"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant." ~ John Stuart Mill
Pickaxes, Sledgehammers and Plundering the Truth
Most libertarians and anarcho-capitalists spend the better part of their intellectual energy criticizing everything the state does, from 'helping' the poor to 'educating' children; from 'defending' the borders to 'regulating' trade; from 'keeping' the peace to 'upholding' the law. The general consensus is that the state sucks, leaving nothing but misery, poverty, and death among everything it touches. In reality, the state excels at rape, plunder, and murder.
In the last few years, the world has seen the destructive efficiency of the United States government. For the average American homeowner, to achieve a commensurate level of 'success' at home improvement would require them to remodel using nothing more than a pickaxe and a sledgehammer. The 'improvements' to the home would be obvious to all onlookers.
These last few years, Iraq has been remodeled with a pickaxe and a sledgehammer. The United States government, through its military, has effectively completed the razing of Iraq that began in the early 1990s. Of course, it's all Saddam Hussein's fault, because, rather than provide freedom, democracy, and prosperity for his people, he strove to increase his own power and build an arsenal of WMDs to unleash, through terrorist groups, on the freedom-loving people and nations of the West.
After all, it was he who destroyed water treatment facilities, power plants, schools and other infrastructure, and then refused to rebuild what he destroyed, just so he could have everything for himself. That's why the U.S. soldiers have to fix up so much stuff when they're not killing the bad guys the U. S. government claims are trying to ruin a future laced with milk and honey for all.
To those who waved the flag and supported conquest, the obvious is not so obvious. They still believe that a soldier's primary responsibility is to help people in need and to kill those who deserve to die for their sins against decency and humanity, as determined by the all-knowing state. They never stop to think about who really caused all that destruction that plagues the Iraqi people to this day.
The lack of fresh water, electricity, employment, adequate medical care, security, etc. have all been caused by the same people who are now attempting to fix everything and restore a sense of order to life in Iraq . The incidence of rape, plunder, and murder in Iraq is more acute today than when Saddam Hussein was waving his arm to adoring rent-a-crowds.
So what if Hussein tortured, disappeared, and murdered his political opponents and suspected enemies? The United States government routinely raids the homes, property, and person of its own citizens on spurious charges in the name of fighting bogus 'wars' on drugs and terrorism. It sends its minions across the globe to undermine 'rogue' governments. If necessary, it sanctions the arrest, torture, and murder of citizens of other states if those individuals are deemed to be citing insurrection and rebellion (committing acts of 'terrorism') against the host (oppressive dictatorship) government, always an 'ally' of the United States in the fight against worldwide evil.
Hussein's tactics were only different from those of the United States government on a matter of scale. To the extent he was able to get away with it for so long was a testament to his success as an administrator of state-monopolized force. The horrors we hear about now are based on the claims of individuals and groups the U.S. government allowed to be tortured and murdered, as a matter of political expediency, over the previous 30 years. When the U.S. government was essentially paying Hussein to rape, plunder, and murder, the same crowd today that applauds his removal was too preoccupied to notice.
Rape and murder committed domestically by the U.S. government is relatively rare. Perhaps, as the patriotic, flag-waving crowd would like to claim, we should view their absence as an indication of how superior our government is at protecting our freedoms, and how much better off the rest of the world would be if it would just emulate our system of government and its benevolent, selfless leadership.
Plunder is another issue, though. The U.S. government truly excels in plunder here at home. What rape and murder it cannot get away with it makes up for in the field of plunder.
Plunder takes many forms. Plunder, in its most common form, is taxation. All taxation. Plunder is also the agencies of force employed to ensure compliance with the collection of taxes. Plunder is the confiscations associated with enforcing drug laws, environmental laws, and eminent domain. Plunder is the regulatory burden placed on homeowners and business owners in how they use their property. In short, whenever the state takes anything from any individual without the individual's permission, plunder has been committed.
Last week, 45 Chilean soldiers died after being caught in a blizzard during a training exercise in the Andes Mountains . Scores of others nearly met the same fate. The soldiers who died were draftees. First the Chilean government plundered their freedom, then it plundered their lives. Who is responsible? Why, the field commanders who ordered the march, of course. No politicians will be blamed for passing the plundering-of-freedom-to-serve-the-state law. The scumbag president of Chile even plundered the sympathy of the nation by announcing three days of national mourning.
Closer to home, the most recent example of the dead being plundered for the benefit of the state is Pat Tillman. Recently is was brought to light that the official account of Tillman's death had been doctored, an outright lie created by the Pentagon in order to maximize the patriotic fervor and recruitment potential associated with the demise of an American 'hero' (not to mention provide cover for a prisoner-abuse scandal). The Pentagon created similar fantasies after the 'rescue' of heroine Private Jessica Lynch for many of the same reasons.
Say what you want about Tillman's decision to walk away from a lucrative football contract to kill people for the state, but the treatment of his corpse as nothing more than a trophy for the state's murderous objectives should be an indication of the contempt the state holds for those soldiers being killed daily. Tillman's family has figured out the scam being run by the state. His mother commented, after finding out the truth, that the government's handling of the incident was 'disgusting' and a 'sign of disrespect' towards her son.
Plundering of the truth is every bit as destructive as plundering life, liberty, and property. If it continues without challenge, the state only becomes emboldened to further destroy liberty and take property. In a way, plundering of the truth can be viewed as an essential precursor to plundering life, liberty, and property; at least it makes the effort easier. The Bush administration excels at plundering truth. How often has the administration's pronouncements and claims been proven to be outright lies? How much does the administration's behavior change after being caught committing more lies? If anything, the degree of lying only becomes more brazen.
Winston Churchill once said, 'Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.' Except of course if plundering the truth can be more beneficial. After all, why dance around the truth when using a pickaxe and a sledgehammer can be so much more effective at plundering the truth.