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Fear and State Power

What do people fear?

Death, pain, imprisonment, deprivation. Cold, heat, uncomfortable surroundings.

What prevents people from making an act of resistance or taking a stand?

Fear of pain, punishment, yes.

Also social fear, fear of social isolation, exclusion, disapproval, judgement, exile.

In What We all Believe in, I listed some political principles most of us adhere to.

Let's take it down to a simpler level, and put it all in one axiom.

We believe in the rightness of a basic distrust of human power.

That is the bedrock principle, however else you want to express it or deck it out with custom frills, bells and whistles.

Starting from that basis, we can move to the question Why fear of both types described inhibit an effective distrust of power and resistance to it.

If everyone just stood up and had no fear of social or physical penalty, acted on their belief in the right, no amount of force could overcome that, no matter what privation or penalty it could impose.

It's only recourse would be to exterminate or put down the life it couldn't shape and mold.

That state could perhaps only be achieved on a minority, but if sizable enough it would be enough of a rock to disrupt the working of any machine on the rest of the people.

But how achieve such a state even among a minority of people?

What is needed is:

The continual nourishment of the idea itself -- distrust of power and resistance to its dictates. Passing it down, training others up, cultivating the belief as a fundamental principle.

Training the believers not just in the belief, but in fearlessness.

The belief is worthless if the fear of social and physical punishment overrides the belief.

A thousand acts of resistance would be a chain reaction that could overwhelm even a powerful, vital ruling class, not to speak of our effete, spent rulers, who exist by default in the absence of any stronger will.

Unless and until the belief and the honed, trained attitude of fearlessness to the worst power can offer is alive, power will continue to have its way.

We should be looking ahead in the direction of such a basic and non compromising political creed, simple and elegant, and let everyone slap on his own extraneous elements as needed.


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Sooo true...

"The belief is worthless if the fear of social and physical punishment overrides the belief."


"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win!"

"The belief is worthless if the fear of social and physical punishment overrides the belief."

It is not the goal of an honorable

man to be fearless.

It is to face those fears and do what needs to be done.

I've had plenty of times in my life where I have chosen to remain silent or not stand for what I know is right because of the fear of consequences. I judge myself relentlessly for that. I have acted dishonorably.

That is not the man I want to be.

I think of Ron Paul all those years in Congress with the only NO vote.

That is the man I want to be.


You're right. I guess by

You're right. I guess by fearless I mean willing to face down the fears, deal with the awful consequences. Nothing other than that, though, could prevail against power. It doesn't matter how you order society, organize institutions. Power will find a way to impose itself if people are afraid, simple as that!

I don't think it is honor to lofty ideals that will motivate

resistance. It will be facing greater pain from complying than from resisting. That is the revolution point, i.e., the point where the path of least pain for a sufficient number of people is fighting back.

Government, no matter how well intentioned, seems to always degenerate into a mechanism for the few to exploit the many. This certainly is where we are today with government effectively rigging economic activity so that those in government, and those who pull their strings wind up with most of the wealth and the majority work to support what is essentially a government/corporate aristocracy.

We live under a system that continuously moves us farther and farther away from freedom and closer and closer to complete subjugation. We are being transformed from free men into subjects, subjugation being exactly what our Forefathers fought against when King George ruled us back in 1775.

Even without the exploitation by government we would be marching toward a great upheaval. The cost to acquire energy and other important resources is growing exponentially, and without sufficient cheap fuel our industrial age will fail. More and more fuel expended to acquire additional fuel sources leaves less and less to fuel economic activity. We are following an exponential growth curve that has only one end. The current economic contraction, while inflamed by a faulty monetary system, is at its roots the foreshadowing of this new dark age. And how is government reacting? They are preparing to put down the inevitable civil disturbance with draconian measures instead of freeing us to best find our own ways through this bleak period. Instead of restoring freedom to markets, they are using greater government power to direct the remaining wealth of the public into their own hands and the hands of powerful special interests like banks, Wall Street, medical monopolists, and whoever else is willing to bribe those occupying the seats of political power.

You can be sure that resistance will become more and more widespread and will erupt into violence. This is the human react to being made slaves.

"Bend over and grab your ankles" should be etched in stone at the entrance to every government building and every government office.

"We believe in the rightness of a basic distrust of human power.

Uh oh, Bill. You've wandered off the reservation.

That sounds a lot like a prescription for...ANARCHY!

"We believe in the rightness

"We believe in the rightness of a basic distrust of human power."

I don't believe in that. Do you, Bill, really?

Yeah. You don't think

Yeah. You don't think distrust of human power is a correct posture? You guys never cease to amaze me with your foolery. Please elaborate.

Your amazement measures your alternative to trust.

Are human ingenuity and effort included in your concept of "human power"? If they are not please tell me quickly and the sooner the better that I pass your concept off as a transient abstraction existing exclusively in the depth of your mind. A good deal of human ingenuity and effort went in to making it possible for me to so easily and quickly respect your wishes that I "elaborate". Is the internet and our computers not the fruits of human power as such? I was happy, right, and correct in every way ten years ago in trusting that human power would improve all the technologies involved that help me to communicate as such with the likes of you. Am I not correct in posture today in trusting that such technologies will continue to improve?


In the context of the discussion, I thought it was clear that human power referred to political power, economic power, and the power of social pressure on formation of people's beliefs. I am a little surprised you would think I was promoting distrust of human powers of creating technology. Those really don't seem subject to trust or distrust, and are just a fact of life. I suppose it is my fault, I assume people actually read the post!

sarcasm at the end of your apology...

at least that indicates you are definitely BILL3 and not an imposter :D

Yes, I read your entire post. I also remember your "In What We all Believe in" post. Consider that I may not be alone in my reaction to seeing the term "axiom". I'm quite accustomed to honing in and paying close attention to the particular wording used when I've been told I'm dealing with something axiomatic, as typically that has been the direct intent of those who have used the term to me in the past. "Hey, this is an axiom here! This is important, definitive! This is the carefully worded sentence upon which the others are built! This is the crux of truth here! The other sentences merely deal in relative speculation!" Your axiom simply said "human power". It still says that. You dropped the "human" after that and simply use the term "power", without adjectives to guide me as a reader that you intended to not continue your last known reference but to jump back to a previous reference that is not even mentioned once in the entire body of your post. I can only read what is there. I can't read what you only imagine is there. I'm not so sure about your heading, but as it stands the body of your post remains as I originally read it. I made sense of it the best I could. That you may think I misinterpreted your axiom, taking it out of context or placing it in my own imaginary context is irrelevant. It is the nature of an axiom to stand up on its own as true in any context. That is the entire point to declaring something an axiom. You can tweak its wording or leave it as is, but as it stands, so do my previous comments.

By the way, "political power, economic power, and the power of social pressure on formation of people's beliefs" are all just as well, facts of life.



Equivocating meaning is fun.

"The word power has no meaning."

Well it must be depressed, it needs to find meaning!

"I oppose all arbitrary power"

Turn off your lights!

"Where is everyone?"

He had to run out.

"John Robb doesn't believe in heroes."

That's a shame, they're so tasty.


throw up words
the salty gods we eat
slice open the belly to find
a barren culdesac
all signs of life have been removed
she said
life moved again and groped
hopeful to hand over hand

Will To Meaning

Is meaning to be found only in the context of aggression and domination --
raw physical or political power ?


Could the significance be in Mastering ... of fear and loathing. I offer this reflection in the following passage from Nietzsche's notebooks:

"I have found strength where one does not look for it: in simple, mild, and pleasant people, without the least desire to rule—and, conversely, the desire to rule has often appeared to me a sign of inward weakness: they fear their own slave soul and shroud it in a royal cloak (in the end, they still become the slaves of their followers, their fame, etc.) The powerful natures dominate, it is a necessity, they need not lift one finger. Even if, during their lifetime, they bury themselves in a garden house!"


I'll go with John Robb's broader optomistic meaning.

We must cultivate our gardens.

May The Force Be With You



Where there's a will there's a wave ... It's within our power to ride it --

Surfing, as your original post in this thread glorifies in another context, is a daring counterforce as an exercise in the power of creativity and freedom. Is it insane to think we might find ourselves associating with reptilian brain rose colored progressives in a wipeout of the oppressive old paradigm as we gain mastery over the fears which might otherwise effect our enslavement ?


As Colbert, on the occasion noted in the above link, rallied to declare (and spiderjohn link coincidentally depicts): "Now is the time for all good men to freak out for freedom!"

What Do You Fear, Bill?

What Do You Fear, Bill?

Sharing my fears.

Sharing my fears.

Now That You Shared Your Fears, How Do You Feel Now, Bill?

Now That You Shared Your Fears, How Do You Feel Now, Bill?

Worse. :-(

Worse. :-(

“In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man,

and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.” ―Mark Twain

kind people rock