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Thinking today …

I’m thinking today about the next “big” piece I want to write (either for this blog or for the print edition of Backwoods Home). So I won’t have too much to say until my brain works that out.

The piece will be based on Albert Jay Nock’s concept of freedom lovers as something like the biblical “remnant,” expounded in his essay “Isaiah’s Job.”

If you follow that link, you’ll see that the copy of “Isaiah’s Job” I chose (there are copies all over the ‘Net) is on the site of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons — a damnfine group.

Nock’s classic is a good antidote to the “I’m losin’ my freedom blues,” so it seems appropriate today to find it on a freedom-loving doctors’ website. If things are soon to get terrible for the rest of us, doctors who care about freedom and their patients are going to suffer the most.

Anyhow, just a few links today, then I’m off to mull and ponder:

  • A doctor describes one of the most potentially dire provisions of Obamacare — one that’s never mentioned in all those mainstream articles on the “benefits” of the new insurance regime.
  • James Bovard, who just happens to be one of the nicest human beings on the planet, as well as a sharp & witty writer, has a census commentary today in the Christian Science Monitor. Jim used to be in the mainstream media a lot. But in the last decade or so, many mainstreamers have lacked the guts to publish him. Good to see you in one of the really big ones again, Jim.
  • Finally, thank you to G.W.F., who posted this very informative comment about Belize (and about guns in Central America) in a thread where I hoped, and still hope, to generate discussion about offshore options. I realize that going offshore isn’t for most people & I know some consider it merely running away. (I’m on the fence, myself). But you can bet our physicians, our entrepreneurs, and our upper-middle classes will be headed offshore in record numbers. So this is an important topic to keep on the agenda.


  1. Winston
    Winston March 24, 2010 11:20 am

    Funny, all the ads in the sidebar are showing up for me as ads for adult entertainment and tobacco products in Central America.

    Google knows me so well it’s scary….

  2. Kevin Wilmeth
    Kevin Wilmeth March 24, 2010 11:26 am

    Looking forward to that article, Claire. These days it’s real easy for that simple blues to slip into the terrifying 5/4 lilt of Holst’s Mars, and many of us could stand a pick-me-up.

    All because simply leaving people alone is somehow incomprehensible. Holst aside, WTF planet are we on?

    Somehow I hear Edward Abbey in my head right now, huffing and saying, “syphilization” as a one-word mantra. 🙂

  3. G.W.F.
    G.W.F. March 24, 2010 4:02 pm

    Wow. Now I wish I had run a spell check on my comment 🙁 before submitting.

  4. Pat
    Pat March 24, 2010 4:57 pm

    May I take exception to the word “Remnant?” It sounds like something left over of no importance. Yet Nock’s definition in “Isaiah”s Job” implies something much more positive than that.

    I immediately compared what he was attempting to say with a quote of Kerouac’s that I read just last night:

    “Here’s to the crazy ones.
    The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
    The round pegs in the square holes.
    The ones who see things differently.
    They’re not fond of rules.
    And they have no respect for the status quo.
    You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
    disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
    About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
    Because they change things.
    They invent. They imagine.
    They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire.
    They push the human race forward.
    Maybe they have to be crazy.
    How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
    Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written?
    Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
    While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
    Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world,
    are the ones who do.”

    The Remnant are the ones who can or will do all that — certainly the “mass-man” never will. But given a choice, I’d rather be known as “the crazy ones.” Given a choice, I’d put my money on the “crazy ones” to get the job done.

  5. George Potter
    George Potter March 25, 2010 11:15 am

    Running away from WHAT? The only way that makes any sense at all is by claiming ‘we’ have some responsibility to fight against something. I don’t accept that.

    I also don’t accept that I’m part of some remnant. That implies that there was some great mass of freedom-lovers before, that somehow got taken by surprise and defeated. When was this?

    Not a remnant. Something new.

  6. Pat
    Pat March 25, 2010 1:41 pm


    Nock said, “The mass-man is one who has neither the force of intellect to apprehend the principles issuing in what we know as the humane life, nor the force of character to adhere to those principles steadily and strictly as laws of conduct; and because such people make up the great, the overwhelming majority of mankind, they are called collectively the masses. The line of differentiation between the masses and the Remnant is set invariably by quality, not by circumstance. *The Remnant are those who by force of intellect are able to apprehend these principles, and by force of character are able, at least measurably, to cleave to them. The masses are those who are unable to do either.”* [My emphasis]

    I don’t think he meant “we” are a remnant of a mass of freedom-lovers, but rather a remnant of the mass of ALL people — those left over, so to speak, who are not a part of the mass (read “sheep”). I don’t think we’re a “remnant” either, but are people who consciously make our own choices, thinking, judging and acting on those choices in the name of what we believe — i.e. freedom.

    “Responsibility” to fight? That’s a question I’ve got to solve yet. But you don’t think that you ARE fighting against something when you write? I think you are doing just that, whether you feel “responsible” to or not.

  7. George Potter
    George Potter March 26, 2010 2:22 pm

    Pat —

    My bad, but I still disagree.

    The Remnant are those who by force of intellect are able to apprehend these principles, and by force of character are able, at least measurably, to cleave to them. The masses are those who are unable to do either.

    But the masses do apprehend and cleave to the principles that allow civilization — otherwise it wouldn’t exist. As I’ve said again and again the uncivilized are the tiny minority of the world. The great majority get along just fine. The rest are criminals, and that tiny minority includes the meat-bags who make up the state. The problem with the majority of people is not that they are evil, or even uncivilized, it’s that they believe the state when told they are those things. Or, more to the point, that they believe the state’s lies that the majority of their fellows are uncivilized and evil and have to be kept in line by theft-funded force.

    But you don’t think that you ARE fighting against something when you write? I think you are doing just that, whether you feel “responsible” to or not.

    Maybe, once. I don’t think I write for that reason any more. Even when I did it was because I chose to, not because I felt some responsibility to do so.

    All that said I’m looking forward to Claire’s next big-thang, as usual. 🙂


  8. Pat
    Pat March 26, 2010 5:09 pm

    “But the masses do apprehend and cleave to the principles that allow civilization — otherwise it wouldn’t exist.”

    Understood… but disagree — or at least I question what “principles” the masses have. Too often they tend to cleave to those who can keep civilization (and themselves) going. And because they tend to believe what they’re told, I don’t see their principles showing up in their actions.

  9. George Potter
    George Potter March 27, 2010 9:44 am

    The principles they have are the basic and important ones: the majority of the ‘mass’ do not want to steal, kill or defraud. Most of them don’t even want to interfere with other people. And they don’t. They simply happen to live in a society that not only encourages collective theft, murder and fraud but makes it compulsory. On an individual level (the only level that matters to me) I’ve met far far more decent people than evil. I’ve been fed by people a few meals from nothing, given rides and places to sleep by people with every reason to be wary. It’s why civilization abides. It’s why the market works.

    Most people, deep down, understand that taxation is theft: it’s why tax evasion is the most prevalent ‘crime’ on the planet. Most people, deep down, understand that war is good for nothing, despite the massive and centuries olf propaganda campaign that makes it out to be glorious and proper. Most people understand that welfare is fraud, and are ashamed and try to hide it when they do have to go on it. Hell, most people even understand that there is something deeply fishy about the economic set-up of floating debt and fiat currency, but they don’t have the patience or time to research exactly why. It’s amazing, absolutely amazing, how many people are absolutely shocked when they’re informed that the US dollar isn’t backed by that imaginary supply of gold at Fort Knox. I’ve been called a liar for informing them otherwise.

    All the state’s guns, and all the state’s power takes a distant back-seat to its stranglehold on the most important thing to civilization: information. The internet is the first step in breaking that stranglehold and even in its current basic form, and primitive structure, it is working wonders.

  10. Pat
    Pat March 28, 2010 5:09 am


    I agree with you–and I disagree. (I guess it depends on a bad hair day, as to how I perceive this.)

    Most people do indeed conduct their lives as you say, minding their own business, wanting to be left alone, feeling goodwill toward their fellow man and willing to help them, and generally acting in an anarchist manner, with no ax to grind, going about their business in a self-confident and successful manner on a daily basis.

    It’s when they come in contact with “authority” (of whatever sort, on whatever level) that they become the “mass-man”, kowtowing and cowering to whomever calls himself The Leader.

    Where did this contradictory human nature come from–to be a friend, confidant and resource for each other on one hand, but an abject follower, believing everything and nothing, unwilling to think or do for one’s self, when a perceived uber-man enters his perimeter? Why do we even recognize the uber-man as such?

    While we are social animals, we are also human animals, whose mind takes us out of and above the instinct level. We got to the 21st Century by being inherently individualistic–believing in ourselves as separate entities apart from the herd, and conducting our lives on that premise (that’s how progress was made; it didn’t occur by committee)–yet continue to allow certain others to force-feed our lives. WHY? Have humans not come far enough yet from our evolutionary history that the majority of them still need the “alpha male” to guide them?

    What I see as negative is your second paragraph, inclusive: “Most people deep down …. I’ve been called a liar for informing them otherwise.” They may recognize what exists–but won’t attempt to understand why it exists, and won’t attempt to question or change it. And will refuse to even believe it at times.

    By all that’s holy in the human mind, this doesn’t make sense to me. It is not the human mind at work–they have become mass-man.

  11. George Potter
    George Potter March 28, 2010 12:34 pm

    They do so for the simplest of reasons: denial, based on shame and fear. When confronted by the simple fact that they are ruled by gun wielding sociopaths, it’s so much easier (and less dangerous!) to claim that’s exactly the way it should be. I once defined anarchists (in an admittedly disgusted mood) as the people who keep smashing their head into the brick wall even after they start to bleed. ‘Normal’ people stop as soon as it hurts a little. Whether this makes anarchists brave or stupid varies according to my own bad-hair days. 😛

    The whole concept of ‘mass-man’ is an illusion. It only holds up so long as it isn’t examined at all. Not long ago, on TMM, I got into a dispute with a person who kept claiming that ‘conservatives’ did this or that, believed that and thus, and all agreed on which and who. I laughed at him. There is no standard definition of conservative! Or liberal! There are as many definitions as there are people. I’ve met ‘conservatives’ who claimed that ‘real’ conservatives had nothing against welfare for the truly needy, and didn’t want to outlaw abortion, etc. Those were just liberal lies! Most people are ‘conservative’ because their parents told them they were conservative, or because they want to get along in a ‘conservative’ community. Their political philosophy goes about as deep as which lever to pull or which ballot to punch. After that they may as well say ‘It’s in God’s hands.’ Their loyalty to The Party is akin to the loyalty engendered by a favorite sports-team: intense, loud, but superficial.

    And, though it’s happening slowly, things are changing. Connection is changing it. While it’s still possible to stir up the old war fever, it’s almost impossible to keep it going, and even harder to demonize an entire group the way it happened in WWI and II. The simple fact that you can hop onto a forum and chat with people from that group blows the propaganda out of the water.

    I’m gonna writemore on this and post it on the bloggie later. Hope the day is treating you well, Pat. 🙂

  12. Pat
    Pat March 28, 2010 4:50 pm

    “Hope the day is treating you well, Pat. :)”

    Actually it isn’t; my water heater sprung a leak, and the washer went on the fritz the same day (Friday). So it really has been a bad hair weekend. 🙂

    I’m not so concerned with how people act, but how they got that way and why they won’t or don’t try to see a minority viewpoint. We all have choices, and the most basic choice is to think or not to think. I don’t care what somebody believes, but I do care if he or she:
    a) accepts what other people say without question…
    b) obeys “authority”, not because it’s right in their minds, but because
    it *is* authority…
    c) finds safety and solace in company, but fears to be alone…
    d) cannot relate to others except through labels.

    Speaking of labels, “mass-man” and “Remnant” are equally generalizations, as is “sheep/sheeple”, conservative, etc. But words are needed to communicate, and Nock at least was defining his words as he intended them to be used.

    To return to my original remarks about “Remnant”, Encarta defines it as:

    4. Small surviving group of people:
    ANTHROPOLOGY a small isolated group of people surviving from a culture or

    and I’m sure that’s where Nock got the word (tho’I’m not sure why anthropologists couldn’t have been more creative in their choice of words).

    I don’t think the Remnant Nock was discussing came from the larger group, they were different and stood apart and have always done so. They were NEVER a part of the crowd, so never “survived” it — rather, they looked at the world differently and were more receptive to other stimuli than the list I made above.

    I await your blog with interest, and promise not to challenge it too
    harshly 🙂 — if at all.

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