Monday, October 28, 2019

A State that went deep in the night

The Deep State is an outgrowth of the democratic State, without which it could neither expand nor exist.  In a totalitarian regime there is no distinction between the two; there is just the State as the autocratic ruler of the territory it claims as its own.  As democratic states become more totalitarian the line between State and Deep State fades, as you would expect.

States have been around for so long it seems there is no other way to organize society, and therefore the best we can do is control them.  For that purpose constitutions have been imposed, though it hasn’t worked because the State itself turns out to be the constitution’s enforcer, the fox that takes charge of the henhouse.  Still, the myth persists that the people can hold the State to its purpose of protecting their rights.   

This is a futile strategy.  Natural rights are those conditions necessary for an individual’s survival.  Since we need to sustain our lives through productive work, we need protection of “persons, liberties, and properties,” as Bastiat made clear.  Men formed societies for this purpose, to protect what they already have by virtue of being alive, and since individuals have the right to self-defense, States cannot have any purpose other than to protect us.

But in fact they do.  

There are multiple ways people can live at the expense of others, and the State can serve as the instrument for making this happen legally.  How did it happen here, in the U.S.?  Check out the following: Shays's Rebellion: The American Revolution's Final Battle, Hamilton's Curse, The Real Lincoln, The Triumph of Conservatism, The Creature from Jekyll Island, War is a Racket, End the Fed, and my own The Flight of the Barbarous Relic.  That’s a lot of reading but if we want a better world we need to engage in “hard thinking and scholarship,” as Rothbard advised.

These works, though, while brilliant for illuminating State treachery, don’t question the legitimacy of the State itself.  One supposes that if presidents such as Lincoln and Wilson got the country into unjust wars that wrecked economies while killing hundreds of thousands of people, then it’s up to us to elect better people or encode better laws.  If central banking is a counterfeiting racket that funds unjust wars while making a few rich then we need to rally support to repeal the Federal Reserve Act.  

As both approaches seek to limit state power, I doubt they will work.  Through control of media and education, not only has the State escaped culpability for these initiatives but is widely seen as the champion of our well-being in times of crisis.  Thus, wars were fought to keep us free, the Fed exists to “promote the health of the U.S. economy and the stability of the U.S. financial system.” 

The authors of the foregoing works, in other words, don’t call for replacing the government structure we live under, notwithstanding its gross failure.  For radical treatments that expose the bedrock of the State, its legal monopoly of force, then good places to start are Rothbard’s Anatomy of the State and For a New Liberty, Rockwell’s Against the State, Murphy’s Chaos Theory, and Hoppe's The Private Production of Defense.

But these alone won’t get far into the details of the U.S. Deep State.  

For that, you can find scholarly treatments in Laurent Guy√©not’s JFK-9/11: 50 Years of Deep State (2015) and Michael J. Glennon’s National Security and Double Government (2014).  Let’s examine some of Glennon’s points.

The survival of the State is supreme

He makes a distinction between the government Madison and his cohorts created and the one Truman set in motion that executes the “national security” policies of unelected insiders.  Under President Harry S. Truman, Congress passed the National Security Act of 1947, “which unified the military under a new Secretary of Defense, set up the CIA, created the modern Joint Chiefs of Staff, and established the National Security Council.” Glennon refers to these governments by their creators, as the Madisonians and the Trumanites.   

Two broad reasons were given for the Trumanite government: One, the need to respond quickly to anything mass murderer Joseph Stalin might try, and two, the desire of the U.S. military to spread democracy all around the globe.

At the time some conservative members of Congress were critical of this arrangement.  Republican Senator William Langer of North Dakota thought the real enemy was the Pentagon where “military leaders had an insatiable appetite for more money, more men, and more power.”  Conservatives talked about a garrison state, a police state, and a slave state. They invoked Washington’s Farewell Address, with his advice to “steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world,” they summoned the 1821 speech of John Quincy Adams who warned against going abroad in search of monsters to destroy, they pointed out the shifting of congressional responsibility to administrative policymaking. 

They spoke truth to power, but power won big.  Red Scare II, along with the awesome threat of the state they lived under, a state that lost no sleep over incinerating civilians with nuclear weapons and firebombing, frightened Americans into compliance.  

The Deep State keeps growing

Glennon sites a 2011 Washington Post article that, following a two-year investigation, 
identified forty-six federal departments and agencies engaged in classified national security work.  Their missions range from intelligence gathering and analysis to war-fighting, cyber-operations, and weapons development. Almost 2,000 private companies support this work, which occurs at over 10,000 locations across America.  The size of their budgets and workforces are mostly classified, but it is clear that those numbers are enormous—a total annual outlay of around $1 trillion and millions of employees.
He also refers to a 1970 article by Henry Kissinger: “The nightmare of the modern state is the hugeness of the bureaucracy, and the problem is how to get coherence and design in it.”  Kisssinger’s wrong.  The State, modern or otherwise, is coherently a leech upon free people and a psychotic bully in global affairs.

If the Deep State keeps growing, we will have just one State, deep and tyrannical in every respect, all in the name of “national security.”

The Deep State would fold if the State on which it depends couldn’t extract the necessary loot from the people it feeds on.  As a rogue organization the Deep State doesn’t have many fans outside of its ranks.  If people took a hard look at the State itself, they might find they don’t cherish that entity much, either.  But they’re reluctant to call for radical change because they’ve been told the free market is a jungle only the State can control.  This is patently false, as Rothbard points out
In the jungle, some gain only at the expense of others. On the market, everyone gains. It is the market—the contractual society—that wrests order out of chaos, that subdues nature and eradicates the jungle, that permits the “weak” to live productively, or out of gifts from production, in a regal style compared to the life of the “strong” in the jungle.
People are sick of the State’s taxing, counterfeiting, nannying, warmongering, lying, scandal-ridden, bureaucratic ways.  They need to break out some books and learn that pushing for an unfettered free market is the path to their deliverance from tyranny.

George Ford Smith is a former mainframe and PC programmer and technology instructor, the author of eight books including a novel about a renegade Fed chairman (Flight of the Barbarous Relic), a filmmaker (Do Not Consent), and an advocate of stateless market government.  He eagerly welcomes speaking engagements and can be reached at

Thursday, October 24, 2019

We need to know who’s hitting us

Which of the following statements is politically correct?

A. End Foreign Aid to Israel and Everyone Else
B. Conscription Is Slavery
C. U.S. Soldiers Died for Nothing in WW I
D. Abolish the National Anthem
E. Memorial Day Is Based on a Lie
F. Abolish the FBI, America’s KGB
G. The Soviet Union Won WW II
H. Thank You for Your Killing

None of them, of course.  Each is the title of an article written by Jacob Hornberger and can be found in his blog at the Future of Freedom Foundation.  Hornberger, refreshingly, has never been delicate in his treatment of political issues.  He fires his thoughts straight at us, like a bullet on route to its target, without detour or apology.   

For example, we’re encouraged to thank the troops for their service.  But what does that mean, exactly?  What are we thanking them for?  
Killing people [Hornberger writes]. That’s what U.S. soldiers have been doing in Iraq since 1990 and in Afghanistan since 2001. They have been killing people. Lots of people. Hundreds of thousands of people. And they continue to do so on a regular basis. . . . 
Among historians Woodrow Wilson is considered one of the better US presidents.  With the help of a warmongering staff and Lincoln-like aggression against the American people, especially conscription, he was able to send young men overseas to fill the French landscape with American corpses in what became known as World War I.   And in Hornberger’s view were our soldiers heroes, helping to fulfill Wilson’s vision of saving the world for democracy?  Not exactly.  
The 117,466 U.S. soldiers who died in World War I died for nothing. No one can deny that. In fact, that might well be the reason why interventionists changed the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. They wanted Americans to stop thinking about the fact that all those American soldiers in World War I died for nothing.
In light of these and many other Hornberger articles, I was puzzled by a recent piece, Politicians Live in a Parallel Universe, in which he critiqued a Mitch McConnell op-ed.  McConnell, a faithful interventionist, thinks it would be a bad idea to withdraw from Syria, defending his position with stale, counterfactual assertions.  To pick just one, McConnell says when the US “threw off the comforting blanket of isolationism in the 1940s and took the mantle of global leadership, we made the whole world better.”  

Isolationism?  Really?
How can he not know about President Roosevelt’s interventionist machinations to embroil the United States in World War II? How could he not know about FDR’s Lend-Lease program with England, his military assistance to British forces, his oil embargo on Japan, his freezing of Japanese assets in the United States, and the humiliating dictates he issued to Japan, all with the aim of provoking Germany and Japan to attack and kill U.S. troops, so that he could manipulate the American people into entering World War II?
As an explanation for McConnell’s manifest ignorance Hornberger concludes he must be “living in a parallel universe.” 

If only that were true!  If only the political class would coerce their world and not ours.  

As he knows, politicians, to our demise, reside right here with us and are coercing us daily.   Yet even as a literary device, saying they live in another world, while making a colorful point, gets them off the hook.  We are led to think of them as oddballs rather than evil — people we have to get along with, somehow, if we want to live in a civil society.  

In McConnell’s worldview a rationale can always be found for the US military to meddle in other countries.  Of course certain people and industries profit from it while others pay.   Of course there are accidents, what the military and media call collateral damage.  Of course there is corruption and cover-ups.  So what?  Let’s admit, this is what’s holding the country together.  Who are we, in our world, to condemn an insider such as McConnell?  Live and let live.

This is no small point.  Hornberger is well-aware of the criminal nature of the state and those who run it.  He knows that people who have seen their families and livelihoods wiped out by American forces would not be impressed with literary allusions such as “parallel universe.”  Neither would other readers who need the full truth, that McConnell, who holds a doctor of law degree and is as fully earth-bound as the rest of us, filled his piece with outrageous lies in defending wanton murder and destruction.  

C’mon, Jacob!  The state has always shrouded itself and its motives in lies.  Its state-educated subjects are too occupied to question them or dig much deeper than mainstream sources.  And who today has the courage to challenge it since hearing about the torture of Julian Assange?  People need to know who’s hitting them (to steal a line from Cinderella Man), and you normally do a superb job in this respect.  They need to be reminded constantly that their government, like all others, is a war among gangs to grab the levers of power, and that unless we change it even a strong country like ours will one day disappear. 

George Ford Smith is the author of eight books, including The Flight of the Barbarous RelicEyes of Fire: Thomas Paine and the American Revolution, and The Fall of Tyranny, the Rise of Liberty.  He is also a filmmaker whose latest work is a whimsical tale about the threat of nuclear annihilation, Last Day.

Friday, October 18, 2019

The future is yours, if you want it

Mises Institute President Jeff Deist has written an outstanding article that questions whether politics — elections, in this case — can fix what ails American society.  Can it clear up structural problems such as central banking and foreign policy?  Can it solve the intractable differences between Right and Left?  Can the forthcoming national election amount to something other than “throwing gasoline on the fire”?

On rare occasions political solutions do sometimes fix problems that earlier political decisions created, such as the repeal of Prohibition in late 1933.  But killing the Eighteenth Amendment didn’t threaten the governing elite; if anything, it helped their image by making them seem like regular guys.   The Federal Reserve, however, is a different creature altogether.  As a pillar of big government and fountain of Wall Street largess, it is hands-off, always.   

But why should today’s candidates even discuss complex matters such as central banking?  It’s too confusing and boring to most people.  Besides, most politicians don’t understand it themselves.  This is why they avoid being too specific about their promises: They don’t have to go much deeper than “Change we can believe in” or “Drain the swamp.”  A much safer and more popular approach is to stir up the animosity each side already feels for the other. 

Are Americans trapped in their own system?  Not necessarily.  The way out is to see what’s trapping them, which means understanding the difference between government and state.

Not the same

But right away there’s a problem: the two words are used almost interchangeably.  Further, in today’s world all governments are states.  And any society in a condition of widespread chaos is considered to be in urgent need of a strong state, Somalia notwithstanding.  

But let this be step one in understanding: government can and should exist without being a state.  

A state is a clique holding a monopoly of force over a delineated territory.  As it happens, states have sectioned off all the land of planet Earth, including Antartica.  If you’re on, over, or under land you’re subject to some state’s rule.  From a state’s perspective we are like corralled animals that can leave only with its permissionAs Lincoln made abundantly clear, with the right crisis a state can always step outside its legal limits.  And the state itself is a good bet to be the author of that crisis

By contrast, government in the sense proposed excludes monopoly and force; there are no state elections because there is no state — no president, no legislature, no IRS or any other tax collection agency because there are no taxes.  Lawfulness and security are established and funded through the free market, relying on market institutions and incentives for our well-being.

Another crucial difference

Long ago Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded a computer company and called it Apple.  Its computers appealed to others so much they ponied up money to buy them.  As we know Apple has become a market giant in this manner.  At varying scales this sort of thing happens often.  It’s how free markets work. 

But the free market has the dark shadow of the state hovering over it. 

With Apple you’re a customer it tries to please.  With the state you’re a subject it deals with at its pleasure.  

The state is the chief criminal element in society.  The words parasite, bully, and monopoly apply to it, among others.  This certainly can’t be the foundation of a sustainable civilization.

In every interaction with the state it is in charge, not you.  Curiously, none of us, not even those the state employs, explicitly agreed to this arrangement.  Why would people who consider themselves free, as Americans do on Independence Day, participate in a system that authorizes their permanent subservience to a coercive organization?  Why do we go about our lives dealing with others on a consensual basis but snap to attention when dealing with the State?

Seriously, why?

Thomas Paine, the most influential founder of American independence, observed in Rights of Man Part II that
Great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It has its origin in the principles of society and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished. The mutual dependence and reciprocal interest which man has upon man, and all the parts of civilized community upon each other, create that great chain of connection which holds it together.
We’re really not a state

Most Americans think of their country as their beloved republic for which many have sacrificed in its defense, on those occasions when it was believed to be under attack.  The USA a state?  Only among ivory-tower eggheads.  We have holidays, parades, heroes, military graveyards that stretch endlessly here and overseas, special and often grandiose ceremonies to remind us of our good fortune in living under its rule.  Yet isn’t it odd that the leaders getting us into wars are never the ones who do the actual fighting, who never pay the “ultimate sacrifice,” but instead, if they occupy the White House, are often sanctified as “great”?  Isn’t it stranger still that people put up with this?

In honoring the state we presume innocence on its part.  We believe state personnel would never intentionally act in such a way that might endanger us.  If it goes to war it’s to stop a belligerent that threatens us, not to spur the profits of the war industries or to distract attention from embarrassing domestic problems.  If it criminalizes the sale or use of certain drugs, it does so to protect us, not as “a political contrivance to criminalize and oppress the anti-war left and black people in post-Vietnam America.”  When it declares it’s going to eradicate poverty and finds after 50 years that it’s a monumental failure, it carries on in the name of the poor, even at the cost of destroying families and discouraging self-sufficiency.  When it bails out big banks in this country and overseas, it’s to “save” the heavily-regulated free market, regardless of the moral hazard it creates or the costs to everyday Americans.  

The stratospheric national debt?  A wash, we owe it to ourselves, they tell us.  When Saudis attacked the country with hijacked jets, the government bombed the hell out of two countries that had no connection to the attack, and Americans cheered. And amidst the cheering they submitted quietly to further incursions on their freedom.

There is widespread belief that without the state we would live in constant danger, because only an organization with a monopoly on violence can protect us from violence.  Under a stateless existence — anarchy — we would be vulnerable to perpetual gang warfare, we’re told.  Life would be nasty, brutal, and short.  

But what has life under state rule brought to the world? Economic historian Robert Higgs, who describes himself as a libertarian anarchist, gives us some idea:
Anarchists did not try to carry out genocide against the Armenians in Turkey; they did not deliberately starve millions of Ukrainians; they did not create a system of death camps to kill Jews, gypsies, and Slavs in Europe; they did not fire-bomb scores of large German and Japanese cities and drop nuclear bombs on two of them; they did not carry out a ‘Great Leap Forward’ that killed scores of millions of Chinese; they did not attempt to kill everybody with any appreciable education in Cambodia; they did not launch one aggressive war after another; they did not implement trade sanctions that killed perhaps 500,000 Iraqi children.
Anarchy’s mayhem is wholly conjectural; the state’s mayhem is undeniably, factually horrendous.

There is much to be thankful for in our world, but it’s not the state.  The exponential growth of technology is launching ordinary people into the surreal realm of science fiction, while on the other side the state confiscates our wealth to weaponize technology.  Every lame excuse to expand the state makes the headlines, often by entrepreneurs and others who should know better, as well as political hacks fishing for votes. 

Voting has always been a prerogative of the state.  It doesn’t have to be.  With the internet and widespread adoption of technology that can access it, we have the technology to vote outside the voting booth.  We don’t have to vote to sustain the state’s rule and our subjection. We can call for a different form of government, one that’s market-driven, on Election Day or any other day.  Let’s throw the rascals out by throwing the state out and begin to take control of our future.

George Ford Smith is the author of eight books, including The Flight of the Barbarous RelicEyes of Fire: Thomas Paine and the American Revolution, and The Fall of Tyranny, the Rise of Liberty.  He is also a filmmaker whose latest work is a whimsical tale about the threat of nuclear annihilation, Last Day.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Chaos or Anarchy

On March 4, 1789 government took hold of a big stick (otherwise known as the Constitution) to stop uprisings like Shays’s Rebellion, “the most important falsified event in American history,” as Gary North described it. The government has used that stick to our detriment ever since.  This should tell us something, but it hasn’t.   

Politicians have gamed the Constitution ever since it took effect.  They are at war with the people they claim to serve.   They fight this war with massive propaganda and theft, the former to cover up the latter.  Since government is parasitical and belligerent, and lives at the expense of our liberty and wealth, it must never allow us to think we can live without it.  Always, there are issues and crises only government can solve.   

Its propaganda efforts have made most of its subjects compliant, at least to the point of keeping them from revolting.  Easier to salute the flag and thank the troops than to raise thankless questions.  

It should not be necessary to remind people that government is unlike other organizations in our lives, but in today’s world it is.  It lives by force, we live by trade.  It not only gets away with theft but many of its victims see it as the proper thing to do.  How else are you going to maintain civilization? they ask rhetorically, as if there were no alternative.  We’ll be okay as long as we don’t call it theft.  And really, it isn’t theft.  Thieves don’t normally tell their victims they’re robbing them for their own good.  That honor goes to government and that special word, taxation.

Thinking about trying a different form of government, one which does away with the top-down, one-size-fits-all coercive model but instead relies on free market institutions and incentives?  Doing away with government-as-we-know-it is a call for anarchy.  Here’s the accepted truth, as told by those with every reason to lie: No matter how awful government gets, we can take comfort in knowing we don’t live in an anarchic society.  Anarchy is chaos.  The dictionaries say so.  Our teachers said so.  Though we smile and act otherwise, we are really savages in need of a leash.   For that function in steps government, a dirty job but one which has to be done.  As it turns out we have people fulfilling that duty who, luckily for the rest of us, don’t need a leash.  They have only the purist, nonpartisan motives.  Thus, thanks to government, we have peace and prosperity throughout the world.   If you’re thinking this is untrue, it’s only because you’re unaware of how awful conditions would be without government.    

When you watch talking heads on YouTube or TV arguing over some political position, do you ever ask yourself if there might be a planet somewhere that has done better than this?  Where political positions don’t exist?  Where politics (legal force) has been outlawed by unanimous consent?  Where political rhetoric would have no more significance than a drunk regurgitating?  Here on earth you stay informed as best you can because you rightfully fear the big stick of government and their allied voters.

Are you content to live with that for the rest of your life?  Will you continue to vote to keep the system going until it croaks?  Will you condemn those who don’t vote as lazy or unpatriotic?  If you stay the course, do you foresee getting better people in charge who will fix everything that bothers you?

As ESPN might put it, “C’mon, man!” Force is not the answer, not for a civil society of free people.   Only the free market promotes the general welfare, not the government.  Government mostly serves those at the apex of political or economic power, with war being its most profitable racket. We need to wipe government as we have known it from the face of the earth and keep it that way.  

Government will eventually collapse from the usual fiscal causes (paywall), but why wait?  Let it be known that you favor having your life and property protected by the free market, which has brought us this far along even while crushed and distorted with government impositions, especially those fostered by the federal reserve.  

On Election Day and every other day vote your conscience.  Vote to end the state, even if initially it is no more than a protest vote.

George Ford Smith is the author of eight books, including The Flight of the Barbarous RelicEyes of Fire: Thomas Paine and the American Revolution, and The Fall of Tyranny, the Rise of Liberty.  He is also a filmmaker whose latest work is a whimsical tale about the threat of nuclear annihilation, Last Day (trailer).

The State Unmasked

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