nature of numbers. Likewise, we cannot expect to solve the problems that plague the world without understanding the nature of government. The nature of government - its most fundamental tenet - is force. Even those who want to acknowledge the purported benefits we received from government (e.g., water, air traffic control, public health, education, libraries, roads) cannot escape that the provisions for these services, which could all easily be provided through alternative mechanisms, are provided only through the compulsion and associated violence of taxes. No amount of government retooling will correct government destruction that is fundamentally caused by philosophical problems. To change our world, our philosophy must change. A burning platform is unlikely to provide the impetus for that change (although an economic collapse on the scale of the US might). There must be many men and women of the mind who will publicly remove their sanction. Do we really need to further study the ideology of governments murdering individuals to understand the consequences? Do we really need to further study the ideology of governments forcing the transfer of wealth from one individual to another to understand the consequences? At minimum, hasn't government dogma produced enough evidence to deduce the properties that are not proper to life?

Where are the real men and women of the minds - those intelligent enough to oppose every "progress" made in Washington in the name of the people? Washington is an utter failure - someone needs to put it out of our misery. At risk of sounding hypocritical by ending with a quote from government official Ronald Reagan, doesn't history provide us enough case studies and examples already to determine that "government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem?" I call on you - the men and women of the mind - to "shrug" and put your minds officially on strike.

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