Why Americans Shouldn’t Respect Offices or Laws

It has become a common belief among Americans that they should “respect the office” of an official, even if they don’t respect the person holding that office. The same, of course, goes for “the law.” And while I understand that people saying such things are trying to be virtuous, they are mistaken.

Respecting the office and the law are unAmerican, and I’m going to show you precisely why, and mainly from the mouths of the American founders.

I’ll start with a passage from the soul of the American experiment, the Declaration of Independence, which I’ll condense to make my point:

We hold these truths to be self-evident… that all men are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable Rights… that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted.

What I want you to see from this is the relationship between primary and secondary. According to the Declaration, we are the primary and governments are the secondary… the derivative.

Government exists because people create it, to serve themselves. They are in no way secondary to it. It is secondary to them.

And if that wasn’t clear enough, the Declaration gets specific in the very next line:

Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.

Again, the people are primary, government is derivative. Government serves at our pleasure. It is our right to abolish it if we so desire, just as we have the right to close our business if it no longer turns a profit.

Yes, There Is More

Following are a few more passages from the people who solidified American liberty:

George Mason
Virginia Declaration of Rights 1776
All power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people. Magistrates are their trustees and servants, and at all times answerable to them.

Samuel Adams
Boston Gazette, January 21, 1771
The body of the people, for whose sake government is instituted; or rather, who have themselves erected it, solely for their own good.

Samuel Adams
Letter to John Adams November 25, 1790
Is not Government designed for the Welfare and happiness of all the People? And is it not the uncontrollable essential right of the People to amend, and alter, or annul their Constitution, and frame a new one, whenever they shall think it will better promote their own welfare, and happiness?

Now let’s move to some non-famous people.

In 1773, the people of Hubbardston, Massachusetts, a town of about 300, published a declaration:

We are of the opinion that rulers first derive their power from the ruled by certain laws and rules agreed upon by rulers and ruled, and when a ruler breaks over such laws … and makes new ones … then the ruled have a right to refuse such new laws and … to judge for themselves when rulers transgress.

In Worcester, a town of a few thousand, a similar letter was published at about the same time:

It is our opinion that mankind are by nature free, and the end design of forming social compacts … was that each member of that society might enjoy his life and property, and live in the free exercise of his rights … which God and Nature gave.

In both of these passages, stated not quite as elegantly, we see the same relationship between primary and secondary.

More than that, early Americans acted like bosses rather than servants.

When a group of creditors, lawyers, and judges posed a threat to the small farmers and artisans of Worcester county (in the mid-1770s), they formed their own legal system, abandoned government courts and used arbitration to resolve their disputes.

The Sons of Liberty, while by no means saintly, were quite willing to judge and to act in the interest of their freedom. They did so often, their groups being comprised mainly of workmen, mechanics, small farmers and shop owners.

American housewives were also a lot feistier in those days, but that’s a story for another day.

Law Too?

So, does “have no respect” apply to law as well? Well, on one hand yes, and on the other perhaps not. Here’s what I mean:

    • The common law is a millennium-long tradition that grew out of actual human needs, and in a non-monopolistic way. That being so, it is due a certain amount of appreciation and even respect.
    • Legislation is merely an edict from a government. As such, it is inherently secondary. In addition, edicts are highly variable and monopolistic.

One of Thomas Jefferson’s comments on law is particularly valid here:

Law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

They Owe Allegiance To Us, Not Us To Them

It’s worth saying one more time that we are the primary entities and that governments, their offices, their laws and all they control are (or at least were supposed to be) subsidiary to us. We do not owe them allegiance. They exist to service us, that is all.

To this attest Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, John Adams, George Mason and most of the generation of 1776. This is what American liberty was, and what it was supposed to remain. Anything beyond this bleeds into idolatry.


Paul Rosenberg


Introduction To Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is an essential human skill, but it is little-taught. Once upon a time critical thinking courses were held to be essential, but they have since vanished from schoolrooms, either rolled into optional Logic courses (which are deathly boring to most students) or pushed aside simply because teachers and administrators resented students tearing through their arguments.

But for whatever reasons, critical thinking has all but disappeared from modern education. Nonetheless it remains essential, and especially for young students who need reasons to trust themselves and their opinions.

Because of this, and because the parents of young children have asked me for it, I’ll be devoting a series of posts to the fallacies of logic. An understanding of the primary fallacies, and especially how to apply them, is central to critical thinking. This material will end up as a book, but I’d very much like for you to read these installments and send them to the young people in your life. Children should be mentally and emotionally prepared to face a difficult and confusing world, and this is precisely the kind of material that will prepare them.

And so this, our first installment, will cover just a few primary points. Next week we’ll jump right into our first fallacy of logic, the either-or fallacy.

Wrong And Right

Strangely enough, it’s nearly always easier for us to prove what’s wrong than to prove what’s right. That’s what modern science does, for example; it goes about to prove ideas wrong, and if it can, the idea may be discarded. If the idea cannot be proven wrong, even after multiple, sincere efforts, we accept it as likely correct. But even so, we have no final proof of rightness, only the knowledge that we couldn’t prove it wrong.

“Probably right” is the best science can do, but it has been quite enough.

So, when we engage in critical thinking, we’re looking for reasons why an argument is wrong. If we can do that, we can disregard the argument, or at least that part of it. The danger of breaking arguments is that we take the practice too far and become critical only; enjoying the power of chopping people down and developing some very unlovely traits.

In order to avoid the dark fate of the unbalanced critic, we must remember that we’re dealing with actual people, who deserve to have their feelings considered. Damaging someone with our critiques doesn’t make us, them, or the world better. We must allow people to make mistakes and to express themselves imperfectly. The larger picture should be considered before we leap into proving things wrong.

The critical thinker, then, should also be a benevolent thinker. A knife can skillfully wielded by either a chef or by a killer, so let’s all be chefs.

The Emotional Base of Critical Thinking

A great deal of manipulation, and especially public manipulation, uses emotional vulnerabilities. For example, humans are particularly vulnerable to conformity pressures: Everyone else doing something – or believing something – leads us to feel powerful pressure to conform.

A psychologist named Solomon Asch did controlled studies of conformity pressure back in the 1950s, learning that in well-structured situations (actors all saying the same false thing), 75% of normal people would agree with an obvious lie, at least some of the time. So, you can see the power of the conformity bias, and you’ve probably felt it yourself.

Conformity pressures obviously subvert our critical thinking skills and they’re not the only emotional pressures that do so. That means that using our critical thinking abilities in real life will also require us to face and work through our emotional soft spots. (And we all have them.)

What I’ll suggest is simply that you notice the emotional pressures you feel from fallacious arguments. Skillful manipulators do their best to setup overwhelming pressures, making them hard to stand against. When you feel such things, please take a step back, then find a quiet moment to analyze what you felt. Doing that will, over time, allow you to work through the emotional tricks.

Critical thinking, then, requires a strong soul as much as it does a strong mind. In fact the two go together. And if combined with benevolence, they will serve you well all your life.

Fast Talkers

One last difficulty for critical thinking I’ll mention is the fast talker. People presenting thin or false arguments will often talk too rapidly for you to analyze their claims. That can be a problem.

Those who are skilled at manipulation will also push you to agree with them as they go, which is another emotional trick: If you nod your head and say “yes” several times, you’ll be very slow to disagree with even an openly false argument. Why? Because to do so, you’ll have to admit that you were tricked into agreeing, not only once but several times. That is, you’ll have to call yourself stupid, or at least silly, before you can use your critical thinking skills. Most people fail that challenge unless they’re prepared for it.

What I’ll recommend is this: If someone is going too fast for you to analyze their arguments, don’t try to. Rather, get a written version of the argument and go over that. And if they try to make you agree with them, just don’t. Reserve judgment, say you haven’t heard enough to understand, or whatever; but don’t be led along by things you’re unsure of.

Last Words

Next week we’ll start on our first fallacy. You may want to wait, sending a few of the fallacies to the young person in your life before sending this introduction. That will be your call, of course, but especially for the younger children I think it would be better.



Paul Rosenberg


We Must Stop Trying To Be Unassailable

Guilt, as I’ve noted before, is the great vulnerability of the Western world. I’ll pass up an explanation of why for today, but the validity of this statement is made ever so clear by the fact that political types rise to power by championing one class or another of victims, portraying everyone else as somehow guilty. It works brilliantly and regularly, all across the West. Bizarre and openly unbalanced people leap into power this way.

Guilt makes Westerners behave very stupidly. It has brought them low and could extinguish their civilization altogether. I don’t think it will go quite that far, but I’m an optimist.

Continue reading “We Must Stop Trying To Be Unassailable”

What Geniuses Believe

quotesIt struck me some time ago that the people we think of as “geniuses” tend to arrive, over time, at surprisingly similar sets of conclusions. It further strikes me that a simple list of such thoughts might be of value.

And so, here is a list pulled from my quotes file and presented without commentary. Enjoy:

Albert Einstein

  • Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
  • Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.
  • Never do anything against conscience, even if the state demands it.
  • The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.
  • Small is the number of them that see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.

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2020: The Year The System Showed Its Real Face

As we grew up, nearly all of us were inundated with stories of our glorious national fathers, our beautiful democracies, and so on. And being young, we for the most part believed them. The system gave us our prosperity, our comfort, our medicine, our sense of importance.

Soon enough we learned that the system was also stupid and perverse, but we found a way around that contradiction by blaming one segment of the system or another: The Blues or the Greens or the Red are the problem; it could not, must not, be that the system itself is the problem.

Then came 2020, and the system revealed its true face.

I suppose I should be fair and add that the system wasn’t always as rotten as it is now, but regardless, it wasn’t able to prevent the rot that overtook it.

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Return Engagements (Book Two) PART 27

(Continued from part twenty-six)

I am now a year past these events and I think I’m effectively past the difficulties that rose upon my return. One thing remains, however, and that is a recurring need to get off this rock and to head out into the open. This is not something that eats at me every day, but it emerges and re-emerges every so often. And it shows no signs of going away. Sometimes I even shy away from science fiction shows (which I tend to like) because they would frustrate me: Needing to go but unable to go.

Ultimately it comes down to physics: If we can develop space tech that is effective and affordable, those of us who long for more and better can escape the barbarism that rules this planet. And as time goes on, more and more who realize they are built for better things will follow.

The fear, of course, is that we’d leave a “ghetto planet” in our wake. But I don’t believe that will happen, and for two primary reasons: First, that ruling systems would break down once the best milk cows ran from their pasture. Secondly, that the imaginations of those who remained would open, and they’d consider the possibility that there’s more to experience than the hive-life they’ve known. Sure, the process would be sloppier than this description, but I’m convinced those two things would bear out over time.

Continue reading “Return Engagements (Book Two) PART 27”

Live Dangerously And You Live Right

The title of this post, live dangerously and you live right, comes from the great author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and he was ever so correct. The life of meek obedience is a sin against the self. It is a surrender of mind and passion. It’s a half life at best.

But unquestioning compliance is the easy way. It’s what the system is designed to extract from you. It’s what school trains you for, it’s what corporations expect of you, and it’s what government demands.

In the end, compliance is extorted from you by manipulation and violence. Everyone does it, so you’d better do it, and if you don’t, you’ll get in a lot of trouble. We’ve all experienced this, but we often fail to call it by its true name.

And yet Goethe is correct. If you want to live as an energized, expansive, open, and honest being, you have no choice but to live dangerously… because the system has made real living dangerous. Only what services the machine is “safe.”

And it wasn’t just Goethe who thought this. I want you to see the thoughts of other men and women on this subject:

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Return Engagements (Book Two) PART 26

(Continued from part twenty-five)

Sleeping in front of that grand window, I began a dream. And what it brought to me was something I don’t think I could have grasped to the depth I did anywhere else… that the problem with our present world is not so much mayhem and destruction, but the fact that scope of thought and scope of action are so miserably limited within it. The problem, as H.L. Mencken described in his own way, is not that life is tragic, but that it’s a bore.

The world of my space friends – of the grown-up portions of our galaxy – is unconstrained. They run from one interest to another. I don’t get the impression that it’s some silly fantasy life, but they do what they choose, and even when necessities press upon them, there is no other will being imposed, only the necessities of circumstance.

My days on the spaceship seemed to funnel into that revelation. (Yes, I know revelation is a packed word, but that’s what it was to me.) Being away – far, far away – from the billions of minds who think it’s good and right for some smooth-talking thug to order them around and take their earnings… who are confused day and night by idolatries that their neighbors are willing to suffer for and sometimes to die for… who have no inkling of the treasures they hold inside themselves.

Being clear of that, the stupidity of the present Earth life was palpable. In fact, it struck me in the dream as a particular unpleasant odor, as strange as that sounds.

Continue reading “Return Engagements (Book Two) PART 26”

Do You Have A Plan For Improving Your Spouse?

All of us with husbands and wives (mates, whatever) are perfectly positioned to make them better human beings. But it seems to me that most of us squander it. Today I’d like to help fix that.

With the possible exception of your children, there is no one you’re likely to be closer to than a spouse. And that even goes for a lot of people with problem spouses; being with someone day and night over a protracted period conveys more understanding than pretty much anything else. Along with that comes opportunity. No one can present and support more ideas; no one can better nurture attitudes; no one will have more “right times” to insert a useful word, feeling, encouragement or compliment.

And so the position of spouse can be of immense effect. What I’m suggesting today is that we use it consciously and intelligently.

I am fully certain that we can make each other better people. Wives can make their husbands better and husbands can make their wives better. No one is better placed, no one has better reason for doing it, and no one will be better able to make course corrections as they go.

This, in a better world, would be glaringly obvious to us and would come to us naturally. It doesn’t, of course, and so I’ll start by going through the major obstacles I see.

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Return Engagements (Book Two) PART 25

(Continued from part twenty-four)

The surprise, which I suppose really shouldn’t have been terribly surprising, was how the ship provided gravity. The entire environment in this ship seemed Earth-norm. And the way the ship maintained gravity was very simple: It accelerated at 1g, then the propulsion section flipped 180 degrees (see below), after which the ship decelerated at 1g. The egg remained in the same overall position, to deal with any meteoroids and debris, but the center of the egg – the part I was living in plus the shuttle bay – also rotated 180 degrees for the deceleration half of the trip1. Except for the small time spent re-configuring, the interior experienced “normal” gravity the entire time. (If that doesn’t quite make sense, please draw it out, which should clarify it for you.)

I was not, I am sorry to say, able to understand the means of propulsion very well. I suppose I simply lacked enough underlying information to make the connections. What I am more or less certain about is that it was electrical, not gravitational.

An electrical drive makes perfect sense, of course, since electrical forces are about 1030 times stronger than the force of gravity.2 I am less clear on how this system operated. They seemed to have focused their equipment on a large star, set up some type of electric field, then used it to pull themselves toward it.

The drive unit was a metal cone that remained far ahead of the egg and pulled it. I was unable to determine how the egg was attached to the drive unit. There were lines shown in the schematics, but I couldn’t read the notations. They may have been some type of cable, or perhaps something I wouldn’t have understood anyway.

I never did figure out the light source for the inside of the ship (which, given my background, you’d think I’d be best able to understand). That said, Nikola Tesla was reported to have something very much like it (illumination with visible source) in his laboratory, back around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. If this was true, and given what we know about Tesla, it would have been done with currents of very high voltage and frequency.

Continue reading “Return Engagements (Book Two) PART 25”