Restoring Confidence


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August 3, 2007

That government is best which governs not at all. ~ Thoreau

Recently I read an article based on the premise that Americans need to 'restore confidence' in their political government. I've read many calls to man the barricades, usually written by people who I would not expect to find at any barricades, but I can't recall seeing one justified by restoring confidence in the state before. My immediate response to the premise was, why? Why should we have any confidence in the state whatsoever? The state has a 100% failure rate in history.

William S. Lind, in an article entitled How To Win In Iraq, writes, 'That objective ' restoring a state in what is now the stateless region of Mesopotamia ' must become our new definition of victory.' He would have us believe that the murderous conditions in Iraq are the normal conditions of mankind without a state, the standard statist argument for the last eight millennia, while ignoring the struggle for state-like power at the heart of it. That one gang of thugs will win is obvious; that it will not be our gang of thugs is likely, but what is the prize for winning? The premise here is that the state owns everything, the people, the land, the resources, and the tools, and that only the state can negotiate the sale or transfer of its property.

Somalia . I urge you to read the article by Michael van Notten (The book is here.) on Somalia written before the recent US-instigated invasion by Ethiopia . A stateless region, with a fine port and maybe oil, is intolerable to states, especially if the region is thriving. It sets a bad example and tax-paying citizens of states might move there. Every free-nation project that I'm aware of has foundered on the determined opposition of established states.

There is an ancient story to be told on this subject. Unfortunately I only know pieces of it because it's not a popular subject among scholars. The Harappan Civilization on the Indus River was an agricultural and trading society which built large cities but had no state. They were ruined by global warming. The Minoan Civilization which flourished on Crete at about the same time was also an agricultural and trading society which built large cities but had no state. They were overrun by barbarian Mycenaean warriors from mainland Greece . One might say that the spontaneous rise of economic government ended around 1500 BC and that state coercion has ruled ever since.

That's not entirely true. We see the spontaneous emergence of commercial centers during the Middle Ages, particularly Venice and Amsterdam . Hong Kong and Singapore rose in more recent times, as did the startling prosperity of the Arab Emirates. What we are seeing in Russia and in China is what happens when the state relents and allows the people a modicum of freedom and some protection of property by law. It looks like we Americans are going to see first-hand what happens when the state reverses its traditional policy of liberty and justice.

Just when the 'unitary presidency,' our current euphemism for dictator, seems to be firmly enough established for other politicians to lust for the office, here comes Ron Paul to publicly condemn the whole idea. Should I abandon my own condemnation of the state as an idea that never works, and register to vote? Would we be better off with a benign politician in office? There is no historical justification for thinking so. No, this state will collapse like all of the others, with or without Dr. Paul, and I will not help to restore confidence in the concept.

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Robert Klassen's picture
Columns on STR: 14

Robert Klassen retired from a career in respiratory therapy, and is the author five books, two of which describe a solution to political government.  Please visit his website.