The Tiny Dot

If you’ve been reading my latest posts you’ll know that I’ve been talking about building an alternative, stateless, permaculture paradigm. If you haven’t read any of the previous posts, I recommend you start with my A Stateless Society post. But with this current post I simply want to introduce you to Larken Rose’s work. Following is an excellent, and short, visual example of everything I’ve been attempting to articulate via words. Before you watch, let me share one of my favorite lines from J.R.R. Tolkien:

“Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found.  I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay:  small acts of kindness and love.  Why Bilbo Baggins?  Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.”  – Gandalf the Grey, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Hmmm, what do you think now?

Live free!

Libertas lux et veritas

A Stateless Society

The mere idea of a stateless society may cause some discomfort as well as perplexed looks on the faces of those who’ve never taken the time to consider such a notion. I mean, is a stateless society even possible? Isn’t this just anarchy (remember V for Vendetta), and don’t we “need” the government (you know, for all the things we obviously can’t decide for ourselves like who can get married, what foods we can eat, and how much of our paycheck should we really get to keep)? I’ve been examining this issue lately, delving into the relation of the individual to society in such abstractions as that of “social contract theory”. To begin, I think it is helpful to have a point of reference from which to build, and since I do not wish to “reinvent the wheel” on this matter I turn now to James Corbett. The following is an excellent primer for this conversation. Please watch this video in its entirety to gain a good fundamental starting point:

Now that you’ve watched the video, I’m sure you have many questions. Perhaps you’ve formed some objections or counter points. Great! Now you’ve begun the search for truth, fact, and rationality. Keep digging! I next found myself watching a debate between attorney Tom Willcutts and philosopher Stephan Molyneux on the question “Is Government Immoral?”. Here’s the video:

As a follow up to the debate video, Corbett posted the following video which I found essential in this ongoing discussion:

In 1867, a man by the name of Lysander Spooner went so far to argue and demonstrate in his essay that the U.S. Constitution actually has no binding authority over anyone other than the signers of the original document! We didn’t consent to it, we are FREE! For more discussion on Mr. Spooner, and the relevance his arguments have today, please watch this extremely informative video:

After watching and/or reading through these many resources along with works by Ayn Rand such as Atlas Shrugged, and then witnessing current events unfold, the corruption and aggression of the state is without question the single greatest threat to liberty throughout the world! It is the existence of the state that props up corrupt and evil corporations like Monsanto– the latest “fit to hit the shan” is President Obama signing into law the Monsanto Protection Act, which in essence grants this reckless organization with immunity from the federal court system even if the US Government suspects Monsanto’s actions of endangering human health and/or the environment!  In a stateless society this could not, and would not happen. Devilish corporations like Monsanto would go out of business rather than be insulated by the statists it buys off through its lobbying efforts. And no, it doesn’t matter if a Republican or a Democrat is president, because all previous administrations dating back to Reagan have been in bed with the likes of Monsanto…and this is just one example. For more on the farcical, right-left paradigm, listen to this podcast interview with Charlie McGrath of WideAwakeNews.com, in which he discusses how this political divide-and-conquer tactic has been used to keep like-minded people apart for generations and what we can do to help break down the barriers to new ways of thinking that we all erect around our political ideologies.

Ask yourself, would you be better off with or without the government? Do you want to be free, I mean really, truly, and irrevocably free? You can’t be, and aren’t, in a state-dominated society. Why not construct an alternative paradigm?

I’m sure this blog post raises more questions than it answers, and this is intentionally done. Are you thinking for yourself? Are you asking questions, or have you simply subjected yourself to the system? Live free friend, live free.

If you want more resources, you’ll find them. Here are a few to add to the mix:

Freedomain Radio

Tragedy and Hope

LewRockwell.com

Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici

(“By the power of truth, I while living have conquered the universe“)

Paradigm Shift

Transitioning from my previous occupation and lifestyle to restorative, eco-friendly, and sustainable farming affords me time to think and ponder upon a great many things that heretofore the harried pace of my life did not grant. Recently I saw the following post on Growtest.org, which sent my mind racing, contemplating the evolution of my complete paradigm shift, my personal Revolution which began nearly a year ago:

A line also recently gripped me from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: “What greater wealth is there than to own your life and to spend it on growing? Every living thing must grow. It can’t stand still. It must grow or perish.” I now recognize the next step in this restorative journey is not merely the act of defiance and or protest against what James Corbett dubs “the powers that should not be”, but instead it is to build and demonstrate a model, a new paradigm- one infused with liberty and abundance- that serves as a beacon of hope for the present and the future. So much time, energy, and resources are wasted upon the halls of political offices. It’s time to instead build a permanent culture that stands in stark contrast to the geopolitical paradigm currently holding a death grip on the masses. Instead of a consumer/debt based paradigm where only goods and services are valued, there is an alternative wherein perennial ecosystems, and the restoration thereof, are the key to our continued existence upon this planet. Such radical thoughts are the seeds of hope for this eco-economy based in permaculture design.

To give you a flavor of what in the world I’m ranting about, check out the below links, podcasts and videos. I want to give full credit to their creators, so please, on the first link below go to Geoff Lawton’s new website, and watch the video “How to Survive the Coming Crisis”. You may be asked for your email address, but this is only to keep updated on the latest videos he produces in the series- it’s free, and well worth the time investment to watch. You’ll see many of the projects Geoff has or currently is working on; you’ll see him literally turn a desert into a lush, fertile, green, and flourishing ecosystem. It’ll blow your mind!  Here’s the link:

http://www.geofflawton.com/fe/32461-surviving-the-coming-crises?r=y

Also, please take time to listen to the podcasts available at Permies.com . Below is a series of podcasts featuring Geoff Lawton:

Spreading Permaculture with Geoff Lawton Part 1

Spreading Permaculture with Geoff Lawton Part 2

Additionally, if you’re feeling inspired, here’s one of Geoff’s TED talks:

I also found another documentary produced by John D. Liu concerning large scale ecosystem restoration projects, and the “Greening the Desert” project you’ll see/hear Geoff Lawton refer to. Check it out, this is AWESOME stuff:

Last but not least, here’s another great talk given by Mark Shepard at the Acres USA conference I attended last November. It’s longer than the above videos and podcasts, but Mark brings clarity and humor as he lays out a model for restoration agriculture and applying real-world permaculture:

There’s so much information available now concerning permaculture design- from full scale ecosystem restoration to natural building structures, like straw bale homes– and this is my attempt to spread the knowledge to you in hope that it begins shifting your paradigm. It’s hard to listen to and watch this stuff and not be inspired to change! This is an issue that affects every single living organism on the face of our planet- it’s time we start paying attention and taking action. I am, are you?

Thanks for reading!

Vi Veri Veniversum Vivus Vici

(“By the power of truth, I while living have conquered the universe“)

Metaphysical Libertarianism: Is God Personal?

These thoughts are shared from an ongoing introspection, which until now I’ve been unable to formulate into words. I’ve taken the below concepts from my journal, so as you read bear in mind that this is not a final statement on the matter. Rather, it is a critical and maturing intellectual conversation in objectivism and metaphysics, among other things…

I don’t doubt or deny that God exists, or claim that we can’t know such a thing. I think both nature and reason lead us to the conclusion that there is a Creator, what we call God. However, what I do question is the level of involvement of this Being in our individual lives (micro level). Is God personal? Well, I think in the meta-macro sense, yes. God created and ordered the universe and all that’s in it, established the parameters for free will, and made reparation for man’s flawed nature. The first act, creation, is undeniable and reached solely through reason and nature, revelation is not needed. The second act, reparation, is reached also through reason, but in harmony with trust. That is, trust based in the best of evidence that God did come as the man Jesus. In the spirit of epistemic inquiry, I find it reasonable to hold this view. Additionally, Jesus unlike other religious leaders or creeds does not tell man how to earn his own salvation or make amends with God, but in contrast makes compensation for man’s character flaws (i.e., man’s flawed nature arising from free will unobstructed by outside intervention). No other religion, creed, or philosophy makes this claim; Jesus does.

Note- some may argue for a metaphysic wherein God could have made man without the potentiality for sin/character flaws. Nevertheless, God obviously did not do this, choosing instead the current metaphysical reality we experience wherein the individual is responsible for his or her own free will decisions and actions, and must consequently bear the fruit of those autonomous opportunities. Therefore, we see this God as the ultimate Agent of Liberty and Author of the Individual, unlike the superstitious and collectivist ideologies, religions, and philosophies the world over.

 Now, outside of these two acts (macro level) – creation and reparation- I cannot say God is personal (on the micro level, i.e., the individual level). The only caveat here is that God would orchestrate various micro level events in so much as they impact the macro; I would call this Providence.  In fact, I now ask, “Why would God personally intervene for me beyond what he has already.” Is this not the height of autonomy and free will? As I said, God is the Agent of Liberty and Author of the Individual. Life, the earth, is for free, sentient beings to either live in a way honoring of nature’s God, or dishonoring. But the full weight of the decision will not be made for us, no magic wand will be waived on our behalf. We have all we need for life and liberty.

Adding to this is my own experience, in which I can now say with more clarity that God is not personal (at least not beyond what I have already described herein). I have my own struggles, and sure, there is nothing of a superbly terrible or tragic nature about them, but there are plenty of people- good people even more devout than I could ever pretend to be- who do experience major struggles and tragedies in their lives. Where is God in their lives (micro level)? Why didn’t God answer their prayers? Where is God in our life? Some may argue my point here, claiming this or that experience was God acting in their lives (micro level), and to this I would simply point to what I have previously said about God’s orchestrating micro level events for the overarching, meta-macro. I also ask isn’t it probable, or at least possible, that many of these instances of prayers being answered, or miracles (I use the word miracle loosely here) happening, etc., merely be coincidence (i.e., time + chance = probability)? Not God?  

No, it appears that life on earth is for man, and he shall receive no personal (micro level) help/assistance/intervention from the Divine, except for the macro sense that God gave us life and existence, and liberty from our flawed nature. Beyond these there appears to be no personal, micro-level interaction, none. To illustrate this point let me borrow from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Return of the King. The following is spoken once Sauron is finally defeated:

“The Third Age of the world is ended, and the new age is begun; and it is your task to order its beginning and to preserve what may be preserved. For though much has been saved, much must now pass away; and the power of the Three Rings is ended. And all the lands that you see, and those that lie round about them, shall be dwellings of Men. For the time comes of the Dominion of Men, and the Elder Kindred shall fade or depart…. The burden must lie now upon you and your kindred.”

This book, as well as movie, illustrated how much interaction has occurred in the past, but presently we are in the age of man. Perhaps at one point in the past God was very personally involved, saving much, but now the time has come for man’s autonomy. We are all each individuals and until we realize this, it is very likely that we’ll be unable to deal with life and make sense of existence, our existence, as it actually is. Such metaphysical libertarianism seems most sensible to me. Yet, I maintain an epistemic humility that I could be wrong. Therefore, I want to avoid dogmatism of any kind; this is simply how I think and feel at this juncture of my life. I’m not advocating deism, it has too many internal inconsistencies; nor am I advocating agnosticism as it’s a step away from atheism, which itself is insulting to both reason and nature.

Thomas Paine once wrote:

“The Calvinist, who damns children of a span long to hell to burn forever for the glory of God (and this is called Christianity), and the Universalist who preaches that all shall be saved and none shall be damned (and this also is called Christianity), boasts alike of their holy [reveled] religion and their Christian faith.

“Something more therefore is necessary than mere cry and wholesale assertion, and that something is TRUTH; and as inquiry is the road to truth, he that is opposed to inquiry is not a friend to truth. “The God of truth is not the God of fable; when, therefore, any book is introduced into the world as the Word of God, and made a groundwork for religion, it ought to be scrutinized more than other books to see if it bear evidence of being what it is called. Our reverence to God demands that we do this, lest we ascribe to God what is not His, and our duty to ourselves demands it lest we take fable for fact, and rest our hope of salvation on a false foundation.

“It is not our calling a book holy that makes it so, any more than our calling a religion holy that entitles it to the name. Inquiry therefore is necessary in order to arrive at truth. But inquiry must have some principle to proceed on, some standard to judge by, superior to human authority.

“When we survey the works of creation, the revolutions of the planetary system, and the whole economy of what is called nature, which is no other than the laws the Creator has prescribed to matter, we see unerring order and universal harmony reigning throughout the whole. No one part contradicts another. The sun does not run against the moon, nor the moon against the sun, nor the planets against each other. Everything keeps its appointed time and place.

“This harmony in the works of God is so obvious, that the farmer of the field, though he cannot calculate eclipses, is as sensible of it as the philosophical astronomer. He sees the God of order in every part of the visible universe.”

“Here, then, is the standard to which everything must be brought that pretends to be the work or Word of God, and by this standard it must be judged, independently of anything and everything that man can say or do. His opinion is like a feather in the scale compared with the standard that God Himself has set up.”

 

Adding to this train of thought Deism.com posts:

It is very understandable how people could be turned off by man-made religions and superstitions with their bombings and financial beg-a-thons, and confuse artificial or revealed religion with God. However, the atheist attitude of accepting things simply as not knowable is dangerous to the progress of humanity. Many things were not knowable in the past that are knowable today. At one time Europeans believed it was impossible to know what was on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean: but they were wrong. As we learn more about the sciences, we are learning more about the Power that put those principles in place. An eternal Being, as Thomas Paine said, “whose power is equal to His will.”

In conclusion, Mr. Paine also noted, and I agree with him:

“I consider myself in the hands of my Creator, and that he will dispose of me after this life consistently with His justice and goodness. I leave all these matters to Him, as my Creator and friend, and I hold it to be presumption in man to make an article of faith as to what the Creator will do with us hereafter.”

 

Libertas lux et veritas

 

 

  

Farming Is Not A Job

As my family and I now enter our third week in our new role as farm manager and marketing directors for J&L Green Farm, I realize in a visceral sense that farming is not a job. Farming is a commitment; it is a lifestyle. Other “jobs” typically require a person to punch the clock, work 8 hour shifts, and then go home. Comparatively, the farm is not only  where we live, it’s how we live. It is a lifestyle we have committed ourselves to. Unlike the human “cubicle farms” of the corporate world, we work with biological organisms, which cannot be neglected. A computer can be left to work on tomorrow, next week, or even later, but if we neglect our critters that long, well, it won’t end nicely. We don’t dread the work week, or watch the clock. We work until the job gets done, and then we look for another one. We wake the sun up in the morning, and tuck it in at night. Always vigilant, always paying attention to what we aren’t paying attention to (think about that).

We love the farm, and we desire to become native to the land- to have intimate familiarity with it and the critters who call it home. As Mark Shepard wrote, “Restoration agriculture is a massive-scale culture-wide adjustment to ecological reality that will create a new economic and social reality.”

Happy eating! Happy farming!

Libertas lux et veritas

Optimistic and Solutions-Oriented

Here’s a thought for the person who aspires to be liberty minded: instead of merely joining in when others complain about a matter, regardless how trivial or paramount, present solutions instead! Go a step further and be part of the solution you propose, even if only at a grass-roots level. Personally, one example of what this has looked like for my family was once we became concerned about access to clean, nutrient-dense food we began to inform ourselves rather than panic about an impending food crisis. We sought out, got to know, and bought from local farmers growing food in a responsible and sustainable manner. Now we are taking things to the next level by becoming regenerative farmers ourselves! I could list other examples, but I think this conveys my point. This will look different for every person wanting to do more than complain and get down in the mouth. We should each be prepared, not paranoid. We should each be informed, not ignorant. Every time we take action, to be part of the cumulative answer to whatever others may bemoan, this gives us a platform/opportunity to inform others directly or indirectly.

Don’t complain and simply add to the noise. The way of liberty is optimistic and solutions-oriented!

If you’re looking for a little more inspiration on this subject, check out this spoken word video by David Bowden:

If you want further reading, click the following link to an article titled “It’s time for radical long-run optimism“.

Enjoy!

Libertas lux et veritas

Edinburg Here We Come!

The below is adapted from my journal. Thanks for reading!

I wanted to get all of this out on paper in order to keep everything straight as our story unfolds. Lena and I have been married now for eight and a half years. We’ve had our share of struggles and joys in the quest to find our niche in life, individually and as a couple. Married young, worked a string of jobs, found direction only to lose it again, a single word describes us: unconventional. Last year, 2012, marked a significant paradigm shift in our lives. Lena and I were both in MBA programs, I was working full-time at Liberty University, she was working full-time with our one year old son at home, Titus. As spring approached giving way to summer, we were languishing. Due to my terrible work schedule we’d had little chance as a couple to really connect with anyone, which virtually isolated us in a town with no family and virtually no friends, offering no support to first-time parents, especially Lena on her own for 10(+) hours every day with Titus. There were countless days I’d come home and Titus would already be in bed (not a family friendly lifestyle)–then the real fun began, homework assignments that often left Lena and I up working until three and four o’clock in the morning! Something needed to change.

In the midst of it all, I applied at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland to be a student in their MSc Classics program. I was fully accepted in August for the 2013-2014 school year, and simultaneously was a U.S. Fulbright research grant candidate. At the time of my acceptance, we also began looking into a unique farming operation called Polyface Farms, started by Joel Salatin. I had heard this man interviewed nearly two years prior on a morning news program, but didn’t fully grasp or appreciate all he had to say at that point. As fate, or we’d say Providence had it, we visited his farm in June 2012 and even purchased a couple of his books. One was a how-to book on sustainable farming and the potential white collar income it can generate, and the other detailed how farms could be family friendly even healing to the practical and spiritual needs of the family. These two books sparked a complete paradigm shift that would soon unfold in our lives.

We decided to leave Lynchburg at the beginning of November 2012 to temporarily live with family back in WV. This would be a way for us to have quality time with them, and for Titus to get a big dose of grandparents and aunties before potentially moving overseas for an extended period of time. Although the opportunity to study at one of the premier institutions of the world would seem an incredible opportunity, which it is, we as a family still struggled with the notion of moving so far from family. Added to this, the loan debt to be incurred would be more than we wanted to carry. Furthermore, one does not simply get a degree from an institution like this with no plan for the future. No, typically one undertakes such a program of study with the intention of remaining in academia, pursuing doctoral studies, fellowships, professorships, book publishing opportunities, research grants, etc. In other words, this is an ongoing lifestyle decision/commitment not simply a one-time opportunity. As in chess, this move now would set forth a stratagem many moves later in the “game”. Shortly after we moved I purchased tickets to the annual Acres USA conference (a sustainable farming extravaganza) in Louisville, KY, for Lena’s birthday, and by Thanksgiving 2012 we already knew that we wanted to start our own farm and permaculture once we returned from Scotland. We also knew we wanted to have another child. However, such an all-encompassing move to another country and culture would certainly delay both of these desires for at least a couple more years. This didn’t sit well with us.

What other option was there? We didn’t want to remain in the rat-race and cubicle farms of the corporate or academic worlds–we had our share of both! With prayer and a fool’s hope we wrote to Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms detailing the major crossroad that lay before us. We asked him if there was any kind of apprenticeship opportunity at Polyface for a husband and wife team, with a toddler, who desired to eventually start their own sustainable farm. We mailed the letter and waited. In the meantime, I perused the Polyface website looking at former apprentices who had gone on to start their own operations. In doing so I intentionally looked for any that may be close to us in Virginia. I found two farms. I checked their websites to see if they were in need of interns. The first one I contacted had a listing up since July for an intern position, the second one had no active listing that I could find. Nevertheless, I contacted both via Facebook messages simply asking if they had or would consider working with a husband and wife team interested in gaining the experience to start their own Polyface style farm.

The first farm replied within a day or so, and to my anxious surprise was very open to discussing the opportunity. The second farm didn’t get back to me for another week or two. But as I began a dialogue with the second farm it became apparent this was the one that suited our family best. The opportunity sounded incredible. So, we arranged for a 3-4 day “check out” as they called it, and visited their farm over the second week of January, 2013. Not only was this farm looking to hire someone, they were specifically looking for a farm manager to be over the marketing and business side of the farm. This fit our backgrounds perfectly since we’d had a lot of experience in these areas. The family was incredibly nice and accommodating, and it felt like we’d always known them. They’re just that kind of people. After a little spell of “cold feet” on our end, they encouraged us to stay the week and discover exactly what they do. We’re glad we did, because it’s everything we want to do! If you can imagine waking up every morning and stepping into an office of rolling green pastures, verdant woodlands, and shimmering ponds all while enjoying the company of your children and loving spouse- that’s what this opportunity held for us! This opportunity was ministering to the deepest needs of our formerly languishing spirits.

The more I read and research this movement of local, beyond organic, transparent, long-term solutions-oriented, sustainable farming, restoration agriculture, permaculture, abundaculture, perennial agriculture ecosystems, ecological agriculture–the terms are endless– the more I study this, I am increasingly convinced of holonic autodidacticism. That is, I’m increasingly becoming convicted of the Christian, contrarian and libertarian, environmentalist, holistic approach to life and learning. I think our institutions are painfully lacking in their stated missions, be it education, governance, or other. They merely exist to collect dues and count noses. The real long-term solutions exist at the grass roots level, in being self-taught naturalists in tune with the Creator’s designs. Being somewhat of a history buff, I realize that most of the iconic figures of history were autodidactics, i.e., they were self-taught. I also think I have the credentials (double majored and minored, graduated summa cum laude, 4.0 GPA, MBA scholar, accepted to one of the top 10 history research programs in the world, Fulbright candidate) to make the claim that being self-taught is superior to anything coming out of our modern institutions. Further, anything I truly wanted to learn I taught myself or learned in a mentoring/apprenticeship type relationship. Not to mention, being self-taught does not incur upon oneself the staggering student loan debt, which is lifelong serfdom, intentionally imposed by the government and big education via guaranteed federal loans.

I used to say that to be a classicist is to be human, but this is only partly correct. To be a farmer is to be human, because it teaches you to use your head, and your hands, and your entire being all at the same time.

So, what happened? We were offered the farm management position and made a two-year commitment in the hopes of learning everything we’ll need to know in order to eventually get our own operation started in the near future. The same day, January 18, we were offered the position, just hours later the Fulbright commission informed me that I was not selected for further consideration (appx. 9,600 individuals applied this year and only 54 awards were given for the U.K.). But hey, this is even more in line with my ever evolving libertarian/contrarian philosophy: we don’t need government subsidies or funding! As for education, we’re constantly learning every day- be it in nature, entrepreneurship, the great books, etc., and all the while we are healing our family, the land, and even the culture as we make happy earthworms and ballet in the pasture! Oh, I forgot to mention, in an ironic twist of fate (i.e., Providence) the farm we’ll be working at– J&L Green Farm– is in Edinburg, VA!

Edinburg, here we come!!