Civilized Society v2.0

Column by tzo.

Exclusive to STR

As I have written many times, I don’t believe that government is an absolute necessity for creating and maintaining a civilized society. In this essay, however, I would like to throw as many bones as possible to (not at) those who would take up for the loyal opposition. In fact, I will concede here for argument's sake that all the historical and empirical evidence used to illustrate the correlation between government and civil society over the last few millennia right on up to today is all true and irrefutable. You win: The only way we humans ever got civilized (to the extent that we actually are) was through the graces of government.

Quite often, this historical inevitability and current state of the world is the entirety of the ammunition carried and used by those who support the government-is-necessary idea. That’s how it is now and that’s how it’s always been, and it works. Certainly not perfectly, but it works.

Sure, some brief forays into government-less societies occasionally have sprung up, but for the most part, it's been governments all the way back. What did those trivial few government-less societies ever accomplish? Who has even heard of them? And more importantly, where are they now?


You see, if there has indeed been a competition of systems over the centuries, it seems that the overwhelming favorite and current leader is government-run society by a score of 867-3. And so the defense rests.

And my first counter to this line of argument involves playing the Human Progress card. Human beings had probably been longing to be able to fly from the time a bird was first observed soaring through the skies overhead. For thousands of years, this dream was acknowledged to be mere fantasy, and those who believed that it could some day actually be realized were ridiculed. And why not? All the empirical evidence throughout the entirety of all of human history showed that human flight was impossible.

And this assertion was absolutely correct right up until the time that it wasn’t. This phenomenon of “achieving the impossible” is what is commonly referred to as Human Progress: Doing for the first time what has never been done before. This is actually the norm for the human species, and it is currently happening all around you as you read this.

The plan to organize a society without government is just another challenge that Human Progress will eventually focus on and overcome. The problems involved with implementing it are not unsolvable. As in the case of powered flight, a body of knowledge has been building up over time. A thousand years ago, the leap to flight from the small base of knowledge was too great to make, but eventually that base built up until the leap became merely a small step that quite naturally could be taken.

Consider the processor that powers the device that is allowing you to read these words. A century ago, the very suggestion of the idea that perhaps a machine could one day be built that would be capable of performing a few billion calculations per second would be met with a certain measure of . . . incredulity.

Perhaps, my good sir, you should like to lie down and rest yourself for a moment. You don’t sound at all well.

But for those of us who have been pecking away at computer keyboards year after year, the progression to this point from a TRS-80 appeared logical and methodical and inevitable. Lots of little imperceptible degrees strung together. Imagining the entire leap from 1976 to 2013 would have been inconceivable, but guess what? It happened. The lesson? The inconceivable often becomes inevitable, and it does so through the magic of millions of tiny steps forward. Remember kids, the theme of today’s show is Human Progress, and even when it seems that it is leaping and bounding, it is merely making the small breakthrough step based on the millions of smaller steps that preceded it.

So let’s jump back into the original discussion concerning societies and governments and consider where we might end up, considering the path we are currently on.

I have acknowledged the possibility that perhaps it has always been nigh impossible to implement non-coercive social organization methods while fledgling cooperative groups grew from small gatherings into substantial social organizations, all the while having to be on the lookout for a well-organized horde of Mongols that may have come charging over a nearby hillside to derail things. Sure, ideal voluntary societies may have existed in the past—a collection of a few hundreds or even thousands of cooperating individuals that forewent any central coercive government—but if the Khan’s boys indeed were to have come thundering over the ridge with the intent to conquer, then that. was. that.

But hold on now—I'm getting a newsflash. This just in: We are no longer in the 13th century, or for that matter, the 20th. Please adjust your calculations and expectations accordingly.

We now have extremely large numbers of cooperating human beings connected not only geographically but also networked virtually through the intertubes. Millions and millions. This is a completely unparalleled event in all of human history. Information flows as never before, without having to be strained through government-approved filters. It is the printing press raised to the power of 100.

There are no longer any threats of invaders on horseback to overpower such numbers spread out all over the planet. There are no central control structures for anyone to seize. The targets are spread out and hidden and the network is redundant, flexible, can be virtually anonymous, and has no single point of control or failure. The game has changed dramatically. No—completely.

Most people still tend to cling to many antiquated ideas about human/property rights that are in large part irrational, illogical, and coercive, as this is all that anyone has ever been exposed to. And yes, perhaps these ideas were formed and became widespread out of sheer necessity, but that is no longer the case and people are beginning to wake up to this fact. These wavicle-connected networks of cooperating human beings are realizing that the greatest threat to them is from the very organizations that purport to exist in order to protect them from threats.

This coercion is no longer necessary and is being perceived for what it truly is—a crudely conceived and implemented protection racket, one that demands payment whether you want the service or not. It is quickly losing its credibility and is becoming a stale parody of itself as the cheap veneer wears off. The old ways of splitting people up by religion, by culture, by race, by ethnicity, by geographic location—all these antiquated divisions are eventually to be ignored. This is the key to solving the puzzle.

But without a government, who will protect us? Us? What “us”? Human beings are currently networked across the globe and can interact and trade with one another without anyone's assistance (or without anyone even knowing, if so desired), thank you very much. If I am in Texas and I have an associate in Kenya and another in Melbourne, then what does the question “Who will protect us?” even mean? How shall “we” be attacked? How can “our” wealth be pillaged?

This is the paradigm shift that is slowly seeping into brains all over the world, but it will take time to brew into something useful. Even in the more technologically advanced societies with their bleeding-edge-encrypted-network-digital-currency agorists, there are still many more locked back in the age of newspapers and three-channel television.

But after these rigid fossils die off (sorry to be so blunt), those already-dead ideas will go with them. The good news is that it is nearly impossible to transfer such a static and narrow view of the world to generations that have already surpassed those limits by the time they reach the age of seven. The old guard will go out kicking and screaming, and will perhaps cause as much damage as they can during their prolonged last tantrum, but they are soon to be history.

So let us thank them (only in this particular essay, with its generous bone-tossing and all) for creating government if that was indeed a necessity for getting us to where we are now. But government, if it truly did serve a valid purpose, is becoming ever more a hindrance and is no longer of much use to anyone.

In other words, the concrete has been successfully set and we now have a solid foundation laid, and so in order to move forward with the project, the concrete forms need to be removed. They served their purpose, but now the rest of the house needs to be put up.

So while we appreciate all you’ve allegedly done, dear government, your services here are no longer required. As with the oarsmen after the age of sail, your place will soon be consigned to the history books, no longer to be seen widespread in the real world under the sun.


So I urge you to not wait any longer and to consider signing up now for Civilized Society version 2.0 (beta) and begin enjoying the benefits of this major upgrade even as the remaining bugs get worked out before the official release date.

Civilized Society v2.0! Now coercion-free! Made with 100% organic human sovereignty! Brightens teeth and reduces itching and swelling! Now available as a free download whenever you decide to take your very own steps down this particular path of Human Progress. Don’t get left behind!

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tzo's picture
Columnist tzo
Columns on STR: 64

tzo now lives in your head.


Jim Davies's picture

Fabulous, Tzo, as usual.

Glock27's picture

**Paragraph 3: The imagination kick the mind and the mind kept dreaming and passing his dream on to others who picked up the dreamd then the hot air balloon was created. Marvelous achievement, but not quiet the original imagination (not the logic and reason). 18th century is the colosest I can get at the of the balloons emergence. But balloons is not the issue it is the over welcome stay of government. I like the line of thought, but i have a brick wall that says society can never copperrate on the level it needs to without some form of structure.
What I am reading here is a world at peace, total peace and many will know there can never be any peace until there is justice, perfect justice. TZO you did not address justice and how can any conversation of a lack of government or absence of government ever be complete without some form of justice the people can go to. I am left in a blind ally with this one.

For Jim as long as the word annilation of government is going to be a great article. Peace has come to the forefront of my thinking recently because not form of freedom, liberty or rights can ever endure without justice. Recently in the past years we have noted decisions that have been handed down but have we seen any justice.

not you's picture

Hi, I am new here so i am reading many old articles.

We don't have justice now even with the perverse "structure" enforced by our malevolent State.

The structure you seek need not be coerced, structure can be quite spontaneous and voluntary.

A quote from Emerson's Compensation:

"The league between virtue and nature engages all things to assume a hostile front to vice. The beautiful laws and substances of the world persecute and whip the traitor. He finds that things are arranged for truth and benefit, but there is no den in the wide world to hide a rogue. Commit a crime, and the earth is made of glass. Commit a crime, and it seems as if a coat of snow fell on the ground, such as reveals in the woods the track of every partridge and fox and squirrel and mole. You cannot recall the spoken word, you cannot wipe out the foot-track, you cannot draw up the ladder, so as to leave no inlet or clew. Some damning circumstance always transpires. The laws and substances of nature — water, snow, wind, gravitation — become penalties to the thief."

hope that helps.

edit: oops! i failed to see tzo's reply below which i agree with

tzo's picture

"TZO you did not address justice and how can any conversation of a lack of government or absence of government ever be complete without some form of justice the people can go to."
Now this almost makes me believe that you think that the current government 'justice system' actually is a system that ensures justice. But I know better than that.
The government justice system in this country originated in common law, which had zero government influence in its development and usage for a couple/few centuries. Government appropraited that system, which was by no means perfect, and turned it into what we now have, which is much further away from perfect.
So to me, eliminating the organization that has corrupted the system that originated without it does not leave a vacuum, but rather should be considered an upgrade.

GeoffreyTransom's picture

"...even when it seems that it is leaping and bounding, it is merely making the small breakthrough step based on the millions of smaller steps that preceded it."

This is why I detest the "standing on the shoulders of giants" aphorism attributed to Newton (although he was not the originator). The aphorism originated with the myth of Cedalion being carried on Orion's shoulders - the original "nanos gigantum humerus insidentes" (dwarf on the shoulders of giants) - and was then reprised by Bernard of Chartres (at least according to John of Salisbury in the Metalogicon).

But really, it's "Cedalions all the way down" - each step is taken by a dwarf **standing on the shoulders of other dwarves**.

That's not to say that Newton, Napier and other luminaries did not make significant contributions - rather, it simply means that by dint of just how MUCH stuff there is to know, their contributions were restricted to a very small corner of human achievement. Newton was silent on slavery, for example - he actually invested in the slave-trading South Sea Company and lost a fortune (karma, bitch!). Napier was a nutjob with a penchant for necromancy. Feynman thought that bongoes were musical, and what's worse, worked for the US Merchants of Death perfecting the only genuine WMD (and died of cancer... karma, bitch!).

In Newton's time, it could take MONTHS for 'hard copy' documents to make their way across the globe: if you had told anybody that it would be possible to move a mid-sized library's worth of information across the planet in 20 minutes, they would think you were a nutter. Even in the days of faxes (say the late 70s/early 80s), folks would have thought you were out of your mind. And yet now we think of hard-copy documents as quaint (I no longer even buy paper books - it's a stupid format whose time is over).

Today I can receive the 'bit-version' of a physical object of modest size from the other side of the planet **in seconds**, and print out the object in a few minutes (after reading Cory Doctorow's "Homeland" I decided to try to build my own 3D printer and mod it to do metal and glass printing - it was STAGGERINGLY easy). Even better, you can use old HDPE containers to make your own feedstock for the 'normal' MakerBot style printer head. (C'est a dire: *waste* just became a RESOURCE [although it always has been for, e.g., lawn-chair manufacturers]).

By the middle of this decade any household with a "tech-competent" (my level of competence [NOVICE] or better) will be able to print its own chemicals: open-source synthBio already exists.

BitCoin; BitTorrent; gnuPGP/TOR/iPredator; BioBricks; RepRap/MakerBot/FabLabs/Thingiverse... that's a ridiculously-incomplete list of the staggering things that human ingenuity has developed in the last decade.

Anybody who thinks government has ANY role in this - or can do ANYTHING to stop it - is so far behind the curve that they should have their own sub-entry on the Wikipedia page for 'Dunning-Kruger Effect'.

Glen Allport's picture

Terrific column, Tzo, fun and profound in equal measure, with a wisdom than transcends mere detail.
"I will concede here for argument's sake that all the historical and empirical evidence used to illustrate the correlation between government and civil society over the last few millennia right on up to today is all true and irrefutable. You win: The only way we humans ever got civilized (to the extent that we actually are) was through the graces of government."
. . . "So let us thank them (only in this particular essay, with its generous bone-tossing and all) for creating government if that was indeed a necessity for getting us to where we are now. But government, if it truly did serve a valid purpose, is becoming ever more a hindrance and is no longer of much use to anyone."
Sheer genius! I'm certain you don't believe coercive government was ever necessary, but putting it the way you have in this essay eliminates the entire Tower of Babel on the subject that helps keep people from seeing or hearing the truth. Nice work.

Alex R. Knight III's picture

One of your absolute best yet, Tzo!  Very nicely done!

Darkcrusade's picture

This should help =

The Mainspring of Human Progress by Henry Grady Weaver.

tzo's picture

A "rewrite" of one of my favorite books:

Darkcrusade's picture

Oh absolutely!

Grady does give effusive praise to Rose as he, and we should.

My progression was Letters to Jessica by Robert Bisset.>

Which cited Rose wilder Lane's Discovery of freedom,Most excellent book.
Which Grady used and put a lot of his own thoughts into.Although Rose's book
is more 'meaty' and IMHO the beter of the two.

Glock27's picture

I resent "Jessicas Letters" I took great offense in chapter eight when the author accused teachers of teaching children about the "World of Wizards" as he put it. As a teacher I went in too help in growing minds to think for themselves, there was never any coercion, prompting, pay off to teach anything more than reading, writing, math and etc. I learned history the same as you and probably everyone else here never realizing that what was presented to me and to my students was all a liberal scheme.
It is shameful to make unproved allegations as the author did. To me this constitutes aggression. It is also my belief that there are many teachers out there now giving their blood sweat and tears to help each child achieve. I will not disagree that there are teachers who wish to push their point of view. I never had a point of view to push nor do thousands of other teachers whom are doing their best to assure kids are learning what they need to know according to what they have been taught. There are honest, well meaning teachers in each state trying to meet the criteria forced on them by the state and the fed. Yes. It's always the teachers fault: we want too much of this, that and the other. Why not. Parents do absolutely nothing to assist their child in learning. I stand for the elimination of all public education. Some kids were ment to do well while others were not and they create the problems in the classroom that teachers get blamed for (You can't control yoour classroom) and the kid is high on drugs and etc. Yes, I deeply resent Jessicas Letters chapter eight. To be that stupid in believing all teachers are in bed with the government. God that is infuriating and that coming from the hand of a "Christian". No wonder people have such a bad opinion of Christians when they go around making assumptions.
Everytime I see teachers closely associated with some misdeeds I become infuriated. Yes there are bad teachers and the only solution to it is to eliminate public education as it is. Let the community decide what they want.
The remainder of Jessicas Letters, what I have read so far may be o.k. but that one comment of lumping teachers in with the dispicable is not right. Can I even finish what he wrote. It may be difficult.

Darkcrusade's picture

Sorry you were used as a tool by TPTB. Most have been ,many continue to fund it through the shake downs of tribute paid to the conqurers.
Teachers are part of the problem and are of the parsite class.You should recognize this,own it and stop trying to defend it. You were LIEcensed by
the 'state'? One definition of a LIEcense is> Permission granted to do an illegal act. So you willingly submitted an application to obtain a special
permisson from the gummint to commit an illegal agression against untold years worth of students?

At least ignorance can be fixed.Not by schooling............

John taylor Gatto should have been read by you years ago....


Published on Jul 4, 2012

"Technology has given us the ability to mass mind-control BILLIONS of people at the same time." -- Norbert Weiner (circa 1950)

The system is not broken, it was BUILT this way intentionally!

What is the difference between "Education" and "Schooling"? The word "Schooling" comes from the Prussian form of education that is literal brain-washing. The head of every psychology department of every university has a "Prussian PhD."

Wilhelm Wundt is considered to be the developer of the Prussian Ph.D. system and Prussian Education in America and believed that, "Man is devoid of spirit and self determinism." -- The Leipzig Connection (the Illuminati influence on Public Education, the Illuminati were originally known as "Perfectibilists"), which the philosophy of Immanuel Kant inspired and enabled the importation to America through his students: Fichte, Hegel, Pestalozzi, Lavater, etc.

This video is a brief history of the blocks to REAL education from The Ultimate History Lesson: A Weekend With John Taylor Gatto. Gatto points out that regardless of how intelligent people are or how well someone does in school, corporations ONLY want mediocre people who can be easily controlled and manipulated to do what they are TOLD to do. For example, both George W. Bush and John Kerry were "C" students at Yale University but they both were members of the Skull and Bones fraternity and involved in high-level politics.

In the early 1800's Prussian philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte, heir to the University of Berlin's Philosophy Department previously under Kant, published a series of public essays meant for the attention of the Prussian King called, "Addresses to the German Nation" where he promoted the concept of compulsory public schooling with the explicit intention of DESTROYING the imagination and the ability of a person to think for themselves by filling their head with garbage information. He and John Calvin (Johannes Calvijn) of Calvinism considered original thinking to be "evil" (i.e. "Original Sin") and created the concept of "Justified Sin" as a means of having the Church pre-approve attacks upon such misbehaving geniuses by applying arbitrary forms of truth and justice. The CIA, MI6, Mossad, etc. use such practices in their 007 "License to Kill" paradigm. Only AFTER such "schooling" were people considered to be "saved" which he called "elect" or "elite." Fichte is considered to be the bridge between the ideas of Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and the Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis (Dialectic) paradigm.
[DOWNLOAD] Addresses to the German Nation here:

Similar thoughts originated as far back as Plato around 400 BC so you can see how long such a mindset has been in place among the so-called "elite" (or "saved" or "elect"). Perhaps this will help you understand how or why India ended up with their "caste" system and why the Muslims hate the Zionist Jews so badly? And, why Christians in the United States are attempting to "dumb down" the educational system as we speak (or type)? And, Charles Darwin was an Anglican Priest which might give you some insight into the mentality behind the British Royalty and their "owner" The City of London Corporation.

Fabian Socialists (Collectivists) apply the leverage of Controlled Opposition through the slow infiltration and attrition of their opponents.

John Taylor Gatto offers such vivid stories that give depth and insight into these facts that far transcend these simple notions as well as examples of average people who demonstrate amazing genius that you would be well-advised to watch... ''

It starts young. usually in the 'Kindred Garden' a bunch of 4-5year olds stand up every mourning
and pledge an allegiance to a rag. &
People 'trained'-not educated-by such educational techniques will be fearful of taking principled, sometimes controversial, stands when called for because these people will have been programmed to speak up only if a positive reward or response is forthcoming. The price of freedom has often been paid with pain and loneliness.

There is a story of a young, but earnest Zen student who approached his teacher, and asked the Master, "If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, "Ten years." The student then said, "But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast – How long then?" Replied the Master, "Well, twenty years." "But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?" asked the student. "Thirty years," replied the Master. "But, I do not understand," said the disappointed student. "At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?" Replied the Master, "When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.>

Paul's picture

Sorry to rain on the parade. While everything you say here is true, it is also somewhat irrelevant. Folks, government does not have to make sense (to the mundanes anyway).

I don't think it's a matter of just waiting for the fogies to die off either. Lots of young people believe the government religion.

Every sales job for freedom and anarchy ought to have a disclaimer at the end, something like this: "However it's not necessary for you to take my word that freedom is better than the alternative. Just let me and my friends go, let us get the boot off our own necks, and you can then continue on with your reverence for government as long as you please. You can watch our experiment to see if freedom actually does work. The risk is entirely ours, and the benefit from the experiment is yours, since you can later change your mind in the light of your new knowledge."

We don't have to answer questions like, "But without a government, who will protect us?" Or, "What about the delivery of justice?" The answer must always be, "Have a government if you want one. Just leave us out of it."

Glock27's picture

**Wasn't worth the post. No one would care anyway!

Alex R. Knight III's picture

Paul:  While I wholeheartedly agree with your approach -- in fact, that's much of what the book I reviewed a while back seeks to accomplish -- I find that many Statists will argue that it is impossible to "remove" we objectors from the system.  IOW, their argument is that separate systems cannot mutually coexist; that there must be a "one size fits all," even if many find that system disagreeable or intolerable.
Now, understand that I *do* hold yours to be a perfectly workable approach...except if the Statist control freaks cannot be convinced thus.  So, I must ask:  What do you propose we do if, when we posit, "Have a government if you want one. Just leave us out of it," their response is, "No, absolutely not.  You will remain under government control?"

Paul's picture

"...their argument is that separate systems cannot mutually coexist; that there must be a "one size fits all," even if many find that system disagreeable or intolerable."

This argument is perfectly analogous to one that was commonplace a few hundred years ago, that people of different religions could not possibly live among each other. It did seem true back then, but our cultures evolved to make it possible nonetheless (and nowadays, unremarkable).

'their response is, "No, absolutely not. You will remain under government control?"'

As Karl Hess put it, "The revolution occurs when the victims cease to cooperate." Eventually that will happen, probably when the economy crashes and the dollar dies. That will be our opportunity.

Of course the neighboring Statist City might have bad intentions toward Anarchyville, but a few well-armed men can keep them at bay. It's not like trying to fight the most powerful empire the world has ever seen; it's just a town with a few lowlife pols running the show.