It’s spring. The weather warms. The blossoms bloom. And a cloud of doom lowers over our heads.
You feel it. I feel it. Random strangers on the street feel it. Commentators (those who haven’t drunk gallons of the Kool-Aid) feel it. Redditors buying GameStop and Dogecoin feel it. Heaven knows, anyone who’s studied Austrian economics must feel it (and while that’s only a few people in THE world, it’s a lot of people in our freedomista world, and some of the smartest). It’s there, looming over us like a green or orange sky blotched with mammatus clouds (and if you’ve lived in the midwest, you know what that means). It’s the stormcloud of economic disaster and the many related disasters potentially in its aftermath. Lately, the air cracks and crackles with pent-up energy.
Will the storm burst this time?
In 2008, the Fed and its cronies in and out of government put their corrupt big heads together, wheeled out their magical sunshine-pumping machine, and thinned the clouds out a little — long enough for them to get a whole lot richer and more powerful while We-the-Increasingly-No-Account-People got screwed. (Yes, you there in the bottom generations got it worst, but please don’t blame Boomers in general. The Boomers who did the worst were not down here scraping along like the rest of us. Read Nomadland and understand how many are in the same boat … or van.)
But this time …? Can the Fed hold it back? Can regulators or rapid scrambling by industry insiders keep entire financial sectors from collapsing? Are there enough trillions of FRNs (or Euros) to keep housing and stocks and derivatives and cryptocurrencies and good grief NFTs and SPACs from going simultaneously BLOOEY? Ah … but the more trillions of FRNs there are, and the more people are hastily converting them into assets, the worse and worse and worse it gets.
Lurid sky. Ominous clouds. And look over there, isn’t that one cloud drooping a little low and getting twisty-looking?
I mentioned last week that a blogasaurus about Freedom Outlaw Cockapoos might be on the agenda. This is not that post. Except in a way, it is.
Lo those many years ago I wrote The Freedom Outlaws Handbook, which created (or really, recognized) three classes of Freedom Outlaw: Ghosts, Agitators, and Moles.
Years later, on June 7, 2010, on this blog, I added one more, the Cockapoo. Some people missed it or forgot it and I’ve barely mentioned it since. But today it may be the most relevant form of Freedom Outlaw, and it’s absolutely, without argument, the most prevalent.
Much though I despise authors who egregiously quote themselves, I give you the Freedom Outlaw Cockapoo:
That’s a type I’ve hinted at from my first books. But it’s a last choice — a choice of the tired, beaten, and all-but-defeated. But these strange days, an increasing number of us are tired, beaten, and darned-close-to-defeated. So … when no choice is left to you, when all else has failed, become a Cockapoo. Accept every scrap of “aid” offered by the benevolent but all-consuming state. Be useless. Become the government’s pet — and contribute in your own small, but purposeful, way to sucking it dry.
If I were naming them today I’d probably say Goldendoodle instead of Cockapoo, but you get the idea ether way. Cockapoo it is, meaning possibly the world’s most useless dependent.
Did you receive a COVID-relief check from
the taxpayers Donald Trump last spring or summer? How about $600 or $1,400 in the last few months through the generosity of the taxpayers Joe, Kamala, Nancy, and Chuck? Did your business take out a COVID-relief “loan” from the taxpayers federal government that was forgiven after you met some bare minimum requirement?
Welcome to the ranks of the Cockapoos! You’ve joined whether you wanted to or not.
Once upon a time I would have side-eyed you. Now, I’m one of you. And the guy standing next to you is one of you. And the woman across the street. And the clerk at your grocery store. And grandpa and grandma. And the guy who picks up your recyclables. And with the rarest of exceptions, everybody. Hate it, but you escaped it only if you are one very rare person. The question is, how does this change things? What will we and our fellows do in our new “pet” status?
Most are probably willing dependents without a single plume on a Freedom Outlaw’s hat. Ninety-five percent, maybe? Ninety-seven (as the late Mike Vanderboegh might have said)?
But even among them, how many are pissed off in some way? How many, even among those who just take the money as their due (and perhaps much less than they consider their due) and think no more about how it came to them, know they’ve been defeated — brought to their knees — by the chicanery of an elite class that not only gains billions a day but that no longer even pretends to consider us anything but trash to be swept away or a herd to be managed for their benefit?
Sound like some potential allies there.
Even if you and I were already Ghosts, Agitators, or Moles (or some combination of them), we are now all, in addition, Freedom Outlaw Cockapoos. We’re kinda stuck with that these days, even as we keep our principles — or struggle to do so. But millions of our neighbors could now be on the verge of getting it, too. And getting madder about it. Mad enough to rise up and start breaking things.
Now the problem with that — and really, there are a lot of problems with breaking things — is that aside from being damned messy you don’t know which way it’s going to go. First, you don’t know who among the newly outraged Cockapoos might join the currently faddish (and always appealing to Those Who Don’t Know) Marxist/Critical Racist/Antifa/Whining-Morons/Blow-Stuff-Up/Riot-in-the-streets/No-great-effort/Kill-the-people-who-didn’t-do-it crowd instead of the forces of freedom. Second, you don’t know who’s going to “win” the resulting conflict, but you can bet your last-before-they-confiscate-it silver ounce that tyranny will triumph. Not merely tyranny this time, but a new form of totalitarianism empowered by surveillance technologies that fulfill the dreams of every Evil Dictator since the writers of the bible were still wandering around a tiny desert, lost for 40 years.
I don’t believe that last thing really happened. But I believe it’s a pretty good metaphor for what will happen to us if we aren’t able to rouse ourselves to be proper Outlaws for freedom.
Rousing ourselves DOES NOT INEVITABLY MEAN PHYSICALLY FIGHTING. That’s a last resort and unfortunately also one of the surest ways of ensuring you’ll get tyranny with or without your “win.” I keep repeating myself, but there it is. Please. Take up arms only when other options are exhausted, or when a situation simply becomes too suffocating, too insane, or too brutal for ordinary people (not just you and your handful of friends) to endure. No, we can’t in the meantime fight tyranny politely. We can’t reason with it or v*te it out of office and v*te freedom in. But there are still options.
Thanks to a comment in last week’s post, I learned the term, “Irish Democracy.” It’s a way powerless people often fight back. The Irish are hardly alone in it, though they’ve had almost a millennium to practice it.
“Quiet, anonymous, and often complicitous, 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.” – James C. Scott, Two Cheers For Anarchism
In a factory, you don’t break the machines; you just make sure they never quite work up to snuff. In an office, you see to it that files are misfiled, communications uncomunicative, and money is misspent. Waitstaff are surly to Overlord customers. Vendors deliver the wrong goods — or the right goods to the wrong corporate or government places. Moles quietly act on their true principles. Ghosts pull support from rotten systems without fuss. Agitators stir up discontent, but less from a soapbox and more in small gatherings, with subtle comments and hidden acts of samizdat and subversion.
And Cockapoos keep demanding more bounty.
It’s all part of the great, time-honored means by which We-the-Better-Not-Make-Waves Peasantry gradually break the grip of power. And while there’s always been somebody around to take a dictatorship’s bounty, it’s usually been someone who can actually get close enough to influence power. Until matters reach the point that rulers have to begin offering bread and circuses.
Today Our Betters are reduced to buying off the merest bitter clinging Neanderthal deplorable to keep themselves from being swarmed with torches and pitchforks. And now so much is an “entitlement”! It’s Cockapoo heaven! (Mind you I don’t suggest that anybody break any laws or defraud any government programs; a Cockapoo is not a common fraudster, but a smart puppy who knows how to legitimately suck milk out of the system — on a smaller scale, but otherwise just like those bigger dogs on Wall Street or in corporate boardrooms who are experts at bending the law until it creaks without ever actually snapping it in pieces.
When the twisty cloud of corruption, economic manipulation, and cultural insanity breaks over our heads, what will we do? What will those more ordinary Cockapoos do?
We’re already seeing signs. Charles Hugh Smith — smart on economics, and often with a unique twist of analysis — says we’re currently in a “Take This Job and Shove It” recession. The tl;dr version: Common wisdom says low-ladder employees are refusing to go back to work simply because government is paying them more to be unemployed. This may be true, but beyond that lies a rebellion of the screwed against the screwers. And possibly a resulting enlargement of the gig and gray economies.
Maybe? Maybe not. But certainly the “shove it” attitude is out there.
And what of the millions, young or old, by choice or by fate, who are reducing their role in the goofy system that says “spending is prosperity”? Aren’t they practitioners of Irish Democracy — even as a huge proportion of them rely on social security or some sort of government aid?
I mentioned Nomadland above. I just finished the book; haven’t seen the movie yet. Although it often made me furious over the post-apocalyptic economy elderly survivors of 2008 devastation have to endure, I was just as often struck by the adaptability, ingenuity, and sense of community among these almost universally hard-hit people living in their vans and RVs. They don’t want trouble and they’re not trying to make trouble, but if they’ve got to be down, they’re going to choose to be out in the best style they can manage. How many are Freedom Outlaws, I don’t know. But there’s a spirit there. And a similar spirit rises among younger people who’ve adapted to a world of limited opportunities by “going small.”
We used to be “We the People,” who formed the union of states to ensure that our rights, individual rights, were honored. Well, that was never true. But until recently we were able to maintain the illusion that we, even if not exactly the masters of our countries, had power and authority that the BIG authorities had to respect. Does anyone believe that illusion any more?
Yes, you can still speak without getting arrested — mostly. You can v*te — and hope first that your ballot gets counted and second that the politician who takes office won’t be as horrible as most. You can protest — but only if you protest in the “right” causes, and never, never ever step into the sacred halls where Your Betters just v*ted to protect themselves with nearly $2 billion of new security. Step over that line and you may be held incommunicado for months with no sign of due process until The Authorities figure out how they can charge you with something much more serious than trespassing.
I don’t think this is what “We the People” ever envisioned. I certainly don’t think We the People were expected to scrape and cower for more than a year as would-be rulers at many levels tested new fiat powers over us. As dismaying as it looks, I have to believe, and some evidence says we should believe, that something passing for a American spirit — or an Irish one — is still operating within and among us.
Maybe it won’t reveal itself in full until we’re caught in that storm.
Agitators. Ghosts. Moles. Cockapoos. They all play parts in what is to come. But increasingly, as in any dictatorship, the Agitators will be limited to a brave few who are literally willing to pledge their lives, honors, and fortunes to fighting the system and rallying others. The rest of us — and it’s already happening — are melding into one “Irish Democratic” mass, slipping below the vision of Authoritah, forging our own paths through swamp and fire (albeit not yet The Princess Bride’s fire swamp). We are a silent minority, gnawing at the elitist’s system of control.
We took — willingly, unwillingly, or even unwittingly — the bounty designed to placate us and induce us to spend, spend, spend. Some of us are lost. Some of us have fallen too hard to get back up. Some don’t want to get back up. Some of us take their bribes for our submission and that’s the end of it.
Chose your own attitude and descriptor. Some of us are Cockapoos in the Freedom Outlaw sense. Many of us will practice Irish Democracy. Some of us, inevitably, are descendants of Kipling’s Picts:
We are the Little Folk—we!
Too little to love or to hate.
Leave us alone and you’ll see
How we can drag down the State!
We are the worm in the wood!
We are the rot at the root!
We are the taint in the blood!
We are the thorn in the foot!
Mistletoe killing an oak—
Rats gnawing cables in two—
Moths making holes in a cloak—
How they must love what they do!
Yes—and we Little Folk too,
We are busy as they—
Working our works out of view—
Watch, and you’ll see it some day!