Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Other Side of the Elephant


Yesterday I went into downtown Philadelphia for the second day in a row---something I never do without a very good reason--to see a political debate. And it was about the only situation I could imagine in which I would want to attend such a thing, because this was not the usual statist-collectivist-versus-statist-collectivist debate.

One side was Michael Badnarik, a devout Constitutionalist. But, amazingly, in this setting Mr. Badnarik was the PRO-state side, because the other side was Stefan Molyneux, who "advocates" no government ( (Actually, he doesn't advocate doing away with government so much as he points out, just as I do, that "government" doesn't exist.)

I've said before that if I saw anyone else ranting the unpleasant truths about "government" loudly enough, I would happily quit. Well, Stefan has me tempted, and about the only reason I'm not hanging up my rabble-rousing hat quite yet is because, though I think Stefan and I describe the same elephant, we are describing different sides of it. ( For anyone who doesn't understand my "elephant" reference, here is the reason for it: )

The purpose of this message is mainly just to describe the tusk on the far side of the elephant that Stefan described at the event yesterday, as it relates to a couple points that came up. 1) "Without government, we won't be able to defend ourselves from invaders!" In response to this common concern, Stefan rightfully explained how, if there is no existing "government," there is nothing for invaders to take over, and no incentive for them to try. Without a taxation mechanism already in place, invaders have no way to exploit the people. I would just add that not only would there be no taxing mechanism, but there would also be no SURRENDERING mechanism. One "government" can surrender to another. One authoritarian army can surrender to another. When the guy at the top of the hierarchy says, "we give up," all those below him will stop fighting. In a stateless society, on the other hand, there is no one even CAPABLE of surrendering on behalf of the entire society, even if they wanted to. Therefore, as the invader, you'd have to get every single individual there to surrender, or you'd never have a moment's peace. Lots of standing armies have learned this the hard way, when trying to combat an armed populace. In short, if your enemy can't give up, they can't ever be defeated. 2) "But gangs will take over!" and/or 3) "The new protectors will become oppressors!"

In response to this, Stefan did a fine job of explaining how societal and economic influences would make it impossible for a gang to take over without the state. I would add only one thing, but I think it's a big thing: The PERCEPTION of "authority" is the ONLY thing which allows the oppression we see today. When robberies, assaults, threats and murders are perceived as inherently legitimate, because they are called "taxes" and "law," and are done by those wearing the label of "government," the people will not resist. In other words, when evil is not SEEN as evil, no one is going to fight against it. The entire problem with the notion of "government" is that it amounts to societal PERMISSION for certain people to commit theft, harassment, assault, murder, etc. Could a gang of 100,000 stupid bureaucrats (only a small percentage of which are even armed) successfully rob three hundred million people? To put it another way, could any gang extort a victim base three THOUSAND times as big as the gang itself? Of course not, UNLESS they are called "the Internal Revenue Service," and their demands are somehow viewed as legitimate, and disobedience to their demands is viewed as "criminal." And the only way to do that is to indoctrinate the victims of the theft into believing in "authority." As I've said before, I'd love it if we were invaded by the Red Chinese Army, because if they came here, and threatened to do EXACTLY what "our" "government" is already doing, there would be immediate, universal, self-righteous armed resistance. "You daggum furriners ain't takin half uh MY money!" (As a trivia fact, though there are well over a billion people in China, there are only about three million people in the Chinese Army. If they all invaded here, they would be outnumber 30-to-1 by armed Americans, and that's BEFORE the other 200,000,000+ Americans decided to arm themselves.) And so it would be with any non-government gang, or any protection agency gone rogue. If it wasn't perceived as having the RIGHT to "tax" us and otherwise boss us around, the resistance would be so swift and so severe that, no matter how nasty and evil the gangs might be, they wouldn't gain any wealth or power from trying it, and might very well end up dead. (Ever notice how, whether you're talking about street gangs or the bigger, more organized Mafia crime rings, they always feed off of a state-created market? Whether it's prostitution, gambling, "illegal" weapons, or drugs (or alcohol, back when prohibition was in effect), the ONLY time they can economically compete is when the state CREATES a niche for them, by outlawing a victimless "crime." Have you ever seen a big crime syndicate that makes its money from selling groceries, or cars, or cleaning supplies? No. They always derive their money and power from "illegal" trade, which is only "illegal" because the state declared it to be so. Occasionally, a very small gang will have some success, though usually short-lived, just by extorting local businesses, but even that is only made possible by state actions, such as "gun control" (disarming the victims), or a government police force helping out the thugs, or just BEING the thugs.)

The perception of "authority" is key to understanding why a stateless society, where the people understand self-ownership, could not possibly accidentally revert to a statist society. It's not because everyone is good and noble. It's because long-term forced extortion isn't a viable endeavor if your intended victims: 1) are armed, and 2) don't think you have the RIGHT to extort them. --------------------------------------------

Well, that's about all I have to add to yesterday's event. Stefan is so thorough and so clear, not to mention very entertaining and utterly hilarious, that I don't think much more needs to be said. And, as those on my list know all too well, it's very unusual for me to NOT have an endless list of things to say regarding anything political that happens. So here is Stefan's website. Go check it out: And no, he's not even paying me to say that. (Well, at least he hasn't yet, but I remain hopeful.)

Larken Rose

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