Extract from Chapter 11. Indomitable you.
We all know that slavery is abominable, a vile and vicious practice, indefensible on any grounds. And yet we may not know – or may know but do not want to admit we know – that many, many slaves, throughout human history, have clung to their captivity and vehemently resisted manumission – freedom. And while you may want to insist that you would never prostate yourself like that – begging to be chained, begging to be abused, begging to be despoiled – precisely what is it you are doing when you sign your tax return? When you mail in your property tax check, paying, over and over again, so that the brute of the state will not confiscate the land you allegedly own? What are you doing when you show up, hat in hand, in one government office after the next, begging for permission to stay alive for one more day – so that today’s earnings can be expropriated just like those of the day before and the day before that, on and on for every day of your life?
There are a lot of different things I can say, when I meet people, to find out if they are still capable of thinking with the clarity of mind of any normal five-year-old, or if they have walled up their minds in some dank dungeon of mindlessness. This is one of my favorites, a truism that sorts the sheep from the shepherds from the living minds just like that:
Every time you lick a stamp, you’re kissing the master’s ass.
There is obviously no reason for mail delivery to be a state monopoly, no reason but mindless tradition and the inertia of thoughtless habits-of-mind. And there are obviously many good reasons for every sort of communications business to be handled by free-market enterprises. And yet you kiss the master’s ass with every piece of mail you send or receive, and the master rewards your obedience by piling vast hordes of unkempt, slowly-meandering union men on your shoulders, paying them at least five times what their skills and abilities are worth and conferring upon them million-dollar retirement plans – to be paid for by your hard work. You may have to subsist on oatmeal and ketchup when you come home for the last time from your working life, but every functionary of every branch of the state will be doing just fine – at your expense.
And you glance at me briefly and then you look away. You smile weakly and you shuffle your feet and you look this way and that and then you say, “Oh, well, you know…” I do know, alas. I live just as you do, half-free, half-slave, smiling and shuffling and trying not to notice too mindfully when I find myself begging – again – for the privilege of living my own life in my own way. I want to live, and so I volunteer to live as a slave. I want to have a nice home for my family, nice things for my wife, good food for us and for our pets. And so I kiss the master’s ass again and again – and so do you. I don’t care how much money you make or don’t make. I don’t even care if you yourself are a government functionary. If you are not living off the land – completely “off the grid” – as a feral human being, you are complicit in your own despoiling. You are a voluntary participant in your own enslavement.
And isn’t that a dainty dish? Just now, government functionaries at all levels of the state are desperate to figure out how much more wealth they can squeeze out of you – how many more sweetheart deals they can bilk you for, how many more lavishly-paid “jobs” they can give to their friends, how many more votes they can buy from grasping welfare slaves with your income. Here is the question they should be asking themselves: What will you do when you have had enough of being bilked and milked and pushed around?