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History

Beyond the Vote

September 30th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

Imagine what would happen if a huge chunk of citizens stopped accepting what they are told by one of the parties, stopped just aligning themselves with candidates from one of the monopoly parties, and started deeply studying, analyzing and thinking about the issues of government independently.

Imagine if they shared their thoughts openly with many others, instead of just letting the news be defined by the big media responses to the big parties.

Imagine the revolution that would occur in the voting citizenry.

This is exactly what happened in the decade the Internet went mainstream. It is valuable to know the profound history that led to this freedom revolution.

Keynesianism

Karl Marx agreed with Hegel that history is created by the dialectical conflict between upper classes and the masses; Lenin transferred the attention from class warfare to the conflict between rich and poor nations.

Most Americans and Europeans adopted this view during the Cold War. Indeed, the Cold War was the “inevitable” result of class conflict leading to conflicts between the governments of the “greedy” nations and the collectivized socialist states.

Keynes, like Lenin before him, shifted the debate by arguing that since many nations were not willing to adopt socialistic government ownership of all business, the only solution was for big businesses to give people privatized “socialism” such as health insurance, savings programs (like the current 40lk), retirement programs and other employee benefits.

Keynes further predicted that if government did things right, then small businesses would be increasingly less able to offer such benefits over time and that eventually big business would run the entire economy in partnership with highly-regulating governments.

Together, Keynes thought, big government and big business would phase out the disruptive, nonconformist and anti-social element of independent small business power and replace it with big corporations offering all the benefits envisioned by socialism.

Simultaneously, governments would keep mavericks, entrepreneurs and innovators from rocking the boat. Socialist goals, albeit through private corporate means, would be implemented into all capitalistic nations.

The result would be the end of warfare between owners and labor and the solution to most world problems.

Keynes said that once companies become so big that they are less focused on profits than appearing caring, helpful and socially responsible to the public, they will make decisions based on public relations and therefore socialistic values rather than making money.

If enough big companies could be coaxed to this point, and if increased government barriers to small-business success could effectively squelch entrepreneurial initiative, even the most capitalistic nations would provide privatized “socialist” safety nets for the whole society.

This is aristocracy, pure and simple.

In such a system, big corporations would work together with big governments to continually increase the delivery of socialistic goals such as:

  • Free education for all
  • Free health insurance for all
  • Free health care for all
  • A society of employees
  • Jobs for everyone
  • A meritocracy of experts ruling society
  • A docile and obedient populace

This system was adopted slowly but consistently so that Richard Nixon could announce by the mid-1970s that “we are all Keynesians now.”

In short, Keynesianism promotes big government with high levels of regulation along with big business promoting various private offerings of socialist goals.

This social safety net has proven popular in all the Western nations, and has offered a number of short-term and positive lifestyle benefits.

It has also proven a better solution than government-only socialist equivalents in one-party states like the USSR, Eastern European nations and modern Russia, China and Cuba.

In multi-party nations like France and Germany some parties promote big business and others big government, and still others emphasize their pet areas of focus.

In the United States the maintenance of Keynesianism requires a major party supporting the government, a major party supporting big business, and a system of swinging back and forth between the leadership of each.

When the big-government party is in power, the Government-Industrial-Complex grows, and when the big-business party is in power the Industrial-Government-Complex expands.

When Keynesianism is flourishing, both parties use power to increase entitlements, foreign involvements and government spending.

Taxpayers and small businesses suffer.

The End of History

Francis Fukayama predicted in the 1990s that with the fall of the Berlin Wall and end of the Cold War this conflict between the rich and poor nations was over; he called this “the end of history,” citing both Hegel and Marx.

In the ensuing model of the 1990s, where everybody was a “capitalist,” economies flourished.

With a united Germany, declining Soviet power, and the dot.com and real estate booms, everybody seemed to have forgotten Keynesianism in the Roaring 90s.

Everybody, that is, except the two big parties.

Entitlements, debts and deficits grew during the Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama Administrations.

When 9/11 struck, everyone realized that history was far from over and that major challenges were still ahead. If the end of history had come, Keynes won.

Ironically, the fact that Keynesianism uses capitalistic means to accomplish socialistic ends allowed both liberals and conservatives to claim victory.

Conservatives rejoiced that socialism had lost to markets, and liberals celebrated that the era of big, irresponsible capitalism was over.

Unfortunately, what they brought us was far from the utopian ideal envisioned by socialism’s iconic philosophers or the freedom statesmen in history.

In fact, it was not so much socialism—where the state provides for all—as aristocracy, where the masses provide for the elite.

But back to our narrative: Keynesianism requires both political parties constantly and vocally doing battle. Neither can fully win or destroy the other; and when one wins an election the other is needed to play a minority role until it can win back the majority.

Whichever party is in power, the scope of government and big business must both increase during their tenure.

Of course, the result is that the far right hates Democrats when they are in power, and then turns on Republicans when they win and grow government. The far left does the opposite, hating the Republicans when they rule and then turning on Democrats in power for not doing enough.

Mainstream members of both parties simply support their party and dislike the opposition.

The key action in all this, the thing which makes Keynesianism work, the linchpin of the whole model, is for the citizenry to do nothing but vote.

Of course, they can live their lives, work at their jobs, send their kids to school and volunteer in their community. If they do these things, plus vote, they are good citizens. No more is asked, or wanted, from them.

“Just shut up and vote,” is the subtle message from both parties.

Of course, if one is an expert in politics, if it is their job, they are expected to do more than vote. They are required to study government, the issues and impact public opinion.

The same applies to professional journalists, attorneys, professors, etc. But this only applies to professors of political science, law, public policy or a related field.

Professors of literature or chemistry, for example, like postal workers and soccer coaches, are encouraged to leave governance mostly to the experts.

This cynical view is, unfortunately, widespread. Keynesianism depends on a society of experts where nearly everyone leaves governance to the political professionals.

Citizens are subtly taught that voting is the role of citizenship, along with serving on a jury if called up, and to otherwise leave governance to the experts.

After all, their party is watching their back for them and keeping the other “evil” party from doing too much damage.

Or, if the other party becomes dangerous, their own party leadership and the media will let them know.

Responses to Being Patronized

When a few citizens realize that they are being “handled” by the professionals of their party, the first response is naturally to want to elect better party leaders.

When time shows that this doesn’t work — that in fact it is the nature of party leadership to spin the truth and patronize the party rank-and-file — the disillusioned party loyalist often looks to some extreme group within the party—such as the radical right or the fringe left.

Alas, honest citizens find that faction leaders are usually as prone as major party heads to spin the issues and handle party members.

At this point, many party members just give up.

“The other party is bad,” they rationalize, “and my own party leaders are just too political. But at least candidates from my party are better than those from the other party.”

Some sincere seekers actually ignore tradition and years of brainwashing and seek for a better situation in the other party.

At first, party switchers may find a few things they really like better about the new party—especially if they attend in-person events and get to know some of the people in the other party.

“Republicans /or/ Democrats aren’t so bad,” they realize.

The longer they stay with the new party, however, the more they see that both parties are run in virtually the same way, like a formula primetime program, with the same character-types inhabiting the various roles.

Eventually they see most of the same problems that caused them to question their original party.

The idea that both parties are a problem is like the end of history for many voters. Most have seen politics itself as a war to put the “good” party in power and kick out the “bad” party.

So when a voter realizes that both parties have serious problems, and even worse—that neither party is likely to really solve America’s problems—there is a major paradigm shift.

Some give up in utter frustration, while others get really mad at their own party. Others get even more angry at the “other” party and refocus their support for their original party.

But one reality remains in the minds of most people arriving at this understanding: Neither party has the answers, and neither party is likely to really fix our problems.

More, the system is basically designed so that the party of big government and the party of big business take turns being in charge.

When regular citizens understand the goals of Keynesianism, it is a major shock.

At this point, what is a caring, sincere and committed citizen to do? When you learn that parties are parties are parties, how do you stay involved in governance? And how do you stay positive and optimistic about the future?

The Big Decision

The answer to these questions is for citizens to begin to study and think a lot more about government and to stop ignoring freedom by leaving it to the political professionals.

Unless regular people realize that freedom is up to them, not the experts, and that they need to learn more and take more action to make a real difference, they are unlikely to become true citizens.

When a person does make these realizations, however, he or she drastically changes. He becomes excited about impacting freedom.

There are three major ways to do this, and the three are drastically different:

  1. Populism
  2. Activism
  3. Independence

This is “the big decision” for free citizens who really want to maintain and even increase freedom.

Whether your political views are generally liberal, conservative, libertarian, progressive, green, or centrist, the big decision is a powerful way to start making a real difference.

Here are more thoughts on the three paths of the big decision:

1. Populism

This means openly and vocally fighting the system, pointing out its flaws, and actively participating in influencing change.

Populism has a long history in America, from the People’s Party movement of the 1880s and 1890s which arose because many people felt that neither of the two major parties would listen to them, to the Progressives of the early 1900s, the Labor movement of the 1920s and 1930s, or the counter-Culture revolution of the 1960s and the counter-Populism of the 1970s.

More recent populism includes anti-incumbency, Tea Parties, Coffee Parties, and the Green movement, among others.

2. Activism

Activism consists of committing to one of the major political parties and really having a powerful influence on it.

While I strongly emphasize the rise of independents, it should not be understated how valuable truly independent-thinking citizens can be if they choose to maintain strong party ties.

This is not only a legitimate but a highly-needed role of promoting freedom in our society. Both major parties need more members who really study, analyze, independently think and participate in improving party communication, leadership and impact on society.

3. Independence

This means becoming your own, personal political party—a party of one citizen.

Today there are more independents in the United States than either Democrats or Republicans. Independents don’t depend on any party but independently study, analyze, think, spread their influence and then vote for candidates and issues they feel will most help the nation.

Whatever your decision—whether you choose to help improve society through populism, activism or independence—note that is it vital to do certain things.

Those who simply depend on party experts leave these things to others, and the result is a loss of freedom. These things include:

  • Making a deep study of the principles of freedom and the U.S. Constitution.
  • Studying the history of freedom in order to truly understand current and future events within their context.
  • Studying and analyzing current issues in depth and from many different perspectives.
  • Considering the views of those who disagree with you and really understanding the points of merit (and not just your points of contention) in their ideas.
  • Drawing your own independent conclusions about proposals and policies after deep study.
  • Articulating and sharing your ideas with others.
  • Using your influence to impact the direction of the nation on specific issues and in general.

Populists are often criticized for not doing these things, but those who do can make a real, positive difference in populist circles.

Activists who commit to these things can greatly support party choices, and independents need to do these in order to have a meaningful impact.

The American founders wanted citizens to do these things, and predicted that the loss of such behaviors by the citizens would be the end of the republic.

If we want our freedoms to remain and even increase, we must be the kind of citizens who deserve such freedoms.

If we leave our future to the current power of Keynesianism, we will see more of the same: on-going crises, angry and ineffective politics, increased government spending and debt, increased taxes and regulations, continuing foreign conflicts and the loss of American lives, and an inability of government to solve our major problems.

The more the parties fight and the louder the conflict, the greater the power of Keynesianism. Keynesianism depends on heated arguments that drive the citizens to demand bigger government programs.

As long as the party of big business and the party of big government hold a joint monopoly on our society, voters will vote and little will change—except that debts, economic crises and problems will increase.

If this is the future we want for our country, we just need to leave politics to the politicians.

In contrast, the future of freedom depends on citizens who do a lot more than just vote and serve on jury duty. It depends on citizens who do the things which bring freedom—as populists, activists or independents, but all studying and thinking independently.

The American system was designed with the people as overseers of government. We all need to fulfill this role better.

We need a party of small business, a party of family, a party of entrepreneurial leadership, a party of the regular citizens, a party of freedom.

The American founders had a name for such a party: Citizens. Such a party naturally occurs and grows in free society when we do our true part as citizens.

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

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 &Economics &Government &History &Independents &Liberty &Politics

Entrepreneurs of the World, Unite!

September 22nd, 2010 // 4:00 am @

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A revolution is needed.

Not just any revolution, mind you, but a specific kind of freedom shift that will make the critical difference.

In order to progress, we need a renaissance of the entrepreneurial mentality and many millions of entrepreneurs in our society.

The recession has already helped increase awareness of this need. The Information Age is naturally offering many improvements over the Industrial Age, but simple access to more information is not enough.

What we do with the increased power of widespread information is the key.

The great benefit of the Nomadic Age was family and community connection and a feeling of true belonging, while the Agrarian Age brought improved learning, science and art, and eventually democratic freedoms.

The Industrial Age allowed more widespread distribution of prosperity and social justice, and many improved lifestyle options through technological advances.

Unfortunately, during the Industrial Age many freedoms were decreased as free nations turned to big institutions and secretive agencies for governance.

The industrial belief in the conveyor belt impacted nearly every major aspect of life, from education and health care to agriculture, industry, business, law, media, family, elder care, groceries, clothing, and on and on.

Whether the end product was goods or services, these all became systemized on assembly lines—from production to delivery and even post-purchase customer service.

At the same time, we widely adopted certain industrial views which became cultural, such as “Bigger is always better,” “It’s just business,” “Perception is reality,” and many others. In truth, all of these are usually more false than true, but they became the cultural norm in nearly all of modern life.

Perhaps the most pervasive and negative mantra promoted by modernism is that success in life is built on becoming an employee and its academic corollary that the purpose of education is to prepare for a job.

Certainly some people want to make a job the focus of their working life, but a truly free and prosperous society is built on a system where a large number of the adult population spends its working days producing as owners, entrepreneurs and social leaders.

Producer vs. Employee Society

A society of producers is more likely to promote freedom than a society of dependents. Indeed, only a society of producers can maintain freedom.

Most nations in history have suffered from a class system where the “haves” enjoyed more rights, opportunities and options than the “have nots.” This has always been a major threat to freedom.

The American framers overcame this by establishing a new system where every person was treated equally before the law.

This led to nearly two centuries of increasing freedoms for all social classes, both genders and all citizens—whatever their race, religion, health, etc.

During the Industrial Age this system changed in at least two major ways.

First, the U.S. commercial code was changed to put limits on who can invest in what.

Rather than simply protecting all investors (rich or poor) against fraud or other criminal activity, in the name of “protecting the unsophisticated,” laws were passed that only allow the highest level of the middle class and the upper classes to invest in the investments with the highest returns.

This created a European-style model where only the rich own the most profitable companies and get richer while the middle and lower classes are stuck where they are.

Second, the schools at all levels were reformed to emphasize job training rather than quality leadership education.

Today, great leadership education is still the staple at many elite private schools, but the middle and lower classes are expected to forego the “luxury” of opportunity-affording, deep leadership education and instead just seek the more “practical” and “relevant” one-size-fits-all job training.

This perpetuates the class system.

This is further exacerbated by the reality that public schools in middle-class zip codes typically perform much higher than lower-class neighborhood schools.

Private elite schools train most of our future upper class and leaders, middle-class public schools train our managerial class and most professionals, and lower-class public schools train our hourly wage workers.

Notable exceptions notwithstanding, the rule still is what it is.

Government reinforces the class system by the way it runs public education, and big business supports it through the investment legal code.

With these two biggest institutions in society promoting the class divide, lower and middle classes have limited power to change things.

The Power of Entrepreneurship

The wooden stake that overcomes the vampire of an inelastic class system is entrepreneurial success.

Becoming a producer and successfully creating new value in society helps the entrepreneur surpass the current class-system matrix, and also weakens the overall caste system itself.

In short, if America is to turn the Information Age into an era of increased freedom and widespread economic opportunity, we need more producers.

How do we accomplish this Freedom Shift?

First of all, we must get past the obvious wish that Congress should simply equalize investment laws and allow everyone to be equal before the law.

Neither government nor big business has a vested interest in this change, and neither, therefore, does either major political party.

Nor does either side see much reason to change the public education system to emphasize entrepreneurial over employee training.

Either of these changes, or both, would be nice, but neither is likely.

What is more realistic is a grassroots return to American initiative, innovation and independence.

Specifically, regular people of all classes need to become producers.

A renaissance of entrepreneurship (building businesses), social entrepreneurship (building private service institutions like schools and hospitals), intrapreneurship (acting like an entrepreneur within an established company), and social leadership (taking entrepreneurial leadership into society and promoting the growth of freedom and prosperity) is needed.

Along with this, parents need to emphasize personalized, individualized educational options for their youth and to prepare them for entrepreneurship and producership, rather than cultivating in them dependence on employeeship.

If these two changes occur, we will see a significant increase in freedom and prosperity.

The opposite is obviously true, as well: The long-anticipated “train wreck” in society and politics is not so difficult to imagine as it was twenty years ago.

The education of the rising generation in self-determination, crisis management, human nature, history, and indeed, the liberal arts and social leadership in general, is the historically-proven best hope for our future liberty and success.

If entrepreneurial and other producer endeavors flourish and grow, it will naturally lead to changes in the commercial code that level the playing field for people from all economic levels and backgrounds.

Until the producer class is growing, there is little incentive to deconstruct the class system.

More than 80 percent of America’s wealth comes from small businesses, and when these grow, so will our national prosperity.

Today there are numerous obstacles to starting and growing small businesses. There will be many who lament that the current climate is not friendly to new enterprises.

Frontiers have ever been thus, and our forebears plunged headlong into greater threats. What choice did they have? What choice do we have? What if they hadn’t? What if we don’t?

The hard reality is that until the producer class is growing there will be little power to change this situation.

As long as the huge majority is waiting for the government to provide more jobs, we will likely continue to see increased regulation on small business that decreases the number of new private-sector jobs and opportunities.

The only realistic solution is for Americans to engage their entrepreneurial initiative and build new value.

This has always been the fundamental source of American prosperity.

The Growing Popularity of Producer Education

Consider what leading thinkers on the needs of American education and business are saying.

In Revolutionary Wealth, renowned futurist Alvin Toffler says that schools must deemphasize outdated industrial-style education with its reliance on rote memorization, the skill of fitting in with class-oriented standards, and “getting the right answers,” and instead infuse schools with creativity, individualization, independent and original thinking skills, and entrepreneurial worldviews.

Harvard’s Howard Gardner argued in Five Minds for the Future that all American students must learn the following entrepreneurial skills: “the ability to integrate ideas from different disciplines or spheres,” and the “capacity to uncover and clarify new problems, questions and phenomena.”

John Naisbitt, bestselling author of Megatrends, wrote in Mind Set! that success in the new economy will require the right leadership mindset much more than Industrial-Age credentials or status.

Tony Wagner wrote in The Global Achievement Gap that the skills needed for success in the new economy include such producer abilities as: critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, leading by influence, agility, adaptability, curiosity, imagination, effective communication, initiative and entrepreneurialism.

Former Al Gore speechwriter Daniel Pink writes in A Whole New Mind that the most useful and marketable skills in the decades ahead will be the entrepreneurial abilities of high-concept thinking and high-touch leading.

Seth Godin makes the same case for the growing need for entrepreneurial-style leaders in his business bestsellers Tribes and Linchpin.

Malcolm Gladwell arrives at similar conclusions in the bestselling book Outliers.

There are many more such offerings, all suggesting that the future of education needs to emphasize training the rising generations to think and act like entrepreneurs.

Indeed, without a producer generation, the Information Age will not be a period of freedom or spreading prosperity. Still, few schools are heeding this research.

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria has shown in The Post-American World that numerous nations around the world are now drastically increasing their influence and national prosperity.

All of them are doing it in a simple way: by incentivizing entrepreneurial behavior and a growing class of producers.

Unlike aristocratic classes, successful entrepreneurs are mostly self-made (with the help of mentors and colleagues) and have a deep faith in free enterprise systems, which allow opportunity to all people regardless of their background or starting level of wealth.

Entrepreneurs and Freedom

History is full of anti-government fads, from the French and Russian revolutionists to tea-party patriots in Boston and anti-establishment protestors at Woodstock, among many others. Some revolutions work, and others fail.

The ones that succeed, the ones that build lasting change and create a better world, are led by entrepreneurial spirit and behavior. As more entrepreneurs succeed, the legal system naturally becomes more free.

As more people take charge of their own education, utilizing the experts as tutors and mentors but refusing to be dependent on the educational establishment, individualized education spreads and more leaders are prepared.

With more leaders, more people succeed as producers, and the cycle strengthens and repeats itself.

Freedom is the result of initiative, ingenuity and tenacity in the producer class. These are also the natural consequences of personalized leadership education and successful entrepreneurial ventures.

For anyone who cares about freedom and wants to pass the blessings of liberty on to our children and grandchildren, we need to get one thing very clear: A revolution of entrepreneurs is needed.

We need more of them, and those who are already entrepreneurs need to become even better social leaders. Without such a revolution, freedom will be lost.

Click Here to Download a PDF of This Article

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

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 : Education &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Government &History &Information Age &Liberty &Producers

Independents & the Tea Party Movement

September 20th, 2010 // 4:00 am @

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Much of the media represents what it calls a “third” view as sometimes independents and other times the Tea Party.

In recent elections, these two groups have often voted together. They both tend to vote against entrenched power, and they both support better fiscal discipline from our leaders.

Beyond these two similarities, however, they bear little resemblance.

The Tea Party is angry at Washington. Independents want to see Washington get its act together.

The Tea Party is comparatively extreme in its views and strident in the tone of its arguments. Independents are typically moderate in viewpoint as well as methodology.

A majority of Tea Party supporters are former Republicans who feel disenfranchised from the GOP. Independents come from all parts of the political spectrum.

Tea Party enthusiasts tend to promote “revolution”—although their platform is more clearly defined by what they object to than by what they propose to do about it. Independents want substantive and tenable reform.

Tea Party crowds often act like football fans during big rivalry games. Independents most often talk like accountants analyzing today’s financials.

The Tea Parties want big, symbolic, massive change. They’re pretty clear on whom they think is to blame for America’s problems and they frequently recur to name-calling and sarcasm to make their point. Independents want certain policies to be passed that significantly improve government and society.

Tea Party supporters see themselves as part of a big fight, and they want to win and “send the bad guys packing.” Independents want the fighting, name calling, mudslinging and partisan wrangling to stop and for our leaders to just sit down together and calmly work up solutions to our major national challenges.

Voting

Tea Parties are bringing out more conservative voters to take on the Democratic majority. Independents are voting against Democrats right now because they want to see real progress, just like they voted against Republicans during much of the last decade.

If the Republican Party swings right, most of the Tea Partiers will consider their work done. If the Republican Party swings right, most independents will give it far less support.

Tea Parties are viscerally against liberalism. Independents will vote against Democrats on some issues and against Republicans on others, always throwing their support behind the issues and projects they think will best help America.

Few Tea Partiers voted for Obama. Many independents did. A lot of Tea Partiers see Sarah Palin as a viable presidential candidate. Hardly any independents support Palin or consider her a viable candidate for high federal office. Most Tea Party members vehemently disliked Ted Kennedy. Many independents like him a lot.

Many Tea Party supporters want Obama to fail, and in fact believe that he has already failed. A majority of independents are frustrated with President Obama’s work so far but sincerely hope he will turn it around by shifting his focus and adopting what they consider moderate and needed changes.

The Tea Party tends to compare Obama to the likes of Hitler, while most independents admire and like Obama personally even while disagreeing with the substance of some of his policies.

In short, Tea Partiers and independents aren’t cut from the same cloth and actually have very little in common. But, as mentioned, they have been voting together for the last six months and will likely continue to do so for some time ahead.

That being said, they are unlikely to stay connected in the long term. Of course, there are a number of independents who have aligned themselves with the Tea Party or Tea Party events in order to have an impact right now.

That’s what independents do.

How Populism Succeeds

Which group [independents or the Tea Party] is most likely to last? The answer probably depends on upcoming elections.

The Tea Parties are a populist movement, meaning that their popularity requires at least three things:

  1. An agreed upon enemy with enough power to evoke strong fears, anger and emotion
  2. An upcoming event to rally around, such as elections or national seminars
  3. A sense that they can actually change everything quickly and drastically

The first and second factors will stay around as long as a Democrat is in the White House.

Tea Party fervor may be lessened by the midterm elections if, and only if, a lot of Democrats lose—but will likely resurge again as the next presidential election nears.

The third requirement is what has generally doomed all historical populist movements. The Tea Party revolt is new and may gain energy. But things will change as soon as one major (and inevitable) event occurs.

When the Tea Party wins a major election and then watches its newly-elected candidates take office and join the system, it will turn its energy from activism to cynicism and lose momentum.

If those the Tea Party elects make a splash and take on the establishment, or symbolically seem to do so, the Tea Partiers will breathe easy, congratulate themselves on their victory and go back to non-political life.

If the new officials make few changes and Washington seems as bad as ever, many Tea Party enthusiasts will lose faith and give up on activism. More on this later.

The History of Conservative Populism

This series of events is cyclical, and the pattern has repeated itself many times. The Anti-Federalists, Whigs and Moral Majority all, in their day, fizzled out on this cycle.

Likewise, “constitutionalism” arose during the 1960’s, gained influence with publications and seminars in the 1970’s, and culminated in the election of Ronald Reagan.

After his inauguration, most constitutional organizations saw their donations and budgets halved—or worse—and many disappeared. The term “constitutionalist” lost it power—indeed, became a label for energetic irrelevance—and the nation moved on.

After Reagan, Rush Limbaugh increased in popularity and influence leading up to and throughout the Clinton years, and his radio show became the rallying point of conservative populism.

The press worried about the growing power of talk radio and both major political parties listened daily to Limbaugh’s commentary and strategized accordingly.

“Dittoheads” (Limbaugh fans) saw Clinton as the great enemy and rallied around elections, the Contract with America, and (between elections) Limbaugh’s show.

But with the election of Republican George W. Bush, Dittohead Nation congratulated itself on victory and mostly turned to non-political life. Today there is little excitement about or commentary on becoming a Dittohead.

It should be acknowledged that conservative populist movements have often added positive ideas to the national discussion and many of its leaders have helped raise awareness of freedom and promote citizen involvement.

In this sense, Anti-Federalists, Whigs, the Moral Majority, Constitutionalists, Dittoheads and the Tea Parties are not insignificant to American politics. They have had, and likely still will, huge impact.

Liberal vs. Conservative Populism

Note, in contrast [to conservative populism], that liberal populism typically follows a different path.

Movements such as Abolition, Feminism, Civil Rights and Environmentalism build and build until they are legislated. At that point, liberal populists get really serious and set out to expand legislation.

Not being saddled with trying to establish a negative, liberal populists don’t lose momentum like conservative populists—because the liberal objective isn’t to stop something but rather to achieve specific goals.

The challenge of conservative populism is that its proponents are, well, conservative. They see life as fundamentally a private affair of family, career and personal interests.

To the conservative, political activism is a frustrating, anomalous annoyance that shouldn’t be necessary—an annoyance that sometimes arises because of the actions of “bad” people abusing power.

The conservative soul idealizes being disengaged from political life; as a result, conservative populism is doomed to always playing defense.

The conservative will embrace politics when to continue to avoid politics poses a clear and present danger.

When conservatives engage politics in popular numbers, they do so in order to “fix things” so they can go back to not thinking about government.

The liberal soul, on the other hand, sees political life as a part of adulthood, natural to all people, and one of the highest expressions of self, society, community and the social order—not to mention a great deal of fun.

Many liberals greatly enjoy involvement in governance. The liberal yearns for participation in society, progress and politics.

They care about family and career as much as conservatives, of course, but many liberals consider involvement in politics to be at the same level of importance as family and work.

The Future of Tea & Independents

Tea Parties will likely grow and have impact for some years, but they are unlikely to become a long-term influence beyond Obama’s tenure.

In contrast, independents may well replace one of the major parties in the decades ahead.

Few independents are populists and are therefore not swayed by the political media or party politics. They watch Fox and MSNBC with equal skepticism, and prefer to do their own research on the detailed intricacies of the issues.

They generally distrust candidates and officials from all parties, believing that politics is a game of persuasion and spin.

Also: Independents really do stand for something. They want government to work. They want it to provide effective national security, good schools, responsible taxes and certain effective government programs.

Like conservatives, independents want government to spend less and stop trying to do too much. Like liberals, independents want government to tackle and fix our major challenges and where helpful to use effective government programs.

Independents want health care reformed, and they want it done in common-sense ways that really improve the system. They apply this same thinking to nearly all major issues.

Like many liberals, a lot of independents enjoy closely watching and participating in government. They take pleasure in activism and involvement. They prioritize political participation up there with family, career and personal interests.

All indications are that the Tea Parties are a short-term, albeit significant, movement, while the power of independents will be here for a long time ahead.

When the current political environment shifts and conservative populists lose their activist momentum, independents will still be studying the issues and making their views known.

In fact, a serious question now is whether the Republican and Democratic parties can both outlast the rise of independents. The answer is very likely “no.”

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

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 : Current Events &Government &History &Independents &Politics

True Abundance: The 5 Types of Producers

September 9th, 2010 // 11:31 am @

In The Coming Aristocracy I speak of “mini-factories,” which are individuals, teams, partnerships, or small organizations doing things that have traditionally been handled by large institutions. Successful mini-factories are operated by “producers.”

This article describes all types of producers and why they are vital to a free, healthy, and prosperous society.

*Special thanks to Les McGuire for this series.

Prosperity and abundance in a society depend on a certain type of person: the producer. Societies with few producers stagnate and decay, while nations with a large number of producers vibrantly grow — in wealth, freedom, power, influence and the pursuit of happiness.

Producers think in abundance rather than scarcity, take initiative instead of waiting for someone else to provide them with opportunity, and faithfully take wise risks instead of fearfully believing that they can’t make a difference.

In contrast, non-producers provide very little leadership in society and cause more than a majority of the problems. In history, as Jefferson put it, producers are the most valuable citizens.

Of course, he was speaking directly of farmers, but the principle applies to all those who add significant value to society. Non-producers consume the value that is added to society, but they create little value.

But who are the producers? Fortune 500 executives include themselves in this category, and so do small business owners in their first month of operation. Successful investors call themselves producers, as do unsuccessful day traders who claim that they just “haven’t had their lucky break yet.”

Clearly, just calling yourself a producer doesn’t make you one.

In fact, there are at least five types of producers, and each type is vital to a successful civilization. Each of the five creates incredible value, though the currency of the value is not always identical. Without any of the five types, no society succeeds and grows. When all five are creating sufficient value, no society has ever failed.

Producers are needed — all five kinds of them. These are the following:

  1. Prophets, Sages, Philosophers
  2. Statesmen
  3. Investors
  4. Entrepreneurs
  5. Intrapreneurs

Prophets, Sages, & Philosophers

The highest level of value creation comes from prophets, sages, and philosophers.

This category of producers is not limited to the Biblical-type prophets who spoke directly with God, but also includes anyone who teaches true principles. This makes these producers the most important type, because without clearly understood principles all the other types of producers fail.

Indeed, the other producers succeed to the exact extent that they understand and apply true principles.

Prophet-producers include Moses and Paul, who share God’s wisdom with us, and also sages like Socrates or Confucius or Bastiat, gurus like Edward Deming or Peter Drucker, philosophers like Buckminster Fuller or Stephen R. Covey, and those who inspire us to serve like Billy Graham or Mother Teresa.

Whether you agree or disagree with these people, their wisdom causes you to think, ponder, consider, and ultimately understand truth. By applying these truths, a person is able to produce.

Even if you just sit and ponder, letting the truths come to your mind through deep thought or hard experience, true principles are still passed to you through spiritual or creative means.

God is the greatest producer in the Universe, and He shares true principles with us so we can also produce. For value to be created, true principles must be applied.

Ironically, because God, prophets, and other wise people often share their wisdom without asking for monetary compensation, sometimes other types of producers discount the value of their contribution.

But make no mistake: revealing and teaching true principles is the highest level of creating value.

Whether we learn principles through inspiration or intuition, or from the lessons gained through hard work and experience, without principles we cannot produce.

Parents and grandparents are among the most important producers, because they teach principles most effectively — or not. When they don’t, the whole society suffers.

Statesmen

The next type of creating value comes from statesmen.

Do not confuse statesmen with politicians and bureaucrats, who are often worse than non-producers because they actually engage in anti-producing.

In contrast, statesmen create the value of freedom in society. The level of freedom in any nation is a direct result of the actions of statesmen — past and present.

If great statesmen like Cato, Washington, Jefferson, or Gandhi are present, a nation will throw off its enslaved past and adopt new forms and structures which ensure freedom of religion, freedom of choice and action, freedom of property and commerce, and other freedoms.

Together the value created can be called life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Take these freedoms away, and entrepreneurship and investment fade and disappear. There are no exceptions in history to this pattern.

Statesmen like Lincoln, Churchill, or Margaret Thatcher keep a nation from rejecting its freedoms and moving back into a cycle of tyranny and anarchy, where little production of any kind occurs.

In short, without principles there is little freedom, and without freedom all other kinds of production shut down, are regulated out of existence, and cease to be viable options.

No matter how entrepreneurial your spirit, you would not have created much value in the economy of Nero’s Rome, Russia under Stalin, or even Boston under the Stamp Act.

Without freedom, only prophets survive as producers — all other types of producers need both principles and freedom to flourish. The greater the understanding of principles and the freedom of the society, the greater the opportunities for producers.

Indeed, almost nothing creates more value than increasing freedom.

Only when freedom is widespread would the other types of producers have the peace to think that statesmen don’t add value. And frankly, when freedom is widespread is the very moment that it is in the most danger of being lost — it is at such times that statesmen are the most valuable producers.

Of course, the well-known statesmen like Lincoln or Jefferson only appear on the scene when there are a lot of lesser known individuals studying, writing about, talking about, and promoting statesmanship. Only generations with lots of statesmen produce true freedom that allows widespread educational and economic opportunity.

Most of the history of the world shows the absence of such statesmanship, so most of the population of the world were serfs, peasants, slaves, and other non-producers. Yet it is the true nature of all mankind to be producers, leaders, nobles.

Jefferson called this the “natural aristocracy,” and it happens only in those rare pockets of history where statesmen create and perpetuate freedom. Next to true principles taught by prophets, sages, and philosophers, freedom is the highest value that one can add to any society.

Investors & Entrepreneurs

The third type of producer is the investor, and the fourth type is the entrepreneur.

This needs little commentary among producers, who nearly all realize that entrepreneurship is necessary to create new economic value and that even the best entrepreneurial ideas and leaders can fail without adequate capitalization.

Robert Kiyosaki lists investors as the highest of his cash flow quadrants and business owners, or entrepreneurs, next. He is right on. Without investors, many, if not most, entrepreneurs would fail. Without both “I’s” and “B’s,” to use Kiyosaki’s language, no society can make significant or sustained progress.

Moreover, without investment and entrepreneurship many of the principles taught by prophets and most of the freedoms vouchsafed by statesmen would go unused — and eventually be lost.

Prophets, sages, philosophers, and statesmen are dependent on investors and entrepreneurs, and vice versa. As I said, no society is really successful unless all five types of producers effectively create value in their unique but interconnected ways.

Part of the value created by investors and entrepreneurs is obvious: They provide capital and establish institutions which build society. Every family and every individual benefits from their services.

Perhaps less known, but just as important, investors add the vital value of experience. Kiyosaki and Buffet both affirm that without personal knowledge and significant experience in a business, almost everyone who tries their hand at investing fails.

A society without adequate investment and entrepreneurship will see little, if any, progress.

An American, a Frenchman, & a Russian

The old joke is told of an American, a Frenchman, and a Russian, lost in the wilderness, who find a lamp and rub it. Out comes a genie. He offers them each one wish, for a total of three.

The American pictures the large ranch owned by the richest people in the valley where he grew up, and wishes for a ranch ten times its size, with flowing streams and meadows full of horses and cattle. His wish is granted and he is transported home to his new life.

The Frenchman pictures the farm and cattle of the largest estate from his home province, and pictures one just like it. Again, his wish is granted.

Finally, the Russian pictures the land and herds of the rich family in the steppes where he grew up, and wishes that a drought kill the cattle, dry up the grass, and bankrupt the aristocratic family.

The joke isn’t really very funny, though it brings big laughs with audiences of producers. They get it.

The Frenchman, thinking like an entrepreneur, wants the good things that life provides, and is willing to go to work to produce them. The American, who thinks like an entrepreneur and an investor, is willing to go to work also, but wants to see his assets create more value. The Frenchman wants value, the American plans for value, increased market share and perpetual growth.

In contrast, the Russian in this parable can only think of one thing — getting even with those who seem to have more than him.

This is the same as Steve Farber’s lament about the sad state of our modern employee mentality — where “burn your boss” is a slogan of millions of workers who see their employer as the enemy.

The Employee v. Owner Mindsets

Initiative, vision, effective planning, the wise use of risk, quality execution — all are the contributions of entrepreneurs and investors. Without them, any society will decline and fall.

Yet the non-producer mentality is often deeply ingrained in most people. For example, a visiting speaker once told the student body of how challenging it was to get his employees out of their “serf” mentality.

As the founder of a growing manufacturing technology company, he pulled in all his two dozen employees and offered them liberal stock options. He explained that if the company met its projections, they would all be very wealthy — and he abundantly wanted to share the prosperity.

Yet only a few of them would take the options. They only wanted cash salary, and mistrusted the whole concept of stock ownership.

At first he just offered it, thinking they’d all jump on board. But when only a few did, he pulled them in one by one and tried to make the case for stock. Still, only a few more took the stock.

The company grew, expanded, and then its value soared. Suddenly, one month a half dozen of the company’s employees were independently wealthy. They met, made plans, some stayed with the company and others moved on.

But the real story happened with the eighteen who had refused the stock. They were still paycheck-to-paycheck employees. And they were very angry! Most of them met with the founder in his office, and many of the meetings ended with yelling, names called, and doors slammed.

The entrepreneur couldn’t believe it. NOW these employees wanted their millions. But it just doesn’t work that way. “I begged you to take the stock,” the owner told them. “Now, I can’t help you. Why didn’t you take it when I offered?” he asked.

They had no answer. Only that: “I worked as hard as Jim and Lori, so why can’t I get the same payment?”

Entrepreneurs and investors understand that work is very, very important, but that high levels of compensation come to those who create value. Like the Russian in the joke above, this man’s employees felt they had been “ill-used.”

Consider the impact of this scarcity mentality on any society that adopts it. Freedom is naturally lost, and prosperity slows down and eventually becomes poverty. Entrepreneurs and investors are essential to societal success.

Intrapreneurs

The fifth type of producer is the intrapreneur.

In a free society, investment capital is plentiful — but only effective entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs can turn capital into increased value. This takes initiative, wise risk and leadership, just like the other types of producing.

While entrepreneurs found or own businesses, intrapreneurs work for and lead established businesses — but unlike traditional employees, intrapreneurs lead with the Producer mindset. They run their department, team, or company with an abundance mentality, an attachment to true principles, and a fearless faith in people and quality.

Intrapreneurs don’t really have jobs even though they are usually W-2 employees. Like entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs consider themselves on a mission to help society, to give it what it needs and wants, to truly serve others.

Like all producers, they believe in a deep accountability, refuse to assign blame, don’t believe in failure, and give their heart and soul to serve the customer. They add huge value in financial terms, leadership, and relationships — sometimes with people they’ve never met.

They pour quality into everything they do, and thereby deeply serve all who benefit from their product or service.

Great entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs have a deep faith in the market, as long as it doesn’t go against true principles or subvert freedom.

Without the initiative and risk of entrepreneurship, few intrapreneurs would have a place to work and serve; likewise, without intrapreneurs there would be few successful companies. Indeed, it is hard to imagine that there would be any.

The Synergy of Created Value

For any company to succeed, all five types of producers must fulfill their unique roles. This is even more true for any nation.

Producer Type Currency
Prophet Principles
Statesman Freedom
Investor Capital
Entrepreneur Prosperity
Intrapreneur Quality

To see how vital all five types of producers are, consider the past. Major world powers in history have failed in the same way.

First, the people stop giving heed to the wisdom of the prophets.

Second, voters or those in power replace statesmen with politicians, whereupon freedom steadily decreases.

Third, the natural result is increased regulations and taxation, ridiculous lawsuits and judicial decrees, and governmental policies that discourage and then attack producers, initiative, and the abundance mentality in general.

Fourth, investment capital flees the nation to follow the Rule of Capital — it goes where it is treated well.

Finally, the people have a scarcity mentality, refuse to listen to the prophets or elect statesmen, and entrepreneurs go where investment gives them opportunity. The nation stagnates and declines.

Egypt, Israel, Greece, Rome, Spain, Italy, Bismark’s Germany, and Han China all followed this pattern. Each was a major center of world power, influence and prosperity, and each declined into a third world nation. France copied this pattern in the 1800s, Britain followed it in the 1900s, and the United States is on an identical track today.

Specifically, the U.S. is at the point where it is increasing its regulation, experiencing absurd lawsuits and court decisions, and increasingly adopting policies that discourage entrepreneurship. The next step is to openly attack investment and entrepreneurship.

And when investors find higher profits in other nations, while facing decreasing returns along with public hostility and rising taxes at home, U.S. investment will dry up. History is clear on this point. There are no exceptions.

The only hope is for a new generation of producers to effectively promote freedom. In fact, the U.S. has been at this point twice before — in 1860 and again in 1939. Both times enough statesmen arose, most of them unknown to all except avid readers of history, to push aside the politicians and save our freedoms. Britain saw the same thing happen in 1216, 1620, 1815 and 1937.

Other nations have followed a similar pattern. When the people listen to the prophets, statesmen promote freedom, and investors and entrepreneurs/intrepreneurs build the nation.

When the sages are ignored and statesmanship is seen as abstract and worthless, investors go elsewhere — capital flees to other nations, and the home country declines. With such decline comes moral decay, the loss of political and economic freedom, and the end of opportunity.

Abundance is a true principle, yet through history most governments have made it their major goal to crush abundance and prosperity in the masses and give it to the aristocracy or royalty.

Anyone who thinks this can’t happen in America hasn’t closely studied history.

Overcoming 3 Crucial Mistakes

Many producers make three predictable mistakes. Any producer who knows these mistakes and avoids them will be a better producer and create more lasting value in society.

Producer Mistake #1: The Generation Gap

First, producers seldom encourage their own children to follow the producer path. Many young producers will disavow this, arguing that they’ll do all within their power to teach the abundance mindset to their children.

And most of them do, until the children start to get close to adulthood. At this point, many producers realize just how hard the producer role is in life and seek to help their children avoid the pain and challenge of this path.

Many producers recommend that their children become professionals — doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers. It is ironic how many very successful college-drop-out producers make sure that all of their children attend the most prestigious colleges available and major in the normal career fields.

Even the producers who train their oldest child to follow in their path often send the younger children in other directions. And hardly any producers pass along the producer mindset to their grandchildren.

Of course, if children or grandchildren choose to take a different path in life, it is usually wise to support their decisions and love them unconditionally. But training them in social leadership, abundance, creating value, serving society, and the producer mindset is good for them no matter what path they take in life.

The historically effective solution for this is for producers to put real time, thought, planning and execution into their grandparenting role — long before they are grandparents. Quality grandparenting is a way for all producers to engage the prophet role for their family, to help pass on their wisdom and understanding of true principles to future generations.

Great parenting fulfills this same function, and is part of propheting — the highest level of production.

Producer Mistake #2: The Blinders

The second mistake many producers make is to think that their particular brand of producing is the only one that creates real value.

Like the old parable of the carpenter who believes that all of the world’s ills can be fixed with a hammer, sometimes producers get so focused on their type of producing that they narrowly discount the value of the others. Focus is good, but narrow thinking usually limits one’s effectiveness.

For example, a statesman who believes that changing government is the only real answer to society and that freedom will fix all problems, will likely reject the moral teachings of prophets and consider them mere “philosophy.” Such a person limits his statesmanship because he just doesn’t get it.

So does the statesman who thinks freedom is the only goal, and that entrepreneurs are just in love with money — he will likely try to use law against entrepreneurship, which is the opposite of statesmanship.

A true statesman sees that all five types of producers are vital to society. Similarly, when prophets undervalue statesmen, freedom of religion and independent thinking are often lost.

Likewise, an entrepreneur who discounts the teachings of prophets may feel successful because he’s made a fortune selling pornography. “After all, I just gave the market what it wanted,” he says.

No abundance-minded entrepreneur would think this, because value is only created when principles and freedom aren’t attacked. If economic value reduces moral or freedom values, total value is actually decreased.

Or, consider the entrepreneur who thinks building profitable businesses is the only way to create value and therefore does little to promote statesmanship — in his older and wiser years he will likely regret the regulated and declining world which he sees his grandchildren inheriting.

When entrepreneurs undervalue statesmen, politicians and bureaucrats win the day and capital is discouraged and eventually attacked. The wise entrepreneur or investor will see the great value added by prophets and statesmen, and he will create more value in his life because his broader view will help him make better decisions.

The examples could go on, but suffice it to say that significant problems occur when any of the five devalue any of the others. However, when all five types of producers understand, highly value, and actively support each other, all types of producers experience synergy — and the value created is exponentially increased.

Producer Mistake #3: Arrogance

Finally, the third common mistake made by producers is to look down on non-producers.

One of the true principles taught by prophets is that every person is inherently as valuable as any other. True abundance means that we respect people, whatever their chosen path — as long as it is good and honorable.

Producers, all five types, are truly vital to society, but that doesn’t make producers any better than anyone else. In fact, true abundance producers know that every person is a genius. Every single person. Some decide not to develop it much, but everyone is a genius. And producing is really just about getting people to develop that genius.

Producers who understand this point are the most effective, because they do it all for the right reasons — a true love of and desire to serve others. This is what abundance really means. Everything else falls short.

This is true abundance, so abundant that you spend your life voluntarily serving others (in contrast, true scarcity would be to spend your life on yourself). Real value means people value — and creating value really means helping people choose better lives.

This is what all five types of producing are all about.

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

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 : Culture &Entrepreneurship &Featured &Government &History &Leadership &Liberty &Mini-Factories &Statesmanship

The Calm Before the Storm

September 9th, 2010 // 10:42 am @

gatheringstormYears ago I moderated a discussion about the writings of John Adams and how much we need to apply today the things he taught more than two centuries ago.

One of the participants asked poignantly, “So what do we DO about all this?”

Others expressed similar concerns: Theory is okay, but what can really be done to impact society the way the American Founders did? Or the way other great statesmen and stateswomen in history did?

So much needs to be done in society; what can we do to make a difference?

This concern is not an isolated one. For at least the past fifty years, the classroom experience has been widely separated from “the real world.”

Reading, studying, discussing and writing are things done by students and academics — in a place not quite part of the real world of business, family, law, politics and current events.

So it is natural to ask what we can do — as if studying itself is not doing something.

Yet this was not the case for the great statesmen and stateswomen of history. Virtually all of them spent a significant portion of their lives reading, studying, writing and discussing — particularly in the classics.

Yes, they did other things; but it is doubtful that they could have done them without the scholarly preparation in character and competence.

I am not alone in my understanding that there are storms ahead — certainly the cycles of history suggest there are, for our nation and for other nations.

I do not know what they will be, nor do I believe that the future is ominous or doomed. I am an optimist. I believe that the best America and humanity have to offer are still ahead.

So mark these words well: Every generation faces its challenges, and ours will be no different. Our children and grandchildren will face their challenges. This is what I mean when I say that storms are ahead.

Despite a hectic and challenging world, made more complex by 9/11, we are today in a relative era of calm.

It is a calm before the storms that will inevitably come to our generation, just like they have come to all past generations and will come to those in the future — until God and mankind create a better world.

Arguably, the most important things we can and must DO in the calm before the storm is to prepare. Secondly, no type of preparation is more important than character and knowledge preparation — both of which are impacted by reading, writing, discussing and studying.

In 1764 George Washington didn’t do anything “big” to make a difference in society — except read and study and write and discuss great ideas. In other words, he prepared.

He had been at it for over five years by then, and would spend five more years just reading, studying and discussing great ideas before he would (perhaps before he could) do the big things. But when the storms came, he was prepared.

Nor did James Madison, Thomas Jefferson nor John Adams do the big things to make a difference in 1764. All three spent most of the year reading, studying and discussing the great ideas — in addition to the basics of making a living, going to school, raising families or living life.

But in addition to regular life, while most of their peers just made a living or went to school, they choose to do more: they read, studied, wrote, and discussed great ideas from the classics.

When the storms came their peers wondered what to do. But they already knew.

It was still hard, it still took everything their generation had to give, it still tested them to the depths of their bodies and souls — but they knew what to do because of what they had done in the calm: they had read, studied and discussed classics and history, in addition to living their normal lives.

Find a crisis or time of challenge in history, and you will find one of two things: either a nation with at least a few people who read, studied and discussed the classics in the calm before the storm, or a nation that failed to pass its tests, trials and storms.

I have found no exceptions in history.

Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln are examples. They prepared by reading, studying and discussing the great classics during the calm periods; when storms came they knew how to handle them.

Can you imagine the outcome of the American Revolution if the Founders hadn’t read and discussed classics? Or of the Civil War if Lincoln had just done business and politics but never spent hours and hours reading the great works? Or of World War II if Churchill hadn’t read the classics but just been a successful businessman or politician?

And the same applies to lesser known leaders and statesmen at the community and local levels. Application is essential; preparation is vital. And in the calm before the storm, preparation is even more critical than application.

Churchill even titles his history of 1919-1939 The Gathering Storm. And arguably the greatest folly of this period was that the leaders of the time were ignorant of or ignored the lessons of history and the classics.

Churchill himself spent much of this time trying to convince the leaders that the lessons of history needed to be heeded — lessons he had learned in the calm before the storm, lessons he learned in over a decade of reading, studying, writing, and discussing.

Reading, studying, writing and discussing is doing something. At certain times in history, it is the most important thing.

The real question is, are we doing it as well as the Founders? As well as Lincoln, Washington, Churchill or Gandhi? Or more to the point: are we doing it as well as we must? If not, we must improve. We must do better.

If we are doing as well as Lincoln or Churchill or Madison in our “calm” period of reading and learning, then we are DOING something indeed! And it will have consequences.

This is what Leadership Education is all about. Liberty, Prosperity and good government worldwide are a natural result of a world where people read, write, study, discuss and apply history and the classics.

If we do not do these things well, then our “calm before the storm,” our preparation time of the early 21st century, will likely be the same as other periods of history where reading, writing, studying and discussing classics was ignored — the beginning of failure in the storms ahead.

But I do not think so. I believe that in our generation, as in times past, just a small group of committed individuals can make all the difference.

Image Credit: salaud.

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

Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Globe and Mail bestselling co-author of LeaderShift, and a co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership.

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 : Blog &Education &Featured &History &Statesmanship

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