Today’s Bandits

Article by Bob Podolsky republished by permission Oct. 20, 2015
Originally published at

How Yesteryear’s Highway Bandits Took Over the World

And What We Can Do About It


I don’t fancy myself a historian – but I am a daily observer of history in the making, and the behaviors of those people who are making it. While some of my colleagues in science look for clues and theories that explain the behavior of the inanimate (and thereby create technology), it is my pleasure to seek clues and theories that make comprehensible the behavior of humans. In what follows I depict the common thread that runs through all of history, and through pre-history as observed through the lens of archaeology. This common thread is a simple fact that we can all recognize.

Since the dawn of mankind we’ve always had bandits and highwaymen among us – people, who would, in perpetual desperation, go to any lengths whatever to acquire what they wanted along the highways, the streets, and the byways of Anytown, Anywhere, Everland. These are the folks who would willingly, if not gladly, intimidate, harass, maim, rape, torture, and kill those whom they encountered and who had something they wanted.

And they did these things on a daily basis for millennia, always adapting to changing conditions and opportunities by inventing new disguises, like Sheriff’s badges, and black judicial robes, and thrones, and crowns, and uniforms – always hiding the basic fundamental reality: if they can’t control you and exploit you, they’ll cage you or kill you. So they became warriors, soldiers, policemen, judges, jailers, bureaucrats, power brokers, politicians, CEOs, bankers, and the secretive Élite. As the more successful among them delegated “authority” to others, they became better able to hide behind the scenes, in luxurious villas and remote estates around the world. At the root, they’re still bandits.

And the common thread is: it’s all done by coercion, made “legal” by power brokerage edict. Their ethic is “Might makes right.” Their motto: “Give me what you’ve got – or else!” And they don’t hesitate to apply the “or else”.

I remember, as a boy watching “western” movies about cowboys and rustlers, in which the cowboys and their local Sheriff would win a shootout with the marauding rustlers. Too bad the cowboys won a few battles, but lost the war. Since then the rustlers got organized and started appointing their own Sheriffs. And today the rustlers are herding us toward extinction, like cattle to slaughter. And I’ve been told that’s how they see most of – as expendable livestock. Today’s standard model human is not as cost-effective as more recent models – so the herd is about to be culled – or so the rustlers plan. They’re getting ready to round us up.

And those who work for these modern-day bandits in their offices, bureaus, corporations, agencies, and what-have-you are either aspiring bandits themselves – or are slavishly complicit in the depredations of their “superiors” – turning a blind eye to the evils which they are abetting, for the sake of a paycheck, the fiat substitute for pieces of silver.

Free the Slaves

What I’ve described above is a machine. It’s designed to control and exploit the unprivileged majority of humanity. We cannot let it continue, if we are to survive. So as I see it we have just three options.

  • We can throw ourselves into the machine and become part of it – thereby hoping our good characters will enable us to change the machine from within…
  • We can rise up in violent rebellion, as the bandits expect us to – and for which they have long prepared…
  • Or we can free the slaves who are part of the machine and offer them a better choice – a chance to be free of the machine and to enjoy the life they’ve always wanted – independently of the existing machine. And who are the slaves? They are everyone who works for a hierarchic organization and accepts the false notion that some people are better than others and therefore have “authority” over them – the “right” to tell them – at gunpoint if “necessary” – what the they “must” do.

I call the first approach above the infiltration strategy, as exemplified by Ed Griffin’s Freedom Force, a group that promotes the notion that we can join the groups that wield power over others and thereby effect change. While I applaud the ultimate goals and motives that usually accompany such efforts, I have little confidence in the outcome. Those who go this route have been at it for at least 8,000 years without notable success. Why should we expect them to succeed now?

The second approach, revolution, in the traditional sense, has also been tested many times in the course of history. The result is always the same. Either the existing regime persists, having slaughtered its opposition, or the revolutionaries win and install a new authoritarian regime. For some reason, the winning revolutionaries never just tar and feather the old regime and go home.

So I opt for the third strategy – let’s set the slaves free by offering them a fresh start in a new society. In doing so, we can make the old society obsolete. We’ll have our own currencies, our own monetary systems, our own free-market economy, and our own ways of organizing around any ethical purposes we wish. As the slaves defect from the machine to join us, we’ll be able to “starve” the old system out of existence – simply by withdrawing our support for it – thereby rendering it irrelevant to our common everyday activities. And we’ll accomplish all of this without resort to offensive violence – assuming our enemies don’t eradicate us first.