Independent Thought


Various mainstream institutions use the term “Independent thought” in different ways therefore it is necessary to state up front the definition that is being addressed here.

Check Merriam-Webster dictionary online and find these definitions for the word “independent”:

a. “not subject to control by others”
b. “not looking to others for one’s opinions or for guidance in conduct”
c. “not requiring or relying on others”

In this material I further define independent thinking as cognition based on a process of logical and rational information analysis leading to conscious integration of information into a coherent world view. 



“Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.”  Thomas Jefferson


This type of thinking is NOT inherent but must be learned. However, as part of the “education” process the general population is taught to accept information from sources that are identified as having authority. Once this process takes hold in young people’s mind it becomes part of their behavior for the rest of their lives to subordinate their own opinions to those of religion, political ideology, political “leaders” or “pundits”, even actors. As noted above, anyone identified by an external source as having authority is GIVEN authority by the person to override the person’s own conclusions.  During this “education” process, personal ability to logically and rationally determine truth is discouraged because it allows children to effectively question and thereby challenge the established social order.


This process of indoctrination is called “education.” It should be obvious that accepting information is not independent thought.  Accepting information is dependent thought.   This process is disguised in the educational system when teachers “encourage students to ask questions and “think critically.” 


The problem is that students in general education are not taught HOW to think critically and formulate questions that result in concepts that are outside the acceptable boundaries of the cultural norm.   Critical thought, analysis, solution development, error discovery, and modeling based on unbiased scientific discipline are only taught in the science and engineering areas. Even there this type of thinking “only applies to science and engineering not to general life”.


The result is that rational analysis, critical thinking, effective solution design, and systems analysis thought processes are used exclusively to support the system, i.e.,in work for the benefit of business. These thought processes are almost completely absent from personal life.


A great example is that people working in corporations will attend hours long meetings discussing issues and working out problems in order to successfully create complex business and technical solutions to further the business directives, follow-up to verify the goals of the initiatives are met, and take personal responsibility for the results.   


These same people have NEVER attended hours long meetings to discuss social issues, analyze local/regional/national events, monitor political and economic activity, collectively determine courses of action to successfully manage their own social order, follow-up to verify the goals of the initiatives are met, and take personal responsibility for the results.


This is left up to politicians. However even a cursory examination of the political system reveals a bureaucracy that is corrupt to the core and serves the interests of those with money and power.   Irrationally, these people deny the fundamental truth that in a democracy, management of the social order is the responsibility of all citizens through an effective political process.   Voting corrupt politicians into office who then serve the interests of those with money and power is not managing the social order through an effective political process.


Why do these very intelligent, creative, dedicated people simply refuse to apply their abilities to realize their responsibility as citizens in a democracy?   Because they have been taught that commitment to quality and success is only to be applied in the service of the corporation/work environment and never in the service of the social order or of the individual themselves.


Yet in a democracy, as President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his farewell address: in 1961:


"…Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."


In a democracy, only an alert, knowledgeable, social engaged, and independently thinking citizenry who can rationally evaluate and manage their social order can prevent oligarchs, and their instruments, demagogues (read modern media), from manipulating and controlling the general population.   In a true democracy, the individual has the personal responsibility AND the training to establish truth.


How is a population programmed to reject rational thought and independent thought?  


Again, from an early age people are taught to simply accept what they are told and are NOT taught how to establish truth for themselves.  This is most prevalent in the religious systems.  There one must have “faith” and “accept” rather than reason out the truth.  This is the foundation where people learn that irrational thought is not only acceptable but required for inclusion in the group.


The foundation of the current social system is described by Murray N. Rothbard, American economist, historian, and political theorist, in his work For a New Liberty, The Libertarian Manifesto, 1973.


“ the early twentieth century, the new conservative “corporate state” – then and now the dominant political system in the western world – incorporated “responsible” and corporatist trade unions as junior partners to Big Government and favored big businesses  in the new statist and corporatist decision making system. 


To establish this new system, to create a New Order which was a modernized, dressed up version of the ancient regime before the American and French revolutions, the new ruling elites had to perform a gigantic con job on the deluded public, a con job that continues to this day. 


Whereas the existence of every government from absolute monarchy to military dictatorship rests on the consent of the majority of the public, a democratic government must engineer such consent on a more immediate day to day basis.


And to do so, the new conservative ruling elites gull the public in many crucial and fundamental ways.   For the masses had to be convinced that tyranny was better than liberty, that a cartelized and privileged industrial feudalism was better for the consumers than a freely competitive market, that a cartelized monopoly was to be imposed in the name of the antimonopoly, and that war and military aggrandizement for the benefit of the ruling elites was really in the best interests of the conscripted, taxed, and often slaughtered public.   How was this to be done?


In all societies, public opinion is determined by the intellectual classes, the opinion moulders of society.  For most people neither originate nor disseminate ideas and concepts; on the contrary, they tend to adopt those ideas promulgated by the professional intellectual classes, the professional dealers in ideas.


Now, throughout history….despots and ruling elite of States have had far more need the services of intellectuals than have peaceful citizens in a free society.  For States have always needed opinion moulding intellectuals to con the public into believing that its rule is wise, good, and inevitable….


Until the modern world, such intellectuals were inevitably churchmen (or witch doctors), the guardians of religion…” 


The result of such a system is that the general population is conditioned to think in ways prescribed by the system and about things presented by the system.   Independent thought is suppressed in a self regulating manner, where the general population is frightened by and react negatively to independent thought. 


Overt suppression of independent thought is UNNECESSARY as the general population shuns independent thinkers as a matter of course.   Thusly, women who insisted that they were equal to men were ridiculed, ostracized, and murdered for thousands of years not just by established religious or government systems but by the general population, even by other women!   Once the general population is programmed to act this way, the laws and social norms become natural extensions of “the will of the people” and the system becomes self-regulating.   


In modern times, education and independent determination of truth are two mutually exclusive concepts because the thoughts and desires of the general population are programmed into them through the installation of cultural programming by the religious, education, and media systems.


This cultural programming of the general population is reinforced on a daily basis by the same media, religious, and political systems.


The general population is then controlled by the oligarchs who leverage the mental triggers present in the installed cultural programming i.e. religion, patriotism, and personality integration.


This type of social control does not require that 100% of the population is conditioned.   The percentage of the general population which has received inadequate or ineffective cultural programming or whose cultural programming has broken down due to heavy doses of reality, is controlled intrinsically by the programmed population (peer pressure, threats of violence, shunning, etc.) and systemically by the control systems (economic, legal, law enforcement, and “covert operatives e.g. CIA”)


A population which, as Murray Newton Rothbard says in his book For a New Liberty ..the majority of whom neither originate nor disseminate ideas and concepts; ( on the contrary, they tend to adopt those ideas promulgated by the professional intellectual classes, the professional dealers in ideas )..”, and is programmed to accept (with little, no, or ineffectual questioning), the ideas which make up the landscape of their thoughts and the thoughts/desires that determine their behavior, cannot and will not take control of the social order from the oligarchs.


As Chris Hedges notes in his book The Death of the Liberal Class:


“The fantasy of widespread popular revolts and mass movements breaking the hegemony of the corporate state is just that – a fantasy.”


This statement declares the inconvenient truth that most of the liberal class cannot face.   Simply put, a population enslaved through cultural programming and conditioning does not have the background, training, experience or motivation to change the system that they have been programmed by.


An example is the financial system based on fiat currency and controlled by central banks. 


"Those few who can understand the system (check book money and credit) will either be so interested in its profits, or so dependent on it favors, that there will be little opposition from that class, while on the other hand, the great body of people mentally incapable of comprehending the tremendous advantage that capital derives from the system, will bear it burdens without complaint, and perhaps without even suspecting that the system is inimical to their interests."


This quote describes the paradigm of control used by the oligarchs to keep the entire population enslaved.   Simply take the quote and change the description of the “the system” from “check book money and credit” to “the social order” and you have a perfect description of why people do not and cannot effectively and successfully challenge the exiting social order in the “first world” countries:


"Those few who can understand the system (rule by oligarchs using cultural conditioning through religious, education, and media as well as control of the economy via the banking system) will either be so interested in its profits, or so dependent on it favors, that there will be little opposition from that class, while on the other hand, the great body of people mentally incapable of comprehending the tremendous advantage that capital derives from the system, will bear it burdens without complaint, and perhaps without even suspecting that the system is inimical to their interests."


Social catastrophe (war, poverty, environmental catastrophe, financial catastrophe), enslavement (economic and physical), and exploitation is the recurring legacy of the oligarchic model.    The lower and middle classes always pay the price.  The upper class always serve the oligarchs, the middle class is bought off by material goods and dependence on the system for everything they have, and the lower class is enslaved through economic and legal encapsulation.


A population who are unable to think rationally are easily controlled through information management.  In other words, propaganda.


Here are several excellent articles and videos on disinformation and the use of propaganda in western societies.


Definition of Disinformation


Disinformation Tactics


Twenty-Five Ways to Suppress Truth: The Rules of Disinformation


Disinformation Tactics


The Century of Self


Human Resources:  Social Engineering in the 20th Century


Why People are Slaves to the Oligarchs


Further discussions on how oligarchs control the masses


What are the possible solutions?


Regarding violent revolution:


Violent revolution is actually the last ditch reaction to oppression.   “When people have nothing to lose they lose it”, say Gerald Celente, Director of the Trends Research Institute.   However, any serious examination of any violent revolution reveals that ALL violent revolutions are financed.   The first thing one should ask when discussing ANY violent revolution should be “Where did the money come from?”  


The general population is fed a steady diet of “history” where revolutions “break out” or “happened” or some such nonsense.  What is never discussed are the logistics behind such efforts.   Weapons, training, food, water, medical care, sanitation, clothing, transportation, ammunition, weapons and equipment maintenance requirements, training, communication, planning, operational management.  The logistics list goes on and on and EVERYTHING costs money.  


Again, an examination of history shows someone, somewhere provides the financing and this is just as true today.  In war between states, bankers finance both sides of every conflict because the bankers can’t lose on that bet.  The side that wins has to pay the bankers back for the loans they took out and the side that loses pays the bankers back through the reparations demanded by the victors.   How’s that for “no risk” investing?


In revolutionary “wars”, nations provide backing for “rebels” in order to destroy opposing nations without having to resort to direct conflict.  But again, where do the nations get the financing for these efforts?   Again, at the end of the day the deficit budgets of these governments requires that they go the banks for funding.


So any discussion of violent revolution against ANY government, and in particular the government of the united states must start with the question “Who is going to finance the revolution?”   The fact is, no country or entity in the world is going to finance a revolution in the united states and risk direct nuclear attack from the united states oligarchy.   So on that point alone, violent revolution against the government of the united states is a non-starter.


Second, an examination of violent revolution reveals that even if a “popular revolution” is financed and successful, the general population is in no position to architect and engineer a new social order.  


The general population, conditioned by the system from birth, may try to create institutions that address the specific issues that lead to the revolution.  However the general population is not trained as social architects and systems engineers.  


To believe that the general population needs to gain expertise to be a doctor, or an engineer, or a mathematician, or a teacher, or a scientist, which all involve complex and difficult skills, AND simultaneously to believe that the general population does NOT need to have expertise to architect and engineer and EFFECTIVELY MANAGE THROUGH DEMOCRATIC PROCESS complex social, economic, and financial systems is patently ridiculous.

As As Horace Mann said in Report No. 12 of the Massachusetts School Board in 1848:

  “Hence it is, that the establishment of a republican government, without well-appointed and efficient means for the universal education of the people, is the most rash and fool-hardy experiment ever tried by man.  Such a Republic may grow in numbers and in wealth. As an avaricious man adds acres to his lands, so its rapacious government may increase its own darkness by annexing provinces and states to its ignorant domain. Its armies may be invincible, and its fleets may strike terror into nations on the opposite sides of the globe, at the same hour. Vast in its extent, and enriched with all the prodigality of nature, it may possess every capacity and opportunity of being great, and of doing good. But if such a Republic be devoid of intelligence Such a Republic, with all its noble capacities for beneficence, will rush with the speed of a whirlwind to an ignominious end; and all good men of after-times would be fain to weep over its downfall, did not their scorn and contempt at its folly and its wickedness, repress all sorrow for its fate...”

Since the educational system is not designed to create independent, socially aware, alert and knowledgeable citizens, but to create good workers for business and loyal, patriotic subjects for the government, citizens willing to participate in the system but unable to effectively change the system, the educational system currently in place can never achieve the goal that Horace Mann describes.


So on THAT point alone, the general population is not trained to be social architects and systems engineers, violent revolution is a non-starter.


If violent revolution cannot be successful, what other options are there?


Working within a corrupt system is never going to be successful.   In western, democratic societies, true revolutionary energy is channeled into efforts that cannot and will not change the system.  Marching around carrying signs or writing to corrupt government officials is demonstrably ineffective.   However it does satisfy the cultural programming running in the minds of the people that “at least I did SOMETHING”. This type of activity is the most insidious form of surrender. Scratching at the walls of the prison and then going back to the daily grind of being a prisoner.   Trading the illusion of freedom for the reality of freedom.  


A very difficult point to address is the fact that those who are in positions of power in the system and who rise to positions of power in the system are psychopaths.    This is a subject all to it’s own and I cover it here - Psychopaths in Human Society - but the root of the matter is that there is a certain type of human being to whom power over others is to be achieved and maintained at all cost.   Lying, cheating, stealing, manipulating, exploiting, setting people against each other using deceit, are the methods used by these type of people on a daily basis to achieve their goal of gaining and maintaining power.


Therefore any proposed solution to the problem of oligarchic domination of human society MUST acknowledge, and have a methodology to deal with, this “enemy inside the gates” because any social order, regardless of it’s architecture, can and will be infiltrated, hijacked, and compromised by psychopaths gaining power.


Discussions of what social system is better are a waste of time if this point is not addressed first.


What is the proposed solution described by Strategic Social Architecture?  An descriptive approach, a paradigm, rather than a prescriptive regimen.


1)    The population of the society must have the expertise necessary to be alert, knowledgeable, and socially aware citizens who can EFFECTIVELY MANAGE THROUGH DEMOCRATIC PROCESS complex social, economic, and financial systems.


This means voluntarily taking on the tedious task of spending hours out of every day monitoring the social order, evaluating the social results, planning, and taking part in maintenance and corrective acitivities.   This as opposed to the “I work 60 hours a week for the corporation and then all I want to do is drink at happy hour, go skiing, go shopping, watch TV, watch or participate in sports games, or go to church all of which reinforce my initial cultural programming”


2)    The population can only achieve this goal if they are independent thinkers.   There is no way to “change” the general population into independent thinkers.   First, the general population have been culturally conditioned to be just what they are today.   That process of involuntary conditioning through the religious, education, media, and political systems is direct manipulation and is wrong in and of itself. So using the same process, e.g., somehow “changing people’s minds” to suit ANY other ideology, is also improper behavior.  


3)    Unfortunately this leaves us with only one alternative.   Find the people who are ALREADY independent thinkers and “provide a mechanism and methodology for individuals who share a similar worldview to collaborate …. and  organize themselves into active, effective work groups, and implement real world solutions that address both the short term considerations from a personal perspective as well as the medium and long term considerations from a social perspective.  SSAF Mission Statement


4)    A society of independent thinkers, alert to the presence of psychopaths in human society and dedicated to effective and responsible management of the social order, will be highly resistant to the manipulations of psychopaths trying to infiltrate, hijack, and compromise the social order.   This is the realization of what President Eisenhower said in 1961:


“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”


To achieve this goal I have created the Strategic Social Architecture Foundation. 


For those who are participating in the SSAF effort, our common goals are:


To create an organization through which we can:


Associate with and benefit from associating with people who think like us.


Work together to mitigate the risks of the threats resulting from the oligarchic social order (war, poverty, financial catastrophe, economic catastrophe, environmental catastrophe).


Implement a process for the support of independent and free thinking people WITHOUT overtly threatening the oligarchic state and being summarily destroyed.


Provide a sanctuary for independent and fee thinking individuals who want to exit the mainstream social order (from a cultural perspective).


Lay the foundations for a new social order based on democratic principles and which has built in controls to identify and neutralize psychopaths and oligarchs and oligarchy supporters.


Lay the foundations for an organization which will continue to exist and grow going forward, increasing the population of independent and free thinking individuals.


Do we have all the answers?   Certainly not and any independent thinker would reject us out of hand if we said we did.


The goal here is to work together taking personal responsibility for both our successes and our failures.   At the end of the day what we build be will be result of our efforts.  Truly, a society for the people by the people.



I leave you with the following quotes to consider:


“Propaganda is the management and manipulation of public opinion through misinformation and the use of political and cultural symbols to create popular consent for policies, practices, and hierarchical societal arrangements that are contrary to popular interests. Propaganda is public relations for private and authoritarian gain” (Carey, Taking the Risk Out of Democracy, 1986). 


“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in a democratic society. Those who manipulate the unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…

Whatever attitude one chooses toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or in our ethical thinking, we are dominated by a relatively small number of persons … who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.”

Edward Bernay “Propaganda”, 1928


“Less through any sort of reasoned and open debate than through simple repetition and ubiquitous assumption, masses of Americans are led to believe… “ Thought Control by Paul Street April 27th, 2004.

  "The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group or by any controlling private power." Franklin Roosevelt, 1938

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. . . . corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.  1864, Abraham Lincoln only a few months before his death


"When you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing - When you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors - When you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you - When you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - You may know that your society is doomed." -- Ayn Rand, "Atlas Shrugged", 1957


 "If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." Samuel Adams


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Thank you for your time,


Kevin M. Washington

Copyright 2010