How to Replace a Dictatorship

hold handsHow do you replace a dictatorship? You create a republic.

A republic is much like a democracy in that the people rule. The people vote for what they want, and the majority wins. But, unlike a democracy, a republic will institute a constitution which will protect the rights of individuals regardless of what the majority might say. So, for example, if a constitution states that individuals are free to practice a particular religion, then even if the majority of citizens want that religion gone, the followers of it are still protected and free to practice.

A society of free individuals doesn’t just happen all on its own. Even if 99% of the people are in agreement, and want to live free lives, you still need to create a system of government which will protect that free society.

Dictatorships are much more natural than republics. If you make no effort to set up a republican system of government, and only hope for the best, you can be sure that one of two things will happen: 1) The society will collapse and dissipate; 2) A dictatorship will form. Anarchy never works.

Related reading: Leaders of Movements

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Do Not Go To Bible College (Revisited)

facebook_classroomDo not go to bible college, or at least, do not go for one second longer than you need to.

I recently read an article titled The Case for Dropping Out of College written by Samuel Knoche. It got me thinking about an article I wrote awhile back about not going to bible college, which I think is a waste of time.

Knoche argues that American colleges are far too expensive for what they actually offer — which is little more than what the student can get for free online these days. College students are skipping most of their lectures (or passing the time on Facebook) and simply acquiring the knowledge they need from Youtube videos (often uploaded by their own professors) in order to pass the exams and write the essays.

So, Knoche asks, what the heck are they paying for? The answer is they’re paying for the diploma. Or, as Knoche puts it, the “signalling” function of a diploma. “Because employers lack any quick and reliable objective way to evaluate a job candidate’s potential worth, they fall back on the vetting work done by third parties — namely, colleges.” (Knoche)

College graduates earn more money than high school only graduates. Is this because of the skills they learn in college? Not necessarily. The skills needed to earn higher wages is already possessed by these young people before they even go to college. In fact, it is these skills which get them into college in the first place. “The competitive college admissions process winnows the applicant pool in such a way as to guarantee that those who make it into college are more intelligent, conscientious and conformist than other members of his or her high school graduating cohort.” (Knoche)

What about bible college? Well, as I wrote in my article, and what is supported here, bible college is indeed a waste of time.* Some of the people going into bible college already have what it takes to go into ministry (at least at an on-the-job-training level). Or if they don’t have what it takes, they won’t get it from bible college. The lack of work ethic, maturity, life experience, etc. that currently disqualifies them from ministry are best learned in real world situations, like in the workforce. Why pay to sit in a classroom and/or do “practical experience” training when you can learn all you need to learn, for free, in the real world?

But…. should one never go then? Some organizations will require you to attend their educational institute in order to work for them. They may want to indoctrinate you somewhat before taking you on as a working member. Or others may require you to have a degree of some sort. You need to do what you need to do, but don’t do one iota more than you need to. Don’t do in a classroom for two weeks what you can do online in two days. Don’t pay for anything online if you can get the same results for free. And never exchange real life knowledge for the “signalling” function of a diploma.

Related Reading: Playtime and Real Life

Read Knoche’s article here

Another related article by Knoche

*I should note: I believe it is a waste of time mostly for westerners to go to bible college. Individuals from non-western countries face different circumstances, and the training they get might be something they can not get in real day to day life, and therefore is an invaluable education for them. That is a topic for another article.

Visionary Leaders Vs. Masters Part Two

lostThe inner crisis of a disintegrating society is constituted by the fact that too many people inside this society are not told what to do…
An unemployed man [or a hampered man] is a person who looks for orders and can’t find anybody to give him orders.*

I am a master electrician, although I haven’t worked in the trade for several years now. One thing about working in a trade is that once you’re past being a first year apprentice, your responsibilities on the job are no longer limited to the tool belt. You have to begin training the guys less experienced than you. And once you’re a journeyman, you’ll likely discover that most of your time on the job is teaching and supervising the apprentices.

The number one thing that will stop an apprentice from doing his work is a lack of knowing what to do. It won’t be laziness or apathy. He simply either was not given clear instructions, or he is too overwhelmed with the task before him. And once that happens, he’ll either stall out altogether or begin lying about what he’s actually doing.

I remember working for a company in which the boss (not a very good boss) left an apprentice to run a fairly large job. There were several different areas in one warehouse where electrical work needed to be done. The apprentice had the skills and knowledge to do every job, but he was struggling and falling behind. The boss sent me to help him get back on track. After walking through the job site with the apprentice to see where he was at, he said to me, “There is so much to do, and I just don’t know where to start.”

To remedy the situation, all I needed to do was lay out a systematic task list for him to follow: “Do that job first, because you’re going to need that powered up in order to do the next job. Do that other job next so that we can move this junk into that corner to have space to do the next thing. Next, do such and such…….” Once he knew what to do and in what order, he was back to working at his normal efficient speed.

Visionary leaders are rarely good at creating systematic task lists. Because their leadership style is so rooted in rhetoric, their connection with practical realities is severed. Visionary leaders are often throwing bricks in the air to build the second story of a building for which no proper foundation has been laid.

It is amazing what can be accomplished with mere rhetoric, and as I have written about before, visionary leaders are needed to inspire people at the beginning of a movement. But it is also amazing at how quickly the rhetoric can become completely meaningless. Some things sound good and wise when spoken, and they might even be true, but when you actually stop to ask what the thing said really means and how it applies to real day to day life, it proves to be completely worthless. And when I hear followers of visionary leaders parrot their slogans without thinking, like Winston in 1984 I get a little lonely and depressed.

When a visionary leader sees that his followers aren’t doing what he expects and hopes for them to do, he usually writes them off and says, “They just didn’t catch the vision.” And he might actually be correct, but does he ever ask why? Also, because his expectations are what they are, he usually is only followed by more future visionary leaders, which isn’t always desirable.

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Mark Aspery ~ Blacksmith

A master knows that when his followers are not living up to his expectations, it’s usually because he hasn’t clearly defined what needs to be done at ground level. He hasn’t laid out the systematic task list. He assumes his followers are already passionate about the work and striving to be masters themselves (otherwise they wouldn’t be there), so he doesn’t waste time using himself as an example to inspire them to work harder or embrace the vision. He knows the passion will come from the work itself when the followers know what to do.

I am currently learning the skills and techniques of blacksmithing. Now, you can’t honestly call yourself a blacksmith until you’ve learned how to forge your own tongs. My first attempts at forging tongs resulted in embarrassing monstrosities which I kept hidden from my family so they wouldn’t laugh at me. I watched how-to videos and looked at pictures of completed tongs, but I could not get them right.

IMG_2682It wasn’t until I bought a book in which a master laid out the forging process, step by step, systematically. “Measure this much here … isolate this much material there … hammer down to half the bar’s thickness here …” Only then was I able to forge the tongs, and they turned out quite well.

When a visionary leader is most needed and effective, the movement which he is leading is in such a state of rapid growth that no one cares if there is any systematic structure at all. The movement is riding on a wave of excitement, and for the time, that is sufficient. But that wave is temporary. The master needs to step in and create some proper systematic structure.

Now, when I say “systematic structure” I am not talking about creating a bureaucracy. I am a libertarian, and I hate all unnecessary rules. But, it is a false dichotomy to say that you can either have structure or freedom.

A master is a master precisely because he knows how to create freedom in the boundaries of structure.

*Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, The Origin of Speech, pg. 14-15

Read Part One here

Also check out Infinite Regression,  Visionary Leaders, and Cut the Crap

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Forging a Wall Hook Rack

Here is a good forging project for any blacksmith. It is a wall hook rack. It can be used to hang clothes, coats, or whatever.

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For the project I used a 20″ length of 1 3/8″ x 1/4″ flat bar for the backing, and 4 pieces of 1″ x 1/4″ flat bar each cut at 5 1/4″ long for the hooks. I used eight 1/4″ rivets.

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1) To prepare the pieces, start by marking the four 1″ x 1/4″ bars by punching center marks at 2 1/4″ from one end, and 1 1/2″ from the other end. This will then give you 1 1/2″ between the two punch marks.

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2) To prepare the back plate, center punch  2″ in from both ends. These are for the holes to be drilled to mount it to a wall. Drilling 2″ in from each end will make the holes 16″ apart, which will line up with studs in most homes. As this hook rack will carry a lot of weight, it is wise to brace it strongly.

Then, place center punch marks 4″ from each end, and 4″ away from those marks — creating four marks, each mark being 4″ away from each other. These punch marks indicate where each hook will attach to the bar.

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3) Next, you are going to heat up the four pieces of 1″ x 1/4″ bar and, where the punch marks are, fuller them down to about 3/8″ thickness. It helps to have a guillotine tool for this job. I bought mine from GS Tongs. You should check it out.

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4) Now you need to draw out each end of the bar from the fuller to the edge down to about 3/8″ x 1/4″ thickness. Then, round out each drawn out section. These will be the hooks. One section is longer than the other. That will be the bottom hook. The section left flat in the middle will be the rivet plate for attaching to the back plate. Be carful when drawing out the end sections not to hit the center section.

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5) Next, drill two 1/4″ holes, in line with each other in the center plate. Do this for all four hooks and make sure the two holes are all the same distance from each other for each hook.

Then, using those holes, mark out where to drill on the back plate, lining up everything perfect for the rivets.

Also, on the back plate, drill out the two holes for the mounting screws, appropriate for the size of screw you want to use.

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6) Now, place the four hooks back in the fire for bending. Start with the top hook, which is the shorter of the two drawn out sections. Place the hook in a vice holding firmly to the flat middle section. Hold the tip of the hook with tongs and hammer down to form the hook as shown below.

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With the bottom hook (the longer section), curl it around as you would any “J” hook, on the horn of the anvil or around a bending jig. Don’t block the drilled holes.

Clean up all rough areas with a file.

7) Place the back plate in the fire. Knock off the edges to give the bar a less manufactured look. Next, place the bar in the vice and upset each end a bit — again, for a nicer look.

Grab a counter sink and counter sink the mounting holes. Then flip the plate over and counter sink the back side of each 1/4″ rivet hole. The rivets will be hammered flush with the back plate and the counter sink provides a space for the rivet to fill in to.

Now is a good time to add a touch mark if you want.

Clean up all rough and uneven areas with a file.

8) Now, it is ready for assembly.

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Cut the rivets so that a 1/4″ sticks out the back of the back plate. Normally rivets are cut to twice their diameter, but as you will hammer them flat and flush to the back of the back plate, you need them to be shorter.

Insert the rivets, line everything up straight and in the correct orientation, and hammer the rivets down flat on the back side. You can hammer the rivets cold. As you are hammering, stop frequently to be sure everything is lining up properly. Hammer them down good and tight so there is no movement.

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And you’re done. Put a good finish on it, some beeswax or linseed oil, and hang it up. These hooks will last many decades to come.

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Happy forging…

Related reading: Forging a Simple Leaf Hook

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This project was inspired by a video posted by Black Bear Forge.

 

 

Infinite Regression

regressionSuppose you want to travel from point A to point B. Well, between point A and point B there is a halfway point, and you’re going to have to get there first. Then, from that halfway point to point B is another halfway point, and you’re going to have to get there first too. And then, there is yet another halfway point between the last halfway point and point B, and you’re going to have to go there first again. And so on, and so on….. You will never get to Point B because you always have to go halfway first. It’s an infinite regression.

In my last article, I criticized the concept of the Visionary Leader a bit. Visionary leaders are definitely needed to get things started. Somebody has to have the passion and the drive to move and motivate others. But, once things are underway, a Man of Action needs to come in and take over.

Another problem I have with visionary leaders is they often inspire other visionary leaders, but not men of action. And visionary leaders inspiring visionary leaders inspiring visionary leaders is an infinite regression where nothing substantial ever gets built.

How many movements die when the visionary leader dies because no man of action is there to build the structure needed for lasting existence?