The Worst of States

Empires…their monies…their militaries and their promises. All these things eventually, invariably, die. 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.

It is true, of course, that certain forms of statism are more overtly aggressive than others (though all administer the ultimate punishment for political apostasy, one way or another). Some governments merely bestow on their citizens the “privilege” of carrying an identifying document when said individuals choose to exercise their natural right to travel freely. Some states are so kind as to “allow” their citizens the joy of working for the state…for a fee, of course. Other states allow citizens to rent property from them, charging “owners” a fee to live in their “own” home and heavily regulating what they may or may not do to the property itself.

Most people accept these 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.” That these apathetic individuals are party to evil at all does, apparently, not seem to bother them too much. 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.

Other regimes, however, are not so subtle in their use of violence and coercion. They stone women to death for baring an inch of skin, force those of a certain race into internment camps, and/or execute political opponents at will…among many other atrocities. And it is toward these states that tax slaves elsewhere — living in houses rented from their own state, watching prescribed entertainment and feasting on state-approved (and taxed) food, drink and drugs — cast dispersions. This variety of the state, according to them, constitutes the worst of all evils.

But what if the state is, as part of its very existence, its nature, always and forever on a path to the most evil manifestation of itself? What if a state that begins its life, nobly, as a constitutionally constrained republic, dedicated to protecting and promoting “life, liberty and justice for all” is really, at all times, at some point on the road to the most evil, militaristic expression possible? What if force can only beget more force, coercion only more and greater coercion?

What if the “best of the states” is always on its way to becoming “the worst of states”? And, more importantly, where does that leave us, goose-stepping down the road to perdition?

Joel Bowman
for The Daily Reckoning