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This funny quote from Napoleon Bonaparte is particularly funny since Napoleon certainly had many encounters with all types of politicians, so he should know. While I don’t think that intelligence is necessarily associated with politics, I think that a deficiency of certain types of wisdom is widespread. Politics is fraught with expediency and compromise. This marginalizes other ways of living and relating to one another. Ironically, the quest to triangulate thousands of expedient compromises, even with the intent to preserve and enhance human life, invariably degrades our collective humanity and individual worth in relation to the body politic. This is another case of vainly seeking to achieve certain ends by means incompatible with those ends. This necessarily disconnects the natural order of things, that means and ends are connected; and when the connection between means and ends is severed, the meta-message is that life (or politics) doesn’t make sense and that sensible solutions to community problems are irrelevant. This state of affairs continues because sensibility is not the primary concern, rather, it is power. Power can be wielded sensibly, but power has the “privilege” of operating insensibly, according to its own whim or interest. One does not have to have intelligence to wield power, therefore stupidity is not a handicap in politics, the wielding of power in relation to others. A wisdom that views means and ends as inseparable needs to face the difficult work of forging a way that is far less expedient. If we didn’t negotiate away (compromise) human rights regularly, then large-scale human endeavors would require an even larger scale of work necessary to preserve human rights. This is a primary reason why I see anarchism and its critique of large-scale enterprises as so important to understanding the large-scale dehumanizing forces in Western civilization. If we were committed to healthy human relationships, we would not engage in large-scale enterprises which run over human rights. Of course, this is seen as impracticable or unattainable; thus, the pervasive sense that individuals or small groups cannot make a difference. This fatalism is a logical read of the logic inherent in these larger systems. The systems do NOT value you. That’s because valuing you has been so compromised out of the system. People become means, not ends. Invariably, when people are treated as means rather than ends, they are treated meanly, like so much building material in the dreams of others who wield more power. For better or worse, the only way out of this seems to be the masses rising up with their own inherent power derived from their will and consent and overthrow the dehumanizing powers that be. Now, this takes more than wisdom; this requires courage! I encourage you to rage against the machine. I encourage you to live in ways that inspire others to fully live and not compromise themselves as they internalize and model so well the compromising of others inherent in modern politics. To live free is not a guarantee that you “win” (as in the conventional wisdom), but to center your living around the fact that being free is winning. Live free or die. The second comes to all of us. The first is optional.