How the Powerful Shaped You

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Knowledge is preferable to ignorance, wisdom over arrogance, and truth over illusions.  

With that said there is much value to be gained in understanding the country you live in, who exercises the most power over the average person, and what their intentions are.  One can surely take an eagle eye perspective of American life and ponder why is it that in one of the wealthiest nations in the world do we have so many people who aren’t financially free?  

Why in the 21st century are so many Americans ignorant?  I believe an understanding of the answer to this question is absolutely critical in your ascension to financial freedom.

Illegitimate power can only persist with the assistance of illusions, but what is illegitimate power in a nation with democratic heritage and ideals?  It’s the use of private power to subvert the public’s interest in favor of economic or political elites.  

To assert your will on a democratic nation without being elected and use your power for selfish ends can only be accomplished if the population is conditioned to either not understand power dynamics or to simply be apathetic towards political affairs altogether.  

A dictator could accomplish these ends by simply asserting force and violence on dissenting citizens, but in a nation like the United States, this is not a viable long term strategy to maintain power.  What is needed is propaganda or manipulative and deceptive information that forms opinions and a worldview that never threatens an illegitimate power structure.  

I will speak on the actions and the influence of elites in the United States, but within the context of achieving financial freedom the most important insight to have is that a free person who is not inhibited by a need to work 40 hours a week to live is dangerous to those who drive the direction of the nation.  

Dangerous for several reasons.  

First, you have time and you’re unpredictable on how you will use that time.  You could educate yourself and come to learn the truth and have the resources to spread the truth and potentially change the power structure of the nation.  

Elites understand that economic freedom is a potential threat to their power and measures were taken to ensure that a financially independent person is the exception and not the rule.  I will speak on several of these measures that have extraordinary influence over every American and are widely unknown.

The actions taken by the nation’s power brokers in the late 19th century were synergistic and wildly potent.  Consequently, they were also a major setback for the autonomy and freedom of the American people.  

If you want to understand the external influences that drive people toward financial servitude you must understand what occurred over 100 years ago in the halls of power.  

Ever since the dawn of civilization those in power were always interested in social engineering to protect themselves from an unruly population.  Being able to control your population makes it easier to rule.  It really is that simple.  

America’s rulers are no different in their thinking then the Medici’s during the Florentine Renaissance who ruled with the iron fist that Niccolo Machiavelli described in The Prince or the type of actions taken by Caesar when he dissolved the Roman Republic.  

Unenlightened rulers are not concerned with maximizing the potential of each human being, but rather solely interested in the raw and vain pursuit of naked power.  Understanding this will make it easier to understand the actions taken against the American people by the nation’s rulers in the late 19th century and early 20th century.  

High on the power bestowed upon them by the enormous fortunes made during the industrial revolution America’s industrial titans sought to create an education system that would complement their economic and political interests.  

The purpose of this education system would be the same purpose of nearly every government funded education system anywhere in the world, to advance the interests of those who control the government.  More specifically, the purpose was to create obedient, docile, and unthinking employees who would be conditioned for life in the factory where their freedom was stripped and their autonomy nonexistent.  

Ironically the education system was meant to ensure the citizenry was never truly educated and that they lived their entire lives believing the illusion of their rulers.  The propaganda disseminated by the elites is why millions of people are living in Plato’s cave of illusions.  

Such a state of mind is cultivated in the Trojan horse we know as public schools.  Ostensibly, public schools appear benign and even beneficial, but that is exactly the thoughts of the Trojans described by Virgil in the Latin epic poem/myth, Aeneid.   

After years of fruitless battling between the Greeks and Trojans, the Greeks devised a cunning strategy based in subversion.  They built a wooden horse large enough to hold dozens of Greek warriors and presented it as a gift to Troy.  

The Trojans wheeled the horse inside their city walls and their destruction became imminent as the Greeks climbed out of the wooden vessel, opened the gates of the city, and destroyed Troy.  

Public schools appeared to be a gift to the American people, just like the wooden horse appeared to be a gift to the Trojans, but its purpose was the same of the Trojan horse, to subvert an enemy.  The enemy public schools sought to destroy were freethinkers and those with high minded ideals such as truth, freedom, and justice.  To be even more refined the enemy were people who couldn’t be controlled by the tools used by social engineers.

In the mid 19th century Massachusetts was the first state to adopt compulsory public schooling.  Horace Mann led the reform movement citing his admiration for the Prussian education system first set up in 1819.  After the Prussians were defeated by Napoleon at the Battle of Jena, they sought to create a system of education that would instill its citizenry with unquestioning obedience to authority and prevent any future military defeats.

The American system of public education, championed by Horace Mann, followed the same ideal of obedience to authority.  In the first two decades of the 20th century, Andrew Carnegie and David Rockefeller provided more funding for public schools than the federal government.  Money was invented to buy things.  What did they buy and what was the educational philosophy of these financiers?  Did they ascribe to the Enlightenment ideal of education; that of kindling a flame or the command and control view that education was similar to filling an empty cup?

The first mission statement of David Rockefeller’s General Education Board outlined in Occasional Letter Number One makes it very clear:

“In our dreams…people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science…of whom we have ample supply (Gates, 1913).”

Note that a philosopher is someone who loves truth and wisdom and they had no use for such people.  What kind of people did they seek to cultivate?  A highly influential educator and prominent Harvard professor, Alexander James Inglis, tells us what the purpose of education is in his book, The Principles of Secondary Education, published in 1918.  

Inglis took Taylorism, the scientific management of employees, and applied this wartime efficiency to schools.  He set out 6 purposes that public schools were to carry out.  Take notice of who benefits and who is disadvantaged by the following purposes of public schools:

1)   The adjustive or adaptive function.  Inglis details the importance of inculcating children with ‘fixed habits of reaction.’  To what is ambiguous, but I think it becomes more clear with whom children should develop fixed habits of reaction towards.

2)   The integrating function – Schools are to make children as standardized as possible so their conformity makes them predictable.  Who can profit off of predictability?

3)   The diagnostic and directive function – Each child will be continuously graded and tested on standardized exams and their proper social role will depend on their performance.  The hell with cultivating potential.

4)   The differentiating function – Once each child is diagnosed with their proper social role they will be educated in so far as it is necessary for that specific role, no further.

5)   The Selective function – Social Darwinism through standardized testing. The dumb should be publically humiliated and their opportunities for procreation diminished by being publicly labeled dumb.

6)   The Propaedeutic function – Certain students will be chosen for further education based on their ability to parrot the commands of their school masters.  From this group, future leaders will be chosen.

What is the significance of all this?  Public school was built to carry out the will of wealthy business interests, i.e. the industrialists.  Think about what an ideal employee is to a corporation.  

First and foremost he is obedient; he follows orders, and conforms to the demands of management.  He is predictable using stick and carrot methods.  He is a resource no different than copper or wheat, to be used to maximize profit, and most egregious, he is to never dwell on the fact that he is not a free man.  

Of course, they had no use for philosophers or anyone who couldn’t be scientifically managed.  Such people are unpredictable and can’t be kept in servitude for long.  Public school teaches children to be blindly obedient to their teachers, to accept that truth comes from authority, to conform at every turn to established norms, all of which produces child like adults and perfect employees for corporations that view people as expendable resources.  

Is it any wonder why striving for financial independence and freedom is a huge middle finger to a system that would much rather you be a docile consumer conforming to the demands of corrupt power players?  We in America have been sold lies and illusions and were told it was heresy to question the myths in our midst.

In the pursuit of economic freedom you must work to purge from your psyche the attributes pushed on you to make you a brick in the wall.  These characteristics will not serve you, but serve those who want power over you.  

The most effective way to cleanse yourself of propaganda is to become a philosopher and search for truth in all areas of your life.  

Illusions and deception are everywhere, but we all must light our illusions on fire with the truth.  This is why I advocate for a holistic approach to achieving financial freedom.  If the finance world was more in tune with philosophy and the philosophical world more in tune with finance we would all make extraordinary gains.

One of the most persistent myths in America is that of freedom.  We are endlessly told that America is the citadel of freedom in the world, but do you feel free?  Do you feel in command of your time and your life?  

When we walk into our first full time job we sense in our bones something is wrong.  Our eyes see a cubicle, but our soul sees a prison.  Frederick Douglas expressed a very similar sentiment when he said:

“I didn’t know I was a slave until I found out I couldn’t do the things I wanted.”

It’s hard to articulate, but it feels as if an unseen force has robbed us of our autonomy.  We all put on our best looking masks to impress our bosses, but the mask changes nothing.  If you are an employee that is dependent on your job you aren’t much different than an indentured servant on a feudal plantation.  You are not free, now what are you going to do about it?  

We are trading time for money and money is needed to live, but without time what is life?  What is life when we spend most of it in a place that takes our energy and diverts us from our true purpose?  How can we call ourselves free if we do not control the use of our time?  We wake up at 5:30am, we get home at 8pm, we commute 2 hours each way not because we want to, but because we are not free, period.  No matter how steep the ascent to freedom, no matter the cost to be paid to be a free human being, that cost must be paid because life is too damn valuable to be wasted.

With a more sober view of American society and an understanding of the undercurrents of corrupt power, I want to stress that although America is far from perfect if you have the determination, the will, and the ability to execute on your dreams then nothing will stop you.  I bring up the darker aspects of America to paint a more realistic picture of why so many people live in ignorance of forces that have enormous influence on their lives.  Once again, ignorance does not work in our favor.  

If you want freedom you need truth.

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Plato’s Cave of Ignorance

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To build and sustain wealth, while living true to human decency requires a commitment to acquire virtue and wisdom, but virtue is not the only non-financial skill needed to achieve financial freedom.  

In attendance at the Athenian trial of Socrates was a young 25 year old disciple named Plato.  Unlike Socrates, Plato came from a prominent political family, but like Socrates, he would make contributions to humanity that would persist for thousands of years.  

There’s a term commonly used to describe internet content that never loses its value to readers: evergreen.  When you shed light on an aspect of reality that is true 2,500 years later you know you’ve not only hit evergreen territory, but you’ve hit on a fundamental human truth.  

There are many valuable ideas put forward by Plato, but none more powerful and useful to seekers of financial freedom, then the conception of reality put forward in Book VII of Republic in the timeless Allegory of the Cave.  Influenced by the philosophy of Socrates and his experience with Athenian government he set out to frame what an ideal city would look like and how it would be constructed.  

Within this context, Plato arrives at the pinnacle of his genius.  The philosopher begins to sketch how reality is perceived by the average person.  

He invokes a metaphorical cave where prisoners are chained and perceived reality is nothing but the shadows cast onto the cave wall by the unseen masters.  Furthermore, the prisoners are so deluded by their circumstance that they compete with each other to see who can predict which type of shadow will appear next (the modern equivalent is arguing over which football team is better or which celebrity wore the best dress).  

None get the idea that they are enslaved until someone out of sheer luck or divine intervention comes to realize their reality is manipulated and seeks the truth by finding his way outside the cave.  

When this person steps out of the cave they are bedazzled by seeing the light for the first time, but little by little they master their new environment.  Confronted with this new knowledge that they had been prisoners their whole lives and having finally escaped and seen the truth this person is confronted with a question: those poor souls still living in the cave…should I go back into the darkness of the cave to tell them the truth and show them the way to freedom?  

This person driven by a sense of responsibility to his fellow Man decides to go back into the cave, but is shocked by the response he gets.  

Instead of being greeted as a liberator the prisoners are openly hostile towards him.  They denounce him, say his decision to escape the cave has made him go crazy, and they even threaten to kill him if he doesn’t stop trying to get them to escape the cave.  

The prisoners are hopelessly invested in the illusions that pervade their world.  To question the origins of the shadows would open Pandora’s box and require a completely new life be lived.  Like all people the prisoners were confronted by the specter of reality and coming face to face with this wretched enemy, they retreated into the familiar illusions constructed to keep them enslaved.  

Psychologically, they saw the enlightened prisoner as a threat to their existence in the cave.  If the truth teller continued it would become impossible for the other prisoners to sustain their collective lie.  

The prisoners were ruled by their primitive mind, the reptilian brain, while the enlightened escapee was living with the guidance of the neocortex and following intellectual truth.  The prisoners in the cave represent how your average American goes through life; willfully unconscious of who is shaping their reality, wasting their time arguing over the shadows, and resentful of anyone who questions their lifestyle of rejecting truth and embracing ignorance and illusion.

What is the significance of all this to financial freedom?  First, at an elementary level, the truth is a prerequisite for freedom of any kind.  You cannot navigate a minefield based on how you wished things were.  You cannot make sound judgments by only embracing facts that fit your worldview and don’t make you uncomfortable.  You need to know the cold hard truths of reality regardless of how those truths make you feel.  Let’s rewind the Allegory of the Cave and use financial freedom as the axis of focus.

Each person’s circumstances in life are unique and it would be inaccurate to say all people who aren’t financially free share the same characteristics, but there are certain beliefs that guarantee you live and die without the thought of freedom ever entering your consciousness.  

All throughout human history, those in power have sought to protect their privileged positions by some form of psychological coercion.  History is full of tyrants who justified their obscene wealth in the presence of mass poverty as a sign they were favored by the Gods.  In truth, their greed, vanity, and obsession with power were the cause of poverty.  

One belief sure to decapitate anyone’s ability to reach financial freedom is to believe the wealthy are favored in any special way by God.  The natural conclusion to such a belief is that you’re poor or barely getting by because of forces outside of your control.  A member of my family has these thought patterns and it’s painful to see someone enslave themselves.  

If you believe this you will never take action because you’ve programmed yourself with a destiny mindset instead of a free will mindset.  Nothing is pre-programmed, destined, or fated.  The only will that matters is your own.

Secondly, the financial freedom cave is full of people who believe only the privileged can become financially successful.  Of course, privilege is an accelerator for financial success, but not a prerequisite.  In fact, nearly 80% of millionaires are self made, they are over-represented by immigrants, and do not flaunt status symbols.  

This is counter intuitive and many of us are resistant to this type of information because it paints our lack of financial success in a very compromising picture.  Whether you are born on first base or third base is no doubt important, but the beliefs that guide your actions, your ability to construct a vision of the future, and strategically execute your plan are just as determinant of financial success.

Another belief commonly shared by those living in the proverbial Platonic cave of ignorance concerns how you derive your own self worth.  The easiest way to enslave yourself is to derive your self-worth from the opinions of your peers.  

Someone engaged in this destructive maneuver is allowing themselves to be held hostage to peer pressure and lacks an independent internal compass. The best way to never be happy is to compare yourself with people with a bigger house, nicer car, or shinier watch.  A person with this quality is playing a game everyone loses. This is why you need your own goals and need to be motivated by your own why.  Once you have a higher purpose you stick to your vision and ignore the materialistic disease of your contemporaries.  

A big house, a nice car, a 7 digit bank account is only advisable to attain if it brings you closer to achieving your noble purpose.  If it does not get you closer to fulfilling your life mission then you are engaging in a status war and betraying your higher self.

Interestingly enough many people we would consider financially free also reside in Plato’s cave.  Being around people making millions per year with net worths north of $1 billion I’m beginning to understand the trap that certain uber wealthy individuals have fallen into and it’s a cautionary tale for everyone seeking financial freedom.  

They have unfathomable financial success, but treat wealth as their end.  This is like taking your soul, lighting it on fire, and throwing it into the Hudson River.  No human being was put on this planet to carry out the insular mission of simply accumulating wealth.  Those that allow their lives to be consumed by the vacuous accumulation of wealth not only betray their true calling, but they betray Mankind.  Their betrayal lies in the gifts they did not bring into the world because they devoted themselves to themselves.

We can all learn from this.  If you treat wealth as your ultimate end you will inevitably indict yourself for a poorly lived life.  Many of the wealthiest people in the world are living in a cave of delusions.  Andrew Carnegie, a high priest of the religion of greed, realized this fundamental truth toward the end of his life and remarked:

“The man who dies wealthy, dies disgraced.”  

The man who accumulates wealth through savage and ruthless means dies disgraced, no matter how much wealth was given to charity.  Do your conscious a favor and make sure you have a noble purpose that drives your desire for financial freedom and make sure you work tirelessly to achieve that noble end with the winds of financial freedom at your back.

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