You Cannot Withdraw from the World. Do You Want to Change It?


Gary North – May 20, 2014
We are in the world. On a day-by-day basis, we act out our answers to this question: “Are we of the world?”

This is true of every social philosophy, every religion, every culture, and every subgroup in the world. This is always true. It will always be true. To one extent or another, we are always involved in the division of labor, unless we have adopted the life of the pure hermit. This is almost impossible in every society. In any case, the departure of a hermit in no way affects the continuing extension of the world that the hermit has left. In other words, when somebody becomes a hermit, he no longer seeks to reform the world. He can barely survive on whatever is in the trash dumpsters of the corrupt world. He is still dependent on the world.

The best example of this in the history of literature is Moses. Moses is the poster child for the retreatist who decided that nothing could be done. He became, culturally speaking, a hermit. He was in Egyptian society for 40 years. He executed an Egyptian slave master for mistreating a Hebrew. The Hebrews resented this, and they basically told him to get lost. So, he got lost. He went into the wilderness, and there he stayed for 40 years.

The burning bush told him he had to go back and confront the Pharaoh. He resisted. He kept saying he didn’t have what it took. Finally, God said: “You don’t have what it takes, at least verbally speaking, so from now on your brother Aaron will speak for you. But you’re still going back. I won’t let you stay in the wilderness. You shake up things in the world around you. You’re going to confront the world around you. You’re going to change the world around you. So, shut up, and get moving.” This is exactly what he did.

Within any alienated group, there will be people who give up on changing the world around them. They move into what I call the Moses-in-the-wilderness mentality. They are ready to find a way into the wilderness. They don’t want to dwell in the Promised Land. They have no hope in the Promised Land. Pretty soon, they long for the leeks and onions of Egypt. They want to go back. It’s too hard to live in the wilderness: no division of labor.

The full story of Moses teaches that it is okay to go into the wilderness, but only as a training camp prior to the conquest of the Promised Land. It is better not to spend more than a couple of weeks in the wilderness. But, when you’re dealing with people with the slave mentality, you can’t push them. So, in the case of Moses, he died outside the Promised Land. Everybody over the age of 20 who departed with him also died outside Promised Land. That’s the story of people who pretend they can get out of the world geographically, in order not to become part of the world ideologically, spiritually, or emotionally. They can’t stay there, except in graves.

For those people within the subgroup who are convinced that the world can be changed, they have to remain in the world, economically speaking, and they may even have to maintain their membership in various institutions. But the institutions do not change them. They are still on the offensive. Mentally speaking, they are not of this world. They are infiltrators into the world. They’re trying to change the world. They do what they can to get reform.

Basically, if you want another analogy, it is this one. Some people want to live inside the castle, but to live inside the castle safely, you have to pull up the drawbridge. But then you cannot have any contact with those outside the castle. The castle has to be a self-contained entity. But, in the modern world, this is impossible. There is no such thing as a self-contained entity. Everything is part of the division of labor. The day the castle gets a high-speed Internet connection, its days of isolation are over.

If anybody wants to act as a warrior against the world outside, the only way he can do this is either to swim the moat or cross the drawbridge. But if you can swim the moat to get out, the bad guys can swim the moat to get in. So, the moat doesn’t do you any good. Therefore, you have to tell somebody to lower the drawbridge. The moment you lower the drawbridge, the bad guys can get in.

There is no escape from this reality. You cannot escape from the world. You’re inevitably in the world. So, the question is this: is the source of your outlook and therefore your commitment to change the world, in order to protect yourself and your family, derived from sources that have not compromised philosophically with the world?

This is a question of jujitsu. Put in biblical terms, this is the question of Moses versus Pharaoh, or David versus Goliath. You have to take a stand. You must take a stand inside the world. You have to find a weakness in the world’s defences, and then exploit it. But to do this, you have to understand the world. The world is going to try to get its claws into you. The world is going to do whatever it can to silence you, isolate you, or embarrass you.

If you don’t have the philosophical rigor to resist this, then the world is going to overcome either you or your children.

The Bolsheviks tried to change the world. From the October Revolution of 1917 until December 1991, the Communists gave it the college try. They were in the world, but they were not of the world. Anyway, that is what they said. They were going to use techniques of infiltration and techniques of military conquest to flatten all opposition to the Communist Party of the USSR, which claimed to be the vanguard of the proletariat. It took 74 years, but the whole façade finally went down like a house of cards. The Communists did not have what it took to challenge the non-Communist world successfully from within. That was the last major attempt of any revolutionary group to achieve this. There is no comparable organization to the world Communist movement today.

I’m not talking about the various establishments; they are part of the world. They are in the world, and they are of the world. I’m talking about a self-conscious, anti-establishment movement that has a plan to overcome the various establishments, and also has dedicated people within the organization who are willing to commit to a rollback of the present world order.

We had been given tools of persuasion. We have We have YouTube. We have the Internet as a whole. We have never seen an opportunity like this in the history of man. It has reduced the cost of information to an extent that was inconceivable in 1990. It has literally changed the world. It has only begun to change the world. And, more than anything else, it transfers power to the periphery. It lets every little group have a shot at changing the world. It is the closest thing we’ve ever seen to a level playing field.

Yet there are people sitting on the sidelines, where they have always sat, which is where  their parents sat, and their grandparents sat. They wring their hands in despair. “Woe are we. Woe are we.” They look at the opportunity in front of them, and they recommend that the rest of us withdraw from the battlefield. They did, generations ago.


The classic examples of this in the history of United States are the fundamentalists. The little ditty which was used to ridicule them, beginning in the 1920s, was this: “We don’t smoke, and we don’t chew, and we don’t go with the boys who do.”

The fundamentalists took a public stand against the following: social dancing (but not square dancing), movies, alcohol, and tobacco. One by one, the fundamentalist organizations retreated from the larger society. But the same people who castigated movies bought television sets in 1950 or 1951. Then, year-by-year, Hollywood invaded their homes. First, they ran old movies that nobody really watched much when they first were released. Then, year by year, the movies got newer. In the 1960’s, TV networks found that they could pull enormous audiences by running classic movies. These were the movies that the fundamentalists had banned, but now watched enthusiastically, and not only watched the movies, they also watched all of the advertisements that were used to bring them the movies. They had let down the drawbridge by putting TV antennas on their roofs. Hollywood streamed across the barriers and entered the homes of their long time enemies.

I notice that the Moody Bible Institute has finally given up the ban on tobacco and alcohol for its employees.

Parents think they can block access to the world outside the home. They cannot block access if the children have a cheap radio. They cannot block access if the kids have an iPod. They certainly cannot block access if the kids have access to the Internet. In other words, it is not possible to pull up the drawbridge any longer.

It never was.

Parents now have the obligation to train their children not to become addicted to whatever is available on the Internet. Parents don’t want to do this. It is a big responsibility. Then, when the kids are 18, and go off to college, they are completely unprepared. Their parents toss them into the cultural swamp. The dorm key ritual transfers all authority from the parent to the child, except the authority of paying the bills.

The parents have attempted to solve the problem by separation rather than inoculation. Yet most fundamentalist parents send their kids into the public schools. They always have. What do fundamentalists think their kids will be taught in public schools? Who do they think the kids are going to mix with inside the public schools? Fundamentalists did not have a clue as to how to change culture, so they attempted to withdraw from culture. They still do. But still they make this exception: the public schools.

A tiny handful have finally concluded, since about 1980, that they had to put their kids into Christian schools, and when this proved too expensive, a few of them started to homeschool their children. But they are not homeschooling them in terms of literature that trains their children how to resist the culture at large. The parents think they’re buying materials which will enable their children to stay outside of the culture. They aren’t. There is no such curriculum. There is no retreat from the division of labor.

Anybody who tries to sell a curriculum that is not geared to parents who want their kids to go to college is going to make losses.

The fundamentalists pretend that they can segregate their kids from the world outside until the kids turn 18, and then, without warning, they throw their kids into the swamp and walk away. They assume that the kids can swim. But the parents never taught them how to swim.

Billy Bob and Jenny Sue finally get together at age 18 in the co-ed dorms at Behemoth U. They are legally adults. There are no holds barred, Kama Sutra-wise.

This has been going on for 60 years, but fundamentalists are like the three blind monkeys. They hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil; they simply pay the bills.



The tools of social transformation are two-way streets. To get outside the castle to change it, those outside can get in. You must protect yourself and your family through inoculation. Separation institutionally is possible for children, but not separation digitally.

The #1 institutional separation is separation from the public schools. Few parents are willing to pay this price. Every other institutional separation is secondary: separation from TV, separation from the Internet, separation from movies. The fundamentalists tried for a century, but the movement barely survives today. The Bible Church movement was replaced by the Fellowship Bible Church movement. The wall of separation could not survive the public schools.

It does no good to raise the drawbridge, but still allow the kids to get on the yellow buses every morning.