Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Impeaching Redford From the Inside Out

I was recently invited to speak at a rally to impeach Allison Redford in Edmonton. The rally was organized by Richard Heathen a political activist and organizer from Grande Prairie. Here is an excerpt from the Facebook page that explains what spawned this rally:

The Alberta Government under the leadership of Alison Redford has, through it's numerous scandals and it's prolonged attack on the property rights of Albertans shown itself unfit to govern. The Redford government with it's fetish for top down central planning, has shown itself incompatible with the Alberta culture of free enterprise and adherence to property rights.

Under The Land Stewardship Act The Alberta Government has given itself the power to strip any existing rights to the land from property owners. Bill 36 is an authoritarian law giving the Alberta Government complete control over what you can and cannot do on all public and private land, every last acre of it.

With Bill 24 The Carbon Storage Act the Alberta government has stolen the property rights to the pourous spaces underneath the land, underground, which up until the passing of the Bill 24 was the property of land owners.

Bill 19 Land Assembly Project Area Act was drafted so as to allow the government to freeze any existing use of land and restrict development and prohibit landowner's from using their property in any manner that the Cabinet arbitrarily decides.

Bill 2 The Responsible Energy Development Act strips landowners rights to negotiate with oil companies and gives big oil unchallenged access to entry, without the need for any consent from landowners.

I had some considerable trepidation about attending a political rally, but when you appeal to my ego for long enough and give me a soapbox to stand on you've found my kryptonite. 

Here is the speech I delivered:

My name is Tim Moen. I live in Fort McMurray, you know… the black heart of Mordor. I write a blog called “The Fort Mac Philosopher” and recently got 15 minutes of fame when an article I wrote about my experience filming with Neil Young and Daryl Hannah was picked up by the national press. I write about issues from a philosophical perspective, trying to separate truth from falsehood and I also write articles that I hope inspire and empower people to take action and improve and enrich their personal lives.

Richard asked me to speak about the philosophy of liberty today, and I’m sure most of you know and understand this philosophy so my goal here is to present the philosophy of liberty in a way that I hope leaves you feeling empowered!

I came across the philosophy of liberty a little over a decade ago. I had been going through a painful experience in my life where I began to ask myself the question, “Why do I believe what I believe? Where did my beliefs come from?” I realized that most of what I believed about the world was not the product of reason and evidence but rather the environment I grew up in. I realized I was a Christian because I was born in Canada and that had I been born in Saudi Arabia or India it’s likely my belief about the nature of reality would be completely different. I soon realized that people used these cultural narratives of gods and governments as a weapon. That weapon is called morality and the way it works is that you create rules that you immediately exempt yourself from. Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t counterfeit money, don’t kidnap, don’t commit fraud….unless…unless you’re doing it for god or government cause then it is for the greater good you see.

This destruction of my beliefs was extremely unsettling. I felt lost, without a compass. I knew that if there was such a thing as morality it wasn’t going to be found by listening to the priestly class of public intellectuals, politicians and other pedlars of mysticism. The job of these people is to produce sophisticated words, euphemisms, doublespeak, charismatic non sequiturs that allows them and their pals to break the very rules they create. Imagine you or some other libertarian is in the crowd when Moses comes down from the mountain with the 10 Commandments and says, “God told me that there’s to be no killing, no other God except me, you have to obey me…and God also commands us to go kill all the people on the other side of that hill, except the hot virgins of course.” Do you think you might have challenged old Mo on his story if you were around back then? I don’t think libertarians lived very long back in those days, and I bet being buddies with Moses probably paid off handily in the not getting smote, and the collecting of bounty and booty department. Its really no different today is it? It probably doesn’t hurt to be buddies with Allison Redford.

I lost about a year of my life to a haze of disillusionment and pain. I knew if I was to find my moral compass, to live a life of principle and meaning I couldn’t rely on the priestly classes anymore. I knew that if a moral code was to be taken seriously it would have to universally apply to ALL people. Eventually I came across the philosophy of liberty and it seemed to fit the bill. If you’ve never heard it before I’ll try and briefly summarize it for you.

It starts with the idea that you own yourself and are responsible for your actions and therefore own the product of your labour. If you apply this universally you then have a moral rule called the non-aggression principle which says you should not initiate force against another person or their property. You shouldn’t murder, you shouldn’t steal, you shouldn’t commit fraud, you shouldn’t kidnap. Now you could say, “Uh Tim, we already have those rules, they’re obvious. This is stuff we learned in kindergarten.” This is where I would refer you back to the priestly classes who specialize in sophistry, spin and propaganda to fool you. Or more accurately to fool themselves into thinking they are doing good of the highest order.

There’s an ancient Chinese proverb that says “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their real name.” We are surrounded daily by a matrix of delusion that is reinforced by language. So if I tell someone to give me money or I’ll kidnap them and if they resist I’ll shoot them, then the words we use to describe it are “theft” or “armed robbery.” If someone from government does this then its called “taxation”. If I’m at a peaceful rally and we decide to have a popularity contest and I win the contest and start ordering you to give me some of your money, and make you get permission to speak or to point your signs in a certain direction, and I notice that some people are wearing nicer clothes than others and I call them bourgeois scum and make them give their clothes to less fashionably privileged, or if I draw a chalk line around you and tell you that you can’t go across it without the proper paperwork what words would you use to describe that system? Well we call it DEMOCRACY and we worship it’s virtues! I think it’s very important to be able to break through the matrix of language and call things by their real name. Does anybody else have any examples they want to share: Borders = imaginary lines, immigration = travelling from point A to B across and imaginary line etc.

Usually we libertarians focus on problems, its almost impossible not too, problems surround us. I think the reason the philosophy of liberty appealed to me so much when I first heard it was that I finally had a seemingly bulletproof philosophy that would protect me from other people trying to control my life. I don’t think my story is unique in any way. I think a lot of us find ourselves intuitively “getting it” the first time we hear it. I always felt a sense of injustice growing up, that people who claimed authority in my life had no idea what they were talking about.

I remember pissing my pants in grade 1 because I saw my teacher treating other kids who asked to go to the washroom harshly, I remember having to use a special training device because the authorities in my life didn’t like the way I held a pencil even though by all accounts I was “gifted”, I remember violent older kids physically hurting me and humiliating me on the playground and on the bus and I remember knowing that appealing to authority figures would make it worse, I remember being teased and ridiculed for not being like other kids, I remember a grade 4 social studies class where an MLA visited us and I asked him if he could build us a zoo because the teacher told us that the government makes our lives better and I couldn’t imagine a better way for my life to be made better than by having a zoo! And I remember feeling humiliated when the MLA and the teacher laughed at me and quickly dismissed my idea and then all my classmates chimed in. I remember being told by parents and pastors about a very real place called hell where I would suffer the worst torment imaginable if I didn’t think the right thoughts or have the right beliefs and that this cosmic dictator knows exactly what I’m thinking and doing every moment and not only is there NO escape but I am required to genuinely love him and have zero doubts about this story….I remember crying myself to sleep at night for a good portion of my childhood worried about my eternal fate.

Do any of my experiences resonate with you guys? Have you ever felt this way in your own lives? That you were the helpless victim of injustice?

I think that one of the reasons we are so ineffective as a movement has to do with the injustice we experienced in our lives that led us to embrace the liberty movement. We see the problem of self-ownership as a problem of other people…It is they who take away our ownership, it is those criminals who make us less free. We frame everything from the mentality of a victim and legitimately so because we are victims.

A couple years ago I did a Masters thesis and studied self-organizing systems. One of the key insights I learned was that ones underlying frame of reference largely determines outcomes. You can look at a system and ask the question “What is going wrong and how do I fix it?” or you can look at a system and ask the question “What is going right, what is alive and virtuous and flourishing and how can I leverage it?” Two legitimate questions that will look at the same system, the same reality, and create drastically different results. I realized the questions that I choose to ask and the way I look at reality determine my destiny!

I noticed that my experiences lined up with the mountains of research in this area; if I focus on problems and trying to fix them it inevitably leads to more problems, the more I fought “the man” and clobbered him over the head with reason and evidence the more I suffered, the less free I became, the more I retreated into a fortress of solitude angry and frustrated at other people and the world. On the other hand when I stayed grounded in the present and focused on all the things that are going right in my life, the things that are baring the most fruit, the things that are creating the most value; I gain more power over my own life, I become happier, I become more connected with those around me, I become more FREE…suddenly I find I’m not a victim anymore.

Ownership isn’t a legal construct so much as a biological process. It is the way life comes into existence and grows and flourishes. It is often called homesteading, you take your creativity and labour, mix it with raw resources and create something valuable that never existed before. This is how I now view my role in the world. I’m not here to engage in protective force, to fortify my defences….this does not create ownership, this does not create property, this does not create value…I am here my friends to create not to defend. We’ve been defending our ideas for to long and I say its time to stop being victims and start being bad-ass beacons of truth, justice and self-ownership.

One of the things I learned in the past couple years is the degree to which I don’t own myself, the degree to which I don’t exercise self-ownership, the degree to which I make myself a slave. What’s your narrative when some asshole cuts you off in traffic? Do you immediately play the victim card, get angry and chase him down so you can give him the finger or pull him over, jersey him and feed him a flurry of uppercuts? Does your mind go to a place of anger, frustration and violent fantasy? Does it ruin your morning or your day when that happens? When you let your mind go to these places you know it doesn’t serve you, that nothing good can come of it and yet you allow it to happen. You might even say “That guy ruined my day.” This is not self-ownership, you might as well put a dog collar around your neck and hand that asshole a leash and tell him you’re his bitch for the rest of the day, the price you pay is the same.

We are our own worst slave masters, holding power over our own self that prevents us from taking action that will SET US FREE! Impeachment is the process of removing a criminal from office. Impeaching Redford is cool, all politicians are engaging in criminal activity and ought to be impeached. I’ve found that the most fruitful activity is impeaching the criminal in my own life, the voice in my head that prevents me from exercising self-ownership, the ghost of my childhood beliefs that removes power from my life and distracts me by reminding me I’m a victim, that I’m powerless, impeaching that criminal has paved the way for every good thing, every freedom I’ve obtained. Politicians aren’t the only people who are excellent at using language to fool themselves and others into thinking that their immoral activity is for the greatest good. I used to hit my kids when they done wrong and I called it “spanking”, I now call it “assault”…if you understand the incredible pain that realization causes a father who loves his children deeply then you understand why we hate facing reality in our own lives and why others including politicians might be motivated to shield themselves from the reality of their own lives. At the end of the day, as painful as it has been, impeaching the slave master in my life has born the most fruit, it has set me FREE!

Fear holds us back. Fear is how we are ruled and how we rule ourselves. Fear of facing reality and what that might mean for our life, fear that we might be bright shining lights and not shrivelled helpless victims whose lives are determined by the whims of the powerful. Without our fear priests and politicians have no power, without fear our inner slave master has no power. I’m going to close with one of my favourite poems:

Our Deepest Fear
By Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. 
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. 
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? 
You are a child of God.
Your playing small 
Does not serve the world. 
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking 
So that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, 
As children do. 
We were born to make manifest 
The glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; 
It's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, 
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. 
As we're liberated from our own fear, 
Our presence automatically liberates others.

Look at what is alive here today my friends. We have each other, we have a meaningful conversation, we have a fellowship that gives us power over our own lives through support and encouragement, we have the sun, we have beauty, we have love. Allison Redford has no power here, she has been impeached in our lives because she is as irrelevant as the slave master in our head.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Wonderful story of your personal enlightenment to liberty. Thank you for sharing. It is the sharing of our intimate personal moments that encircles us with loved ones and a caring community. Your words are very liberating to me. I truly respectfully appreciate your friendship. I wish you well Tim.