[this page is a mirror of this original].

THE (BRASS) RING OF POWER

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all. One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.


In J.R.R. Tolkienís classic epic of good against evil, The Lord of the Rings, evil incarnate took the form of Sauron, the Dark Lord (of the Rings). In our world, evil is more complicated--one could only wish that it could be banished by the simple expedient of tossing an evil ring into a volcano!--but the metaphor of the rings still fits modern times. The three rings must be the three-ring circuses of our bi-cameral parliaments and their presidents, the nine could be our supreme courts, and the seven might be our special interests and their subterranean machinations. And the One Ring? That would be the Ring of Power itself--the glittering, foolís gold bauble for which all participants in the great game of politics strive: POWER. But, like the brass ring held just out of reach of merry-go-round riders, power is not true gold, nor is it the prize that all those who lie, cheat, steal, and kill for it think it is. And like the One Ring of power in Tolkienís books, this false god corrupts all who take hold of it, or even just lust for it.

Rhetoric, you say? Is it rhetoric that in the "land of the free and the home of the brave" the president can get caught red-handed perjuring himself before the whole nation, and not one of the great lords of power, even among those who claim to oppose him, is free enough of the same taint to remove him? Does not even the small amount of power given to the average foot soldier corrupt him or her so that, from the new wars in the Balkans back to the Trojan wars, so-called atrocities are the norm rather than the exception in the "splendid game" of war? From traffic cop down to tin-plated dictator, do not those with power swagger with false pride and take pleasure in the subjugation of those they rule?

Consider the case of AIDS and cancer patient Peter McWilliams. In the country that first gave the highest recognition to the universal human right of free speech, the state responded to Peterís words of criticism by sacking his house on December 17, 1997, and stealing his computer, his notes, and the manuscript for an almost completed book. Demoralized but undefeated, Peter continued to defend, with words, the medicinal drug he claimed was saving his life: marijuana. By direct action of the people, the state in which Peter lives, California, legalized the medical use of marijuana (it had to be an action of the people; those who rule would never give up so formidable a tool for oppression as the War on Some Drugs). In the land that gave birth to the greatest experiment ever in rule of law rather than rule of men, those in power responded with threats against any and all who would make use of the new law--the law, mind you. Peter obeyed the law in his state, and they threw the book at him. On July 23, 1998, the ferals sent a goon squad out to arrest him. They rousted him in the wee hours of the morning, even though heíd agreed to turn himself in if they ever needed him, and hauled him off without his medicines--not even the politically correct prescription pills he was taking. They tossed him in the clink and wouldnít give him any of his medicines for an unconscionable length of time--they played Russian roulette with him, his illness being the gun. They set a ridiculously high bail, on the hardest terms to meet, on the head of a man who had a diminished immune system and who was in no condition to run anywhere--almost, one might think, to keep him in a germ-infested prison as long as they could. After almost a year of legal maneuverings, the judge who holds Peterís life in his hands ruled that Peter could not defend himself in court. On November 5, 1999, federal judge George King decreed, much more boldly than King George ever did, that Peter and his defense team could make no mention of medical marijuana, Californiaís "Compassionate Use" law (Proposition 215), or the eight patients the feral government itself is allowing to smoke marijuana, in his upcoming trial.

Was there ever a court in the old Soviet Union that was so cold and uncaring of the sick and the law-abiding? What clearer demonstration could there be that those who wield power in the United States have become so corrupted by it that they can be as arbitrary and brutal as they please, in blatant disregard of justice and the rule of law itself? If Waco didnít convince people that America is now under the rule of unscrupulous power-hungry men instead of great principles, or even mediocre laws, the case of Peter McWilliams surely should.

In spite of this, many will still cling to the notion that things are not so bad. They may, perhaps, have happy delusions that todayís corrupt power elite is less evil than the tyrants of old and believe that the evil we know is better than risking embracing the unknown. Surely Bill Clinton is not as bas as Joseph Stalin, such people might plead, nor Caligula! No? Caligula committed heinous crimes by his own hand and presided over a system that degraded the masses, but how much harm, in sum, did tyrants like him do, compared to the harm the likes of Bill Clinton do? There are no solid numbers available on Caligulaís atrocities, but we have word from the Greek historian Herodotus that Khufu (Cheops) had 100,000 men work 20 years to build his crypt, the great pyramid on the plain of Giza. Thatís two million man-years, or maybe 67,000 lives (at the average life expectancy then), stolen from the people.

What might compare in modern terms?

Just as we have not looked at whatever personal atrocities Khufu might have committed, letís set aside the death of Vince Foster and all the rumors and allegations of rape and murder against Bill Clinton, and look at his boondoggle: the "safety net" of morally and fiscally bankrupt social programs he wants to save and leave as his legacy. Rounding things out to make the comparison easier (Herodotus probably didnít count each individual slave either), letís say that about two thirds of the U.S. feral budget goes to pay for todayís big boondoggle social programs: an even trillion dollars. Thatís a thousand, thousand, million dollars. Letís be generous and say that the average American wage-earner makes about 2.5 million in a lifetime (about $ 40K per year). By these numbers, Billís boondoggles are consuming human lives at a rate of 400,000 per year, or 8,000,000 lives over the same period it took to build the pyramid. So who is the greater destroyer of lives? The only difference between the old tyrants and the new is that most of the newer ones have figured out that if they leave the people with their illusions of freedom and fairness intact, they can keep more of them productive and fleece them more often--they can slake their blood-thirst on far more lives than their predecessors ever dreamed of.

One Peter McWilliams crushed out of existence by the stroke of an evil judgeís pen, or 400,000 lives sucked out of the people via the slow death we call taxes, itís all the same. It is the exercise of raw, unlimited power, blessed, disguised, and sanctified by the myths of the rule of law and representative government. It is the same brass ring of power that Khufu sought to use to stamp his greatness upon history, but succeeded only in creating an enduring monument to brutality--no thinking person who knows the story can look upon that nasty heap of stones and not think of all the lives that were spent to satisfy the whim of one man. It is the same evil ring of power that Bill Clinton thinks will secure his own immortality, but has only earned him greater enmity than perhaps any other living man.

Rhetoric again? Do I exaggerate?

Consider the results of a recent New York Post poll that asked people to vote for the most evil people of the millennium. Respondents were asked to rank a whole slate of contemporary and historical characters, from Slobodan Milosevic to Kubla Kahn. Bill Clinton wasnít included, but so many people wrote him and his wife in that they placed 2nd and 6th, respectively. Only Adolf Hitler earned more votes than Bill Clinton for most evil man of the millennium, and Hillary beat out Saddam Hussein. (1)

And so it must be; those who seek to seize and hold the ring of power, no matter how lofty their stated intentions might be, will ever be remembered more for the pain they inflict than the good they claim to be achieving. Why? Because, the power we are talking about is not the power of self-discipline, nor the power of far-seeing vision, nor any other wholesome power over oneís self and oneís property that can be used creatively for the good. It is power over others that, as all compulsion must, sows seeds of strife that must ultimately yield a crop of conflict and undo all that is created with it.

When it comes to wielding this power, the power to force others to do oneís bidding, the winner takes all--no matter how a government is structured, or what pretenses it makes toward respecting rights and liberties. In order to carry out whatever noble (or evil) goals would-be rulers may have in their hearts, they need to win. If the other side, or a coalition of other sides, wins, they get to carry out their ignoble plans. When it comes to wielding the power to do great deeds, one simply must win, and in todayís world, that means doing whatever it takes to get a majority of voters on your side. The stakes are so high--those others must not win and force us to bend to their will!--that any means becomes acceptable, including means that people of good conscience would consider wrong or lowly if they considered them apart from the great game. Any action, any lie, any broken promise becomes acceptable, if it is the price to pay for the ring of power. And not only must the use of corrupt, wrongful, or hurtful means produce corrupt, wrongful, and hurtful ends; that same use of power makes corrupt, wrongful, and hurtful any who embrace it. This is why, as Lord Acton said, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is why no positive good, no thing of enduring value and beauty, can be made with such power.

Yes, the possession of the ring of power is as corrupting to those who wield it today as was the possession of the nine rings Sauron gave to the mortal kings, whose very substance was sucked out of them until they became ghostly ring-wraiths, shadows of hatred that were doomed to forever roam a land they could never touch. But it gets worse. The One Ring Tolkien imagined in his story was created to rule all the others, to bend all other powers that could be use to create and preserve wholesome things into its service, and destroy all that is good. Almost all who knew of the One Ring, even the pure of heart, were drawn by the irresistible knowledge that they were different, that they were good, and that they would only use the One Ring for good, if they could but get hold of it. So too, the ring of power in the real world draws almost all who look upon the world and see its suffering, or lack of order, or just that it does not bow to their wills. They are different. They can be trusted to rule wisely, or set things right, or use their power only for good. But this is a fantasy; just as the One Ring was inherently evil and corrupted even those who only dreamed of using it, the ring of power is an inherently evil means that corrupts even those who merely seek to use it. Look at the compromises people make just trying to get elected (even among members of the "Party of Principle"), let alone once in office. When stripped of all patriotic mythology, all power over others is inherently wrong, (2) as is anything that tramples the will and forces the body. This power, this ability to force others to do our bidding-no matter how people try to dress it up in fancy institutions with noble-sounding purposes like universal education and national defense-is the power of slavery. Imagining that evil means can be used to obtain good ends requires the same kind of perverse logic that allows seemingly intelligent people to dismiss it when feral agencies burn down churches full of children in order to "save" them.

"What then," my imaginary average person cries, "are we to do? We must use this power--this governmental rule by force of some over others--or anarchy and chaos will ensue, and greater evil will destroy even more lives!"

The answer to this has been written up time and time again, in book after book--it's there for anyone to find if they will but look. Rand, Heinlein, von Mises, De la Boetie, and Smith (both Adam and L. Neil) are good authors to start with. There are many more. I can sum the answer up here by simply saying that this idea that we have no choice is just plain wrong. There isn't a function performed by the modern nation-state that hasn't been performed somewhere and somewhen in history on a purely voluntary basis. There is scarcely a function performed by the nation-states, from building roads to defending a people, that isn't today being done by a private company or charity (voluntary arrangement) somewhere. Between them, churches and theme parks regulate almost every aspect of human life imaginable, by unanimous consent of those who flock to them. Societies do need governing systems to keep chaos from destroying everything, but those systems don't have to use the corrupt and corrupting tool of coercive power. Government can be voluntary.

Forget the ring--itís not made of real gold anyway! Forget the next election--it doesnít matter, and canít matter in the long run, because itís only about squabbling over a flawed tool. Forget about the tax bill, the abortion bill, the juvenile justice bill, and all the other great fantasies those under the spell of the ring of power imagine will make any difference. Forget power over others, and concentrate on creating more power over yourself!

Yes, thatís right: just walk away.

Unsubscribe from usa.gov, and all the other coercive systems in the world that pretend to have a right to rule over you. Migrate your earnings to cyberspace, where they can be encrypted and put beyond the reach of those who would force you to be your brother's keeper. Choose to help your brothers and sisters on your own, if you can, not just to show that people don't need to be forced to do so, but because it's in your own self-interest to make the world a better place where people trust and help each other instead of avoid and suspect each other. Choose to live a life you consider to be right and proper (lead by example instead of coercion, as Christ and Buddha did) and don't worry about what others are doing, unless it's to defend yourself against real harm at their hands. In short, chose to govern yourself, and to cooperate voluntarily with others who do the same.

Is it selfish to walk away and care only about our own business? Perhaps, but it is also for the greater good of all, since in so doing, every person who unsubscribes subtracts from the mass of followers that sanctify and enable the exercise of power over others.

Is it right to turn our backs on the great game and leave it to whatever evil and unscrupulous people decide to stay in? Wake up! The most unscrupulous are already those who win at the game, and only the winners matter.

But won't those evil coercive people left in the "legal" system use it against us? They might try, but if we don't give them our sanction by playing in the game they have stacked against us, they will lose legitimacy, and without that, they will lose numbers, and without that, their power evaporates into nothing more than the evil nightmare it truly is. Think about it. Why else would pundits and politicians be so terrified of the shrinking American electorate? Why did it trouble so many observers that Bill Clinton (the second most evil man of the millennium, according to some) was elected by a minority of voters, who are themselves a minority of the American people? (3)

Try this one on for size: America is like Rome in the century before its fall. If you could go back in time and talk to the people then, few, if any, would believe you if you told them that the Roman empire was about to collapse. And if you tried, with all your knowledge of history, to change things, the degree to which you were successful would probably be directly proportional to the price some reactionary Romans would put on your head. America, the last superpower, is also an empire in decline. Those who imagine that compromising principle in order to play the great game will save, fix, or "bring America back to the Constitution" are just deluding themselves down the road to hell, covered as it is with its famous paving. Those who refuse to compromise (much), like Ron Paul or the Libertarian Party, have no power and never will. They just make noise that amuses those who have hold of the ring--probably to their great relief, since the false hope of principled victory distracts people from doing the one thing that can really make a difference: drop out of the game.

It's time to unsubscribe, people. Weíve been told by many analysts that the information age will do away with the nation-state, just as the industrial age did away with feudal kingdoms. It's time to embrace that truth, screw up our courage, and seek to become sovereign individuals. It's time to forget about trying to force the world to be free (what a contradiction!), and free ourselves. It's time to declare personal independence from the tottering and brutal relics of the age of coercive power, today's nation-states, and Do Freedom. (4)

Tolkien's poem about Aragorn, the king in exile who must battle the Lord of the Rings, also transfers well to modern times.  Consider the words as though they were written about sovereign individuals, free people such as may once have wandered the face of the world, before governments as we know them were ever invented:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not touched by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

The crownless, the sovereign individuals, shall again rule over themselves. This is the promise of the future. It beckons us. Let us not be afraid to let go of the brass ring of power, to let it drop into the fires of Mount Doom where it was made. Let us not be afraid to let go of the old coercive ways of the past. Let us embrace the future and simply DO FREEDOM!!!

Don Lobo Tiggre

hbar

1. From NY Post Poll Conducted 9/30/99-11/1/99, among NYPost.com users. (See also the WorldNetDaily column on the results.)

Top 25 Most Evil People of the Millennium (Write-ins are in color)

RANK

NAME

# of VOTES

% of VOTES

1

Adolf Hitler

1664

8.67

2

Bill Clinton

1625

8.47

3

Joseph Stalin

1284

6.69

4

Pol Pot

919

4.79

5

Dr. Josef Mengele

783

4.08

6

Hillary Clinton

765

3.99

7

Saddam Hussein

710

3.70

8

Adolf Eichmann

641

3.34

9

Charles Manson

548

2.86

10

Idi Amin

514

2.68

11

Genghis Khan

441

2.30

12

Jeffrey Dahmer

428

2.23

13

Benito Mussolini

386

2.01

14

Ayatollah Khomeini

365

1.90

15

Ted Bundy

327

1.70

16

John Wayne Gacy

312

1.63

17

Ivan the Terrible

305

1.59

18

Fidel Castro

283

1.48

19

Jim Jones

279

1.45

20

Vlad the Impaler

276

1.44

21

Timothy McVeigh

275

1.43

22

Slobodan Milosevic

242

1.26

23

Marquis de Sade

222

1.15

24

Mommar Khadafy

218

1.14

25

Jack the Ripper

203

1.06

TOTAL Number of Votes Received: 19,184

3. Check out this interesting article on the growing disgust and non-participation (and concern over it) of American voters: Not voting is becoming as American as apple pie

4. Check out my Individual Declaration of Independence

hbar

To Our Mission Statement
Home