For Society to Recover, the State Must Die

For Society to Recover, the State Must Die
Will Grigg 
Date: 0000-00-00
Subject: Inspiration

Government is in the business of preventing solutions. It is an exercise in monetizing misery, generating and prolonging crises, and making problems profitable for politically connected interests. The only things that government makes are criminals out of innocent people and corpses out of living human beings.

It is the market " the spontaneous process of voluntary, mutually beneficial exchange --- that identifies problems and generates solutions. It is the market that produces social progress, not the political government. The self-appointed role played by the political class is to impede such progress where it can " and, when that effort fails, to find some way to poach credit for those accomplishments as a prelude to confiscating whatever material benefits result from them.

This process was neatly encapsulated in Barack Obama’s sneering rebuke to the productive class: “If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” 

Obama is the very embodiment of the political class. On his collectivist reading of U.S. history, it was through government intervention " not individual initiative " that “we created the middle class.”

“We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people,” he insisted. “You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”

Like most people of his ideological bent, Obama either cannot or will not distinguish between society " which is created through peaceful commerce and other forms of private cooperation " and the state " an anti-social artifact built on conquest, coercion, and confiscation of wealth. Government produces nothing; it is an exercise in pure consumption and the destruction of capital. As Nietzsche famously said, everything the State has is stolen.

Barack Obama " whose brow has never been moistened by the sweat of honest labor " knows literally nothing about creating wealth and value. As a politician, Obama is deeply committed to “community organizing” " that is, the creation of government-focused coalitions devoted to the forcible redistribution of the wealth that is created through the exertions of private producers.

A common refrain chanted by Statists is that government plays an indispensable role in providing relief to victims of natural disasters. After Hurricane Sandy left much of New York and New Jersey devastated, the New York Times opined that “A big storm requires big government,” and triumphantly said that the disaster underscored the worthiness of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Without FEMA, asked the Times, “Who would make decisions about where to send federal aid? Or perhaps there would be no federal aid, and every state would bear the burden of billions of dollars in damages?”

The newspaper’s editorial collective apparently believes that the unfathomably wise and endlessly competent people managing the central government are better equipped to fix local problems than the people affected by them directly. They also appear to believe that the federal government, unlike states, can magically create money out of the ether. Historically, FEMA’s role in disaster management has been to retard the efficient delivery of relief offered by private agencies.

Displaying the same gift for State-worshiping self-censorship that had characterized the work of Walter Duranty " the newspaper’s Moscow correspondent who won a Pulitzer prize for covering up Stalin’s Ukrainian genocide " the Times editorial collective didn’t disclose the role FEMA plays in exacerbating natural disasters by providing tax-subsidized insurance to people who build homes and businesses in flood and hurricane-prone areas. That perverse entitlement program, which benefits wealthy property owners in coastal areas at the expense of the middle class, was expanded by a measure signed into law by President Obama a few months before the arrival of Hurricane Sandy.

The Times likewise lost interest in the post-Sandy reconstruction once the lights were back on in Lower Manhattan and politicians had held their self-congratulatory press conferences. Accordingly, its readers weren’t exposed to stories exposing the patent uselessness of FEMA as a relief agency. While politicians flocked to Washington to demand welfare boodle for their privileged constituencies, victims in Staten Island, Queens, and other storm-ravaged regions received no help. When the region was hit with a severe Nor’easter shortly after election day, FEMA responded by closing its relief offices in order to protect its supposedly irreplaceable employees from being exposed to the storm.

Residents of a FEMA refugee center in Oceanport, New Jersey called “Camp Freedom” complain that their living conditions resemble those of a prison camp. Not only were they left exposed to the cold and deprived of promised amenities such as washing machines and hot showers, they were also cut off from nearly all contact with the outside world. They were denied WiFi access, not allowed to use smart phones, and forbidden to take pictures of their surroundings.

Many residents of Staten Island left homeless in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy might find themselves literally living behind bars. Up to 900 of the 5,200 borough residents who applied for FEMA housing could be warehoused in the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility, a shuttered medium-security prison.

This is the kind of “help” FEMA boasted about when the agency announced on December 4 that it would need a budget increase.

In storm-wrecked areas of both New York and New Jersey, looting was commonplace, and police provided no discernible protection. However, police continued to issue parking and traffic tickets, harvesting revenue on behalf of a government that has been manifestly useless in protecting liberty and property.

While thousands of his constituents left homeless by Hurricane Sandy were still suffering in the cold, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie found time to make a self-aggrandizing appearance on Saturday Night Live. He then informed New Jersey residents that taxes would have to be increased in order to pay for reconstruction efforts that have yet to begin.

As if this weren’t sufficiently aggravating, some residents of New Jersey’s Seaside Heights who saw their homes ravaged by the storm were slapped with a bureaucratic after-shock: They found demolition notices warning that their homes would be destroyed by November 30, unless they could repair the structural damage by that date. Residents would be granted a hearing, but faced fines of $2,000 a week if they couldn’t comply with the clean-up order.

The storms left many residents of Rockaway Beach in Queens without electricity, clean water, or suitable shelter. Once the floodwaters retreated, many homes and businesses were found to be infested with toxic mold that can have " and, for many residents, has had " severe health consequences, including acute respiratory difficulties.

Immediately after the storm, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg visited the area for what he expected would be an adulatory photo-op. Instead, he was confronted by several residents who bluntly demanded that he explain why little if any relief had been provided.

The situation had grown dramatically worse by the time Bloomberg paid a return visit on November 29. This time, Bloomberg was careful to limit his exposure by paying a brief, closed-door visit with the editorial staff of the local newspaper " after which he was whisked away to a helicopter by a phalanx of grim-faced police officers.

This is the same Mayor Bloomberg who had actually forbidden private charities to provide food to homeless shelters and soup kitchens because it hadn’t been inspected by bureaucrats who enforce his draconian nutritional decrees. He is also the same municipal commissar who ordered police to break up a relief effort organized by Occupy Staten Island activists. Commissar Bloomberg ordered the police to strike after a photo was published on-line showing Occupy activists feeding FEMA workers " who not only had no food to provide to storm refugees, but couldn’t even feed themselves.

Rather than vindicating the case for government, Sandy and its aftermath underscored the consummate uselessness of government. For many people it has clinched the argument for abolishing the State " or at least it should.

At some point in any conversation in which the legitimacy of government is challenged, a Statist will dismiss such talk as the petulant complaints of someone who doesn’t like to pay taxes. The Statist, acting with smugly misplaced confidence in the power of cliche, will then deploy Justice Holmes' dictum about taxes being "the price we pay for civilization."

Actually, taxes are the price extracted from us by those determined to undermine civilization, which is built on the peaceful, mutually enriching exchange of knowledge, goods, services, sound traditions, and culture among people of goodwill.

As Justice Holmes would have understood, had he not been a blinkered positivist and deranged militarist, taxation is what fuels the forces of barbarism -- the Warmakers, empire-builders, and practitioners of public plunder in all of its malignant varieties.

The "civilizing" deeds of such people are measured by the graveyards they have filled, the prisons and gallows they have built, and the number of names listed in the obscene war memorials they erect in their own honor, if that word applies. All of these depredations are made possible by taxation. They are artifacts of the criminal enterprise called government.

By way of contrast, all of the genuinely civilized functions of life -- those that take place in families, churches, the marketplace, and private associations of shared interest -- require not a farthing in taxes.

The Roman historian Tacitus famously lamented the work of imperialists who make a desert and call it "peace." In the same fashion, tax-fed Kleptocrats impose systems of official plunder, corruption, and violence and call it "civilization."

“Very well,” our hypothetical (but tiresomely familiar) Statist will reply, “if you don’t like it here, why don’t you move to a country that has no government " like Somalia?”

We should only be so lucky!

There is more to what we might call the "Somali Model" than warlords and famine victims, and much of it could apply to reconstructing free society following the overdue collapse of the American State.

Between the 1960s and the early 1990s, Somalia was the "beneficiary" of huge loans from the World Bank; by 1987, 37 percent of the country’s GNP was derived directly from such loans. Siad Barre, the Marxist Kleptocrat on whom the World Bank bestowed that beneficence, lived in opulent splendor even as the nation’s infrastructure rotted away.

Barre's regime collapsed in 1991, triggering a brief but bloody civil war among rival aspirants to succeed the tyrant. Starving Somalis offered irresistible opportunities for the purveyors of victim pornography, and saturation media coverage of the famine led to a US-led, UN-mandated "humanitarian" intervention in December 1992. That mission was soon redefined as a "nation-building" exercise -- that is, an effort to re-impose a standard-issue centralized regime on a fissiparous tribe-based society.

As it happens, the famine was under control before the military intervention began, and the effort to inflict a government on the Somalis led to a great deal of entirely gratuitous bloodshed. So the UN mission folded its tents and left the Somalis to muddle through without a government. And Somalis did more than merely muddle: After suffering horribly under a World Bank-subsidized central government, they flourished in a state-less society precisely because of the "neglect" of the "international community."

In Somalia, "the very absence of a government may have helped nurture an African oddity " a lean and efficient business sector that does not feed at a public trough controlled by corrupt officials," wrote Peter Maas in the May 2001 issue of The Atlantic Monthly.

Without the instruments of state coercion to misdirect investments and suppress initiative, private businesses sprang up like blades of grass suddenly freed from an oppressive overgrowth of weeds. This in turn encouraged the development of telecommunications, transportation, and shipping companies to serve the needs of the newly liberated private sector.

Internet cafes began to sprout in Mogadishu, which just a decade earlier had been the scene of astonishing bloodshed. Rather than re-building a state-controlled, taxpayer-financed police force, Somali businessmen hired private security firms to protect their investments and property.

"Mogadishu has the closest thing to an Ayn Rand-style economy that the world has ever seen -- no bureaucracy or regulation at all," wrote Maass in astonishment. "The city has had no government since 1991.... Somali investors are making things happen, not waiting for them to happen." In the stateless Somali economy, everything "is based on trust, and so far it has worked, owing to Somalia's tightly woven clan networks: everyone knows everyone else, so it's less likely that an unknown con man will pull off a scam."

"If the business community succeeds in returning Mogadishu to something resembling normalcy," concluded Maass, "it will have shown that a failed state, or at least its capital city, can get back on its feet without much help from the outside world."

Maass understated the case: Somalia's transformation would illustrate the ability of a stateless society to overcome the pernicious legacy left by decades of "help" from the so-called international community.

A World Bank study grudgingly admitted: "Somalia boasts lower rates of extreme poverty and, in some cases, better infrastructure than richer countries in Africa." This is almost certainly because it was not cursed with a World Bank-subsidized central government to poach the wealth created by Somalia's productive class.

Now, you just knew that the architects of international order simply couldn't allow that state of affairs to continue. And, sure enough, under the all-exculpating rationale provided by the "War on Terror," the Regime ruling us from Washington arranged for Somalia to be invaded by the vile government ruling the neighboring country, Ethiopia.

According to New York Times correspondent Jeffrey Gettleman, Washington's surrogate aggression in Somalia was necessary in order to beat down "raw antigovernment defiance."

As if that were, in some sense, a bad thing.

"They do not pay taxes, their businesses are totally unregulated, and they have skills that are not necessarily geared toward a peaceful society," wrote Gettleman with an all-but-audible tone of alarmed disapproval. His prose is drenched in scorn when describing Somalis seeking to profit in the private sector, but maintains his composure when describing how the transitional government arbitrarily closed and confiscated profitable businesses and hiked some taxes by as much as 300 percent. Gettleman uncritically quoted Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, the puppet ruler who grandly called himself Somalia's "transitional president," describing his political critics as "the guys bringing in expired medicine, selling arms, [and] harboring terrorists."

Gettleman buttressed that self-serving accusation with supposedly authoritative assessments from conveniently anonymous "Western security officials" -- you know, the kind people who arranged for Somalia to descend, once again, into murderous chaos, rather than permitting it to enjoy the benefits of state-less, spontaneous order.

By late 2007, thanks to the attention of Washington and its allies, Somalia's fledgling market economy was gone, and the country was once again on the brink of famine. In the years that followed, Somalia’s misery has deepened " and it is once again ignorantly invoked to illustrate the supposed dangers of anarchism, rather than understood as an example of government’s ineffaceable evil.

Rejection of government is America’s oldest and noblest tradition. We have thrived when “neglected” by government, and withered under its supposedly benevolent attention. It was the decision of the British government to reverse its policy of “benign neglect” toward the American Colonies that led directly to the War for Independence.

During a 1764 parliamentary debate over taxing the American colonies, Charles Townshend " author of the  notorious taxation acts that catalyzed rebellion in the colonies " prefigured Obama’s  “You didn’t build that” speech by asserting that the colonies had been "nourished up by our indulgence" and thus owed their prosperity to England.

That claim provoked a revealing rejoinder from Colonel Isaac Barre, a critic of British designs toward the colonies.

"They [were] nourished up by your indulgence?" responded Barre incredulously. "They grew by your neglect of them. As soon as you began to care about them, that care was exercised in sending persons to rule them in one department and another … sent to spy out their liberties, to misrepresent their actions, and to prey upon them." It was the actions of these supposedly benign official busybodies that on many occasions has caused the blood of those Sons of Liberty to recoil within them,” Barre concluded. As if determined to prove Barre’s point, King George’s constabulary reacted to his speech by having the war hero imprisoned in the Tower of London.

Americans today live under a regime that is more oppressive, more violent, more militaristic, and less constrained by law than the one from which our ancestors wrested their independence. In the coming year, taxes will increase, prosperity will diminish, government efforts to regiment our lives will become more invasive, and the actions of its enforcers will become more aggressive. In brief: The State will wax, and society will wane. Awful though this will be, it will provide no shortage of opportunities for liberty-minded people to engage in evangelism with people who will be receptive to our message.
There is a sense in which unfolding economic collapse -- which implicates every significant institution of the evil system that rules us -- could be a providential catastrophe, if it is dealt with correctly. To put the matter simply, for our civilization to recover, the United States of America needs to become a "failed state” " and we must do everything we can, consistent with the non-aggression principle and our personal circumstances, to bring about that happy outcome.

An award-winning investigative journalist, William Norman Grigg was the senior editor and a prolific contributor to The New American, the official magazine of the John Birch Society. His writing reflects views heavily influenced by constitutionalism, libertarianism, and anti-communism.

Mr. Grigg has written and co-produced several video documentaries, including Tragedy by Design (1997), Injustice for All: The International Criminal Court (1998), and Civilian Disarmament: Prelude to Tyranny (2000). Visit his webpage at WillGrigg.Com.