The overall sentiment... will be appreciated by many of the readers of this column. The idea that these abuses are endemic to government itself, however, and not just examples of the abuses of tyrannical governments...well, that's a harder pill to swallow.
Last week we covered the false dialectic between nationalism and regionalism that is leading us inevitably toward a globalist nightmare. Globalism is exposed at last as nothing more than an extension of the nationalist urge; the desire to consolidate political and economic power in the hands of an elite few. It operates on the same principles and resorts to the same justifications for its existence. Both ideologies believe in organizing society under the purview of a centralized authoritarian system to which individuals must sacrifice their natural rights for the promised benefits of collective government. Both claim their authority comes from a "consent of the governed" and represents the "will of the people." Both make up their own arbitrary rules about how that consent is gauged or how people can shuffle the deck of figurehead representatives in that governmental structure. They only really differ on the jurisdictional boundaries of their presumed authority.
To fundamentally change the system, we have to question some of the core beliefs that has led us down this road. And none of these core beliefs is more fundamental than the belief in government.
Our entire lives we have been taught to believe that society without government is impossible. As in the conversation above (or the Pierre-Joseph Proudhon quotation that it's based on), many people can't even comprehend the idea that someone can be against both Candidate A and Candidate B (and even Candidate C through Z!). "But...But...isn't that...anarchy?" they ask, voice lowered and quavering lest someone overhear the pronouncement of the dangerous word.
Ah, yes, anarchism. A word soaked in blood and painted in flaming red letters in the imagination of the same public that has been taught that voting for their next ruler is their noblest and most sacred duty. This association between anarchy and violence is by no means new; even in 1929 the public's automatic fright of the word itself was so strong that Russian-born anarchist philosopher Alexander Berkman felt he had to respond to it. That was the year he penned "Is Anarchism Violence?" in which he wrote:
"Anarchism is the ideal of such a condition; of a society without force and compulsion, where all men shall be equals, and live in freedom, peace, and harmony.
"The word Anarchy comes from the Greek, meaning without force, without violence or government, because government is the very fountainhead of violence, constraint, and coercion.
"Anarchy therefore does not mean disorder and chaos, as you thought before. On the contrary, it is the very reverse of it; it means no government, which is freedom and liberty. Disorder is the child of authority and compulsion. Liberty is the mother of order."
This is anarchism from the point of view of an anarchist: a society without compulsion where order is the natural outgrowth of freedom. Again, to those who have been taught that government is the fountainhead of law and order, it is almost incomprehensible that order (let alone peace and harmony) is to be achieved by the dissolution of government. And again, our indoctrination must be challenged directly.
Hillary Clinton should not become president.
"Oh, so you think Jeb would be any better?"
Jeb Bush should not become president.
"What? You're a Cruz supporter?"
Ted Cruz should not become president.
"Oh, I see. You want Warren to win."
Elizabeth Warren should not become president.
Rand Paul should not become president.
"Surely you don't mean to vote for Joe Biden?"
I couldn't vote even if I wanted to, which I certainly do not. I'm not American.
"Oh, I get it. You're Canadian. So you're going to vote for Justin Trudeau this fall."
Justin Trudeau should not become prime minister.
"What? You think Harper is a good prime minister?"
Harper should not be prime minister.
"You're some sort of fringe supporter, then. What is it? A Green? A Communist? New Democrat?...Bloc Québécois?!"
No, no, no and no.
Not in the sense you mean it.
"Oh, I give up."
Well that's the first sensible thing you've said.
Listeners to my "Well-Read Anarchist" podcast will already be familiar with this memorable quotation from the first self-described anarchist, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon:
"To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality."
The overall sentiment of this passage will be appreciated by many of the readers of this column. The idea that these abuses are endemic to government itself, however, and not just examples of the abuses of tyrannical governments...well, that's a harder pill to swallow.
But it needs to be understood that government itself, the very concept, is founded on injustice. Like a reverse Midas, everything it touches is spoiled by the fact that it comes into this world steeped in the original sin of its foundation, the logical contradictions that we have all been taught to ignore which form the heart of its self-justification. As Lysander Spooner explains in his classic work, "No Treason":
"...[T]wo men have no more natural right to exercise any kind of authority over one than one has to exercise the same authority over two. A man's natural rights are his own against the whole world; and any infringement of them is equally a crime whether committed by one man or by millions; whether committed by one man calling himself a robber (or by any other name indicating his true character) or by millions calling themselves a government."
The issue, then, is not whether this or that government (or this or that president) is likely to treat its subjects any better or worse than another, but whether these "subjects" are really "subjects" at all. How, after all, did these governments come into existence in the first place? Where did their authority over the land between their (arbitrarily defined) borders originate? What right do they have to rule over these "subjects" and what makes the "subjects" beholden to their laws? The simple truth, of course--the secret, plainspoken truth that must never be uttered lest it bring down the foundations of our society--is that no would-be ruler, whether a single individual or a million, has any such authority over another.
This has been demonstrated in various ways by various writers over the centuries. In "No Treason," Spooner himself famously destroys the usual bases for arguing the supremacy of the U.S. constitution over the "citizens" of the U.S. government. A more contemporary speaker on this subject who puts the argument in clear, plainspoken English is Larken Rose, author of "The Most Dangerous Superstition." He has articulated these ideas brilliantly in videos like "The Tiny Dot" and "The Jones Plantation," as well as in essays like "My Deprogramming" where he writes:
"By trying to reconcile contradictions in my own political beliefs, I proved to myself that 'government' can NEVER be legitimate. It can never have 'authority.' However necessary it supposedly is, and however noble the stated goal might be, I eventually realized that it is utterly impossible for anyone to acquire the right to rule others, even in a limited, 'constitutional' way.
"There are several ways to prove this, and each of them is astonishingly simple. For example, if a person cannot delegate a right he doesn't have, then it is impossible for those in 'government' to have any rights that I do not personally have. (Where and how would they have acquired such super-human rights?) Furthermore, unless human beings can actually ALTER morality by mere decree, then all "legislation" is pointless and illegitimate. If one accepts the principle of non-aggression, then 'government' is logically impossible, because a 'government' without the right to tax, regulate, or legislate (which are all threats of aggression) is no 'government' at all."
This leads, then, to a very simple and clear mission. Not one of voting in a better ruler, or even revolting against the current form of government in order to institute another, but of effecting the revolution of consciousness that is necessary for the subjects of oppression to realize they are not subjects at all, but free human beings under no obligation whatsoever to follow the dictates of these governmental structures. As Rose puts it:
"So now I spend much of my time trying to persuade others to give up the cult of statism. I do not advocate abolishing 'government' any more than I advocate abolishing Santa Claus. I just want people to stop letting their perceptions and actions be so profoundly warped and perverted by something that DOES NOT EXIST, and never did. That is why I refer to the belief in 'government' and 'authority' as 'The Most Dangerous Superstition.' If people could give up that superstition, even if they did not otherwise become any more wise or compassionate, the state of society would drastically improve. I don't pretend to have the ability to make anyone more virtuous, but by pointing out to them the contradictions in their own belief systems--the very same contradictions I struggled with for years--I hope to help some of them reclaim ownership of themselves, so they can start thinking and acting as rational, sentient beings, instead of as the well-trained livestock of malicious masters."
It is not 'government,' after all, that is the bugbear of the people; it is people's belief in the authority of whatever gang of criminals dons the mantle of that title. A man who believes his pronouncements to be laws is rightly called delusional; a man in the halls of "government" who believes the same is hailed as a "legislator." A robber is rightly castigated for depriving people of their rightful possessions; a robber who proclaims himself a member of the "government" is lauded for his robberies. A murderer is rightly despised for depriving a single person of their right to life; a murderer wearing the uniform of the "government" is praised as a hero for spilling the blood of the enemy. Unravel the thread of this imaginary authority and you unravel the thread of statism.
According to the statist, people are inherently deceitful and wicked, and thus some of those people should be allowed to rule over others to stop them from being deceitful and wicked to each other. Also, people tend to rob or kill others, so some people should be given the authority to rob and kill to stop those others from robbing and killing each other.
The inherent illogic of this position was described perhaps most simply by Edward Abbey:
"Anarchism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others."
Which brings us back to the beginning. The idea that any individual or group of individuals has a legitimately granted authority over any other individual or group against that group's will--i.e. government--is a delusion, and a dangerous one at that. The idea that voting for Candidate B because the way in which he proposes to rule over you is more palatable than Candidate A's plan for ruling over you fundamentally misses the point. Even in the best case scenario, the one in which you vote for Candidate B and he actually gets into office (and even assuming the presidency was an actual position of authority and not the bought-and-paid-for puppet of the banksters and their corporate cronies), you are still a slave. The fact that you put the chains around your own neck willingly does not change the nature of the relationship.
In Spooner's words:
"The principle that the majority have a right to rule the minority practically resolves all government into a mere contest between two bodies of men, as to which of them shall be masters and which of them slaves: a contest, that — however bloody — can never, in the nature of things, be finally closed so long as man refuses to be a slave."
This is what the Election cycle is ultimately about: who will be masters and who will be slaves. And this is why the ultimate power of the individual is in refusing to be a slave and refusing to accept the notion that voting in a kinder slave master is the answer to the abuses he suffers.
Voting for Candidate B is not the solution. Our true power lies in non-compliance with the dictates of would-be authority and the best possible election would be the one in which no one voted.
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