Happy Holidays

“I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

Haha! April fools!

On behalf of the Center for a Stateless Society, I move that April 1st be designated an official holiday for recognition of the contributions of the state to the health, wealth and happiness of its subjects. Randomly select any government action, taken at any time of any year, and I’ll offer you good odds if you want to bet that it is both well-intended and likely to accomplish its purported purpose. Maybe one, maybe the other, but never both.

I’d put money on our bet … but government “money” may be the killer app of state tomfoolery. It’s created out of thin air — the Federal Reserve announced a $1.2 trillion pump last month — and backed by nothing more than “the full faith and credit” of a gaggle of compulsive liars who’ve already run up $10 trillion and change in debt.

The war to “end all wars” and “make the world safe for democracy” opened a century of near-constant combat and calumny featuring Mussolini, Stalin, Franco and Hitler, with hundreds of millions of corpses cast as extras.

The “New Deal” doubled down on recession, produced and extended depression, locked American workers into the mother of all Ponzi schemes and ultimately put them in harness to provide for the perpetual care and feeding of what Eisenhower called the “military-industrial complex.” For more than half a century, the primary task of the US government has been to facilitate the transfer of wealth from your pockets to the bank accounts of innumerable “defense” contractors and other political parasites on productive society.

Even with continuous redefinition of the term, more Americans — and 2/3 as many by percentage of population — now live in “poverty” than did when LBJ declared “war” on it more than 30 years and $6 trillion ago.

I could go on and on about the specifics (and I will, in future columns), but it’s worth taking a moment to kick back, nurse a stiff drink, and consider the sheer scope of government failure as a whole. Think Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos,” with gulags instead of galaxies, police agencies instead of planets — and at least as many black holes (we call them “bureaucracies”).

And what, we might ask, is the real purpose of all this?

The proclaimed raison d’etre of the modern state is to protect its subjects from the horrors of “anarchy.” While a good deal of ink (and not a little blood) has been spilled in attempting to define “anarchy” as a state of bloody chaos, its real definition — as promulgated by both its advocates and those who fear it — is the absence of the state itself. The state’s claim to legitimacy is, in other words, a tautology: “If you don’t have us, you’ll have … not us!”

While supporters of the state find contemplation of such a condition inadmissible in polite society today, it wasn’t so long ago that acknowledged great minds treated it as a possibly preferable option.

“Society in every state is a blessing,” wrote Thomas Paine in Common Sense, the manifesto which kicked off the American Revolution, “but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.”

Subsequent events have proven Paine right and then some. Even the Black Death of the 14th century, with its 75 million deaths, pales beside the body count of the modern state (assuming that the embryonic state played no role in its spread — not a safe assumption). One single state apparatus — Mao Zedong’s Communist regime — accounted for that many deaths in China alone in the 20th century. We may need to reconsider our choice of “state recognition” holidays — Halloween definitely deserves a spot in the running.

The first step toward understanding “anarchy” — the idea of an absence of the state — is understanding negative characterizations of it as attempts to shift the burden of proof. Supporters of the state know, instinctively at least, that their proposed solution can’t bear that burden if the standards of evidence include human life, human happiness and human freedom. They’re afraid that you might discover a way of living that can.

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory