Slave Nation - Nature or Nurture?

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Slave Nation - Nature or Nurture?


Cognitive Dissonance


Considering that each Zero Hedge article has a shelf life measured in hours, there is the distinct possibility you might have missed some of my recent work. Along with the more visible aspects of Zero Hedge’s recent user interface update, now there is a place for the reader to view all of a contributing editor’s work in one location. Please visit my ZH ‘blog’ (here) and see what you may have missed.


It’s remarkable the extent to which we all engage in our daily ritualistic behavior and even more so how it is carefully hidden in plain sight and perfectly blended into all we call normal. Our rituals bring us great comfort and a false sense of security while also trapping us into narrow thinking and confirmation bias seeking. And best of all, at least for those who wish to control us, our rituals feed our normalcy bias and for the most part keep us sated and fulfilled. Sated, that is, until the flimsy façade and cheap material becomes thread bare and worn out and denial finally collapses as we stand chest deep in sea water.

But that doesn’t stop the great Manufacturing Consent machine. Nope, they just floor the throttle and peg the tachometer in the red, all in the pursuit of glorious green and an increasingly productive slave nation. Remember boys and girls, consumers are created for one purpose only and that purpose is to consume. So go ahead and eat your little hearts out, then harass mom and dad for the latest transformer or anorexic doll.

You’ve got to admire it for it is brilliantly simple. If they can control the advertising message that tells us what our rituals should be, then all that is left is to supply us with the material and the means. Voila, as if by magic we now have one consumer driven slave nation idling at the curb. Now all that’s left is to beat it like the wholly owned mules we are.

I was struck with this rather unpleasant thought when I visited one of my favorite web sites and pulled up the image below. Click the link (here) to see the original and just soak it all in for a minute or so. BTW take a peek at the second image in the series, a satellite view of Hurricane Irene consuming half of the USA’s East Coast. Looks to me like an economic storm is coming.

The two people sitting on the wooden stairs to nowhere in the middle of nothing but water is an iconic image if ever I saw one, not just because it represents the full force and fury of Hurricane Irene, but how appropriate it is in illustrating the present condition of the consumer nations. What exactly do we have left after several decades of frenzied spending and mindless consumption? I’ll tell you what we have left. We have our rituals and dogma, and soon enough not much more.

Let me reproduce the caption for this image that was posted in’s excellent ‘The Big Picture’. Billy Stinson comforts his daughter Erin Stinson as they sit on the steps where their cottage once stood on August 28, 2011 in Nags Head, N.C. The cottage, built in 1903 and destroyed by Hurricane Irene, was one of the first vacation cottages built on Albemarle Sound in Nags Head. Stinson has owned the home, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, since 1963. "We were pretending, just for a moment, that the cottage was still behind us and we were just sitting there watching the sunset," said Erin afterward. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)”

Billy and Erin Stinson

That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? All that is left for Billy and Erin is the ritual practice of sitting on the steps to watch the sunset before fully internalizing the massive and unwanted change in their lives. And the impulse to act out this ritual is incredibly strong. Look closely and you can see that Billy is soaked up to the middle of his chest, meaning he probably waded out into 4 foot deep sea water to sit on his steps one last time. The shadows in the photo hide Erin’s wet clothes, but it appears she is soaked as well. It isn’t just salmon who will overcome so much to return to their ritual place of birth or beginning.

For those who were evacuated from their homes and have returned to find damage (or not) and for those who rode out the storm and were or are still without power, the disrupted rituals of our lives come into stark contrast when viewed from the current reality. I was without power for nearly 48 hours and I can’t tell you how many times I turned right at the end of the hall into my now darkened home office to check my email or begin a new article, only to quickly back out of the now useless room full of dead electronic devices.

At one point I felt my home had turned hostile and was no longer the friendly and comfortable place I remembered it to be. Silly rabbit, it was me who was lost and out of sorts because my comforting rituals had been removed without my consent. My home had not changed, only me. Yet the impulse to return again and again was at times overwhelming, an urge I suspect is ‘felt’ in all animals and plants at one time or another. Nature or nurture? That’s the real question here. Though I suspect it is both. The new born baby doesn’t require much coaching to find mother’s nipple, regardless of whether those babies are people, pandas or PIIGS.

In fact the tendency for humans to be severely out of sorts and thoroughly disorientated is being exploited by the ruling elite during the current shock and awe economic rape and destruction. Funny how the wealthy elite prosper during good times and bad, how the card game seems rigged in their favor and the die are all loaded. It must be in their genes because it most certainly is in their pocketbooks, the product of a centuries long breeding program I am told. Although it is exceedingly obvious that secret knowledge and understanding is passed down from father to son and from mother to daughter. Nature or nurture? That’s the real question here.

So why do we always fall for the same stupid elite pet tricks time after time, then wade out chest deep to sit on the remains of our lives just to pretend and pantomime? Why do we hand over our sovereignty and inalienable rights for the privilege of being corn holed by the same people using the same methods they used the last time? How is it that we don’t learn at least as quickly as my old dog Rover, probably the dumbest mutt that ever lived? Nature or nurture? That’s the real question here.

Bottle of Suds

Nature or Nurture

I was 21 and up to no good, sitting at the bar sucking on some suds and plying my illegal trade. Out of the blue the bartender gave me some unsolicited advice that most likely saved my life and the memory of it is etched into my brain. He was 30 years my senior and had seen everything in the book, one of those guys you just didn’t mess with if you had any smarts at all, something the drunks rarely possessed. He had always seemed indifferent to me and what I was doing, probably because I was fair and honest, a rarity in my trade. Plus I never caused him any grief and my tips were usually the best of the night. What wasn’t to like about me?

It was a slow weekday night and Jake used the excuse of serving up another beer to start the conversation. Or should I say lecture. He fixed me with one of those hard stares of his and then just flat out asked me.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

I was genuinely surprised and equally confused by his question. I really had no idea what he was talking about and I said as much. He just stared back at me, his dark eyes boring in which made me increasingly uncomfortable. “So this is what the hot seat feels like,” I remember thinking to myself.

“You know exactly what I’m talking about. And if you don’t you’re even stupider than I thought.”

I could feel my ears going red and I was getting hot under the collar. What did I do to deserve this? But of course I instantly knew what he was talking about, at least now that he had challenged me. At first I thought it was a shake down, so I reached into my pocket to pull out some bills. But Jake quickly reached across the bar and grabbed my arm.

“No, that’s not what I want.”

Now I was starting to freak out because it was clear this guy had my number and I had no way out. He released my arm and told me to wait while he served a new customer. It was the kind of order you didn’t ignore so I waited in quiet panic. But in those few minutes I quickly assessed my situation, then calmed down a bit when it dawned on me that if he intended me harm I would already be hurting. So if this wasn’t a shake down and all he wanted to do was talk, what could he possibly say to me other than to get the hell out of his place?

Much relieved and feeling my oats for being so smart, I relaxed and waited for Jake’s return. He must have sensed my changed demeanor because he quickly pounced and went straight for my jugular.

“Do you have any idea what you’re into? Or are you just so stupid you’re blind?”

How do you answer a question like that when the person asking can take you apart, then quickly move on to the next mess? I very wisely decided to say nothing and quickly swallowed my pride. You just don’t mess with Jake unless you have a death wish, and I most assuredly did not.

“This isn’t for you and you know it. Why don’t you just get out now before you live to regret it?”

In the year or so that I’d know Jake, never had I witnessed this side of him. Normally he was quiet, though he could get a bit animated when he wanted to close and was trying to push the drunks out the door. And when he was pissed off or trying to break up a fight, he became silent and the regulars knew to either back off or prepare to be bloodied. While I knew deep down inside exactly what he was telling me, for some reason I wanted to hear him say it. So I tempted fate and asked him to explain. His answer was short and to the point and all that I needed to hear.

“You lack the killer instinct bud.”

And there it was. With a couple of blunt words and a few figurative flicks of his wrist with the Buck knife he kept strapped to his belt, Jake had sliced me from neck to nuts and laid me out on the bar to bleed, exposed to all the world and in particular to me. All my ugly self important pretentions and fanciful pretending, together with its supporting cast of lies, self deception and justifications, was laid bare in all its beautiful buffoonery. I was playing House of Barbie while the principal players were engaged in a deadly game of cat and mouse. And Jake was telling me that I was in way past waist deep and the worst was yet to come.

While I wanted to believe that all would be well if I just played fair and didn’t fight; you know, by the rules (and you can bet that I carefully and deliberately constructed a false reality to convince myself that I was doing precisely that) Jake was busy cutting my illusion to ribbons and telling me to my face that at best I would be stranded on some wooden stairs in four feet of water, and he was betting I would be in the popsicle stick house when the Cat 5 roars ashore.

This was a crucial decision point for me. Better yet, this was one of those rare times when you get to see the end game before you’re in too deep and can’t back out. In effect Jake was telling me I didn’t have it in me. That I didn’t have what it takes to play with the big boys, those who either by nature or nurture wouldn’t bat an eye as they backed over my body for the third time. Jake wasn’t shining a light on anything I didn’t already know. On the contrary, he was informing me of something I’d been diligently trying to ignore, or better yet, paper over.

Sometimes angels take the form of beautiful winged nymphs and sometimes as grizzled old bartenders. I packed up and got the hell out of there, never to return to Jake’s place or any of my other usual haunts. Within 24 hours I had given my roommate 2 months’ rent to cover the lack of notice and any of the stuff I couldn’t jam into my car and I got the hell out of Dodge. The truth of his words was self evident and something only a true fool would ignore. Right there and then I decided that I had neither the nature nor the nurture and that the only sane decision was to totally and completely withdraw.

Jake's Place

Decision Point 

So how did Billy and Erin find themselves sitting on stairs to nowhere in four feet of salt water, watching the pretty sunset while pretending their lovely little cottage was still behind them? And how do we find ourselves once again corn holed by the same financial elites using the exact same method of lies, deceit and false promises which we gratefully lap up in order to support our own House of Barbie? Hey, I promise to play by the new rules so please, please, please deal me back into your rigged game. Nature or nurture? That’s the real question.

While there is no doubt that countless millions, the so-called working poor, have very little choice and must play or die, we do have a choice and we choose to play the game because we just know we will win. We’re smarter or faster or better or stronger or whatever little lie we can concoct in order to justify bellying back up to the bar for another hand of cards. We know the game is rigged and yet we still play, certain in our belief that out of all the millions of deluded fools we will win the Gold ring and safely retire with our prize. The rigged game itself is our comforting ritual which we all endlessly act out.

But wait, what’s that I hear? Is that a collective moan of piety, a self righteous cry from the peanut gallery complaining that the lying bastards have changed the rules of the game again, that now they get to keep even more of the pie while sticking you and me with the bill? Now that the elite have 80% of the chips on their side of the table and are demanding another 10%, now we complain that the game isn’t fair? Now? You mean they cheated us again? If I understand this correctly, we have rationalized and justified our own greed and self interest in order to elbow our way into the rigged game, only to complain about their egregious greed and self interest? You can’t make this shit up.

So what are our demands here? This must be a negotiation because it sure as hell ain’t a strike or a work stoppage. All of us non working poor peons and enablers are still trudging off to our office trading cubes or fiat factory floors, so there doesn’t seem to be much resistance here. So where exactly is our leverage? How does one negotiate with someone or something when the terms are hidden from view, all the cards aren’t on the table and there’s a gun to our head?

Oh, wait a minute, I get it now. We want to be unequal partners. So this isn’t a negotiation, is it? This is about the reordering of the conditions of our slavery because we don’t like the way things have progressed. We want to go back to the time when we were cut in for a bigger slice of the pie. This isn’t about overall social justice; this is about justice for us. If the working poor just so happen to make out in the deal, well then all the better. But they sure as hell ain’t getting anything out of my slice of the pie. No way in hell. Let them eat cake or get their old percentage cut from the man just like I’m trying to do.

We’ve already had the reading of the charges against the financial elite and their henchmen. So we basically understand their alleged transgressions, though there are so many layers to this 10 dimensional chess board that I doubt anyone other than those at the top really know what’s going on and who’s screwing whom. But assuming that we know just enough to be dangerous to ourselves and those around us, what’s the plan man? Because if you think about it for a minute or so there must be fifty ways to leave your master. Unless, that is, you really don’t want to leave and instead, you just want your old deal with the devil back.

You see I’ve been asking a trick question since the beginning, this nature or nurture query. I’ve been distracting you with useless information and the false hope that if you could just answer the question you could figure it all out and win the Gold ring. It has nothing to do with nature or nurture and everything to do with whether we have it in us or not. We have deluded ourselves into thinking that we are playing a game of Barbie when in fact we are bit players, slaves if we really want to be honest, to the high stakes game of keeps where we get to keep what we are told we can keep.

Our underlying incentive to remain captive slaves, carefully hidden from view under the false promise of a system of laws meted out by the scrupulously just, but blessedly blind, lady with the scale, comes from the implied threat of violence if we don’t do as we are told. That’s it, it’s really not more complicated than that, no fancy whistles or bells or complicated playbooks to learn, though the ‘rules of the game’ is the Golden lure that keeps us all enthralled and thoroughly hooked.

The so called capitalist economic system is nothing more than a system of slave on slave competition for the betterment of the master and to the detriment of the slave. The goal is to take more blood from your fellow slave that you spill, and the incentive is to avoid being shot or imprisoned by the guard slaves who ring the arena, all of which is draped with “Democracy is Freedom” banners for our emotional and intellectual self delusion. The best and most productive slaves are those who keep themselves and we are most certainly the supreme slave nation.

The leverage used against us is provided by us, our extorted, connived and wide eyed willing participation in this macabre dance of servitude. Our slave quarters are just nice enough, what with central heat and A/C, running hot and cold water and a TV in every room feeding us 500 ritualistic propaganda channels that only the really stupid slaves would want to run for the hills and save themselves. These conditions aren’t really that bad considering. So what if the master is demanding two more pounds of flesh. If I fight real good and I’m smarter than the average slave, it won’t be my flesh that’s taken and I might just come out of this OK.

Slave Nation

And you know what, if those conditions are good enough for you and me, if we are OK with being a slave, then fine. Let’s all just do our master’s bidding to receive our pieces of eight, then watch our cable TV to our heart’s content. Just don’t give me any bullshit about how unfair the game is and how the cheating has gotten out of hand because it is you and me who are powering our own slavery. And it is you and me who can stop it all today by just withdrawing and walking away.

The self evident truth is that at this point we don’t have it in us because walking away just might cause us all some pain, at least temporarily. And our ritual training tells us that pain relief is just another piece of eight away. So we capitulate long before we begin. Every time I hear someone bellow in self righteous tones about truth and justice and The American Way, then demand someone else step up and free our asses, all we are doing is proving my point, that we are slaves who regularly demonstrate our slave mentality by asking permission to pee on our own graves.

Slaves do as they are told. Slaves ask for permission. Slaves are seen, but not heard. Those with the slave mentality ask their masters for their leave even when the door is wide open and the coast is clear. Most importantly, slaves delude themselves into thinking that slavery is better than the alternative. Then they convince themselves that the only alternative is certain death if they resist. The best and most productive plantation slaves are those who keep themselves.

As a nation of individual slaves we are getting real close to our own Jake moment, that point when all our lies and justifications will be exposed for us to see. Will we have it in us to do what we need to do? Will we have our epiphany, that moment of clarity recovering alcoholics speak of when they realize they have used every lie, deception and ruse to avoid the truth, that they and they alone are the source of their problems? Personally I think we have it in us, but only after we shed our own emperor’s clothes and stand naked to the world and to ourselves.



Cognitive Dissonance

Special thanks to Zero Hedge's Dagny Taggart for the penetrating conversations that always lead to inspiration.

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chinawholesaler's picture

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Guy Fawkes Mulder's picture

It makes me grumpy to have to admit all this but:

At the first pass of this article I only got as far as the link to the Manufacturing Consent documentary. Did not know previously that there was such a doc. Had not ever actually read the book. Had felt satisfied with my "Cliff Notes"-understanding of Chomsky's thesis for many years previous. Tonight watched ~35+ minutes of the doc, but felt like moving on and coming back to it later, if at all.

Eventually made a second pass at this article. Got into the first-person story (fiction?). Thought it was a good story, of really high caliber, more so than any previous fiction writing I had seen from CD.

Scrolled past one of the pictures. Saw the text go on in another person's voice (non-first-person). Judged at a glance that the next part of the text was about a different subject than the first-person narrative was. Started to get mad. Started to feel like CD is just being needlessly labyrinthine again, like he/she is frequently accused of being. Started to wonder if I shouldn't bother reading more.

Scrolled down. Saw it was nearly done. Relieved, I read the whole thing in a third pass.


This is a pretty good piece all together, I would say.

Some of the things you were saying in the last part made me feel really angry, because I felt like I have been saying the same things to people myself for a long time now -- although I had not been actually saying the same things to people all this time. I had just been feeling it, but been unable to find an avenue of communication with them to be able to express it. Either I or the other person proved intractable every time -- and we never got close to being able to talk about what this is about.

Now I have your essay here to talk about with people willing to listen in the future. Thanks. This will help me express myself to people who are open to talk along these lines. After they read it, we can talk about it.


I have been on something of a "vacation". I notice that you made another essay with a title that more-or-less asked if/when we would be ready to forgive others. By the title alone, I know it's also going to be about something that I feel like I already have wanted to communicate with people about, but been unable.

Because one of the very first things I realized when I saw the awful "world order" for what it was, was that we would all have to do a lot of forgiving of the past, if we would make it through to the future to something not awful.

If we must evolve, then let us evolve into something good. Not something evil.

janus's picture

hope you got it, guy.

janus will never post such secrets again.

all the best,


blindman's picture

the shelf life of this entry is yet another abomination.
but check this out.
Snooks Eaglin and George Porter Jr

blindman's picture
Army Widow Calls for Recognition of Husband’s Service After He Commits Suicide Ahead of Redeployment

blindman's picture

lots to think over. and speaking of advertizing, i hope
the tyler dude is financing his children's future educational
expenses by allowing the advertisements to run over into the
contents of his pages; if not i think he needs to renegotiate
the milieux is the master and is a demanding local reality.
the slave masters have become the owner's of the milieux
via technology, infrastructure and law, fiat. this is what we
are born into, the world of man, right or wrong. and let it die!
when it displays the tendency to kill itself let it be. peace
so "culture", or lack thereof, has replaced nature as the
prevailing milieux, environment, this is what it is all about,
power, and all power is an expression of the original and universal
essence. weird balance in weird space.
man become god via the capacity to claim ownership
and control over the man made environment, the milieux and
infrastructure. funny. the legal authority to comodify the
symbolic essentials, "regal",
artificial and virtual, but real
non-the-less, in conceptual mankind mind space.
aka bullshit, this is what we know and love.
i see the people walk and work the street; no one knows
them or what they are, not even themselves. sometimes i
ask them and they have nothing to say, just addicted to
confusion and trivial yet monumental insignificance. life
but we still don't know where babies and money come from?
but what pisses me off is that youtube has let someone
use my channel name and has now reset my view count, confused
it, or is posting random numbers,i believe, because i did not respond
to the request to allow advertising on the page. ego, there ya go....
ongoing advertising is on the rise.(master) fiat money dictated, what a sad
sack of shit excuse for motivation and purpose.
the bankers and their system are sick and
demented fools culling the populations, torturing the life forms
for their own perverted amusement, debasement and profit, what a shit headed life
form this species has become. beware them at the top, the top shit heads !
"i sleep now" . the lost skeleton of cadavra
the lost skeleton of cadavra

Use of Weapons's picture

Regarding the earlier mention of Rifkin - the source is the RSA talks [direct link1]. I've mentioned it before, and you probably should be aware of what the function of the RSA is. You'll want to look at this talk by a Stanford psych prof 2 [and boy, does he push that book of his] to see the political message a bit clearer: there are definitely the eloi and the morlocks, and the RSA is about defining a cultured lefty upper middle caste. It isn't a centre for freedom, despite the veneer of civilisation - and it certainly is both socially policed to be on message and carefully vetted (speakers' content) to be on message. Watch the questions at the end of this talk3 - it helps to know that she is now a Guardian op-ed writer, and was pegged as a brilliant newcomer, and she's being hosted by Mathew Taylor who is the chief executive of the RSA, and was involved with #10. Her position is anti-State, his probably isn't.  I'll let you decide on what happens during the questioning... perhaps I'm overly sensitive to nuances. Perhaps I'm not - I'd be interested at a second opinion on it.


Regarding the 'nature vrs nuture' part, I'm reminded of this: -- I don't think you can escape the game that easily - you might just be trading up to a classier type of predator. But noted - I should probably get the hell out of ZH, before the scent of my virginal blood arouses the old ones here.


Anyhow, I'll leave you with this: Its a map of the 147 companies 'that run the world', networked, with the nodal power points highlighted. It isn't complete by any means, but it provides a very nice intro into the topic - much better than that other network mapping site. It is also a bit out of date, given that some of the bigger ones are no longer in existence. or a precise

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Thank you for re-visiting this stale link to update it.

Use of Weapons's picture

Please unpack that a little for me - genuinely apologetic if I've offended. This is only a day old, after all.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I'm giving you a genuine Thank You.

Most people don't even visit an article for the first time after it is a few hours old, never mind a day old. But the regulars often come back to see who responded to their posted comment so I appreciated that you added new info. No insult intended.

Thank you. 

Use of Weapons's picture


Old adage - if the reading wasn't worth the effort to analyse, then it wouldn't get done.

Pro tip: The intarweb (for those who've spent extended periods in it) is a zero sum game, emotionally speaking. i.e. Amongst the geeks & the younger generation, there can never be emotive content - there's lot of good reasons for this, and actual papers, research et al. Not to mention ten years of /b/ and so on. Anyone emoting on the intarweb is either trolling you, psyoping you or so fucking naive they need to get off the web before they get hurt. Or caming.

This isn't to say that intarweb content cannot generate emotive responses - it merely means that you can NEVER communicate proper emotions over the intarweb <1--1> [barring skype, and even that's a little dodgy]. Thus if you codify it in 'meta' language, you can get there, if through filters. People treat the web like a conversation, when the emotional impact has to be [through physics] like a book.


Look at #3 vid, and the comment section - you'll hopefully see what I mean. And I say this will a lot of goodwill towards you. Keep plugging away, and good luck.

scratch_and_sniff's picture

Did no one ever tell you CD...don’t smoke the merchandise.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

My friend, all I was ever told was don't bogart that joint.

pazmaker's picture

Cog great article, Thanks. Truth is freedom if you act upon it.

Did you notice the third person on the steps? Probably the mom. You can see her arm on the girls shoulder and just a glimpse of her head.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

You may be correct.

There is no mention of a mother or third person in the caption; though the editor may have decided it would have confused the issue to mention someone so well hidden. I did see what looked like a hand and part of an arm on Erin's shoulder and the caption mentions Billy comforting Erin, though that didn't seem to make physical sense from his body position. Since it clearly is not Billy's hand on Erin I surmised it must have been some clothing or towel around Erin's neck.

Thank you for the different perspective. Either way it is a monster of an image and the inspiration for this essay.

pazmaker's picture

The image, for me is very profound, regardless if there is a third person.  Your words, eventhough you may be writing to yourself as you have mentioned, spoke volumes to me.



Hook Line and Sphincter's picture

Cog Dis,

Nature or nurture seems to be a false choice.

Do you have an email or method of contact if I was to send you a MS word file in a week or so? There is a short story regarding perceptual redemption that I've been working on that I'd like to get your opinion about.


Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Please send all hate mail and any checks, money orders, FRN fiat or Gold and Silver offerings to......

ZHcognitivedissonance at gmail dot com


Hook Line and Sphincter's picture

It'll blast it out to you in a few days. You may be amused and perhaps... slightly entertained, since the soul of Mr. CogDis himself possesses one of the characters (you'll also find others you recognize).

oldman's picture

Have a cup of tea, CD?

Something to write about, I suppose and well-written as usual, but how many times can you tell this story?

I'm certainly tired of telling it, but I admire your tenaciousness-----good luck, CD     om

BTW heard anything about Portsmouth Island? My family came from there to bootleg-boating in the last depression; maybe, it was washed away---no more family reunions---pues


Cognitive Dissonance's picture

.....but how many times can you tell this story?

A reasonable question and one that deserves an answer from me. Initially I thought I would tire of saying the same thing a dozen different ways. But rather than falling in exhaustion or frustration I gain strength with each telling.

The secret is that each time I write the intended reader is me and no one else. I am telling my stories to me in the energizing act of cleansing and healing. Since this is an endless task it can never grow old. Thus instead of being drained by each recitation I am reborn and ready for the next incantation. My writing is my ritual, my centering, and the intended audience (me) my energy source.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :) more family reunions......

Hopefully your annual ritual will just be delayed and not extinguished.

plata pura's picture

You blokes needs to understand the saeculum.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Sadly a word that has fallen into disuse, and even out of favor, now that the one true unifying God is Science.

indio007's picture

Seems like you guys have never heard of the No STATE project. Stop reinventing the wheel. JUST FUCKING OPT OUT. 

williambanzai7's picture

That's the Stairway to Debt Heaven...

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

And once again it looks filled to the brim. Please use the left lane for willing servitude since the right lane is to Nirvana.

Stairway to Debt Heaven

Tompooz's picture

When I had that Jake moment and enough FU-money some 30 years ago, I left a country where slavery was still legal up to 1952 and where all foreigners, no matter how well paid, were regarded as slaves by both authorities and populace.

The trigger for the epiphany was a public beheading..

As a free man I moved around the world,  rented a house in that country of "salarymen" and observed...

All were "slaves" and even the ones with enough FU-money seemed to be happy in their roles of "ShaCho" or enslaved slave-driver.  Only very few in that society were different enough to drive a motorcycle through Asia, marry a Frenchman or give acupuncture lessons in Phuket. Kindred spirits, raised nails mercilessly hammered down if they had stayed in Japan.

And then I moved to my tropical paradise and noticed how enjoyable it is to exploit people who ask to be exploited. 

You can feel so good, doing them a favour...

russki standart's picture

 I had my Jake moment in 2007, after making an tremendous amout of money selling a business. I looked around, saw how my friends were really living, and decided to bug out to a  supposed 3rd world shithole.  Never regretted it for an instant: low taxes, nice weather, plenty of beautiful women, house staff, very fresh fruits and vegetables, privacy, no militarized police. It is actually amazing how once you get rid of the clutter and junk in your life, the degree of freedom that you can experience.  

blunderdog's picture

The good news is you can experience that same freedom without a bunch of money and a trip to a new homeland.

It's all there on the INSIDE.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Something I often harp on in my essays. It all begins within.

Though a pile of fiats and Escape from New York doesn't hurt. Snake tells me the weather is great in paradise.

Coldfire's picture

You think you've got the Philippines by the tail? Good one.

Tompooz's picture

At least it never had me by the tail...  It's a good country for adventurous enterprise. But it's also good for withdrawal from the mad, mad world.   

Coldfire's picture

I guess what I'm saying is that certain Filipinas have had me by the tail. Still plan to retire there when I withdraw - or am withdrawn - from the mad, mad world. Difference now is that I've got family there.

Dr. Gonzo's picture

What were you doing Cog? Pimping ho's, shy-locking or making book?

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I'll never tell, mostly because there are still several outstanding wants and warrants. :>) 

But you're missing several other choices that I can think of off the top of my head.

Implicit simplicit's picture

...and to think Its practically legal on the left coast now. Sorry, had to guess.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I love guessing games. It appears that once again the Left Coast is leading the left brain out of the darkness. It must be the water out there. :)

Lower Class Elite's picture

I'll take "Pool Shark" for a thousand, Alex...

gookempucky's picture

The answer is both, nature and nurture.

 If you dont mind CD I would have to say the answer is YOURSELF period. Mankind has developed into a let others do our thinking for us. Many a modern man rely on others to think everything out, to give it form ( major media outlets) and then man relies upon the thing produced. VIOLA ...the producer becomes more and more capable and the dependent one becomes more and more dependent .

 Emerson said to the fact that what we gain on one hand we lose on the other. Man has watches but has lost the ability to tell time of day ourselves. How many of us here at ZH know many that cannot travel without a GARMIN=many a lost soul. To neglect the development of self through dependence upon anything outside yourself is to weaken your own nature.

Another great mental influence CD

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

If you dont mind CD I would have to say the answer is YOURSELF period.

I don't mind at all. Later in the piece I admit to using the whole nature/nurture question as a diversion so I didn't really want to dwell on the actual answer.

And I tend to agree with you, particularly your views on how it can be seen as a zero sum game with something lost each time something is gained.

johnnynaps's picture

Not sure what type of music you appreciate? But, Queensryche's latest album boasts a song called "Retail Therapy" that you might want to check out. It also has a comical part that makes me laugh everytime I hear it.......but so true. I'd attach a link, but been drinking and getting real lazy! 

rsnoble's picture

I'm not a slave. And I know just enough to be dangerous. Fuck the elite sideways.  While I think the net is the elites greatest fear, I still don't think we are using our full ability to combat the rotten motherfuckers that have screwed us over.  I don't know about you guys.......but my anal lube bucket is fucking empty.

Blankman's picture

"While I think the net is the elites greatest fear"


All I have to say is this -


The internet is just another control tool fool.  Easier to track the nutjobs because they don't understand that they are being tracked.

Cdad's picture

But brother Cog,

I...I don't want to be a wholly owned mule.  

Very tight, very true, and very prescient.  

It seemed to me that our collective Jake moment was 2008, but it passed too quickly.  And now we have the Jake and all of you moment close to hand.  The second is the one for which there is no conventional recovery...not for a long, long time. Confidence will not be rebounding any faster than employment, and mindless rituals are going to be very hard to maintain soon.  I hear folks are really irate over that Netflix fee jump.  That Congress raised the debt ceiling again...not so much.  Good grief.

The nation will soon be staring into the headlights again, that deer, that comical deer pic that Tyler puts up...but no one will be laughing at that moment.  Some because their multiple prescriptions long ago killed their funny bones, and their tear ducts, and their conscience.  Some because the accumulation of laziness will have killed off intellect and they simply will not know what is happening. Shattered illusions, crumpling tin foil will, poverty and joblessness, emptiness, and slave taxes are all now descending on the rest. And the selling...the selling of everything will continue, stocks, bonds, houses, cars, souls.

We are a nation sitting on that staircase to nowhere surrounded by the sea of our neglect.  And for the last thirty years, we have been sitting there, looking at the beautiful sea, without the faintest idea of its gathering power.

I don't want to be no wholly owned mule.  Let the truth descend already.


Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Very tight, very true, and very prescient.

You were bouncing around in the back of my mind as I wrote this piece. There were a few times when I asked myself if you would approve and when the honest answer came back that you would not I took out the meat cleaver and cut away some of the fat. I probably could have cut a little more, but I figured it was a good first effort.

 I hear folks are really irate over that Netflix fee jump. That Congress raised the debt ceiling again...not so much. Good grief.

Netflix is a real reality that is direct debited from their checking account or credit card. The debt ceiling isn't real, but just another boogie monster the politicians bicker over. Until it isn't. The Netflix debit happens monthly rain or shine but the boogie man never seems to show. So who's afraid of DC's national debit if there's never any direct pain.

I don't want to be no wholly owned mule. Let the truth descend already.

I suspect this is gonna be just like a nasty bear market where everyone gets clawed and you're lucky to get away with your life. Free the wholly owned mules brother Cdad because I don't want to be one either.

Cdad's picture

A moment together, we two grieve for your lost words.  I leave to you whether or not they died in vain or for the cause. But this one maintained really good momentum.  Less iterations of thought...I sensed.  Hat tip, brother Cog.  

Indeed, let them be free from the illusion of this false economy, this false prosperity, trading their days away, trading their family away for payment in a diminishing currency.  Let them rise, awaken, and begin the Revolution of the Closed Wallet.  Let them learn to do things other than trade their lives for money to buy useless things.  Let them shake off those shackles. 

Gardens.  Canning.  Animal husbandry.  Fermenting.  Smelling flowers.  Straw hats and catfish.  Corn cob pipes.  Last year's movie for a dollar on a Tuesday.  Old pickup trucks and soup can muffler jobs.  Worn jeans and one good suit for Sunday.  Old books.  Garage sales.  Charity.  Homemade bread.  Sewing.  Truth.  Neighbors.  Swapping recipes.  Raising babies.  Odd jobs.  And so on and so on...and so on and on...poo tweet [blatant Vonnegut rip]

Embrace the revolution.  Let it come...for the sake of our once good and great nation.  And enjoy every damn minute of it!

I refuse to be a wholly owned mule!

your brother,


Cognitive Dissonance's picture

A moment together, we two grieve for your lost words. I leave to you whether or not they died in vain or for the cause.

Definitely for the cause. If the written word has no reason to live was it ever alive to begin with? I am slowly getting over the lust for my own words and beginning to pay attention to other's desire to even read them. Some would call that growth, even maturity, others just plain sobriety. Like mama always said, often time's sweet honey is more effective than dry bread.

You're compassionate words and offer to help was the honey I needed to conduct an honest appraisal. Once I realized I was in a negative equity situation I hitched up my pants and dug in. I'm greatful you didn't offer dry bread instead.

Cdad's picture

The recognition of your audience is doubt.  As I said before, as you play with reduction, your confidence in your writing will grow.  At some point, you will probably go too far...and you will realize it.  And then you are in the sweet spot.  That is when your voice, your style, your rhythm will be more comfortably to hand.  Then, you will intuitively know when some flourish or repetition can be inserted without encumbering the work.

I am here for the brotherhood, Cog.  I am here for the truth.  We cobble ourselves together in these dangerous times for a reason and a purpose.  I think what you are writing about matters to this greater cause, and as such I am at your service.  I am with you.

Nice crisp and gritty article.

RockyRacoon's picture

What puzzles me is the posting of comments by those who even admit that they didn't read CD's piece, complain that it is too long, yet spend the time to expose their obvious ignominy.   The apparent dichotomy is probably worth an article in its own right.