Conscious Resistance

Capitalist Exploits's picture

By: Mark Wallace at:

I have yet to meet Paul Rosenberg, but I've followed his work for years. He's a brilliant thinker, and from what I can gather via my communications with him, just a damn nice guy!

Paul knows a lot about a lot of things. An adventure capitalist with a broad range of interests and experiences under his belt, current passions include philosophy, theology, history, psychology, and physics. This diverse interest base is reflected in his extensive repertoire of published titles, including A Lodging of Wayfaring Men, The Words of the Founders, and Production Versus Plunder, not to mention 55 engineering and construction books.

He is also the author of the excellent blog, Free-Man's Perspective.

Paul is speaking at our Aspen Meet Up, along with Doug Casey and others in August. Sharing a scotch and some intellectual discourse with these two gents will easily be one of the highlights of the year for me! You’ll see how you can join us at the end of this post.

I love reading Paul's work because I inevitably learn something. That's always a good thing!

WARNING: If you're offended by free-thinking, believe government is an honourable institution or are otherwise inclined to think that what you hear from the mainstream news outlets is "mostly the truth", then you should not read any further. I'd also go as far as to say you are reading the wrong blog.


Mark: Paul, you've said that, "The meaning of modern existence has devolved to nothing more than comfort and status; discovery is a non-factor. All modern man seeks are food, sex, and comfort, and he/she devotes his/her life to nothing more than mundane things."

I interact with a global base of friends. Thankfully most of them are not deluded by materialism and empty desires. However, it seems that the majority of the Western world (and increasingly the developing world) has been lulled to sleep by technology, mindless entertainment and a stripping of even the most harmless of tresspassings by overbearing nanny states.

Give us some historical perspective on this. Has this happened before? How does it end?

Paul: Yes, it has definitely happened before, especially as civilizations teeter on the edge of collapse. I generally use the Romans as an example, so I'll just go with them:

The end of Rome was famously called a time of “bread and circuses," which simply means “handouts and entertainment." Here's one of my favorite quotes from Rome's fall. It comes from a man named Salvian the Presbyter, in about 440 AD:

The authors of base pleasures feasted at will in most places... all things were filled and stuffed to overflowing. Nobody thought of the State's expenses, nobody thought of the State's losses, because the cost was not felt. The State itself sought how it might squander what it was already scarcely able to acquire.

This was written after Rome had already been sacked once and when the last emperor was just a few decades off. To me, it sounds a lot like our times.

How it ends is a fascinating study. I actually devoted most of my newsletter's current issue to this question, but I'll try to summarize here:

The obedient citizens end up going down with their empire, and are crushed when it evaporates before their eyes. But there are other people who either leave or are spat out of the system. If they find new sources of meaning in their lives, they may create a better civilization in the ashes of the old. That's actually what the early Christians did as Rome fell. They (along with stoics and cynics who merged with them) created a better way of life in Europe, building the first large economy that functioned without slavery.

Mark: Directly related to the last question is the imposition of fear upon the populace to "control" it. You quote Robert Ringer, who said, "The results you produce in life are inversely proportional to the degree to which you are intimidated."

You yourself have said that "systems for harnessing fear currently dominate life on this planet." I couldn't agree more. The perfect example of this is organised religion. The fear of eternally burning in "Hell" is enough to keep billions "in line", and adding to the coffers of their repressors on a regular basis!

What is it in our makeup that leaves us so susceptible to fear-based control?

Paul: Human body chemistry inclines us to over-respond to fear. If we walk through a forest at night and see a large shadow moving toward us, we instantly fear that it's a bear, or some other danger. In reality, it's more likely a tree branch in the wind, but we jump very easily to fear. That's just something we have to deal with, if in no other way than remembering that our fear impulse is too strong, and that we must compensate for it.

In addition, there are people who want to manipulate and make use of others. And they work hard at magnifying and manipulating this weakness.

So, part of it is wired into us and part of it is stoked by manipulators.

Mark: You wrote a great piece called The Suppression of Happiness, in which you said, "To restrict peaceful humans is to directly restrain their happiness. It also directly restrains their talent, and that impoverishes the future, including billions of humans yet unborn. It is among the worst crimes imaginable, yet it is presented to us as an essential."

To me this is all about control, once again. Give us some more colour on why those in power continue to increase their control and restrictions on our behaviour. How do we free ourselves from the "controllers"?

Paul: There are, unfortunately, people among us who seek power over others. Probably all of us have felt the dominance instinct at some point in our lives, but the vast majority of us learn that it's an ugly, destructive way of life and we get over it. But some people are wired differently and think of domination as their proper role. These people will always go after power. So long as there are systems that allow them to control and reap from everyone else, they'll work full-time to get their hands on its levers.

But beyond the systems that empower these people lies a second problem: Normal people obey them! The immoral power-grabbers are consistently rewarded by people who generally care about morality. That's the insanity of our time. We all know that the rulers are liars and thieves – people say so openly – and yet almost everyone obeys them just the same. It's crazy, but it's everywhere.

As for freeing ourselves, the first step is simply coming to grips with these facts. But the second step is the crucial one, and the place where many people fail. And that step is to act on what you know. It really doesn't matter what you do, so long as you break your inertia and do something. A lot of people are glad to sit around and complain, but they never get out of their seats and act upon the world directly. And until they do, they'll never free themselves or anyone else. There is no substitute for action; it's what changes us and what eventually changes the world.

Mark: Paul, I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine who was born in a socialist country. We were discussing taxation and wealth disparity. My friend was asking why those sitting with billions should not be made to help those less fortunate. I think we can all agree that homeless children and poverty are terrible things, but my argument was based on the morality of "taking" from one individual forcibly, and "giving" to another. My libertarian beliefs prevent me from imposing my will on others, no matter the justification.

My friend brought up Brazil's street children. It's a terrible situation, but I reminded him that whilst these children are living in slums and on the street, their government is squandering billions of tax dollars on the World Cup! We have the means to cope with poverty, hunger and myriad other issues. Lack exists only due to competing agendas.

Can you help me frame this argument without coming across as a "greedy, heartless capitalist?"

Paul: The first problem with your friend's question is that is sets a “starting position” that is both deceptive and manipulative.

This argument starts with an assumption that the state is beyond question and that any failures must be attributed to someone else. They don't say that, but it's included in their question. If there are starving kids, it could never be that the state was hurting them. Such a thought wouldn't register in their minds.

This is dogma, the same as medieval people holding their Holy Church above all question. The Church was an idol to them and states are idols to modern people. It is the very same thing.

This idolized state system steals half of what every working person makes. Working people are trying to do the right thing and are stripped bare for their efforts. How about some compassion for them? Why don't they matter? And what about some compassion for their kids, who suffer along with them?

But these thoughts don't register, because the state is an idol, and while one may critique its parts, the state as a whole is only questioned by crazy, dangerous people. In other words, by heretics.

Again, this is exactly the same closed-minded dogma that kept medieval minds in chains. It may even be worse now.

As for the billionaire, sure, it would be a good thing for him to help the poor. But almost all rich people do help others. What the question says, however, is that the state should take this person's money by force. That's simply theft, and theft is immoral, even when an idol does it.

Idolatry has not gone away, it merely wears new clothes.

But the worst thing about the state system is that it stifles actual compassion. Taxation destroys the ability of working people to act upon their compassion, which would create a virtuous cycle in them. The state robs us of that, which is a very big deal.

Compulsion is the opposite of compassion, and is by nature its enemy.

Mark: Paul, one of your stronger quotes was, "Your rulers are immoral, rapacious, and unrestrained. They are building a hell for you and your children right now."

To further that you said, "Big Brother did not come with elections and clear choices; it came riding on the usual human weaknesses: fear, greed, and servility."

We spoke about fear earlier. There's a lot to be afraid of, it seems, but I have to imagine that peaceful resistance is still the best way to combat evil. How do we actually implement this? Do we just all stop going to work, paying taxes, cooperating with our repressors?

Paul: The passage "They are building a hell for you and your children right now" was about mass surveillance and the abominable things that are following it. It's far worse than people understand. But even in this case, we can protect ourselves if we act, rather than waiting for someone to give us a free fix. But unless you are doing something, you're being eaten, day be day. It's as simple as that.

As for resistance, infinite possibilities stand before us, so long as we stop looking for some 'leader' to give us a plan. There will be no "blueprint" to follow. Either we remain as individuals or we don't. And if we don't, it's only a matter of time until we become the enemy.

If we are to resist peacefully, as you correctly say, we must act on our own. Each of us must summon his or her courage and act without taking comfort in being led. But once enough of us do, systems of violence and compulsion will fail. The Albert Einstein Institute has been publishing lists of ideas for years, and that's merely a starting point.

Mark: Paul, what's the tipping point where populations finally say "enough is enough"? How do revolutions start and how is change affected when the time finally comes?

Paul: Actually, revolution is not a good model for us, it's a political model for taking over power. I know that people use it in other ways, such as "The Ron Paul Revolution," but I try to stay away from it. I even wrote an article called Against Revolution once.

Our model is that of the early Christians. I'm not saying this to promote religion, by the way, it's just that they're the best example I know. As Bruce Lee would say, "Take what is useful, wherever you find it."

And, to be clear, the people I'm talking about lived in the 2nd and 3rd centuries; before the Catholic Church existed. Here's what historian Will Durant wrote about them:

...a few Christians, scorned or oppressed by a succession of emperors, bearing all trials with a fierce tenacity, multiplying quietly, building order while their enemies generated chaos, fighting the sword with the word, brutality with hope, and at last defeating the strongest state that history has known.

This is what we need to do if we want to win: Multiply quietly, build order while our enemies generate chaos, persist, endure, and in the end triumph.

The usual revolution model has the appeal of a fast victory. Permanent change, however, doesn't come via shortcuts. If we want true liberty to win, we'll have to do it the slow way. We'll need to change minds one by one, build better ways of living, love one another, and endure.


Paul has a sharp mind and a keen understanding of history. We need to understand the past so that we don't simply keep repeating it. That's been the pattern throughout much of human history, unfortunately. Don't forget to check out his work.

As mentioned in the intro to this post, Paul will be joining us in Aspen August 8, 9 and 10 for our next Meet Up. You can get more details about the event here.

- Mark


"So the story of man runs in a dreary circle, because he is not yet master of the earth that holds him." - Will Durant

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shovelhead's picture

Paul Rosenberg has that unique gift of presenting big ideas with an economy of words. Dr.s Ron Paul and Thomas Sowell also run on that rare track.

I'm sure there are others I can think of but off the top of my head, these guys are front and center.

acetinker's picture

Bravo! Mr. Wallace!  When I visited this post this morning (abt 9 eastern), no one had commented or even rated- I was concerned, so I rated you 5 balls and went on my way, wondering...

Tonite, I am heartened to see that the more thoughtful heads at ZH have turned out in support.  Thank you!

Apply Force's picture

Agreed, but even at this late hour I would hope to see more comments from the ZH crowd.  I suppose, luckily, that there are fewer trolls on any philosophical articles, though - too much for the bots to compute.

acetinker's picture

This responce level just kinda lets you know where you stand- alone in a wilderness of of stupid.  May peace be with you !

Overdrawn's picture

The strategy of tension will work best in an environment where general education is poor (The War on Kids 2014; America ‘Dead Last’ In Education, 2013) and where the media are more or less streamlined. There are more than 1,400 daily newspapers in the United States. But there was no single paper, nor a single TV network, that was unequivocally opposed to the American wars carried out against Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and Vietnam (Blum, W. 2014; Lobe, J. 2014; Lyngbaek, A. 2014). Media have never been more consolidated; six media giants control some ninety percent of what US citizens read, watch, or listen to. Some of them do cooperate, directly or indirectly, with intelligence agencies (Solomon, W. 2014).

Reaper's picture

Rome was replaced by the Dark Ages in Europe. Is that the model we want to follow?

shovelhead's picture

The Dark Ages are a misnomer. The collapse of Roman Empire left a void in the order that it's ruling power brought along with it's architecture and engineering skills but for most of the peasantry, life remained much the same. Granted, the orderly Roman tax collection was replaced by a not so orderly depredation of local warlords, but the real problems lie with the hit and run tactics of their rivals.

Into this void came the nascent Church to provide some semblance of order and protection of the local peasantry and to dull the worst of depredations by the warrior classes with the power of excommunication, and if need be, to be run off by another local lord who may be vitally concerned about the station of his immortal soul and the rewards that would accrue to him by doing the Churches bidding.

The brightness of the Roman Empire shone on only the few at the top and when it disappeared it was the order of Roman law and the trade conduits that Rome opened that was missed.

Life at the bottom remained hardscrabble and mean as it always had been in the Provinces.

Comte d'herblay's picture

".....I love reading Paul's work because I inevitably learn something. That's always a good thing"!, it's not.

Planned ignorance is a good, much better thing.

NOT learning some, many, most things is akin to not wanting to own or rent most things for sale in a department store, or in the world generally.

"Learning something",  CAN be beneficial if you know ALL about something, like how to tie a bowline hitch. Or navigating the dangerous shoals of "EXCEL", how to accurately and safely handle the most fundamental weapons. 

But " learing something " about, say, politics, is like learning about quicksand by stepping into a pool of it.

"Learning something" is, most times, fatal or at the very least a one way ticket to insanity.

There is so much more I don't now know that I was certain of when I was sixteen. And there is so much more about the somethings I do know something about that I wish I'd never ever learned, like how Abraham Lincoln was indeed a Tyrant, a despot and mass murderer, who couldn't negotiate a peaceful departure for South Carolina and had to kill, along with Davis, 600,000 men and ruin as many families, to make his bloody point, and destroy countless cities so that his financial backers in the north could get even richer rebuilding  the south.


doctor10's picture

"Conscious Resistence" -just wait until it becomes "Passive Resistence" -tens of millions of Americans puring sand into the gears of the bureaucratic machine

FredFlintstone's picture

Up north we were taught that he was probably the greatest president of them all. We all learned to revere him. Now close to 40 years after getting out of grade school I see it otherwise.

dontgoforit's picture

Amen, bro.  With learning and understanding comes responsibility - moral and otherwise.  It is indeed a heavy cross to bear.  But ignorance is a fool's mistress.

AdvancingTime's picture

 Sustainability means planning our future in a way that we do not set ourselves up to crash and burn at some future date. Long-term planning has not been something politicians excel at or are even good at.

Our system is geared at getting politicians reelected and fulfilling the most pressing needs of today.  Things like profit, greed, and quenching our unrelinquishing desire for growth are placed in front of longer term issues and needs. Mapping out a logical and sustainable long-term plan requires delving into some rather hefty philosophical questions like what brings real happiness. More on this important topic in the article below.


BeetleBailey's picture

Well said...

Indeed..too bad reason took the last train out of town...globally....

what's that smell's picture

sum it up with two words: idiocracy.

dudes! this ain't rome! this is dancing with the stars and driving to walmart and droning sheep herders and kardashian bootee tweets.

please! no more comparisons to the mighty colossus of pre-industrial mankind.

in the immortal words of bush the lesser: "this sucker's going down."

dontgoforit's picture

Same thing, different historical time.  Unfortunately every generation or two has to relearn what the previous generations learned through trouble and travail.

Parabox's picture

"This is what we need to do if we want to win: Multiply quietly, build order while our enemies generate chaos, persist, endure, and in the end triumph."


Unfortunately, it seems that it wont be Christians that accomplish this.  This sounds precisely like what is happening in the various Muslim communities throughout the US.  Or the Amish.  They are the only ones segregating themselves from the larger society/culture, breeding and organizing their own.

shovelhead's picture

I think the point was that the early Christians were subject to loss of property, freedom and life itself if caught, quietly increased their numbers, in a non-confrontational way, to such a degree that Emperor Constantine had no choice but to recognize them to save his empire.

People who believe that the US Constitution offers the best method of self governance yet devised, with it's limits on use of power, must, much like the early Christians, preach, teach, and increase the faithful until their numbers cannot be ignored and return governance to it's original foundations or risk an abrupt and violent ending.

Good governance only occurs when those entrusted to the task fear mishandling the trust placed on them. This, apparently, is not the current situation. We need to change that because there is no other place to run.

The Fabian turtles didn't achieve their goal overnight but kept creeping steadily forward. It is their motto. We have to move faster but with the same end goal or our country and it's 'grand experiment of self governance' will end.

Maybe forever.

newworldorder's picture

Thanks for reminding us of that comment from Busch. It may go slowly or quickly, depending on which black swan arrives.

The population is too large, too uninformed or uneducated and too ideologically set in whatever belief system it believes in.

Colonel Klink's picture

They've dumbed down the population intentionally.  You can't rob and control an informed, thinking populace.

beaglebog's picture

A good piece.


I agree that violent revolution is unlikely to bring the change that is needed.


The Revolution must be of the intellectual variety ... since there is no difference between you and your worst oppressor except for the ideas in your respective heads.


Merely killing the current crop of oppressors, whilst satisfying, does not kill the ideas that motivate them.


Reason, not guns, will bring real change.  Unfortunately, Reason never gets a chance.

AdvancingTime's picture

Sadly the catalyst for war has not diminished as many people have hoped it would once the world matured. National pride, political agendas, religious and ethnic hatreds are some of the biggest roadblocks to world peace.

Often we seem to forget as we look back to World War II and past a dozen "lesser Conflicts" that peace has been the exception rather then the rule for hundreds and thousands of years. The true reality is that across the world few mothers want to see their children killed and most farmers want to be left along to raise their crops and earn a living. More on the subject of war as a solution to conflict in the article below.

Uncle Remus's picture

Reason AND guns. Guns for the unreasonable in the way, reason for the rebuilding.


Nuke, orbit, sure.

beaglebog's picture

Oh, yes, guns for sure.


For the people who would sooner fight than think.

beaglebog's picture

I see that my post , above, is ambiguous. 


Should have read, "Guns, for use against those who would sooner fight than think."

Apply Force's picture

I am late to the game here, as I sometimes need to work my slave hours, but - -

Thinking on it's own generally means very little.  Only if you can think AND THEN EDUCATE, in one way or another, can you make a difference on a meaningful level, IMHO.

And guns are not for aggression, but for those who are aggressing against us.  To know the difference and not have a gun is akin to battling a tiger with your wits - foolishness.

dontgoforit's picture

Guns for those willing to protect their own against agressors.  Sometimes that shadow in the woods is a freakin' bear - and he will eat you.