When I was perhaps eight or nine, I encountered science fiction, and it immediately became my favorite genre. I read H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Asimov and then I discovered Robert Anson Heinlein. Among other things, Heinlein suggested that skill at arms might be useful, and sparked my ongoing interest in weapons. His characters did things, they knew how the world worked, and how to use their knowledge. Probably my favorite Heinlein quote (there are a great many!) is from "Time Enough for Love" --"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
Nor was Heinlein alone in his depiction of heroes as competent men; literature holds dozens of examples of the maker and doer as heroic. Ayn Rand's works are by no means the exception. E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensmen books celebrated the competent. Jules Verne celebrated competence in most if not all of his works; I particularly recall reading "Mysterious Island," in which a small group of Americans stranded on a deserted island, manage (with a little assistance from Captain Nemo) to use 19th century technologies to build a reasonably comfortable existence.
This literary view of the competent man seemed to me to be a normal and natural state of affairs, for my own parents were nothing if not competent. My father was a world authority in his profession, but his competence ranged far beyond that. He did all of his own home maintenance, ranging from plumbing to plastering and painting, roofing, carpentry, masonry, and wallpapering. He never once had a repairman in the house for anything except the air-conditioning system. He also loved to garden, was an accomplished photographer and had his own darkroom for many years. At the age of fifty, disgusted with the rapacity, ignorance and incompetence of the local auto mechanics, he bought a couple of books on auto mechanics and taught himself auto repair, and handled all of his routine auto maintenance. He learned how to operate a computer at around age 60. His father, I am told, was much the same, a highly educated man who nonetheless did for himself, and only rarely hired out work.
My mother was also a scientist, and after she retired to raise a family, taught immigrants English, painted, sang,became a licensed landscape architect, raised and educated a family, and canned food. I thought this was normal, that everyone's parents had lots of skills. It took many years for me to realize that other people's parent's did not do these things.
And here we get to my point. Historically, Americans have valued education of all sorts as promoting independence and self-reliance, those quintessential American traits. My parents were not exceptional in the historic sense. It used to be that everyone aspired to as many skills as they could learn, in all areas of knowledge. This was normal, a hundred years ago, and for millennia before that. My father taught me that a truly educated man knew the sciences, mathematics, the literary arts, the fine arts, and the manual arts. My father especially believed that without an understanding of the science and technology of the world around him, without hands-on experience with how those technologies actually worked that regardless of their mastery of anything else one would remain hopelessly ignorant.
This has been the historic view for understandable economic, political and military reasons. In any society which has grown to dominance, productive capacity was highly desirable; economic power meant political and military power. Knowing the value of productive skills is essential to those who lead a nation. Cultures which abused the productive, forgetting this lesson, invariably lost power, and usually collapsed; history is replete with examples. It is only as I grow old, however, that I have truly grasped the critically essential wisdom of this viewpoint, and the power of having skills and knowledge, both from the larger view and the personal standpoint.
I am not rich in currency, for I have not been willing to pay the price to accumulate monetary riches in the present system. But I do have skills and experience accumulated over a lifetime, and as long as those skills and my knowledge are available to me, I will be self-reliant and self sufficient, able to produce much more than I and my family consume. That, I submit, is real wealth, and real power. The day is rapidly coming, O gentle reader, when paper currency will not buy goods or services, because the consent of the productive which supported it will be gone. Wealth is not paper currency, or even silver and gold; the Spanish learned that lesson in the 1500s, although their descendants have forgotten it. Without production to back it the means of exchange, whatever they may be, are worthless when there is nothing to buy. The day may come in these presently united States when production has dropped to the point that goods cannot be bought with gold or silver, or even for ammunition; food and the essentials of life may not be for sale at any price. Those who know how to produce such things, however, and have the ability to defend them, will be incredibly wealthy, in the deepest sense of that word.
Those who are slaves to the system, who are dependent upon government largesse or government manipulation of the marketplace will then be revealed as truly impoverished. It will not matter whether they live in a rent-controlled apartment on $1500 a month, gaming the system to keep their welfare benefits coming, or whether they pull down 7 figure salaries from one of the 13 "too big to fail" banks and game the system from posh property on the Upper East Side. Without having a government thug to force the productive to enable their scam, they'll starve. When dollars are only useful to light fires, what will their command of the dollar be worth?
I've discussed elsewhere how we have gotten to this point, but the Progressive movement has spent well over a hundred years and more than the dollar denominated value of the entire planet Earth in an insane effort to attempt to perfect humanity by destroying the essential characteristics of human beings. Humans are creative, productive individuals who function best when left to their own devices, who when allowed to discover, develop and polish their individual talents can produce wonderful things. They are also the most efficient predators presently living on the face of the planet Earth; learning how such violent predators can live together and exchange their best productivity for that of others without undue bloodshed has been the work of millennia. All of that knowledge, and those skills are being actively destroyed by the Progressive movement.
What they fail to realize, or to admit to themselves, is that if the day comes when they have succeeded in their purpose, they will have destroyed themselves. Men are not potatoes, nor are they insects. Mindless adherence to the commands of the hive may be an effective strategy for ants or bees, but doesn't work for humans. So, O gentle reader, do not envy the welfare queen with her Obamaphone and her Obamacare. Nor should you envy the bankster in his Manhattan digs, or the government worker who has amassed an unpayable pension. Soon, soon, their poverty will stand revealed, and they will pay the terrible price for their deliberate, purposeful cultivation of their personal poverty.
One of many things that Progressives fail to realize is that while one can steal the fruits of productive ability, that is, the goods created by the productive, one cannot steal the skill that made those goods, and if those who possess those skills withhold their consent, withhold their talents and refuse to produce, the days of the political parasites that presently infest these presently united States are over. When that day comes, and it will, as surely as night follows day, let me also caution you against the sin of pity. Remember, when that day dawns, that those who cannot produce, those who have perverted the social contract to their benefit, have earned what they are going to receive. They are either immoral or stupid, and either way they will have deserved every dreadful thing that happens to them. All you ought to do, gentle reader, is let them reap the rewards of their behavior. Don't envy them their ill-gotten gains, nor pity their self-created fate.
As Kipling put it-
"....As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!"
In the meantime, as you cope with the ongoing evil efforts of those who are, truly, anti-human, remember what true wealth is, and try to add to your skills, thus increasing your wealth, every day. The answer to the Endarkenment is personal enlightenment. That is my personal goal, to never let a day pass without learning something worthwhile, to add to my storehouse of skills. This, in my mind, is truly being wealthy, for there are many other productive people who are willing to trade their best efforts for mine, enriching us all. Whatever the future holds, your skills will always be valuable, and they can never be stolen!
With regard to all who serve the Light,