Friday, June 12, 2015

The Stateless Society: A Philosophical Approach

Man seems to have one fundamental trait: he loves to make things complicated. Perhaps it is a side effect of his advanced intellectual capabilities, to become disillusioned into thinking nothing worth having can ever be simple. He thinks that just because he is capable of solving complex problems, of reason, logic, etc, that the most complicated and convoluted solution for any given problem must therefore be the best. Another trait humans have that makes us unique is introspection: we have the ability to “look into the mirror,” see the error of our ways, and make whatever changes are necessary. Introspection is the purpose of this essay.

The collective egoic malaise most of mankind is trapped in, it seems to me, is the fundamental root cause of the State. We have taken all of the supposed problems and issues of daily life, tossed them into one basket, and created Leviathan, giving it the power to fix and maintain our lives for us so that we may lead what most of us erroneously believe to be the “simple life”.

Talk to almost anyone about the virtues of a stateless society and you'll receive one or more of a handful of stock answers based on the belief that, because the State allegedly handles specific issues for “the People,” this is somehow axiomatic and cannot possibly be changed. The State supposedly builds the roads, therefore the State must build the roads, otherwise roads won't be built. This is just one of many misconceptions about the State, which will all be addressed before I've finished.

Scarcity


The fundamental driving force of all economics is scarcity. Goods and services are finite, and therefore have value relative to how abundant they are. This leaves people to think that, without the pacifying presence of the State and its various agents of authority, all humans would essentially devolve into pure animals, abandon all reason, logic, intelligence, empathy – defining human characteristics – and ravage the lands killing each other and stealing their property. And yes, currently, if the State were to be swallowed up by a monstrous hole in the ground (as if the State were actually real – it is not, and we'll examine that later), hundreds of millions of dependents would in their desperation become violent and predatory and commit all manners of atrocity in order to obtain basic necessities.

What is important to understand is that the State does not protect us from such an outcome; it causes the conditions in the first place. Since 1913, and prior to, the US government through the Federal Reserve has, as a matter of policy, that is to say, on purpose, defaced the value of the currency so that the costs of goods and services continuously rise, putting constant stress on the individual to survive. What cost $1.00 in 1913 now costs well in excess of $20.00 today. This is not natural, especially in an age of high technology when, all things being equal, it should actually cost less for, say, a loaf of bread, today, than it did 100 years ago. The materials are more abundant and cheaper, there is less labor involved. This could be said of almost any industry.

DeTocqueville once predicted that the American republic would endure until the day Congress discovers it can bribe the American people with their own money. This is the nature of the welfare state, and of course inevitable under any democratic system. Today, the American government enthusiastically encourages people to become dependents – to get on welfare, to receive SNAP payments, etc – because the independent human is not only of no use to the politician and bureaucrat – to the State. He is actually a threat to the State, and thus an enemy, because he is a light and example of what freedom is and what it can accomplish. Freedom and the State cannot coexist.

And so, today, while all things are technically scarce (even the sun will die), that scarcity becomes artificially exasperated when the State limits or blocks our access to goods and services. Currently the global agricultural machine grows enough food for 1.5 times the total human population, and yet “solutions” are constantly sought to the “problem” of feeding the world. It is never asked, why is there more food than we need, yet more than thirty million people die each year from malnutrition? The solution is, we need expensive and complex biotechnology to “increase yields” so that we can grow even more food than we actually need. But what is the answer to that question – why, if there is so much food, does such a large percentage of people not have access to it? The answer is those impoverished peoples do not have access to the money they need to buy it. In just about every nation on earth, the State has a monopoly on money; competing currencies are illegal.
“Competition is a sin.” – John D, Rockefeller

It is the same with jobs. Especially in the United States of America, the fictional place which I happened to be born, various government entities have made it almost impossible to create new businesses, to compete with established ones, to innovate and create anything new at all. That is because, over the years, corporations have established themselves and bought off just the right politicians and bureaucrats to create laws and regulations that stifle new business creation, destroy established competition, force people to buy their products, and shield themselves from fraud and other crimes and malfeasance. We think we need the State to protect us from the free market, but the State has destroyed any semblance of a free market and the protections that it could provide for us (were the people empowered to participate within it, rather than assuming the State and its various alphabet bureaucracies handle the relevant issues for them).

Just about every conception we have about what we think of as “human nature” is based on the artificial scarcity the State creates. Often, when visiting wildlife refuges and national parks and forests, you will be discouraged from feeding wild animals because they will unlearn their primal instincts to care for themselves and become dependent on humans to provide their sustenance. Such is the condition of a great percentage of the human population; it is not natural, it is not inevitable, it is certainly not necessary. It is a learned behavior that can be unlearned.

This is one of the many ways the State is like a man who breaks your leg and provides you with a set of crutches and says to you, “Without me, you wouldn't have crutches.” Yet the statist cannot make the logical leap to remember it was the State who broke your legs in the first place. The State, over thousands of years, has become a master at creating the problems it insists you need it to solve. It has, especially in the United States, created a society of dependents and then, through its education and media, rubs it in our faces that we could not survive without it.

The Warlords


Even the most minarchist of statist believes government is necessary for security, infrastructure, and protection from and prosecution for fraud and other corporate malfeasance; that is, to employ police and military to protect life and property, to “build the roads”, and to regulate industry. Again, the State creates the problems we think we need it to protect us from or solve.

With this key concept in mind – that it is only their dependence on the State that would turn people violent were it to vanish – we start to deconstruct many of the myths about human nature and how we would behave, as a rule, without it. One of the most common misconceptions about a Stateless society is that “warlords” would take over, or some variation of that point: that roving bands of criminals would ravage the land with impunity, raping, stealing, and murdering its now-helpless inhabitants. It doesn't take much of a logical leap to see the stupidity of this.

Again, it cannot be forgotten, that if people are helpless, this is a learned trait that can be unlearned. They are helpless because they have been fed the lie that the State is their guardian. You don't need guns, they tell us; that's what police are for (in which case you should also turn in your fire extinguisher – that's what the fire department is for). It doesn't occur to people that the police are almost never there when you actually need them. If, for example, an intruder has entered your home, it is quite probable that he could easily commit his crimes and be gone before the police arrive, and this assumes you have the opportunity to get to a phone and call for help. You would be lucky if he only stole your television or jewelry; but perhaps it was his intention to kill you or to rape your wife. And while that crime is being committed, you wait. And wait. And wait, for the police to save you. At best the police could apprehend and prosecute the perpetrator; the injury he caused may be irreversible. If you were armed and trained – that is to say, empowered and responsible for your own person and property – you could have shot the intruder, or at least frightened him off, and handled the situation yourself, in the most effective, efficient manner possible. It cannot be ignored that this happens every day, regardless of the police or the "law". Authorities or laws do nothing to prevent crime. If they did, there would be less drugs on the street, not more.

When examined logically it becomes clear that the presence of police and the disempowered population such authority creates actually makes you more likely to have violence committed against you: criminals do not attack people they know to be armed, and in a places where strict gun laws leave people at the mercy of criminals – places like Chicago, Washington DC, New York City, places with some of the strictest gun laws and vicariously the worst gun violence – we see this result clearly. These cities are more violent than what we've been told are the most violent places on Earth – Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.

Now imagine a place where a would-be criminal knows that kicking in a door very likely could end with him lying dead on the floor with a hole in his chest. “Next time you need help, call a crackhead,” you'll often hear from the statist. Or, you can be an empowered individual and help yourself. It is a fact that cannot be denied: the more people are armed, the less violent crime there is. And it is because the individual is empowered; criminals prey on the weak.

Of course the argument then turns to people banding together to overwhelm individuals. This is still a shallow line of thinking. Let's say a gang of even a hundred people storm my home. I unload every shell in my shotgun before being taken out. That's 5 people maimed or killed. Now they have what's mine (which isn't much). They continue throughout the land, and encounter similar losses at most homes they attack. Not only are their numbers slowly dwindling, but every survivor, and anyone considering this way of life, has seen others get blown away, and it becomes apparent that with each new attack the likelihood of him dying becomes greater.

This says nothing of the efficient killing machine that is the State. The State, not including those soldiers and civilians killed in the various wars, murdered over two hundred million people in the Twentieth Century alone. We think of Hitler as the ultimate evil of that period, but Stalin killed many times Hitler's number in the Ukraine alone, while Mao murdered far more than even Hitler and Stalin combined. Americans might comfort themselves in the notion that none of these monsters were actually American (regardless, Hitler's Germany was a democracy, its society every bit as cosmopolitan as America today), yet the Native American holocaust carried out by proto-American/European colonial governments reduced the Native American population on North America by 95% since the time of Columbus. We think that today, Western Civilization is more evolved, blatantly ignorant of the crimes our government has committed in the recent past and even today, safely behind the shield of American exceptionalism, triumphalism, and incredulity (the dropping of two atomic bombs which killed hundreds of thousands of non-combatants, and the firebombings that killed hundreds of thousands more are looked at as honorable and noble endeavors).

Even if society collapsed into the chaos statists believe it would, it could never achieve the focus, the cold and callous efficiency of the State. What profit is there to create a vast military industrial complex to carry out such mass murder if there is no centralized government to spend stolen money (taxes) to proliferate? 

This brings us back to our intelligence, our ability to reason, to logic, to innovate. It would soon become obvious to anyone stupid enough to even for a moment entertain the thought of “going rogue”, especially in this day and age when we have so much knowledge, so much technology, so much opportunity and capability, that it is much safer, easier, and rewarding to simply throw his lot in with the free market and make a life for himself by creating, innovating, working and cooperating voluntarily with his neighbors. The argument that we would devolve into barbarians always focuses on our primal animal tendencies, while blatantly ignoring our superior intelligence, ignoring the thousands of years of accumulated knowledge and wisdom that makes it absolutely unnecessary and indeed counterproductive to use aggression against anyone for any reason at all. And it ignores the inescapable fact that the State does indeed plunder your wealth by force, but instead of robbery they call it taxation, and if you do not pay them, they will send overwhelming force to take it from you, and if you resist, they will kill you. And they will do it under color of law: they wear the white hats, you're the criminal. The outlaw.

“The Roads”


Most people are incapable of viewing taxation as legal plunder because, through State-run education and media, they have been trained to think that that money pays for the infrastructure we are all forced to use, so we have no right to complain. Almost any time someone calls taxation theft, someone jumps in and demands to know if that person attended public school at any point in their life, as if a 6 year old has a choice in where mommy and daddy sends them to school. As if there are “private” roads to use as an alternative to the State-run highways and byways. Your lack of options has no bearing here; you used the roads, you used the schools, you are forced to pay for them, or be kidnapped and imprisoned or killed.

It is a fundamental characteristic of our collective delusions that because the State carries out certain functions, and – not to say we have a historical memory capable of spanning far outside the 24 hour news cycle – because it seems to us that the State has always carried out certain functions, without the State certain functions could simply not be performed. Let us for a moment pretend, as if it is possible, that, though the United States Postal Service delivers most of the mail, that they do not do a horribly inefficient, wasteful job of it; let us pretend, if we are capable, that our infrastructure – our roads, our bridges, our power grid, etc – despite the heinous amounts of money we are taxed in various ways to maintain them, are not by in large in dangerous disrepair. Let's pretend, laughably, that the State actually puts “our” money to good use, that our infrastructure is in good repair and monetary waste, theft, and fraud is at a minimum. Who would carry out such tasks if not for “the State”?

The “State”, for all the power I've assigned it, for all the accusations I've hurled at it, for all the crimes I associate it with, is a fictional entity. It doesn't exist. Who would build the roads? The same people who do now. People. People build roads. When you see figures walking on the side of the road with their hard hats and orange vests, those aren't some other species of humanoid specially tasked by God to lay pavement for us to drive on. Those are human beings. And, first and foremost, they very likely work for private companies, who are under contract from various local and state governments to build and “repair” roads (I say “repair” because as most of us know, the roads that actually need repair are typically neglected, while major expensive, traffic choking, unnecessarily prolonged construction projects are usually carried out on roads that were perfectly fine to begin with). So, without the State, what you would need to continue to build and repair infrastructure is to simply remove the middle-man, who we all know to be a liar and a thief anyway.

As Thomas Woods observes, to ask “Who would build the roads?” assumes that, here I am, over here, with goods and services to offer, and over off somewhere else are all these other people who would like to purchase my goods and services but cannot reach them, and without the government to build the roads we'd all just stand around stupefied and helpless.

Again, we are intelligent people. We are innovative. It seems absurd and impossible to me that entrepreneurs and business people would simply wither on the vine and die rather than figure out a way to work together to get roads and bridges built. Here we are with this immensely complex mechanism – the automobile – that was created by private industry, and yet private industry couldn't figure out how to lay some pavement for that technological marvel to ride on? It would obviously be in their collective best interests, and, assuming a thriving free market economy in the absence of the State, in the absence of taxation, fees, crippling regulation, bureaucracy, red tape, and inflation continually robbing money of its purchasing power, which is a safe assumption, they would have more capital and resources at their disposal to make that happen.

As for police/security, anyone paying attention these days sees police as the entity most likely to damage, destroy, or steal property; to assault, pepper spray, taze or murder people (and/or their pets). Yes, citizens do this as well, but we never dare to look at the circumstances that may have driven people to violence. With the citizen, it is often the artificial scarcity I mentioned earlier. Scarcity in viable money with actual, stable value. Scarcity in jobs. Scarcity in education – state-run education dumbs us all down generation after generation and makes us more and more useless, more and more dependent. And of course a very large percentage of violent crime is drug related; similarly, a large percentage of America's overbloated prison population are drug offenders, and a large percentage of those drug offenders are non-violent drug offenders, offenders who, while having harmed no one except perhaps themselves, will have no hope of rebuilding their lives because of their “criminal” record. What choice, then, do they have upon leaving prison but to return to crime? What incentive do they have when the government is there encouraging them to sign up for welfare entitlements? We know this harms wildlife but we think it's a good idea for people? And then we blame the people who take the handouts.

Police are becoming more violent because, first and foremost, as Goethe remarked, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. As the State expands its criminal/citizen base, not only through ruining lives for prosecuting non-crimes (a crime must have a victim), the police believe they are under siege from a segment of society they participated in creating. As the “war” escalates, police are given more and more power, until we start to reach a critical mass today where police cannot help but think it a safe assumption that they can execute someone with little fear of repercussion (their victims are “animals” or “savages” anyway; a typical psychological ploy any killer uses to justify their cruelty). All with the chest-thumping approval of the majority of Americans, Americans who've been taught to be helpless, who are taught to fear these vicious criminals who sit in dark corners at night sharpening their knives, just waiting...waiting for the opportunity to rape and murder your entire family. It is all based on fear, fear of a monster they themselves created.

If being an empowered, responsible, emancipated sentient being – that is to say, armed and trained at the level you feel is necessary – is not enough security for you, you can always use the extra money you'd inevitably have, the extra purchasing power you'd inevitably have, because you'd have more money that had more value, to hire your own security. And that security would be accountable to you, directly; you could punish them or reward them as you saw fit, based on their performance and your expectations. Too often today, not only is a violent cop not fired, not prosecuted, they are often promoted, and lauded as heroes by the mouth-breathing dependents they operate amongst. Their victims have zero recourse. And when they riot, when they demonstrate violently, that is seen as justification for the treatment they received in the first place.

Regulation


One of the most laughable justifications for the State is the regulatory apparatus we are led to believe prevents “runaway capitalism” from destroying our economy and the environment. For instance, the USDA regulates the agricultural industry, the FDA regulates food and drugs, the EPA protects the environment, etc. And most people buy into this delusion, and comfort themselves with it, knowing that their food is safe, the environment is protected, and every pill their doctors prescribe them has been through rigorous testing and is perfectly safe.

The State is, among other things, power and influence. It is power and influence that, administered by human beings, who are fallible and corruptible – and the more power and influence they have, the more corrupt they will inevitably be, as a rule – is for sale to anyone with the money and interest to obtain such influence. Over the decades, our regulatory bureaucracies have been gradually usurped by the corporations and industries we were told they were created to control. The fox guarding the henhouse analogy is perfectly apropos here, and there is now almost no distinction between the corporation and State.

Anyone na├»ve enough to believe otherwise need only to “google” Michael Taylor, or “revolving door government biotech”. Countless politicians and bureaucrats have moved between the corporate and bureaucratic hierarchies, assuring the profits for their corporation or industry while in government, and being rewarded for it with high level, high paying jobs after they've finished. Does anyone believe that a former Monsanto V.P. now seated in a high-level position in the FDA is going to protect the citizen rather than his “former” employer? Was it a coincidence that Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton before becoming VPOTUS, during which time Halliburton and its subsidiaries made tens of billions of dollars in large part due to no-bid contracts awarded by the United States government? This corporatism is the inevitable outcome of any government, and, particularly within the United States, you'll find every layer of the bureaucracy infested by lawyers, lobbyists, and other corporate minions of the industries they're supposed to be watch-dogging.

Again, this emphasizes the essential need for the empowered individual. Rather than sitting on the couch watching football, assured that the government handles all relevant issues for them, the individual must take into his or her own power the responsibility to handle it themselves. Is your food safe? Most people, when asked where their food comes from, will tell you “from the grocery store.” If you care about your food being fresh and clean, you're going to have to do a little better than that. Because rest assured, if you demand the State do it for you, the relevant industries are simply going to grease the relevant palms so that regulators look the other way, or regulations contain adequate loopholes to be exploited. It is commonplace today for laws to be written in total secrecy, primarily because the authors of those laws are lawyers and lobbyists for the relevant industries the law affects. “We have to pass the law first so you can read it!” And then when you read the law and realize what a tyrannical, corporatist piece of garbage it is, and realize it's going to screw you over six ways to Tuesday, there is nothing you can do to reverse it. As much hatred as there is for Obamacare, there is absolutely zero political will to reverse it. And there never was, for all their talking. The left/right paradigm is completely for show.

The diligence of the empowered individual must encapsulate all aspects of life. Not only is there not enough hours in the day for you to pay enough attention to a bureaucracy-choked morass, researching the candidates, casting your votes every few months, hoping, for God's sake, they actually do their job, and investing the necessary time to pay attention to exactly how your representative votes on all the myriad issues relevant to you, reigning in the unelected alphabet bureaucracies that make most of the laws in this country, but it's not in their interest anyway. Which, as should be obvious, is why they don't. They don't care about you. If these bureaucracies do a bad job, or are corrupt – and they do, and they are – there is absolutely no consequences. Politicians, who must face their mostly distracted, ignorant, and fully uninformed electorate, are only slightly more inclined to care about you, but your one vote versus millions in campaign contributions and the promise of a cushy job if they're unfortunate enough to be voted out of office (Congress currently has an approval rate around 10% yet incumbents are reelected over 90% of the time) is no contest. If you've ever wondered why the only change that occurs is things continue to get worse, there is your answer. And, working within that system, you have zero power to change it. The greatest lie you've been told, the untruth that you must unlearn, is that your vote is your voice, and if you don't vote you've done nothing. Your vote is indeed your voice, and your voice speaks: “I endorse this sham of a sytem and wish for it to continue.”

Corporations, sans the State, would be forced to respond to market forces. Not having the State to bribe to force people to buy their products and destroy or stifle their competition (large corporations can handle the regulations we are told are to clamp them down, but in reality, it only stifles their smaller competition, discourages would-be competitors, and increases their wealth and influence), they would have to behave according to consumer demand, lest they lose money and possibly go out of business. And many corporations and industries would necessarily go out of business, because it is only by employing the State in their defense that many industries exist at all. Is it cynical to believe that in a free market someone wouldn't have figured out by now how to power homes, businesses, and transportation without fossil fuels? Is it cynical to believe that energy giants and governments dependent on the production and marketing of fossil fuels, might have collaborated to make this impossible?

Again, this is where the empowered individual must step forward in a free market. If you don't want GMOs, don't buy GMOs. And, I'm sorry, a nutless monkey can figure out how to avoid GMOs if it were motivated enough. If you find that a corporation or industry destroys the environment, such as the oil and gas industry with their constant oil spills, rig fires, and hydraulic fracturing, boycott them. It is difficult but not impossible. We've already seen the work of the market in the food industry, as restaurant chains food producers are avoiding GMOs and artificial ingredients, farmers are moving towards more organic agriculture, retailers like Walmart are providing more organic options, and promising to buy their meats from more humanely and sustainably raised sources. We move the market by our actions; government regulation had nothing to do with it. Because if you expect the EPA to protect the environment, the USDA to protect agricultural malpractice, the FDA to protect your food and drugs, etc, you will find, again, that every one of them is bought and paid for by those very industries. And they would love nothing more than for you to keep voting, keep trying to “take our country back” (for countless elections by now), to “restore the Constitution” or “the American Republic”.

Conclusion


As Lysander Spooner so eloquently pointed out, whatever the Constitution is supposed to be is irrelevant, for it has either permitted the tyranny we have today, or it has been powerless to stop it. Spooner was an abolitionist during the days of slavery, which might confound many people who erroneously believe the tyranny we suffer through today is a recent phenomenon (read: this is not Obama's doing). Just to give context, president John Adams signed into law the Alien and Sedition Acts, which were an abomination to the constitution even then, and basically the Patriot Act of his day. John Adams was the second president of the United States. The rule of law was being dismantled in this country before the ink on the constitution was even dry.

But all of these explanations for why a stateless society would be superior to an authoritarian society, even mimarchist in nature, fully misses the point. We do not believe in anarchy from a utilitarian perspective. I am not interested in “society”, “civilization”, “the nation”, “culture”, or any other such collectivist notions. “We” do not have to “do” anything, except what we choose, so long as any such actions do not infringe on the ability of others to do the same. Fundamentally, we all have the same driving need as individuals: to live, to be free, and to pursue what makes us happy and content. If that, for you, means banding together with others and forming a voluntary society with laws, taxes, and collective responsibilities, that is your right and your choice. It is my right and my choice to refuse to consent, and to not be terrified and oppressed for it. For as Spooner also pointed out generations ago, no one living and very few among the dead ever consented to be governed by the Constitution. They have never signed it. Even if 99.99999% of a population consents, it is illegitimate. And being born under the dominion of that piece of paper with words on it, and participating within it long before reason and logic has been developed, should not compel the individual to be bound by it if they decide it is their wish to opt out.

They do not have this right, and yet we call ourselves “free”. If you are going to cling to the illusion that the State is necessary, please at least dispense with the willfully ignorant notion that you are free.


You are not.

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