"An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation." ~ John Marshall
The State: The God That Always Fails
This past Thursday, a series of explosions rocked London 's mass transit system. A group with ties to the nefarious al-Qaeda reportedly claimed responsibility for setting off the bombs that exploded at three different points of the London Underground railway, as well as on a double-decker bus that was decapitated by the blast. The official death toll is somewhere around 50 human lives lost as I write this, with as many as 700 injured.
After I heard of the news on the radio, I went online in search of any further developments, surfing first to Antiwar.com, which had posted a link to this MSNBC.com article on the then still developing story. Scrolling down through the piece, I was absolutely bowled over by this quote attributed to Sir Ian Blair, London 's Metropolitan Police Commissioner:
"We have been at a very high state of alert. Of course if there had been any kind of specific warnings we would have dealt with it."
In other words, "We have been telling all of you for the past four years that you should all be very, very careful, so you can't say that we didn't warn you, but just in case any of you taxpaying British subjects are wondering for what, exactly, you're paying absolutely massive tributes to Her Majesty's Government if it cannot perform the one legitimate responsibility of government, i.e., the protection of human lives and property, you can rest assured that had those ruthless, bloodthirsty, murdering savages been a bit more sporting and given us some advance notice as to exactly where they planned to set off their explosives, we most certainly would have foiled them!"
Amazing. Absolutely amazing. Fifty people have lost their lives, and hundreds more have been seriously injured, many of them maimed and crippled for life, no doubt, and all this government security bureaucrat could offer is lame excuses. This is only the latest incident in the long and sordid litany of the State's failures to protect the very individuals from whom it forcibly expropriates wealth, which begs some very important questions: Why do we even have statist power structures in first place? Why do we have governments? What useful purpose do they serve?
According to the supporters of statism, it is necessary to confer upon a group of individuals a legalized monopoly on the use of force so that those particular individuals can dedicate their time to protecting the innocent and law-abiding from all the very, very bad predators of this world. Anti-statists are quick to point out, quite correctly, the muddleheaded contradiction inherent in that philosophy (i.e., that the group of individuals called 'government' will inevitably use their monopoly on force to aggrandize themselves at the expense of others).
Irrational versus rational thinking aside, however, consistent with their view of government, the statists usually profess that protecting individuals and property is the most basic and most legitimate function of government. This, in fact, is the only possible rationalization that they can offer in order to justify government's existence that at least appears on the surface to be halfway plausible. If they were ever to open their eyes and admit the obvious, which is that government is inherently inept when it comes to protecting human lives and property, they would then be at the end of their rope, as they simply would no longer have any excuse whatsoever to justify the massive looting of private wealth to support the State, that is, to keep that particular group of individuals empowered with a monopoly on the use of force and violence over the rest of the population. When it comes to the 'public service' of 'national defense,' the State is pretty damn lousy at it, as demonstrated once again by Thursday's bombings in London .
Let us for the sake of time just set aside our own U.S. Federal Megastate's long list of past failures to protect our fellow Americans, such as its egregious lapse in protecting the civilians on board the Lusitania one fateful night in 1915, which it deliberately thrust into harm's way by using the passenger liner to ship war materiel to England through waters infested with German U-Boats, unbeknownst to the passengers and in spite of its self-declared 'neutrality' relating to the so-called 'Great War.'
Let's for the moment overlook Uncle Sam's massive failure to protect his own employees and property at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, or the ample evidence to support the thesis that the U.S. State deliberately failed to notify its military personnel at Pearl Harbor of the impending Japanese attack and actually allowed it to go forward, the only apparent reason for this being so that it could have a pretext for entering the newly revived Great War in order to assist Franklin Roosevelt's good buddy, 'Uncle Joe' Stalin, in seizing vast new territories and tens of millions of new slaves. After all, this is only an article, and the State's miserable record of failing to protect the citizenry could fill volumes.
Let us instead for the moment focus specifically on government's latest efforts at national and international 'defense,' that is, protecting the innocent and law-abiding from terrorists.
At a time when the U.S. State had been seizing hundreds of billions of dollars per year from its subjects for the express purpose of protecting them from external threats, and billions more for the functions of gathering 'intelligence' on emerging threats, 19 Islamist fanatics armed with nothing but box-cutters brought down the World Trade Center and did serious damage to the U.S. military's own global headquarters, using commandeered commercial jet liners as their weapons of mass destruction. Subsequently, videotapes of Osama bin Laden laughing and gloating over the mass slaughter and warning Americans of further attacks to come were broadcast over national television.
The U.S. and British governments' first response to all this'which came nearly an entire month after the attacks'was to send many thousands of their soldiers into Afghanistan , which was preceded by massive bombing sorties that further pummeled an already war-ravaged country. If the plan would have been to hunt down bin Laden and his circle of cronies who were responsible for the financial and logistical support for the 9-11 attacks and put bullets in their heads, most Americans would undoubtedly have found such a goal to be perfectly worthy of support, with only very few of them expressing any objections. It should be quite clear by now, however, that invading Afghanistan had absolutely nothing to do with finding bin Laden. The U.S. State still hasn't found him nearly four years after they first landed troops there, and the bureaucrats rarely mention him anymore but in brief passing. This begs some very serious questions, i.e., how hard are they really trying? Or, is the State just simply incompetent when it comes to finding and punishing the actual individuals responsible for horrific crimes?
The objective in invading Afghanistan turned out instead to be to impose upon it by force of arms a system of government'one based on that most hallowed of secular theologies, democracy'as preferred by our wise and omniscient rulers in Washington , D.C. and London , England . Many individual Afghans died in the process, individuals who had absolutely nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks. Osama bin Laden, meanwhile, offers up the occasional commentary on American politics, replete with Daily Show-style jokes. ('Unlike what Bush says that we hate freedom, let him tell us why didn't we attack Sweden , for example.')
After propping up their puppet regime in Kabul and obnoxiously congratulating themselves for it endlessly, U.S. and British bureaucrats then set their sights on that old stand-by, Iraq, and for the second time in about a dozen years launched a massive attack against a country that had never fired a single shot against a single American or Englishman except in instances of self-defense. Though the invasion itself turned out to be a relative 'cakewalk' (except for those who died, of course)'which wasn't too surprising considering that it followed a dozen years of starving the Iraqi population of food and medicine with draconian trade sanctions favored by the U.S. and the U.K. that would have made Stalin proud'the ensuing occupation has turned out to be anything but, with very motivated 'insurgents' setting off bombs and picking off U.S. troops virtually every day (in other similar circumstances throughout history, such fighters were usually referred to as 'rebels,' if anyone remembers the term anymore.)
Tens of thousands of people'that's tens of thousands of individual human beings who had absolutely nothing to do with the 9-11 attacks'have been slaughtered, crippled, hobbled and maimed in the name of the U.S. State's perverse and bizarre ideas of 'justice' and 'defense,' which means killing virtually anyone except the specific individuals actually responsible for instigating the initial attacks. And why take this approach? Why, to forcibly convert other countries to democratic systems of government. How or why that should have any deterrent effect on terrorism has never been adequately articulated by the War Party, which is because there is no evidence whatsoever to support their theory. None. But yet, democracy, say the wareaucrats in so many words, is a god that must always be blindly served, obeyed and eternally satiated with blood sacrifices, rationality be damned.
However, it is pretty obvious to anyone who prefers reality and reason to the State's blood-drenched fantasies that this bloody crusade for global democracy has deeply motivated terrorists and new terrorist recruits to increase their attacks on civilian populations, rather than deter them, as evidenced by the bombings in Madrid , Spain in March 2004, and Thursday's terrorist blitz in London .
The safety and security of human beings is just far too important to be left up to governments.
If, say, I had contracted a private security firm to protect my property 24-7, and a gang of cold-blooded killers were successful in breaking into my house and killing some of my family, then obviously that alone would be enough for me to inform that company that their services were no longer required, and I would also demand some kind of refund for their failure to deliver the service contracted (though that may depend upon the negotiated terms of the contract into which I had freely entered). But if that firm had subsequently blown up the houses of two or three of my innocent neighbors in the course of their efforts to catch the killers, I would think that company to be managed by a bunch of homicidal whack-jobs, and I would be scared out of my wits imagining what they would do to me some day, should they ever decide on the basis of some whim that I am merely expendable 'collateral damage' in their prosecution of their twisted sense of justice. I may also be fearful of what my neighbors may wish to do to me, considering I was the one who contracted those people in the first place, and that the indiscriminate bombing was ostensibly carried out in the name of catching the killers of my family. I think that I would be quite motivated to join my neighbors in somehow stopping the trigger-happy crazies running this so-called 'security' business.
However, in a society lacking a formal State authority, I really don't think that the above hypothetical scenario could happen. In an open and competitive marketplace for defensive and security services that would very likely exist in place of government-provided defense and security, the business entities offering such services would have every incentive to err on the side of caution and to utilize their resources as economically as possible. The extent of their profits would depend upon how many clients willingly contract their services, which in turn would depend upon their reputation for successfully delivering those services. This is a stark contrast to the State, which claims an unlimited right to plunder the population to finance its monopoly on national defense, regardless of how poorly it provides that service. In the anarcho-capitalist model, if a terrorist bomb destroys a client's property, pathetic excuses and faux-inspirational rhetoric would not suffice; there would always be someone else competing for the opportunity to provide a better quality service.
The greatest fringe benefit of purely market-based defense to my mind, however, would be to see the government's practice of endlessly meddling in the internal affairs of other countries come to an end. As long as Americans and Britons continue to consent to Uncle Sam's and John Bull's self-proclaimed legal 'right' to steal from their subjects and create money out of thin air ad infinitum, the two of them will always claim an eternal blank check to invade foreign countries and slaughter foreigners as they choose, regardless of the actual guilt or innocence of those slaughtered. This indiscriminate killing inevitably inflames the kind of anti-West hatred that leads to the type of horrific tragedy we just saw in London , and it is always the innocent civilians, the ordinary folks who peacefully go about their own business to support themselves and their families, who unfortunately pay the ultimate price for their government's misguided policies. That is the kind of return they get for their forced investment in the State's security apparatus.
When it comes to defense and security, it's high time to give government the pink slip.