0109 The Constant Enemy of Liberty
(audio player below article)
The Constant Enemy of Liberty
A compilation of articles by Ben Stone
The State As God
The State is a mystical, nonhuman entity that exists only in the agreed minds of humans. By this I mean to say, you cannot touch the State, you cannot hear the State speak, the State is not an object that you can point to and say, “Look. There’s the State.” People believe in the State therefore people act on behalf of those beliefs and the actions of those people become the actions of the State. Most people don’t think about the State, they simply assume it has always been and will always be. However true believers in the State are fanatical followers willing to do anything, even kill, to perpetuate their cause. In The West, as the power and influence of the clergy diminished, the power and influence of the State stepped in to fill all the services previously provided by the church; that is to say, the scholarly leadership in science, culture, law, and economics. Eventually people began looking to the State to define morals and ethics, allowing the laws and regulations of the State to supersede those of the clergy.
Not long ago the State redefined the public view of such things as alcoholic beverages, prostitution, and gambling. Turning their backs on their morals, people allowed the laws of the State to define acceptable and unacceptable social behavior. Rather than depending on a community’s ability to define itself, people allowed the State to sweep in and force all communities to adopt the State’s definition of acceptable morals. This expansion into society continued as the State began to directly compete with charities in supporting the poor and the disadvantaged. However, the State never competes fairly. As is always the case, the State quietly creates a problem. Private citizens defer to the State to solve the problem rather than facing up to their own responsibility, and as the State remedies the issue it created to begin with, it grabs a little bit more power and authority from the people, but in the end the problem is always worse after the State solves it. Currently there’s a push among some very religious folks in the US, demanding the State step in and define marriage. As their confidence shifts from their traditional theology to the theology of State salvation, they enthusiastically abandon the family and the clergy as the guardians of marriage and look to legislators to decide morals. This should be a terrifying thought to anyone who understands the nature of the State, but most terrifying when one realizes that the actions of the State are simply the acts of fanatical individuals with unblinking devotion to a cause and no fear of repercussion.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that traditional theology is being supplanted with a State centered religion. Although the thought of the deification of the State should be disturbing to both the religious and the non-religious, it should come as no surprise. The State is or seeks to be god-like in every aspect. It is our Protector, our Guardian, and for many people, our Provider. Information about the State is hidden and secret while the State itself makes every effort to know every bit of information about us and all of our dealings. All learning flows from the State (schools and media), and it assumes ultimate ownership of all things by its authority to tax, regulate, confiscate, and control the movements and exchanges of all goods, services, and property, including people. It assures us that rights are given to us by the State and the State can take those rights away as it sees fit. It changes and shifts history to fool us into believing that the State has always been and will always be. The State feigns omniscience, seeks omnipresent and lusts for omnipotence. The State is alas, a jealous god and ultimately will have no other gods before it! The State, in all its disjointed manifestations around the world, will grow and devour everything including its lesser selves until it becomes One State as god on Earth.
When this comes to pass, the atheist will be denied his logical position of skepticism. How will he stand and shout the challenge, “Show me your god!” when the Arm of the State can simply reach out and snatch him away into a reprogramming ward. Then the cry of, “There is no god!” will become, “There is no god but the State.” As Winston Smith admitted in 1984, “Two plus two is five.”
Am I then saying that this is the fate of mankind? Am I prophesying the loss of the individual and the birth of One Assimilated Beast with its many parts denigrated to slavery?
Yes and no.
The State has some design flaws.
Consider Ludwig von Mises and his life’s work exposing the endemic failures of socialism. To date, no one has been able to provide an accurate intellectual refutation of his position. Mises went to great pains to carefully dissect socialism and prove that the seeds of its destruction were part of its design. For example, socialism cannot peaceably coexist with a free market and yet socialism entirely depends on a free market because it has no mechanism to determine prices. Without a price mechanism efficient production is impossible. You end up with dramatic over production and shortages at the same time. But what Mises doesn’t clearly point out, although its not very well hidden either, is that his description of socialism is at the same time a description of the State itself, and that the economic structure that the State possesses is in fact socialism. Therefore the State is economically unstable and is much the same as a cathedral of cards, continually falling apart and only standing at all because its worshipers throw their lives into keeping it propped up.
So the State has an economic flaw and is unsustainable.
The State has another flaw.
Just as Mises proved the lack of a price mechanism causes economic instability, Lysander Spooner proved the State has no rightful method of continuous authority.
A State exists either by brute force or by contract with its subjects. It should be clear that any State that is founded on brute force alone is a dead State waiting to hit the floor. Assuming no secondary contract based State is supporting it, the brute State will quickly revert to revolution and be replaced by a contract State by its subjects, generally within a generation or two of its inception.
As Spooner so thoroughly proved, any contract authorizing the authority of the State can only legally apply to those in agreement with that contract. The moment the State attempts to enforce its will upon some party not in agreement to that contract, it negates the value of having a contract and begins the slide into a brute State. And the State by its very nature will always break that contract. Additionally since a contract has no legal means of binding future generations the contract based State is a temporary arrangement at best, doomed to become a brute State.
So the State has no long-term legal foundation and is therefore legally unstable.
I shall add just one more flaw in the design of the State, however I could go on like this for pages.
The State is entirely lacking a mechanism to determine morality.
I would contend that humans have two mechanisms working hand in hand to produce morality. We have a sense of natural law, a right to property, hard wired into our brains before birth. Some would debate this issue, but at this time in this article I will not. It is a fact almost to obvious to address. In addition to this innate morality in property, we learn moral lessons as we interact on a day-to-day basis with humans through the reward/punishment system.
The State has no natural born appreciation for the right of property because it is not a living being. It can inherit no genetic traits from its parents because it has no biological parents. It is a figment of the imagination. And since its actions are the actions of individual people, when those actions cause harm the State is immune to punishment because only the individuals can be punished or rewarded. The State can feel nothing so it is incapable of learning a single moral lesson.
So the State is an imaginary entity made up in the minds of humans, that strives to be not just a god (it is that already) but it desires to be The God. The State lacks a functional economic structure, a legal basis for its existence, and the ability to determine morality.
It is therefore unstable and doomed to collapse of its own weight as soon as it consumes enough of its host.
The Birth of the Beast
A long long time ago, in a very fertile valley located near a pass through the mountains that the caravans used to take …… WAIT!
This is no fairy tail!
There is a place we call the Dead Sea, but 10,000 years ago that valley was called Reah, which is Canaanite for fragrant. It was also called Yeriho, which was Hebrew from the same root word and may refer to date palms. Today we pronounce the word Jericho. But in those days the valley of the Dead Sea was a rich Neolithic age settlement supported by productive farms growing dates, figs, grapes, olives, hemp, poppies, and a brand new food crop that would change humanity, wheat! Located in a most fortunate position near the entrance to the mountain pass that lead to the Mediterranean Sea, was a natural outcropping of rocks that made the perfect robber’s roost. As far as we can tell, around 9000 years ago a gang of thieves fortified themselves in that robber’s roost and began raiding the surrounding valley and the caravans passing through the valley. Going strictly by archeological evidence, with the construction of an early tower and wall that accompanied it, we can surmise the State was born at that rocky outcropping, the oldest defensive structure we have found to date. From this key fortification the robbers could sweep out and “tax” the countryside as the harvests were brought in by the farm villages that dotted the wide fertile plain. Caravans traveling from the rich Mesopotamian farm villages to trade their wears on the Mediterranean coast were harassed by the robbers unless the “protection fee” was paid.
The account above flies in the face of the myth most people believe about the birth of the State, but that’s simply because most people have chosen to believe the lies of the State rather than the obvious evidence. The myth of the birth of the State asserts that groups of people were unable to govern themselves, constantly fighting and bickering among themselves, and therefore chose to relegate their own sovereignty to a group of strongmen, chiefs, or priests who wisely guided them to civilization. Then somehow, through some odd accident, the State became oppressive. This myth has been supported by court prophets, court historians, and a variety court jesters since the first mobster, drunk on his own ego and the blood of his victims, put a wreath on his fat head and declared himself king. It doesn’t matter in the least that actual archeological evidence to the contrary must be ignored or twisted and distorted beyond recognition in order to hold such a myth as the truth. It doesn’t matter that respected figures in history have openly refuted this myth; people embrace it rather than face the truth.
Think about the following information:
A considerable amount of archeological sites have been found, not only in the Middle East but also all over Africa, Europe, and Asia from prior to 7000bc, the age of the first tower and wall at Jericho. The next evidence for a State didn’t appear for another 3000 years at Uruk in ancient Sumer, the opposite end of the “Fertile Crescent”. And what is that evidence? A wall and tower fortified structure with evidence of a garrison, planted squarely on the conjunction of trading routes separating fertile farming cultures and the sea. Uruk, like Jericho, was the perfect location for a robber’s roost.
With archeological sites where there is no evidence of a State, e.g. the valleys and plains of the Dead Sea area prior to the emergence of the fortifications at Jericho, every little settlement, village, or farm maintained caves, tunnels and dugouts to stash their harvest and keep it safe from pests like bugs, animals and thieves. Also each settlement, village, or farm grew and traded a variety of crops without any one crop dominating production. But when the State appeared on the scene, stash holes became a place to hide people and farming shifted to the over-production of grain.
None of the early fortified robber’s roosts or even the walled cities would have had the capacity to hold, sustain, and protect the entire population of the surrounding tax producing communities. In those days the city walls would have only protected the elite and those who directly served them.
If Jericho was a walled, towered garrison for 3000 years before any other State became strong enough to present a challenge, who were the inhabitants of Jericho afraid of? Why would they build a fortified garrison if no other State existed to threaten them?
As James C. Scott argues in his book The Art of Not Being Governed, every early State required two things to exist; an abundant supply of slaves and the over production of grain to feed the slaves.
Considering the above evidence, I conclude the early walled garrisons were built strictly for the protection of the mobsters who both preyed upon and feared the surrounding farm communities. After all, it hardly sounds to me like the stateless free people voluntarily surrendered their sovereignty to a group of strongmen, chiefs, or priests who wisely guided them to civilization. It sounds more likely to me that a Mafia-like group of thugs found it easier to hide behind walls and towers while stealing from the productive class, rather than the life of a highway man, robbing travelers while living in the wild and hiding behind rocks and trees. In other words, thugs too dishonest and lazy to be proper highwaymen invented the State, and so it remains today as it always has been since its birth on those fragrant palm covered valleys and plains 9000 years ago.
Grain Fed or Free Range
I admit freely, I’m a meat eater. Sure, I raise and eat vegetables and I love fruits and nuts, but given a choice I’ll take a well-prepared steak over almost any other food. That is assuming it’s a good cut of meat. Here the terminology gets a bit fuzzy. Referring to a “good cut” of meat can mean simply the way the meat is cut and where the meat comes from on the animal. But it can also refer to the way the livestock was raised and what it was fed during its life. For example, grass raised beef can be different from free-range beef and either can be grain finished or grass finished. Additionally the use of antibiotics and growth hormones should be considered when discussing quality meats. Some beef suppliers now use hormone implants and I don’t even want to think about what that will mean thirty years from now. Sometimes the simple act of learning the livestock handling and slaughter practices of the industry is enough to cause a person to give up meat entirely!
My point in bringing it up is to demonstrate the attitude of one beef consumer. There are a lot of times that I buy beef from the store and I don’t take into consideration what it was fed prior to slaughter. Other times I may find myself ordering a steak or even a burger from a restaurant without thinking for a moment about this issue. However, if money and convenience were not a consideration and I were afforded the luxury of choice, I would prefer eating beef that was raised without weird additives in its diet or injected into its body. I would prefer eating beef that had spent its life belly deep in a variety of grasses and then processed in the cleanest facility by caring people. And I would venture to say, most beef consumers could agree with me.
Interestingly enough, the State feels differently about its livestock. Every indication I can detect points to the conclusion that the State wants its livestock grain fed and drugged into a stupor from cradle to grave. And just to clarify, when I say that the State wants its livestock drugged I’m referring to the kinds of drugs that keep the livestock docile and working, not the kind of drugs that make the livestock happy or overly relaxed. Of course the State doesn’t actually eat its livestock, it utilizes them as beasts of burden. So perhaps if I didn’t eat beef and only used it for raw labor I might prefer my livestock pumped full of drugs and corn fed as well.
No doubt you think you have figured out where I’m going with this topic. You think I’m going to make the argument that the State considers its subjects to be its livestock. Or perhaps you think I’m going to talk about how the State controls its subjects by pushing some drugs and forbidding others. Actually, I assume that if you are reading this you already understand those to be the case. What I’m going to focus on is how the State treats its livestock and to demonstrate this I want to talk about how the State got its start and how it grew.
As with many topics concerning the State, it’s handy to look at the grandfather of the State, Ancient Jericho the oldest known city-state. There are older settlements in many locations, but Jericho is unique in more than one sense. A simple settlement or even an early town is a far cry from having that magical evilness required to spark the birth of the State. Jericho had a collection of perfect ingredients that not only sparked that Evil, it nurtured it along for thousands of years before any other State appeared, and then kept the State alive when it died everywhere else.
Jericho was located on a rocky outcropping in the huge fertile valley of the Jordan River. For thousands of years the climate was mild and the Jordan valley was well watered. From the most rustic walled structure and with the use of hit and run cavalry tactics, a relatively small mob of thieves could hold the entire valley and all its farming inhabitants in fear. Additionally, Jericho’s location was critical in controlling one of the mountain passes to the west which separated the Fertile Crescent from the Mediterranean Sea. Having then, a secure fortification, a steady income from extortion gleaned from travelers on the road, and a local supply of crops, Jericho only needed one more thing to become a State; working livestock. You see a State cannot exist without slaves.
It is interesting to note that it was roughly three thousand years after its birth in Jericho before the State began popping up in other regions. For three thousand years the same advances in technology were happening in other areas, perhaps even faster, as mankind leapt from the Neolithic Age to the Bronze Age, but without the presence of the State. But around the time Jericho went from a robber’s roost to a proto-state a notable change took place in the way the Jordan River Valley was farmed. Fig orchards and goatherds gave way to the over production of grain. Rather than a field supporting 20 goats and a small family of 10, the same field could support 20 goats and 100 people. Of course it didn’t take 100 workers to farm one field. One small family per field was still plenty of labor. So began the blessing and the curse of Jericho. The thieves grew rich in grain, but they needed an entire economy to steal from if they were to have the freeloading life they wanted. They needed raw labor to build more fortifications, skilled craftsmen to produce goods for trade and armed forces to collect the taxes and escort goods to new markets. But how could a few thieves hold such an organization together? They needed something at least as magical as the new farming innovation. They needed to somehow tie the legitimacy of the State to the surge in prosperity that grain farming had produced, and they needed to convince the growing population to obey and not simply turn on them and kill them. A deal had to be struck and a myth had to be created. A formula was found that would satisfy both the thieves on the mound of Jericho and the farm owners.
A deal was cut and a lie was told and the landowners would be in on the scam. The landowners could enjoy a life of leisure and slaves captured from the stateless people in other valleys would replace their labor. And to hold the whole scheme in place, a god was usurped. A nomadic wandering shepherd god named Dumuzid had been popular with the tribal people for thousands of years. Carved figures of him were scattered throughout the caves and hilltops. So the landowners of the valley claimed to be descendants of Dumuzid and the thieves of Jericho became his priests. The shepherd god became a god of food and vegetation and eventually the god of grain and then bread. As was the case with many of the gods of antiquity, the name changed over time and distance along with the particular qualities of the deity. But the formula stayed the same as a number of later city-states adopted this myth of Dumuzid as their original founder. As time passed the scam worked in Ur and then Babylon, at the mouth of the Nile and even far away Kashi on the banks of the Ganges. The Greek half-god Heracles was a later version of the same myth as he was a popular source of legitimacy for reigning Peloponnese families. So the landowners base the legitimacy of their land titles on the story that they are descendants of the god or half-god. The former thieves are now the priests and they live in the fortification, now called a temple where sacrifices and tribute are given.
With the gods on their side, armies rode out of their fortress and began raiding the tribal populations of other valleys, bringing them back to work the fields and serve the needs of the infant State. It’s likely that working on the farms of the State wasn’t much worse than working any other farm at the time, so there would have been little reason to risk running away. Also its likely that when the armies of the State raided an area they captured whole families and simply transplanted them. This was the method observed among developing States in Southeast Asia at and prior to the start of the colonial period. For their own safety, the landowners moved within the walls of the city while most of the slaves were kept out. If the slave population weakened or the State needed to expand it simply invaded its neighbors and took more slaves then expanded to new valleys. So we see that the earliest version of the State was born when the deified thieves in their fortified mound, united with the land owners (private business) and began using the over production of grain to feed and grow their slave population. Slaves not only worked the fields, they cut and stacked the rocks to build the city walls and towers that protected the elites. Whether by the use of rice, wheat, barley, or corn the State monopolized food production and made its livestock dependent upon the daily bread. This happened in conjunction with the occupation and control of the valleys and the plains through walled cities and sweeping cavalry strikes against any uprising.
The independent hill people, on the other hand, were not so easy to corral. They had food production methods that didn’t include the over production of grain. While some grain was in their diet, they relied on root and leaf vegetables, tree crops and nomadic animal herding. They didn’t need fortifications because their leaders didn’t rely on coercion. For defense against the State the hill people relied on direct hand-to-hand combat methods and keenly developed artillery weapons like the sling and the dart. Cavalry was near useless in the hill country and rows of infantry couldn’t maintain their ranks as rocks and other projectiles rained down from every direction. In the case of Jericho, the State could control the valleys and the trade routes but not the hills and mountains. Now we see why it was both symbolic and necessary for the biblical Joshua and his Israelites to crush Jericho before establishing their anarchical mountainous society that stood 500 years as a testimony of individual liberty and freedom. We see also why anarchical Israelites carried few shields or spears and used no chariots. They relied upon lightly armed individual skirmishers wielding sickle swords and slingers whizzing baseball-sized rocks at their enemies with deadly accuracy.
With time the State discovered that enticing new slaves with bread was more profitable than capturing them at the point of a lance. Cities began drawing new slaves in faster than the State could find work for them. That’s when the State was presented with the problem of too many citizen slaves. And this happens each time the State begins to reach a phase of maturity. But the State has discovered two methods of solving this glut of livestock; engage in war with another State, or divide your livestock into groups and encourage infighting until you can justify rounding up and murdering a minority group. Sometimes both methods are employed, but the result is the same. The gears of the slaughterhouse turn and the livestock die.
Like I said earlier, sometimes the simple act of learning the livestock handling and slaughter practices is enough to turn your stomach and change your view of the whole process.