Human Action Principles

March 26th, 1995

Lecture Number Nineteen


Ladies and gentlemen, we’ll continue now. During this seminar, I have made repeated references to the fact that the more important a particular subject of study is, the more difficult it is to get people to take an interest in that subject.

However, if you are progressing in this seminar, and I hope you are, toward the acquisition of what I call an accelerated intellectual evolution, then at this junction, you should be an exception to this generalization.

Earlier, I asked you to identify what you consider to be the most important subject of study there is and I made a claim with much fanfare, I said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the most important subject of study there is,” which was of course understanding the causes of things. Understanding causality.

Now it’s time for a new subject. I’m ready to introduce the second most important subject of study there is and I’ll begin by asking is there at least one person in the room who’s interested in knowing what I think is the second most important subject of study? Thank you sir, ma’am. All right, several of you, good.

The name of this subject is already in your vocabulary. The subject is ideology. My Oxford Universal Dictionary gives this usage, “ideology is the science of ideas and the study of the origin and nature of ideas.” So, an ideology involves a structure or body of ideas. For many people however, the term ideology has taken on a somewhat negative association or image.

My Random House dictionary definition of ideology illustrates in part why the image of the term ideology has often had a negative taint. This is the definition, from Random House, “Ideology: A body of doctrine with reference to some political and cultural plan, as that of fascism, along with devices for putting it into operation.”

The term, ideology, is commonly used in association with such phrases as the ideology of communism, the ideology of socialism and fascism. Therefore, if you have a negative image of these various isms then, not surprisingly, the term ideology itself takes on a negative image,. But the term ideology is used here in its literal meaning, namely the study of ideas, the science of ideas.

Why is the subject of ideology so important that I rate it at least the second most important subject of study there is? Here’s why, ideology is the ultimate means to either world peace or world war. Ideology is the ultimate means to the attainment of either progressive goals or regressive goals. That’s one reason why it’s important. My friends, the ideologies you follow determine whether you’re going to execute progressive human action or regressive human action.

Furthermore, if your human actions are regressive, there will be regressive domino effects from your actions that will affect all of society.  Conversely, if your human actions are progressive, there will be progressive domino effects from your actions that will affect all of society.

This brings to mind the fitting words of the English poet, John Donne, whose poem most of you have both heard and read. It is probably one of the most popular, well-known poems ever written. Writing in the 17th Century, Donne observes, “No man is an island entire to itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were. Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind. And therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”

John Donne has given us what you might call in a loose sense a poetic version of the human action domino effects.

When man chooses to be a part of mankind or society, no man is an island. As a part of mankind, you cannot isolate your actions in such a way that they will not affect others. You cannot do this. The question is, are your human actions, the ones you are generating, are they progressive domino effects or regressive domino effects? In either case, there is an ideology behind those actions that can be precisely identified, but how important is it to be able to scientifically identify that ideology to determine if it’s progressive or regressive? I would say it’s very important.

Here’s why. Ideology is the ultimate means either to world peace or to world war. So, is your ideology, the one you embrace, is it a generator of peace or a generator of war? Look at all the mothers in history, fathers, who have grieved over the death of their sons on the battlefield who believed in a regressive ideology that sent their own children into the war to be killed.  It is ideologies of war that send soldiers to war. There’s no other way you can get there. Who would want to go on his own?

Ideology is the ultimate means to either freedom or to slavery. As important as the subject of ideology is, as a means to the attainment of progressive or regressive goals, it remains one of the most difficult subjects to explain in a way that intelligent people can understand its significance. Nevertheless, I will try and I’m going to be talking about this important topic, ideology, the secret weapon that builds freedom and prosperity. When I say secret weapon which is, of course, a metaphor.

The exciting thing is that an ideology or structure of ideas can be used as a powerful non-violent weapon to defeat both poverty and slavery. The potency and importance of ideology was summarized by Professor von Mises, “the history of mankind is the history of ideas, for it is ideas, theories, and doctrines that guide human action, determine the ultimate ends at which men aim, and the choice of the means employed for the attainment of these ends.”

What does all of this mean to you? In the first instance, your ideology will determine all of the ultimate goals at which you aim. It will determine what those goals are. In the second instance, your ideology will determine all of the means you will employ in your effort to reach those goals. And how many of your human actions are influenced by your ideology? How many? All of them.

Your human actions come in three parts. One, you are choosing goals. Two, you are choosing means to those goals. Three, you are executing the means to those goals. And, of course, all three of these are influenced by your ideology, which includes all of your most fundamental premises, presuppositions, and your ideology is either borne out of science, reason, and observation or what? If it’s not that then it’s borne out of superstition, intuition, and dogma.

Please note the ideology of most people who are educated, intelligent, and successful, I don’t know how to tell you this, dear friends, is borne out of superstition, intuition, and dogma. That is the source of the ideology of most educated, intelligent, successful people on this planet, especially when the subject is the social domain, the social area.

Well if this is true, then what is the source of the ideology of those people who are uneducated, unintelligent, and unsuccessful? What’s the source of their ideology? What do you think? Their ideology is borne out of superstition, intuition, and dogma. And why should you care about the quality of your own ideology and the ideology of your family, friends, and associates? Why should you care?

It is ideas, ideas, and ideas that literally determine everything. They determine everything concerning your life. They determine your entire life. The science of ideology that I’m showing you enables you to make a qualitative analysis of your ideology or anyone else’s. The closer your own ideology is built upon a scientific understanding of causality, the closer your ideology is to reality.

As you accelerate your understanding of reality, you enhance your ability to distinguish between two dramatically different kinds of ideas, they are good ideas versus bad ideas. I put some semantic precision into the popular expression bad idea. A bad idea is any idea that when employed as a means to an end will fail to attain the end sought. In fewer words, a bad idea is a false means.

Earlier, I identified a certain class of ideas that I named The 13 Bad Ideas. What is the effect upon society if the 13 bad ideas are implemented? The belief among good people that these 13 bad ideas are 13 good ideas is the only impediment to a societal evolution from slavery to freedom and from war to peace. Remember it is not bad people with bad ideas that we have to reach, it is good people with bad ideas that we have to reach.

Good people with bad ideas are always more harmful than bad people with bad ideas, it always works that way. To stress this point, there is only one major barrier to the optimization of peace, prosperity, and freedom. However, in addition to these 13 bad ideas, there are two other common beliefs on the causes of war that are also false doctrines. They have not been added to the list of 13 bad ideas because they are not as destructive as the 13 but I will take a moment to mention them.

The first belief says that it is human nature to be evil and, therefore, it is a natural thing for humans to have an inborn compulsion to harm and destroy their fellow humans. The second belief says that it is human nature to be aggressive, and therefore it is a natural thing for humans to have an inborn compulsion to be war-like and to attack and destroy their fellow humans. Both of these doctrines lead to the conclusion that war is inevitable.

To a greater or lesser degree, most educated people believe these superstitions. There is nothing more dangerous than an educated man who is superstitious. The main problem with these doctrines is that they are dead wrong. Pure reason is a part of science. Let’s apply some reason to show the irrationality of these ideas.

If It had been, all along, human nature for us to attack and destroy our fellow humans, it is questionable that our species could even have survived. You know that it’s easy to take the life of another human if that’s your goal. It does not take genius, imagination, or even strength to kill. The weakest among us can poison the food of another or you can kill a person in a hundred different ways, but not all humans want to attack their fellow humans.

It is well known that soldiers have to be rigorously trained to get them to attack and kill their fellow humans. But what if no soldiers were ever trained to kill? Think about it. There wouldn’t be much killing in either battles or wars. That’s exactly what would happen if soldiers were not trained rigorously to kill. Hardly anybody would be killed.

In the military, the goal of basic training is to train soldiers to kill efficiently and effectively on command. Is this not true? But if to kill another human was a natural thing as is claimed, if there was an innate instinct to kill, if humans were genetically programmed to kill, please note dear friends, nobody would have to be trained to kill, they would just take to it naturally.

But observation reveals, and that’s really the foundation of science, observation reveals that most men do not take to killing naturally. That’s why they have to be trained to attack and kill their fellow humans. They just don’t take to this. I don’t feel comfortable killing my fellow humans. Most people don’t feel comfortable killing another person unless they’re trained to feel otherwise.

The question arises then, is man aggressive by nature or not? Our English word aggressive is derived from the Latin ‘aggredi,’ which means to approach. On the field of battle, to approach means to come close to an enemy fortification. As you approach the enemy fortification, the enemy will perceive your approach to be what? Aggressive. But there are many ways to approach your fellow humans, which means there are many forms of aggression.

In the world of commerce, an approach is a method of establishing a business relationship. In the social world, to approach someone is to seek some personal relationship. In either case, the approach can be aggressive, but it does not have to involve interventionism or violence. An aggressive advertising campaign aimed at increasing the sales of Coca Cola or you name it, Lux soap, does not involve interventionism or violent attacks upon anyone.

A bachelor’s aggressive courtship that showers the courted maiden with flowers and perfumes and candies, does not involve a violent attack upon the woman or anyone else. Some humans, to be sure, are more aggressive than others, but there’s no scientific evidence to show that humans are genetically programmed to seek greater satisfaction through aggressive violence and interventionism.

Unless trained to do otherwise, most humans, when they seek greater satisfaction through aggression, do so through non-interventionist, non-violent aggression. Men are not born killers. They have to be trained to kill, especially if they are going to kill large numbers of their fellow humans. For that you must be trained. To kill 100 men, you must be trained.

Voltaire reminds us, “if we could only learn the lessons of the wise.” But without a science, there’s no way to separate the wheat from the chaff. You’ve got to be able to scientifically evaluate conventional wisdom. It’s worthless unless you can do that. Here’s one of the great sentences in history, maybe we can learn something from it, from Voltaire, “It is forbidden to kill. Therefore, all murderers are punished, unless they kill in large numbers, and to the sound of trumpets.”

Think about it. It is essential for us to make a sharp distinction between interventionist aggression versus non-interventionist aggression. Non-interventionist aggression, any approach toward another that does not involve the imposition of harm or the confiscation of choice, that’s an important definition.

In the game of football, aggression aimed at your opponents is the basis of the entire game, but it’s non-interventionist aggression. It is aggression by contract. Football is aggression by contract. Do you see that? Each side agrees in advance to follow the rules of aggression. Those who violate the rules are penalized by the referee.

A sharp contrast, there is the opposite, interventionist aggression. Any approach toward another that involves the imposition of harm or the confiscation of choice. All politicians and bureaucrats have this in common. They commit acts of interventionist aggression against their fellow humans. It is this interventionist aggression that leads to war.

Wars are not caused because man is programmed to kill. Wars are caused because the very best people in society, especially the educated, intelligent, and successful, for the most part do not understand the causes of war or the causes of peace. If you don’t understand the causes of either of those, you don’t know anything about anything. You don’t have a clue as to what’s going on.

It’s that fundamental, it’s that important. These good people for thousands of years have aimed at peace while they advocate those very human actions that lead to war. And as long as these good people continue to believe that the 13 bad ideas are 13 good ideas, we will continue to have more than just war, we’ll have all of these: wars, famines, slave labor, epidemic crime, currency inflation, economic depression, widespread business failure and much, much more.

The 13 bad ideas are the 13 major arguments offered as a justification for the continued maintenance of a social system of involuntary servitude. One of the most important questions I posed to you earlier is should we, dear friends, should we abandon slavery in favor of freedom? What do you think? What do you believe? Do you think we should do this?

Well, it sounds all right, but gosh, I mean everybody I know is for involuntary servitude. Guy, you know, can’t get along unless he’s popular in our society so…

Well, now that I’ve explained just what slavery is in precise, scientific terms, if you want to abandon slavery on moral grounds because you think it is immoral, I don’t object to that. But I also claim that is not good enough. Just as I gave you two scientific and, hence, rational reasons for the abandonment of slavery in favor of freedom, I did this because I made this major point. We can’t do it on the basis of morality alone.

The second scientific reason to abandon politically imposed slavery is that it always causes, within a nation, internal interferences with free trade, which causes external interferences with free trade, which causes war.

I want to remind you that if you lived 100 years ago, you wouldn’t have to give up the system of involuntary servitude, slavery, at all. Wouldn’t have to give it up, wouldn’t have to abandon it. If it were not for the present potential of the unleashing of a high technology war, we wouldn’t have to abandon slavery now either. We could have continued making war forever. And if you’re unhappy, any of you, with the prospect now of having to abandon slavery, well then you can blame all of the progress we’ve made in the physical sciences in the past 100 years.

Without that progress, you and the other educated, intelligent, successful folks in the world could have continued to support the institution of slavery indefinitely and it wouldn’t have mattered because you could still procreate faster than you could kill yourself off in a war. My friends, that option is now, as the expression goes, gone with the wind. If you do not abandon involuntary servitude in favor of freedom, you and everyone else will be blown away with the winds of the new war, the unconventional war.

So my friends, ready or not, like it or not, in the interest of your own survival, you are now forced to scrap involuntary servitude and embrace freedom. For many, the abandonment of slavery will appear very painful, especially if they think they have a vested interest in the preservation of slavery. But recognize we’re not even interested in reaching those people who do have a vested interest in the maintenance of slavery such as politicians, bureaucrats, and others who derive their income from tax-confiscated revenues.

Ladies and gentlemen, these people are unreachable. You are wasting your time. You cannot educate politicians. They are all uneducable. Not one can be educated. He’s a professional interventionist. Are you going to tell him his whole profession is a disaster? He’s not going to like this. He won’t like you for telling him this. You’re wasting your time. You cannot educate the uneducable.

It’s the good people who are not professional interventionists that we have to reach, those people who do not see the connection between their acceptance of the 13 bad ideas and the confiscation of choice. Remember, to implement the 13 bad ideas that maintain slavery requires a confiscation of individual choice.

In a moment, we will look again at all 13 of The 13 Bad Ideas. They all involve some human action where individual A authorizes individual B to confiscate the human action choices of individual C. In fewer words, A appoints B to attack C. That’s the whole political bureaucratic mechanism, that’s all there is to it. That’s all it does. A appoints B to attack C. But by what authority do both A and B attack C? Upon the authority of whom? Where’s the authority?

A and B attack C on the authority of the ancient elders. Upon the authority of the ancient elders who long ago put down in writing, wherein they said it’s okay to do this. Well, here again are The 13 Bad Ideas, almost all of them accepted by educated, intelligent, successful people throughout the world. At least, they accept a number of these, if not all of them. Let’s look at them again.

Bad idea number one: if the government does not maintain servitude, entrepreneurs with products will profit from the loss sustained by employers and consumers. This bad idea supported by the Montaigne dogma that says, “One man’s profit comes from the loss of another.” It’s the win-lose mentality for A to gain, B must lose. As you will see, virtually all of the 13 bad ideas are derivatives of the Montaigne dogma, the win-lose paradigm, the win-lose mentality. They all come from that same mentality.

Bad idea number two: If the government does not maintain slavery, the quality and availability of education will diminish. It is said in order for the children to profit from an education, it must be paid for through the loss of tax-payers who send their children to private school, for example, or who have no children or who are forced to send their children to the bureaucratic schools. So-called called government-funded schools.

But the educational revolution within a free society will be led by, first and foremost, entrepreneurs. The result will be a dramatic increase in both the quality and availability of educational services. This will achieve more than a renaissance in education. Renaissance merely means what? Rebirth, re-awakening. Entrepreneurial leadership will give education a new beginning. Not merely a renaissance, a totally new beginning.

The pursuit of knowledge, the quest for understanding can be rendered an exciting experience for people of all ages. I’m trying and I try, one of my main efforts is to try to make the advancement of your understanding of causality exciting so you don’t go to sleep, because if you go to sleep, you get zero. It’s easy to go to sleep if you’re an adult or a child, either one, when we’re talking about abstractions. No bombs are blowing up to get your attention as they do in the typical Hollywood movie, you know, blow this up, blow that up, you sit on the edge of your seat for two hours.

The hardest thing in the world to do is to talk to adults on abstractions and that’s all they get and keep them alert. Yet, that’s where all the action is. Everything depends on abstractions. Principles, principles, principles, laws, laws, that’s where it is. If you don’t get it, you don’t know anything.  It’s not an overstatement. If anyone thinks it’s being exaggerated, I’ll be happy to discuss the subject.

The pursuit of knowledge, the quest for understanding then can be exciting. In time, it may be considered smart and vogueish to go after an understanding of what the hell is going on.

Bad idea number three: If the government does not maintain slavery, large corporations will monopolize the production of essential products. Again, the Montaigne dogma, corporation A will profit through the loss of corporation B. A win-lose mentality, thus we have been taught to fear the one seller of a product, even though there was no violence to impose the one seller and his monopoly.  Entrepreneurial profit, whether there is only one seller of a product or 100 sellers has a single source, entrepreneurial profit.

Consumers are willing to purchase the entrepreneurs’ product at a price that exceeds the total cost of production.

It is the consumer bosses who then determine if there is one seller or 100 sellers of a product. Therefore, the profit earned by entrepreneur A is not due to the loss suffered by entrepreneur B. Once again, the Montaigne dogma, a win-lose mentality is refuted. One man’s profit is not due to the loss of another.

Bad idea number four: If the government does not maintain slavery, then burglary, robbery, arson, rape and murder will reach epidemic levels. The confiscation of choice is the means to all of these crimes. A criminal, who’s fallen for the Montaigne dogma, thinks the only way he can profit is if his victim suffers a loss. As I’ve shown you, with the expansion of a proprietary community run for a profit, entrepreneurial imagination will provide protection for the non-criminals from the victimization of the would-be criminals.

The best thing to have is only would-be criminals but no criminals. He would like to be a criminal, he would like to rob a bank perhaps, he would like to steal a car but there’s no way to do it. You can’t be harmed by the would-be criminal. You can only be harmed by a criminal. As we experience the attenuation of bureaucratic interventionism, we will also experience the attenuation of private crime for all of the many reasons I’ve previously disclosed.

Bad idea number five: If the government does not maintain servitude, foreign aggressors will enslave the people. What is the underlying cause of all foreign aggression? It’s a popular belief among educated, intelligent, and successful people, that the 13 bad ideas are 13 good ideas. To attenuate and ultimately terminate external aggression and war we must attenuate, and ultimately terminate, the political and bureaucratic interventionism that ends in aggression and war.

This interventionism is supported by the popular belief in the 13 bad ideas. As a belief in these 13 bad ideas is attenuated, interventionism is also attenuated, which means that war, guess what, is also attenuated. This is the evolution we have to speed up.

Bad idea number six: if the government does not maintain servitude, foreign manufactured products will be sold in domestic markets to the detriment of domestic producers. Again, the Montaigne dogma rears its ugly head, a win-lose mentality. The producers in nation A can only profit, it is said, when the producers of nation B suffer loss. And where there is a marriage between the principle of the division of labor and the principle of free trade, every nation wins. There are no losers.

Bad idea number seven: If the government does not maintain slavery, many elderly citizens will be impoverished. The Montaigne dogma says the only way the elderly can have security and prosper is if others suffer a loss, especially the young. Therefore we must force the young to subsidize the old at gunpoint. Not so brilliant an idea. It’s a bad, bad idea.

What is the true cause of social security for the elderly, or for that matter, people of any age? Regardless of what your age is, it’s useful and desirable to have social security. Think about it. It has nothing to do with age, does it? It doesn’t. Real social security now and forever has a simplex cause. The unrestricted, free operation of the principal of prosperity.

Where there is prosperity, you will find economic security. And where you apply the principle of poverty, in contrast, you will find economic insecurity, it’s as simple as that. All principles work. The principle of poverty works. The principle of prosperity works. All principles work.

Bad idea number eight: If the government does not maintain servitude, there will be mass unemployment. The Montaigne dogma implies that the unemployed can only profit when others suffer a loss. But again, where there is a marriage between the free market and the division of labor, the cause of the unemployment where there would otherwise be employment, these causes have been attenuated or terminated.

I think I gave you the major causes of unemployment in the United States:

  1. Government-imposed minimum wage laws.
  2. Government-imposed union wage rates and the violent exclusion of those who want to work, and sometimes it is an execution. People have been murdered for being a scab.
  3. Government confiscation of entrepreneurial profit.
  4. Government child labor laws that cause mass teenage unemployment.

All of these are internal interferences with what? Free trade. But where there is free trade between entrepreneurs and those who choose to produce, where there is free trade, you optimize the opportunity for the productive employment of all those who want to be employed.

Bad idea number nine: If the government does not maintain servitude, involuntary servitude, inflation will destroy the value of the currency. Well, when the government monopolizes the issuance of money in the first place, the government will inflate that money when it is politically expedient to do so, which historically has been either sooner or later. That covers all possibilities historically.

Inflation will come either sooner or later. There will be no exceptions where the politicians gain control of the money on a monopolistic basis. Protection from inflation, if you want that, has another source. A free society where entrepreneurs have the freedom to issue money and where there is a free trading of money for money, money for goods and services. Money in a free society evolves, it’s what all of the consumer bosses want for money, that becomes what the money is. And there’s no monopoly, there can be a dozen different monies. Each has a convertibility rate with another kind of money. Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter at all.

It could be a seashell standard. There have been money systems where seashells was the standard, was the money.

Bad idea number ten: If the government does not maintain servitude, any individual can produce any product, offering it for sale at any price. The Montaigne dogma says the only way producers can profit is if other producers and consumers suffer a loss. However, as I have scientifically demonstrated, the only means to the optimization of the greatest satisfaction for the people is where the consumer bosses vote for the producers of their choice.

Bad idea number 11: If the government does not maintain servitude, transportation and communication services will deteriorate into chaos. The Montaigne dogma tells us that entrepreneurs and technologists in transportation and communication can only profit when their competitors and customers suffer a loss. First of all, I’d like to point out that if we had to depend upon the super-regressives, that is the politicians and bureaucrats, for our transportation, if we had to depend on them, we’d still be walking.

If we had to depend upon them for communication, we would still be shouting, shouting would be, “Hello there, did you get my message down there?” If you had to depend upon the super-regressives for communication, we’d be shouting. What then is the cause of modern transportation and communication?

Let’s look at the names of some of the prime movers in the development of modern transportation and communication. Who were they? You recognize all of these names. Henry Ford, James Watt, Thomas Edison, Rudolf Diesel, Robert Fulton, Guglielmo Marconi, George Westinghouse, Alexander Graham Bell, Edwin Howard Armstrong, Wilbur and Orville Wright, to name a few.

Ford gave us mass transit systems for the masses. Watt gave us the engines that were the first to power ships and trains and the engines that powered the industrial evolution. Edison gave us the first electrical distribution system. He gave us electric trains, microphones and much more. Diesel gave us the now-famous diesel engine, an economical source of power for ships and trains. Fulton launched the first commercially successful steamboats. Marconi gave us wireless telegraphy. Westinghouse gave us a railroad safety system with his air brake, his automatic signaling devices, and much more.

And Westinghouse is the beginning of transportation safety. He gave us gas, natural gas distribution technology, how to design it, how to build it, how to have automatic shut-off devices to avoid accidents. George Westinghouse gave us the whole technology and it’s largely intact today, little changed from the way he developed it and innovated it over a century ago. Bell gave us the first intelligible and commercially practical telephone transmission system. Armstrong gave us a radio frequency modulation system, better known as FM, and much more in technology.

The Wright brothers gave us the wind tunnel and the science of aerodynamics that led to the creation of engine-powered flying machines. All of these men were technologists and most of them were also entrepreneurs and many of them were investors all three, which means they are members of the elite class I call the super-progressives. To this list, you could add pages of the names of other super-progressives who built our transportation and communication technology.

And, dear friends, we are now led to believe that if left alone, without bureaucratic supervision and interventionism, these super-progressives, super-humanitarians will allow everything they built to collapse into utter ruin and chaos without bureaucratic guidance. Who believes this? Most people. Furthermore, we are told the only people who can come to the rescue and maintain order are the super-regressives in the roles of politicians and bureaucrats.

Now, at this junction, without my giving you a discussion of the regressive domino effects of bureaucratic interventionism as it has related to transportation and communication industry, you should be able to generalize from what I’ve already said, that progress in transportation and communication has been impeded and retarded by all of the government intervention.

If you look into it, you will find that the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, that regulates communication by television, radio and wire, the ICC, the Interstate Commerce Commission that has regulated carriers of goods and people by land, the FAA, the Federal Aviation Agency, that regulates all carriers of goods and people by air, if you look into it, they do not serve the best interest of the consumer bosses, and the consumer bosses’ demands for satisfaction and the highest quality and safest transportation and availability at the lowest price in both transportation and communication.

Bad idea number 12: If the government does not maintain servitude, the national resources will be squandered and the land will be rendered uninhabitable by pollution. While I have taken on the subject of pollution in my graduate seminar that I call Human Action Forum, and another graduate seminar I call Human Action Solutions, I’ve spent in both of those graduate seminars, at least one entire session to how the free market can achieve protection for the ecology and why the unfree market is unable to do it.

Bad idea number 13: If the government does not maintain servitude, the quality and availability of health services will deteriorate. We’ve been led to believe that the quality of the peoples’ health can be enhanced by bureaucratic confiscation and interventionism. An overwhelming majority of the people have fallen for this fallacy. The fact is where you have an unhampered free market, the trend is toward increasingly higher quality health services available for an increasingly larger portion of the population.

But we do not have an unhampered free market. Instead, we have experienced a steady growth of bureaucratic interventionism into the realm of healthcare services. This and other forms of bureaucratic intervention have led to today’s skyrocketing prices in every area of healthcare service. These rapidly rising prices have rendered health services more and more unaffordable and, hence, unavailable to a growing segment of the population.

As always, the government propagandists are quick to demand more interventionism to correct the very problems government interventionism caused in the first place. That’s the way all bureaucratic mechanisms operate. They interfere, cause a disaster, and then they say, well we need more interference to correct the disaster that they just caused, and there’s no end to this. And you get a spiraling regressive domino effect on and on and on.

In other words, they screw-up and they say, “Well we need more screw-ups to repair the screw-ups.” And every repair is a bigger screw-up. You ever had that happen? You go in to get your car fixed and in the process of fixing your car, they screw something up and make it even worse than before. Ever had this happen to you? It cannot be just an automobile, it can be anything. Go in to get your stereo fixed or your television or your computer or something else and it’s more screwed up than when you gave it to them. It happens all the time.

Then you hope that doesn’t happen to you when you go to your physician because that can cost you a lot more than the computer repairman or the TV repairman screwing up. But we have 13 bad ideas, supported by the majority of the highest quality people in the world. Who are the highest quality people? Those people who perceive themselves to be educated, intelligent, and successful.

The fact that these bad ideas are accepted by these good people does not make them any less bad. Every one of these bad ideas is an ideological barrier to the abandonment of slavery and the attainment of freedom. Every one of these bad ideas directly or indirectly is a cause of war, inflation, depression, slave labor, famine, you name it.

All right, the question does arise, well, what can we do about it? It’s important to recognize that the causes of these social catastrophes cannot be removed by the wave of some political wand. Political wandism doesn’t work. All political attempts to outlaw war, inflation, depression, slave labor, famine, and so forth will predictably fail. Well, if we cannot successfully outlaw what’s wrong, should we then oppose what’s wrong?

Should we oppose bureaucracy, oppose interventionism? Should we oppose the promulgators of the confiscation of individual choice? What do you think? It’s tempting but I’ll tell you something friends, it won’t work. You say well, other than that, what’s wrong with opposing these people? It won’t work.

Well Mises made a clear, very clear statement on the subject. He says, “An anti-something movement displays a purely negative attitude. It has no chance whatever to succeed. Its passionate diatribes virtually advertise the program they attack.”

He goes on, “People must fight for something they want to achieve, not simply reject an evil, however bad it may be. They must without reservations endorse the program of a market economy.” Von Mises calls it the market economy, I call it the free market or the free society. A free market society is an achievement worth fighting for in a sense. It remains the only societal system we have not yet tried. The free society is the only thing we’ve never tried.

You realize that? It’s the only alternative there is to a society run by bureaucrats in which slavery is imposed for the benefit of the slave masters, of course always in the name of the people. We’re doing this for you sir. Well, if you think about it, we’re really helping you a lot by confiscating your choices and your wealth. You should be thankful. At least I’ve dedicated my life as a public servant to help you. Pay up or else.

This brings me to a discussion of a solution of monumental magnitude. I call it the Ideological Attenuation Solution. I will give you fair warning. The greater the solution, the greater the difficulty seeing the solution on the part of intelligent people. Unintelligent people never see it.

If you are an intelligent person, there’s nothing embarrassing about the fact that there are some things that are more difficult to understand than others. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about this. The solution has to do with solving this problem. How can we attenuate or make thin the common belief among educated, intelligent, successful adults that the continued maintenance of slavery will bring about the greatest good for the greatest number?

How can we attenuate their belief that the 13 bad ideas are 13 good ideas? How can we attenuate the belief that any bad idea, the popular acceptance of which will cause major catastrophes for man, how can we attenuate their belief in any bad idea that’s going to be a catastrophe, or results in a catastrophe when it’s implemented?

During an earlier lecture, I gave a name to the most destructive idea in the history of man, the Montaigne dogma, namely, no man can profit except by the loss of another. The popular belief in the Montaigne dogma led to one of the most pernicious and catastrophic ideologies I know of in the history of pernicious ideologies. The Montaigne dogma is also the win-lose mentality, for me to win, you must lose.

Pernicious, as you know, means what? Primarily it means deadly. If it’s deadly, it’s destructive. That word is probably already in the vocabulary of most of you. If it’s not in your vocabulary, pernicious is a good word. Add it to your vocabulary.

This is the most pernicious, the most deadly, one of the most deadly ideas to ever come along and that has led to the most violent deaths of so many people. This deadly ideology has a name you have heard of, it is called witch craft. Witchcraft. As a child, you are introduced to witches in your children’s literature. The Grimm brothers were German folklorists, all of you remember their fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel. The villain of the story is a wicked witch who has built a house in the forest made of bread, cake, sugar.

This attractive house is designed to lure unsuspecting children into the clutches of the witch, who is also a cannibal who likes to feast upon her young captives. I’m not making this up, this is the story that the Grimm brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm gave us. They gave us some grim stories, those Grimm brothers.

So we don’t think about this, if it’s a childhood story, we just pass it on from father to son, father to son. We don’t even stop to analyze it, do we? If you lived in the western world in the 15th, 16th and 17th or even 18th centuries, a witch meant altogether something else. At the time, it was commonly believed that witches were the cause of certain disliked effects, such as plagues, great hailstorms, the poisoning of crops, and all manner of misfortune that could befall the people.

How did a witch acquire all of its supernatural power? How did the witch get her power? Do you know how witches got their power?

The witch was any woman believed to have had sexual intercourse with the devil, Satan, or to have made a compact with an evil spirit. It was believed the witch gained her power to destroy from her satanic lover, the devil himself. On December 5, 1484, Pope Innocent VIII issued a papal bull. That’s a major letter from the Pope, Summis desiderantes. In this official letter, the Pope directed the Grand Inquisitor to put to death all witches and wizards. Wizards were male, the male counterpart of a witch was a wizard. One authority estimates as many as 9 million men, women, and children were put to death after being accused of practicing witchcraft over a period of many centuries.

Perhaps the number was only half that and only four and a half million people were actually put to death for the crime of witchcraft. Maybe they exaggerated. It’s not totally clear the size or the number except it is millions. Most of you know that they didn’t always keep the most accurate records, although they tried to. All those that were tried and executed, there was a record of the trial and they kept these records. A lot of the records have survived.

Most of you know the method of execution for the charge of witchcraft, it is burning alive while tied to a stake, usually placed in the middle of the town square. Other methods of execution you’ve read about include all of the grisly horror stories you’ve heard about and then some, being crushed to death, tortured to death, boiled alive, scores of ingenious methods of putting people to death. I could give whole lectures just on that and I’m not exaggerating.

All right, I have a question for you. How many of the nine million, or maybe it was only four and a half million, how many of these were actually guilty of witchcraft?

The accused men and boys were called wizards and warlocks and they also gained their power from the devil. How many of these were actually guilty? Was it maybe only two-thirds, maybe just six million were guilty and three million were innocent, is that possible? Maybe it was the other way around. Maybe only a million were guilty, is that possible? Somehow they didn’t do a good job of record keeping in the courts? So maybe there were only a million guilty of witchcraft.

Only a million women had sexual intercourse with the devil instead of nine million. Well how about zero women gave birth to Satan’s child? That’s what they believed. A woman has intercourse with the devil, she will bear Satan’s child. Hey, if you believe that, you might perceive that child to be dangerous. Possible? How about zero men and boys made an evil compact with the devil to cause harm to their friends and neighbors?

Well, if their trials were conducted today and you were the judge, how many of you would judge all nine million or six million or whatever it was, how many of you would judge them all innocent, innocent of all charges? How many of you think the cruel and barbarous execution of these millions of innocent men, women, and children, how many think it was a rather large catastrophe? Any of you?

Pretty big, pretty large huh? We’re here to understand causality. What was the fundamental cause of one of the most outrageous examples of organized cruelty in the history of mankind? what was behind it? Superstition and what’s behind superstition? The failure to understand cause and effect. We know today these people were not the cause of the Bubonic Plague. They were accused of starting the plague, these witches.

They were accused of causing hailstorms to destroy crops. They were accused of thunderstorms, they were accused of causing a cow to dry up its milk and no longer can give milk. Now we can’t have milk because this witch has caused the cow to stop giving milk. What do you think is the quality of the idea of the witch trial? What do you think is the quality of this idea?

Another classic example, the whole thing was a bad idea from the start wasn’t it? This has to be one of the very worst bad ideas in the entire history of bad ideas. Therefore, I have this question for you. How, my friends, could these persecutions of totally innocent people have continued from the time of Innocent VIII for some four centuries? Remember the American Revolution is only a little over 200 years ago and that seems like a long time ago to us. How could this have happened for a period of time twice as long ago as was the American Revolution?

The witch persecutions continued only because they were supported by the very best people. And who were the very best people in the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries? I’ll tell you who they were, they were those people who perceived themselves to be educated, intelligent, and successful, just like today. These good people even published a guidebook for the proper conduct of witch trials. It was called The Witch Hammer published in 1485.

The book was written in the language of the educator at that time, Latin. It was published at the command of Innocent the VIII. What a name for the commander, Innocent the VIII. There were seven earlier Innocents. The Witch Hammer, the book, was so popular, it was reprinted in numerous editions. In later years, it was used by the Protestants as the standard guide for their witch persecutions. The approach to dealing with these so-called witches has been well documented.

On the continent of Europe, the accused witch was tortured until she confessed. Then by applying more torture or the threat of it, the names of her co-conspirators would be extracted from her one by one. These innocent people would then be arrested and tortured until they named their co-conspirators which frequently was everyone they knew. Anything to stop this torture. Anything.

The reason there were so many confessions, according to the bureaucratic rules of the time, I have a copy of The Witch Hammer in my library, according to the bureaucratic rules of the time in Witch Hammer, if you read it, it clearly states that the torture was not allowed to end until a full confession was extracted. It’s clearly stated in clear Latin.

Which meant what? What percentage of accused people finally confessed?

Nearly everybody confessed. The only exceptions were those who expired. They died before they had an opportunity to confess. Those were pretty much the only exceptions. It’s interesting to note that in England at the time, the accused women were not tortured with the usual torture instruments, so the English were at least ahead there. Instead, they were subjected to what was called the ‘water ordeal.’

Some of you know how this worked. A woman accused accused of being a witch was thrown into a deep pond or a lake. If she swam to shore and to safety, she was immediately judged by her accusers as guilty. Why guilty? Well it should be obvious to you if you’ve read Witch Hammer. She has been held buoyant by the strong arms of her lover. And who is her lover? Satan, the devil, who according to Jewish and Christian belief is God’s chief adversary, the tempter of mankind, the ruler in hell.

However, if this accused woman sinks beneath the waters and drowned, she was immediately judged innocent of all charges. I wish, I wish, dear friends, for the sake of these tragic people, I wish I were making this up. You know, the Greeks invented what is called a tragicomedy. What a tragicomedy. You don’t know whether to laugh or cry so maybe you do some of both.

I have a question for you. Since it’s been well over a century, a century and a half or more since the last known person was burned at the stake for witchcraft in Spain, why bring it up now? Is it to ridicule the people responsible for these witch trials and persecutions? I’d like to share with you again the motto of this institute from the famous Jewish philosopher, who, over 300 years ago, was persecuted by the Jews of Amsterdam.

Spinoza, a Jew, was kicked out of Amsterdam by his fellow Jews for heresy. Spinoza was ahead of his time. He is one of the truly great philosophers in the history of philosophy. And if all he ever said was this one single sentence, it’s one of the greatest concepts ever conceived, it’s the motto of this institute, “I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them.”

Using the language of Spinoza, I’m not here to scorn the human actions of those people who persecuted all of these innocent people. I am here to use science to understand what caused these human actions that led to this atrocity ending in the torture and brutal murder of millions and millions of men, women, and children over four centuries. How could this possibly have happened for four centuries?

The witch trial itself and the persecution of these pathetic victims is an effect. What was the cause of this disastrous effect that any person today with even an ounce of compassion would dislike and who might even shed a genuine tear on their behalf? That might be worth at least a tear for some of these millions of people that met such a cruel death, half a tear maybe even though it happened centuries ago. Half a tear.

The witch persecutions were caused by, guess what, an ideology. Ideologies determine everything, they run everything. Everything is based on ideology. It’s all ideas, ideas, ideas that govern your actions and govern everybody else’s actions. What was this ideology? Here are five of the ideas that made this nightmare possible:

  1. There are mortal women, witches, who are having sexual encounters with a supernatural power, Satan, the devil.
  2. These women can bear Satan’s child. It was common belief that these babies, who are born of the devil, must be taken from their mothers and burned at the stake. Live babies burned at the stake.This is important to note because you can see that from time to time, there would be adults who were condemned to the stake for reasons of envy, spite, jealousy, which did happen all the time but you were not likely to condemn a mere babe to the stake. It’s hard to have a lot of vitriolic anger spewed toward a babe, who’s maybe a few months old, right? You have to be in bad shape psychologically to hate a two-month-old baby. Well, the point is these people were convinced that the baby was what? A threat, a genuine living threat to their well-being. How else could you get adults, educated, intelligent, and successful, to burn babies alive? In fact, if that were your assignment, to get adults to burn babies alive, how would you go about it? I’m telling you one way to do it and how it was done. It was done with ideas.If you don’t know the quality of the ideas you believe, you are in big trouble. These women, it was believed, had entered into a compact with Satan for the purpose of doing harm to their fellow man.
  1. With the power of Satan behind them, these women can make weather, hail storms, rain storms, snow storms, thunder storms. Those accused of witchcraft were actually called weather makers.  If you were called a weather maker, and you were a woman, you could be in big trouble. Because you’re one of them, and it’s us against them, and you’re one of them. You are a weather maker. I saw you making weather.4.  With this Satanic power, these women can destroy crops, buildings, ships, bridges, and people. These women can even cause the greatest ships at sea to be crushed in a violent tempest.
  2. And finally, these women’s confessions under torture without limit are proof of their guilt.

What do you think of the system? This is the heart of the ideas behind the ideology of witchcraft. And can any of you see where the Montaigne dogma fits into the ideology? Sure. The only way good people of the community can profit is if these evil witches and wizards suffer a loss, the loss of their lives.

The win-lose mentality. For us to gain, you must be forced to lose. I hope you’re beginning to see just how pervasive and ubiquitous is the Montaigne dogma, the win-lose mentality. Do you see how ubiquitous it is? In other words, it’s everywhere. It’s only dangerous though when good people believe it.

I’ve shown you the ideological cause of witch persecutions. They were systematic in the western world for some four centuries. As you know, they touched the New World at Salem, at Massachusetts Bay in 1692 when 19 women were hanged for practicing witchcraft.

It is erroneous, we’ve heard about the witch burnings in Salem; there were no witches burned that we know of in North America. They were hanged, or big stones were piled on them slowly one by one, just keep loading on more stones, and you slowly get crushed to death. Probably not a pleasant way to go. A lot of pain goes with that.

Let me ask you this question, are there people living today in Europe and North America who still believe in the existence of witches, devils and evil spirits? Yes, there are. I don’t know of anybody personally who falls into this category, at least they haven’t told me so. But you see them interviewed on television all the time, you read about them in the paper, am I right?

They do exist. All right, here’s a second question then; knowing that they do exist, do you know of any witch trials and persecutions taking place today?

Not impossible, maybe some in South America although I don’t know of any. There may be some, I don’t know of any personally. Certainly I haven’t heard of any in the United States. Well if there are people who still believe in this superstition then why don’t we still have systematic persecution of witches?

Because the ideas have been rendered impotent. They became impotent when the great majority of people who were educated, intelligent, and successful finally saw the reality of the superstition. A superstitious person is one who holds a false conception of causation. Today, the people who believe in the superstition of witchcraft are largely uneducated, unintelligent, and unsuccessful.

I haven’t seen such a study but I would say probably the great majority of college graduates in the United States do not believe in witches or witchcraft. A larger percentage of non-college graduates do believe in it, just as an illustration. And if you go to the physics department, where they do teach rational ideas, you won’t find very many MSs in physics or PhDs in physics or just plain Baccalaureate degreed physicists who believe in witchcraft.

It’s probably not zero but I would bet that it’s pretty close to zero. What changed or revolutionized the thinking of the educated, intelligent, and successful on the subject of witchcraft? Would any of you like to know. The note says 100 women killed in 1994 in South Africa by stoning as witches.

All right, and how many of these were college graduates? Who did the stoning? I’m not saying that being a college graduate is necessarily of itself a significant attainment, I’m just making a point that in Africa, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of this goes on, especially among the tribes, the African tribes.

Why is it certainly in the western world, where in the western world at one time, only a few hundred years ago was dominated with the idea of witchcraft and this whole superstition. Today in the western world, that excludes Africa, today in the western world, we don’t have this. What revolutionized the thinking of educated, intelligent, successful, people on the subject of witchcraft? Is this important to know? Would any of you like to know?

Or would you rather be golfing, watching television, or whatever. There are 40,000 other things you can do. I have to compete with all that. I have to get you here, I’ve got to compete with golf, tennis, the LA Marathon. I’ve got to compete with Aunt Fanny’s picnics, on and on and on, am I right?

And the only reason people don’t come to the seminar when they’re invited is they think they got a better offer, the better offer being, oh, I’ve got to do some extra work, blah, blah, blah. Or I’ve got to go to this event or this party or this social thing or this sport event or ping pong. They got a better offer.

So the way to sell the seminar is to convince them this is the best offer, that’s your assignment if you choose to accept it. You’ve got to convince them this is a better offer than any other one you can come up with or they’ll even give you your money back if you don’t say so and I’m telling you at this at the end of the seminar. If this was not the best investment of your time, let us know. You don’t have to confront me personally. Just send a note.

I’m not going to argue with you. Send a note that this was not the best investment of my time and my money, we’ll write you a check for the full amount of the tuition. That’s what the guarantee is in this seminar. And yes, we have had a request for a refund and we sent them the check and the check did not bounce and the person that asked for his money back thought this was one of the most valuable courses that he’d ever taken? But at one time I was even more audacious.

I had told people, “If you do not think this is the most valuable course you’ve ever taken, let us know and we’ll write you a check for the full amount of the tuition.” But this one person said, “Well this is one of the most valuable courses I’ve ever taken and I would recommend it to anybody, but there was some others that I thought were pretty good too.” We gave him his money back.

That’s the only request we’ve had for a refund. Anyhow, whatever turned their thinking around, the good people, the thinking of the good people, they’re the only ones that count.

Whatever turned their thinking around, it must have been a marvelous, a powerful something, to stop them from burning babies alive when they thought that was the thing to do to protect the community from plague and other disasters, which had nothing to do with witchcraft.

Because whatever this powerful something was, it devastated one of the most firmly entrenched, deadly dogmas in the entire history of western civilization. The superstition was overwhelmed and defeated by a concept you heard about in this seminar. It can be identified in one word, science, which implies, of course, a greater understanding of what? Causality.

The impact of science was not so much revolutionary at the time,  as it was evolutionary. There were three specific scientific inventions by three men of science, known to all of you, that attenuated the superstitious belief in witchcraft. Remember, attenuate is what? To make thin, to weaken or reduce in force, intensity, effect.

These three landmark events played the major role in the bringing to a conclusion perhaps the most shameful application of the Montaigne dogma, namely the witch hunt and the institutionalized persecution of those accused of weather making and other spurious crimes against humanity. Spurious meaning false.

These events were the human action achievements of three technologists and super-humanitarians. The first event, 1643. The place: Florence, Italy. The event: The invention of the barometer. The inventor: Evangelista Torricelli. As you know, this instrument that measures atmospheric pressure has been a major tool in enabling us to understand the cause of weather phenomena.

The second event, 1714. The place, Amsterdam, Holland. The event, The invention of the first practical thermometer. The inventor, Gabriel Fahrenheit. The German physicist Fahrenheit gave us both the alcohol and the mercury thermometer, another major tool that has shown us the cause of, guess what, weather phenomena.

The third event, 1752. The place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The event, The invention of the lightning rod. The inventor, Benjamin Franklin. The idea of a lightning rod came as a result of Franklin’s famous kite experiment depicted here by an artist. In the middle of a thunderstorm, Franklin sends a kite high up into the storm clouds and draws out of the storm an electric current that charges a leyden jar.

From the stored electric charge in the jar, he can then draw out small electric sparks. This is of course an artist’s conception. Artists usually don’t know anything about science, so this cherub here is depicted as giving Franklin the help. I can assure you Franklin did not rely upon that source, he used the scientific method to figure this out. No cherubs.

Franklin recognizes these electric sparks in the laden jar and the giant sparks in the sky are connected and all of this is a part of the same natural phenomenon. He realizes that if we can understand the cause of things in nature, we can also tame nature. We can then get nature to serve mankind.

Now, you’d have to be a pretty bold thinker with a lot of self-confidence and self-esteem way back in the middle of the 18th century to think that you could, as a human being, tame something as powerful and as awesome as a lightning bolt. Even today, unless one is jaded or an insensitive dolt, would see that the spectacle of the electrical dynamics of lighting and lightning storms is a profound demonstration of nature’s showmanship, would you not agree?

Of course, in southern California, we don’t get too many treats that way, but Franklin even risked his life to perform this kite experiment. The next two men who attempted to duplicate the experiment at different times were both electrocuted and killed. Risk – this was a dangerous experiment. Risk.

The reason Franklin was not hurt was because he knew enough about electrical phenomena to insulate himself from the ground while he was flying the kite in a storm. He was standing on an insulator. Pretty smart, if you knew what you were doing. The copiers of the experiment were electrocuted because they didn’t know this and partly because Franklin’s experiment was taken without his permission and published without his permission and the publisher screwed up how it was done.

And so these people read it and there was no reference to, oh by the way, you better isolate yourself, you better have some insulators there or you’re going to be zapped. Well, not in that language, but…

Franklin’s experiments gave him the knowledge to invent a very practical and valuable device known as the lighting rod. The lightning rod is another tool that has shown us more about the cause of what? Weather phenomena. And so, ladies and gentlemen, the barometer, the thermometer and the lightning rod are three tools of science that have shown us the true causes of weather phenomena.

Well now, what does all this have to do with the witches? Remember the witches. Well, dear friends, I don’t know how to tell you this, but as things turned out, these witches, these so-called weather-makers, did not cause and could not have caused a single hailstorm, thunderstorm, lightning storm, snowstorm, or any other kind of storm.

But what about the millions of people who were accused of the crime of weather-making and other equally absurd transgressions? Well friends, they were all innocent. They didn’t cause one storm that destroyed any crops with wind or hail, no storms to drown someone, no storm that destroyed a building with lightning.

The fact that they were all burned to death by the millions, strangled to death, boiled to death, crushed to death, hey, it was all a mistake. But if you can ask these good people today who were the judges and the executioners of these innocent victims, and if they could know what we know today about the science of meteorology, the science of weather phenomena, what would they say?

They have a perfect out.  They can all say, well you know, we thought it was a good idea at the time. What else can they say? We thought it was a good idea at the time, we thought we were doing the right thing. But most of these good people who were educated, intelligent, and successful who supported the witch persecutions at the time, they all thought it was a good idea. These people were missing a science that could successfully differentiate between a good idea versus a bad idea.

When these people wanted to protect their towns from the ravages of the Bubonic Plague and other pestilence, they would torture the innocent to identify the witches and warlocks who were spreading the plague, which commonly, especially in the Christian areas, turned out to be Jews. The Jews were spreading the plague. So Jews by the hundreds of thousands were burned at the stake by good Christians just because they happened to be Jews..

Well, if the goal is protection, then there’s something wrong with their means to that goal. It is a false means, a false means is any means that cannot attain the end sought.

In retrospect, what can we say about the entire idea of the witch hunt? Dear friends, it was a bad idea. A bad idea is a false means. Again, note I’ve given semantic precision to the popular expression, bad idea. The witch hunt was a bad idea starting when? From the beginning.

It is man’s implementation of bad ideas that causes most of his misery, or has caused man a magnitude of misery that is beyond description. The cause of war? A bad idea. The cause of currency inflation? A bad idea. The cause of economic depression? A bad idea. The cause of slavery? A bad idea.

These bad ideas take the form of an ideology. When you accept an ideology, you accept a structure of ideas. Everyone has accepted various ideologies. However, most people cannot articulate their own ideologies. This includes most people who have graduated from colleges and universities. I know you think I’m picking on these people.

But even when an individual can articulate his ideologies, can he or she differentiate between the good ideas versus the bad ideas that make up those ideologies? It takes a science to be able to do this. That’s why all the emphasis on science. There isn’t any other way to do it. Even though the ideology of witchcraft was made up of some of the very worst bad ideas in the history of bad ideas, it took a science to show us just how bad they were. You see that?

In order for you to achieve a dramatic increase in your comprehension of causality, you must learn how to make large, sweeping generalizations. In science, the very largest generalizations are called integrations.

You may bring together and combine a lot of pieces or ideas to make some bigger piece or idea. With the idea of integration in mind, I’m going to take the 13 bad ideas, combine them into what I will call The Granddaddy, The Ultimate Bad Idea, because it’s easier to focus on just one bad idea than it is upon 13 separate bad ideas.

If your assignment was to identify the ultimate bad idea, what would you come up with? There was a fundamental idea behind the persecution of all those accused of being weather-makers or witches. What was behind the persecution of Jews, Christians, Africans, Caucasians? What is behind the persecution of entire nations? When politicians and bureaucrats are directing and orchestrating the bombing of an entire nation, that’s called war.

Please note, war involves the persecution of entire nations of people. Think about it. It’s time, my friends, to give up all of the persecution. I’ll give you some simple logic. In order to survive, we are forced to give up war. Does anybody have a problem with giving up war? Is this going to hurt you or offend you?

In order to give up war, we are forced to give up slavery, servitude in favor of freedom. Slavery in all of its many forms is the cause of war in the first place and if the connection between slavery and war is not clear, please bring that one up. That’s why we have discussions. But if I don’t hear from you, I don’t know what you’re thinking and I can’t read minds.

Without slavery, which is a derivative of bureaucratic interventionism, you cannot throw a war.

In order to give up slavery, we are forced to give up the 13 bad ideas that maintain slavery. That will make it a lot easier for you, there’s only one bad idea that is the root of the foundation of all slavery. I call it The Ultimate Bad Idea.

The violent confiscation of individual choice will achieve the greatest good for the greatest number. And so war, inflation, depression, are all derivatives of this ultimate bad idea. This is why all attempts to outlaw or make illegal these disliked effects will fail. It is useless to outlaw the effects of the bad ideas when the bad ideas render all of those effects a certainty.

There’s only one approach to the problem that will solve the problem. In order to attenuate the disliked effects, you have to attenuate the causes of those effects. I call this solution The Ideological Attenuation Solution. This means we have to attenuate the belief among educated, intelligent, successful people that the violent confiscation of choice will achieve the greatest good for the greatest number.

It will not be easy to do, but easy or not, we have to do it. Hey, all great and large achievements are not easy to do or anybody could have done it. If anybody could teach us how to fly, they would have done it long before the Wright Brothers.

As always, you’re confronted with the Locke, Planck, Mises problem. Educated adults rarely change their most fundamental premises.

Two centuries ago, the man you all recognize, Benjamin Franklin, ran into the same problem. His discoveries on the nature of electrical phenomenon led him to the development of a revolutionary idea on the cause of lighting.

In Franklin’s time, what was the popular explanation for the cause of lighting and thunderstorms? Lighting and thunder are demonstrations of God’s displeasure. But Franklin said, “Gentlemen, lightning is not a form of heavenly artillery. It is not caused by God’s wrath. Lightning, gentlemen, is a natural phenomenon, it’s caused by electrical discharges. It can be explained in terms of positive and negative electrical charges.”

Franklin was the first person to use these terms, positive and negative in terms of electrical charges. He invented the concept, named the concept. We still use his terminology, positive and negative electrical charges.

To prove this, Franklin says, “Gentlemen, I’ve invented a device to protect your church towers from lightning even during the most severe lighting storms.

If you will fasten my lighting rod, seen here, above your church tower, it will attract the lightning bolts away from the tower and conduct the flow of the electrical energy harmlessly into the ground below.” Now, how did Franklin’s both generous and valuable offer go over?

He wasn’t selling these, he said, “Here’s how to do it, it’s free, you can have it. This’ll protect your church tower there.”  How did this go over? Not well. Not well at all. You see, I hope you’re getting this message. Revolutionary ideas are never well received anywhere at any time, because people can’t handle it. Their ideological immune system just goes crazy.

In fact, Benjamin Franklin was told, “Mr. Franklin, you know, if we put one of your lighting rods on our church tower, it would be an inexcusable interference with the creator’s heavenly plans. And furthermore, Mr. Franklin, it would be a heresy, it would be a heretical thing to do.” And so Franklin’s lighting rod was commonly called the heretical rod. That’s what it was called commonly.

And Franklin was called a heretic. As you know, a heretic was anyone who rejected established church doctrine, a heretic was any true believer who became a non-believer. That was a serious charge even in Franklin’s time. In the old world, they were still burning heretics at the stake in Franklin’s day.

Remember, a technologist must be willing to assume extreme high risk. Franklin risked his life performing electrical experiments with lighting, one of nature’s awesome forces. He risked his reputation, his good name, by introducing the world to a revolutionary technology, the lighting rod. The lightning rod is another example of, ladies and gentlemen, a practical panacea. Remember that concept?

It is a panacea for the protection of buildings and ships as well as people therein from the dangers, the very considerable and real dangers of lightning. It’s a panacea. And it’s practical. And it can serve you 24 hours a day, you don’t even have to watch it, regulate it, just install it.

Before the popular application of the Franklin lighting rod, you would never guess what was one of the very most dangerous occupations in the world. One of the most dangerous occupations was church bell-ringer. Think about it, church bell-ringer. Have you put that one together yet? It helps if you also know this part of history. One of the main jobs of the bell ringer was to ring church bells during storms in order to protect the church and the community from the ravages of the storm.

You go up into the bell tower and ring those bells. In Germany for a period as long as some three decades, now, don’t miss this, three decades after the development of the lightning rod church authorities in Germany refused the protection of Franklin’s heretical rod. This is heresy. And during those some-three decades, the records show in just Germany there were 125 German church bell-ringers killed by lightning while sounding their bells.

During the same 30-year period, there were 425 bell towers severely damaged or entirely destroyed by lighting; in just thirty years, 425. You see why that was one of the most dangerous occupations of the time?

Well, Franklin had tried to explain to anyone willing to listen that the favored target of a lightning bolt will be the tallest tower in town and then if that tower is filled with a ton of iron bells it’ll be the most popular target in town for a lightning bolt. In Italy, the Italian theologians refused to listen.

By 1767, a decade and a half after the invention of the lightning rod, there were still no lightning rods protecting, for example, the magnificent church at San Nazzaro in northern Italy in the town of Brescia. And because the great church had been built with spacious storage vaults and the Republic of Venice used the vaults to store over 200,000 pounds of black gunpowder for safekeeping, I don’t know how to tell you this. If you know anything about the technology of making a bomb, you recognize immediately that what I just said. The entire church at San Nazaro was a 200,000-pound bomb. In 1767, during a thunderstorm, a bolt of lightning struck the church. It ignited the gunpowder. All 200,000 pounds of gunpowder exploded rather quickly.

There was a great flash. The church disappeared along with one-sixth of the town of Brescia, which was leveled from the blast. Three thousand people were killed immediately, including all of the worshippers in the church. Benjamin Franklin was beginning to make his point.

The Italian church authorities rapidly installed lighting rods protecting all of the churches in Italy and they were no longer called heretical lightning rods. They were just called lightning rods or the Franklin Rod. The term heresy was dropped and soon the rest of the world followed. Today, all church towers are under Franklin’s protection and the job of bell ringer is no longer a great occupational hazard.

The great technologists Torricelli, Fahrenheit, and Franklin had given us the foundation for a science of meteorology, a new understanding of causality of weather phenomena. This new understanding of the cause of weather did not put an end to the witch trials overnight but it was the beginning of the end. The result was a major attenuation of the magnitude of the superstition that was a fundamental cause of the infamous effect, the witch hunt.

The new ideology of weather phenomena convinced, in time, educated intelligent successful adults that the ability to make weather is not a part of human action. Those are the only people you have to convince, those who think they’re educated.

It’s now two centuries later. It’s not witch hunts we’re trying to end, it’s war, poverty, and slavery. But the people we have to reach are still the same people, the educated, the intelligent, the successful. Many of these good people are your friends, your neighbors, your associates, your loved ones. We have to reach them with a revolutionary new idea.

It’s this, the ultimate bad idea that the violent confiscation of individual choice will achieve the greatest good for the greatest number.

This bad idea made the holy war against witches possible in the first place, and this same bad idea makes the political and bureaucratic war against mankind possible. One of the objectives of optimization theory in this seminar is to attenuate the belief among educated, intelligent, successful people that the violent confiscation of individual choice will achieve the greatest good for the greatest number. In fewer words, we must attenuate their belief in slavery as the true means to the greatest good for the greatest number.

As their beliefs change, so will the structure of society change. We will evolve from a slave society to a free society, I will show you what this means in terms of one slide. Here is the whole concept that we’re striving for in one sentence in one lesson.

The one means to the attenuation of slavery and the ultimate achievement of freedom is the continuing replacement of bureaucratic management with entrepreneurial management until replacement is complete. Wherever replacement is complete, man will have achieved freedom. And please note, freedom not through evolutionary violence, but through evolutionary nonviolence.

It’s essential to emphasize that the replacement of bureaucratic management does not involve a militant action aimed at tearing down the existing apparatus of the bureaucracy. Even if it were within your power to tear down the existing machinery of bureaucratic confiscation, my friend, if those 13 bad ideas are still embraced by educated, intelligent, successful people, then the mechanisms of bureaucratic confiscation would be built up all over again.

To illustrate this point, assume you are living in the year 1600 and it’s within your power to demolish all of the torture chambers of The Inquisition. What would your militant actions have accomplished? If you had the power to do that and you know what you now know and it’s 1600, that might be something you’d like to do — demolish all of the torture chambers. All of them. Level them. Flatten them.

Exactly. If you could not, at the same time, demolish the bad ideas that are the fundamental cause of these innocent people accused of weather making and other pseudo crimes, being tortured in the first place then those torture chambers, I assure you, they will be built up again and again. They will be building them faster than you can tear them down. Do you see that?

The lesson to learn here in one sentence is a giant one. You can only demolish the witch hunt ideologically. As long as the educated people in the community believe the persecution of heretics and witches will bring about the greatest good for the greatest number these persecutions will prevail without remission. The best people, the very best people in society are convinced they are supporting a good cause. They see themselves as virtuous citizens acting in the best interest of the community.

What was the fundamental cause that led, then, to four centuries of the torture and murder of millions of innocent victims accused falsely of the crime of witchcraft? Nothing more complicated than this, some very good people believed in what? Some very bad ideas. That’s the worst combination you can ever have. A lot of good people who believe a lot of bad ideas. That is the greatest disaster anywhere that can ever happen. What if a lot of bad people believe bad ideas? It doesn’t matter what they believe. They have no influence.

Robbers and burglars and rapists have no influence. But when the good people put these bad ideas into practice the result is a catastrophe of monumental magnitude. The failure of these good people is what I’ve been stressing. It’s the failure to understand causality. As we reach the conclusion of this century, the same old failure continues but with this important change, we now face the ultimate catastrophe.

To prevent this catastrophe, it’s the good people in society that we have to reach. It is the good people who endorse the gun-imposed confiscation of choice. This means it is not bad people in society we have to reach, it’s the good people. To give what we must accomplish a name, we must accomplish a progressive evolution.

If you look up the word evolution in the dictionary you will find many different meanings, but all of the definitions have one concept in common. Evolution means some gradual change. A progressive evolution is a gradual change in the direction of human progress. However, in this regard we’re confronted with an exceptionally large problem and that is, and it’s true, we really have run out of time.

This is more than a literary figure of speech. We are all witness to the daily escalation of a worldwide social crisis. Therefore, to avoid a catastrophe we have no choice but to accelerate this evolutionary process in the direction of progress. This is one of the most important things we have as an objective in this seminar. As I’ve repeatedly stated, the enemy of progress has always been bureaucratic interventionism.

One of the most important conclusions, I hope you’re ready for this, I’ve been preparing you for this over these 25 hours or for the one day of your life that I’ve had. Assuming I’ve had your attention for the whole time, it’s been one day, versus all the other guys who have had all the rest of your time. I’ve had just one day.

Here’s a conclusion. You can only demolish the bureaucracy ideologically. The foundation of modern bureaucracy rests upon just 13 bad ideas. It’s not 1000 bad ideas we have to demolish, it’s not even 100. It’s only 13. I’ve given you then some encouraging news, if there were 1000 bad ideas we had to demolish that would be hopeless, but 13 is a number we can deal with.

These 13 can further be reduced to this generalization, the ultimate bad idea, that the violent confiscation of individual choice will achieve the greatest good for the greatest number. Since there’s only one means to attenuate slavery, let’s look at that one means again.

Major conclusion: The one means to the attenuation of slavery and the ultimate achievement of freedom is the continuing replacement of bureaucratic management with entrepreneurial management until replacement is complete. And so, the attenuation of slavery is, by its nature, an evolutionary process.

Given enough time, this would naturally evolve over a period of many centuries due to the natural inefficiency of bureaucratic management compared to the natural efficiency of entrepreneurial management. This could evolve in, perhaps 1000 years. But we don’t have 1000 years. We don’t have 500 years, and we probably don’t have 100 years. The fact is we have to do something quickly or we may lose our entire civilization.


© Sustainable Civilization Institute 2010