Chains of a Different Master

chainsPerhaps the most famous of all of Karl Marx’s writings was the clause “you have nothing to lose but your chains.” 

Many people still believe that human beings are chained to corporate masters.  Writers like Seth Godin talk about an awakening in which workers refuse to remain cogs in someone else’s machine. 

These well-meaning people (some are well-meaning, anyway) have no problem, though with giving more power to a handful of slave-masters in Washington. They miss the big picture.

Corporate leaders are no longer independent movers.  As we’ve seen acutely in the past two years, corporate CEOs grovel before the throne of government, begging and pleading for scraps from Washington’s table.

The whole idea of earmarks is part of this game.  Senators tax (or borrow) billions which they earmark for, say, a university in their state.  The university donates up to 80 percent of that earmark back to Senator X’s campaign.  Or the CEO of Goldman Sachs becomes Secretary of the Treasury and funnels US bonds through Goldman Sachs. 

Apologies to Seth Godin and His Readers

I tried to manually trackback to Seth Godin’s post on TV from this post

Between WordPress’s false negatives on reporting success of links, my laptop’s touchy touchpad, and Typepad’s weird trackback URL system, I managed to:

a. Link once to the wrong blog post

b. Link twice to the right blog post

I pride myself on being respectful of blogging etiquette.  I hate trackback spam. I hate it even more when I’m the one creating it.

I am sorry to Seth and his readers. 

Not So Fast, Seth

I am a big fan of Seth Godin’s thinking.  He clearly understands that people are rejecting steep hierarchies where an oligarchy makes all the decisions and the rest of us are expected to blindly follow instructions.

He wrote a wonderful book on the subject.  Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? holds some wisdom (and some fallacy) that will empower you to take control of your life if you listen.

As I said, I like Seth’s thinking.  I get his blog posts delivered via email every day. I have his iPod app on my phone. 

I like Seth’s thinking, but not is myopic, prejudiced politics.

Today, Seth wrote a very long post, for him. It seems that the entire purpose of the piece was to slap Fox News and Bill O’Reilly. 

What pains me about the piece is that it exposes Seth’s enormous blind spot.  Seth doesn’t realize that the liberal networks—CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, MSNBC, CNBC, HLN, etc.—invented the divisiveness that Seth can see on in Fox’s presentation. 

Moreover, the grand awaking Seth calls for, in which people stop being cogs who take orders and follow directions, is exactly what the Tea Party movement is about. Seth seems to believe that private companies should surrender power to the people in order to grow.  I agree.  But Seth believes the people should, in turn, surrender their power and their money to the government. 

I utterly refute that notion.

Who Has the Fear?

For 100 years in America, government, business, and the education establishment built schools and laws about education. The purpose of these government schools and education laws was to produce compliant, unimaginative, order-taking automatons

Don’t believe me?  Here’s Woodrow Wilson, educator and president, speaking on the American plan for education:

We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity in every society, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.

The Tea Party scares the hell out of the ruling class. The NEA, Washington, DC, and Washington University fear the idea of the class of people they programmed to “perform specific manual tasks” thinking and voting independently. Think unions want workers who think independently and create things of meaning?  Are you kidding me?

We who march, rally, speak, make videos, and vote are the enemy of the ruling class, not a mere alternative. 

We are the people, and we no longer need rulers. And that has the rulers panicked.

November 2 marks the beginning of the end of elitism in America.

The Dip

Seth Godin is one of my favorite writers, thinkers, marketers, and presenters. Everything he writes is worth your time reading. Two of his books stand out for me.  One is Tribes, because Tribes describes the whole Tea Party experience perfectly. And he wrote it a year before the Tea Party things started.

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

Right now, though, my other favorite Godin book serves as a question and a guide for the Tea Party movement.  The Dip is about that period between initial success and final victory.  The sub-title: a little book that tells you when to quit (and when to stick). 

And that’s what I want to write about today.

I won’t bore you with a recap of what happened in the last year.  No one cares.  Some might, but they’re not the ones who count. The ones who care about reliving past glory have already decided not to seize more.  Those people have already quit.

Instead, I’ll talk about what I see right now and the decisions we have to make. Not as a group, but as individual human beings.

Are we in this to win, or not?

November seems a long way off. It’s only the very start of summer.  Kids just finished school. Summer vacations are still in the future. The NBA and NHL haven’t even finished their seasons yet. 

And a lot of people are exhausted.  Our houses need work—all the work we didn’t do last year or over the winter or this spring.   We’re tire of the commitments, of the arguments with spouses, of missing kids’ graduations and ball games, of turning down job opportunities.

In moments of quiet reflection, we just wish it was all over. We wish November would get here.  Or maybe we wish we could just walk away.

Have you drafted that tweet or blog post or facebook note that tells the world, “it’s been real, but I’m going back to my plow?”  Have you?

I have.  I’ve written that post many times. I’ve even sent an advance warning to close friends, and they haven’t always tried to talk me out of it. 

But I haven’t quit yet.  Neither have you. 

This is the Dip.

Different people will hit the Dip at different times, but everyone who’s committed to victory will go through one. Or seven.  Every major league champion, everyone whose name is engraved on Lord Stanley’s Cup has been through the Dip. Every accomplishment worth talking about followed a Dip.

The Dip is purgatory for champions.  James O'Keefe went through the Dip in New Orleans.  He didn’t quit.  He came out on top. One day he’s announcing the end of his court ordeal, the next day he’s revealing a sting on the Census Bureau.

The Dip is resistance, according to writer Steven Pressfield.  If you quit now, no one can criticize you. You won’t be embarrassed.  Hell, after the past fifteen months, walking away from grassroots stuff will give you more time than you’ve ever imagined.  You can fix up your house, take a long vacation, read that stack of books that you’ve assembled but haven’t cracked.  You’ll be able to learn a new language and grow your own organic vegetables.  Maybe you’ll take up knitting or quilting to scrap-booking.

No one—least of all me—would blame you.  You’ve done more than most for your country and for my children.  Thank you.  As Seth writes:

Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt-until they commit to beating the right Dip for the right reasons. In fact, winners seek out the Dip. They realize that the bigger the barrier, the bigger the reward for getting past it. If you can become number one in your niche, you'll get more than your fair share of profits, glory, and long-term security.

If you think we can win this thing—if you think the American Ideal is still in our blood—then you might, one day, blame yourself if you quit now. 

The finish line isn’t close.  I’m not gonna lie to you.  The finish line is far away. Between here and there lies the roughest, most dangerous terrain we’ve crossed yet. There are mines and dangerous snakes and wild beasts.  The enemy will try to destroy us, and it will succeed in destroying a few. Others will jump out at the Dip, unable or unwilling to carry on. The barrier on this one is very, very high.

But there’s strength in numbers, and there’s power in faith. We have both.

The hard work is before us now, and the glory of  media attention and meeting famous politicians is long gone.  Now it’s for the win, for God and country, for ourselves and our posterity.  

Congratulations: you’ve made it to the Dip.  On to victory.

P.S. Another great book (which Seth Godin loves, too) is Steven Pressfield’s:  The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles