(Cognitive Dissonance – I feel it is far more important to do as you say rather than say what you should do. In other words, action speaks far louder than any words could or ever will. With this in mind, the following piece by Brandon Smith posted over two years ago on September 4, 2014 never grows old and bears repeating.)
In past articles I have examined the nature of power and division in our society and have always come to the same conclusion, that there are only two types of people: the people who want control over others and the people who just want to be left alone. However, there are also subgroups that swim within the boundaries of each end of the spectrum. Often, psychologists and self-help gurus attempt to promote the idea that the defining quality of the average person’s life is whether he is a follower or a leader. I have seen this spectrum applied to every political and social organization.
Ironically, I have heard so-called “leftists” argue that the nature of their ideology makes them more adept at leadership and that conservatives are more prone to become followers (ostensibly because conservatives tend to be more religious). I have heard the same argument from people on the so-called “right,” only in reverse. The problem is that very few people in our society understand anymore what it actually means to be a leader. Most Americans today are followers, whether they know it or not. And sadly, followers tend to also seek out control over other people, if only to make up for the lack of control they feel in their own lives. That is to say, most followers tend to pursue petty opportunities for leadership.
The concept of leadership has become ridiculously warped. Many people feel that to become a leader, one must clamor his way through the system — be it government or corporate — and achieve artificial status, which others are conditioned to recognize and respect. One cannot become a designated “doctor”, no matter how personally skilled the individual, without earning the correct accolades from the establishment, accolades that are essentially bought at the right price or given as a pat on the head to those who excel at parroting the mainstream consensus. The same goes for scientists, economists, political authorities, etc. This creates a professional class, a percentage of the population whose opinions are treated with immediate reverence simply because of their titles.
The reality often ignored in mainstream thought, however, is that many “professionals” are actually more clueless than laymen, if only because they have been subjected to far more complex indoctrination. How many Ivy League economists, for instance, completely overlooked the inevitable collapse of the derivatives market and the housing bubble simply because they were taught by the mainstream system that such things do not happen in American finance anymore? The truth is, a glossy diploma from the establishment does not necessarily make one intelligent, nor does it automatically make that person a leader to be blindly followed.
Others in our culture assume that leadership is measured by level of influence. Influence, however, can be stolen, rather than earned. The number of fans and worshipers a person retains is not a measure of the real man or woman. Some people lie about who they are to gain popularity, while other people devour such lies because they are desperate for an icon to show them the path to an imaginary promised land. Celebrity — whether by aid of media, finance or bureaucracy — is almost always superficial.
Still other men and women believe that leadership requires empty gestures of cultural rebellion. Do our style preferences, body art, sexual orientations, musical tastes, obscure philosophical hobbies and elitist attitudes really make us different or unique? No, they do not. These things are an expression of our orientation to others, not an expression of our inner selves. One can live a life immersed in what we believe to be the wildly eccentric and still be an empty follower, devoid of originality and independence. My generation in particular has become so obsessed with superficial expressions of artificial individualism I think future historians will one day avidly study this era in stupified wonder. How many times a day do we log on to our social media website of choice or walk outside our homes only to ask other people to love and adore our looks, our cynical but smarmy sense of nihilism, or our wit, carefully crafted to please as large a portion of the collective as possible?
This article from NaturalNews.com really says it all. Even when putting on elaborate displays of their brilliant uniqueness through “selfies” and tweets, Americans today at their darker core are desperate for the approval of others.
Carl Jung, one of the few psychologists in history I actually find useful, once said that all human beings are in search of a particular treasure, a psychological or spiritual treasure that is unique to them and makes them whole. Many people spend the entirety of their lives searching for this treasure in the world around them, rather than looking within, and they end their days feeling mostly miserable and thwarted. They look for it in politics. They look for it in religious representatives (without ever understanding their true relation to the religion). They look for it in wealth and stature. And they always come up short. This is the life of the follower, a life of endless transference in which complete happiness is always outside of oneself, somewhere over the horizon or in the hands of others.
One might ask what any of this has to do with independence and liberty? But, consider the implications…
How many socialists and collectivists in the world think THEIR happiness is dependent on the taxation of YOUR savings and labor, YOUR acceptance, YOUR submission to their ideal society. How many collectivists seek to complete themselves by forcing others to participate in their philosophical fantasies? How many of them will call you a “narcissist” or a “terrorist” because you only wish to make your own decisions free from the social pressures of their arbitrary group? They do not look within; they look without. And if you happen to be standing in their field of vision, you might become a prop in their self-serving theater.
Also consider that such collectivists will never be satisfied with the control they find in the outside world because the perfection they seek does not exist. Therefore, their efforts to force you to conform will only become more suffocating and demeaning to your humanity as time goes on. Followers are a cancer that never stops growing. They well eat up the Earth in order to diminish their fears. They’ll say they are doing it for the greater good, but in the end, they are only self absorbed brats playing at being socially responsible adults.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are many within the Liberty Movement who also suffer from the follower’s disease. They are the relentless crybabies on message boards screaming: “We keep talking about the problem but when are YOU going to give us a solution!?” Or they ask: “When is EVERYONE going to stand up and do something about this!?” Or, “When are all of you going to realize the magnificence of MY solution and follow ME?” Notice the inclusiveness of such statements. What they should be asking is: “What can I do myself to fix the problems I perceive?” These people are always waiting around for someone else to take action, while never taking action on their own. They are followers by default of their own apathy.
These are the folks looking for the next George Washington (or to become the next George Washington) on a white steed ready to charge into the center of D.C. like some ill fated Light Brigade. They are the bitter pills that rage over the fact that movement activists didn’t support their favorite random silver bullet solution flavor of the week, be it Bitcoin to ‘Operation American Spring’. They are livid because no one will march lockstep behind them into whatever halfhearted battle they envision. They become indignant when activists move to support methods outside of their ideal. They want YOU to follow the plan and planners THEY follow, no matter how poorly conceived the plan is, and if you don’t, then you must be some kind of traitor. They never consider that perhaps their ideal solution is actually destructive rather than practical, or that no one will rally behind them because no one has much faith in their abilities.
The point is, the fight for liberty is not a follower’s game. It is a fight that begins with individuals taking individual measures first and foremost, and if anything, inspiring others through their actions, not demanding fealty for themselves, or their pet strategies.
What can be done to instill independence and legitimate leadership in Americans once again? The conundrum is that such values cannot be instilled; they can only be encouraged. Each individual must make the decision on his or her own to stop looking for the world to fix itself, or them. Each individual must take the first step toward the long journey of becoming a self-reliant and self-owned human being. When faced with this conundrum, I can do nothing but make suggestions:
Find a useful skill, something that you love, and master it completely. Try to become the foremost expert on just one thing — not to impress others, but to challenge yourself. When people assert the incredible effort required to master a skill, they grow their sense of self-worth instead of measuring their worth by the guidelines of hollow academia or the collective.
Never look for traditional leaders. Always look for teachers. A real teacher is someone who seeks to make each individual his own leader through knowledge and empowerment. A real teacher has no desire to rule others, only to help others so that they do not feel the need to be ruled.
Independence comes from self-leadership. As long as you are reliant on the system or its participating oligarchs to decide your future for you, you will never be anything more than a follower, even if the system has given you a “place at the table” and a title to make you feel special. As long as you are vying for approval from the system or the collective, you will never be free. When you can stand in front of a hostile crowd of people and give your viewpoint without fear of how they may respond, then you are on your way to self-leadership.
If you see a problem in the world, stop asking permission to fix it! Stop waiting for the establishment to police itself. Stop concerning yourself with the actions of others and take your own actions, however small they might be. Revolutions are sparked in the minds of individuals and implemented by the hands of the courageous few. There will be no mass awakening and there will be no grand march to glory, so stop holding your breath. If there is an unrelenting evil in the world, then you must fight it if you expect anything to change. If you are the only person who recognizes it, then you may have to fight it alone. The potential for success or failure is irrelevant. It is the fight that matters.
If you are going to lead others, lead by example. Hopefully you have realized by now that true leadership has NOTHING to do with people actually following you. Much more important is the ability to show people how to achieve something more by building something of your own. There are also far too many Americans who seek to falsely elevate themselves by attacking the achievements of others from the anonymous comfort of their computers, rather than doing anything constructive on their own merit. There was a time when Americans were respected as people of action, rather than talk. When you do talk, do so from a position of strength. Talk as someone who has actually done something worth talking about.
If you are going to join, do so with the intent to learn, and to teach. All organization must be voluntary if it is to succeed in the long term, and voluntary organization thrives when participants contribute their knowledge and skill sets without sacrificing their individual self determination. The group does not outweigh the individual, because without the contributions of the individual, the group is meaningless.
Make a list of your dependencies. Do you have the skills to survive without a job? Without money? Without on-grid utilities? Without consistent aid from others? Can you live without modern comforts if you had to? Do you have the fortitude to endure great hardship? Have you ever endured great hardship, or have you avoided it your whole life? The more self-sufficient you are, the less you will need to look to the system or other people to make your decisions for you. You will become fearless, and fearless people cannot be ruled.
I believe independence terrifies some people because it requires a human being to challenge the unknown and take responsibility for the consequences if he fails. Followers trade in their mental and spiritual freedom to governments, oligarchs and gatekeepers so that they never have to face these difficulties. Sometimes, they are simply lazy. Sometimes, they lack confidence in their own abilities. Sometimes, they are just cowards. In any case, the result is the same: a life of relative ease riding the tides in a vast school of self-serving minnows but always prey to the ever circling sharks. I say don’t be a minnow; man-up, and build something of your own.
You can contact Brandon Smith at: firstname.lastname@example.org