The Vassals Handbook

The Vassals Handbook

“If you have gone to the best schools and graduated from Oxford and Cambridge, and so on, you have instilled in you the understanding that there are certain things it would not do to say; actually, it would not do to think. That is the primary way to prevent unpopular ideas from being expressed. The ideas of the overwhelming majority of the population, who don’t attend Harvard, Princeton, Oxford and Cambridge, enable them to react like human beings, as they often do. There is a lesson there for activists.”

– Noam Chomsky

“…float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.”

– Muhammad Ali

The first thing you will notice, fellow vassals of the Incorporated Estates of Dearth – IED: the world is not collapsing. My name is Stan D. Garde and I am here to tell you, to cleanse you well. I am the Official Cleanser of the IED. Second: there is no rebel movement advancing from the mountains, from urban pockets, from suburban enclaves to remove anyone from the Incorporated Estates of Dearth. Rest assured, nothing is changing. I will explain it all. This is what I do. As the Official Cleanser of the IED, I have recently resigned my position as President of Profit University, good ole PU. I have relinquished my theological post as Preacher Of Orthodox Faith. Great were the glories of such office: POOF. Likewise, I have given up my capacity as Official Sloganeer for the Chief Executing Officer of the IED and of all planet Dearth. And I have left my vital duties as Terminator of History at Rockview Terminal School District. All gone. All sacrificed like so much spurting blood to the mighty bandage that is History to take on this emergency position as Official Cleanser of the Incorporated Estates of Dearth. OCIED can you see that I am the Official Cleanser of the IED? There is no emergency, mind you. My emergency posting is designed to thwart all emergencies before they might happen. What better way to terminate any impending emergency than to personalize, that is to humanize, for all loyal vassals of the IED, the authority (myself) responsible for socially cleansing any impending emergency? I’m sure you will warm to me readily. I could recap my life in standard fashion, you know, claiming I was born a poor bereft vassal in the hinterlands of degradation, but I am too well known for that. The latter stages of my public career overwhelm any private life I might once have had. I do find it grand: cleansing, terminating, sloganeering, executing, preaching, propagandizing, and basically publicly relating against the whole wide world on behalf of the single estate to run, rule, and rectify planet Dearth, the IED, resplendent in top-down uniformity and monolithic conformity in law, language, and life the world over. The rebel vassals, such as they are, don’t see it that way, unfortunately, and so they must be conquered, and reconquered, and we shall begin again here in the pages of our loyal vassals handbook: The Cleansing of the IED. I will be your host, and guide, and commandant on this world tour: Stan D. Garde. Hear my name and fear me now! The first thing one must know about the rebel vassals of the IED is that they scarcely exist, as they can scarcely be allowed to. Sure, one may find them virtually everywhere. A good loyal vassal can scarcely turn around without bumping into a rebel ingrate unwilling to prostrate itself daily to the Finance, Insurance, Real Estate, and Drug fiefdoms – the FIRED establishments – that run the show we lovingly know as the IED. The conditions are ripe for an insurgency emergency, and so we good loyal vassals of the IED must thwart these rebel ingrates at every twist and turn. We must check them at every insubordinate trope. Toward this end, we shall refresh ourselves with a few basic lessons from one of the former masterworks of mine, The Vassals Handbook:



Out back is where we brutalize the people. Actually, out back is where we used to brutalize the people but times being what they are we brutalize them all around the corporate gardens now. Stan D. Garde is my name. Let the brutality games begin! For their own good. Brutality is what keeps people in line. Too bad we don’t set aside more often a special time and place for good old fashioned smashing. I miss it. The constant sort of torture we indulge in nowadays seems to me an inferior replacement. Well, nevermind. Let us not lament for the past but celebrate the present and future. Let us begin here in the Vassals Handbook that the Incorporated Estates of Dearth retained me to write.

Citizens are gone. They are now vassals. It happened in a funny way. All the banks around the world collapsed, broke. So the peoples’ money was used to refund all the banks. But don’t get any ideas. When the people buy the banks, do they not own them? Yes and no, but mostly and decisively no. You see, the people may properly own the banks (having bought them) but they sure as hell do not get to decide what to do with the money or how to do it. For that is not capitalism, and capitalism is what they bought. Clear? Clever? Clout. In capitalism, the people do not own the decisions. They are not the deciders. They are the consumers, the workers, and in a pinch they may be the funders. To review, the people may be the buyers and in theory the owners, but they are never ever upon any circumstances the deciders. In capitalism, the well-connected few are the deciders, the rulers who select candidates for office, who dole out funds for the campaigns, who provide the illusion of choice via sundry trite and slight discrepancies for vassals to obsess over and pick between. Nothing more is meant to be.

Am I speaking over your heads, dear vassals? Let me see if I can put this in plainer words. The privileged few rule, the masses obey, even when the masses do most of the work, buy most of the stuff, and totally bailout the bankrupt rulers. That, my friends, is capitalism. Some used to call such a system Chinese Democracy before China was fully incorporated into the IED. Vassalism is a more precise term, in my humble opinion.

Granted, technically, no land has ever practiced pure capitalism, because, unfortunately, pure capitalism is a self-exploding system – inherently wildly unstable. Totally free markets always lead to disaster – collapse of all sorts. Thus, regulation always exists to help curb catastrophe. And so it is, sadly, that contrary to common understanding, pure capitalism is almost as horrific as pure democracy. Demoscrazy, you know. We’ve had enough of that – we’ve seen where it leads – not to vassalage! which we much prefer. We prefer vassals to people. We prefer submission to rule. Capitalism is a nice thought, an ideal. But vassalism rules.

Oh I know you odd, broke, and broken spirits out there may think of vassalism as little more than slavery. We pity you penny-pinched souls who could not be more mistaken, more immoral. After all, slaves had no money and so could not readily repay their debts, let alone those of their superiors. That is the gross deficiency of the economic system of pure slavery. We had to replace it. Vassalism is much more efficient, much safer for rulers everywhere. It puts people in their proper place. All hail vassalism! See you at the wars!



I, vassal. I vassal. Vassal I. It may surprise readers that your author is a fellow vassal. Some vassals are more subservient than others, some more privileged. I’ve been asked to overview here not only the duties of vassals – any mere serf could do as much – but to sketch the world entire, as best known today. I’ve been asked by the lords of capital to reveal in one single work the full human condition of our time, of the time that came before, and of the time that will come after. The better to know, the better to rule and be ruled. For the first time in all history, the great epic of Dearth is to be written – the tale of the Incorporated Estates of Dearth.

Moreover, I’ve been asked to embed, to integrate a primer for vassals within or throughout, so as to render this epic most profitable for all.

Where to begin? T’was a dark and stormy night? Once upon a time? In the beginning…there was the word…vassal…

Let me begin instead where everyone begins – with our bills. What We Owe. I will begin with Debt. Our debt. Human debt. Original debt.

Birth is an expensive act. Everyone pays their own way in the IED, all the way. Forgotten now is the strange and communist sounding social security card, abolished for the betterment of humanity. Nowadays at birth vassals are assigned the debt card that we carry with us for the rest of life, or we have it implanted as chip into palm. Birth costs for each individual are entered into the card or chip and simultaneously into the IED’s central terminal, the CT. If all life and every feature were to be swept from Dearth due to some wholly imaginable catastrophe, or if the planet itself were to explode, the central terminal would nevertheless remain intact, the last and only thing to survive, hurtling through space tabulating debts, payments, and lack thereof for each and ever human, animal, plant, mineral. If the planet were to melt and consume the CT, its numbers would be first etched upon the walls of the universe, stuck there forever through time to be recovered by the first sentient beings capable of understanding and processing the greatest glory known to our species – the ability to process debt.

Debt is our glory, our god, our redemption, a vassal’s core reason for being. We vassals are vessels of debt. Vessels of gold, we vassals. The glory of our nature as vassals is as vessels of debt owed to the Incorporated Estates of Dearth, that greatest of estates, the estate that could not exist without vassals as vessels of debt.



Here we go again, off to the wars! Let’s see, where do we trample proudly today? Iraq? Afghanistan? Pakistan? Gaza? How is the war for the everlasting expansion of the Incorporated Estates of Dearth progressing, you ask? Very well! How do we know? Graveyards! Here we are in one going full blast, the bodies flooding in as if from some channeled hurricane of blood and gore. Now this is the sort of full employment the overlords of the IED appreciate. Gravediggers rejoice! These gravediggers get no rest around here. They barely have time to jot down the names of those going under. Some bodies even come in with no names at all, and some are surely pseudonyms. But who needs names when business is booming? One look and we know the story of many a body: Mr. Shot-in-the-back-of-the-head. Ms. Blown-to-bits-from-the-sky. Child Mutilated-by-shrapnel. Infant Crushed-from-on-high. Busy, busy, busy are we in the graveyards of the IED. Proud tax dollars at work.



No time to stay and bury Iraqis, nor time to oversee the bombing of assorted other Oilans. I would just as soon return home and throw a bunch more ghetto kids and barrio boys into prison, penny-pinched walkabouts that they are. Whom do they profit? No one, so clear them out. The ungrateful wretches. Toss them and the poor whites into the trash. Hail to the Chief! We have our standards. The standards of the Estate. Heart the flag! There is no prison large enough to satisfy the Incorporated Estates, no punishment severe enough to purify civil realms, no law strict enough to force vassals to always obey. And so the IED throws more than half its money into the mighty weapons systems, as we aim at the ideal.

In any event, I need to return home to convince the vassals to give more money to the banks. For some odd reason, the vassals seem to think their own money properly belongs to them. Not at all. All money belongs to the banks who make any money possible in the first place. The banks are the real workers of the world because they do the most important job – that of moving money from place to place. Not only do banks deserve a large cut of each and every transaction, they deserve the right to control transactions because privileged use of money is vital to the health of every incorporated estate. Vassals don’t get this. They tend to think their own needs are as important as the demands of the banks, let alone the estates. Even more so. Where do vassals learn such tripe and treason? Certainly not in the schools. Not in the good ones, at least.

Vassals are prone to blow through money quickly with their petty spending on food, shelter, clothing, transportation, fuel, electricity, healthcare, and so on, which is all well and good – until there is no money left for the banks, the pesky problem today. The vassals spend it all! They spend all the banks’ money. All and more. And the vassals are sunk into debt deeper each day.

The banks are totally bankrupt, having lent far more than can possibly be repaid, having purchased and traded and sold enormous equities for which they can no longer account, if they ever could. Mistakes were made. It happens. Unlike vassals, banks are too big to fail. Too important. Does this even need to be explained anymore?

Take a vassal who fails to cover expenses – he goes hungry or cold or suffers from heat, or gets depressed or goes mad, or gets sick or commits crimes, loses relationships or jobs, maybe gets jailed or dies. Any and all of this may happen with any given vassal, which is more-or-less acceptable as long as the banks get paid in the meantime. Because if the banks go down, who will be left to pass along the money to those who know what to do with it, the golden few?

Surely not vassals. It makes no sense to put vassals in charge of their own money. Such impropriety would violate the contract that vassals are born into. Vassals are genetically suited for sustaining the lords of capital first. The guarantors of all. Vassals must not only pay for everything, they must be ready to fight to protect the ventures, interests, estates of the lords of capital. Such is a vassal – by definition, by nature, by contract. Not that, except in reams of law, this contract is written out for all to see. How silly would that be? One learns as one goes. The vassals seem to find it more comforting to operate under the guise of democracy, even though the well known, the real, the inherent fact of life, the bedrock, the base of civilization is that vassals owe their betters their labor, their money, and their readiness to fight on behalf of the Incorporated Estates of Dearth. One knows one’s position in the IED or one gets cut off. No decent level of existence is a given, no matter what that odious Declaration of Human Rights presumes. Are we clear? Crystal? Outstanding. Vassals who do not heart the estates, get thee to the wilderness go. And too bad if the IED owns that too.



So the vassals owe the banks. The banks will have their money. It remains my job to explain to vassals how they might best meet their new sentence of debt. For this great task we return from the Oilan front to the domestic war rooms.

We loyal vassals, we civil-minded types, we chart our strategies anew, go on the offensive, throw deep, blitz the opposition, pound the media, ram through smashmouth bills, man up, gut it out, and storm to victory over those who would deny the banks their due.

Having exhausted earlier practical policies, we need something new yet timeless, forward looking yet ancient, elegant yet primal. Something that works, that lives, that breathes profits.

Let me think, just off the top of my head.

Off with their heads? Why not?

Cannibalism. For profit.

The great resource that remains, and yet remains bothersome, is the unemployed, and the underemployed, and the vast imprisoned populace, and the ill, and the dissidents, and select others. Tainted vassals everywhere. Ergo.

Cannibalism for profit. Now we have to sell it.

One cannot simply say to vassals, Ahoy there ye kindred Vassals, henceforth, we must cannibalize our way to prosperity! Too grating.

[Note to self – have editor polish this text, this epic, this handbook that I have begun to incorporate into my daily routine: The Life and Duties of Stan D. Garde, Executive Sloganeer. Render audience appropriate.]

There is no getting around it. Cannibalism becomes the dawn of the millennium. Cannibalism by the banks, with the banks, for the banks. Cannibalism for the greater glory of the Incorporated Estates of Dearth. Cannibals arise, unite, devour!



Maybe I had better do a little of my editor’s work for him. Cannibalism as a saving economic stratagem? Surely I exaggerate? I’m the master PR guy, Stan D. Garde. They throw so much stuff at me. I’m responsible for everything all the time – the colonial wars in western Asia and the intricacies of each; the IED’s waning influence in South America; the leaderless European Union; the many horns of Africa; constant upheaval and unrest in India; natural and unnatural disasters in Southeast Asia; the daunting rise of China. Cannibalism? Let’s set that notion aside for awhile, its economic advantages notwithstanding, whatever its popular difficulty or promise.

The economy and the military, this is my concern, how to resurrect the one and how to strengthen the other. Through military strength comes economic might – the IED and I see no way around that proposition – base reality. The only question – which way the IED? Should it power up its colonial forces, all the better to occupy and instill profitable fear? Or should the military continue to power up for the big picture, for super global warfare, by expanding its huge fleets of planes, tanks, ships, missiles, and by further militarizing space?

The difficulty of my job is that the rulers are split – between the leaders of the occupying forces on the ground, on the one hand over fist and on the other hand over fist, the generals, lobbyists, lobbyist generals, and strategists beyond. I repeat: the occupying forces throughout Greater Oila wish for more pacifying resources, the better to conquer the Oilan vassals. Meanwhile, higher up brass and financiers press for bigger fleets and space based might.

But what if we figured out a way to wed the economic stimulus needed to revive the bankrupt banks with military power and spending? Why not give all the money to the military to run the world like one giant boot camp, or if that appears too extreme, make the world an endless string of military bases and installations – each vassal den an armed outpost, each inhabitant of Dearth a foot soldier, an IED enlistee. Might this not be a solution more practical, more popular, more elegant than cannibalism? Militarize the IED more fully, militarize Dearth. Totally.

It’s coming, no doubt. In fact, it’s largely here. The main economic stimulus will come as it always does each budget year, in the form of the military budget and again with every invasion and occupation or threat of such. The military, its weaponry, its war preparation, its attacks and operations always command most of the tax dollars as befits any peace-loving estate.

The blow to the rest of the economy, that is the soft economy, is huge and necessary since the nonmilitary economy merely aids vassals’ domestic needs and wishes, the mundane irritants, too well known – food, shelter, fuel, education, transportation, electricity, health care, clean air and water, and other trifles.

How to sustain the IED’s endless string of homeland and overseas military bases? How to pay for an infinite militarization of space? How to fund permanent occupation and co-opting of Greater Oila? How to pay for pacification of far flung lands, of recalcitrant vassals everywhere across the globe? How to control those who dare to reject incorporation into the ruling estates of Dearth?

Globalization – that misnomer – actually means to diversify, to interrelate with all the ends of Dearth, not that the IED wants any part of such impossible utopian indulgence. Instead, the great estates wish to Consolidate absolutely, to bring the very ends of Dearth, like the four corners of a quilt, into one firm grasp. That is what Globalize means to the IED.

Are we clear? Are we clever? See the clout? Globalization is Newspeak for Consolidation, for Regimentation. Heil! Saint Orwell!

While Capitalism remains an ideal dream, never to be realized, and Vassalism is the current great reality, I wonder if Militarism might be easier at the end of the day for vassals to wrap their weary minds around? The military sings such a catchy tune, really gets vassals to rally around the flag, absolutely compels them to salute their betters. Is a soldier not an ideal figure for all humanity? More ideal than a vassal could ever hope to be?

Boot camp provides for all, for both soft and hard aspects of economic life – and with absolute efficiency. To the barracks! – a proper rallying cry, seems to me, one fit for the vast majority of all vassals – the barracks world, gun on shoulder, life in a locker, absolute obedience to the myriad commandants appointed by a sole elected (or not) official for all the IED, the Dear Leader, the IED Idol, the CEO Commander in Chief, the one true President of the Incorporated Estates of Dearth. While boot camp of the body may not work for all, boot camp of the mind seems an absolute must. Not that all vassals are equal. Let alone soldiers. The salute must never die.



Military bases and incorporated estates aside, when all else fails, as it usually does, one can readily entertain the vassals to death, or at least into quiescence. Vassals can be flattered into stupidity and baited into irrelevancy. Much as I love the vassals, and am tied to them, the vassals are a sorry breed, it must be said – if only in this first draft, pre-editor, pre-audience-appropriate spin and trim.

In fact most years it’s all we better vassals can do to keep the majority alive, to keep them from killing each other off with their own stupidity. I do love vassals, don’t get me wrong. They are wretched, but they are us. The IED could not make it without them. And yet, to leave everything up to the vassals, or to leave anything to their whims, shudder to think, just look at the polls – they would end the wars of prosperity or never start them in the first place; they would provide free health care to everyone; and in ways too noxious to elaborate, they would actually try to spread the wealth!

That’s not reality. That’s not survivable, not on or off the estates. That’s begging for the total collapse of civilization as we know it, love it, and feed from it. You have the word of Stan D. Garde on that one.

If this Vassals Handbook – more realistically titled American Campaign Journal, or rather Global Campaign Journal – were anything more than a humble vessel of the popular will (the good loyal vendor-consumer will, of course) then I would be forced to point out that my notes here form the makings of an epic that easily has the potential to reveal more and far surpass in all elements any and all great works heretofore, including any and all works of the imagination and of fact – such as all epics of poetry, fiction, history, philosophy, sociology, theory, religion, science, and any sort of literature whatsoever, the novel, not least. An epic of tropetopian dimension beyond all.

I would be forced to state that this work is sort of a history of histories, a philosophy of philosophies, a religion of religions, a theory of theories, a science of sciences, a novel of novels – a literature of literatures.

But – since The Vassals Handbook is merely a modest old campaign journal – slash – how-to journal – slash – simple log of the IED – I can admit to nothing of the kind, however true it may be.



Maybe the vassals are doomed, maybe the incorporation of full scale slavery remains the IED’s only hope of salvation, of proper order and stability, of fiscal efficiency and economic integrity.

The latest polls of the vassals are not to be believed, are to be deplored and feared, as we continue to see these toxic numbers fail to drop. Is it possible that the vassals are inherently pathological? The polls seem to prove it. Large majorities of vassals still prefer that the ruling government our dearly beloved IED “care for those who cannot care for themselves”; “do more” for its people; provide “more services” with “more spending”; provide “health care to all” and raise taxes to do so; increase the minimum wage; raise corporate taxes; raise upper income taxes; increase spending on education and social security; reign in “greed and materialism” and “poverty and economic injustice.”

Why? Why after all the IED has done with the ungrateful vassals? It’s that outlier of an outlaw, that guerrilla historian Pierce Strike who keeps reporting all this, via some remote mountain hideout, no doubt, and that notorious center of insurgency, ZCommunications.

The infernal vassal insurgency is currently carried on by the majority, whose values, priorities, preferences more or less align in toxic fashion. Good thing these dissidents are weak and subject to being stomped like so many bugs.

Makes a good vassal proud to squash bugs. And therein lies the eighth lesson of this handbook of the vassals. Good vassals everywhere: avoid the swarming vassals gone viral. Work for the Incorporated Estates of Dearth, and salvation shall be yours.



Let no one speak of turning to credit unions, which are owned and operated by the depositors. Credit unions ought cease and desist their attempts to undermine by their very presence the fiscal authority of the IED. So what if credit unions are democratically controlled, one person, one vote – and banks are not? So what if credit unions have lower fees and better rates than banks? So what if credit unions have stronger community ties and involvement than banks? So what if credit unions return revenues to their depositors rather than operate for profit like banks? So what if they remain solvent? Such feel good tripe misses every point that matters. And how can it last? Why would good vassals anywhere want credit unions to persist in this golden era of vassalism?

In the end, the IED’s financial woes must be resolved, not exacerbated, and banks are by far the IED’s preferred solution. That’s all that counts – the satisfaction of the needs of the IED. The IED makes the planet great, not the vassals, and forget the credit unions. Natural law dictates that vassals are the means to the end, and that the end is the end, and only the end, and not the means to anything at all beyond the end, which is the end in itself. Are we clear? Credit unions defy banks and therefore in theory and reality should not be allowed to exist. Why they hang on with their millions and billions is beyond me. It’s not for lack of trying to abolish these unholy institutions on my part, one Stan D. Garde.



Some call it the God Zone, others with equal appreciation call it the Genghis Zone in honor of that great liberator of olden time Genghis Khan and his grandson Hulagu Khan who liberated Iraq from the Iraqis nearly 800 years prior to George Bush the Second when his invading legions overran the Middle East.

Whatever you call it, the Gravy Zone or the Grand Zone or simply the GZ, the Green Zone shines like gold. All vassals might live in the GZ someday, those willing to risk everything or those who get lottery lucky. Originally the Baghdad headquarters of the US occupation of Iraq, today the Green Zone means the Good Life. If you’re in the Zone, the Green Zone, you’ve got it made. Everyone there that I care to know makes six figures easy. Oh sure, you wind up dodging an incoming bomb or two on many a night, but with blast walls screening off ground attacks from the Red Zone – anywhere beyond the Green Zone – you feel safe enough. What would be life without a few bombs thrown about from time to time? I certainly don’t know.

Gated communities are not what they used to be. They’ve gone Green. Not only in Baghdad but all across the Incorporated Estates of Dearth. The GZ is the future. Green Zones are life, Red Zones are blood. The profit goes to the targeter, not to the target. Get in the Zone, Vassals. Get into the Zone with the IED, the Green Zone, for life.



The great thing about being a vassal is that you always know you mean well. We mean well, we do. Isn’t it obvious? We mean well, always. No matter what others might say about us. No matter what absurd arguments they might raise.

Take for example universal health care. We don’t have it. And for that we are thankful. Lack of universal health care is a sign of our inherent fairness, generosity of spirit, economic thrift. We mean well because we are well. Are we not?

Do not speak of the supposed virtues of equality of condition, wherein everyone has a right to health care. Preposterous. The United Nation’s Declaration of Human Rights is not worth the paper it is written on – useful only for starting fires. Unlike the laws of the Incorporated Estates of Dearth, the laws of the defunct United Nations do not mean well. The UDHR is a document of illness, if not raving lunacy, signed long ago in some sick spasm of internationality.

What could be more generous than allowing everyone the equal opportunity to fend for themselves? Time to face reality, vassals. Poor health and death take the hindmost. Life is a race from the wolf at the door. If you mean well, if you really do, you will run for your life, like a good vassal.

The same holds for international affairs. The Incorporated Estates of Dearth owns the world, as it should, because it means well, always and everywhere.

Thus we intervene constantly against people of color the world over. We garrison Dearth, and every year we spend over half our money on all matters militant.

It’s so easy to find people of color to smash. There are so many of them, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Grenada, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Africa, South America – even in the heart and soul of the IED, the USA, where the prison population – chock full of people of color, not to mention people of no money – leads all Dearth. More prisoners per capita, more prisoners period. Hey, we’re number one!

Those whom we don’t smash, we threaten. Because we mean well. The order and security of the Incorporated Estates of Dearth demands it. The IED likes to, needs to, aims to extract oil like blood from these people. Just blow them up and the oil comes splurting out into our waiting pipes, tankers, pockets. So what if millions of innocents are slaughtered in the process of IED invasions, occupations, sanctions? We mean well. The wars of the IED grease the gears of the economy so we know we are doing well. Business is booming. Those in the right mean well. We mean it. We mean well.

Examine your hearts, dear vassals. Do you mean well? Do you mean it?

Mean, mean, mean. We mean it like nobody’s business (but ours). Always have and always will, here in the IED. A vassal can bank on it.



What we mean when we say the economy is fundamentally sound is that the IED is fundamentally sound. What we mean when we say the IED is fundamentally sound is that this is the best system ever. Ever was, ever is, ever will be. History has ended, nature has decreed, the universe declares: vassalism is perfect. As perfect as can be. As close to perfect as one can possibly imagine.

Great Depressions, let alone recessions, are unavoidable, like unemployment, a fact of life, a law of nature, a boon to the economy always. Keeps wages down, expectations in check. Full employment? The pipedream of children.

Even during Great Depressions and myriad wars the economy is always and everywhere fundamentally sound. That is, basically. Ultimately. Temporary glitches or catastrophes, mass layoffs, environmental wipeouts, ongoing battles over scarce resources, the arms race – these phenomena are all part and parcel of the sound nature of capitalism become vassalism. In this the lords of commerce trust and believe, and to which a vassal ought swear.



You know the first lady, the first family? That is, the President of the Incorporated Estates of Dearth and his wife? I get to meet them! For the first time. I can’t wait. I won’t know how to act.

But first, a thought. Is it not curious that vassals never refer to the President and his wife as the “first family” or to her as the “first lady”? I have to admit, I have never once heard any regular vassal refer to them in this way. In fact, I only hear such language in the incorporated media. Why is that?

It doesn’t seem to be catching, this proper mode of address. And that is what has got to change.

For they are first, the President and his family, first above all – the closest thing to royalty known to the Incorporated Estates of Dearth. What the first family does, the President especially, matters more than anything and anyone – not what goes on in town halls, community centers, schools, hospitals, and other minute realms of life, not who does all the stuff in the world.

This is a top down society, not bottom up. Imagine what would happen if a pyramid were turned upside down. The tip would be crushed!

Not only that but then it would all collapse and crumble leaving the whole mess at more or less the same level. Equality of condition! Total destruction.

Thankfully our system gets the design just right, preserving the tip, elevating it, providing the most sun, the best view, the commanding position with the freshest freest air. And the most cash. Oh, to be King. Hail to the Chief. O! say can you see!

It will be all I can do not to salute the first family on sight. I can’t wait to shake his hand, and if I’m lucky, from her, a hug. Oh my God, it’s almost indecent that I get to embrace these exalted ones, even in my capacity as Official Sloganeer. Am I deserving? Am I worthy?

Of course I am, otherwise the President’s aides would not have chosen me for this important post. You are always as good as your superiors tell you. Doesn’t everyone believe that? They should. Without such wisdom no top down system can long survive, nor a vassal thrive.



I pledge allegiance to the banks of the Incorporated Estates of Dearth and to the Rulers, whom they enrich, one Command throughout the land – obedience – with conformity and subservience for all.

Good vassals learn the Bank Pledge by heart when still wet from the womb. And with good reason. The Bank Pledge can take a vassal far in the Incorporated Estates of Dearth. The banks are divine, and vassals mere mortals who owe their breath to the going rate of exchange. Few vassals would rather defy banks and starve than obey banks and have a chance.

As grand enforcers of obedience and conformity, banks create liberty, justice, and equality. Banks provide humans the freedom to prosper and to profit – or, for the stubborn, the inept, and the unfortunate, to suffer. All is fair in love and banks.

Vassals may rent themselves freely, offering themselves upon the altar of the market at whatever rate the market and banks command. For those vassals with little or no market value: prisons. Thankfully. Not to mention urban concen-tration camps, reservations, and many a moon-scape in the countryside. These all happily embrace the poor, once the banks have done with them.

Banks decree equitably one a vassal or a lord, depending upon your wealth. Which vassals and lords prosper enough to receive just conditions of life? The banks judge. Justice flows both to and from the banks and their best depositors. The most just depositors are the richest ones, of course, the least just the poorest. Vassals who can make no deposit at all might be thought of as the scourge of banking. Not so. The impoverished scarcely inter-fere with the balance sheet, thus the banks could not care less. What could be more reasonable and just than that?

Who after all impoverished the vassals but the vassals themselves? Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out, does it, vassals?

Banks even allow vassals to use bank money the same as any lord. That is, a vassal’s dollar is the exact equal of a lord’s dollar. A vassal and a lord may actually touch and distribute the same bill at transcendent points in time. Lords inevitably possess far more dollars than vassals but that is not the point.

The point is that lords and vassals use the same money, and they both may use it for any legal purpose they wish, including to buy up freedom and justice and whatever else they can afford. Can a more fair and enlightened system be conceived?

We have already excoriated the subversive effect of the credit unions and other outrageous notions of vassal controlled finance. To hell with credit unions and their pretensions of democracy in action. A grand bank, like an incorporated estate, is a sovereign domain, a land really, a dominion, a country unto itself, fully able to conquer and resist being conquered. As such, banks sovereign and inherent rights are not to be tampered with, let alone trammeled. Any invasive treasonous moves against banks will continue to be met with supreme hostility from the lords of finance, from the banks themselves, the rightful owners of all money and Dearth.

No finer institutions than banks exist. What hell-on-Dearth this world would be without banks is difficult to imagine. Yet instructive. A planet with no banks would be like a military with no guns, or a world with no wars. Who would profit? Think about it. Where is the profit in no banks? No banks? That would be sacrilege.

Make no mistake, vassals, the banks have got your backs and the shirts upon them. The banks are here for you and they wholly embrace what is theirs. For these many reasons vassals one and all may count their blessings in praise of banks.

And lead thou not into the great temptation of banding together, but deliver thine serf selves from evil: For banks are the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for corporate ever. Amen.



A small groups gathering. A patio. A milling of positions.

She shook my hand with her hand, soft and full. Today I met the first family. The first lady seemed normal, even in person. She seemed always about to go grocery shopping. I found myself thinking of looking around for grocery carts, I heard them banging in my head, I half expected to trip into one. The first lady smiled and tried hard to smile and tried to work up to smiling, primary task, necessary habit. She was mostly successful. Wearied and wearying almost, we got along.

The President was another matter. Not that we did not get along, far from it. We moved well in face of one another. You can feel the power gush from, around, in, and through him. The power pulses in, around, and through, and to you, and past and back, and to all those surround. Power is that extra energy in the air you can touch as it works on and about and you see it work on others. It works on people. It worked on us. Who were we talking to, each other? Superficially. Meaningfully. We were talking to power. I mean you can see it and feel it. To miss that was to be talking to the moon.

You never forgot for a moment that the President is there and that he is the supreme individual of the Incorporated Estates of Dearth.

I felt for the first lady. She seemed to have a hard time of it, I mean, getting on, even as she got on, famously, as she ought. She soldiered about as if in quick hitting daze of clairvoyance, as if looking for spontaneity everywhere and wondering that it was not to be found, even if almost. She stared into a mirror at herself and pretended not to, convincingly enough, as if she were the stage itself and no where upon it.

The President got along with everyone, as if he wanted to. That I found this odd, him odd, is no matter. I am not the president and could never be. I am too opinionated. Too impatient. Too blunt, in my own mind, if nowhere else.

The topic the President wished to discuss: the rebel insurgency deep in the heart of the Incorporated Estates of Dearth.

Typically we ignore the rebels, the best strategy: First you ignore them, then you blast them, then you agree with them if need be – or plausibly pretend to – what cost, a bit of rhetoric? – then you win. Again.

What I found most distressing and yet daunting and daring about the President is that he does not seem interested in winning. He assumes it. He is a winner. He wins. He gets along with everyone, not least those who fund him into power. This strikes me as terribly indiscriminate. He is willing to get alone with anyone, even the rebels so long as playing nice does not cost him his job, or his funders – the banks and the incorporated estates, the class of the IED – their power.

So the President plays nice and wins and called me in to deal with the rebels. He tells me it is my job to play nice with the rebels. Not in so many words, but I get it. He wants me to give the rebels the velvet glove covering the iron fist, via the tongue. He wants me to cut the rebels to size as if making love to them with a rock. First you ignore them, then you blast them, then you pretend to agree with them (if need be), then you win. “Do you understand?” He asks me.

“I understand, sir.”

“The rebels are IEDans like us. Only poorer, or disenchanted, or just cantankerous. We need them to love the IED. They need to love the IED. For their own good. For our own good. For the good. You see?”

“I think I know exactly what you mean, sir.”

“I need a speech. Soon. I plan to address the rebels personally, visit their camp. I need real face-to-face words. Words that go beyond the teleprompter. Words that are easy to memorize. Easy to take deep into the heart. From my heart to their heart? Can you write that for me? I know you can. Yes, you can.”

“You are writing the very thing right now, sir. You have a knack, that gift. We touch their hearts. We find solace in the common condition of good loyal vassals to the IED.”

“Maybe – and this is only a suggestion – maybe go easy on the vassals part. Of course they are vassals, they know they are vassals, deep in their hearts, they know, and it must resonate for them somewhere. Somehow. But let us not mention it, this time. Maybe give it a pass. Maybe find a new route. Go a new bend. Fork differently. Take anew the bridge to hope and to change and to the path best travelled. You see what I have in mind.”‘

“Poetry, sire. Excuse me – sir, of course. Pure poetry. You have it within you, and I am more than grateful that you trust me to help you draw it out. The heart. A healing touch. We, as one, all together. We overcome our differences for our common good. That is the IED way. Yes, we can. We must. We will. We shall overcome. Something of the sort?”

“Perfect, exactly. You read minds. I knew you could do it. I can’t wait to read my speech.”

“If I may say, sire, I mean, sir, I like to imagine I am a maker a minds, a shaper, a bard at the head of the band. A wizard of wordcraft almost.”

“Or is it woodcutter?” said the President with great acuity. “The people will respond to a woodcutter of words, a worker of words. They would prefer a delivery of angels. But I will have to do instead.”

“You do indeed, sire. Of course you are right. I will labor as a woodcutter of words. I am even a little in love with saws. Of the minds. I will cut some wood right away, the words that befit you and the rebels well. We will get through to them.”

“Oh, Stan, I wouldn’t go that far. You know the best we can hope for is a good photo op and a few applause lines. That is tonic enough.” Someone cupped my elbow. A dark-suited man. I bowed. “Thanks for the thoughts,” said the President. Stan? Did he mention my name?

“Of course, sire.”

I withdrew past the first lady and her ever budding all but all over smile. Her reserve full of laughter, and the men and women milling mulling milking in position.

The whole event a tonic. The President knew. My head – delight. Was I surprised? He knew. He knew. He knew. The President would know just what to say. He handled himself like no man I had ever met. He was the President, and I, I almost felt like his boss – putting words in his mouth. O! God! No! Yes!

Such is power.

What matters is what you do with it.

I had a speech to write, the rebels to conquer.

And I’ll never forget the fun, listening to all the great fiddling going on at the party, watching the flames of the bonfires sweeping the country, smelling the smoke in the background.

Such is life in the ruling bubble.



So I wrote a speech to end all speeches for our beloved President of the Incorporated Estates of Dearth, Al O’Toole. He delivered it to the rebels. It did not go over well. I am not surprised. The truly intransigent cannot be reached. We go through the motions, as required.

I must admit I was underwhelmed by my meeting with the President of the IED. It made me think I am not the right man for the job of Official Sloganeer. I longed to return to my first true love: teaching. I recalled fondly my years of joy as Terminator of History at Rockview Terminal. Who knows what connections exist between our thoughts and the actions of the universe? Do I?

Then of a sudden, I was offered the Presidency of the brand spankingest newest university on the face of planet Dearth: Profit U. Good ole PU.

PU is founded in this time of psycho-socio-economic crisis with the intent of restoring faith in the system of the IED. I accepted the Presidency of PU, stipulating that I continue work on the epic in progress, the how-to book for good loyal consumers of the IED, The Vassals Handbook. The Executors Board of PU readily agreed. IED President Al O’Toole wished me well and said he would sign up for a distance learning course if I were to lead one. Of course I promised to come up with something. So here I am, newly installed as the first President of PU. The school cheers ring in my ears. Let’s go PU! Here we go PU! We Are PU! We’re Number One! PU! Number One!


The rosy-fingered dawn of the new day breaks at PU.

Profit U. We are tasked to challenge Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and the other greats for intellectual and moral supremacy in the IED. We are charged by the leaders of the IED to take on their traditional roles as the bastions of all that is wise and good. We are charged to lead the IED through crisis high and low. What ambitious young man or woman would not want to attend PU? The question answers itself.

Maybe I’ve found my proper place here at last at Profit U. Stan D. Garde, President of PU! I cannot really explain why I love the sound of this new title so terribly much. Can you?

2 thoughts on “The Vassals Handbook”

  1. . . . meet it is i set it down, That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain. At least i am sure it may be so in IEE.

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