Tag Archives: Liberty

Letters from the insane: The domestication of man

My close friend, Argus Thompson – who is insane – wrote on the passiveness of Americans who stumble through their lives blinking and mumbling and sometimes staring at the sun while the earth is being destroyed:

“A strange stillness lies over the American masses. Something about servitude stills. Something about domestication stifles. The wolf, now the poodle, no longer howls. The wild boar lies on its side in the hog pen and grunts. The wildebeest, now the Holstein cow, stands in her stanchion placidly chewing her cud while she’s milked dry. Domestication of man and beast muffles the cry of freedom and suffocates the spirit of liberty.

“This is a war for the very survival of the earth, our Mother. Yet, as in all wars, only the radical edge, the impassioned few, rise up, the placid majority, gagged by apathy, the wicked sister of death, are heard to mumble only occasionally from under their bed cloths in the dark of night.”

Have we surrendered too soon?

Some readers have asked that I be more reasonable and in balance. I have replied, “In face of injustice I do not wish to be reasonable or in balance.”

I think of William Lloyd Garrison, the Abolitionist leader on Slavery in America who in 1831 wrote:

“I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject I do not wish to think or speak or write with moderation.

“No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm. Tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of a ravisher. Tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen, but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest—I will not equivocate—I will not excuse. I will not retreat a single inch—and I will be heard.”

As for me, I do not seek to tear down all institutions, although many need to be discarded as evil. I wish to tear down only those that unjustly enslave our people.

I do not believe all corporations are evil. But the corporate form induces evil because it does not attach human responsibility to the corporations’ immense power. Those who govern the corporate machine must be made responsible for the abuse of its unbridled power. Too often its responsibility to those it injures is as if one shoots a bullet into his neighbor and then blames only the gun.

Bill wrote “Many of us cannot see that we are enslaved. Being told that we are in that state is a foreign concept, one that the brain cannot process. It may take a while for the idea to sink in. It would almost be akin to being told that the people you believe to be your parents are not, in fact, your parents.”

I agree. That is the danger. Unless we recognize our servitude we can never escape it.

We have been told from the moment we could understand the words that there is “liberty and justice for all.” We cannot bear to hear that the promise has been broken, that, indeed, the fruit of the promise was never delivered in the first place.

Yet in America the occasional slave can become the slave master. That is the throbbing, luring advertisement of our system. It is possible, as all things are possible, that the poor kid from the projects can become the CEO of Cornflakes and enslave his neighbors.

The term, “slavery” is too broad to be understood. We are enslaved by religion, by our employers, by the bank, by the credit card companies, by our promises to our spouses, by our duty to our children, by a stale belief system imposed on us by parents and teachers.

We are enslaved by our negligence regarding our health, by our inability to think without the aid of our slave masters, the corporation, that teaches us what to buy and how to pay for it. We are enslaved by marketers, who tell us what we must wear and the car we must drive to be hip, by politicians who themselves are enslaved by corporate money who tell us what wars we must fight and that we must, to be loyal Americans, sacrifice the lives or our children and the lives of those our children are directed to kill.

We are enslaved by unjust laws and a judicial system that will not deliver justice. We are enslaved….I am already weary and I have only begun this bill of particulars.

Slavery is of two types—that which is imposed on us by outside forces over which we have no control, and that which is self imposed. In the end, much of the slavery we suffer has been a matter of choice. Is it not more comfortable to be a slave?

The truth is I have told you nothing you do not already know. Already you know that perfect freedom is perfect nothingness. To approach it is pure terror. We call it death.

We conduct the war against our own enslavement from within. Our freedoms are the spoils of that carnage. Freedom cannot be given except as we capture it in ourselves. May I ask: Do we surrender too soon?

The first step toward freedom

The man who sleeps under the bridge enjoys a certain freedom. The stag in the forest is also free. The first is free to starve and to die of exposure, the second to become a trophy on the hunter’s wall. The man with a family has lost the freedom of a bachelor who, in his single state, is free to suffer loneliness and perhaps a life without direction.

The worker has sold his freedom to his dead employer, the corporation that was never alive, but he can buy frozen dinners, a TV set and mortgage his future wages for his new SUV and a tract house that will own him. He is free to leave his employment and seek a more fulfilling job, but the new job will likely be as stifling as the old. The worker is free to vote for anyone he chooses. But his choices were sold out to the dead before he entered the voting booth.

Fathers and mothers are free to scrimp, sacrifice and save in order to send their children to college. Once qualified, the children will be sold to another dead corporate master in another city where their choices are substantially the same. None of us, not the homeless, the stag, the well employed, the mothers and fathers, the CEOs of the dead who are only the overseers of slaves—none of us are free.

The good news comes when we recognize our state as slaves. For recognition of that truth will permit us to take the first steps toward our personal freedom. Be patient with me. We cannot find our way out of the jungle until we recognize we are lost. There are many ways out. We shall find them together.

The way out

So we all want solutions—solutions that will free us. Solutions come in easy words. Give us easy words, Gerry, words that do not anger or frighten or hurt. We want words we can pass quickly by and then pop a Bud. We do not want words that cause us to pry open the thick door to the inner self—to the deep places where our status as a slave will be revealed.

We do not want our friends to say we are slaves. That word is too damning, too frightening, too unkind. Friends like you, Gerry would not say this word. No. Not a friend.

But if we seek change we must be prepared to abandon easy words. When we have searched the width and breadth of our slavery, when we struggle against the psychic chains and wince at the invisible lash at our backs then the pain will lead us to solutions.

What do I mean by our slavery?

I mean that state in which the person has no effective control over the course of his or her life.

Surely that is neither you nor me. Surely.

I mean, if no matter how he struggles, no matter how she labors at the task, if neither cannot explore their boundless uniqueness they are enslaved.

I mean, if he has lost his only power, the power of the self, he is enslaved. And if her passion for life is encaged by duty and the expectations of others, she is not free.

But surely this is neither you nor me. Surely.

What if freedom is a myth?

I think of the monkey born in the zoo. The poor creature has never known freedom. It is fed every day, and its offspring are sold to other zoos. The poor beast is docile in its cage and does tricks for the zookeeper.

What if we have never known freedom and have been taught to embrace our bondage, to fight for it, even to worship it. What if we accept our cage as freedom?

What if our minds have been captured and molded as a child molds clay so that our minds conform to the requirements of the New American Slave?

What if our minds have become the property of the power structure that has become our master, that television has become its voice, that the voice sets out our goals, our needs, and establishes our worth depending on the products we have acquired as the loyal American consumer?

What if we have been taught a new religion called free enterprise, that teaches us that to question it as a way of life is heresy, that the moneyed class is free to extract yet more money from those least able to protect themselves? What if the state’s religion is the religion of the dollar?

What if, indeed, we are not free, but instead are taught the myth of freedom, and worship the myth as Muslims and Christians and Buddhists are taught their faith?

Please tell me—What If?

May we get together?

These are my first words on a blog. It is a frightening experiment—that I should enter your world, without invitation, without yet knowing you as friends, or clients, or those whose shadows and mine have merged, or who have been readers of my books and who have therefore shared with me my thoughts and experiences and have made them their own. That has been a great gift to me.

But you of this other world, this internet world—I have not reached out to you except through my web site which, I am told, is miserably inadequate considering today’s more experienced ways.

What can I offer you? I am sitting by a stream in the country as I write—in Wyoming where I was born and where I have practiced law for many years, yes, for 55 years. I am truly a country lawyer. Yet I have spent much of my life trying cases in the great cities of this country.

I have learned things about our broken judicial system I want to expose to you.

I have ideas about our condition in this slave-hold under which many decent Americans suffer.

I have published sixteen books, and have tried many cases for people–some cases you may know about, like the Karen Silkwood case, the murder defense of Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, recently the defense of Geoffrey Fieger, the great trial lawyer who defended Dr. Kevorkian, and many others.

In 1994, I established the Trial Lawyers College at our ranch near Dubois, Wyoming, a non-profit institution to reeducate trial lawyers for the people.

My greatest fear is that I will die before my life’s work is complete. That unfinished business includes joining you in this internet world and sharing with you what I have learned. I hope you will hear my timid knocking at your door and let me in.