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 Ernest Mann: I was Robot / Free I Got
- Human Robots
- Slavery or Freedom
- R.I.P., Ernest Mann 1927-1996.
There is no enemy. Only ignorance - of a better Game to play.
 I vaguely remember a science fiction movie of "Flash Gordon" back in the 30's which showed all the workers in some city moving around like robots. The hero tried to talk with them but they didn't pay any attention. He then noticed that all the workers were wearing the same kind of helmet. He took off one worker's helmet. The worker seemed to come out of a trance and told our hero that while they wore the helmets they were literally slaves and had to do whatever they were told by their Master.
 In the book, "Brave New World," the people were given a drug called "soma" each day as they finished work. As I recall, this kept the people in a blissful unconcerned state of consciousness until their next work day.
 It has occurred to me that I have worn the helmet. Except my helmet was in my mind. I was getting soma too. I even paid to get it.
- Intake Time
 In my intake time I watched TV, listened to the radio, went to movies, listened to records, background music and tapes, glanced at billboards, read magazines and newspapers. During this time I also took one or more of the consciousness altering drugs. These addictive drugs included nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and sugar. Some people used harder drugs. The drugs may have made me more susceptible to the programming that I was receiving.
 - My Programming
 My programming was achieved by many methods. First of all it is important to remember that most of the mass media is owned or controlled by big money people. They not only use the old methods such as; slanting, falsifying, exaggerating, omitting, monkey-see & monkey- do, loaded words, hypnotic music, etc., but are also now using many new subliminal methods of implanting ideas, opinions, fears and desires into our conscious and subconscious minds without our being aware of it. They were able to program me almost as effectively as computers are now programmed.
- Dependency
 I was dependent on these various programming media for my "entertainment." I thought I actually enjoyed the movies, TV, radio, etc., that I was being programmed with and for which I had to pay plenty. I thought I enjoyed the drugs on which I was dependent. You can't imagine how many barrels of coffee and show cases of sweet rolls I went through. I didn't know they were addictive. I had lost or had never learned the art of entertaining myself. I allowed others to do my thinking for me. I had very little time to figure out things. So I just did what was expected of me. I was a human robot.
- Merry-Go-Round
 I was 10 years a salesman and 10 years in business for myself. During most of that time I went blindly around that old merry-go-round of working, spending and trying to pay my bills by the 10th. There were many times I couldn't pay by the 10th and I would try to borrow money from the bank to pay bills. (You know what they said, most of the time -- "Ha, ha, ho, ho!") So I sorted the bills and paid only the most imminent and stalled the rest. One big bummer! Who has time to do any important profound thinking about life, pollution, wars, etc., at a time like that? My thinking time was totally occupied with finding a way to make a buck and trying to keep a reasonably happy family. I don't recall that I, even once, asked myself if I were happy or if I were doing what was for my own best good over the long run.
- A Rut
 I went pathetically around and around that wheel (endless rut) every month, always trying to get a little ahead of the game. It was not unlike a grave with both ends kicked out, like a robot programmed to work, spend and pay. Like, I was in the groove, man, but I didn't know how to remove my helmet. I didn't even know I had one.
- Background Music
 I think that I might like background music if I were not trying to talk or think, that is, providing I was sure that there was no mind conditioning in it.
- TV Kickout
 Somewhere along the line I got mad at my TV addiction and gave my set away. It was almost impossible for me to turn the damned thing off until the program was over or until I was exhausted. I'm now happy that I did this, especially since I've learned about the subliminals bombarding TV watchers. I don't need it. My subconscious must have told me to get rid of it. I rarely take in any of the other news media or movies any more. This leaves me with more time and inclination to do some thinking for myself. In fact, I would not even dream of voting for anyone to represent me and to make laws against me anymore.
- In Business
 I was taught in Economics class, in business college, the rule, "Charge all the traffic will bear. (and a little more so that you can come down)," that I must make a profit and the more the better. Then it sounded logical, so when I went into business it seemed quite natural to follow that old rule, so I did. I didn't stop to realize that everyone else would be using that same rule on me too. That for everything I would buy there would be someone trying to get all they could out of me. This kind of economics ferments trusts, monopolies and cartels. So those with the most, make the most.
 I didn't worry about the workers in foreign countries who made only a few cents a day on the imported products that I bought, until I visited some of those countries recently. Then I saw some of their living and working conditions. It made me start to think. I also realized that workers in the U.S.A. are exploited too, only on a different level and more subtly.
 My belief that everyone here had freedom of "choice of work" fell apart. I could see that most of us were doing work that we didn't like. Because we needed the money to pay the rent, food bills, etc., we had to take work at any place that was hiring, whether we liked the job or not.
 I didn't question whether the manufacturer of what I was buying, was polluting my drinking water supply, my fresh air supply or my food supply. I trusted government to protect those supplies for me. I trusted my city sewer disposal and my city water purification departments. It never once occurred to me that if we didn't pollute our water supply we wouldn't need the purification department.
 I trusted my city government many years ago when they said that it was hazardous to our health to put human waste on crop lands. I had forgotten the fact that my dad always put our human waste from our out-house, on our crop land. I forgot that I had seen the Japanese farmers doing this 30 years ago.
- Screwed Up
 We have been making great technical advancements. We have developed fabulous new techniques, alloys, compounds and methods that give products more strength, durability and all kinds of wonderful new qualities. But they sell us products that are always breaking down, wearing out and polluting more, e.g., cars won't start, they rust out in 3 years and start falling apart before you get them paid for and toys break before you get them home. We have wonderful mass production machines and tremendous crop yield seed varieties and excellent irrigation facilities, yet we are often told that there are shortages just before severe price increases, e.g., meat, sugar, oil and coffee.
For some strange reason the prices never came down after the "so called" shortages were over. Prisons don't rehabilitate or cut down crime. They say there are crimes even when there is no victim. Laws are written by the big money people to protect big money. Governments spend money like it was water. Many money-saving devices are kept off the market. Laws are written to keep down the little man.
- Nightmare
 My first reaction to my study of the overall picture, was that things are sure screwed, all backwards and muddled up, a regular nightmare. But on closer examination I decided that this is the natural trend that must take place under the present world-wide economic system. (The "Pay System," where people take pay or profit for their work and sell the product.) With this Game there can only be a few big winners and the rest must be big losers. (Survivors, but not winners.)
- Multinationals
 I understand that corporate trust agreements have given way to large corporate conglomerates which more easily corner national markets. These conglomerates have or are evolving into multinational conglomerates which are cornering the world markets. If we continue to use the present world-wide economic system, the multinationals will probably be cornering one market after another. Soon there may be no work or product that will not be under the direct or indirect control of the multinationals. This leaves me at their mercy. (Are corporations merciful?) I'll have to pay their prices and take whatever profit or wages they allow. This doesn't give me very good feelings.
- I Went Along
 Why did I allow these things to happen?
 First of all, I wasn't aware of much of the BS that was going on.
 Second, when I became aware I tried the usual things, e.g., writing to my congress persons, to the President and finally I worked in the Republican Party. (I had been a Democrat all my life.) All to no avail.
 Third, why didn't I drop out and stop participating in the consuming, polluting, exploiting and depleting of resources? Well, I thought I needed the income to pay for our house, food, clothing, auto payments, business loan payments, taxes, insurance, upkeep, entertainment, medical, vacation, etc. How could I have said, "No." To a boss or to a client and take the risk of losing everything I had? It seemed like I had no viable alternative.
 Fourth, I mulled over all these thoughts for some time before I decided on a partial way out. (I think this might be the point where many people have nervous breakdowns if they don't see a way out of the mess. Then they go to a shrink who tries to "fix" them, so that they can get back into the old rat race and run again. What a bummer!)
- Drop-Out
 After about 20 years of slaving in the race I was starting to get ahead a little. I started to take a little time to think about myself and my needs. I decided to get out of the race and sold everything I had when I was 42. Decided to take off for a few years. Figured I had learned how to make money and could do it again if I ever had to. I have been learning, growing and enjoying so much in the last 8 years that I doubt if I'll ever go back into the rat race.
- Save Money
 Since I have stopped taking in the programming I can walk through any of the big stores and never get a desire to buy any of their stuff (crap). What little I need I buy at rummage sales for just a few cents. I have no idea what's in style any more, and care less. Of course I can't buy second hand food but I'm eating more of the basic foods, i.e., the unprocessed foods; they are purer, cheaper and taste better. What more can I ask for?
 I got rid of my car because it was always eating my money and taking up a lot of my time. I now live close to where I do my thing, so I walk most of the time or bus to farther places. I don't spend much money so my small income (savings, actually) is sufficient for everything that I desire.
- Free Time and Purpose
 Not spending much money means not needing to use any time earning money, or using up much of my savings. This gives me more free time to look, listen, smell, feel, taste, think and reason. Sometimes I feel like writing and I do. I don't know if anyone will understand what I'm saying but it feels good to write it anyway. I have created a purpose for my life and it feels right and good for now.
 Eight years ago when I dropped-out, I asked myself, "What is the highest and best use that I can put to my mind, heart and body? What kind of work needs to be done the most? What can I do that will be for my own best good over the long haul?" My decision was to try to discover or to design a more perfect system of living together on this planet.
 I derive much happiness from my purpose (my work), and sometimes much agony when I can't seem to reach people. I work for free and I'm my own boss. I can quit anytime, and go back to my work anytime. I do my work as I see fit. I don't give a damn if my newsletter sells, because I give it away. Ha ha. If my ideas for freedom are valid, I expect people may use them. If the seeds that I plant are fertile, I trust that they will grow, and that some aware people will water them and cultivate them. If this happens we will all share in the harvest.
- Big Money People
 My guess is that the big money people who order the mind programming in the media, are in a dilemma themselves. They sometimes seem to be in a competitive game with each other. It's like they have ahold of the chain that holds a vicious bulldog (Power) and if they let go, someone else will grab it and go after them with it. So they don't dare let go of their power. The Priceless Economic System will remove
all the teeth from this bulldog. Then they can "let go" and relax a little with the rest of us.
 They seem to be working together some too. Big money is going strong in Agribusiness. They are taking over land like it is going out of style. They already seem to have a corner on the market in meat, sugar, coffee and oil. Whenever a product doubles in price over night, you can be pretty sure that they have cornered that too. It is inevitable that they will continue the game until they can set all prices wherever they wish and the same with wages. What freedom will this leave for me and you? If we wait until then to try to make change it will probably be too late. Most people will by then be so thoroughly programmed (brainflushed) that they will believe with Pollyanna, that, "Everything that happens is for the best."
December 27, 1976 Ernest Mann
Taken from the book: Ernest Mann / I was Robot (Utopia Now Possible). (1990).

 Slavery means; being forced to work and obey.
 In ancient times slavery was enforced with the whip and spear. Now it is enforced by the threat of being fired, thus losing ones income to buy food, shelter and clothing. "Lack of money" was the invisible chain of enslavement that bound me until I started learning ways to live without it.
 I was a willing slave until I saved up enough money (to buy my way out of bondage, i.e., indentured slavery) to drop-out of the Rat Race in 1969. Now I'm living off my savings, while I'm perfecting my understanding of freedom and learning more methods of living free.
- Bee Hive
Employer = A euphemism for slavemaster or Queen Bee.
Employee = A euphemism for slave or drone.
 Are we living in a big bee hive? Are most of us drones who are supporting a few queen bees (billionaires)?
 Is most of our work (productivity) kept by the Queen Bees? In 1984, Mesa Petroleum Corporation was the Queen of all exploiters. She made a net profit of $397,400 from each of her 700 drones.
- I am held in slavery:
1. If I believe I need money.
2. If I believe I must obey the government.
3. If I believe I must obey anyone.
- Freedom is doing whatever I wish.
 I try not to harm others because I have no desire to lose friends or gain enemies and their retribution.
- Independence
Surplus money + no debts = Freedom
 Knowing how to live with little or no money + no debts = Freedom from slavery.
- How I'm becoming free: I --
 1. find ways to live which require less or no money.
 2. use these cheaper or free ways.
 3. paid up or terminated all my indebtedness.
 4. built up my savings account and invested this surplus money in something I had expertise in.
 5. stopped absorbing the mass media because it tends to influence me to think in ways that are not for my best good.
 6. stopped supporting government with income taxes and votes.
 7. stopped trying to keep up with styles and new models.
 8. stopped trying to keep up with the Joneses.
 9. started a Free Box at home for my friends.
10. may start a Free Skills Pool with my friends.
11. sold or gave away things I didn't need.
12. plan to soon live on a sailboat with no rent or mortgage payments.
13. find ways to entertain myself that are free.
14. plan to make my own drinks.
15. eat mostly basic unprocessed food.
16. do my own cooking.
17. plan to get rid of my car.
18. plan to disconnect my phone.
19. hope to find some like-minded people to anchor near, occasionally.
- Creating my own destiny: I --
 1. try to decide what I want.
 2. think and study ways to get it.
 3. begin trying the most logical ways.
 4. continue until I succeed or fail.
 5. then decide what else I want and start again at #2.
 I don't need to give Freedom to the world. If everyone takes his/her own Freedom -- everyone will have it.
 When I take pay, I must obey! I don't think I wish to do that any more. However, if there is something I want bad enough, I guess will.


Taken from the book: Ernest Mann / Free I got (1993).
The Little Free Press by Ernest Free Mann
R.I.P., Ernest Mann 1927-1996.
While half mast flags in April marked the death of U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, our thoughts instead were on real people's hero, Ernest Mann. The 69-year-old editor of what must have been the longest running zine in existence, Little Free Press, was bludgeoned to death in March by his teenage grandson who then took his own life. The two had been living together in a Little Falls, Minnesota, trailer court. Formerly a successful real estate investor, Mann (a.k.a. Larry Johnson), "dropped out" in 1969 to live a contemplative life and promote his quixotic "Priceless Economic System." Described as "definitely the most idealistic, and arguably the most naive set of pamphlets" (High weirdness by mail, Stang, 1988), Little Free Press has been part crusade, and part autobiography about squirrel trapping, raft building, and grandson raising.
Mann first received regional attention in 1978 when Minneapolis Tribune columnist Larry Batson wrote about his quest to promote freedom. By the time the national media noticed him ("A Thoreau of the city," Christian Science Monitor, May 16, 1990, p.13), he was already widely known throughout the zine network. Mike Gunderloy's September 1982 edition of Factsheet Five (#4) reviewed Little Free Press #41. Thirteen and a half years later, Mann was still at it, pumping out issue #138 and visualizing "peace on Earth and goodwill." We were not alone in corresponding with Ernest and wish we hadn't procrastinated with plans to interview him. Profoundly human, an enjoyer of books and simple pleasures, an anarchist and atheist who never ceased his one-person utopian experiment, he will be missed.
Mann's writings are compiled in his self-published I was robot (Utopia now possible) and Free I got, thanks to the Banneker Center for Economic Justice. For more on the birth of Little Free Press, see Joe Grant's "Stop the Presses, I Want to Get Off" in Voices from the underground, Volume 1 (1993).
"Most of us build prisons for ourselves and after we occupy them for a period of time we become accustomed to their walls and accept the false premise that we are incarcerated for life. As soon as that belief takes hold of us we abandon hope of ever doing more with our lives and of ever giving our dreams a chance to be fulfilled. We begin to suffer living deaths; one of a herd heading for destruction in a gray mass of mediocrity..." --Barb Katt, Plowshares trial testimony „
Source : MSRRT Newsletter - May/June 1996 v.9 #4/5



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