The state, I have often said, is merely a type of government. Though I do occasionally use “government” and “the state” interchangeably, it is generally because I grow weary of constantly saying “the state… the state… the state…” or because it helps a non-anarchist (one would say “statist” here most of the time, but I don’t believe that most people are statists–I believe they just haven’t quite thought about what they’re saying) understand what I’m saying.
This is an important distinction, though, because… just take a moment to process all the things that govern your behavior:
- the need to breathe
- the need to eat
- the need to drink water
- the desire to procreate
- the desire to have sex
- the desire to be entertained
- … and many, many more.
All of these things, ipso facto, govern your behavior, and they govern my behavior. They govern the behavior of every animal on our planet, to varying degrees. Who can say that my cats are not governed partially by the desire to be entertained? I would ask you to re-evaluate that claim when they are doing aerobics and acrobatics across my kitchen.
There is certainly a hierarchy to these governments, as we all know intuitively, whether we have stopped to consider it or not. A person’s desire to have sex will not be considered until the person is not starving to death or suffocating. Obvious truisms, of course, yet they are of critical importance to understanding the nature of the state.
As Rothbard wrote in Anatomy of the State:
Once a state has been established, the problem of the ruling group or “caste” is how to maintain their rule. While force is their modus operandi, their basic and long-run problem is ideological. For in order to continue in office, any government (not simply a “democratic” one) must have the support of the majority of its subjects. This support, it must be noted, need not be active enthusiasm; it may well be passive resignation as if to an inevitable law of nature. But support in the sense of acceptance of some sort it must be, else the minority of state rulers would eventually be outweighed by the active resistance of the majority of the public. Since predation must be supported out of the surplus of production, it is necessarily true that the class constituting the state–the full-time bureaucracy–must be a rather small minority…
We see in these two ideas a similar pattern: until basic needs are met, something else extraneous to those needs cannot occur. Until a person’s need for air, food, and water is met, the individual will care nothing for entertainment or casual sex, not even with the most beautiful of women or sexiest of men. Again, this is another obvious truism: as a person nears starvation, the value that they place in food will increase exponentially; as they approach death, the value placed onto food will approach infinity. In the fraction of a second just before suffocating, the value that a person would place on air (that is: what they are willing to pay to acquire air) would be infinite, to the extent that they’d be willing, in that moment, to consign their entire lives to sexual slavery and barbaric torture to get a gasp of air. Horrific though that idea is, it is nonetheless true.
Now, all of this is rather important, because the state consists of a parasitic caste that sucks off the excesses and surpluses of society and appropriates them for its own ends. We like to think that this isn’t true, and that all of our tax dollars and state-confiscated resources are being used for the betterment of society, but such naive idealism has no place in a serious conversation.
This, in purely economic terms, lowers the supply of resources available to a society, making the entire society collectively poorer, even if the scope is felt only by certain individuals who are overly taxed. Yet again, this is an obvious truism. If the total “resources” of a society equals 100 and they are divided among society’s 1,000 members (however evenly or unevenly), and a parasitic caste siphons of 6 of those resources for their own use (however they justify it), then society is suddenly left with 94 to divide among its members. If the parasitic caste consisted of 6% of society (e.g., there were 60 parasites), then this would amount to socialism by force: “We want what you have to divide among ourselves.”
It may seem that I’m jumping the gun a bit here by defining the state as a bunch of parasites sucking society dry. I assure you: I’m not. This is ground that I’ve already covered (and that countless others have covered), and I’m not interested in re-writing the same article over and over.
If you dispute the equivalence of the state to a parasitic caste that relies primarily on force, violence, and coercion to achieve its ends, then the above podcast would be a good place to start. An even better place to start would be Murray Rothbard’s Anatomy of the State, one of the finest collections of essays dealing with the nature of the state that has ever been compiled. To quote one passage:
The great German sociologist Franz Oppenheimer pointed out that there are two mutually exclusive ways of acquiring wealth; one, the above way of production and exchange, he called the “economic means.” The other way is simpler in that it does not require productivity; it is the way of seizures of another’s goods or services by the use of force and violence. This is the method of one-sided confiscation, of theft of the property of others. This is the method which Oppenheimer termed “the political means” to wealth… The “political means” siphons production off to a parasitic and destructive individual or group; and this siphoning not only subtracts from the number producing, but also lowers the producer’s incentive to produce beyond his own subsistence… The state, in the words of Oppenheimer, is the “organization of the political means.”
Individuals are governed primarily by the need to survive, and this governance leads them to productivity. In order to secure their own survival, it is recognized as best to generate a surplus. The fools who grew only enough crops to survive died out in the fiery trials of human history, as any complication to the harvest rendered their deaths inevitable. “I grew only enough food to survive, and mildew destroyed some of it” leads to a slow and painful death. When the ancient villager went to the water source, they were not merely content to dip their hands into it and have a drink; they brought with them a jug, to collect more than they immediately needed, producing a surplus of resources that they could later call upon, if need be.
This is the mechanism of capitalism, the concept of taking resources and putting some into savings. Perhaps the villager draws five gallons of water each day, yet consumes only four gallons. After a year of doing this, the villager will have a surplus of some 365 gallons of water–profits, we would call these under most circumstances. You may prefer dividends, gains, or whatever term, but the basic idea is the same. The fool who brought back only enough water to survive the day died at the first calamity. The wise man who saved became wealthy. Sure, this wealth is measured in water rather than dollars, but the process is still the same.
To return to our fool, what if the village elder, being too old to go to the water source himself, decrees that every villager must surrender a cup of water to him each day? Again, the fool obviously dies (it is important to remember that we are operating on the idea that the fool takes exactly as much water he needs, and not a drop more) for the endemic parasitism of the ruling caste.
“But the elder is old,” some people might argue. “Surely it’s the village’s responsibility to continue caring for him? We are not just animals–we do not abandon our elderly!”
This is a fine argument, but there is a problem. We have here killed one person to save the life of another. Some people might argue, “But the fool should have brought back more water than he needed.” That’s probably true. However, the same could be said of the elder. If he had, as a young man, brought back more water than he needed–if he had brought back an extra gallon each day, then by the time he reached the age where he could no longer make the journey to the water source, he would have plenty of water to carry him through to the end of his life. The same admonition of the fool applies to the elder: they should both have taken more than they immediately needed.
This argument also ignores the fact that this elder probably has some family. Is it not the responsibility of his family to provide him with what he needs, if he is to dedicate his life to what must be called “intellectualism”? Surely before the elder decided to dedicate his life to the pursuit of ideas, he would have done something to ensure that he would be taken care of, since he would be producing nothing?
Indeed, this basic question is likely how we ended up with the state in the first place. Some people set themselves up as wise, intelligent people who were capable of putting their considerable intellectual faculties to use in bettering the whole village, but doing so meant that they would be unable to spend their time working in the fields and making trips to the water source. This wouldn’t always be the case, as there is plenty of reason to believe that the state came into existence by way of force and violence, rather than by intellectuals hoodwinking societies, but it’s not impossible to fathom that intellectuals presented themselves as our saviors, if only we would give them the power to do things for the betterment of us all, and would pay them in their services by providing them with the resources they needed to survive.
It was just a happy coincidence that we “paid” them far more than they needed, as they cut into our surpluses to generate their own.
It can be difficult to accept that we are ruled by a bunch of parasites who subtract from our resources to add to their own, who use force, violence, and coercion to avail themselves of our property and resources, and who hide behind the mask of doing things to better the whole of society. It may even be true that some of the things they’ve done have helped society.
If necessity is the mother of invention, though, it should be obvious that the state will hardly invent anything, and that the only things it will invent will almost universally be related to the military. It should be no surprise then, that the majority of the American government’s inventions have been for the military and by the military, as they invent newer, bigger, and better ways of killing people en masse. Why should the state invent the telephone, the personal computer, the smartphone, a search engine, or any of these other things? The state doesn’t need to, not to ensure its own continued existence and continued prosperity.
No, if the state wants to ensure its continued existence and prosperity, then necessity dictates that it will invent new weapons, new ways of applying military force, and new ways of securing its holds on a population. Lo and behold, that is precisely what the American Government does. Why did you think that 57% of all money spent by the U.S. government is used on the military? As they say, “necessity is the mother of invention.” And what does the state need?
A way to make us bow when we say “Enough is enough.”
The State’s Interaction With Other Governments
The state wants to maintain its monopolies, there is no doubt of that. How does the state do this? By usurping survivalism, by placing itself above the other governments that govern you. Though you may need to avoid starvation, that is not the only concern when you go to hunt for your dinner. Instead, you are at least equally motivated by the reality that the state is in charge of you.
If suddenly you are fired from your job and destitute, for whatever reason, and need to hunt in order to eat, you’d better hope that the state doesn’t send one of its many footsoldiers to find you. You would be violating the state’s laws, of course. The state requires you to have a license, and you can’t afford that if you don’t have any money. Your need to eat has been overruled by the state. The Government of Food has been superseded by the Government of the State. Survival itself has been undermined by the state.
If you shoot a fourth deer, you are violating yet more of the state’s laws. The state does not care that you otherwise would have starved, because it reigns supreme over other forms of government. The government that is your need to eat must bow to the state’s demands, not vice versa.
You cannot create an Artesian Well on your property to avoid dying of dehydration; you cannot even collect rainwater in most American territories (it should be apparent why I used “territories” here). Neither can you just hop on down the local reservoir with a bucket. Once again, the other governments that govern you have been undermined, superseded, and overruled by the state. The state does not acquiesce to the reality that you need water to survive; instead, you must acquire water to survive within the framework of the laws laid down by the state.
Your very survival is undermined by the state. You are not allowed to do whatever is necessary to secure your continued existence, because the state has claimed ownership of everything that does not belong to individuals. It is a fact of extreme significance that every acre of land in the United States belongs to someone. Most often, the owner of these lands is the state, not individuals. Here in backwater Mississippi, I am surrounded by acres upon acres of land that belong to no one, but for which I will be arrested if I dare fish upon, hunt upon, or even walk upon. I could petition neighbors to allow me to walk, hunt, and fish their lands, to be allowed to draw water from the ponds in their backyards, and so on–I cannot petition the state for these things. And if I can, then it requires money, and must be done according to parameters that they set.
On the surface, that seems no different from my neighbor saying, “Yes, you can walk on my land, but you can’t hunt on it,” or something similar. Except that the Federal Government owns 28% of all land in the United States, a figure which does not include land owned by state governments. And when we remember that the state is a caste of parasites, it becomes positively alarming that they have taken hold of more than 1 in 4 acres of land in the nation. These parasites are extraordinarily wealthy, and the use the canals of government bureaucracy to obfuscate that basic fact.
Rather than being as obvious as taking 30,000 acres and putting themselves a house on it, state officials instead sell that land to Monsanto or some other monopolistic corporation. This feeds money into the state, of course, at the expense of some land, but the exchange does not typically stop there. Afterward or before, Monsanto may pay the state official $350,000 to give a speech at their company dinner. In more extreme cases, the state official may leave public office and begin working for Monsanto, where they’ll earn millions of dollars each year as “consultants” who are required to do nothing.
This is how aspartame was legalized, though the FDA had ruled it a poison initially. It should be a cause of concern for all Americans that the FDA ruled it as a poison for decades. Then the company that owned its patent presented it again to the FDA, and it was suddenly ruled acceptable. Afterward, the FDA chairman retired from public service… and went on to work for the very same company that held the patents on aspartame, where he was paid a ridiculously high salary and given a cushy job in exchange for his agreement to effectively poison the American population.
Look no further than the Clinton Foundation, which has curried favors across the globe on behalf of American corporations, taking huge “speaking fees” in exchange for their negotiation of contracts between American corporations and foreign states. Just look at what the Clinton Foundation did to Haiti. There is a reason that poor Haitians despise the Clintons. Information on how badly the Clintons fucked Haiti is widely available and reported even in the mainstream press, though the MSM decries it generally as “accidental” and “unfortunate,” rather than a systematic failure that follows the Clinton Global Initiative across the planet.
There is much obfuscation of this reality, but it does us no good to deny it.