Monday, 25 August 2014

Why Lovers of Tyranny Are Against Inequality

(From the archives - March 10th, 2002)

Amid the propaganda, with which our rivals the lovers of tyranny bombard us, a constant theme is their hatred of what they call inequality. We are supposed to believe that this inequality is morally wrong. That it is increasing, and has been since the Industrial Revolution. (Which, some of them say, caused it in the first place). That, if we do not accept their draconian policies, their high and ever-increasing taxes, their violations of our freedom, this inequality will continue to increase until… well, until exactly what is not completely clear.

But our rivals’ screams of “inequality” are nothing new. For, back in the 17th century, John Locke observed: “I cannot be supposed to understand all sorts of equality; age or virtue may give men a just precedency; excellency of parts and merit may place others above the common level.” It is not hard to guess what kind of arguments he was opposing.

There are good grounds for saying that in one sense, we are indeed all equal. In the same paragraph, Locke says what he means by equality. “That equal right which every man hath, to his natural freedom, without being subjected to the will or authority of any other man.” Meaning, that no-one has any right to rule over others against their wills. Right on, John!

Our rivals try to give the impression that they are following in this liberal tradition. They would have us believe that something they call inequality is wrong in principle. They would have us believe that governments should use laws, and force if necessary, to reduce or even eliminate this inequality.

Yet even some of our rivals might admit that, if their goal really was to enforce absolute equality on everyone, it would be unattainable, not to mention utterly ridiculous. How, for example, do you make someone six feet six tall equal to someone of five feet five? How do you make sure that no-one has a chance to have a second child, until everyone has had the opportunity to have one? Besides which, the policies, which supposedly implement this equality, would need to be enforced. And this would require a class of men (and women) to be the enforcers. Which would lead to perhaps the ultimate inequality – where those with guns have legal licence to use them against those without.

So, what inequalities do our rivals really complain about? When we ask this question, we begin to see that they are extremely selective about the kinds of inequality they attack.

Our rivals do not complain, for example, about social inequality. If A has hundreds of friends, and B only a few, that is fine by them. They do not object to inequality in physical size and strength. They do not object to inequality in how often individuals get the chance to have sex. Nor do they mind reproductive inequality. If C has four children, and D none, they see nothing wrong in that. Indeed, they want to aggravate the inequality, by forcing poor D to pay taxes for the benefit of C and C’s children.

Still less do they mind political inequality. They see nothing wrong in Tony Blair and its cronies having the political clout to make a bad law called IR35, specifically designed to ruin the careers of tens of thousands of honest, productive one-man IT consultants, including me. They do not demand that I and my fellow-victims should have an equal opportunity to ruin the careers of Blair and its minions in return. Far from it. Instead, those that cry out against inequality actively demand more political inequality, more taxes, more bureaucracy, more harming of innocent people whose only "crime" is being better than average at earning an honest living.

Nor do our rivals object to the fact that they have constant access to the mainstream mass media, through which they trumpet their shrieks of “inequality.” Whereas, without such access, the cries of “injustice” from the victims of their schemes can reach only a very few.

Our rivals’ claim to be against inequality in the broad sense has no substance. What, then, can it be that they are really against? To answer this, we must look more closely at the kinds of inequality they actually do complain about. Mainly, they are two – the educational and the economic.

Education is a large subject, on which I can only touch here. But it is clear that our rivals do not like people to develop their minds to their utmost. Decades of socialist educational policies in Britain have resulted in a rash of “bog-standard comprehensives,” which even Blair has seen fit to condemn. In the USA, the situation is even worse. Since the early 1970s, scores in the Scholastic Aptitude Test have been steadily declining. So much so, that in 1994-5 education chiefs re-jigged the system, to make the tests easier and to make the results look less bad than they are. The effect of our rivals trying to impose their ideal of educational equality seems to have been no better than to dumb people down.

In economics, our rivals have had their way almost without interruption for the best part of a century. They have created a climate of hatred against the economically productive. They swamp entrepreneurs and their businesses under torrents of taxes and regulations. And, under their guise of lessening economic inequality, they treat us honest working people, who develop our skills to our utmost, like no more than slaves, pack-animals or objects, to be exploited and taxed out of existence. They have not yet found a way to stop us developing our talents, but they are doing what for them is the next best thing – stopping us reaping the rewards we deserve.

No, our rivals’ real target is not inequality. Their real target is success. They have created a climate in which, as expressed by a well-known football manager, “People don’t like success.”

Our rivals hate success. And yet, they hate some kinds of success less than others. They do not object to people getting rich through winning the Lottery. They do not seem to mind political success gained through fraudulently buying Paul’s vote with money stolen from Peter. No, the success they really hate is that success which has been earned through the free development of an individual’s natural talents. They hate those who have succeeded in distinguishing themselves from the herd. And, most of all, they hate success when it has been gained through years or even decades of honest effort.

Why do they do these things to us? It is not hard to see. Their real agenda is simply that they want to haul good people down. They want to force us down towards, and in the end right down to, their own level. They don’t want people to learn too much, particularly those near the top of the class, who are the most likely to start asking awkward questions. And they hate honest, productive, independent, successful people – because we are productive, because we are honest, because we are independent, because we are successful. They hate us precisely because we have earned what we have earned through our own merits.

It is plain that the waffle about equality and inequality is no more than a smoke-screen. For our rivals do not respect our equality – our equal right to our natural freedom. They do not respect our right to live our lives in our own way, subject only to the rule of law and justice. Far from wanting to end or even to lessen political inequality, they actively seek more political inequality, so their kind can rule over us as with a rod of iron. They want to subordinate us to the "authority” of the likes of Blair and its cronies, just as their predecessors subjected Germans to the whims of Hitler, Russians to the whims of Stalin, Chinese to the whims of Mao.

But smoke-screens cannot last for ever. Sooner or later, people will tumble to what our rivals are doing. And it is our job, the job of the lovers of freedom, to hasten that tumbling.

Here is one way, in which we lovers of freedom can publicly distinguish ourselves from our rivals, the lovers of tyranny. Let us oppose our rivals’ hauling down of good people. Instead, let us concentrate on raising standards for all human beings. Let us aim to lead out the creativity for good, which is there, even if latent, in every human being. Let us try to help our fellow good people to grow their talents, and to use them for more good.

In education, let us do what we can to help individuals develop themselves to the highest standards they are capable of. At the same time, using technology such as CDs and the Internet, we can distribute education at a fraction of the cost of the conventional product.

In economics, let us make plain the simple truths, which everyone knows deep down. That earned success is commendable. That there is no nobler human activity than creating wealth by honestly providing goods or services, which others are voluntarily willing to pay for. That people who put in great efforts, and develop their productivity and skills, deserve to be rewarded instead of reviled, cherished instead of censured. Let us create a climate in which people have the incentive to put as much into the economy as they can, and can fully enjoy their earned rewards. That climate, of course, is a totally laissez-faire economy, an unbridled economy of human happiness, prosperity and progress.

Our rivals are horrified by even the mention of the prospect of a laissez-faire world. For, shorn of their unearned privileges and influence, they will have to earn an honest living in the free market like everyone else. Stripped of political power, they will no longer be able to violate our natural freedom. They will no longer be able to damage innocent people’s lives with impunity. And they will be brought to justice for their crimes.

Now that’s equality – real equality, John Locke’s kind of equality. Let’s get some of that.

Chapter 43. Of P-Day

As we set ourselves at last towards P-Day, the Team became restless. They understood that our project, if successful, would change all the cultures they had grown up in. Nothing would be left untouched. And they had committed themselves to making it happen. They were not sure they had decided right.

The trainees picked this up too. They had doubts. And the Tuglay reported that they were being asked many difficult questions.

It didn’t help that it was now the sharpest period of winter. The winters at Camp Two were continental – think Minnesota. Going outside the hotel for any length of time became a major undertaking. Even the twenty metres from the east door to the big old bus’s normal parking spot was now a jog, not a walk. And I could only visit Harv’I when Gavantchin was with us to take me in her ’mobile.

Michael and Gabriel did what they could, and it was much. They were always available, always smiling, always helpful. But that was not enough.

I noticed that it was those, who had often before been outspoken and cynical, who were now the staunchest supporters of what we were doing. Ray, in particular. And Ben. Elise, more gently, weighed in too. “What was the point of coming here if we don’t change the world for the better?” she asked.

* * *

Over the weeks, the news from Camp Four got better and better. The alliance of the Sixty-Four Kings (well actually, sixty-two kings and two presidents) was rapidly taking control of the Brjemych planet. There were bloodless coups in many realms and in several republics. Violence was down, happiness was up, and even the economy was starting to recover from all the bad kings’ predations.

I worried that Voltan, who was clearly the first among equals and the king-pin of the Sixty-Four, might try to make himself emperor. But Harv’I – on one of my, currently rare, visits to him – put me right. “I mind-scanned him when we met,” he said. “I took a complete dump of his mind. That is Galactically taboo, but I did it anyway, because the matter is so important. Voltan is trustworthy.”

All the Brjemych trainees had been sent back within the first three weeks after B-Day. Maijier and his advisor had been the last to go. There were now only eight Brjemych and two Tuglay left there, along with Zer’ael and Gavantchin. And the only reason Tuglayino and Tuglayono were still on Perinent, was that they had volunteered to stay on, to be the teachers for the next species to use Camp Four.

Meanwhile, I had some more planning to do. I put to Balzo the idea that we should have a Third Wave. We would Pull some of those with a good chance of acquiring power in the aftermath of P-Day. We would brief them. We would show them the Punishment Pit, and take them to meet Harv’I. And we would then send them back to play their parts in the revolution. With assistance, where appropriate, from one or more of our trainees.

I wanted to keep the second wave on Perinent until the third wave was properly started. I wanted to send them to a “safe house” – Ramael’s Seraphimobile, where they would join those still remaining from the first wave. And then, to distribute them round the planet as needed. That was ultimately why I had decided to Pull Paul, and with him Melinda. I wanted a doctor on board that ’mobile.

I also spent much time exchanging ideas with Ramael and Hazael while they were on Socotera. Because of the physics of the force fields, it is not possible to contact Naudar’I ships in flight, even by mescap. So, once the first wave left Socotera, my next opportunity to communicate with them would be when they were in geostationary orbit above Earth.

We agreed that Hazael would send us a mescap when they arrived there. That would be the signal that we could start P-Day. My plan was for the Seraphimobile to land – very publicly – on Earth exactly forty-four hours, that is two Perinent days, after we began P-Day. A further twenty-two hours later, we would start Pulling the third wave.

* * *

As winter at Camp Two turned into early spring, the anxiety passed. Yes, people came to think, this really can work. We, we lucky few, really do have the chance to change for the better the lives of all the peaceful, honest, productive people on Earth. And to punish the political class for their crimes and injustices. So let’s do it.

We in the Team spent a lot of our time detailing who should be taken in the third wave, and monitoring them. They were a mixture. Some were prominent opposition leaders. Some were heirs apparent to power, should there be an emergency. Others had only very recently acquired power, and had not yet done too much harm.

A week before P-Day, we had news via Balzo that the Board of the Galactic Association had considered the Brjemych’s application for Galactic status, and had formally accepted them as Juniors. Several hundred Galactic dignitaries would gather on the Brjemych planet for the celebrations in approximately eight Perinent weeks. And it was time for Zer’ael and Gavantchin to make the arrangements for Gelmar and his Team to go home.

I urgently asked Balzo to make sure that the Brjemych didn’t leave Perinent until after they had helped us with our own P-Day. He agreed, but said they would have to come to Camp Two almost immediately, as Camp Four was to be prepared for another species. So, I had Gavantchin bring in relays the entire Brjemych Team of eight, with their three Pulling and Pushing machines, to Camp Two. Zer’ael, Tuglayono and Tuglayino came too. We had enough rooms for them all – just.

* * *

P-Day was set for a Wednesday. On the Tuesday afternoon, Gabriel came to me with a mescap. It was from Hazael, who was now in Earth orbit. The trainees in the ’mobile were under sleep-gas; they could be woken up at eight hours’ notice. I replied that we would start the Pulling at 9 of the 22, Perinent time, the following morning. And that the trainees should be woken up in time for the landing on Earth forty-four hours later. That would be Friday morning, our time.

Wednesday came. It was a sunny late spring day, cool but promising warmth later. All was in place for the Pullers. Michael had mixed several hundred large sleep-gas doses, which he would administer to keep those we Pulled unconscious for about a Perinent day. As well as a similar number of smaller and quicker-acting doses, to be used for the act of Pulling.

Gabriel, Cees, Elise, Hoong, Galina and three Brjemych Pullers would each work at a dedicated machine for as long as it took. Gelmar would be reserve Puller, ready to step in while people were eating, or to take over from anyone who became too tired. And I would do the occasional Pull too, if only to keep my hand in.

With much ingenuity, Hoong had rigged up some lights, both on the way from the hotel to the Punishment Pit and between the elevator and the building in the Pit itself, so that we could continue to work at night if we needed to. And the strongest among the second wave of trainees had been co-opted into the transport team. Some of them would wheel those destined for punishment from our building to the elevator, down into the Pit, and to the punishment building. Ben would organize them. Others, down in the Pit, would take on the really heavy job, of loading the sleeping prisoners on to their bunks. Lily would direct this work. We had Gavantchin and Zer’ael to help too; they were each as strong as two humans.

The Cherubim were primed to keep a look out for anyone we brought that they thought did not deserve punishment, as their fellows at Camp Four had done for Maijier.

Sabrina had on hand all the information on which of those to be punished would likely be found where and when. John was ready with camera and sound recording equipment. Dede and Marie were the runners, carrying messages wherever they were needed – and, in particular, taking to each Puller the dossier on whomever they were to Pull next. Since the Brjemych could not read English, three of our trainees were ready to read out the dossiers to Borong and their two other Pullers. Ray and Jenna were in the kitchen. I was ready to oversee the whole, and to react to anything that might happen, as it happened.

As he had been earlier at Camp Four, Cees was a Trojan that day. Despite all the monitoring work we had done, it was harder to find those to be Pulled than it had been with the bad Brjemych kings. Still, Cees averaged a Pull every twenty-five minutes throughout the day. This time, Elise was only a little slower, about thirty-five minutes per Pull. Gabriel worked at about the same rate as Elise. Hoong, Galina and the three Brjemych each averaged around one Pull an hour.

We didn’t stop for lunch, we didn’t stop for dinner. Anyone who felt hungry simply went along to the kitchen and grabbed tea or coffee, and whatever they fancied from Ray and Jenna’s ever-changing menu.

Night fell. Our tally was in the 120s. We were a little over half-way to today’s target. We were going to have to work through the night. We were going to have to work right until the first of those we had Pulled began to wake up.

We Pulled dictators. We Pulled warmongers. We Pulled presidents, prime ministers and former occupants of those posts. We Pulled senior UN and EU bureaucrats. We Pulled politicians and “scientists” that had fraudulently claimed that human activities caused catastrophic climate change. We Pulled many of those that had ruled over people by lies and deception. We Pulled a good selection of those whose disappearance would bring joy to the hearts of the people they had mistreated.

The Cherubim remained silent throughout. Obviously, we had not made any mistakes like the one Mittveld had made over Maijier.

Things went wrong, of course. Some of Hoong’s lights failed, and I had to ask Zer’ael to fix them – which he did, quickly. One trainee, hauling a laden trolley too enthusiastically over the rough ground, sprained his ankle. Zer’ael couldn’t fix that instantly, but he could lessen the pain. Having a combined engineer and medic in my team was a boon.

It was an uncanny scene that I saw in the sputtering light. Some of the worst individuals on Earth, strapped to trolleys, being wheeled unconscious towards their nemesis – and good riddance. Many of them in suits, some in pyjamas. A few, indeed, in evening dress.

Down in the Pit itself, as the bunks were slowly filled, it felt even more eerie, though the building had far better lights than the ones Hoong had installed.

By 6 of the 22, after nineteen hours of concentration on the work, even Cees had begun to flag. I determined that we should stop when the tally reached 200. That would be enough to make our point. We could – and would – Pull more later.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

You Are Not Guilty!

(Neil's Note: While searching through my archives, I came across this one, dated October 27th, 2009, which hadn't been published before. I thought it would fit very well as one of the "starters" for the new blog.)

My friend, you are today bombarded by accusations designed to make you feel guilty. All around you, again and again, the politicians and media accuse you of things like: (tick all those applicable to you):

  • Producing waste
  • Damaging the environment
  • Using energy
  • Wasting natural resources
  • Failing to recycle
  • Emitting carbon dioxide, so causing dangerous global warming
  • Endangering species
  • Taking part in greedy, grasping business
  • Being successful through your own efforts
  • Being well-off while others are poor
  • Being selfish
  • Being unnatural
  • Being naturally bad
  • Not giving to charity
  • Spending on what you want
  • Driving a car (or, worse, an SUV)
  • Eating meat
  • Not eating enough fruit or veg
  • Being fat
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Flying in aeroplanes
  • Causing Hurricane Katrina
  • Being sceptical about environmentalism
  • Exploiting people in the third world
  • Having ancestors who were “colonialists”
And that’s before you’ve done anything that might in some places have been declared, or might in future be declared, to be “illegal”. Such as:
  • Taking drugs
  • Enjoying pornography
  • Going to a prostitute
  • Hunting foxes
  • Failing to vote for politicians
  • Driving too fast
  • Using incandescent light-bulbs
  • Being a one-man business
  • Downloading something from the Internet that might be “copyright”
But there’s more. The guilt-trippers bombard you with guilt for just about anything. For example: wars, pollution, poverty, the decay of society. Over-population, stress, not caring about future generations. Even though you have no, or almost no, control over any of these things. How can you possibly be guilty for anything you could never have controlled, or even influenced?

Now, my friend, you’re an honest, truthful human being. Yes? You make your contribution to the economy. You take responsibility for what you do. You don’t use or support aggressive violence. You don’t support political agendas designed to harm innocent people. Yes? Why, then, are you being treated as if you were guilty? Why are you bombarded by messages trying to make you accept guilt? Something’s wrong here.

My friend, I have news for you. You’re being had.

But I have better news for you too, You are not alone.

Your friends – and I am one – see through the lies and deceits of those that want to be our political masters. And what we see, and you will soon see – if you do not already – is this:

You are not guilty!

State Your Terms!

On the Mis-Use of Language to Convey Subtle Collectivist Messages

(Neil’s Note: This wasn’t the very first “philosophical” paper I ever wrote, but it was the first one which someone else – in this case, Brian Micklethwait of the Libertarian Alliance – thought good enough to publish. The date stamp on the original was October 5th, 2001.)

* * *

A well-known lover of freedom, writing about the causes of the atrocities of September 11, 2001, used a phrase which jarred on me: “our meddling in Middle East politics.” What he really meant was “the US government’s meddling in Middle East politics.” My friend, living in the USA, had found it natural to use “we” or “our” to refer to the US government. The effect was to give the reader a very subtle statist message. Namely that everyone, particularly US citizens, and including my friend, must accept a portion of the responsibility for the US government’s meddling in Middle East politics.

This small, unintentional slip showed one way in which language can be used to convey subtle collectivist, anti-individual and anti-freedom messages. Those that hate individual freedom - I will call them lovers of tyranny - are masters of this particular art. I decided to write this paper to alert lovers of freedom to (or to remind them of) a few of these deceptions, and to suggest how they might try to avoid these traps in their own writing.

The misuse of the word “we,” and its derivatives “us” or “our,” is very common. Many people, when they beat their breasts and say “we must do something about this,” mean “I want the government to force people to do something about this.” But, by using the word “we,” they are fraudulently claiming to speak for large numbers of people, many of whom if asked might well disagree entirely with what they say.

The key to detecting the fraud in this case is the simple one of asking, “Who’s we?.” If a speaker or writer uses “we” in a way which is not clearly defined, you may perhaps have caught a lover of tyranny in the act.

Another misuse of “we,” often perpetrated by religionists and environmentalists, is to project guilt on to the entire human race. “Ever since we were given the Ten Commandments, we’ve ignored them,” moan religious fanatics. “We are polluting the atmosphere. We can’t go on like this,” scream enviros. The key here is to apply their own arguments to themselves. Have they, as individuals, ignored – for example – “Thou shalt not steal?” Are they polluting the atmosphere – the mental environment - with lies, and falsely trying to make people feel guilty? There are two lessons to be learned. First, never accept any guilt for anything other than your own actions, or the actions of someone under your direct control. Second, if those that use “we” in this way genuinely believe what they are saying, they are damning themselves out of their own mouths.

Related to both these misuses is the making of statements which bundle people together according to nationality, or according to some characteristic beyond their control, such as race. The motivation for this collectivist “bundling” is often to rouse emotions, either for or against those people. One should be suspicious of any sweeping statement, either positive or negative, about (to give two examples) “Americans” or “blacks.” Apart from the difficulty of determining just who exactly is “American” or who exactly is “black” (and who not), such blanket statements obscure the fact that human beings are all different.

Another misuse of language is the personalization of nation-states, as in, “France wants X extradited” – or, when already speaking of France, “She wants X extradited.” In reality, a nation-state is not a person, and should never be given the pronoun “he” or “she.” The example above would have been better expressed as, “French leaders want X extradited,” or even as “French government officials have said they want X extradited.” France, indeed, is a piece of land; France cannot want anything (except, possibly, rain).

There is often similar misuse of the names of cities, particularly capital cities. For example, “London says such-and-such” or “Washington has confirmed so-and-so.” Even buildings are sometimes personalized: “The White House wants to tell the American public that…”

In English, capital letters are not normally used for nouns, except for proper names and for the first word of a sentence. However, it is conventional to use capital letters for the names of establishment institutions and personages. Examples of such words are government, king, parliament, president, state, church, pope. To dignify these words with capital letters – Government, President, State, Church, for example – gives to the reader an almost subliminal message of power, respect and even reverence. But, as historians and lovers of freedom know, many of these organizations and individuals have shown, by their actions, that they are not worthy of any such respect or reverence.

Those that hate freedom – statists, collectivists, lovers of tyranny, call them what you will – have two words, which they very often pervert. These are “public” and “people.”

The adjective “public,” in its true meaning, means “for the benefit of all.” No less a thinker than John Locke, in his First Treatise of Government, defined the “public good,” which must be the objective of every government, as “the good of every particular member of that society, as far as by common rules, it can be provided for.” (In other words, if even one non-criminal individual in a society suffers nett harm from government, that government is not acting according to the public good, and so is not doing its job).

There are many common uses of the word “public,” in which it has its true meaning of “for the benefit of all” or “open to all.” For example: public footpath, public house, public transport. But statists often pervert this word into a meaning more like “of or pertaining to the state.” For example: public purse, public sector, public works. And when any politician talks about something being in the “public interest,” you can be sure that this is no more than an excuse to “justify” the particular policies of that politician.

The word “people,” in English, has two quite different meanings. People (plural) are human beings. The word “people” (singular) is used to mean a nation, or a sub-group within a nation. And statists often use “people” (singular), when they want those receiving the message to think that they are talking about people (plural). The key here is to ask, if you replace the word “people” by “persons,” does the sentence still mean the same? For example, when Abraham Lincoln spoke of “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” did he mean a society in which individual human beings run their own lives, or did he mean something else?

Which leads to one of the most misunderstood words of all, “democracy.” Western politicians, especially US presidents, love to extol how wonderful democracy is, how no social or political system could possibly be better. This is hardly surprising, as democracy is, after all, the system through which they obtained power. This paper is not the place to discuss in detail why democracy today doesn’t work, and why so many individuals feel disempowered. Here, I will only address one reason why democracy fails; namely, that the word democracy doesn’t mean what people have been led to believe it does.

Democracy, says conventional wisdom, means “power to the people” – power to you and me. But this is not so. The word consists of two parts, both from the ancient Greek. The “cracy” bit, as with other –cracy words like aristocracy, means power. (In modern Greek, the root word “kratos” has come to mean “the state”!) The “demo” bit is more interesting. Democracy means power to the “demos.” “Demos” means people. But as you will have already seen if you know Greek, the word “demos” is singular! Indeed, this very word “demos,” in modern Greek, has taken on the meaning of “municipality” or “borough.” So, the real meaning of democracy has nothing to do with empowering individuals. It really means something more like “power to the municipality,” or even “power to the state”!

Lastly, lovers of tyranny often show themselves for what they are, by their liking for military expressions. Politicians fight election campaigns, from which they want victory. And the word they like best of all is war. War on poverty, war on waste, war on litter, war on drugs, war on crime, war on terrorism – their list is long, and their wars are never-ending.

There are on planet Earth two conflicting world-views. The world-view of the lovers of freedom is, in essence, that human beings are individuals, naturally good, peaceful, productive and constructive. That human beings must take full responsibility for their own voluntary actions, but are not guilty for anything done by others outside their control. That all laws should ultimately boil down to just one kernel, namely, respect for others’ rights. That all the problems in the world are due to a minority of “bad apples” or, as John Locke called them, “noxious creatures,” and to the rot caused in others by their words and their activities. That good human beings, left to themselves, will create order out of chaos, and so make the planet a fit place for the human race to live.

The world-view of the lovers of tyranny, on the other hand, is that human beings are naturally bad, warlike and no more than cogs in a social machine. That all humans must accept a collective responsibility or guilt, which extends even to things outside their control. That, left to themselves, humans will destroy the planet. That humans must be controlled and regulated, and order imposed on them, either through force or through manipulating their beliefs. (And, that they themselves, the lovers of tyranny, are best equipped to do this controlling and regulating!)

Each individual shows his or her world-view in the way he or she uses language. And we (that is to say, lovers of freedom) are too prone to slip into our rivals’ way of speaking and writing. When we use “we,” for example, we should try to make it clear just who we mean. We should be alert to other misuses of “we,” for example to represent statist institutions, or to project false guilt. We should avoid implying that individuals must accept responsibility for things outside their control, particularly for actions carried out by politicians. We should try to avoid “bundling” people together into groups and making sweeping statements about them. We should reject the personalization of nation-states or cities. We should not dignify with capital letters personages or institutions that do not deserve them. We should not misuse words like “people” and “public,” and we should avoid warlike metaphors, such as calling our rivals “the enemy.” In short, we need to “state” our case in our terms, not our rivals’.

We lovers of freedom are usually strong on facts and logic. But facts and logic alone will never persuade those very many people, whose minds have been poisoned towards our rivals’ world-view by their long-term, persistent propaganda. We will never roll back the power of the state, still less heal the damage done by nation-states and politicians, unless we strive to make our use of language reinforce, rather than dilute, our uncompromisingly individual, peaceful and optimistic message.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Chapter 42. Of the Second Wave

Voltan was happy to accept Mittveld as his advisor. He did another service for us before he left. He provided a list of eighteen names, of kings he thought were worth Pulling to Perinent and asking to join our project. One was Maijier.

Cees Pushed Voltan back to his own kingly mattress, and Mittveld to a, by Brjemych standards, luxurious guestroom in his palace. He Pushed her an hour or so after Voltan. Partly to make sure that he woke well before she did. And partly because she showed signs of undergoing an epiphany.

“Under my king,” Mittveld had said to me, “if I was the key witness in a failed prosecution, I would myself be punished for my failure. Yet you have not only let me go unharmed, but have given me exactly the assignment I wanted. And with a good king like Voltan!”

“Mittveld,” I said to her, “your king – an Atrox – is already in the Punishment Fort. Did you not realize how bad your king was?”

“I was foolish,” she said. “I was so bound up in my community and my country that I did not realize that the king was evil.”

“Understood,” I replied. “But, before you go to join Voltan, you owe Maijier an apology.”

Which was given. Face to face, honestly and fulsomely.

I also had to apologize to Maijier, for my part in having him wrongly Pulled to Perinent and imprisoned. I did it, awkwardly. He laughed (whinnied).

Maijier was a medium-sized, brown Brjemych, neither young nor old. He said, “It is fortunate that my realm is stable when I am away. Ha! For my brother Riccart is an excellent administrator, but he has no great appetite for power. But, even if I do not lose my realm, I understand that under Galactic law I still can claim compensation for my treatment from the Company you represent.”

“That is what I understand too, from what Gabriel has told me. But I do not know the details. I will ask Harv’I, our local project manager, to find out what you should do to get compensation.”

“Oh, I may not even bother,” said Maijier with a grin. “I am intrigued by your project. I have studied Voltan for many years, and know that he never jumps until he has sized up the fence. It could be gainful, to us all, for me to become one of your Sixty-Four Kings.”

I grinned back. “Indeed, Voltan suggested exactly that. Let us take you to Camp Two to meet Harv’I. Then you can discuss both these matters further.”

* * *

I had daily contact, over the radio link, with Ben at Camp Two. I told him now that it was time for Michael to bring the ’mobile back to pick up those he had brought to Camp Four five days earlier. Lily and I would travel separately with Gavantchin, as we had another Brjemych to bring to meet Harv’I.

Meanwhile, under Adelghem’s direction, the Brjemych were sending back by mescap to their planet pictures of what was going on in the Punishment Fort. These had an immediate effect. In several of the troubled kingdoms, violence lessened or stopped. And in them, and in many others, the Brjemych held rallies and parades to celebrate being rid of the kings they had hated.

It was Saturday when Gavantchin took Gelmar, Maijier, Lily and me back to Camp Two. I had planned that we all spend two nights at Camp Two, and meet Harv’I on the Monday. For I wanted time to talk to Maijier. And to relax a bit.

Being back at Camp Two was like being home after a foreign adventure. Despite all that was going on, it seemed familiar, quiet and comfortable. And to taste Earth food again – Cees and Ray having plotted so that we had Earth food (and beer) on Saturday as well as Sunday – was a bonus.

On the Sunday, we again went to walk in the mountains to the south-west. But it was now winter, so conditions were far more difficult. There was a mixture of sun and snow showers. We had to wear three or four sets of underwear beneath our robes to keep warm. And there were many trainees to transport, so Gabriel ran a shuttle service between the camp and the mountains.

Gavantchin, Gelmar and Maijier came walking with me and Lily. Gavantchin turned her ’mobile over to Michael, so he could follow our group.

The conditions meant that we could do only about half of the walk we had done before. Fortunately, the upper – and prettier – half of it was still passable, as far as the foot of the green mound.

Early on, Lily decided it was too cold to walk, and accepted the ride which Michael offered. So, I had plenty of time to talk with Maijier. I tried to enthuse him about staying on Perinent until the full complement of sixty-four kings was filled. “I think you, as a king, have a better chance of persuading other kings to join our project than Gelmar and his Team would on their own.”

“True,” said Maijier.

“I am sure you have ambition to be the second of the Sixty-Four Kings, after Voltan,” I said. “But I would be happier if you were the sixty-fourth. Is there not more honour in being chief recruiter and leader of the rearguard, than in being second in the van?”

Maijier laughed. Something I had grown used to, for he laughed often.

We came to the mound, which today was a mixture of green and white. The two ’mobiles were dancing around each other in the air above the mound, like a pair of giant insects. Gavantchin looked up approvingly. “That is good piloting,” she said. “Though it does put the passengers under a lot of acceleration. I am particularly impressed with Gabriel, for it is hard to make a big old bus dance.”

By now, I was feeling cold and tired. I was very glad when, at last, the pilots finished their dance, and Michael came to pick us up at the bottom of the mound.

* * *

I spent a frantic Monday catching up with what had been going on at Camp Two, writing a belated progress report to Balzo, and preparing for the meeting with Harv’I and Maijier.

The second wave of trainees, Ben opined, were better than the first. At least, they gave less trouble. Perhaps, he thought, this might be because there were more business people, and less academics and minor politicians, in the second group than the first. The Tuglay, too, were pleased with the second wave’s progress. I made a mental note to do my own checking, as soon as I could get free of my urgent duties to the Camp Four project.

We went in the afternoon to see Harv’I. If Maijier had not already convinced himself to join our project, he certainly was convinced after speaking with Harv’I. And he approved my plan, that he should be recruiter for the Sixty-Four Kings, and should stay on Perinent until all had been selected.

Then we went back to Camp Four, where the panic of B-Day and its immediate aftermath was dying down. There were still lots of loose ends to tie, though. The major one was filling the tally of the Sixty-Four Kings. Voltan, in addition to himself and Maijier, had suggested seventeen names. The Brjemych Team and trainees, between them, came up with twenty-five, all of whom they believed to be Felixes. Maijier added another twelve kings he knew well, and two presidents of well above average integrity. We were still six short, not allowing for any that might refuse to join us. We decided that we would have to be open to further suggestions from those who committed to join us.

Another loose end was our offer to Voltan to provide radio communications equipment to the Sixty-Four Kings, so that they could easily talk to each other without leaving their realms. We set up a system in which the Brjemych would Pull radios, like those we used to communicate between Camps Two and Four, from the manufacturers. Then, Zer’ael would configure each one individually for use on the Brjemych planet by a particular king. And then they would be Pushed where they were to be used.

We also planned how the project team would keep in contact with the kings. We decided we should Push and Pull pieces of paper only, and should not risk using mescaps. One of Gelmar’s Team, Borong (pronounced “bow” as in archery, followed by “wrong”), volunteered to be the dispatcher. I wondered if he realized that he had just taken on the hardest job at Camp Four, as Sabrina had at Camp Two.

All these things could be handled, day-to-day at least, by Gelmar and his Team. I could now reduce my commitment at Camp Four back to one night a week. And turn my attention to P-Day.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Welcome to Honest Common Sense

Honest Common Sense is my second book. The first was a science fiction novel, called Going Galactic; you can find out more about it by clicking the “Going Galactic” tab on the home page of the site.

My new book is very different. It follows on from a number of essays, which I wrote and published on various websites in the years since 2001. Most of these essays were on political or ethical subjects, though some touched on other areas, such as economics. What this book does is to assemble these ideas, which I developed over more than a decade, into a (hopefully) coherent whole. The result is what I, tongue in cheek, call “a Philosophy with a capital F.” Paperback and e-book editions should be available in September 2014.

Why have I written this book? Because I sense that the social system we human beings have used for the last several thousand years – for want of a better word, politics – is failing. In fact, I think it’s already failed. And I know that lots of people are starting to see and to understand this, and are becoming very concerned about it. My view is that we need to move forward to something new and better. And I want to do what I can to help along this “Resurgence,” as I provisionally call it.

Why have I written a Philosophy? And why do I start at the bottom, with basic but very hard questions like: Is the Universe real? Do we have free will? And, what are we here for? My answer is, that you can’t build anything without solid foundations. So I try, firstly, to deal with the basics, before moving on to Politics, Ethics and Economics, and trying to build a comprehensive structure to help us address the problems we face today.

Why is this book authored by Neil Lock, whereas the novel was written by Neil Humphrey? Because I have chosen to use the former name for my non-fiction work, and the latter for my fiction.

Why have I written the book in as plain English as I can, rather than in the jargon or gobbledygook which many academics seem to like to use? Because the people I am aiming it at are “ordinary,” honest working people, who prefer ideas clearly expressed to clever sounding obfuscation or bullshit.

There’s another reason why I’m aiming the book towards honest working people, too. It is because most academics and broadcasters, and many teachers and even journalists, have become establishment people. They are heavily wired into the political system. The most likely reason for this, I think, is that few dare go against their paymasters. So, the impetus for change must come from somewhere other than these vested interests.

Why is the book so short – only 150 pages? Partly because I write very slowly. And I’m a compulsive reviewer and re-reviewer, always trying to nudge my work towards a level of perfection which is almost certainly unattainable. But the main reason is that the people I’m aiming the book at don’t much like big, scholarly, hard-to-read tomes. They prefer something which takes hours to read and understand, not months!

Who – and what – am I? There’s a section in the book, starting on page 5, where I address this question in some detail. For a little more, try the “About Me” page in the Going Galactic website.

And lastly, what are my plans for this blog? In the short (one year) term, I plan to re-publish some of the essays – mostly from between 2001 and 2009 – which were the sketches for many sections of this book. I will also add new essays as I write them, so this blog will become a repository for my “serious” work. In the longer term, I may be looking to move “Honest Common Sense” more in the direction of an organization, dedicated to promoting exactly what its title says.

I aim to allow comments on this blog, but I will only accept comments which are both on topic and civil in tone. And moderation won’t be quick.

I hope you enjoy this blog. And I hope even more that you buy the book, and find its ideas (to quote the Author’s Note at the end): instructive, edifying, uplifting, useful or even entertaining.

Neil Lock
August 16th, 2014

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Chapter 41. Of a Practice Run

Now, things at Camp Four were moving. We had, at last, a list of bad Brjemych to be Pulled for punishment. Most of them were kings, so there was little difficulty in finding them, unless they were away from their palaces.

I had no idea how the Brjemych trainees had been selected, yet they seemed a good bunch. But I was still concerned over how the Ke’lan had become involved. I worried there might be something about the Brjemych I needed to know, but didn’t.

I asked for and waited for enlightenment, and had, at last, a mescap from Odam, explaining what his predecessor as project manager had got wrong.

As Odam told me, the Brjemych had been almost ready to become Junior Galactics for thirty of their generations. Yet, it hadn’t happened. The Brjemych, even by their own admission, tended to be slow to make things happen. So the Company had authorized a project at Camp Four.

The Voxh (pronounced “Vosh”), a hive-mind, had volunteered to be overall manager of the project. The Company had accepted this, because no-one else came forward. The Voxh had chosen the team and trainees, and chosen them well. But then, he had appointed the Ke’lan as Helpers, expecting that they would jolt the Brjemych into action.

But, as I saw it, the Voxh’s choice of Helpers had been plain wrong. There was a fundamental incompatibility between the Ke’lan and Brjemych approaches to life. The Ke’lan were focused, ordered, and – despite their Galactic status – not above a little persuasion of the uncomfortable variety. But the Brjemych – for the most part – just did what they did. In Brjemych culture, the most dynamic individuals, such as Adelghem, became story-tellers, not entrepreneurs or field marshals.

Since Zer’ael and Gavantchin arrived, the Brjemych had relaxed. They referred to their new Helpers as “Dad” and “Mum.” (No translator needed.) They had already started to use English! It’s catching.

But the Brjemych project was still less sure of success than it should have been. And, I realized, it was now my job to fix the problem. Surely, Harv’I had the responsibility in title, and his contributions were most valuable; but he was remote. Gabriel, too, had a part to play, but he was now visiting Camp Four less and less frequently.

No, I was the one on the ground. I was the one who had to turn excrement into increment.

I decided on an aggressive strategy. Two days before B-Day, the Brjemych’s P-Day – which was also two weeks after the course for the second wave began at Camp Two – I had Gabriel, Cees, Marie, Elise and Hoong brought to Camp Four, with four of our five machines. Michael piloted them, and more than a week’s supply of Fortnum and Mason food, Dutch beer and Seraphim wine accompanied them – for the Brjemych are not renowned as cooks. Only Galina, among those able to Pull and Push, was left at Camp Two.

It took Gabriel most of the following day to configure our machines to access the Brjemych home planet. That done, we had seven machines – three of the Brjemych’s and four of ours – ready. And six dedicated operators, three Brjemych and three human. While Gabriel and I would share the seventh machine, and Gelmar would be ready to take over from any of his Team who became too tired. Meanwhile, members of the Brjemych Team or trainees would stand beside us and help us find those to be Pulled.

B-Day dawned, and we went to our tasks. Cees was at his very best that day. We had one hundred and fifteen kings, and forty-one others, listed to be Pulled for punishment. Cees averaged, throughout the day, one Pull every seventeen minutes. Elise was about half as fast, and Hoong and the three Brjemych team members vied for third place. Gabriel took six, and I five. Gelmar took only one.

After thirteen hours, we had Pulled one hundred and fifty. Only six short of the target! Of course, we had to get each of them into the Punishment Fort. Brjemych were not physically well equipped to move their sleeping fellows. So, the transport team – using trolleys we had brought from Camp Two – consisted of Zer’ael, Gavantchin, Lily and Marie. I did a few trips myself, while Gabriel was Pulling. Though the ground was level, it was hard work under the equatorial sun. And Brjemych were heavy!

We finished late. We were happy, we were tired. We ate well, we got drunk, we got sleepy.

I was woken by commotion. Adelghem, and the other Brjemych team member who specialized in news gathering, brought bad tidings. Our Pulling of the worst kings had not had at all the effect we had hoped. At least twelve violent insurrections had begun in the realms of kings we had brought for punishment, in the hours since we began B-Day. And four in other kingdoms, too.

That was not all. For one of the Cherubim was demanding to speak to me and Gelmar. The Cherub sent to us, “One Pullee, we think, does not punishment deserve. His name is Maijier.” (He pronounced – if that is the right word for a telepathic nuance – the name as “My-year.”) “We think he has suffered a bad name wrongly given.”

Now, I knew that Cherubim were among the strongest telepaths in the Galaxy. They could easily make themselves understood to species where the majority are poor telepaths, like humans or Seraphim. And they could, at need, read the minds even of species most of whose members had no telepathy at all – like the Brjemych. No wonder they were in demand as police. But they were honest police. They would never help to prosecute or punish those they knew to be innocent.

So I said and sent, “Please hold Maijier for now within the Fort, but in reasonable comfort, and with adequate rations. Gelmar and I will judge him later.”

The Cherub bowed – even, I might say, genuflected – and returned to the Fort.

* * *

Voltan, his name was. He was Gelmar’s king. Gelmar had told me that his king was a Felix; I hoped he was right. Cees Pulled Voltan, and he woke before any of us expected.

Voltan was, by Brjemych standards, huge – about fifteen hands, by Earthly horse measurements, or more than a metre and a half tall at the withers. He was a grey stallion in late middle age, and he had a beard. Not a goatee, but a real beard – a fringe of long, white hair all around his muzzle.

When he woke, Voltan said, according to my translator, not the usual “Where am I?” – but “Who called me?”

“I called you,” I said to Voltan, handing him a translator. He took it in his left hand, and attached it to himself. He waited for me to speak.

“Voltan,” I said, “I brought you here because I need your advice. We are engaged in a project to bring you Brjemych into Galactic civilization. It is not going well. We have brought the worst of your kings and republican leaders here for punishment. Yet, instead of change for the better as we hoped, it seems to have caused chaos.”

Voltan looked at me, Gabriel and Gelmar, then said, “What do you expect? Good kings rule with the consent of their people. Bad kings, by force or fraud and with the hatred of most of their people. Republicans, with the consent of some, but the hatred of the rest. Unseat bad kings and bad republican leaders, and those they and their cronies oppressed will revolt, looking to bring the oppressors to justice. Simple. Why are you so slow?”

The last sentence, as it came from the translator, sounded like my mathematics supervisor, after I had done a good piece of work but couldn’t see – obvious to him – where it led next. There was even a trace of his Hungarian accent.

I smiled. “Thank you, Voltan. I would like you to stay here two or three days. Do you want to send a message to your friends, telling them you will soon be back? I assume you have someone to fulfil your duties while you are away for a short time?”

“Yes,” said Voltan. “I am the captain of a team, and I have a vice-captain. I should alert him that I will be off the field for a few days.”

After the mescap was sent, Gavantchin took Gabriel, Voltan, Gelmar and myself to Camp Two to meet Harv’I. On the way, we told Voltan about what had been going on at Camp Four.

At the meeting, Harv’I gave Voltan the background. “Our goal here is to bring the Brjemych through what we call the Social Transition,” he said. “That is a necessary stage towards becoming Galactics. What that transition involves is replacing outdated political organizations – including, I must be frank, monarchy – by societies which allow individuals the maximum freedom to be themselves, and reward them according to what they do.”

“I have considered this problem,” said Voltan. “Do not think that we Brjemych are unaware of the Galactic Association, or of the potential benefits of joining it.” At this, Gelmar started, and I took a big breath. Neither of us had been previously told that the Brjemych – or some of their kings, at least – had already been contacted by Galactics.

“But we are very slow to make such changes,” Voltan continued. “And not only because we are conservative. Much of the reason, I think, is that compared to other species who have experienced monarchy, we have very many good kings. Those who live under good kings have little incentive to agitate for change. Particularly when they see what goes on in the republics. And the kings themselves, good or bad, have even less incentive for change.”

“Yes,” said Harv’I, “I am glad your thinking confirms mine.”

“Going on,” said Voltan. And then, addressing me, “Neil, I do not think you should be worried about the troubles you and Gelmar have stirred up on our planet. What you have done is exactly right to help the people in the bad kingdoms and republics. There will be much cheer when the images of punishment arrive on the Brjemych planet. But a period of violence, I think, is inevitable. You should be more worried about how you are to create change towards the Galactic way in the good kingdoms and the – very few – good republics.”

I almost laughed, for an idea had come into my mind. “We have here sixty-four Brjemych recently trained in the Galactic way of thinking and doing,” I said. “We intended to send them back to their homes, to do what they can to spread the transition in their own countries. But now, Voltan, you have given me a better idea. Why do we not Pull here, for a short time each, sixty-four of the good kings? And send back, with each king, one of our Galactic trainees? You, Voltan, can be the first such king.”

“Yes, I see,” said Voltan. “Galactic agents – if I may call them that – could be far more effective under the protection of a sympathetic king, than they would if simply returned to their former lives. That is, of course, provided the king is sympathetic. A big provided.”

“I agree it is a big provided,” I said. “We have to solve that problem while they are here. We have to sell them on the idea of going Galactic. If we succeed, we send a trainee back with them. If we fail, we send them back alone, and we have to find another king to Pull.”

“From my point of view,” said Voltan, “and I think I can probably speak for many other kings too” – and here he snorted – “it is a trade-off. The prospect of losing title, and perhaps power, may turn some against the Galactic project. Others may support it, because they see a chance to be remembered in history.

“Then,” he said in a musing tone, “there is another aspect too. We kings often form alliances, but they are rarely large. If sixty-four kings, all committed to the Galactic project, allied together, they would be a huge force. Unstoppable, perhaps. Particularly if they had Galactic technology to help them.”

Voltan had not actually phrased that last as a question, but it hung in the air. After a few seconds, Harv’I answered. “Yes, we could supply some Galactic technology to help you. For communications, certainly. Or transport, if necessary. Even, perhaps, defensive military technology. But our help must be covert. And we do not condone aggressions.”

There was a pause. Then, “Very good,” said Voltan. “I will join your project. I will be the first of the Sixty-four Kings. But you must understand that I will surely hold you to your promises.”

* * *

There was one more issue to be dealt with before Voltan could be returned to his home. I wanted his help in the matter of Maijier. He had been acquainted with Maijier, and could tell us what he knew about him. But I asked Voltan not to say anything more about Maijier to any of us until he was formally asked to do so.

My investigations with Gelmar had showed that the accusation against Maijier had come from one of the trainees, Mittveld. She lived in one of the neighbouring kingdoms, and as a young foal had lost her parents in a raid led by Maijier’s father, who had been a bit of a Ferox. She suspected Maijier of involvement.

I convened a court. Gabriel was judge.

Under oath, Mittveld made her case. Maijier defended himself, saying that he had been away from home at the time of the raid. And that once he had become king, he had never raided anybody. One of the Cherubim explained why they had brought the matter to my and Gelmar’s attention. And Voltan told of his dealings with Maijier, who it seemed was quite unlike his father – more a Felix than a Ferox.

The court was rough and ready, but it was all done in the best spirit of Galactic law and justice. And Gabriel found Maijier not guilty.

“Now,” I said, “there is another matter. This one is mine and Gelmar’s to judge. And Gelmar has already agreed with my opinion.

“We are forming a group of sympathetic kings, who will promote our Galactic project. Voltan is the first. To each king who agrees to join, we will assign one of the Brjemych who have been through the Galactic training course. Mittveld, today you have made yourself” – and here I cleared my throat – “visible. I therefore appoint you, if Voltan is willing, to go as advisor to his country with him, and help him to move our project forward.”