Monday, July 23, 2007


Im currently in Oaxaca, site of an ongoing people´s struggle against big business, big money, and big government. The downtown Zocolo is filled with revolutionary banners and graffiti. Meanwhile, armed stormtroopers with machine guns circle around the downtown area.. 6-8 sitting in the back of pickup trucks.

Last Friday, two demonstrators were killed by police. More are in jail, being tortured. The people are dedicated to non-violence... but its not the whimpy kind you see at US demonstrations where protesters obediently apply for their permits and stay in their confined protest zones.

Being here shows me just how dead democracy in America is. Latin America is for real (witness Venezuela, Bolivia,.. and to a lesser extent Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador). Poor Mexico has always been under the imposing gun of the US, but even here democracy stirs and people fight for their freedom.

I stopped going to demonstrations in the US because they felt more like farcical parades than anything else. The general attitude was a subservient one-- yuppies arriving in their mini-vans, carrying little signs, chanting moronic ditties,... and basically begging "oh please listen to us". When they are ignored by the corporate media and the government, they whine.

If you read Gandhi´s autobiography, you discover that the sort of demonstration you find in America now is NOT what he had in mind. As he quips in the movie, "I have never advocated passive anything". Gandhi, and King, were extremely confrontational. Their forefather, Thoreau, was likewise a disobedient, cantankerous, no-nonsense guy. When Gandhi said "non-violence", he meant non-violent DEFIANCE of the law. Gandhi constantly, publicly, and extravagently broke the law. Same with King.

Which brings us around the honest truth of it-- none of the demonstrators (sadly, me included) in the US really cares much about the Iraq War. We liked to march a little to feel good about ourselves, but none of us wanted to go up against billy clubs or tear gas. Lets face it, the Iraq War, for us, is an abstraction. An idea. It doesnt effect most of us in the gut, heart, pocketbook, or home much at all.

As much as I hate the IDEA of the war, I must agree with Hakim Bey in the end-- freedom, anarchy, etc. must always be focused first on your own life-- here and now. Its easy to bemoan the faraway war... much more difficult to confront the economic and mental chains that hold YOU.. RIGHT NOW. For most of us, our job is the single most oppressive reality we face... day after day. Behind that, the mental-media environment keeps us enslaved to that reality.

Which brings me back to Oaxaca. Democracy has a pulse here because the people are fighting for THEIR own lives and the lives of their neighbors. They are confronting the daily realities of their moment.

Those of us north of the border have different realities. We´re bloated with material excess... but we too have our chains.

Democracy and freedom will only awaken when we turn our attention to breaking those. Thats where it must start... because its pointless to whine about the oppression of strangers half a world away while doing nothing about your own shackles.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Let Freedom Ring

Today is my Independence Day.

Today was my last day of work. We can never predict the future, of course, but with luck this is the last job I will ever work.

Today is the culmination of a 23 year struggle for freedom from wage slavery. It began with my very first wage-slave job at Arby's (fast food) and has continued until this day. In that time, I worked many horrible jobs, a few tolerable ones... but always the yoke of wage-slavery weighed me down.

To escape, I radically simplified my life-- perhaps the most important step on this journey. I lived in a Toyota Corolla with my dog, I lived in a Van, I lived in Thailand. Year by year, I whittled away unnecessary expenses & distractions.... and then whittled down the hours I worked to pay for my remaining wants and needs.

The final push started 8 months ago... Halloween 2006... when I started my own micro-business. This little project started because of my love for teaching English and meeting international people, coupled with my loathing for work, bureaucracy, and bosses. It was never intended to make me rich... and it never will.

The goal was simple-- help English learners around the world enjoy English, learn it effectively, and gain independence from schools & teachers. While I sell lessons, what I'm really doing is teaching students a way to learn independently. At the end of my course, they should be able to keep going on their own, with no more need for textbooks or schools.

On my side the goal was equally simple-- make a decent living independently, doing something I love to do. Free myself from bosses, bureaucrats, wage slavery, etc.... and make enough to live an enjoyable and comfortable life. Since I live like a student and enjoy doing so, I didn't (and don't) need to make much.

I have achieved these goals. The students are happy and most seem to love the lessons. I'm happy to finally be free to live as I want. Win-win.

So what's next? For starters, I'm off to Mexico for a two week vacation. After that, I'll be taking a break from English-- to do some fun and interesting things I neglected during the past 8 months.

And then? Well, I'll continue to develop the English Club. I have some strict principles about this. The first is-- it will never grow large. Most of the evils of business that we are all familiar with come from big-business. Few of us hate our local coffee shop or Thai restaurant. Business at a human scale can be a force of good... a force for connecting people and providing helpful services.

But when a business gets too big, humanity is lost. It becomes a machine... a profit-making monster that destroys humanity and destroys human lives. How will I avoid this. Well, first of all I have no desire for riches, and to build a big business requires a high level of greed and drive.

Second, I have a strict no employee policy. I absolutely will not be another person's boss. I'm happy to partner with people, but will not employ them. This puts a strict limit on how big my micro-business can grow... there's only so much one person can do after all.

So there it is.

It has been a very long time coming. The reason I write this blog is to help others find their way to this point-- hopefully much faster and much easier than I have. If you read through the archives, starting with post #1 until this one... you will find my own personal road map to freedom from wage slavery. I hope some of these experiences will be helpful to you, in your quest for freedom, autonomy, and adventure.

I hope that some day soon, you will celebrate your own Independence Day.