Sunday, July 12, 2009

All government is basically the same

"Not only does magisterial power exist because of evil, but it exists by evil. Violence is employed to maintain it, and all violence involves criminality. Soldiers, policemen, and jailers; swords, batons, and fetters are instruments for inflicting pain; and all inflection of pain is in the abstract wrong. The state employs evil weapons to subjugate evil and is alike contaminated by the objects with which it deals and the means by which it works. Morality cannot recognize it, for morality, being simply a statement of the perfect law, can give no countenance to anything growing out of, and living by, breaches of that law. Wherefore, legislative authority can never be ethical - must always be conventional merely."

Herbert Spencer, "The Right to Ignore the State", taken from Social Statistics, Chapter XIX
Wow, I love that Spencer quotation. Politics is violence, all the way down. It has no special authority. It is nothing more than a clenched fist, always directed at someone. Over time, only the targets of that fist have changed, but never the nature of the threat itself.

"Do this, or perish." That is politics, seen clearly. Politicians compete to see which of their favored groups will benefit from the violent apparatus of the state. When a politician defeats another in an election, this just indicates that a new portion of society will be sacrificed for the benefit of others.

And nothing more. Nothing more. There is no mythology that can disguise the terror of law, the smacking of the fist on flesh, the blood and slaughter promised to those who resist further.

As I've argued in the past, modernity has managed to economize the violence, so that more can be done with less. But this process has nothing to do with morality; rather, violence is expensive, and outright violence threatens to expose government for the gang of brigands that it is.

The frown of the police officer. The hint of a tax audit. People fall into line. They are terrorized into submission. They have seen what happens to those who resist, if only dimly, in dreams. Or they have been convinced that those who disobey the law are bad men.

I do not encourage people to obey the law. I have no argument, certainly none based in morality, that concludes "And that is why you should obey the law." But, for their continued health, I cannot encourage people to disobey it. That in itself reveals the truth of politics: obey or perish.

On the other hand, I laud Marc Emery for selling illegal seeds to Americans. I laud the tax cheats for depriving their masters of income. I laud the man who hordes ammunition. Who refuses to register his guns. I laud the Canadian who still speaks freely, who ignores Jennifer Lynch and her squad of censors. I laud the pornographers who skirt obscenity laws. The smokers who ignore the signs.

The Iranian students who fight, even now, against a tyranny that is at bottom only more blatant in its need to use violence to gain obedience than ours.

I praise contempt for the law. I praise the small number of people who refuse the census takers, who skip jury duty, who don't bother to vote. Who smoke pot on the steps of city hall.

And I laugh at the people who are satisfied with the revealed truth of democracy. The people who would die of malnutrition if the mob got to vote on something as simple as what they should eat each day. The people who take politics seriously, as if voting were a sacrament and Joe Biden a priest.

Finally, I give credit to the lobbyists and bureaucrats, who have figured out how to make a living without doing anything productive themselves. Who work the levers of the machinery to their own benefit, squeezing blood from their competitors and the innocent with equal fervor.

May you all hang someday.


Anonymous said...

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nicholas said...

Excellent post.

Hey Terrence, Jay Currie just dropped a post titled Not Actually Swiss. If you get a chance could you take a look?


Good stuff. Keep writing.

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