Joel Bowman

Before I get started… Anybody here know what glossophobia means? The word derives from the Greek glossa, meaning tongue, and phobos, meaning fear or dread. Glossophobia, also known as speech anxiety, is a fear of public speaking.

And I suffer from it terribly.

Glossophobia aside, I’m going to press on today anyway because what I want to talk to you about is very important. Maybe more so now than ever.

The title of my speech is “Freedom: The New and Future Experiment.”

This topic is particularly timely right now because, as you well know, a revolution of sorts is today under way in a place that used to be comfortable calling itself, proudly and with a straight face, “The Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.” Try asking any thinking individual who happened to be born within the United States borders today to claim that title without arousing a disquieting feeling of tragic irony. You might hear the words, but you’ll notice they are delivered with an empty conviction, with some embarrassment, a shame, almost, for remembering what was lost.

But before addressing the New and Future Experiment, let’s take a look at the Old and Moribund Experiment: Statism.

From the Pharaohs through to warlords, kings and queens, generalissimos, barbarians, emperors, chairmen, führers, shoguns, sheiks, tsars, presidents, prime ministers and the rest of the dirty rotten scoundrels, nobody could say we humans didn’t give “The State” a fair go.

Statism exists in many forms. All, I will argue, are inherently evil. All end in eventual and painful demise.

Why do I say that all forms of Statism are evil? Surely there is an argument for some kind of “minarchist” arrangement of governmental oversight, the Praetorian guard, the night watchman, some kind of political structure to protect us against the aggressions of our neighbors who are always and forever waiting at our front gates, ever at the ready for the law to change or turn its back so they can come and pilfer our grains, raid our gold stockpiles and defile our daughters?

It is sometimes said that religion makes men do noble things. And that’s true. But religion also makes men do heinous, hellish things. Why else would anybody strap a bomb to themselves and run into a kindergarten, for example, if they didn’t think God was on their side?

I’m reminded here of that great skit from Scottish comedian, Billy Connelly.

“I want to go to one of these suicide bomber schools,” he says. “You can just imagine the instructor.

“Alright lads… I’m only going to show you this once…”

Statism is the new religion.

Men used to march off to war for “God, King and Country.” Now he marches off to war to “spread democracy” — the credo of the new religion.

How many people, we wonder, would feel compelled to battle on foreign lands, the whereabouts of which were heretofore unknown to them, to slay “the enemy,” to lay waste to husbands, fathers and brothers they have never before met, to Napalm fields, Agent Orange crops, to litter terrain afar with landmines, if they didn’t believe the patriotic claptrap with which their State ceaselessly indoctrinates them?

No. Statism, in any form, is wicked because it attacks us at our most basic human level. It undermines our dignity. It presupposes that we are incapable of caring for each other and ourselves without its continued and ever increasing invigilation. It tells us that we are not born free individuals, but servants of the State.

In this way, the State is not the preserver and protector of freedom, but anathema to it.

But perhaps most cruelly, most insidiously, the State tells us that we need it more than it needs us. Untrue. It is important here to remember that the State is nothing more than a collection of men and women who initiate force against everybody else, the very same citizens they purport to serve, to represent…and who (are forced to) pay their salaries.

I’m reminded of Doug Casey’s observation that during the Viet Nam War, peace protestors used to carry placards reading, “What if there was a war and nobody showed up?” to which Doug adds, “What if they levied a tax and nobody paid?”

Here we can see immediately that, contrary to what they would have us believe, it is the State that depends on our complicit support to exist at all, not the reverse. It is a form of mass, political Stockholm Syndrome, where the captors gradually come to accept the commands of their master as a demented kind of benevolence, eventually even feeling compassion for and allegiance to him.

That, in a nutshell, is the definition of patriotism: allegiance to one’s own gatekeeper, affection for one’s oppressor.

There are, of course, those who argue that without the State, we would be without the means to build and maintain roads and other critical infrastructure — that we would be without hospitals and schools, without the “safety net” the State is forever crowing about having provided for us.

But to hold this point, one must first admit that there exists, within society, the resources, the productive capacity to build and provide these goods and services in the first place. Those arguing for State intervention are merely saying that the State is the preferred method for delivery, for redistributing a wealth of resources that already exists, through its superior mode of governance.

A dear friend of mine shared with me recently a fantastic quote that addresses just this point. It comes from Allen Thornton’s excellent essay, Laws of the Jungle

“What do you think ‘govern’ means?” asks Thornton. “It doesn’t mean ‘suggest’ or ‘implore.’ It doesn’t mean two people sitting down, talking it over, and compromising. ‘Govern’ means ‘force’ and ‘force’ means ‘violence.’ When you advocate any government action, you must first believe that violence is the best answer to the question at hand.”

This is the Old Experiment.

Empires…their monies…their militaries and their promises. All these things eventually, invariably, die. You might even say it’s what they were born to do. Their death, in other words, is inevitable. Only the number of innocent individuals they take with them varies.

At this, we should not be surprised. But we should be prepared.

Ever since statists first cobbled together a collective of ruling people, the “rest” have been living under one form of tyranny or another. From tribal leadership structures to local council hierarchies, from Plato’s philosopher class to medieval monarchies through to the various “isms” of our modern times, there has existed one class of rulers — sometimes called guardians, other times tyrants — who have seen fit to exert their ways and rules on all others, usually, ultimately, on pain of death.

In the end, individual freedoms are surrendered to the precise degree that the State is permitted to exist at all.

Most people accept the State’s intrusions on their freedoms as minor grievances. They shrug and mutter something about the “best of a bad bunch” or the “lesser of two evils.” Nevertheless, for the vast majority of people, surrendering a little liberty (or a lot!) for a little safety or convenience is a pretty good deal. That, despite Benjamin Franklin’s famous call to caution that…

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

To be continued…


Joel Bowman,
for The Daily Reckoning

Joel Bowman

Joel Bowman is a contributor to The Daily Reckoning. After completing his degree in media communications and journalism in his home country of Australia, Joel moved to Baltimore to join the Agora Financial team. His keen interest in travel and macroeconomics first took him to New York where he regularly reported from Wall Street, and he now writes from and lives all over the world.

  • Libertariangobblygook

    Statism. Something that every anarchist disagrees with.

  • John Galt’s friend

    In a sense a nation is like a huge club. Its members come together for a purpose, to defend themselves against foreign maraders, to enforce laws against domestic abuse at the hands of other citizens.

    First, we elect officers, then we set the dues to be paid to be a member of the club.

    Where this comparison falls apart somewhat is that you are allowed to quit a club, if it no longer serves your interest, and quit paying dues. In the extreme this is still true regarding countries. You can quit a nation and move, and cease paying its dues. This seems to be happening, but the trickle may become a flood soon.

    With each new law we give up some freedom, some money or both.

    Loved the article and look forward eagerly to the continuation.

  • John

    It is a truism that all forms of government eventually devolve into some form of tyranny, it is happening to this country right now. I’m waiting to see if there will be a great tax revolt when enough people say “enough is enough”….or will we all go out with a whimper?

  • phelps

    Doug Casey’s question was asked and answered just before the State invented payroll taxes. No one would pay voluntarily, not even the liberals, and now many “conservatives” who want people to “pay their fair share”. Whatever that means, since it changes with weather.

  • Vangel

    Libertarians are all for law n order, rule of law, and a government that protects them. They just want someone else to pay for it.

  • Mark Twain

    Librarians are all for libraries, rulers, and a government that pays for them.
    They just want someone else to pay for it.

  • Paul

    Good one, Mark.
    Rumors regarding your death have been greatly exaggerated.

  • Scott

    Not bad, for a snot nosed kid.

  • *Sparkie*

    That is some pretty profoud stuff,Joel. I wounder how many of them really get it, or even know how2 read btween the lines? *S* PS BB should take some time off fr his postings,so that u can get alittle “Affection!” Watt wuz that? Oh 4 1’s oppressor! Boy ain’t that the well said truth!!! PPS were’s “Country-Joe” & the fish when u need them?

  • ReinS

    “Statism is wicked because it attacks us at our most basic human level. It undermines our dignity. It presupposes that we are incapable of caring for each other and ourselves without its continued and ever increasing invigilation.”
    Statism IS necessary, because YES, we are incapable of caring for eachother. Everywhere in the world you can see that clearly. If there was no Statism the millions of (USA) poor would be worse off, the unemployed would be worse off, the millions of needy citizens would be worse off, because I just do not believe that the more fortunate people would voluntary hand over part of their wealth to lighten the distress of their compatriots.
    No buddy, personal and corporate greed has put the world into the predicament we’re in. If it wasn’t for those two factors, societies could reduce their degree of Statism.
    YES, we are incapable of caring for eachother. When did you see or hear of a wealthy person on the way home or to the golf club or the yacht club dropping in on some needy family and inquiring what was needed and making sure it got there, bypassing the Statism welfare system?
    Needy families should not be hard to find nowadays, Joel.
    If it wasn’t for Statism, the veterans coming back, broken for their country, would be worse of than they are now.
    No Joel, your article doesn’t cut it for me, it is full with holes!

  • BabbaSmith

    Joel, I suffer from glossophobia too. I heard that Toastmasters is good therapy for that. Gee Joel, its too bad you suffer from it, because your article is so enlightening and right on its mark. I really appreciate it.
    Actually the revolution in the United States has been going on for the last seventy years or so. Its just that few people of later generations myself included didn’t realize a (Socialist) revolution was/is underway. Socialists are a deceitful lot.
    After being enlightened from different sources over the past few years, I now understand what’s happening.
    One thing about Statism is, the more things seem to evolve in its favor, the bolder and more brazen its politicians become in their evilness. We see it happening before our very eyes almost every day now.
    I am somewhat optimistic that the populace will come to understand what we’re up against, but not until after the world and US economies are in further shambles. It will be at that time that the statists will make their big move to take advantage of the crisis.
    Hopefully we will all be guided to do what’s right to save our freedom(s).

    I’m looking forward to your followup.

  • Gil

    Anarchism is the real religion – imagining a society that doesn’t exist and everyone’s going to pure and kind. Statism is what’s real – people aren’t perfect so societies aren’t perfect.

  • Marcelo y Mariana

    @Gil: Anarchy doesn’t mean perfection, it means no government.

  • Gil

    By Anarchist/Libertarian definition any who uses coercion to get what they want is ultimately be a government.

  • Bubba Smith

    @Gil said “Anarchism is the real religion ”

    The real religion is the desire to have a better state than currently exists, or one that is a perceived utopia. But, one person’s utopia is another’s tyranny.

    Just because states are real and societies are not perfect doesn’t mean society can’t exercise control over the state as the Founding Fathers intended (not a utopia by the way, but as close as you’ll ever get probably)!

    We’re certainly not perfect or saints, some are/were even evil. Striving for perfection can go in either direction.

    The way I see it, there is an amount of evil in everyone. It is everyone’s responsibility to control and keep their own inner evil in check. It is an elected state’s
    responsibility to keep those that exercise their evil also in check. These are both conscious efforts.

    Western society in general is destroying itself from within; our societies are breaking down before our very eyes.

    The state too often, is allowing the evildoers in society to go unchecked, which will eventually lead to the breakdown of the state.

    We will then create a new state thereafter, but I doubt it will be as good a state as the founding fathers had left our ancestors to pass onto us. What a tragedy, what a pity if that were to happen!

  • disunion

    @gill, @marcello: anarchy doesn’t mean perfection, or no government. it means self-government. as opposed to variously contrived mon & olig prefixes.

  • Josh Newman

    The U.S. government is corrupt to the core. The Federal Reserve must be abolished, so control of the money supply is not in the hands of a psychopathic, private banking cartel, which also controls the mainstream media.

  • Robertito Lefevre

    “An anarchist is anyone who believes in less government than you do.”

    “If men are good, you don’t need government; if men are evil or ambivalent, you don’t dare have one.”

    “Government is a disease masquerading as its own cure.”

    “A limited government is a contradiction in terms.”

  • ThotfulTom

    The only and ultimate solution then is for the Creator to train man how to safely govern himself, including a heart of flesh rather than a heart of stone. This will enable man to go where he has never gone before — complete debt-free security and perpetual life. Think possible, because He’ll do it.

  • John

    So what would you have instead? A Self organizing, consensus-driven autonomous collective? The problem is where would the legal ‘benchmarks’ be defined in terms of human rights, social justice/welfare? Otherwise wouldn’t such a society eventually move towards a basic ‘Darwinian’ survival of the fittest?

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