Government Is Not Civilization, It Is Slavery

Column by JGVibes.

Exclusive to STR 

One of the most pervasive misconceptions in our culture is the idea that “government” has anything to do with the structure or organization that we see in our society. This is one of the primary reasons why people have such a difficult time considering the very real possibility of a world without the organization known as “government.” When someone suggests that we simply do away with this unjust and unnecessary organization, they are typically met with some very negative knee-jerk reactions from whoever they may be talking to. This kind of conversation typically ends very quickly because both sides have completely different ideas of what the word “government” actually means, making it very difficult to find common ground.
If we attempt to examine government from an outsider’s perspective, we would see a world where people are grouped into two different categories, those in government and those not. At face value, we can see that these two groups of people have completely different standards and expectations, even though they are the same species and have the same basic needs. Looking closer, we can see that these different standards and laws are not neutral, they are very much benefiting those in government at the expense of those who are not. The most important discrepancy to mention here is the fact that those in government have a license to kill anyone who happens to disobey them.
Pointing out this fact is vital in understanding the true relationship between those inside of government and those outside of government, and that is the relationship between slave and master. If someone has the right to initiate the use of force on you if you disobey them, you are essentially their property. If you don’t believe me, go on over to Google and type in “slave definition,” and the first definition you will find is the following: “A person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.” Now, doesn’t that sound a whole lot like the relationship between people inside government and people outside government? If you can force people to do things against their will, then you are treating them as if they were your property.
However, if you ask any random person on the street to define “government” for you, they would probably give you the story that they were taught in government school. You know, the one about how government is the backbone of civilization, and the means by which people in the community come together for mutually beneficial projects. Well this may sound good, but it isn’t at all true, because the government is comprised by a miniscule fraction of the population, and they would not be able to provide anything at all if it wasn’t for the resources that they forcibly extracted from the rest of society. Therefore, it is safe to say that all functions that are currently being carried out by the organization known as “government” could actually be better served by individuals in the community working together for common goals. Voluntary trade, charity and other peaceful methods of interacting would create a far better society than the one that we see today, which is filled with violence and forced associations.
It is not a new thing for people to confuse government with culture and have the misconception that without a central planning structure, everything that makes a society great would vanish. This fact was recognized by some of the more radical “founding fathers” of America, including Thomas Paine. In his most famous literary effort “Common Sense,” there is a section called “Of the Origin and Design of Government in General, with Concise Remarks on the English Constitution.” In this piece, Paine discusses the difference between government and society. 
Paine writes, “Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher. Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without a government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.” His statement is as true today as it was during the first American Revolution. Culture, society and security are absolutely capable of continuing in the absence of a central control system.
The most common argument against having an organized civilization without government is the notion that we are all somehow stupid, worthless savages who would not be able to figure out how to build a damn road if there wasn’t someone with a gun in our face every step of the way, telling us how, when and where to do it. But if people are stupid savages, and politicians are people, then isn’t the government made up of a bunch of stupid savages who can’t be trusted with a license to kill? Aren’t they just the same as us and even in many cases far worse than us? 
There is nothing that the government can do that you and a large group of likeminded people can’t do better. The government doesn’t provide services, they simply take money from everyone (except their buddies, of course!) and use a very small portion of that money to pay people in the community to do things for their neighbors that they probably would have done anyway in the natural course of human interaction. Looked at in these terms, it becomes apparent that the government is nothing more than a violent middleman, who forces his way into nearly every interaction that takes place between each of its so-called “citizens.”
Everything that the government does is an attack on people who don’t belong to that organization. If you think about it, every single action that the government takes is some kind of punitive measure taken against people who don’t belong to that organization. Even when the government claims to be doing something nice, they are doing so with resources that they obtained by using threats and violence, which really doesn’t make much of a case for the virtuousness of government.
This organization is not here to protect our rights as it claims to. In fact, when the government steps in and gives itself the responsibility to “protect” your rights, it is simultaneously stripping you of your ability to actually defend your own rights. When you are dependent upon the whims and capabilities of another human being to protect your rights, you are literally handing your rights over to them and essentially submitting to slavery.
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JGVibes's picture
Columns on STR: 6

J.G. Vibes is an author, and artist -- with an established record label. In addition to featuring a wide variety of activist information, his company -- Good Vibes Promotions promotes for electronic dance music events. You can keep up with him and his forthcoming book Alchemy Of The Modern Renaissance, at "" . AOTMR will be released this spring, thanks to Leilah Publications. This project features nearly 100 different essays that give historical and philosophical insight into the many important issues that our generation faces. From ethics and voluntary interactions to banking, eugenics and the drug war, AOTMR offers a complete and comprehensive breakdown of the counter culture’s struggle.


David Calderwood's picture

I like your highlighting of the obvious Truth, that those who volunteer to man the levers of coercive state power are no better (and actually, arguably worse) than the rest of us, so it is irrational to think an agency of coercion will produce salutary outcomes (salutary, that is, for anyone other than those wielding the whips).

Your column is thus a restatement of the irrational premises that underlay politics. We cannot, in my opinion, restate this often enough. It is one of the pillars of anti-political anarchism, I think.

Given the obviousness of this, is it not necessary to seek an answer to why people throughout most of history have preferred existence within a political system of one sort or another, especially in light of Boetie's "Discourses on Voluntary Servitude?"

I think this area, suffused with discussions of biology, neurology, and human social behavior is a line of inquiry that merits considerable debate.

Sadly, the path that debate takes tends to lead to the valley of cynicism and revulsion at the intellect and insight of the common man, and a nod toward Sallust's observation that most men don't desire liberty, most only wish for a just master.

Suverans2's picture

G'day David Calderwood,

Interesting; I was just, yesterday and today, revisiting The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude by Étienne de la Boétie.

Man, did you hit the nail square on the head with this, "most men don't desire liberty, most only wish for a just master." May I quote you?

David Calderwood's picture

Suverans2, while I would love to claim that bit of wisdom as my own invention, ancient Roman historian Sallust must get the credit.

I'm sure he would be no more bothered by your use of it than he is when I do it.

calinb's picture

I don't think the archaeological record supports the belief that people throughout most of history have preferred existence within a political system of one sort or another. Communities of people living under the violence of the state were a manifestation of the Neolithic Revolution and agriculture. Before the advent of agriculture, people enjoyed more liberty, because the state did not exist. After the Neolithic revolution, the state became even more powerful with the dawning of the industrial and technological revolutions and the state's powers are growing to this day.

Though people's capabilities have advanced relatively recently in the tenure of homo sapiens on the planet, people's minds have not kept pace. People's beliefs must catch-up with their technological powers in order for human civilization to advance and abolish the state.

Samarami's picture
    "...I am no longer defiant of human authority because I realize it is nothing but a hoax. Voluntaryism is good.
    Love your enemies.
    It befuddles them!..."


    "...It is not a new thing for people to confuse government with culture..."

Your comment, JG, is personified by Merle Haggard's (look at the comments under the video):

    "...When you're runnin' down My Country, hoss, you're walkin' on the fightin' side of me!..."

I have a book, David (several renditions of the Book, in fact) that illustrates your lament,

    " it not necessary to seek an answer to why people throughout most of history have preferred existence within a political system of one sort or another..."

The problem, however, with bringing that Book into any libertarian discussion is the proverbial brick wall so many libertarian types throw up against listening further. S/he's absolutely certain, I think, that the speaker is about to toss a wad of religious nonsense into the discussion since the book is Hebrew and a favorite among religionists, who claim to be using it as a backbone for their hogwash. But the book is testimony of the history about one family who were offered a genuine anarchist way of life, but who rejected it in favor of political authority.

Ask any religionist and s/he will absolutely deny that the Book has anything to do with anarchy. Then ask any "anarchist" (who will even be willing to discuss the topic) and s/he will insist the same.

It's a conundrum, I'll admit. But not unsolvable.

Be free.

Keep hammering.

Good essay, JGVibes!


Suverans2's picture

G'day JGVibes,

    "...both sides have completely different ideas of what the word “government” actually means, making it very difficult to find common ground." ~ JGVibes

As with so many words, JGVibes. Let me give you an example. You wrote:

    "If someone has the right to initiate the use of force on you if you disobey them, you are essentially their property." ~ JGVibes

That is correct, but in your above statement there is another word, the key word, which too many people have "completely different ideas" of the meaning of; that word is "right[1]", i.e. "just claim".

What is the only lawful, (as opposed to legal[1]), source from whence a government can get a "just claim" to "initiate the use of force on you if you disobey them"? There is only one, my friend, and when we discover it, we can truly "strike" at the "root" of the problem, though most of us will likely choose not to.

[1] right NOUN: ...7. A just or legal claim or title. ~ American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

Notwithstanding that this dictionary shows eight definitions for the word "right" when used as a noun, number seven is the correct one when we are discussing "having a right" to a thing, tangible or intangible.

[2] " not just that there is a difference between the lawful and the legal, but also the distinctive characteristic or principle of law ("freedom among equals") and of justice ("to treat others as one's likes")." ~ Excerpted from The Lawful and the legal by Frank Van Dun, Ph.D., Dr.Jur. - Senior lecturer Philosophy of Law

Suverans2's picture
    "Everything that the government does is an attack on people who don’t belong to that organization." ~ JGVibes

      "Citizens" do belong to that organization, JGVibes. As our friend, tzo, pointed out in his treatise, A Theory of Natural Hierarchy and Government; "All governments must have citizens in order to exist".

        "Citizens" are members of a political community who, in their associated capacity, have established or submitted themselves to the dominion of a government for the promotion of their general welfare and the protection of their individual as well as their collective rights". Herriott v. City of Seattle, 81 Wash.2d 48, 500 P.2d. 101, 109. ~ Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition (c.1991), page 244

      Dominion is defined, in that same dictionary, as "perfect control in right of ownership". From this we can see that if you "are a member of a political community who, in their associated capacity, have...submitted themselves to the dominion of a government", "you are [in fact] essentially their property".

      So, what's the answer? Well, here is what tzo suggested.

        "If one calls himself a citizen, then he is actively choosing to participate in the government organization. If one does not wish to participate, he can simply stop calling himself a citizen. There is no paperwork to fill out. One can just walk away, and fix the thought within his mind that he is no longer participating in the imaginary hierarchical organization that is called government, and just like that, he is out. It is, after all, his innate human right to rule over everything within the lower realm of imaginary creations.
        Isn't it amazing just how powerful we are as sovereign human beings?"

      I would add to that, only, "he can simply stop calling himself a citizen, and neither apply for, nor accept, any member-only benefits and privileges".

DennisLeeWilson's picture

Once you have arrived at the point of declaring yourself sovereign, you might consider TACTICS by which you conduct yourself when you realize that you are surrounded by a very large, thuggish organization.

To avoid being kidnapped and thrown in jail--or worse--consider some of the points I made in my own article on Individual Sovereignty at this link...:


Suverans2's picture

Will do, and thanks.

Samarami's picture

Dennis: In your article (linked in your post above) you wrote:

    '...So rather than becoming frustrated and overwhelmed by the futility of your efforts to "fix" all these problems—which you did NOT create, why not just ignore them and focus instead on something that you actually CAN do, which is FREEING YOURSELF!...'

Additionally, you listed what has become my ongoing mantra:

    If you want to BE free, you must do things that MAKE you free.

Your website: has lots of good stuff and is worth the time reading.

Here's an interesting video that goes to the heart of the essay. Sam

DennisLeeWilson's picture

Thank you, Sam.

calinb's picture

>I would add to that, only, "he can simply stop calling himself a citizen, and neither
>apply for, nor accept, any member-only benefits and privileges".

I think one can simply stop violating the non-aggression principle. There are gray areas in this moral endeavor but voting and participating in political processes must cease, because they are participation in violence as a master. Most people don't realize and assume ownership of the violence because it's accomplished via the proxy of the state.

I don't think it's necessary to refuse state benefits, which is impossible, regardless. Refusal of state benefits is just as impossible as it was for a plantation slave to refuse food from their master--food that the slave havested, but was seized for profit and redistribution by the master.

In fact, JGVibes is wrong here: "Well this may sound good, but it isn’t at all true, because the government is comprised by a miniscule fraction of the population..."

In fact, government is huge! It is nearly everyone in the population, because nearly everyone initiates violence on others via the proxy of the state. The people with the state's guns and associated monopoly on their use to initiate force on others may be only a minuscule fraction of the population (see Larken Rose's, "The Tiny Dot"), but nearly everyone endeavors to be a master of others via proxy violence.

Suverans2's picture

G'day calinb,

Omnes licentiam habere his quae pro se indulta sunt, renunciare. [It is a rule of the ancient law that] all persons shall have liberty to renounce those privileges which have been conferred for their benefit. Cod. 1, 3, 51 ; Id. 2, 3, 29 ; Broom, Max 699. ~ Black's Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition (c.1991) page 1086

I noticed you changed from my "member-only benefits" to "State benefits" in your reply. The first, (member-only benefits) are STATE benefits/privileges that an individual is entitled to as a "member" of the STATE, that is to say, membership is required in the group order to enjoy them.

Enjoy. To have, possess, and use with satisfaction; to occupy or have benefit of. ~ Ibid. page 529

The second may, or may not, require membership in the group.

An example of one of these is a "public road", which, according to their own law, is any, "...highway [or] road...for the use of the general public, and over which every person has a right to pass and to use it for all purposes of travel or transportation to which it is adapted and devoted. The proper test in determining whether road is a "public" or "private road" is use to which such roadway is put, and fact that road has been constructed at public expense is not conclusive. Kitchens v. Duffield, 83 Ohio App. 41, 76 N.E. 2d 101, 105, 38 O.O. 142."

Another example is the use of FEDERAL RESERVE NOTES. One does not have to be a member of the group in order to use these, and mere use of these does not create membership. This is not, therefor, a "member-only benefit".

On the other hand, if an individual, or a group, of which he is a voluntary member, borrows some of this funny munny into existence, a nexus has been created.

In summation, it is, in my opinion, entirely possible to renounce "member-only" benefits/privileges. I do my utmost to avoid entanglement with the STATE, I therefor neither apply for, nor accept, plunder, in the form of benefits/privileges, from the STATE.

DC Hawkins's picture

Very, very good article. I definitely get tired of explaining to Statists the difference between society and government.