People are so easily corrupted by power. This corruption tends to be the case even if that power is an untenable perception backed by nothing more than a trivial hierarchical ranking. This seems to be a simplistic statement, but alas, most of our fellow humans do not fully understand this notion, even though this observation requires only an elementary level of scrutiny and evaluation. So goes the Acton quote that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
We libertarians convey this sentiment often, but we usually couch this expression in terms of the state and its minions, mouthpieces, allies, enablers, and dictators. This is because we tend to view the state as the single greatest threat to liberty, and therefore we ultimately view the state as the most formidable menace to our daily, individual freedoms. So the state is a self-evident enemy. Therefore libertarians tend to focus on the state, and while this theme is valid and necessary, they oftentimes lose sight of the individual trees within the whole of the forest.
I wrote an article in 2003 titled “The Totalitarian Impulse” where I discuss the impact of the self-anointed dictators we face in our everyday life, but from the perspective of those who attempt to control our actions via legislative exploits and special-interest coercion. Forgive the dated material (12 years old), but still, I impress upon you that the totalitarian impulse is alive and well in our everyday lives as mini Führers attempt to control and corral others in order to assert their so-called position power and ascend up the ladder of dominance. We may witness this in our daily interactions, family, relationships, or especially, in the workplace.
The libertarian world is full of useful and necessary advice in terms of survival as it relates to imploding events combined with civil unrest or failures of the state and its monopolies (power grids, economic shortages, and monetary upheaval). However, an even more basic freedom is often lost in the shuffle, such as freedom from everyday impediments brought about by debt, sketchy employment, shoddy human relationships, and the lack of availability of across-the-board options.
In order to conquer these impediments, I stress that, always, one must set up the appropriate boundaries and stick by them, allowing no trespassing beyond those boundaries without an approved rationale. Additionally, you should have a bug-out bag of options that include a buildup of monetary savings/investment, lack (or minimum thereof) of debt, authentic friends and relationships, and a profitable skillset that can keep you capable of seeking alternatives and selling your services down new avenues when you need to escape the prison others are trying to build for you. As the power grabbers around you attempt to underwrite their own climb up some mindless hierarchical ladder, a portion of any route to the top surely runs right through you. See Larry Reed’s 1998 “Hayek Was Right: The Worst Do Get to the Top.” To quote:
These two benighted characters on the stage of international politics don’t know it, but they are reading from Hayek’s script. In his “Why the Worst Get on Top” chapter, he says of the central planner or “potential dictator,” “. . . he will be able to obtain the support of all the docile and gullible, who have no strong convictions of their own but are prepared to accept a ready-made system of values if it is only drummed into their ears sufficiently loudly and frequently.”
A good New Year’s motto – better than one that promises to start going to the gym! – is one that declares your right to self-ownership, and thus the two convictions I covet most: sanity and soul. This points to the power of making your own potential opportunities and being ready, and able, to pursue them when necessary in order to maintain your happiness, dignity, and freedom. Also, at the core of your sanity is the ability to be in a position of strength where you are able to deny others the opportunity and foundation for taking away your freedom and choice(s).
As you are often charged with turning back the would-be captors, always vow to win. The victory may have its short-term setbacks and/or temporary erosions, but in the end a human being’s sanity and soul are the key to thriving beyond just surviving. To survive means to exist, but to thrive means to prosper. Happy New Year, to all.