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Our job, part I: Groundwork

Politics is downstream from culture. — Andrew Breitbart

Culture is downstream from character. — Me


Last week I wrote that an important job ahead of us is to build parallel systems, and even parallel societies. We need these to sustain ourselves and sustain freedom as utterly corrupted, immoral, self-serving government and corporatist systems crumble.

I promised a series on that. Here it begins.

As with my earlier series, “In Praise of Men” (which ended up running to seven segments), it seems best to lay some groundwork. My premises for everything that follows … follow.


1. Alternate systems are NON-POLITICAL. TPTB will interpret them as political and as a threat, because that is how a totalitarian oligarchy interprets everything it doesn’t directly control. But alternative systems are simply an expression of how people choose to live their lives and create more hopeful futures for their children.

2. Alternative systems are MANY, not one. It is not our job to try to replace thoroughly rotten centralized systems of schooling, justice, medical care, communications or anything else. It is our job to route around the damage (in the parlance of the old, optimistic days of the Internet) done by such bureaucratic and autocratic systems. The systems we create may be citywide, affinity-based, neighborhood-specific, networked across the world, exclusive to a church we belong to, or even confined within our extended family. If they work well, others may join or adopt them. But we shouldn’t try, or even hope, to impose our creations on unwilling others.

3. Setting up alt-systems may be easy or hard, but it is DANGEROUS. Let’s not kid ourselves. Some people who try to do this job may be arrested, killed, or be shut out of the benefits of society (such as they are, these days). Virtually all of us are likely to be demonized or become targets of media-whipped mobs.

4. Therefore, creating alt-systems isn’t just a job to do (though it is that, too). It is an expression of our vision for life. If we fail to hold a larger vision, we may not have the strength to go on.

5. The most potent vision is rooted in what Solzhenitsyn, Havel, and contemporary author Rod Dreher might call a determination to “live in truth.” Totalitarianism is based on the lie that a small, powerful group can control a large, complex society filled with endlessly varied individuals. The most common way to attempt to cope with totalitarianism is to obey, and even loudly proclaim whatever ideology the bosses promote at any given moment — in other words, to submerge your real self into the tyrannical order, to “live within the lie.” Once you determine to step out of the lie (whether your reasons are religious, philosophical, pragmatic, rebellious, desperate, or merely fed up), you enter a new realm. A realm of freedom and perils, but a realm in which you finally, blessedly, get to be true to yourself. Then … culture flows downstream from character.

6. Just as we must hold to the vision to build the systems, once the systems are built, they help us to sustain the vision and continue to “live in truth.”

7. We are here to brainstorm and inspire each other. I do not have solutions. I have ideas to share — as do you, as do people in your life, as do all the members of this blog Commentariat, as do entrepreneurs, inventors, dreamers, and desperate outsiders who are already concocting ways to “route around the damage” tyranny has done, the damage that totalitarianism is worsening. But solutions? We will create those for ourselves and each other, test them, see what works, reject what doesn’t, try, fail, and start again.

8. Part of our mission is to inspire others (including others who may not yet have the imagination, the courage, or the wherewithal to step out of the broken systems). Not only to inspire them, but to create alternatives that will be there to sustain them once they can no longer bear to “live within the lie” or once the lie collapses around them and nobody can live in or with it any longer.

I’ve written before about an analogy I heard back in the day. I don’t know whether this analogy is the work of some famous freedomista forebear like Murray Rothbard, Ayn Rand, or Frederich Hayek or whether it’s just some random thing I once read. But it goes like this:

The human race is on a huge staircase, whose risers soar high above our heads. Most people may not even know that the next step is up there. But every once in a while some innovative person, or group of them, figures out how to reach the next step. And up they, and a few early followers, climb.

Then they turn around and pull the rest of us up after them. Thus does our species progress from savagery to the stars.

Well, we are in quite different times now.

Part of our job in creating alternative systems is to stand firmly on the steps to catch those who tumble down as the upper stairs begin to rot and cave in.

We won’t be able to catch them all. Nor should we try. Some, who have collaborated all too eagerly with the oligarchy, may plunge all the way down to the savagery, poverty, and ignominy they wished upon Deplorable Us. But many others will join us to help enlarge and enrich the alternative systems we’ve begun to create.


I say I have no solutions (except the ones I work out with my friends, as we all do). But amazingly, there’s already a surprising richness of options and ideas out there for alternative systems.

Some of these are no more than speculations. Others are commercial ventures that promise greater freedom if they succeed, but (in the way of all new enterprises) are more likely to fail while still leaving a few good ideas behind. Others are small-scale social experiments that may work for one group (say, a tribe) but not for others.

Among the most interesting are ventures being undertaken — sometimes in a spirit of creativity, sometimes merely out of a desperate need to earn a living — by experienced people who’ve dropped out of the broken systems and are looking for (and finding!) better ways to serve everyone involved.

So while I can’t promise any actual solutions (and you should be wary of those who say they can), I can promise that this series will offer food for thought, links to bright ideas and enterprises, good discussion (because we have good discussers hereabouts), tips, how-tos, and generally useful information.


  1. Granny
    Granny September 20, 2021 4:36 am

    Looking forward to the series!

  2. Simon Templar
    Simon Templar September 20, 2021 4:41 am

    I think that the pandemic has opened some people’s eyes to the point that they can now see some of the damage that they previously did not realize was there, and has also given some of them the incentive to try to route around that damage.

    I hope this is a trend that will continue, since every time a few more people open their eyes, everyone benefits (except maybe the totalitarian oligarchs who caused the damage, but that’s OK).

  3. Gary
    Gary September 20, 2021 6:36 am

    We need national, state, and local leaders, an organized (ideally peaceful) plan, and a way to communicate. A million “parallel societies” is a start but it needs a coordinated direction. A unified effort to push back as an organization. A way to communicate their message. It’s a huge undertaking and the tyrants know it. It will not happen overnight. They have spent decades designing their takeover and it may take decades to tear it down. It can be done but it needs a leader, a plan, and a way to communicate. We may be doomed.

  4. Comrade X
    Comrade X September 20, 2021 7:31 am

    If we do not do as Claire suggests just imagine what will happen otherwise;

  5. Granny
    Granny September 20, 2021 7:41 am

    Agree with some of your ideas. The way I see a “national, state, and local leader” plan is to start local and work outward. If one is fortunate to have a freedom loving state Governor, which is rare, that is helpful. The process is a very long one, so in the meantime, one would want to focus on the local effort and local community. And I’m lax on this front because I just moved to an area that is assumed to be freedom loving, on the whole. I haven’t checked into the bios of the local city or county “leaders”, but it’s on my list of things to do soon. I don’t have school age children, so I’m not concerned about the school board, and my grandchildren are home schooled. If one develops relationships in a community of like minded folks in a regional area, other than being bombed from the sky, that local group can be very successful – going Galt so to speak, locally, insulated as much as possible from supply chain disruptions and petty tyrants. In the nearby tiny town where I live, it’s as if nothing has changed. If there are any mandates, they’re not observed. Everyone just goes about his or her business.

    I’ve said this before – not sure if I said it here – but I feel that the majority of us need to be the “moles” – working quietly, diligently, on self-sufficiency, with an absolute refusal to comply with unConstitutional demands. But, the key word is “quietly”. Many disagree with me, and propose being loud. I propose using “Irish Democracy” – a very loosely constructed, unorganized, underground, commitment to throwing sand in the state machinery, on every level. Basic uncooperative, noncompliant, freedom living.

    But why not a loud effort? That would have to be done carefully. There are still political prisoners from the January rally in D.C. Their lives have been ruined by the state. The state is corrupt. The judges are corrupt. They are being made examples of – things we would only see in other countries. I’m NOT saying don’t be brave. Be brave. But don’t flaunt it. Irish Democracy, in my opinion, is far more effective than marches, etc.
    My two cents.

  6. PrinterChick
    PrinterChick September 20, 2021 7:58 am

    Well said, Granny! I agree.
    Claire, I can’t wait to read the forthcoming segments on this topic. You’re always full of such great ideas and wisdom. Truly hoping I can find a way (or several ways) to throw wrenches into the cogs of totalitarianism. Thus far, I haven’t found much that would help (or rather hinder them), but I’m still searching for something.

  7. Sara Wilson
    Sara Wilson September 20, 2021 10:54 am

    Me too, printerChick, I’m still searching. Last night I heard of a doctor of Chinese medicine dropping out because of refusing the jab, starting a private practice. I know a massage therapist working clandestinely out of her house after lockdowns shut her down—cash only. Claire, I think it’s starting.

  8. Noah Body
    Noah Body September 20, 2021 1:23 pm

    A couple of news articles out of Ohio regarding government schools. The second article, on the surge in school board candidates, reflects what I am seeing in my district. Seven school board candidates are on the ballot for three seats. Usually there are maybe 4 candidates for 3 seats, with 3 of them being incumbents seeking re-election.

    Of course the correct solution is separating school from state. Maybe these trends will be getting us closer to that end?

  9. Stealth Spaniel
    Stealth Spaniel September 20, 2021 9:36 pm

    I feel inspired by all of this. The public life and then the private, real you. I like Granny’s suggestion of Irish Democracy. One thing that the Elitists can’t stand is not knowing, and therefore not controlling people. I am in Commifornia, and jobs for major coporations are going begging. Many folks are either part of the underground economy or starting their own gig. Where oh where are the Washington Masters going to get all of those tax “revenues”?? It’s a puzzle. I really think that those “pop up” restaurants were ahead of their time. One night stand for great food, cash only. I can see many more avenues of free rein entrepreneurs.

  10. Toirdhealbheach Beucail
    Toirdhealbheach Beucail September 21, 2021 5:45 am

    Claire – Since you have listed one of my favorite authors (Havel) and two of my growing favorites (Solzhenitsyn and Dreher), I feel I am on the right track.

    The points are all very well taken. The point about this effort being nonpolitical is a very important one and one that a great many people are going to have to get over. Our culture has trained us to look at things as “our political beliefs versus their political beliefs”, not “us versus the government system”. The only thing that will make this easier, I suspect, is finding that as the government makes itself continuously more odious, that people who we had previously found on the other side of issues are suddenly saying the same things as we are.

    The other important point which is really covered in numbers 5-7 is that it will take something more than “a sense” that this needs to be done and that it is for ourselves. In reality, such work is a calling (I would think that for their times both Solzhenitsyn and Havel would have agreed) – although “vision” works as well. Only this sort of commitment will sustain the individual and the movement through what will be overt or subtle pushbacks by the system (Number 3). And it will not be truly successful if it is only a small group of individuals – it needs to be systemic, which means a great many people getting involved. Many people who, right now, are only beginning to get the sense that something is wrong, although they cannot really put their finger on what it is.

    The advantage all of this gives – at least from my point of view – is that it gives a nobility of purpose that simply “Fix the system” does not always give. This is helping to bind people together in new ways of interacting and in meaningful ways freeing them from a system that seems more and more increasingly bent of monitoring and managing every minutiae of their lives and beliefs. What could be more exciting than that?

  11. Frosty
    Frosty September 21, 2021 8:01 am

    Claire, great start to the series…very thought provoking. Granny, I totally agree with your comments. I work for a County Government in the Midwest and am seeing a good bit of “push back” from other county employees. Luckily this part of the country tends to have strong conservative values and is very patriotic to what this country “used to be”…”should be”. That doesn’t mean we haven’t been infiltrated with left leaning thoughts and processes.
    Those of us “within” the system are watching very carefully the way things are going and I dare say are already pushing back with gusto. The key is to stay under that radar until its time to do otherwise.
    I pray for this nation as that last best bastion of freedom…..I dread what it will look like for our grandkids if we fail in this mission.

    This is from an Emergency Manager, Veteran and patriot…….

    Keep up the great work…..and let the ideas flow!

  12. larryarnold
    larryarnold September 21, 2021 8:27 am

    Anyone who is planning parallel systems might find the near future a good time to get started, as most pundits and poseurs are going to be distracted.

    The 2020 Census figures have hit the fan, and TPTB are about to wrap themselves around Redistricting. In Texas the Third Special Session started yesterday, Sept. 20, and redrawing all the political boundaries is Job 1. Both parties are already hyperventilating.

    States to watch include New York and California, who each lose a seat in the House of Representatives. Texas gains two, and Florida one. I’ve stocked up on popcorn.

  13. Ohio Guy
    Ohio Guy September 21, 2021 3:27 pm

    Again, Claire, so good of you to compile these ideas. Basically, it’s coming down to basics of small town life. The way it was in small towns 70 or so years ago. Everybody knows everybody and what their capabilities are. The Amish in my area have been doing this forever.

  14. John Wilder
    John Wilder September 21, 2021 8:33 pm

    Living in Truth means *not* living in fear.

  15. Granny
    Granny September 22, 2021 5:59 am

    As Ohio Guy mentioned, the Amish have been doing this “forever”. Amish live near me too. The stricter sects don’t have electricity in their homes, and use a gas based generator for things like power tools, washing machine, etc., no telephone in the house, no Internet. The focus is on working together as a family and following their religious beliefs – some more stringent than others depending upon the Amish community, educating their own children, running their own businesses. I’ve long been fascinated by how they live.

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what negative things the Government can do to me and how well I would be able to live without their interference (self-sufficiency). While I’ve made strides to build a homestead, growing food, etc., I still rely heavily on electricity. I’d like to try solar, but I’m not sure of the cost and one tornado or big storm could damage the system – something I’m thinking about.

    I saw this on Twitter:
    “The pandemic is to force you to get the vaccine.
    The vaccine is to force you to get the vaccine passport.
    The vaccine passport is to force you into the social credit system.
    The social credit system is to force you into obeying the government.”

    If we do not comply, what could happen. There is/was a bill coming out of the far left leaning Congress seeking to withhold Social Security payments from the non-compliant. Currently there are about 65 million Americans who collect SSA payments – I am one of them. Paid into the insurance plan since I was 18 years old. With that in mind, I am striving to build an on farm business to the local community so that if they take that from me, I’ll have my own little business (cash based). But, will our cash be worth anything in the coming years? Bartering is probably the backstop for a small business.

    I’m rambling, but lots to think about.

  16. Noah Body
    Noah Body September 22, 2021 12:05 pm

    Another book you might want to consider: Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance by James C. Scott. I haven’t read it yet. I had heard of it some time ago, and was reminded of it by Havel’s book Power of the Powerless.

  17. The Freeholder
    The Freeholder September 22, 2021 4:53 pm

    A good start, and I look forward to the remainder of the series.

    I am blessed (or cursed) with about 60′ of workbench space. A large portion of it has turned into a queue of projects that need to be done. Among them is an old IBM laptop with the gear to turn it into an old-fashioned BBS. I still need to get the fall work done outside, but that project is going to have to be moved up.

  18. Just Waiting
    Just Waiting September 22, 2021 7:46 pm

    To all, I’d suggest if you haven’t already to go meet your area’s Emergency Services Mgr. It’s a real good person to have seen your face before when times get difficult.

    I’m in gov too Frosty. I used to tell my kids you don’t get heard by standing outside and yelling at the building, if you want to be heard you get asked inside and whisper to the people. So I got them to ask me in, and I stir the pot every day. On paper 3 commissioners run the show, 1 good, 2 are puppets to the “real” bosses, with being 1 horrible and 1 wishy washy but willing to listen sometimes. It’s a difficult dynamic and very rarely are decisions unanimous and though I haven’t had to it test yet, I’m the final arbiter of what gets spent.

    We have a pretty small population AO here, that is becoming as more newcomers arrive. But being so small, partisanship doesn’t really come into play. Here it’s all about ego and perceived power. Although power over what I still haven’t been able to figure out. In bigger places there’s lucrative govt contracts to dole out. My dept controls the cash, so I know they’re not giving it to cronies and friends. One of our commissioners has been on the roof all week resealing before the rains start. Other than personnel decisions and maybe getting a break on property value or getting code enforcement to back off violations I’m not seeing much power. 86 of 140 staff is married to staff in other departments, so everyone is prey depending on which side the support, and every slight or misspoken word ripples across the whole.

    Working from the inside sucks, but I’m finding I really can have an influence on decisions that effect my area. It seems I spend most of my time working to prevent bad ideas from reaching fruition, and things being what they are here, I haven’t had to push for more freedom. I consider myself lucky in that way.

  19. Granny
    Granny September 25, 2021 6:18 am

    Whodathunk that medical tyranny would unite disparate groups!

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