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Aristocracy

Mini-Factories: The Greatest Freedom Trend of Our Time

September 14th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

The following is an excerpt from Oliver’s recent book, The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

If freedom is to reverse the onslaught of American and global aristocracy, it will likely do so through the greatest freedom trend of our time.

This trend is revolutionizing institutions, organizations, relationships, society and even nations around the world. It is still in its infancy, and many have yet to realize its potential.

The experts tend to overlook it because it seems small. It will likely always seem small because it is a “bottom-up” trend with no “top-down” organizations, alliances, or even affiliations.

Truthfully, it isn’t even a single trend at all–it is thousands of small trends, all following a similar pattern.

Malcolm Gladwell called part of this trend “outliers,” Harry S. Dent called it the “customization” explosion, Alvin Toffler said it is the wave of “revolutionary wealth” as led in large part by “prosumers,” John Naisbitt named it the “high touch” megatrend, Stephen Covey called it the 8th Habit of “greatness,” Daniel Pink coined the descriptor “free agent nation,” and Seth Godin refers to it as “tribes.”

Others have termed it “social entrepreneurship,” “the new leadership,” “a new age,” and even “the human singularity.”

All of these touch on facets of this freedom trend, but I think the best, most accurate and descriptive name for it is the “mini-factory” model.

Modernism came with the factory–the ability to mass produce. This revolutionized the world–economics, governments, how we spend our time each day, what we eat and wear, relationships, the size and functions of our homes and cities, etc.

Today the mini-factory is changing everything just as drastically.

In ancient times the wealthy set up estates or fiefdoms to cover all their needs, and the masses worked to provide the needs of their aristocratic “superiors.”

In modern times the factory provided mass goods and services.

Imagine the impact on everything in our lives if each family could provide all, or even many, of its needs for itself–and do it better than kings or politicians ruling over working peasants or even corporations employing workers to produce goods and services.

Such is the world of the mini-factory.

How Does a Mini-Factory World Function?

For example, what if parents could educate their children better than local school factories, with the best teachers, classes and resources of the world piped directly into their own home?

What if a sick person had more time and motivation to research the cases of her symptoms than the factory doctors, and the availability of all the latest medical journals right on her computer screen?

She would also have holistic works, original studies, alternative and collaborative experts, and the ability to email the experts and get answers in less time than it would take to wait in the hospital lobby.

Ten friends would likely send her their experiences with similar illness within days of her mentioning casually online that she was sick. If she chose a certain surgeon, a dozen people might share their experiences with this doctor.

What if a mother planning to travel for family vacation could just book flights and hotels herself, without calling the “expert” travel agent? Maybe she could even choose seats on the flight or see pictures of her hotel room–all in her own home between her projects and errands.

Welcome to the world of the mini-factory. I purposely used examples that are already a reality. But they were just a futuristic dream when writers like Alvin Toffler and John Naisbitt predicted them before 1990.

Technology has helped it, but the impetus of the mini-factory trend is freedom. People want to spend less time at the factory/corporation and more time at home. They want to be more involved in raising their children and improving their love life.

In an aristocracy, these luxuries are reserved for the upper class. In a free society, anyone can build a mini-factory.

What is a Mini-Factory?

A mini-factory is anything someone does alone or with partners or a team, that accomplishes what has historically (meaning the last 150 years of modernism) been done en masse or by big institutions.

If a charter school provides better education for some of the community, it’s a mini-factory. If it does it at less cost and/or in less time spent in the classroom, so much the better. A homeschool or private school can be a mini-factory.

Of course, if the charter, private, or home school does a worse job than the regular factory, it is a failed mini-factory.

If joining a multi-level company and building it into a source of real income serves you better than an employee position, it’s a mini-factory.

If downsizing from a lucrative professional job in Los Angeles to a private practice or job that pays much less but allows you twice as much time with your family and a more relaxed lifestyle in, say, Flagstaff or Durango and makes you happier, it’s a mini-factory.

Entrepreneurship, alternative education, the downshifter movement, environmental groups, alternative health, the growth of spirituality, community architecture, the explosion of network marketing, home doctor visits, the rebirth of active fathering, and so many other trends are mini-factories.

How do Mini-Factories Impact Freedom?

It all comes down to this: Big, institutional, non-transparent, bureaucratic organizations are natural supporters of aristocracy. Freedom flourishes when the people are independent, free, and as self-sufficient as possible.

I am not suggesting going backwards in any way.

Forward progress is most likely in a nation that is both well educated and highly trained, where big institutional solutions are offered wherever they are best and individuals and groups seek smaller solutions where they better serve their needs, where free government enterprise rules apply and there are no special benefits or perks of class (either conservative aristocracy or liberal meritocracy), and where government, business, family, academia, religion, media, and community all fulfill their distinct, equally-important roles.

Such a model is called freedom. It has been the best system for the most people in the history of the world, and it still is.

To adopt freedom in our time, either the aristocracy must give up its perks and voluntarily restructure society, or the masses must retake their freedoms bit by bit, day by day, by establishing mini-factories.

Mini-factories will be more successful if each person only does a few, and does them with true excellence.

Freedom will flourish best if there is no organization or even coordination of the mini-factories; if individuals, partners, families and teams identify what is needed in the world and in their own lives and set out to deliver it.

This is especially hard in a time like ours where the employee mindset wants someone to “fix” things (like the economy, health care, education, etc.), exactly when an entrepreneurial mindset is most needed to take risks and initiate the best and most lasting changes.

If real, positive, and effective change is to come, it will most likely be initiated by the people acting as individuals, small groups, and teams.

If it comes from the top, it will tend to only bring more aristocracy, and the day of freedom will be over for now.

Whatever your mini-factory contribution might be, consider that it will help determine the future of freedom.

Is it Worth the Challenge?

Mini-factories can be hard to establish and challenging to build. Many people fail once or several times before they learn to be effective.

But the type of learning that only comes from failing and then trying again is the most important in building leaders and citizens who are capable of maintaining freedom in a society.

Note that this very type of education is rejected in a training model of schooling, where failure is seen as unacceptable and students are taught to avoid it at all costs.

This mindset only works if an aristocracy is there to take care of the failures.

In a freedom model, citizens and leaders learn the vital lessons of challenges; failures and wise risk-taking are needed.

Starting and leading a mini-factory, and indeed all entrepreneurial work, is challenging.

Those who embraced this difficult path in history established and maintained freedom, while those who embraced the ease of past compromises sold themselves and their posterity into aristocracy.

In the long term, though, aristocracy is much harder on everyone than freedom.

What Will You Build?

As you consider what mini-factories you should support, start, and build, just ask what things could be done (or are being done) better by a small mini-factory than by the big organizations that try to control nearly everything in our world.

If it could be done just as well by a mini-factory, the change to the smaller entity can drastically promote freedom. If it can be done even better by a mini-factory, it is better for life itself!

The mini-factory is the new vehicle of freedom.

Take a mini-survey: What are your pet complaints? Government? Develop family government models. Health Care? Educate yourself on prevention and self-care. Education? Learn the principles of Leadership Education. Media? Start a blog. Entertainment? Develop a group of hobbyists who share your interests, whether it be Harley road trips, ice fishing, scrapbooking, etc.

You get the idea: Live deliberately, and do not wait for institutions to change to meet your needs.

Do not waste your energy or good humor on complaining.

Find a mini-factory that does it right and get behind it–or start one yourself. So many are needed, and they can bring the miracle of freedom!

The future remains unseen. It is the undiscovered country.

Many ancients felt that fate drove the future, but the idea of freedom taught humanity to look each to his/herself, to partner with others, and to take the risk to build community and take action now in order to pass on a better life to our children and our children’s children.

Today, that concept of freedom is waning–slowly and surely being replaced by a class culture.

Those who love freedom, whatever their stripe–be they green, red, blue, rainbow, or anything else–are needed. They need to see what is really happening, and they need to educate themselves adequately to make a difference.

The most powerful changes toward freedom will likely be made by mini-factories, in thousands and hopefully millions of varieties and iterations.

Aristocracy or freedom–the future of the globe–hangs in the balance…

Click here to learn more about the mini-factory trend and to purchase a paperback copy of The Coming Aristocracy. Click here to download two hour-long webinars with Oliver DeMille explaining mini-factories.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

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Category : Aristocracy &Business &Culture &Economics &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Liberty &Mini-Factories &Mission &Producers

America’s Seven-Party System

September 9th, 2010 // 12:23 pm @

High school civics classes for the past century have taught that America had a two-party system.

And up until the end of the Cold War, this was true. Each party had clear, distinct values and goals, and voters had simply to assess the differences and choose which to support.

Such clarity is long gone today, and there is no evidence that this will change any time soon.

As a result, more people now call themselves “Independents” than either “Democrats” or “Republicans.”

We are led today by the contests and relations of seven competing factions, or parties. These major factions are as follows:

Republicans
1. Nixonians
2. Reaganites
3. Populists

Democrats
4. Leftists
5. Leaders
6. Special Interests

Either/Neither
7. Independents

Neither party knows what to do about this. Both are plagued by deep divisions. When a party wins the White House, these divisions are largely ignored.

During a Party’s time in the White House, the underpinnings of the party weaken as differences are downplayed and disaffection quietly grows.

Fewer people wanted to be identified as Republicans with each passing year under the Bush administration, just as the Democratic coalition weakened during the Clinton years.

This is a trend with no recent exceptions. Being the party in power actually tends to weaken popular support over time.

Governance v. Politics

The emerging and improving technologies of the 1990s and 2000s have reinvented government by forcing leaders to constantly serve two masters: governance and politics.

Governance is a process of details and nuance, but politics is more about symbols than substance.

As I stated in The Coming Aristocracy, before the past two decades politics were the domain of elections, which had a compact and intense timeline.

After elections, officials had a period to focus on governing, and then a short time before the subsequent elections they would return to politics during the campaign period.

Now, however, governors, legislators and presidential administrations are required to fight daily, year-round, on both these fronts.

Both major parties struggle in this new structure. Those in power must dedicate precious time and resources to politics instead of leadership.

Worst of all, decisions that used to be determined at least some of the time by actual governance policy are now heavily influenced by political considerations, almost without exception.

Power facilitates governance, but reduces political strength. Every governance policy tends to upset at least a few supporters, who now look elsewhere for “better” leadership.

While Republicans and Democrats accomplish it in slightly different ways, both alienate supporters as they use their power once elected.

The Loyal Opposition

The party out of power has less of a challenge, but even it is expected to present alternate governance plans of nearly everything — plans which have no chance of ever being adopted and are therefore a monumental misuse of official time and energy — instead of focusing on their vital role of loyal opposition which should ensure weighty and quality consideration of national priorities.

The temptation to politicize this process is nearly overwhelming — meaning that the opposition party has basically abandoned any aspiration or intent to participate in the process of governing and become all-politics, all-the-time.

As a result, American leadership from both parties is weakened.

With the advancement of technology in recent years has come the increased facility for individuals to not only access news and information in real time, but to participate in the dialogue by generating commentary, drawing others’ attention to under-reported issues and ideas and influence policy through blogging, online discussions and grassroots campaigns.

An immensely important consequence of this technological progress has been the fractionalizing of the parties.

Republicans: The Party of Nixon vs. The Party of Reagan

Both Nixon and Reagan were Republicans, but symbolically they are nearly polar opposites to all but the most staunch Republican loyalists.

Reaganites value strong national security and schools, fiscal responsibility, and laws which incentivize small businesses and entrepreneurial enterprises.

Nixonians value party loyalty over ideology, government policy that benefits big business and large corporations, international interventionism and winning elections.

A third faction in the Republican community are the populists.

Feeling disenfranchised by the loss of the Party to the Nixonians, the populists want Americans to “wake up,” realize that “everything is going socialist,” and “take back our nation.”

Identified with and defined by talk-show figureheads with shrill voices, the populists are seen as more against than for anything. They believe that government is simply too big, and that anything which shrinks or stalls government is patently good.

A Bad Day To Be A Populist

The populists are doomed to perpetual disappointment, since any time they win an election they watch their candidate “sell out.”

It is hard to imagine a more thankless job than that of the candidate elected by populist vote; once she takes office she is consigned to offend and alienate either her constituents or her colleagues — most likely both.

She is either completely ineffective at achieving the goals of her constituency, or, if she learns to function within the machine, she has no constituency left.

Any candidate who tries to work within the system will lose her appeal to the populists.

ron_paul_photo_4If such a candidate stays focused on principle, like the iconic Ron Paul, many populists will admire his purity but will criticize his lack of substantive impact — his accomplishments are seen as almost exclusively symbolic.

Some of the most influential populist pundits (like Rush Limbaugh) have lost “believers” by being outspokenly populist when it supports the party agenda (like during the Clinton Administration and later in rejecting McCain’s presidential candidacy as too moderate/liberal) and then switching to support the Party (backing President Bush even in liberal policies and supporting McCain when he became the Republican nominee).

This is seen by detractors as manipulative, corrupt and Nixonian at worst, and self-serving, hypocritical and opportunist at best.

Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

Populism is considered “crazy” by most intellectuals in the media and elsewhere.

This is probably inevitable and unchangeable given that the same things which appeal popularly (such as alarmism, extremism, labeling, using symbols, images, hyperbole and appeals to sentimentalism) are considered anti-truth to intellectuals.

Indeed, part of training the intellect in the Western tradition is to reject the message of such deliveries without serious consideration, and dismiss the messenger as either unfit or unworthy to have a serious debate on issues.

Wise intellectuals look past the delivery and consider the actual message. This being said, even when weighed on its own merit the populist message is unpopular with intellectuals.

Populism is based on the assumption that the gut feelings of the masses (The Wisdom of the Crowds) are a better source of wisdom than the considered charts, graphs and analysis by teams of experts.

This hits very close to home for those who make their living in academia, the media or government. So our system seems naturally to pit the will of the people against the wisdom of the few.

Crazy Like a Fox

It is interesting to compare and contrast this modern debate between the wisdom of the populists and that of experts and officials with the American founding view.

The brilliance of the founders was their tendency to correctly characterize the tendencies of a group in society and employ that nature to its best use in the grand design in order to perpetuate freedom and prosperity.

In fact, the American framers did empower the masses to make certain vital decisions through elections. Madison rightly called every election a peaceful revolution.

And, the founders did empower small groups of experts: the framers had senators, judges, ambassadors, the president and his ministers appointed by teams of experts.

Only the House of Representatives and various state and local officials were elected by the masses, and the House alone was given power over the money and how it was spent.

In short: The founders thought that the masses would best determine two things:

1. Who should make the nation’s money decisions, and
2. Who should appoint our other leaders.

Riddle: When Is A Democracy Not A Democracy?

The founders believed that most of the nation’s governance should come from teams of experts, as long as the masses got to decide who would appoint those experts and how much money they could spend.

Such a system naturally empowers and employs both populism and expertise.

If It’s Not Broken, Don’t Fix It

Compare today’s model: Senators are now elected by the populace and the electoral college has been weakened so that the popular vote has much more impact on electing a president than it once did (and than the founders intended), thus increasing the power of the popular vote.

Yet many of the same intellectuals who support ending the electoral college altogether ironically consider populists “crazy” and “extremist.” The incongruity is so extreme that is no wonder many conclude that there must be some dark, conspiratorial agenda driving this trend.

Talking Heads

The reason for this seeming paradox is simple: Where the founding era actually believed in the wisdom of the populace to elect, modern intellectuals seem to believe that few of these “crazies” actually believe what they say they believe.

Many intellectuals think that populists, conservatives and most of the masses are simply following the views provided by talking heads.

For them, populist “wing nuts” have been duped by the sophistries of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, or some other “self-serving anti-intellectual.”

But at its core, the alarmist and wild antics of populist pundits are not the real reason many intellectuals question the sanity of conservative populists.

The deeper reason is that few intellectuals believe that sane people don’t want more government.

They understand Nixonian Republicans and their desire for more power, government support of Big Business and less regulation of corporations. They may not agree with these goals, but they understand them.

They also understand poor and middle class citizens wanting more government help.

And they even understand the Reaganesque vision of fiscal responsibility along with strong schools, security and increased incentives for small business.

Does No Mean Yes?

What intellectuals struggle to understand is lower and middle class voters who don’t want government programs.

For example, few of the populist “crazies” who oppose President Obama’s health care would be taxed to pay for it, and most would see their family’s health care benefits increased by Democratic plans.

So why would they — how could they — oppose it?

Rich right-wing leaders who would bear the costs for health care must have convinced them.

This is a logical conclusion. Rich people opposing higher taxes makes sense. Lower and middle class people supporting increased government aide makes sense.

Rich talk show hosts telling people Obama’s plan is bad makes sense. The people being duped by this makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense, what few intellectuals are willing to accept, is that large numbers of non-intellectuals are looking past alarmist talk show host antics, closely studying the issues and deciding to choose the principles of limited government over direct, personal, monetary benefit.

Intellectuals could respect such a choice; lots of citizens refusing government benefits to help the nation’s economy and freedom would be an amazing, selfless act of patriotism.

But they don’t believe this is happening.

Instead, they are concerned that the “wing nuts” are following extremist pundits and unknowingly refusing personal benefit. That’s “crazy”!

This view is reinforced by the non-intellectual and often wild-eyed way some populists act and talk about the issues.

In this same vein, intellectuals also naturally support the end of the electoral college because it would naturally give them, especially the media, even more political influence.

The most frustrating thing for intellectuals is this: The possibility that these “crazies” aren’t really crazy at all — that they actually see the biased focus and struggle for power by the intellectual media and don’t want to be duped by it.

Such a segment of society naturally diminishes the potential influence of the media, and is treated by many as a threat.

By the way, many conservative populists claim to be Reaganites. In fairness, they do align with a major Reagan tenet — an anti-incumbent, anti-Washington, anti-insider, anti-government attitude. These were central Candidate Reagan themes.

However, once in office, President Reagan governed with big spending for security, schools and the other Reaganite objectives listed earlier.

This is a typical Republican pattern. For example, compare the second Bush Administration’s election attacks on Clinton’s spending with the reality of Bush’s huge budget increases — far above Clintonian levels.

Democrats: Leftists, Leaders and Special Interests

Having covered the Republican Party, the discussion of the Democratic Party will be more simple.

The three major factions are similar: those seeking power, those wanting to promote liberal ideas, and the extreme fringe. Let’s start with the fringe.

Where Republican “fringies” call for the reduction of government, Democratic extremists want government to fund, fix, regulate and get deeply involved in certain special interests.

And while conservative populists are generally united in wanting government to be reduced across the board, Democratic special interests are many and in constant competition with each other for precious government funds and attention.

While Republican extremists see the government, Democrats and “socialists” as the enemy, Democratic radicals see corporations, big business, Republicans and the House of Representatives (regardless of who is in power) as enemies.

Republican “crazies” distrust a Democratic White House, the FBI, Hollywood, the Federal Reserve, Europe, the media and the Supreme Court.

Democratic “crazies” hate Republican presidents, the CIA, Wall Street, Rush Limbaugh, hick towns, gun manufacturers, Fox News and evangelical activists.

Republican extremists like talk show hosts and Democratic extremists like trial lawyers.

How’s that for stereotyping?

A Rainbow Fringe

The Republican populist group is one faction — the anti-government faction. Radical Democrats are a conglomerate of many groups — from “-isms” like feminism and environmentalism to ethnic empowerment groups and dozens of other special interests, large and small, seeking the increased support and advocacy of government.

One thing Democrat extremists generally agree on is that the rich and especially the super-rich must be convinced to solve most of the world’s problems.

Ralph Nader, for example, argues that this must be done using the power of the super-rich to do what government hasn’t been able to accomplish: drastically reduce the power of big corporations.

Because Democrats are currently in power, the extreme factions have a lot less influence within the party than they did during the Bush years — or than Republican extremists do under Obama.

The call for a “big tent” is a temporary utilitarian tactic to gain power when a party is in the minority. When a party is in power, its two big factions run the show.

Call the two largest factions the “Governance” faction and the “Politicize” faction.

For Democrats, the Politicize faction is interested in maintaining national security while trying to reroute resources from defense to other priorities; increasing the popularity of the U.S. in the eyes of the world and especially Europe; promoting a general sense of increasing social justice, racial and gender equality, improved environmental and energy policy; and improving the economy.

A major weakness of this faction is its tendency toward elitism and self-righteous arrogance.

Is That Asking Too Much?

The Governance faction has to do something nobody else — the other Democrat factions, the Republican factions, the Independents — is required to accomplish. It has to bring to pass the following:

  • Keep America safe from foreign and terrorist attacks
  • Pass a health care bill that convinces Independents of real reform within the bounds of fiscal responsibility
  • Bring the unemployment rate down — preferably below 7% within the next year
  • Keep the economy from tanking

Capturing The Middle Ground

If the Democratic Governance faction accomplishes these four, it will achieve both its short-term governance and its political goals. If it fails in any of them, it will lose much of its Independent support.

The Obama Administration will maintain its base of Democrat support basically no matter what. And the Republican base will remain in opposition regardless.

But without the support of Independents, the White House will see reduced influence in Congress and the 2010 elections.

And when Democrats create scandals like Clinton’s handling of his affairs or the Obama Administration’s “war on Fox News,” Independents see them as Nixonian, responding by distancing themselves both philosophically and in the voting booth.

Independents are powerfully swayed by “The Leadership Thing,” and Obama clearly has it (as did both Reagan and Clinton — but not Bush, Dole, Bush, Gore, Kerry or McCain). It is doubtful that Candidate Obama will lose in 2012.

But “The Leadership Thing” runs in candidates only — not parties.

Obama won because so many independents supported him. Independents are a separate faction that truly belong to neither party.

Indeed, President Obama united most Democrats to support health care reform — partly by taking on Republicans. If a reform bill takes effect, he will likely win the support of Independents by taking on his own party on a few issues and playing back to the middle.

This is power politics.

The 7th Faction: Independents and Independence

Who are these people that vacillate between the parties? Are they wishy-washy, never-satisfied uber-idealist pessimists? Are they the weakest among us?

Why don’t they just pick a party and show some loyalty, some commitment, like Steelers fans or staunch religionists?

Actually, independents are the most consistent voters in America. True, they fluctuate between parties and seldom cast a straight party ballot, but they vote for the same things in nearly all elections.

In contrast, party loyalists stick with their party even when it adopts policies they patently disagree with. Some might argue that this is a more “wishy-washy” way to approach citizenship and voting.

Independents watch the issues, candidates and government officials very closely, since they don’t rely on party platforms to define their values or on affiliations to bestow their trust.

What They Want

Independents want strong national security, open and effective diplomacy, good schools, policies that benefit small businesses and families, social/racial/gender equality, and just and efficient law enforcement.

They see a positive role for government in all these, and dislike the right-wing claim that any government involvement in them is socialistic.

For example: Taxing the middle class to bail out the upper-middle class (bankers, auto-makers, etc.) is not socialism; it’s aristocracy.

Independents are unconvinced by Republican arguments that government should give special benefits to large corporations, or Democratic desires to involve government in many arenas beyond the basics.

Independents care about the environment, privacy, parental rights, reducing racial and religious bigotry, and improving government policy on immigration and other issues.

A Tough Sell

On two big issues, health care and taxation, Independents side with neither Democrats nor Republicans.

They want good health care laws that favor neither Wall Street corporations (a la Republican plans) nor Washington regulators (e.g. Democratic proposals). They want health care regulations that are truly designed to benefit small businesses and families in order to spur increased prosperity.

Independents want government to be strong and effective in serving society in ways best suited to the state, but they expect it to do so wisely and with consistent fiscal responsibility.

They tend to see Republicans as over-spenders on international interventions that fail to improve America’s security, and Democrats as wasteful on domestic programs that fail to deliver desired outcomes.

They want government to spend money on programs that work and truly improve the nation and the world. They are often seen as moderates because they reject both the right-wing argument against constructive and effective government action and leftist faith in more government programs regardless of results.

They want to cut programs that don’t work, support the ones that do, and adopt additional initiatives that show promise.

American Independents & American Independence

The future of America, and American Independence, will be determined by Independents.

Interestingly, Independents come from all six of the factions mentioned in this article. The one thing they all have in common is that they don’t see themselves as part of a specific party, but rather as independent citizens and voters.

The technologies of the past twenty years have made things more difficult for politicians, but they have made it easier for citizens to stand up for freedom.

What we do with this increase in our potential power remains to be seen.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

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Category : Aristocracy &Featured &Government &Independents &Liberty &Politics &Prosperity

Health Care Reform in the Era of the Expert Plan

September 9th, 2010 // 11:46 am @

The debate on health care reform is presented as Democrat versus Republican. In fact, this is only marginally accurate. The truth is that this is all about Expert Economic Planning versus the principle of strong but limited government.

In the latter view, government should effectively use its power to protect inalienable rights and do nothing else. Of course, many more things are needed for society to succeed, but government isn’t expected to do everything.

Communities, businesses, academia, churches, voluntary associations, service clubs, families, artists, scientists, non-profit organizations, social leaders, and other groups, people, and institutions are necessary to do all that is needed for civilization to flourish.

Government has its part to play, but it is only a part of the whole.

This entire concept now seems to be considered outdated. If it is important, the new mantra goes, then government should do it. If it isn’t important enough for government, it is still best to regulate it just in case. This is the new “wisdom.”

The Experts Know Best

healthplanorganizationalchartEnter the Expert Economic Planners, who always work in teams. They generate detailed plans, graphs, charts, projections, predictions and promises.

Anyone questioning their assumptions, methods or conclusions is labeled uneducated, insincere, uncaring, or an “idiot.”

Only detailed plans with graphs, charts and projections are considered worthy of merit.

Democrats and Republicans who like Expert Economic Planning present varying options, debate, regulate, tinker and sell. Common sense is called unintelligent.

“Where is your expert plan?” is the only question. Even pragmatism is ignored in the drive to polish and promote the Expert Plan.

The Planners include some good ideas, but much that is vital is sacrificed to the format.

“At least we’re trying.” “Any plan is better than no plan.” “We must have a plan.” “Only Experts can create a good plan.” “The Experts get to decide who is an Expert.” “Ideas from anyone not an expert can’t be considered.” “Expert Plans are in progress — so relax. It will all turn out well.”

This is the Era of the Expert Plan.

Who Should Make the Decisions, & How?

What is the basic question? Whether government should fix health care. Who is conducting all this planning? The government.

Is there any doubt what the government will decide?

As long as the government is deciding whether government or free enterprise should run something, the decision will nearly always be for government.

This was the case even with the Clinton health care plan. It failed as a bill in Congress, but convinced Congress to drastically increase its regulation of health care from that point on.

This same model applies to almost every issue and is followed by both the Democrat and Republican parties.

There is a fundamental flaw in all this. In a truly free society, the people determine their will and then send representatives to implement it within the bounds of what government should do. The polar opposite occurs where a dictator seizes power and imposes his will on the people.

There is another alternative to free society, which occurs when the people elect representatives who then meddle in and control many or most aspects of society. In this environment, everything becomes a branch of government and the private sector weakens.

The biggest problem with free society is that it is based on popular support of principles of liberty rather than on teams of expert economic planners and the reams of detailed plans they generate.

To such experts, concepts as simple as “keep a separation between business and state” or “the Constitution doesn’t give the federal government any power over certain things” are seen as simplistic, uninformed, misguided. If such ideas had any validity they’d be supported by teams of experts with elaborate plans.

In this worldview, a document of just a few pages like the U.S. Constitution is clearly sophomoric at best. Fortunately teams of expert judges have written many volumes telling us what the document really meant, or should have said.

Such is the view of the Expert Plan.

The Freedom Alternative

The health care debate will be won by a team of Expert Planners. As such, it will be confusing, frustrating and seriously lacking. This will provide job security for the Expert Planners who will be amending it for decades.

There is an alternative. A majority of people can understand freedom so well that they start truly restraining Congress to its constitutional role. If this sounds radical or impossible in 2009 it is only because teams of expert planners say so. There is a name for such a system:

Aristocracy.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

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Category : Aristocracy &Constitution &Current Events &Government &Liberty &Politics

Vampires as Aristocrats?

September 9th, 2010 // 11:42 am @

twilightposterIn the last few years, as the vampire genre has gone from cult popularity to fringe and then to mainstream and mega-bestseller, I have wondered what vampires signify to our culture.

The bestseller vampire story Twilight and its sequels swept American teen reading circles, and these books were also read by a lot of adults. When the movie came out, millions watched and book sales once again soared.

Knock-offs followed, and vampires are now a rapidly growing part of American pop culture. From libraries and bookstores to HBO and regular network channels to the movie theaters, vampire stories are growing in popularity and quantity.

This mainstream and even super-stream popularity of vampires is new to America. Even relatively obscure vampire works are now more popular than the highly-touted Dracula was in a past generation.

Heroes & Villains as Cultural Indicators

You can tell a lot about a culture by its heroes as well as its villains. Cowboys were the quintessential American heroes — leading sales of fiction books, movies and television programs for the bulk of the 20th Century.

Over time westerns evolved into science fiction and fantasy — fans were entertained by space cowboys, space shuttles and alien cultures rather than ranchers, running horses and various tribes of outlaws or Indians. Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Narnia and so many others featured cowboy plots and characters albeit in new, unique and often fantastic settings.

Later, Americans adopted professionals as our heroes — mostly police officers on television and in movies, followed by doctors, with some lawyers, nurses, politicians, military pilots, firemen and even a few teachers thrown in to the mix.

Like cowboys and space heroes, the professionals met life head on, faced down and overcame difficulties, and showed the rest of us how to live in difficult times. They conquered enemies, lived their genius despite annoying bosses, solved difficult situations, and inevitably they all faced and mostly triumphed over deep personal weaknesses and crises.

Most of these heroes followed the patterns laid out by Shakespeare’s 22 major and numerous minor plotlines, and unique characters from MacGyver, Remington Steele or James Bond to Joan of Arcadia, the Cheerleader on Heroes or Hancock kept fans coming back for more.

Like Plutarch’s Lives, a series of stories that were widely read and studied closely by the American founding generation, nearly all of these pop heroes followed basic heroic patterns — think Hercules or John Wayne.

Vampires: A Different Mold

Vampires are different. They don’t save, they kill. They see themselves as superior, and secretly hold power over the lives of unsuspecting “normals.” They are the opposite of Men in Black; they are not cowboys or even outlaws but something altogether different.

Outlaws were at least the equals of the law-abiding cowboys, whereas vampires are entirely above and even beyond the law.

Back to my original question: What deep societal meaning(s) do vampires manifest? Or more to the point, what profound cultural theme(s) does their popularity indicate? They are too popular not to mean anything.

It is a real question. After all, cowboys, Starship captains, Jedi Knights, comic-book heroes, fantasy kings in hiding (who always carry swords with names), modern homicide detectives, CSI experts, sacrificing attorneys fighting for the little guy, skilled and romantic doctors, caring nurses, inspiring inner-city teachers, top gun pilots and so many more all fit the same heroic model.

But vampires? They are a different plotline, any way you look at it.

Then it clicked. I was researching the growth of class divides in America, and came across a reference in an ad for Harper’s magazine that asked if capitalists and vampires are the same, or something to that effect.

My mind was racing. Vampire. Capitalist. Upper class. Aristocrat.

Blood-Sucking Aristocrats

mooreimage1Note that I am not equating capitalism with bloodsucking. But let’s be clear — that analogy is widely accepted in our time.

It’s probably obvious to everyone but me that the growth of vampire-lit popularity coincided precisely with the Enron and following meltdowns of big business credibility.

I think the analogy is a stretch, and I think we are witnessing too little free enterprise rather than too much. I do believe that the worst types of aristocracy are vampirical in nature.

The parallels are numerous. Bloodsucking, powerful beings live and prosper by taking our very means of life from us. We have no power to fight back — they are too fast and powerful. We don’t even know what hit us when one of them attacks.

In such a situation, we are “lucky” to receive a mention of our demise in the newspaper.

Oh, and it turns out that there are bad vampires and good vampires. The good ones find other ways to feed themselves, leaving us mere humans our blood. These ones are our friends.

By the way, this separates American from European vampires. The old-country variety are much more ruthless and, frankly, the bloodier the better.

In contrast, Americans like their vampires to be “vegetarian” like the heroes in Twilight or HBO’s True Blood. Oh, and while European vampires are villains, in America the great heroes are the good vampires who protect humans from the bad vampires.

Reread the last few paragraphs and insert the word “aristocrat” wherever it says “vampire” to see how apt the analogy is.

A Recipe for Apathy & Dependence

The similarities continue. For example, the regular people feel that there is nothing you can do about “them.” “They” control everything, anyway, so why try to make a difference?

The only way to compete with them or fight them is to join them, to become one of them, and that is done by having one of them bite you.

“It takes money to make money,” we are told, or “it’s not what you know but who you know,” or “your wealth and success will be the average of the top five people you hang out with — so if you want more money, get some wealthy friends.”

Here’s my favorite: “It’s just business, nothing personal.” This is the attitude of all the bad vampires in the literature.

Compare the reassuring thesis of the “good” vampires: “You poor people, of course you can’t save yourselves. Don’t worry, we’ll fix everything for you. Trust us. We’re the good vampires. Just go on with your lives. We’ll take care of you.”

This is aristocracy at its worst and worst. Bad aristocracy takes, manipulates, forces, feels and acts superior, and sucks away our life and livelihood. In contrast, “good” aristocracy takes care of us like the inferiors it thinks we are.

Some people seem to be saying, “Thank goodness for these good, caring, powerful aristocrats who fix everything so we can just live our lives.” Maybe that’s too sarcastic.

But seriously, the analogy is powerful and should make us think.

The System Sucks

One thing is the same in nearly all vampire stories: the vampires hate their life. Many of them despise what they are. Again, the parallel is profound. Few aristocrats enjoy their system. True, they prefer being aristocrats to commoners, but both groups want something better.

Free, prosperous societies that have learned how to function without the painful traditions of class division have always boasted much happier people. In short, aristocracy is not a great system for anyone — even the aristocrats.

This may be the most frequent theme in English, French, Spanish and Russian literature. And these cultures know aristocracy!

Traditional Horror v. Vampires

I know that vampire and other dark literature has been around for a long time, but it has never been mainstream in America like it is now. In fairness, I am not a fan of any kind of horror. In fact, I don’t remember watching a horror movie since I was in high school.

I just don’t appreciate the darkness. I think movies should be uplifting and inspiring. Happiness is our deepest quest in this life, and I want my entertainment to directly help with this goal.

There is, of course, classic literature like Dracula, Frankenstein, Doctor Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, and a number of plays by Shakespeare that deal with dark themes, but in all of these the overwhelming messages are about overcoming temptations and inner weaknesses. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis followed this pattern.

Modern horror, however, seems to be all about the shock value. But I don’t think that most horror movies are about aristocracy.

Vampire works, in contrast, at least the recent stuff that is incredibly popular, are all about how we are starting to notice an upper class growing in the shadows, increasingly perceptible but not yet out in open daylight, and that seems to control so much and be incredibly powerful, mysterious and even scary.

Instead of calling them all villains, as the Europeans do, Americans are hoping that the “good” aristocrats will protect us against the bad ones. And more and more we are hoping to “get discovered,” win a reality-show contest, hit the lottery, or in some other way get bit by success and join the upper class.

Surprised Parents in a Fourth Turning

If this sounds overstated to you, you are in good company. A couple of years ago I mentioned the growing popularity of vampire literature to a group of very involved and caring parents. They were surprised at the topic, and in fact it only came up as I attempted to answer a question posed by a seminar attendee.

When I asked them how many of their kids were reading such works, only a couple raised their hands. I assigned them to go home and ask their kids that night about it, and to report back the next day.

The following morning, it was a surprised group — nearly all the attendees had learned that their children were reading about vampires.

When I got home I told this story to my own kids, mainly to teach them about the struggles of raising kids in some urban area. My oldest three teens started laughing.

“What?” I asked. They had been discussing a popular vampire series the day before I got home. They pointed out a lot of good lessons they had learned from their reading, and I read the books and had some long talks with them.

I would never have assigned these books, and I likely would have discouraged them from the series if I had known sooner what they were reading. Still, we had some positive discussions, and in fact it was this experience that got me wondering why so many youth are now in to vampires.

Welcome to the fourth turning. The youth want the power, speed, mystery and freedom of being entrepreneurs and part of the upper class. They also want to help the world, to increase freedom, peace and prosperity.

Those in the Y Generation (born between 1984 and 2007) don’t want to be Company Men. They want to be The Man, but a nice version of him. To them John Wayne is too selfish and mean, Luke Skywalker is too independent and insecure, and the CSI cops are too poor, bureaucratic and lonely.

That leaves two choices: Be a good vampire, or be the true friend of one. Consult the overwhelming bestseller Twilight and other popular vampire plotlines and characters to find out how to be good at these two roles.

Can We Defeat the Vampire Aristocrats?

tca_coverAristocracy is coming to America, and joining it or working for it is the most popular career of the future — unless, of course, regular people can drop their fear of the aristocrats and stand up wisely and effectively for freedom.

To do this, they’ll need the type of education that has always trained leaders — from the aristocratic leaders of Europe to the citizen leaders of America’s first 150 years.

There really is a difference between those who deeply know the classics and those who don’t. History is clear on this point. When only a few really know the classics, an aristocracy always dominates the people. This upper class controls, oversees, manipulates and lives off the blood, sweat and labor of the regular people.

When, in contrast, many study and apply the classics, they elect and oversee their leaders and vigilantly replace them when needed — freedom is maintained and flourishes. It is really that simple.

When the people are as fast, strong and wise as their leaders, no bloodsucking is allowed. When bloodsucking becomes the nature of hero and villain alike, and the young want to be one or the other — anything but the weak, oblivious masses described in Harry Potter and Twilight — a society is in trouble.

We are such a society. The classics are the answer. Unfortunately, telling the youth this is akin to the zealous but impotent religious preachers who fail in most vampire tales.

Youth believe what they are shown, and it is time for two generations of adults to get past their conveyor-belt education hangovers and finally set the example of getting the kind of great education necessary for a free people.

If this is too much for our generation, we might as well bare our necks and welcome the aristocrats.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

 

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Category : Aristocracy &Culture &Education &Government &Liberty

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