January 28, 2011
– Comments (61)
Tomorrow is a big day for you. Remember, you outnumber them. Etienne de la Boetie would be proud.
State power 0Internet Gods 2
David in Qatar
The dicatator shut down all internet access to stop his overthrow.
Look how powerful the internet has become. It can bring people together like never before in history.
I see this uprising in different light - the high commodity prices pushing the poor to the brink. Tunisia. now Egypt.
And the irony of it all is that it is the US tinkering with the monetary policy to prevent deflation in the US is causing inflation and rise in commodity prices in the rest of the world. So, now noty only we can credit the FED (Alan Greenspan) with the causing the financial crisis and destroying the US economy but we also now can credit Ben Bernanke with single handedly destabilizing the emerging markets and the world.
Wow. Is there anything the FED cannot do? The next thing we know FED will be in charge of nuclear weapons, then the destruction will be so much more swift and efficient.
#2 Honestly, you can blame the Fed all you want, but the biggest aspect of this is the government in Egypt failing it's people. I heard the same thing on CNBC this morning with the commentator saying that "it's QE2's fault".
The food prices are one part of it - but come on really? Some 40% of Egypt's population lives under $2 a day. Is that Greenspan/Bernanke's fault too? What about how long the president there has in power?
Whatever impact the Fed had in affecting commodity/food prices, it's far down on the list of reasons of why this is happening.
#3 - there is so much poverty, there are many countries where living on $1 a day is a good deal, many people have less. Egypt is not the poorest and they had this Mubark regime for something like 30-40 years. All these countries are very senstitive to commodity prices.
There was no way FED didn't know that commodity prices will go up with money pumping. But they never cared about the consequences around the world. They are fixated on deflation in the US as the ultimate evil.
If anything, I think FED thought that inducing inflation in China will break China and force it revalue yuan and they thought it a good thing.
Shortsighted and careless this is what they are. There is always a price to be paid by somebody for messing with free markets, not necessarily the culprit is payign it though.
I like how fiat proponents will explain away any rise in commodity prices. This is what happens when you don't learn catallactics (the theory of exchange).
There are a number of factors at work here. It's like the perfect storm. American exports its inflation. Check.Mubarak is a scumbag with a 30 year iron fisted rule. Check. Free markets were choked out of existence. Check. Rampant stagnation and poverty. Check.
What I find truly interesting however, is that these events show just how inconsequential and pointless American "foreign policy" is. All the calls of the messianic visionaries to spread democracy around the globe at the point of the gun versus the power of popular rage mixed with a little knowledge.
Wikileaks has done more to propel people to act in their own interest in just 2 months than America's sociopathic crusaders have accomplished in decades of bloodshed.
I wonder what Iraq would be like right now if we hadn't invaded. Would Saddam have survived something like this?
Are the Saudi rulers a little nervous?
What will happen to America's designs if the Saudi's are next?
David in Qatar
#4 - I'm not saying there is no effect from the Fed's policies. But the governments in Tunisia and Egypt were/are "American-backed" and they were pretty much dictatorships. There's corruption, rigged elections, etc. etc. - all of these things are enough of a reason for the people to get angry. The fact that food prices increased due to the U.S. monetary policy might have tipped these situations over the edge, but you can't say that without it these things would not have happen. There's plently of things for Arabs to be frustrated about.
IBDvalueinvestin - Totally agree the internet is a very powerful tool....it's freedom of speech, information and porn!...imagine if China opened the internet??!! Scary....I read a cool Wired article about a goup of Chinese programers outside the country devloping a browser capable of bypassing the China Firewall ;)
#6 - yes, that is what I am saying too , the balance was affected. I think I understand where we disagree - you think these riots are good thing because they overthrow dictators , so why complain? I have a different opinion. All these riots and revolutions don't normally bring "freedom" they just replace one group of scumbags with another group of scumbags while decent people get killed on both sides. At least that has been the case in russian history. I posted a blog on thatr recently.
#8 - I agree with you on that. To assume that these "revolutions" or whatever would end up with a western-like democracy that promotes liberty or whatever would be naive. The Iranian revolution kicked out an American-backed Shah and replaced it with a repressive theocracy.
We don't know which way this will turn, but in my opinion, at least the people of these countries don't feel entirely helpless to change their circumstances. It may not turn out well - but then again, it may.
All these riots and revolutions don't normally bring "freedom" they just replace one group of scumbags with another group of scumbags while decent people get killed on both sides.
True, but isn't it nice to see Christians and Muslims working together for a change. Yeah, they'll probably slaughter each other when it's all over (if Dick Armey has anything to say about it), but I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts.
And I'm really enjoying how nervous this kind of thing makes the power elite.
This is the first time I've done something for someone else, and it felt emptier than wearing a pink ribbon. I sure hope I'm wrong and that President Mubarak sees the click of my mouse buttong for the 17th rec and decides to bring a full democracy into Egypt.
LOL. You could fly to Egypt and light a building on fire. If you do, please take video.
Pretty sure one of your new years resolutions was to stop being "aware" of things (which I found totally accurate AND hilarious BTW). But honestly, are you not yourself staging an "awareness" campaign here?
Very good! Yes, I forgot to point out that there is only one thing I would to raise awareness about: the subjugation of human freedom at the hands of the state.
Besides, this is like watching a good sporting event for me. I'm about to make some popcorn and enjoy the sights of burning state buildings.
Rest assured, the previous state will be replaced by an equally repressive state. Just a lot of people trying to get by will die in the meantime.
Don't rain on my parade :)
As I said, I'm sure that you are correct, but it's always nice to see people fight back. Nice to see them remember that they outnumber their oppressors. Just as Americans do. And every other subjugated people on the planet.
Not intending to rain on it, but I just think a state's inevitable an inevitable result of human nature. Taking sides on the people vs state struggle is like rooting for low tide against high tide.
And I mean that in a Tao-ist, not a snarky, way.
Project Mayhem, Egypt Edition.... Lovin it! Here's a quote from today's Gulfnews:
The warning was issued after the security forces held Egyptians living in Kuwait who were getting ready to organise a rally in front of their embassy.
Someones are - a - getting a little scared me thinks...
P.S. Go Packers! (Sorry, it's OT, but just had to throw that in there)
I understand where you're coming from, but history proves otherwise. The state (coercive monopoly on power) is a speck in human historical affairs, an almost non-existent aspect of our history. Statelessness is the natural human condition and has been so for 99.9999% of humans for 99.9999% of time.
This world we live in, where everyone is subjugated by the state, is an unnatural experimental condition.
#20 You're not suggesting we all go back into caves do you? I mean, the most of our worries was not to get eaten by a sabertooth tiger and we had to defend ourselves with a club!
Except, you know, the fact that there also are states coincided with a burst in "human advancement". Not exactly the best use of historical comparison!
It's nice to be cynical and all, but there is a chance that this could turn out for the better. It maybe better than the American experiments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, it may not - but lets not write them off until they show us something.
#20 You're not suggesting we all go back into caves do you?
Yes, that's exactly what I'm suggesting.
They're called books. You should try reading them.
Like the Twilight saga? (what are you referring to btw)
David is suggesting you read about the much more civil, technologically advanced, more well capitalized times of the Neanderthal's...what I would give to live in a time where people had almost no capital! What freedom they had!
In a Facebook post I think Lew Rockwell just mentioned you by name.
Every time a dictator, absolute monarch or warlord gets replaced by a democratic form of government an angel gets its wings.
I have to agree with SkepticalOx. And to add a twist on Ben Bernanke, if you assume the premise that democracy > totalitarianism, and IF Bernanke did contribute to transforming Egypt into a democracy as a result of his QEs, then he could actually be viewed as a liberator.
Personally I think today's stock market drop had more to do with a needed correction with Eqypt as the excuse.
If you think the State gives you progress, that forced confiscation of your productivity gives you material well-being, that restricting movement, trade, and freedom improves your life... well, I guess I could see where you're coming from...
But that's pretty stupid.
We would be fantastically wealthier and more advanced without the State.
The State is barbarism. The State holds us back.
I'll talk about this more in a future post, but only the advent of distance crushing technology allowed the State to conquer all of mankind. Ironically, all of those breakthroughs (boat, railroad, car, plane) came from free people acting with ingenuity and had nothing to do with the State.
Well David your last sentence sounds like Larry Kudlow's mantra that "a free market economy is the best path to prosperity." There are degrees of "states." Certainly the US "state" is different than the Russian "state" or the German "state" and so on. But democracy leads to how each given "state" will evolve in that particular "state", and not necessarily in an identical direction, but in a direction a given "state" chooses to go as opposed to being forced to go under totalitarianism.
Yeah there will always be corruption in all "states," but in a "state" run by the rule of law as opposed to the rule of force, there can be protections. Contrary to Shakespeare's "Richard III" play's line of "the first thing we should do is kill all the lawyers," its the lawyers that keep people from being jailed and/or tortured indefinitely, or that actually have helped lead to the point in time where an African American could actually be President. That is the rule of law.
Yeah paying taxes suck. But having police, firemen, sanitation workers, water systems, bridges, tunnels, roads, hospitals, having the right to travel freely, or gather in lawful protest, or right to speak freely, etc. doesn't. I don't consider those things stupid.
But there are degrees of "The State." And while one "state" may be more regressive or progressive than another, to make blanket statements that:
Yeah there will always be corruption in all "states," but in a "state" run by the rule of law as opposed to the rule of force, there can be protections.
That's an interesting theory, particularly since the rise of nation-states has directly resulted in the slaughter of hundreds of millions of people or more.
Dismissing an argument you are uncomfortable with is not going to have any effect. The worst part of human nature is the lust to dominate each other (perhaps you think it's the best, I don't know.) This lust is the driving force behind the state. I can't see how you could possible argue otherwise.
The greatest exploiter of cheap labor?
The greatest polluter?
The greatest murderer?
The only institution that gains its revenue by force/coercion/violence?
So yeah, we would be fantastically better off without it.
The rise of nation states is a compendium of wars where in the last couple hundred years you have seen democracy replacing totalitarianism. You'd rather Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, Ceasars, or Hitlers or Stalins?
As for my dismissing your generalization about "states" as being silly, well you are being silly. You are making blanket, shallow statements. Be specific in what "state" you are referring to at least. Just saying "the state" is a nonsequitur.
A state is any institution that derives its income through coercion in order to maintain a comparative advantage in violence in a given geographic area.
I'd rather none of the above. Democracies are the illusion of representation, and just another form of violence. They may be a step in the direction back to self-government, but if so, is that progress to you? At least to ScepticalOx, anything that takes us away from state control puts us back in caves (how that is so, I have no idea.)
But if self-determination and representative rule is what you desire, that was already attained and then summarily crushed by the rise of the nation-state. Democracy is no panacea. In fact, democratic socialism is merely an attempt to make the state permanent by allowing an avenue by which competing rulers can settle greviances without resorting to violence.
It does little, however, to hide the true nature of the state. The American state may appear less violent and oppresive than a two-bit dictator in North Africa, but just give it time. The nature of the state is to constantly expand its power. In order to do so, it must continue to consume resources that it cannot/will not pay for. (If they wanted to pay for the resources they're consuming, they'd be normal people.) Therefore, in every state it is just a matter of time before they turn from benign to oppresive. America is no different. It may not be in our lifetime (we can hope), but it is inevitable.
This is still a generalization and hence a nonsequitur. Are you talking about the US? Or Germany? Or Japan? Or Russia? Or China? Etc.?
Each "state" is different. Some more progressive than others. You are trying to basically lump all states as being the same, and that is just not the case.
Now if you are talking about the US as per this quote: "The American state may appear less violent and oppresive than a two-bit dictator in North Africa, but just give it time," that is pure surmise. In time I think we will continue to evolve in a positive direction, afterall just look at the progress of the Civil rights movement.
Are you basically a Darwinist, where the survival of fitest is the rule? So let's kick out that 84 year old surviving spouse who's only source of income is social security on the street and tell them now go fend for themself? Now who is being barbaric?
I gave you a definition of what a state is. The differences you speak of are in the forms of government which those states employ to control and rule their territories. Japan, Russia, US, Germany, those are all states. The difference lies in the way those states govern. Some respect individual freedom and private property more than others. Am I grateful for this? Of course. Why wouldn't I be? Do I see this as the best possible solution? Of course not. Nor do I think it's wise to pretend that a state which employs one governing style won't switch styles once its back is against the wall.
So each state is different in the form of government it employs. But they are still states and still fit the definition. You can cal it a nonsequitur. It's a definition. They are different kinds of apples, but calling a granny smith an apple is not a nonsequitur. It's meets the definition of an apple and a granny smith is a type of apple. Therefore, a granny smith is an apple. Therefore, the American ruling class is a state.
It is not pure surmise to conclude on the inevitability of state oppression. It's a conclusion one reaches the moment they come to understand the nature of the state. How does an organization that can only derive its revenue by force suddenly turn into a caring motherly figure?
You may confuse temporary reversals of state oppression as steps toward ever lasting state-sponsored peace. For example, the civil rights movement would be one of those steps. Let's not forget that it was America's ruling class that institutionalized racism as far back as the colonial governors. Let's not forget that it was the American ruling class that feared most the possibility of poor whites and blacks together overthrowing them, and so had slavery and racism embedded into the fabric of American life. And finally, that southern governments in response to puritan colonial reconstruction following the Civil War used violence to further institutionalize racism. In response, the Civil Rights movement, instead of focusing on the evil of state power, turned on private citizens and destoryed the Freedom of Association.
But while the Civil Rights movement was a positive baby-step, it pales in comparison to the steps that have take America in the opposite direction. Warrantless searches. Never ending wars on foreign soil. The destruction of liberty on a scale unprecendented in American history. The growing police state.
It seems odd that anyone could claim that the American government is moving in a benign direction when you look at the big picture. America has military bases in 130 countries. The American state has murdered around 100,000 Iraqis this decade. Hm, quite benign.
Your last paragraph is way out there. I'm not a darwinist. I don't want to kick granny out on the street. I don't know where any of that came from. It appears to be a desparate attempt to place values on me that would make you feel more comfortable. Instead, please focus on the discussion at hand.
Kdak - I missed the Lew Rockwell post that mentioned David.
Since I've got a moment, and I'm feeling froggy, let me tackle the Social Security argument for moment.
First, let's take the example of the 84 year old granny trying to live off the pittance of her SS check. This is a classic case in economics of only seeing the bridge being built. We see the check she gets. We see how she struggles to survive. We see her buying groceries with the money and supporting her limited lifestyle. We immediately figure, heck, without that, she'd perish!
What we don't see is the lifetime of confiscation. Not just from her but from everyone. Let's start with her. We don't see the money confiscated from her throughout her lifetime through taxes and inflation. For a person that worked their whole life, we are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars and more. Then we have to consider the money confiscated from the whole communtiy to support the system. And how that money could have been used productively to improve everyone's standard of living.
Basically, she's getting pennies back on the dollars that have been robbed from her throughout her life. But since we only see the pennies being given, and not the dollars being robbed, we think this is a great system.
Finally, in order to have a Social Security system you have to increase the power of the state. A consequence of this increased power is that the state will expand its control of other aspects of your life. The burgeoning police and military domination of the globe is your trade off to make sure granny gets her pennies back. Is it worth it?: You can't have one without the other.
So that's the full price you pay. In order to give granny pennies, you have to support a state that spends her lifetime robbing her and everyone else, expands its control of your life, and goes on constant foreign adventures.
Doesn't sound so wonderful now.
I'm totally guessing of course but it seemed unlikely to just be coinidence.
I don't want to disseminate personal info about anyone on here, but essentially Lew Rockwell wrote "Watching the Egyptian protests live on Al Jazeera English." followed by "Writes David [in Qatar]: Al Jazeera English has a good one. Very entertaining stuff."
He didn't actually write "in Qatar", I substituted that myself as it was David's actual last name. I just thought it was kind of cool.
kdak and flea,
Yes, that was me, and a couple of times Lew has blogged things I have sent him. Like alot of Misesians, Lew will respond directly to your emails and questions more often than not. I probably email him once a month and get a response from him personally about half the time. One of the nicest things Lew did for me was he took some interest in a close personal friend that was writing for the Atlantic on my request. Others who will really go out of their way to answer your questions are Jeffrey Tucker, who just might be a saint, and Tom Woods (less now though, with everything he has going on, but that's understandable.)
David in Qatar
whereaminow What you gave was a general generic definition and then argued off that as if it applied to all countries. It doesn't. Each country's "state" is unique to itself. So for any meaningful discussion you should be specific which you at least recognized in #33.
But as for this comment:
It is not pure surmise to conclude on the inevitability of state oppression. It's a conclusion one reaches the moment they come to understand the nature of the state. How does an organization that can only derive its revenue by force suddenly turn into a caring motherly figure
Prediction of the future by anyone is surmise. Countries and humans evolve over time. That can be shown clearly in the US just reviewing the end of slavery, women's suffrage movement, the Civil Rights movement, etc.
The HOPE is that mankind will continue to progress and more worldwide freedoms occur.
But what you seem to be arguing is that you don't like the present world "states." My "Darwinist" comment is just speculation on what you do support since you really never present any specific alternative except to say
That seems to suggest then that there was a natural nonexperimental condition that was somehow supplanted during evolution. Heck if I can tell what that was.
As for comment #35, that is another issue since then we get into the whole discussion of taxation and inflation which warrants a separate thread.
My "granny" comment was meant more as an illustration of the weak being brushed aside by the strong, as happened under Hitler's National Socialism for example where many elderly and mentally handicaped people were flat out murdered.
I've had less interaction with Misesians than you, but I've found the same thing. I don't know much about Jeffrey Tucker except liking a couple of his articles and my wanting to read Bourbon for Breakfast, but Tom Woods has been nice enough to respond to some Facebook posts I made as well as responding personally to a couple of e-mails I'd written him.
Let me start by saying that I really appreciate our conversation. You've approached my views, which are way outside the mainstream, without trying to denigrate or humiliate me. That's not as commonplace as I would hope.
Rather than continuing on our current course, which I don't mind coming back to, can I first ask you how you classify different states? You say that they are unique. I agree. So are snowflakes. You say that some are better than others. I agree.
I'm just not sure what the difference between us is? Do you think that the American government does not rely on coercion, the threat of violence, and sometimes actual violence, to extract its revenue?
I have hope too, but it's a different kind of hope. I watched a great TED presentation on the development of states, that noted an interesting trend toward decentralization. The presenter went so far as to predict a breakup of the United States, though not in our lifetime.
I have hope in people and in humanity. I don't have any hope in states. I think that institution is not meant for hope but for crushing hope.
That seems to suggest then that there was a natural nonexperimental condition that was somehow supplanted during evolution. Heck if I can tell what that was.
It was more like a devolution. It was hard work for a small group of people to come into power over others. It took an unnatural effort, that's for sure. But it happened. And it wasn't for the better. People come together naturally to trade and exchange. All of that distance crushing technology.. that was its purpose. The state changes its purpose, creates a new purpose, which is to rule and extract wealth. Almost everything in the hands of the state becomes a weapons system.
Well, I can't talk much more right now, but I'll stop back tomorrow.
you are a bright guy, it pains me to see you misjudge this 'state' business.
the 'state' is a simply a manifestation of a tendencies in human organization. just like the way that a large block of quartz is a manifestation of certain tendencies in the organization of silicon and oxygen.
the reason is simple - a group of people that specialize in their skills are almost always more efficient that individuals. this implies the need for an exchange medium, which implies the need for dispute resolution, a formal legal framework, means of enforcing these rules. this all comes at an increasing cost to the individual's freedom, but the efficiencies of specialization increase with scale, so even larger and more specialized states are the most successful.
we're nothing more that cells in a complex organism. when the P-T mass extinction occured, complex organisms re-evolved in a blip of geolocial time because then are a near optimal configuration for a bunch of cells. the 'state' exists for the same reason.
ps - this speaks nothing of morality. also, you mention 'devolution', and i think there's something to that. Multiple slow people specializing are more efficient than multiple fast people working independently. so things that allow for good teamwork are 'selected' for. maybe we are domesticating ourselves.
No reason why a civil discourse can't be had despite disagreements. I think mankind's evolution was and, sadly, still is a result of violence perpetrated by some over the majority.
Initially mankind roamed in small groups with usually the strongest as the leader. These groups would join and form clans, then tribes as time went by with again generally the strongest acting as the leaders.
The development of varying "states" really occurred fairly recently from a historical perspective. You had some forms of democracy during Ancient Greece or Roman times, but ultimately all states were totalitarian (Kings, Queens, Emperors, Czars, Dictators, Warlods). In all those cases it was a state of a few ruling basically by force over the majority. Some (Europen monarchies) even thinking it was by Devine Right.
The real experiment occurred upon the shores of North America, where thirteen colonies decided to oppose such a monarch and fight for freedom. What developed was a unique new form of Government, a Constitutional, democratic state.
Since then we have seen more and more countries embracing some form of democratic state. Personally I think this is a good thing.
As for your question
Do you think that the American government does not rely on coercion, the threat of violence, and sometimes actual violence, to extract its revenue?
I do not think the American government relies on coercion, etc. to extract revenue since our taxing system relies more on voluntary payments. There are prosecutions for avoiding taxes and people are jailed, but in the end the US really does rely on cooperation. We don't send armies into towns, villages and hamlets every year lining up the citizens and extracting an arbitrary amount of their goods or coinage as was the case in many other states throughout history. Instead people are audited randomly and if discrepancies are found those audited either pay or go to jail. You could argue I suppose that ultimately there is the threat of the "stick" (jail) for failing to comply, but most people I submit do comply despite that, recognizing that they do want roads, bridges, schools, police, armies, firemen, sanitation, etc.
Now if you ask me the question do I think the US evolved from violence against others, the answer would be yes. This country's boundaries resulted from the brutal attacks against Native Americans. We also endured a bloody Civil War in a fight to end slavery as an accepted institution.
I could go on but this is getting a bit long.
Hate typos, meant "Divine Right."
So basically it boils down to two things:
1. You view the revenue of the American government as arising from cooperation. I view it as arising out of coercion. If it is indeed voluntary payment, then the American government is a representative government and not a state. If it isn't, then vice versa.
2. This point is kind of moot if you don't agree with me on point #1, you won't agree on point #2. That is, that the American government will eventually become oppressive.
Ok, I'm going to defend my position, but first I want to share something interesting. On foreign news programs, particularly Al Jazeera, no one makes the assumption that rulers rule via cooperation. In fact the phrase "relationship between state and society" is used quite ooften on Al Jazeera when referring to the difference between those who rule and those who are ruled. They prefer the state model of civilization, but they don't sugar coat its reality. These conversations do not happen on dumbed down American newscasts.
Why do people cooperate in providing revenue to the government? Well, first, they have no idea where the money goes to or what it goes to. It doesn't pay for roads and schools. It pays for wars, interest on the national debt, social security, and medicare/medicaid. That's about it. Second, they know resistance is pointless. Why is it pointless? Because the American government, like any state, has a comparative advantage in violence. You will be put in a cage. If you resist being caged, you will be shot. So even I think you are better off paying. Does that mean I cooperate? Of course not. I comply. I acqueisce. I don't cooperate.
But that's just income tax. The national debt is another burden that is put on the people (cooperatively, you might claim), as well as the inflationary money printing of the Federal sReserve (again cooperatively?) On top of that you have dozen of other taxes and tariffs (those are taxes too) that a person will cooperate in paying throughout their life.
Does the mere act of complying with these indicate that it is cooperation? Not according to the definition of cooperation (see below).
Let's look at some examples where the will of the American people ran counter to the wishes of the state.
1. The Vietnam War draft. Thousands of people were forced to flee the country or be caged or killed if they resisted arrest. They foolishly thought their lives were their own and not the property of the American state. The draft continued without the people's cooperation.
2. The financial bailouts. Despite overwhelming popular objection, the bailouts were signed by the Republocrat leaders, transferring billions (trillions?) of dollars to the banking elite. The bailouts continue today without the people's cooperation.
Obviously I can come up with dozens of examples in just the last decade. The myriad of laws that have been passed, the surveillance state, TSA groping and scanning, wiretapping, detention, torture, etc. None of these things are cooperation among the government and its citizens. It is the state imposing its will on society.
We can look further back in history and find out why people don't resist the federal government. (Because it's pointless to resist. They have a comparative advantage in violence. That's why they are a state.)
The first occured shortly after the country was born. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whiskey_Rebellion
Not much has changed. Never mind Wesley Snipes, who should also be free, federal marshalls stormed a town in New Hampshire to arrest a couple in their sixties for not paying income taxes in July 2009http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Brown_(tax_protestor)
Either it's voluntary cooperation or it's not. If it's not, then someone is using force. Someone is coercing you.
If you have to cage or kill people when they don't comply, then it's not cooperation.
Here are some web definitions of cooperation:http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=define%3A+cooperation&aq=0&aqi=l1g4g-m6&aql=&oq=cooperation+definit
Notice that many of these definitions of cooperation describe it in terms of "mutual benefit." That means that each person in the exchange must feel that they are benefitting, and hence, will act voluntarily.
The American state does not operate on the concept of mutual benefit and voluntary exchange.
Here's a litmus test. Tomorrow, the US government makes all payment voluntary. Taxes, tarrifs, goes on a 100% gold standard (so as not to steal the value of the dollar), etc.
They say, "cmon now, everyone, let's cooperate. Pay us for whatever you use. And you can start your own competing roads and legal services and protective services and schools, etc, if you want to. Just pay as you go."
How much smaller is the American government next year and the year after? I'd wager my life that it shrinks by 90% within 5 years.
Of course, we can't run this experiment. Why? Because the US government is not a friendly cooperative. It's a state that relies on force to extract revenue from the people.
This not a purely libertarian view. The concept of state versus society is recognized by scholars across a wide spectrum of political beliefs.http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=active&q=state+versus+society
If you wish to go further, I'll talk about how I came to the conclusion that American state oppression is inevitable. Although I draw from Herbert Spencer, Albert Jay Nock, Randolph Bourne, Murray Rothbard, Hans Herman-Hoppe, Franz Oppenheimer, Garet Garrett, Lew Rockwell, and most recently, James C. Scott, in developing my view of the state, I don't know that any of them went as far as I do to contemplate the inevitability of oppression.
One more quick note.
Some of the things I've written here sound controversial, but they're not.
For example, I wrote here or on Chris' blog (don't care to search for it), that the state and governemnt and two different concepts. That government is a form a state may employ, but it is also can be self-government.
The state and government
The concept of the state can be distinguished from the concept of government. The government is the particular group of people, the administrative bureaucracy, that controls the state apparatus at a given time. That is, governments are the means through which state power is employed. States are served by a continuous succession of different governments.
I've also written my definition of a state above. The wiki entry is almost an exact copy:
In the social sciences, a state is the compulsory political institution of a centralized government that maintains a monopoly of the legitimate use of force within a certain territory.
So the main contention cannot be that states do not rely on coercion. The only difference is whether or not coercion or cooperation are the hallmarks of government. Many people believe that the American government relies on cooperation, as awallejr does. This is the mainstream view. I contend that it doesn't.
And I think that's pretty much where the differences boil down to. The rest is not really important.
all complex aggregations of people rely on both coercion and cooperation, no matter what they are called or the particulars of the structure. the interesting boundaries are where the forfeit of individual autonomy exceeds the utility of remaining part of the state for a critically large or important subset of the population. it's probably interesting to think about the scale, and whether the population is bounded.
anyway, to bring it back to the real world, clearly cheap bread and the threat of violence was not a suitable tradeoff to freedom for young and religious people in egypt. sadly, it seems to be a possible point of stability based on PRK, Myanmar, and (potentially) Iran. heaven help them, win or lose.
Complex problems require exchanges that cost, either in money or time, alot for the people in involved. If I can isolate one trait among those who wish to rule over me, it's that they don't like paying that cost. They want the results, but not the sacrifice.
As for Egypt, this revolution is starting to spiral out of control. Had Mubarak vacated, it looked possible that a power sharing governemnt might arise. Now, it's getting scary. I wish them the best. I'm inspired by how they worked together, but this is a critical juncture. Forces opposed to freedom are lurking.
David, nice blog +1 rec.
Many of the ideas may seem controversial to some, but I prefer to keep an open mind on such matters.
Although there was one statement on this blog that I must dispute-
#19 Packers suck
Go Steelers ; )
Yes there is a definitional difference between "state" and "government" but the terms are often interchangeable as well, but I was discussing off the definition you presented, to wit :
"A state is any institution that derives its income through coercion in order to maintain a comparative advantage in violence in a given geographic area."
That seems to address government since it is too specific. Technically "State" has space or territory, people living within on an ongoing basis, has economic activity, power of social engineering such as education, transportation system, a government which provides public services and police power, has sovereignty, and has external recognition.
Additionally you have been asking me about Amercian Government and you say "Because the US government is not a friendly cooperative. It's a state that relies on force to extract revenue from the people."
So for consistency of understanding when I refer to "state" I am referring to the controlling form of government and not its more technical definition.
As for this comment: "On foreign news programs, particularly Al Jazeera, no one makes the assumption that rulers rule via cooperation", I am sure that is the case since you are referring to a basically Middle Eastern news program. Aside from Israel and potentially Iraq now, its ruler background was/is predominantly tribal, monarchist or dictatorial. So yeah, I can understand that perspective.
In the US, for example, cooperation is necessary. Congress can't pass laws without at least a majority or higher depending on filibustering or Presidential veto. Even basic things like motor vehicle laws requires cooperation. Imagine the chaos if each person didn't follow them.
As to this comment:
"Why do people cooperate in providing revenue to the government? Well, first, they have no idea where the money goes to or what it goes to. It doesn't pay for roads and schools. It pays for wars, interest on the national debt, social security, and medicare/medicaid. That's about it. Second, they know resistance is pointless. Why is it pointless? Because the American government, like any state, has a comparative advantage in violence. You will be put in a cage. If you resist being caged, you will be shot."
Actually people do know or could know where the revenues basically go (though yes specific military spending can be "hidden" from public scrutiny). But for the most part the information is available. While it does pay for wars, social security, national debt, it also most certainly does pay for roads, bridges, dams, schools etc. Those are not being built by private money. You can get technical and say some of those are paid by a given locality's government not the Federal Government, except the Federal Government does provide shared lending to localities.
As for resistance being pointless you are wrong. Women's suffrage movement was built on resistance. People went to jail. Same thing with the Civil Rights movement, people died or went to jail. Same with the Vietnam War, people died or went to jail. In all those cases change was brought about. And the best place for changing something is at the voting booth (just look at the power shift from the last election). Believe me politicians are VERY mindful over public polls.
But what stands out to me was this sentence:
"So even I think you are better off paying. Does that mean I cooperate? Of course not. I comply. I acqueisce. I don't cooperate."
And there's our biggest disagreement. That is your state of mind. Not everyone elses's. I submit most people accept the need and responsibility for paying taxes. The argument is usually over the amount and how it is spent.
But what stands out to me was this sentence:
If I was the only one who felt that way, maybe you'd have a strong point. But there are millions of us with this "state of mind." We don't view taxation as legitimate. We didn't agree to it. We are coerced into it.
If you threaten someone, and they comply because they don't want to get beaten, that isn't a 'state of mind.' They comply because it is a better alternative.
That's coercion, my man.
This is rather tangential, but is there anybody here knowledgeable enough to comment on "Operation Ajax" and the ouster of democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh? It would seem that with things like that, and with leaders like Mubarak being supported by the U.S., that it really is no great wonder that this part of the world harbors great resentment toward "the West".
It is still your state of mind in the end. I am sure others may feel as you do, certainly Irwin Schiff does, and he did choose prison standing on his principles. But when I pay my taxes, and while you will hear me grumble and blurt out an occasional curse, I don't feel coerced at all. I want things. I am willing to wager that if you polled all the US taxpayers, the bulk wouldn't argue against paying taxes, but rather, as I said before, they would argue over the amount and how it is spent.
In response to this commment of yours:
Except no one is threatening you with anything. You are free to do what you wish, but in a society ruled by laws, there are consequences. If you murder someone, you go to jail. If you rob a bank, you go to jail. If you drive while drunk, you go to jail. If you feel "coerced" into not being able to do any of those things because of the jail consequence (as opposed to not doing them because you are a decent human being), well good. Same concept applies if you avoid paying your taxes, you go to jail. Your choice, your state of mind. No one is pointing a gun at you or threatening to beat you unless you resist arrest, and then that would be for the resisting.
Many people were killed, beaten and jailed during the Civil Rights movement. They were breaking laws knowing what the consequences might be, but did so in an effort to effect changes in the laws. If you feel strongly about the paying of taxes, protest away, but I suspect that is a true lost cause.
So as the dust begins to settle in Egypt it looks like we got "Muslim Brotherhood" on our hands. That just emphasizes the point I made earlier "All these riots and revolutions don't normally bring "freedom" they just replace one group of scumbags with another group of scumbags while decent people get killed on both sides.". When will americans will stop being naive and start taking the world seriously? FED, US politicians and other power brokers remind me children playing with matches, - a lot of power in their hands but no regard for potential consequnces, no respect for history.
And whatever anyone else says I still maintain that it is FED's lose monetary policy that tipped the scales. They had a cavalier attitute from the beggining - we will deal with the problems in the US and the rest of the world will just have to deal with the consequences. China, Brazil, France, Germany and other countries spoke up in tha last 6 months about potential consequnces and were laughed at and ignored.
I'm sorry I've been gone a couple of days, so I didn't have time to respond.
So, it's just a state of mnid. That's ridiculous. Like, beyond ridiculous. No one is threatening me? What are all those jails and police guys for?
Look, I see what you have to do. You know that if you say property belongs to yourself and others, that inconsistency is too easy to defeat. So instead, you place the blame on us. We just have a bad state of mind, that's all. We don't voluntarily accept our predicament like you do.
(Btw, it's estimated taht even a law-abiding citizen like yourself commits 2-3 felonies per day. I suppose it's just your anti-government state of mind.)
So if there was a law that said oh.... I don't know... premeir nocte, and my wife refused to cooperate, is it just her state of mind?
How do we know which laws are just and unjust? Simply by how cooperative we are?
Sorry, but this is really a poor argument. And it shows me how poorly thought out the mainstream statist positions really are.
I remain unswayed. I guess it's my state of mind. Or it could be my understanding of the natural human condition.
Here's a quick side note, as I was busy the last 2-3 days, but these thoughts are never far from my head.
Why do the statists always complain about overpopulation? Well, you could ask, why do so many people live in the cities? It's certainly true that cities attract people to a degree, as increased commerce increases job opportunities.
But as usual, there is something else at work. You see, states rely on control. Even in America, where early anarchic cities were usurped by statists like Benjamin Franklin who abhored freedom. (See A Renegade's History of the United States for more on Franklin's hatred of common people and their way of life.)
From the beginnning states seek to control the populace. That's why they were so dependent on fixed grain agriculture. It's also why they did everything they could to bring people to these "civilization centers", normally as slaves (very civilized indeed!). Over the centuries, the methods have changed, from slavery to tax breaks and welfare, both corporate and common. But the reasoning is the same. The more people you can control, the better.
As time goes on, some states realize they've grown too populous. It's not that there are too many humans, but too many for them to control. That's the real reason China has a one-child policy. It's about control. State control. Of course, the Han dynasty infamously rounded up peasants and enslaved them in fixed grain agriculural centers for centuries, so who is really responsible for China's population problems?
I agree with you, except that the MB is not a problem for Americans. It's a problem for the Israel and the American power elite that uses Israel as an excuse to extract money from Boobus Americanus. Isreal is a far-away socialist ethnocracy with no interest in freedom or property rights and anything that has to do with American culture.
They want the rubes to feel for Israel because it's a money racket. Lots and lots of money. They laugh all the way to the bank.
The MB is just capitalizing on the other side of that game, the populist rhetoric that unites Boobus Arabicus.
My last shot at this since we are going in circles now.
1) You are operating under the premise that people pay taxes because they are coerced into doing so.
2) I am operating under the premise that most people pay taxes out of recognizing the need for them for public works and services and consider it an obligation under a Social Contract theory.
Those are two different mindsets. Group #1 feels coerced I suppose out of fear of imprisonment. Group #2 doesn't feel coerced at all and hopes group #1 is ultimately deterred from noncompliance.
In the end it really is majority rule. So if you want to say that the majority is "coercing" the minority through the threat of imprisonment I wouldn't necessarily disagree, although I would probably use the phrase imprisoning where deterrence has failed (eg, Al Capone).
But realistically you feel coerced when you fill up your car with gas? Or when you use your Iphone? Or when you buy a pack of cigarettes? Or groceries? Or watch cable television? Or fly in an airplane? In all those cases you are paying taxes in some form. Most people already have their taxes taken out of their paychecks and probably look forward to tax time so they can get their refund.
Now the question of unjust vs. just laws is another issue and I have given three historical events addressing that (women's sufferage, Civil Rights movement, Vietnam War draft). People protested, suffered physical harm, death, imprisonment in attempts to change certain laws, and in those examples there was success, a minority slowing changing the majority's views.
As for the issue of overpopulation, my only concern with it is we will probably outstrip our natural resources.
#30, #38 = Godwin's Law.
#57 yeah but I also threw in Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun. How often do you see them making the cut?
At a later date, perhaps we could do a debate on Social Contract theory versus the Non-Aggression Principle, since that pretty much covers the thrust of our disagreement?
I'm going to walk away from this thread but I do appreciate your comments and for engaging me in debate. Please stop by on any of my posts!
Would be happy to since it seems there lies our philosphical differences. Hopefully neamakri won't join and misapply the Godwin Law.
Very cool. I'll be sure to give you a heads up. I think people here would enjoy reading it, if we could give it some structure.