What To Do Now

We are living in an age of universal enslavement, a truism that will inevitably sound hyperbolic to men whose ears remain forever attuned only to the soporific music of soft despotism and relative material comfort. Those few, however, who are capable of blocking the hypnotic sounds of mindless pleasure well enough to see our global situation for what it truly is, and for what it clearly portends for the near future, have some hard questions to ask themselves. In fact, I assume they are asking themselves these questions every day right now, as the clarifying, unmasked realities of 2020 accelerate our universal degradation in ways that only the completely indoctrinated and propagandized can fail to see.

If you are one of the happy few — i.e., the few who understand how profoundly unhappy this moment is — then you are probably aware that the state of things today cannot be corrected in “the next election,” or indeed any foreseeable election. It will not respond, or at least not bend, to the wishes of any “great leader” or popular movement on the horizon. In this situation, barring a descent into despair — never the reasonable option — the first and foremost questions to answer are matters of urgent practicality. What are the priorities of daily living in an age of deterioration? — deteriorating practical possibilities, deteriorating civilities, deteriorating freedoms of all kinds. What is worth focusing on now, and what, conversely, is a waste of energy? How is one to organize one’s life within the ever-shrinking confines of these ruins of modern liberty, such as to minimize the spiritual damage of the constraints, while maximizing the freedoms still (and always) possible to us, namely the freedoms of mind and will?

Here are some opening ruminations on these matters of carrying on — thoughts always circling through my personal horizons, caught on the wing here and presented in a form utterly without formula, but rather as friendly suggestions from one slave struggling to preserve his spiritual freedom to another.

Be materially independent at all costs. Incur no financial debts of any kind, ever. Failing that, borrow nothing from any entity or institution larger or more distant from you than your closest family or dearest friends, and even in that case, make repaying the debt as quickly as possible your absolute number one practical priority until it is entirely repaid — and I mean number one.

Loaves and Fishes. Live on less than you can afford. Indeed, make it a game to live on as much less than you can afford as is feasible in your practical circumstances — without, of course, sacrificing the necessities of functioning well in your daily life and helping those you care about when appropriate. Try to surprise yourself with how much you did not spend, how little you actually needed, and how far you could stretch your minimalist living expenses without feeling unduly deprived.

Redefine deprivation and need. Human life is essentially a spiritual endeavor. There is very little of a material nature that humans actually require in order to live very well, beyond sufficient nutrition, enough temperature-appropriate clothes to keep you dressed properly for your daily activities, and a reasonably comfortable and safe place to rest, share time with intimates, and sleep. Everything else of a material nature should be viewed as a treat, a reward, or a special need related to your circumstances. As far as humanly possible, do not allow yourself to fall into regarding as necessary anything that is not truly necessary, but merely pleasant or convenient. When you count pleasant luxuries and comforts as necessities, you artificially elevate the psychological baseline for evaluating what counts as a treat, reward, or special need.

Read, think, talk. As long as great literature is still available, avail yourself of it, thereby participating in a world of thought and action that exists permanently above our degradingly and dispiritingly oppressive moment. As long as your mind is still active and able to grapple with thoughts more essential than the latest tribal squabbling of the empty political spectacle, devote your free moments to learning and pondering ideas that help you see our decay in its proper light, which is to say at its true distance from your soul’s unearthly essence. As long as you can still engage with others in your midst in an atmosphere of mutual respect, trust, and enthusiasm for ideas and understanding, innocent of all practical advantage-seeking, power lust, or one-upmanship, make conversation (spoken and/or written) your chief social activity and delight.

Eschew the popular in entertainment and pastime. In an age of tyrannical social manipulation of the soft despotic sort, there is no attraction more compromising, no weakness more tempting, than the appeal of popular amusement. This is the “circuses” part of the infamous bread and circuses formula. Its subtle danger lies in its apparent function as a balm against the horrors and degradations around you. In fact, by issuing from and perpetuating the governing sensibilities and entrenched moral smallness of the time, such attractions are almost always sirens calling you to drown in that same sea of slavish normalcy bias that is gradually draining your natural rights in the political realm and your intellectual acuity in the educational realm. Find your entertainments and interests against the grain, on the dustiest stage, in forgotten lounges, or in libraries thick with the smell of mildew.

Look at trees. In an age of stimulating public discussion, ennobling art, and the freedom of mature adult independence, spending one’s time among one’s fellow citizens would be endlessly educational and elevating, as well as charming. In our age, by contrast, in which all public discussion is trivial or crude, all art lifelessly pretentious, and all politics illiberal, infantile, and irrational, a person who wishes to remain sane and hopeful — not hopeful about his immediate surroundings, but about the ultimate good of Providence — must find reminders of permanence, beauty, and history outside of the blandly human or quasi-human realm consisting of most of his contemporaries. This means caring about what we moderns call “nature” to a degree that might seem excessive to men living in healthy communities, but is downright life-sustaining to a spirit in chains. Spend spare moments near woods, along rivers, at the sea, on a mountain. Never miss a chance to observe the birds in the trees or on the wires above you, or to learn to distinguish their various calls. Stop to listen to the flowing water of a brook. Watch tiny fish jumping in a stream. No election, no edict, no vulgarity can override the refreshing effects of watching a heron hunt for mudfish or observing the iridescence of a kingfisher racing past your eyes.

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