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Outlaws of the Endarkenment


Been hearing that word a lot — most recently in this must-read Bill Buppert piece. (Via Joel)

Barring some one-in-a-million chance, we are sliding into a long, dark time. When you have an intellectual class that’s gone insane, a wealthy elite that’s building bunkers for itself while looting the last of your liberty and prosperity, and a crusading enemy breeding new generations of superstitious intolerance, you don’t have a lot to build a future on. Unless it’s a future of rage, savagery, and chaos.

But then, look on the bright side.

The Endarkenment is a great age for Outlaws.


A corrupt and inefficient establishment is a habitat for Moles, as we saw with this week’s release of CIA documents to WikiLeaks.

Agitators have plenty to agitate about and more opportunity to find sympathetic — and effective — compatriots.

If it comes to battle, Agitators and Moles find each other and strike against the system.

As Endarkenment looms, even old, tired Cockapoos have more chance than ever of draining statist coffers as bread and circuses become the order of the day.

And Ghosts … may have the most enduring (if far from the most dramatic) role.

It’s no accident that when you look at the most corrupt, decadent, and decaying societies, that’s when you see individuals and small groups stepping out of them and going their own way in protest. One of the most famous (to us) examples is the Desert Fathers, who retreated as Rome built toward its fall. Seeking only retreat at first, they laid the foundations of monasticism, which institution in turn preserved knowledge and prepared the way for eventual renaissance.

But similar retreats happen around the world wherever serious, spiritual- or individual-minded people see society as being corrupt beyond repair.

What do these lone monks or clusters of creative Outlaws do? Not much on the surface. But their very lives — and their writings (there always seem to be a lot of writers) — serve as a rebuke to the powers that be and as both a message to the future and a means of ensuring that there’s a future worth having.

Being a Ghost in the Endarkenment isn’t solely a withdrawal. It’s not “Oh, things are so screwed up I’m going to go off and do my own thing and not give a damn about anybody else.” It’s an active retreat. In a sense, an active mission.

Sure, many Ghosts got where they are by going through stages of attempting to change the system, followed by deep wallows in disgust and temporary defeat. And not all who retreat deserve the name of Outlaw Ghost. People who retreat, then sit smugly saying, “I’ve got mine and there’s no point in anything else” aren’t in the Outlaw spirit at all. They’re just people making the most of their defeat. Outlaws aren’t so easily beaten.

But even quite a few who think they’re merely fed up are (dare I use this terrible term?) missionaries of a sort. Ghosts are guideposts. Ghosts are touchstones for Agitators and Moles. Ghosts help focus the efforts of activists. They can inspire, comfort, and protect, and serve and feed those who remain in the fray. Ghosts become the chroniclers of the fall and of the rebirth. But to do so, they must remain active (in their quiet way), committed, and positive. They must maintain a spirit of liberty for all and neighborliness for those who come their way in freedom. Being a Ghost is not for losers.

There’s a sad tendency for some Outlaws (Agitators and Ghosts especially) to see other Outlaws as wrong-headed and headed wrong. But that’s not true. We complement each other. At least when we’re at our best. Moles, Agitators, Ghosts — we all need each other.

Can we remember that as the gloom descends?


  1. SKSK
    SKSK March 10, 2017 3:12 pm

    “Wow” and “Holy Cheesecake”! I just love this kind of writing! My own bizarre take on this involves the idea of “Community Prepping”. Individual prepping blown up, expanded and applied to one’s local community (town, neighborhood, etc.). The connections strengthen and improve the lives of those around you, shoring up and vitalizing community health. Any other voices who would join in this chorus?

  2. Michael Jordan
    Michael Jordan March 10, 2017 3:31 pm

    Nicely done !
    It took me a long time, but once I moved away from the Mel Tappan – alone against the world thought process. Everything I have done has been pointing to the development of a strong community and I don’t see communities flourishing where everyone is in mental lock step.

  3. ellendra
    ellendra March 10, 2017 5:16 pm

    “and I don’t see communities flourishing where everyone is in mental lock step.”

    If everyone is in lockstep, there is no reality check.

  4. MJR
    MJR March 10, 2017 6:11 pm

    Nicely written. Saying that America is sliding into a long, dark time is, in my view, rather myopic. It’s not just the land of the not so free that is on the slippery slope, it’s the rest of the world. There are a lot of parallels between the times we now live in and 1928. A year later (1929) the stock market crashed and the world entered into the great depression. If the parallels run true to form, well… and remember the way the great depression ended was with world war 2 and countless millions dead.

    As Endarkenment falls there will be the citizens who see through the fog of misinformation and fight back by waging a war of Irish democracy as described by Yale professor James Scott:

    “Quiet, anonymous, and often complicit, lawbreaking and disobedience may well be the historically preferred mode of political action for peasant and subaltern classes, for whom open defiance is too dangerous…. One need not have an actual conspiracy to achieve the practical effects of a conspiracy. More regimes have been brought, piecemeal, to their knees by what was once called “Irish Democracy”—the silent, dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence of millions of ordinary people—than by revolutionary vanguards or rioting mobs.”

    The only questions here are what form of government will fill the vacuum when today’s despots are thrown toy the wayside and will the government change happen before or after the next world war?. Don’t kid yourself for a second the dark days are coming and what will follow will probably be worse. Politics like nature hates a vacuum.

  5. Desertrat
    Desertrat March 10, 2017 6:27 pm

    Er, uh, Tappan spoke of becoming a valued part of a small community as an important aspect of survival in bad times. He was well aware that the lone wolf doesn’t get enough sleep or have a balanced diet.

    While I can agree with Buppert;s endarkenment, I don’t have a clue as to what comes after whatever time of serious turmoil occurs. Too many people seem to need others to do their thinking and decision-making for them–whether it’s parson or politician.

  6. Shel
    Shel March 10, 2017 7:19 pm

    Out of curiosity I drove through Mel Tappan’s community of Rogue River, Oregon in the 1980’s. It looked perfectly normal, as it was supposed to.

  7. Ron Johnson
    Ron Johnson March 11, 2017 1:38 am

    Yeah, Claire, it looks dark out there. The bright spot for me are the ideas that never die. Cicero. Locke. Mill. Spencer. Mises. Hayek. Lane. Patterson. Rand. Rothbard, and a thousand others who committed to paper their understanding of universal human freedom cannot be deleted from our society as long as one paper hard copy of their works exist. People who know more than me about computers and the internet assure me that once a digital file is ‘out there’ it is damned near immortal, too. I’m not convinced. My dead tree collection cannot be deleted or modified….as long as the forces of repression cannot get to it.

    To me the most important thing is to keep the ideas alive. Discuss them. Advocate for them. Live them. And if the whole damned world goes batshitcrazy, hide them under lock and key. But don’t ever let them go. Once the ideas are gone, humanity will have a long hard road back to civilization.

    The greatest danger that I see is the lack of desire, or lack of ability, of our fellow humans to engage in discussions about big issues. Most people won’t discuss religion or politics because it might lead to unpleasantness. So they energetically exchange ideas about sports or famous personalities while ignoring the big issues that are taxing, regulating, restricting, and incarcerating them.

    I recently saw the play ‘Cabaret’ for the first time. What struck me was how the shallowness of Weimar Germany resulted in the atrocities of the Third Reich. I’m not saying that history will repeat itself (I’m reminded that history doesn’t repeat, it rhymes), but I think it is fair to say that our descent into the endarkenment will be in proportion to the unwillingness of our society to learn and apply the lessons of the great freedom thinkers.

    I guess we all do what we can. Save the books. Violate some rules. Drain their budgets. In the end, we may see no improvement (indeed, we may become the targets of repression), but what the hell. Is life about how long you live or how right you live?

  8. Pat
    Pat March 11, 2017 4:53 am

    Ron J: I agree with your comments — but not entirely so.

    First, you left out Claire’s books. But we all know they’re there, so that’s incidental (except to her wallet :))

    More seriously — “The greatest danger that I see is the lack of desire, or lack of ability, of our fellow humans to engage in discussions about big issues. Most people won’t discuss religion or politics because it might lead to unpleasantness.”

    I won’t discuss religion or (lately) politics because there is no logic, reality, or objectivity to some people’s arguments. I have discussed (and will continue to discuss) both religion and politics with people who present a reasonable argument, who’re willing to listen as well as talk, and who have the facts if not (what I consider) the proper conclusion.

    But those who keep repeating the same litany — whether in or out of context to the subject — are not good debaters at all, are not interested in hearing another viewpoint, but just want to press their own viewpoint on others, and may even be afraid of hearing something that might upset their comfort level. That’s the time to back away and “give up” on them. (This business of who, how, and when to discuss “big issues” might be a subject for the Cabal.)

    Still, your overall comment was spot on!

  9. Comrade x
    Comrade x March 11, 2017 10:41 am

    Who’s been saying Claire doesn’t write no more?

    Here’s the deal, many of us have spent our time jousting with the windmill and where exactly have that gotten you?

    My attitude is to never give up, to get back up when knocked down, but when doing that making sure I am dodging the next blow that might put me back down.

    In my little world, it’s about continuing to continue but that’s reminds me of this;

    However I prefer to live my remaining days with this in mind;

    Now off to the range!

  10. Joel
    Joel March 11, 2017 2:23 pm

    This is really nice, Claire. I like to say I’m not retreating from anything, I just got tired of waiting for permission. 🙂

  11. revjen45
    revjen45 March 12, 2017 11:46 am

    For a musical discourse on this subject I recommend “Heretics and Privateers” by John Kay. I always knew I wasn’t part of The Socio/political/economic Establishment, but I understood a lot better when I listened to it.

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