Whiskey Wisdom & the Power to Educate Ourselves
  • Most humans don’t think too much about the great problems of existence, concerning which, most behave as most around them behave.

    Most people perform certain daily acts without paying particular attention to their acts, nor to the ideological theories or hierarchal structures undergirding them.

    Most people do most things because most people became accustomed throughout childhood to doing most of these things. Most go through life holding views only passively acquired and only partially examined – views and convictions they grew up among, or perhaps, later, things they came to absorb from schoolmates and friends, which in turn came from various teachers and educators.

    It remains a fact, however, that no matter the level of societal inertia, we can always each individually (as long as the brain is healthy) educate ourselves and assume individual responsibility for the contents of our own minds.

    “If you meet at dinner a man who has spent his life in educating himself — a rare type in our time, I admit, but still one occasionally to be met with — you rise from the table richer, and conscious that a high ideal has for a moment touched and sanctified your days.”

    Wrote Oscar Wilde.

    It remains a fact also that the power which calls into human life and animates any social body is always ideological in its origins and its essence, and the very structure of homo-sapiens sapiens brain requires that humans live not by means of brute strength but by means of knowledge, which entails that we all, as humans, live by means of ideas.

    It is for this reason a fundamental requirement of human life that we each on some level live by means of philosophy. This is true whether one is consciously aware of it or not, whether one likes it or not.

    The ideological lethargy which characterizes most — though not all — humans and which funnels humans into an assembly-line process of passively or semi-passively accumulated philosophical ideas, is not, by any means, fated.

    Independent thought, like intelligence itself, is a lifelong and continuous process: it is learned and cultivated.

    Philosophy has three main branches, with three smaller branches growing from those first three. Here they are in their hierarchical order of importance:

    Metaphysics: the study of independent reality (or existence).

    Epistemology: the study of human knowledge.

    Ethics: the study of human action.

    Here are the three smaller branches, in order of their hierarchy:

    Politics (a subdivision of ethics): the study of human action in groups.

    Economics (a subdivision of politics): the study of production and exchange.

    Esthetics (a subdivision of epistemology): the study of art.

    (One can legitimately argue, as I have before, that all branches are a subdivision of metaphysics, the most fundamental one, since metaphysics studies reality in total.)

    These six branches are distinct and yet completely interwoven and continually growing, like branches grafted and forever grafting, interconnected, contextual.

    Politico-economic policies are always and only the result — never the cause — of a long sequence of ethical and epistemological ideas, which are in turn the result of metaphysical ideas. Yet it is politico-economic policies which for each individual human being possesses the most destructive — or beneficial — potential.

    Political power is the power to shape human action.

    Since all human action is preceded by thought, the one who is politically powerful is so because her political strength and might is ultimately sourced in the power of ideas.

    It is ideas only that can confer upon a person the enduring power to influence the choices and actions of others – enduring, I say, because one can become a lasting leader of other humans only if one is supported by ideas the acceptance of which makes other people willing to be led.

    This point is spectacularly important.

    Power is thus not ultimately a physical thing but a moral-philosophical phenomena, which rests upon the subject’s sanction: the sanction, specifically, of the ideology held by the one in power.

    It is the distinguishing characteristic of the state to apply coercion, even to the point of imprisonment and violence (or its threat) against those who are neither willing to accept state-mandated decrees nor to act voluntarily in obeying them. Yet observe that even this physical oppression and violence, or its mere threat, is no less founded upon the power of ideas, insofar as she or he who advocates the application of violence needs the voluntary cooperation of at least some people, since a ruler can never rule by means of physical violence alone, but needs the ideological support of some group in order to subdue other groups – or, to put that another way:

    “The despot must have a group of partisans who of their own accord obey the despot’s dictates. This obedience and support is the thing that provides the despot with the necessary means by which she or he is able to rule others. Whether the despot’s sway is long-lasting or short-lived depends entirely on the numerical relation of those who voluntarily support the despotism and those who do not.

    “Though a tyrant may temporarily rule through a minority if this minority holds superior arms and methods of force over the majority, in the long run a minority cannot keep the majority in subservience. The oppressed will rise up in rebellion and cast off the yoke of tyranny. Any system of government that would endure must therefore construct itself upon a system of ideas accepted by the majority.”

    Wrote Ludwig von Mises.

    (Present-day China — in the context of Hong-Kong particularly — provides a perfect illustration of this principle: because the Chinese military, including the police-force, remain ideologically aligned with the political regime in power, that regime is only thus able to continue its authoritarian rule. If, however, enough individual people within the military converted from the official Communist ideology and adopted a laissez-faire ideology — such as what Hong-Kong adopted when, for approximately one century, it was under British governance [and Sir John Cowperthwaite in particular] and flourished as no other place in human history excepting for early America — the regime in power could not maintain its position or last, but would be overthrown. This is why every authoritarian or even semi-authoritarian regime has a gigantic state-run propaganda apparatus: it is indispensable to their politic cabinet because it’s vital in indoctrinating the citizenry, so that ideas and the flow of ideas can be controlled. This not only includes state-run media but also very strict censorship: no freedom of speech, no freedom of press, no freedom of media or anything like it, because these things would give ordinary people other ideas about what human life might also be like.)

    Moral-ideological forces are the true forces that form the foundation of government and bequeath to rulers their legal power and sanction: the sanction and power to use force and violence against any renegade individuals or dissident minority-groups made up of such individuals.

    It is for this precise reason also that the deterioration of the critical sense is among the most serious threats to true civilization – making it, in addition to everything else, horrifyingly simple for quacks and charlatans to fool people, which is in turn the reason you see people on either so-called side of the aisle now sincerely believe it when they’re told that they can only be free if they relinquish their freedom – economic freedom first and foremost – in one form or another, whether it be in the name of “privilege,” God, equality, “the environment,” SARS-CoV2, or some other equally fallacious thing. The specific here is immaterial.

    The logical elaboration of this ideology is that if people willingly cede their freedoms – putting more power into the hands of politicians and bureaucrats thereby, all of whom know better than we ourselves, as individuals, how best to conduct our lives and our affairs – we will, at last, finally contribute more fully and ably to that entity known as the “common good.” The “common good” is in turn not specified by each individual voluntarily, since individuals are diverse and do not all possess the same values or ideas about what is good, but rather by the same politicians and bureaucrats to whom our freedoms have been ceded — and who, incidentally, will not hesitate to chop you or me off at the knees in exchange for money or votes.

    Society, we’re told, will only in this way become a better place.

    It is my conviction that humans have at their disposal only one instrument with which to fight this or any other error – even an error of this magnitude – and that instrument is reason. This is why, I say, the only true independent thinker – the only true renegade or dissident – is the one who cultivates and uses the power of her reason.

    Is there enough energy left in the American spirit and in the American people to save America and her quiddity, which is individuality, individualism, diversity, independence, freedom — the freedom to follow your dreams and to grow fabulously wealthy and to make of yourself what you will, shooting for the stars, provided only that you respect the equal freedom in others — a quiddity under the constant attack of intellectuals and academic elites and xenophobes who would subjugate you and me and everyone else in an instant, if they could, to a progressive bureau of planners which believes that humans are fundamentally defined and united not by their capacity to reason and think and choose and act cooperatively, voluntarily, but rather by their skin color, their genes, their gender, their sex, their sexual-orientation, their “minority status” or some other unchosen and equally non-definitional human characteristic, which, however, can only in the end, precisely because it is non-definitional, divide humans – divide and subdivide them – endlessly, and in the process makes humans slaves to both their unchosen biochemical pedigree and also to the elite bureau whom they, the elites, have put in charge of the rest of us?

    Is there?

    It is impossible to say for certain here.

    But those of us who do believe, with all our heart and soul, in the inviolate sanctity of each and every single individual’s inalienable right to her own life and labor (property, never forget, is an extension of work and person) must stand up for this quiddity – stand up for Lady Liberty, her essence, wherever she exists — stand up and fight relentlessly, forcefully, philosophically, intellectually for her. We must stand up for her and at the same time stand against the constantly mutating forces of collectivism, primitivism, tribalism, and all the other ideas and ideologies that give rise to anti-individualism — deadly ideas which are the antithesis of what Lady Liberty represents:

    We are each individuated and sovereign, endowed with the human faculty of volition, which is choice. And that is why we are sovereign: because we each possess a choice.

    Stand up for freedom and do not be cowed, bullied, or gainsaid in your belief of individualism and individuality — the equal rights of each and every individual human.

    The good news is this: the ideas that ground all arguments opposed to individuality consist purely of smoke and mirrors: a theory of knowledge which purports to know that no knowledge is possible, a theory of existence which claims to know for certain (and for real) that reality is unreal and therefore unknowable, a politico-economic code which claims, despite the fact that knowledge is impossible, to know better than we ourselves, as individual human beings, what’s best for all of us — the “collective” — how we must collectively live our lives because, at the bottom of it, we’re told, individuals don’t even really exist, and so this ethical code will by necessity be implemented by force, for the common good of all, of course. Of course.

    Such an ideology is not intellectually difficult to vanquish. But to give and support a full and forceful philosophical refutation of these antithetical ideas, it is necessary to refute the ideological principles beneath them, and it takes time and constant effort. Defending the principles of human individuation, even if the defense is impregnable, isn’t sufficient. The offensive must be taken.

    So I say again: don’t be bullied or shamed for believing in your individuality and the power of your volition, your independent brain, and your ability to think — to think for yourself — and to choose your own values and live your own life as you, an individuated human being and not some cog in a non-existent collective, wish to live it: to cooperate with your fellow human beings not by coercion but voluntarily, peacefully, in a mutually advantageous and pleasant way for all the individual human beings involved. All you need to do is stand up for that principle and do not allow anyone to bully you or bribe you out of it.

    In order to vanquish irrationalism and the authoritarian command-and-control it requires, humans must, I repeat, take the offensive — not merely battling against irrationalism, but also in support of the supremacy of independence and individual autonomy and independent thought, which things ground in fact the inalienable right of each and every individual, person and property alike, regardless of race, sex, sexual-orientation, color, class, creed, or gender. Human individuation and the faculty of volition are what ground individual rights in fact. Individual rights, in turn, legally guarantee each individual the liberty to exist without the permission of the state or municipality, which state or municipality exists only to serve each individual, to protect her right to life and property, and not the other way around.

    In standing up in support and full sanction of this, you will obliterate all the pseudo-intellectual arguments that have infected the world with a constantly mutating ideological disease, killing, in the process, and enslaving and imprisoning countless billions of individual human lives — individual human lives like yours and mine.

    Because the truth is that the ideas underpinning all anti-individual, anti-freedom irrationalism and collectivism are so bloody weak that when you get past the maze of Kafka-traps and the mine-fields of equivocation and circumlocution and the gauntlet of other fallacies, the ideas confronting you wither away and melt into nothingness. It is, make no mistake, an intellectual battle and the battlefield is long and tilted, and with a large army, craven to the core but anonymous and safe in their homes and so hair-trigger-ready to cyber-harass and cyber-cancel you, but I ask you this in all seriousness:

    What more than each and every individual’s independence and autonomy – all humans equal in individual rights: equal in rights before the law, all sizes, sexes, orientations, genders, all eye colors and skin colors – what, I ask, could be a more glorious purpose or plight for which to battle and to fight?

    September 13th, 2020 | journalpulp | No Comments |

About The Author

Ray Harvey

I was born and raised in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. I've worked as a short-order cook, construction laborer, crab fisherman, janitor, bartender, pedi-cab driver, copyeditor, and more. I've written and ghostwritten several published books and articles, but no matter where I've gone or what I've done to earn my living, there's always been literature and learning at the core of my life.

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