“Write! Writing, to knowledge, is a certified check.”
The quest for intellectual growth and self-improvement through education has occupied yesteryear’s luminaries like Bertrand Russell and modern-day thinkers like Sir Ken Robinson and Noam Chomsky. In 1936, at the zenith of the Great Depression, the prolific self-help guru and famous eccentric James T. Mangan published You Can Do Anything! (public library) — an enthusiastic and exclamation-heavy pep-manual for the art of living. Though Mangan was a positively kooky character — in 1948, he publicly claimed to own outer space and went on to found the micronation of Celestia — the book isn’t without merit.
Among its highlights is a section titled 14 Ways to Acquire Knowledge — a blueprint to intellectual growth, advocating for such previously discussed essentials as the importance of taking example from those who have succeeded and organizing the information we encounter, the power of curiosity, the osmosis between learning and teaching, the importance of critical thinking (because, as Christopher Hitchens pithily put it, “what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”), the benefits of writing things down, why you should let your opinions be fluid rather than rigid, the art of listening, the art of observation, and the very core of what it means to be human.
Every child is born clever. No child is ever born idiotic. To become an idiot one needs to be educated. To convert people to idiocy, schools and colleges and universities are needed. It is a great achievement. Idiocy is not natural; it has to be learned, it has to be earned. Great effort has to be made before you can become stupid. A Buddha or a Lao Tzu or a Jesus are people who somehow escaped from society, who somehow managed it that society did not change them into stupid people. They look rare because the whole society has become stupid otherwise they would be the norm. It be natural to be clever, intelligent — as natural as breathing, as natural as health.
Watch a child, any child, black, white, Indian, Chinese, German — yes, even German! Watch any child. All children are intelligent and all children are beautiful. Have you ever seen an ugly child? The phenomenon does not exist at all. Have you ever seen a stupid child? Their intelligence is tremendous.
“Life really begins when you have discovered that you can do anything you want.”
“There is an ugliness in being paid for work one does not like,” Anaïs Nin wrote in her diary in 1941. Indeed, finding a sense of purpose and doing what makes the heart sing is one of the greatest human aspirations — and yet too many people remain caught in the hamster wheel of unfulfilling work. In 1949, career counselor William J. Reilly penned How To Avoid Work (UK; public library) — a short guide to finding your purpose and doing what you love. Despite the occasional vintage self-helpism of the tone, the book is remarkable for many reasons — written at the dawn of the American corporate era and the golden age of the housewife, it not only encouraged people of all ages to pursue their passions over conventional, safe occupations, but it also spoke to both men and women with equal regard.
Why prestige is the enemy of passion, or how to master the balance of setting boundaries and making friends.
“Find something more important than you are,” philosopher Dan Dennett once said in discussing the secret of happiness, “and dedicate your life to it.” But how, exactly, do we find that? Surely, it isn’t by luck. I myself am a firm believer in the power of curiosity and choice as the engine of fulfillment, but precisely how you arrive at your true calling is an intricate and highly individual dance of discovery. Still, there are certain factors — certain choices — that make it easier. Gathered here are insights from seven thinkers who have contemplated the art-science of making your life’s calling a living.
File sharing fulfills the exact same need and purpose as public libraries did when they first appeared, and is met with the exact same resistance – even in the same words. This article follows the previous observation that The Pirate Bay is the world’s most efficient public library.
Zacqary Adam Green’s piece comparing The Pirate Bay to the New York Public Library the other day was spot on, and we’ve seen it travel a lot around the world – in excess of 3,000 shares and counting. File sharing (and The Pirate Bay) is the most efficient public library ever invented, and its invention is a quantum leap for civilization as such. Imagine every human being having 24/7 access to humanity’s collective knowledge and culture!
“…Preserve what little independence, strength, and originality is left to the individual… raise him up vis-a-vis society: these seem to me the the primary goals of lawmakers in the age upon which we are just now embarking.” – Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1835“If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” – President Barack Obama, July 13, 2012
The age in which we live is an age of ever increasing tyranny over the mind, body and spirit of humanity. The individual human being is not to be trusted. The schools in which he is raised denies his parents the ability to decide what he eats while conditional self esteem is instilled until satisfaction and fulfillment only come with the praise of authority.
At its very beginning America was filled with individuals who sought to escape this grip of despotism. Hereditary titles and tyranny no longer held individuals in artificial societal cages, and people seeking a new life were bound only by limits to endurance and willpower. Intelligence, self respect and character were qualities that anyone could acquire, rising in the ranks of society.
“When hereditary wealth, class privilege and prerogatives of birth no longer exist and each person draws his strength only from himself, it becomes clear that… anything that serves to fortify, expand, or adorn the intellect immediately takes on great value.” – Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, 1835
Elites recognized this new reality in America and actively sought to regulate the power and potential of individuals. Tools of control that worked under tyrannical forms of government were rendered useless. New, perhaps more subtle means of control needed to be devised. The state’s war against the individual expanded across all spectrum’s of society as the growing web of governmental rules and regulation made individuals timid and dependent.
“As Americans we are justly proud that we have no hereditary titles, but each man is measured by his own personal worth… yet we would not have you imagine that we underestimate the value of a respectable lineage, but it is better to be the originator of a great family than to be the degenerate descendant of one.” – How to get on in the World, 1895
The schooling system in particular has been formed with the specific purpose of reducing the individual’s willpower and self respect, producing willing servants of the state. Charlotte Iserbyt, former head of policy at the Department of Education, documents this fact in her book ”Deliberate Dumbing Down of America.” The Rockefeller’s General Education Board proudly announced in its 1906 “Occasional letter number 1″ that,
“In our dreams…people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education]… We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply.”
An 1895 book titled “How to Get on in the World” reflects the once common knowledge that excessive intervention and regulation in young people’s development will hinder growth. Self-respect, one of the foundations for intellectual growth, cannot be cultivated in this environment.
“The growth of these qualities may be encouraged by accustoming young people to rely upon their own resources, leaving them to enjoy as much freedom of action in early life as is practicable. Too much guidance and restraint hinder the formation of habits of self-help.”
This type of education is completely alien to a society grown accustom to modern schooling; Especially when mothers are questioned by social services and even jailed for allowing their children to play in their own yard unsupervised.
When psychopathic individuals inject themselves into positions of power, they need to recruit fellow deviants or face the scrutiny of decent human beings. The tipping point of pure corruption happens when good people are forced out of the system due to a crisis of conscience or by brute force.
Here’s the key: Corrupt power is housed on a pile of sand; vulnerable on all sides. When the power centers of our society are rotting out, we can build ourselves and our families on a firm foundation. You may feel powerless when looking at the global scene, but the influence you have on yourself and the people in your immediate circle is without question. You have power and immense untapped ability.
The state’s claim to godhood does not make it so. It will try to make you feel small. If you didn’t have incredible potential, the establishment would not have taken measures to stifle your growth.