Thursday, May 16, 2019

Why do we live under a monopoly?

The World Wide Web gives us eyes.  With these eyes we can see past the usual gatekeepers and read commentaries exposing government for its never-ending egregious actions. We see in these articles a hint of the nightmare world of 1984, with a suggestion that we could end up there if we do nothing but read. 

But I find one thing wrong with these accounts: For all their insights, there is rarely a mention of government’s inherent criminality.  Instead, the authors elaborate on the latest government atrocities and leave it at that, with an occasional comment that if we returned to our constitutional roots none of this would happen.

But we were once at our constitutional roots and these things are happening.  It is the roots that are flawed.  As Lysander Spooner wrote in 1870, 
But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain — that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.
Thus, for example, we read about the FED’s current monetary stance, whether it’s good or bad for the economy.  Have we lost the concept of monetary freedom?  That in a free world there would be no FED and no monetary policy?  That the easily-inflatable digits forced on us as a medium of exchange serves the interests of a privileged elite at our expense?  That the FED’s inflationary prowess has augmented the funding of foreign “adventures” that leave endless wreckage and death in their wake, while stuffing the bank accounts of warmongers?  That it’s equated saving with self-immolation?  That the counterfeiting FED is made possible by a government that’s criminal by design?

Flawed from the start

Governments as they exist are built on a criminal framework: a legal monopoly on violence over the territory they claim to rule.  Such institutions are called states.  Governments and states are not necessarily the same, but today’s governments are states.  They are not free market entities.  We cannot deal with a state under which we live as we might deal with a private company.  If Apple’s iPhone upsets me, I can go to Samsung; if not Samsung, LG or Huawei.  If they all upset me, I can do without a smartphone.  I have choices.  If the state’s institutionalized thief upsets me, tough; if I resist the only outcomes are fines, prison or death.  States are the antithesis of civilization.  

Why do we put up with them?  Answer: Because they make us put up with them.  We need to put up an intelligent fight.  

Murray Rothbard and Albert Jay Nock, among others, offered us insights on how states operate.  The State, in Rothbard’s succinct summation,
provides a legal, orderly, systematic channel for the predation of private property; it renders certain, secure, and relatively "peaceful" the lifeline of the parasitic caste in society.  [Anatomy of the State]
Nock tells us that
Taking the State wherever found, striking into its history at any point, one sees no way to differentiate the activities of its founders, administrators and beneficiaries from those of a professional-criminal class.  [Our Enemy, the State]
The claim that the Constitutional Convention was an exception, that the founders of the federal government had no criminal intent, has been turned upside down with the research of historian Leonard L. Richards.  See his Shays's Rebellion: The American Revolution's Final Battle for details.  In reviewing the book Gary North said Shays’s Rebellion “is the most important falsified event in American history” and that Richards’ “thesis [as of 2002] has not yet moved into the textbooks.  It should.” 

Libertarian writers should call out the state whenever news of its atrocities or underhanded deals reaches us.  Don’t just tell us the Deep State is painting the Middle East red and threatening the world with nuclear annihilation, and is about to set another recession on us due to its monetary manipulations.  Point out that this is what happens when an organization assigns itself a legal monopoly on violence, with or without a constitution.  Otherwise the myth will persist that the state is fundamentally a benign organization promoting the welfare of all people, and that it is only certain rogues that are giving it a bad name.  

In his essay The Criminality of the State, Nock urges a similar approach.  Writing in 1939 for the American Mercury, Nock said that state atrocities are outrageous but we shouldn’t be surprised when they happen.  Yet most people are surprised.  
The history of the State being what it is, and its testimony being as invariable and eloquent as it is, I am obliged to say that the naive tone of surprise wherewith our people complain of these matters strikes me as a pretty sad reflection on their intelligence.  Suppose someone were impolite enough to ask them the gruff question, "Well, what do you expect?" — what rational answer could they give? I know of none.
Polite or impolite, that is just the question which ought to be put every time a story of State villainy appears in the news. It ought to be thrown at our public day after day, from every newspaper, periodical, lecture platform, and radio station in the land; and it ought to be backed up by a simple appeal to history, a simple invitation to look at the record. . . .  
In this way, perhaps, our people might get into their heads some glimmering of the fact that the State's criminality is nothing new and nothing to be wondered at. It began when the first predatory group of men clustered together and formed the State, and it will continue as long as the State exists in the world, because the State is fundamentally an anti-social institution, fundamentally criminal.
It’s true that a weak state is far preferable to a more powerful one, and that Americans once had a government that pretty much left them free.  But given the nature of the state, it was not destined to last.  We need a government based on market incentives, not one built on a legal monopoly. 

For a primer on how society would function at a far better level without a state, see Robert P. Murphy’s excellent Chaos Theory.

George Ford Smith is the author of several books, including The Flight of the Barbarous Relic (novel) and The Fall of Tyranny, The Rise of Liberty.  He is also a filmmaker with three movies to his credit on Amazon Prime Video.  His most recent production is A Christmas to Remember.  He hopes someday to direct a film version of his novel.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

What will you do on Election Day?

If you plan to vote in the next presidential election, you can stop reading.  This article isn’t for you.  

As a voter, you’ve been sold on the idea that elections are a critical element of a free society — that if we didn’t have elections, the government would consider us slaves, would treat us as roadkill.  If we didn’t have elections the government could take the bread we earn and use it any way it pleases.   

As a voter you’re showing your preference for who should fill the slots in the monopoly power that rules you — not all the slots, of course, not even a majority, but a few at least.  As a voter you accept this monopoly as a brute fact of life, like the air you breathe.  You not only accept it but regard it with awe because without it there would be anarchy, which you’ve been told means chaos, the antithesis of civilization.  You firmly believe that no matter how low government gets, anarchy is always a rung lower.  

This is why there is no “None of the above” on the ballot — rather lice than nothing.  You cringe with horror at the thought of unfilled government positions or government “shutdowns.”  

As a voter you might be someone who hopes to get something from government you couldn’t get otherwise; as a voter you feel a sense of importance because you see politicians exhausting themselves trying to get your vote.  And after you cast your ballot you even get to wear an “I voted” sticker as a way of showing your participation in democracy, unlike the dregs who shirk their responsibility.

As a voter you know that government’s overwhelming firepower is the key to your goals.  Government guns can save your job or move you up a notch in the food chain.  But it requires votes to make it happen.

So, voter -- you champion of freedom and civilization and good will among men, who supports to the dire end the government that educated you because you can’t live without it -- you are hereby advised to find something else to read. 

What can no-accounts do?

For the rest of us, our choice has been to stay away from the polls on Election Day, as a majority have done in the past.  

But why do nothing when the process you're boycotting is stealing your life away?  Why not take some action?

If you showed up in Washington D.C. on Election Day carrying a sign that said “Don’t Vote” or “Bureaucrats Go Home” you would be ignored, at best.  If you and a million others showed up carrying signs you might get some attention.

But what would prompt so many to discomfort themselves in a protest about government itself?  

Perhaps they recognize that every evil they experience or witness in the world today involves government to a significant degree.  Wars?  A government specialty — Wars R Us, highly lucrative for the well-connected, possibly a death sentence for the ones who do the fighting.  Economic recessions?  Made possible by its monopoly counterfeiter the Federal Reserve and government restrictions on trade and employment and competition.  Government criminalizes competition not only with itself but for whatever gang or corporation can win its favor.   Taxes, no-accounts understand, are a politically correct name for government theft, which at the federal level runs into the trillions.  

Perhaps they’re curious about why people question whether free-market billionaires should exist when a thief that tops them by orders of magnitude is never questioned. 

Perhaps they recognize that government policies criminalize or hinder their ability to get the best health care or education.  Perhaps they want to shrug off an organization that spies on them and makes traveling feel like a criminal activity.  

Perhaps they wonder why so much attention is paid to whether an election was influenced while almost no one talks about government’s coming default.

Perhaps they’re sick of having to tolerate government lies.  Maybe they’re tired of seeing government agents rewarded for gross incompetence.  

Perhaps they recognize that government is an outlier in a free society.  All our transactions are made with others voluntarily, except when the “other” is government.  

Perhaps they believe that a return to small government is not the answer, but a new kind of government based on market incentives.

What services do we need that cannot be done through voluntary means, they want to know?  Why is this question not even raised?

Why do we surrender our sovereignty at gunpoint and call it patriotism?

I say these are good reasons to march on Election Day and for the days that follow.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Letter to a High School Senior

My neighbor asked me to write a senior letter for her daughter, Brittany, who is about to graduate from high school.  I had never heard of a senior letter before.  Here is what I was given:
A memorable Collins Hill tradition is the delivery, and reading, of senior letters during the senior breakfast (during Senior Week).  Senior letters are written by friends, family, and faculty members and turned in prior to the breakfast.  Typically these letters provide congratulatory remarks, words of encouragement, and advice for the future.

With this as a guideline here is what I wrote:

Dear Brittany,

Life is a succession of milestones, and as a senior about to graduate you have achieved one of the most important goals in your life.  Year after year you have listened to the lectures, done the assignments, and passed the tests, and your graduation is a testimonial to your work ethic and intelligence.  You have shown what it takes to make a distant event a reality.  Think about the day-after-day effort you made to show up at school and put in the work required to keep yourself headed for graduation day.  And in doing so you have created memories with self-travelers who were doing the same.  

I encourage you to think about the changes you have made to your life.  When you first started school many years ago, you could not read or write proficiently or perhaps not at all; you knew little about the history of the world; the various sciences were either unknown to you or mere curiosities; and your mathematical competence was in its infancy.  You likely had dreams about what you wanted to be when you grew up, and you might’ve replaced those dreams with others as you developed as a person.  

There was something else growing with you.  Information technology development has been like a fast ride into the science fiction pages of Asimov, Heinlein, or Bradbury, and it is a journey that is advancing at an exponential pace.  When your parents were born, computers cost in the millions and occupied large air-conditioned rooms; today, they are 100 million times more powerful, fit in your pocket, and cost only hundreds of dollars.  And they’re far more reliable.   What this means for you will depend on what you do with it.  But the potential impact on your life cannot be exaggerated.   

To clarify and emphasize, if a technology is improving at a linear rate, in 30 years it will be 30 times better.  If a technology is improving at an exponential rate, say doubling every year, then in 30 years the technology will be a billion times better.  

Though there is disagreement among experts about the rate of improvement, there is a consensus that the rate is exponential.  

This is the world you will be part of, Brittany.  I encourage you to embrace it and use it for positive ends.   

Congratulations, graduate, on all you have accomplished!

The State Unmasked

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