Independence Through a Vision Quest
Gentleman (and the ladies),
Happy 4th of July! Enjoy your holiday for those features that make it special: a chance to gather with friends and family, eat some delicious barbeque, and take your mind off the daily grind.
I, however, am on a different path. It's not a better path, just a different one. Believe me, I don't want to be judged. I'm just different, that's all. No shame in that.
This is the 3rd installment of my Independence series. In 2009, I questioned what it really means to seek independence, to be free. In 2010, I focused on our national battles and the threats to freedom for Americans. Re-reading that short essay from last year doesn't bring me any joy:
"I have seen first hand how the so-called recovery is nothing but a cover for greater theft of private pocketbooks and greater control of private lives. ...Unemployment, warned to be 8% without the Keynesian stimules when it was passed, now sits at 9.5%....Sadly, the free market, as usual, takes the blame......
The violence in Iraq and Afghanistan rages on with no end in sight for these unwinnable wars. As predicted by libertarians, America's rush to revenge has morphed into wars of conquest and occupation. While top generals pass out or get booted out; horrific American atrocities finally escape the censorship of the MSM and arrive on your laptop in streaming video; the corruption of local Iraqi and Afghani governments skyrockets; and more soldiers die in a poorly conceived policy of Muslim subjugation." - David in Qatar, July 4, 2010
One year later, nothing has changed. In fact, in many respects the situation has grown more dire for those seeking independence. Cash strapped governments continue to explore new ways to loot their citizens. Police tactics grow more brutal. New wars are added every year (of faster) while old ones never end. The lies of the anti-social welfare/warfare/banker state have become so preposterous that you don't know whether to laugh or scream in rage.
It's time for a Vision Quest
This seems a rather awful time for me to depart. Yet, that's exactly what I am about to do. It's time for a Vision Quest. I have accomplished more than I ever thought possible as a blogger at Motley Fool. I appreciate all your support, and before I leave I am going to give you all the tools you need to turn David-in-Qatar into 20 Davids-in-Qatar.
I am going on a Vision Quest. In fact, I am already on it. A Vision Quest is a mission. It's what happens when you become so singularly focused on a goal that your mind becomes trained to block out all competing ends. If other hobbies compete with your goal, your mind begins to reject those hobbies. You find them less appealing. You lose interest.
I am in such a state. About 6 months ago I started on a journey. I had already taken a few important, but tentative steps along the path. However, I took those steps without knowing the end result (hence the tentative, slow approach.) All this changed when I had the vision. The vision was of myself three years from now. I was doing something special, something great. The vision was realistic. I wasn't performing brain surgery or flying rocket ships. I was providing a service related to my professional career. It would require the acquisition of a great deal of knowledge, but it would be possible. It was a vision of something I knew I could do. I set to work on a plan.
That brings me to today, six months into this three year plan. The vision has become so overwhelming that I can do little else but focus on my quest.
The really interesting part for me, is that all these years seeking independence, I have found it through this unlikely but happy accident. I didn't plan to have a vision, but it's here. Fulfilling this goal has required a level of sacrifice I didn't think I was capable of rendering. I've forgone nearly every satisfaction I previously indulged. In order to keep my mind focused for grueling 12 hour study sessions every day off and several hours every night when I return from work, I had to start exercising again. I haven't done this much running (mostly a wheezy, loafing, shuffle) since I was a Marine in my mid-20s. My confidence has soared. My health has improved. My future is brighter than it has ever been. I feel more "free" than I ever have. I am learning that freedom is, partly, a state of mind and a perspective. In the more tangible sense, it is having the means and knowledge to protect yourself and loved ones from the cold grip of oppression. Without the proper state of mind, I don't see how tangible freedom could be possible.
No matter what happens on my Quest, I am closer to Independence than I ever have been. I hope such inspiration touches every one of my readers, because it is truly one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.
I would like to add one final note before I move on. The source of my inspiration is my lovely fiancee, whose patience and understanding exceeds anything I thought to be humanly possible. I am forever in her debt.
Replacing A Legend
Ha! I kid.
My time here was definitely well spent. I had some great posts and great discussions. I also had quite a few stinkers. Of course, I was never as wrong as this guy in Newsweek (1995) who predicted the Internet would provide little value to the common man. (If you ever find that one of your predictions has gone south, just remember Clifford Stoll and know that it could be worse).
So what advice can I offer to would be bloggers with a heart for liberty and a mind for curiosity?
Read Your A** Off
You need to start reading books. Read a bunch of them. You don't have to finish every one, but you need to read as many as you can. I have no speed reading ability, but I read around 3,000 pages per month, most of it today being highly technical and very boring. When I first dove into the world of free market literature, I was fascinated and read a lot more. Don't worry too much about how much you retain. Your mind is a bit like a muscle in that the more you work it the stronger it gets. You will find yourself naturally becoming more critical of the works you read and able to retain more of the information as you train your mind. Mix in a video presentation every now and then, but it just doesn't compare to reading when it comes to mastering an economic or philosphical idea.
Another piece of advice is that you should never be intimidated by authority. Just because so-and-so at Prestigious University or Special Government Position says it is so, that does NOT mean you won't be able to find the flaw in two seconds once you learn the argument. The hardest part when dealing with modern state apologia is deciphering their code, their language. Everything they say is wrapped in arcane jargon and, even worse, silly mathematical representations that have no foundation in logic but present a tremendous barrier of intimidation to the common skeptic. Don't be intimidated! It's all rubbish. Take your time, seek assistance from the many good people I will point out in the section below, and find the flaw. There's always a flaw.
Be better than I was. Have more patience with the trolls than I did. Have even more patience for the fools that think they know all there is to know about liberty and free markets because they read Salon.com every day or they found some link on a nationalist-progressive website that "takes down" the free market "religion" blah blah blah. These people are usually more open to learning about liberty than i gave them credit. Don't be like me. I missed some opportunities along the way. Many of the greatest defenders of liberty started as socialists. Remember that. I often forgot it.
And finally, always reject the fake Left/Right paradigm. Don't let warmongers call you a lefty. Don't let welfare cretins call you a right winger. There's no such thing as a left and a right. The world is not linear. The Left/Right paradigm keeps the comman man focused in a very narrow range of arguments, leaving the state free to manipulate him on the broader and far more important issues. It separates the public into cliques that are less likely to cooperate with each other. It breeds discontent and distrust. It hides the true common enemy of mankind, those who use the political means rather than voluntary cooperation to gain wealth and power.
Finally, I'd like to make special appeal to one CAPS fool in particular to blog here (or at the very least to start writing somewhere and to share that writing with this community.) Of all the great commentors I've had on my writings, none showed a better understanding of liberty combined with the patience to repeat himself over and over again to each buffoon that stopped by to toss out the one agitprop "gotcha" they thought would win the debate.
rfaramir, please start blogging! (I realize this is a dirty move, but suck it up buddy.)
Right now I'd like to say thanks to some people I haven't already mentioned. For those that supported me and for those that taught me the other arguments. I think I learned more from the latter, and usually left feeling like I was happy I wasn't trying to defend that position. :) Either way, it was great discussion. If I forget to throw your name in here, please don't take offense. I've been up all night.
Kdakota, catoismymotor, binve, dbjella, TMFSinchiruna, fleabagger, 100ozround, abitare, freemarkets, llcx, devoish, zloj, ChrisGraley, Valyooo, rofgile, starfirnv, TMFLomax, leohaas, rd80, jbay, russiangambit, etfsrule, eldemonio, melaschasm, dumberthanafool, redneckdemon, saunafool, smartmuffin, iquadland10, dow3000, betapeg, rvaspeculator, TMFBullNBear, Mary953, DareTothRedux (the one that talked me into doing this!), avianflu, imobilic, skypilot2005, gnubee, eudemonic, guiron, superpicks, gemini846, nzsvz9, mtfool, blesto
and many many others that I am forgetting. Sorry again to those I left out.
Where To Look For Help
"No one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interests of everyone hang on the result." - Ludwig Von Mises
Everyone brings some unique perspective to the fight. Here's where you can get some day-to-day inspiration:
LewRockwell.com - the biker's bar of libertarian discussion. The blog on the side bar is particularly entertaining and they pull no punches when uncovering state lies and propaganda.
EconomicPolicyJournal.com - a great daily read to keep up with current economic trends. Usually updated several times a day.
Mises.com - a slightly classier biker bar, where scholars mix with the many young aspiring libertarians that have given us so much hope for the chance of liberty in our lifetime (or close to it. Let's not get greedy).
24hgold.com - a solid daily collection of articles related to precious metals as well as tons of data and research.
Antiwar.com - learn all about the wonderful warfare state as it slaughters and lies its way around the world. Updated several times a day.
Glenn Greenwald's Salon.com page - the one voice of sanity on a website dedicated to the basest nationalist impulses. Glenn, one of the handful of legitimate progressives left, updates regularly with the abuses of law committed by Barry I'llBombYa.
CafeHayek.com - more like the upscale sports bar to the mises' biker bar feel. I like to get their perspective on economic and libertarian issues as a nice counterbalance to the more radical misesians.
People You Should Know
These people have most of the answers (do not consider this a comprehensive list:)
Tom Woods - the next Ron Paul
Andrew Napolitano - you can watch him on FreedomWatch on Fox
David Gordon, Robert P. Murphy, Lew Rockwell, Jeffrey Tucker, Thomas Sowell, Karen DeCoster, Joe Salerno, Becky Akers, Russ Roberts, Justin Raimondo, Scott Horton, Walter E. Williams, Walter Block, Robert Higgs, Hans Herman-Hoppe, Gerald Celente, Butler Shaffer, Gary North, Don Bourdeaux and hundreds of others.
But remember, books books books. When one of these people recommends a book, try to read it. Since most of these people are anti-IP, you can normally get an electronic copy for free.
Best of luck to everyone here. I may comment from time to time, but my blogging career is over. Thanks again for the great discussions and friendships!
Happy Independence Day,
David in Qatar