These days I get more and more messages from people expressing one sentiment: "Okay, so government sucks, but without it, how would we protect ourselves from crooks, thieves, gangs and invading armies?" In fact, it seems that the worse "government" gets, the more some people scream that not having one at all would make things even worse. And some insist that even if we did away with the "government" we have now, another one--probably even worse--would just grow in its place. Scary gangs would take over, and grow into new tyrannies.
What all such predictions and concerns fail to take into account is that today, oppression is about 5% the result of the thugs who claim to act on behalf of "government," and 95% the result of what is in the minds of the oppressed.
Don't believe me? Imagine you were a nasty guy, and were given the following challenge: You would get 100,000 thugs to do your bidding, and a bunch of money, and you had to rob 100,000,000 people of half of what they earned, over and over again, year after year.
Already the odds are hugely against you: your intended victims outnumber your thugs a thousand to one. This won't be easy. (Even Navy Seals wouldn't like those odds.) But wait, it gets worse. Only 10,000 of your thugs have any weapons. And the other 90,000 are not only unarmed, but most of them are overweight middle-aged women, or 90-pound office nerds, who aren't really excited about the job to begin with. Now what are your chances? Oh, and by the way, about half of your intended victims are armed.
So, think you could do it?
Not a chance. UNLESS...
If you can somehow dupe your victims into feeling a moral obligation to hand over their money--if you can make them perceive your demands as somehow legitimate, and make them view disobedience to you as a sin--then you might be able to pull it off.
And then you'd be called the "Internal Revenue Service."
The power of "government" to oppress does not come from brute force alone; it comes from the indoctrination of the masses into believing that the tyrants are "authority"--that they have the right to rob ("tax") people, the right to boss people around ("regulate" them), the right to kidnap ("imprison") people who disobey, and so on. Without the victims of oppression imagining their own oppression to be "legal," and therefore justified, it would take a lot more brute force to keep them in line--far more brute force, in fact, than could be funded by what was stolen from them.
The notion of "government" is the belief that certain people have the right to steal, assault, harass, control and murder. As long as that belief exists in the minds of the public, then yes, removing any particular gang calling itself "government" would accomplish nothing. A new group of thugs would take its place, and become the new "authority." But if you remove the belief--which is what I and others are trying so hard to do--tyranny is finished.
There are somewhere around 90,000,000 gun owners in this country. That number is 30 times bigger than the entire Chinese army. Armed civilians here outnumber all "law enforcement" and military personnel by a huge margin. The American people cannot be ruled by brute force alone, not by any foreign power, not by any local gang, not by anyone on this planet. The only way to oppress them is by doing what the American tyrants do today: convince the people that the oppression is legitimate, by calling it "law" and "authority." And if you can make your victims think that you have the right to rob and control them, it doesn't matter at all how strong they are, what weapons they have, or how many of them there are.
Without the myths of "legality" and "authority" legitimizing their actions, the current tyrants here could never in a million years force compliance. If the people as a whole didn't believe in the notion of "taxes"--legitimate theft which is immoral to resist--the IRS would be gone tomorrow. A few might get beaten up or killed, and the rest would immediately resign.
Likewise, if the people as a whole didn't imagine that "law" legitimizes what the DEA and ATF do, those agencies would also be gone tomorrow. (If you doubt it, imagine a non-"government" gang of a few thousand thugs going around doing armed invasions of houses to take away all alcohol. How long do you suppose that would last? Try to get between Americans and their beer, and things will get ugly.)
Ever since the advent of firearms, the thing that most determines whether tyranny will occur is how the tyrants' victims perceive the situation. If the victims perceive their attackers to be "government" and "authority," and perceive their demands to be legitimate "laws," the victims will feel a moral obligation to be victimized. Then they will talk about how proud they are to have been victimized! (That's exactly what Americans do when they brag about being "law-abiding taxpayers.")
But if the intended victims do not view the attacks as legitimate, the tyrants are finished. In a land where that many people have guns, even though isolated incidents of robbery and assault are still possible, brute force alone could never be used to oppressive the people on any large scale, or for any significant amount of time.
The American people already have the means to resist, but as long as they believe in "government," they will not have the will to resist the biggest thugs around. As long as the belief in "authority" survives, there will be a never-ending supply of evil bastards ready to fill the void. But once the "government" myth falls--once the people no longer hallucinate some robbery and assault to be legitimate (because it's "legal" and done by "government")--then tyranny is dead, and no amount of brute force could ever rebuild it.
(If there are some people you know who need to be persuaded to stop condoning their own enslavement--and your enslavement--try getting them a copy of "The Iron Web.")