Thoughts on (early) retirement

Tiring of my career, my plan was to take a year off and see what happens.

After a few months of travel and activity, I got bored and decided to go back to work. Sort of. An easy, low-stress job while I thought about what to do longer-term, if anything.

Then events conspired and I ended unemployed for almost three years.

That was a fair sample of retirement.

The following is what I drew from my experiences. If you have drawn contrary things from your own experiences, so be it.

Intentionality
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The price of freedom

The title is a cliche yet we think about it too little. What is this ‘price’?

Those who turned it into a cliche are the Neocons who insist that the price of freedom is to obliterate yet more of the warrior class in what they call the Greater Middle East. Bomb wedding parties there before we have to bomb wedding parties here.

Bloated military budgets are also sometimes conflated as a price of freedom.

Presumably, in the absence of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen etc. there would no longer be any freedom in the West. Instead we’d be confined to our homes and clad in niqabs by mad theocrats.

And yet, like most cliches, there’s some truth in it. Freedom comes at a hefty price. ‘Freedom’ here includes both legal rights and freedom from restrictive social mores.

Crime

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Don’t participate

Military

No more brother wars.

No more fighting for contemptuous rulers.

Don’t join the military. Discourage your sons, nephews and others from enlisting.

If you’re in, get out when you can and do a half-arsed job in the meantime. If deployed, keep your head down. Don’t be a hero for a nation that no longer exists. Do the minimum you can get away with.

Let them fight their own battles from now on.

Police

The game is rigged. In certain situations you know you can’t win and your life will be forfeit no matter what you do.

Don’t join.

If you’re in, plan your exit.

If you stay for the pension, understand that you are rolling the dice. You’re one bad traffic stop away from being prosecuted for sainticide.

This might not apply if you serve in a local area where you enjoy strong support from the people. Your people.

Civilian readers should rethink how they assist police from now on. Previously you might have been the sort of upstanding citizen who would grab a fleeing thief, phone in suspicious activity or help a copper in need. We need to adjust to a world of arbitrary, who/whom law. Who is fleeing whom? Who is conducting the suspicious activity? Who is the copper in distress? These are salient questions now that blind justice and the rule of law are dead.

They make the rules, we just have to play by them.

Career

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A background to Australian authoritarianism

Victoria Police arrest and put a face mask on a protester outside of the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.
Image source: AAP

When I was a kid, the suburbs on a Sunday were peaceful and still. The only noise would be children playing, hoses spraying, an occasional radio or lawnmower in the distance, warbling magpies and the wind through the leaves.

The one sound noticeably missing was the usual, steady drone of traffic common in every major city.

This was a perfect time to play cricket or kick-to-kick on the street. Kids would only have to pause every half hour or so to let a car pass, if that. Every back street became a playground.

This idyllic day of rest had a singular cause: Sunday was trading was illegal.

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Is WikiLeaks dead? (re-updated)

Amid the drama of Julian Assange’s show trial, the media has missed a major story: WikiLeaks.org has not been updated since late 2019.

Their last press release was on 21st October. The last featured leak was about the supposed Syrian gas attack, published 23rd October. The last leak I can find is Part 4 of the same matter, released 27th December, 2019. There were also some leaks about an Icelandic fishing company in November.

Wikileaks’ products are still available, donation buttons operable and the link to submit documents is there.

A search for what the hell happened brings up nothing. Try “what happened to wikileaks’ and you’ll find 2016 MSM FUD attacks. After all WikiLeaks did for them – for about a decade, it was the media’s main source of material and journos no longer needed to leave the office or talk to commoners.

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The masses don’t want to be free

Source: axios.com

Everyone thinks they want to be free but aside from a pet preference here and there they don’t, really.

Not in comparison to their desire for material comfort, social approval and above all else, safety.

In the West, few of us wanted our rights enough to fight for them. Others fought on our behalf. The nobles fought the King, the petty bourgeoisie fought the aristocracy, a few union rabble rousers fought the capitalists, a tiny minority of feminists fought the patriarchy. Much of the battle for racial equality was fought on behalf of others.

Most Americans in the Thirteen Colonies did not fight in the War of Independence and it is unclear what percentage of them supported it. Most women never campaigned for equal rights. Most ordinary, landless men did nothing personally to further their case to receive the vote or gain individual freedoms.

For that matter, the slaves of the British Empire and the United States did not fight to free themselves. They, to, were emancipated by others.

It was all thrust upon us unbidden.

Sure, most will vote for freedom when it’s all organized for us and there’s an option on the ballot. That’s about the extent of the average person’s dedication, though.

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The corruption of power

We all know the cliche about absolute power corrupting absolutely but we think about it too little.

That’s the thing about cliches. In general they are true but overused so we tend to ignore them.

I’m currently re-listening to The History of Rome Podcast. I’m up to the Crisis of the Third Century when emperors are barely lasting a year on average. Each time a new fellow makes a treacherous grab for the purple we wonder, ‘Why?’ Few of them had a bold plan for rescuing the Empire. Most just wanted power for its own sake, despite the danger of holding the throne being greater than that for 1960s cosmonauts.

Today, it’s hard for us to understand the allure of power because in our society there are no comparable positions. For example, the few times I’ve had a position of responsibility thrust upon me it’s been the rock-and-hard-place situation perhaps familiar to my readers: I cop all the accountability of getting a project finished by the deadline without any of the authority to force people to do things they don’t want to do, like complete their part of the project.

That’s as close as we get to power in modern times. As Eisenhower said, in the military you pick up the phone and issue orders confident they’ll be carried out instantly and to the letter; as president you bark orders down the phone and nothing happens.

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