Keep the Home Fires Burning

Column by Paul Hein.
Exclusive to STR
As the economy collapses, and civilization disintegrates, increasing numbers of people are becoming aware of the corrupt, vicious, and arrogantly stupid nature of government—especially the federal government--and its role in the dissolution.
But wait! Do we really want to believe that government is the problem? Keep in mind that there is no such physical entity as government. It is a label, nothing more, and a diversion. What we call “government,” or the “state,” is people: actual living, breathing human beings, working for an organization which they idealize as “government,” because it sounds so much more important and respectable than “gang.”
Whether it is the gang in Washington, or the local gang, there is always an impressive “constitution” that purports to be its charter, its reason for existing. For example, the federal gang justifies its existence by claiming to protect your right to life, liberty, and property. In actual operation, however, the gang members present an imminent threat to your life, liberty, and property greater than that presented by any other gang. In recent years, however, I’ve come to realize that local gangs are no better, despite their being closer to the people, and, therefore, presumably more responsive to their needs and demands.
I accept that there must be a certain amount of rhetorical boilerplate in constitutions, so I am not surprised to read, in my state’s constitution, the following: “That all political power is vested in and derived from the people; that all government of right originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.” The next section is a little more specific: “…all persons have a natural right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of the gains of their own industry--to give security to these things is the principal office of government, and that when government does not confer this security, it fails in its chief design.” To cap the climax: “…the people of this state have the inherent, sole, and exclusive right to…alter and abolish their constitution and form of government whenever they may deem it necessary to their safety and happiness….” Wow!
I take it as virtual proof that nobody reads the constitution, including those that swear to adhere to it, that such language remains. How can members of the gang raise their hands and swear allegiance to a document that declares them a failure if they fail to secure a person’s right to the “gains of their own industry,” while simultaneously claiming a right to those gains, achieved as income, or property? Has any member of a government gang ever provided a victim with substantial evidence that the gang has a greater claim upon the victim’s property than the victim himself? Certainly, if you knocked on someone’s door and said you had come to collect some money or property because you were, by your own decree, entitled to it, you would risk exposing yourself as a madman. If you persisted, you would be arrested and taken away. But when you make such a claim as a member of a “government” gang, you fully expect to be taken seriously, and, perhaps even more remarkably, you are!
The reason, of course, is “the law”! Oh, so sacrosanct and precious! It is by virtue of the “law” that the gang takes the property of others, and considers itself justified in doing so. But the “law” is just the demands of the gang put down on paper, along with some feel-good sentiments as we’ve quoted above, about securing the rights of the people, providing for the public good, etc. In plain fact, the reason the gang can “lawfully” take what is yours is--because they say they can. If you doubt it, just ask them. They all agreed, according to a process of their own devising, that it was utterly right and proper for them to claim as theirs what you (foolishly!) thought was yours!
But they say they can only take what is yours for a limited purpose: “Taxes may be levied and collected for public purposes only….” (That’s in the state Constitution.) We aren’t given a definition of “public purposes,” but it’s safe to assume that such purposes must be included in the state’s spending. Yet year after year, my state has, according to its own Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) revenues that exceed expenditures by approximately $2 billion. I’m not a businessman, but isn’t an excess of revenue over expenditure called PROFIT? Is the Revenue Department (which, incidentally, is listed in Dun & Bradstreet) in business to make a profit? It’s interesting, by the way, that what the state takes in is “revenue.” What you take in is “income,” which, though never defined, is considered—mistakenly--by the state to be taxable. Well, you’re not a member of the gang.
If you bought a refrigerator from Acme Corp., and it broke down after a few months, and you bought another one from Acme Corp. and it broke down after a few months, and you bought still another one from Acme Corp. which also broke down after a few months, I am pretty sure you’d think twice about buying any more refrigerators from Acme Corp. Now the gang that runs my state--and I’m pretty sure your state is similar--admits, in plain English, that it fails in its primary purpose if  it does not secure for you the gains of your own industry. It fails year after year, decade after decade. Moreover, the same gang assures you, again in plain language, of your right to replace them when you deem it necessary for your safety and happiness!
So the obvious question is: Just how much allegiance do you owe to an organization that, by its own admission, repeatedly fails to accomplish its purpose? Why should you pay it any attention at all? Remember, by its own declaration, sworn to by all its members, you have the right to replace it!
So, when? All in favor of abolishing their form of government--gang rule--raise their hands. You have nothing to lose but your chains, padded and comfortable though they may be.

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Paul Hein's picture
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Paul's picture

"I take it as virtual proof that nobody reads the constitution, including those that swear to adhere to it, that such language remains."

Perhaps. My reading of such prose is that it helps maintain the fantasy that "the peepul" run the government. As long as no one important (e.g. a judge employed by that same government) pays any attention to it, there is no harm keeping it there and lots of potential benefits for the rulers.

Quite some irony here: the very language proclaiming the right to dump the old government for a newer one, is that which keeps people sleeping and bought into the old one.

"In recent years, however, I’ve come to realize that local gangs are no better, despite their being closer to the people..."

This reads like someone from a high population state. In Wyoming, the legislators are guys you can meet down at the local cafe getting coffee. So I think their proximity to the people is such that it actually does restrain them a little. But having only 30 working days (average) per session probably helps even more.

A Liberal in Lakeview's picture

Paul Hein,

(1) "What we call 'government,' or the 'state,' is people: actual living, breathing human beings"

If so, then we may call it a set, in a mathematician's sense of the word set, for these human beings are not like the cells of an organism that is itself a living being. Instead, this set is a mental object. Even though the members of this set are living psychophysical beings, the set itself is without physical reality. The set is not alive, and it does no deed, either good or evil.

Furthermore, if you and I conceived of a set of the same 99 individuals, we might call them by the same name, "government", but we would have in fact formed two separate sets, just as we have two minds among us. There would be quite literally two governments comprised of the same 99 individuals. That there are two governments, each with the same 99 persons, would hold unless, perhaps, our minds have as their object the same nonphysical entity which each of us is calling government. (We might have given it different names, but the names would have a common, single referent.) Now we've come to speculative metaphysics, but my main point remains the same. You defined government such that it's a set of people, not their activites. To disperse the government would be no more than to disperse the set conceived in one's mind. Not exactly a worldchanging revolt.

If, on the other hand, you define government as the coordinated actions of several actual, living breathing human beings, then the sets problem vanishes. Now the government is something in the physical world, but again it does no work, for government, itself, is the work or activity. This definition suggests what I think you already realize is true anyway: Halting the organized criminalism is no more complicated than preventing the individuals responsible for government, in this latter sense of government, from acting in concert with one another. No great earthquake there, but I hope it suggests something important about liberals establishing an advantage over statists in terms of being able to act in concert. Another implication is that once most of the people who perform the actions called government fall asleep, most of the government vanishes from existence. In fact, much of the government has vanished by the time they are getting into bed.

(2) "nobody reads the constitution"

So it would appear. Or perhaps lots of people read it, or small portions of it, but they tend to project on to it what they want to find. Or they keep their mouths shut if they find an incoherency or something of which they disapprove. As Paul noted, it's a useful tool for the political class.

Nevertheless, I would argue that lots of people read the federal one but almost no one thinks about it very carefully. Take Article VII, for example. It reads that nine states' conventions must ratify the Constitution for it to be established as supreme law. But prior to establishment, that article can provide no such criteria. To suppose that it could is to presuppose establishment before establishment. So the criteria must come from outside the text of the Const. If ever the C. were established, Art. VII would be superfluous. (Note that Art. VII ends with the word "Same", contrary to what one regular contributor at claimed in a long book about the C. and its adoption.)

(3) Illinois' constitution has a few doozies. One is theocracy. The preamble begins, "We, the People of the State of Illinois—grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberty which He has permitted us to enjoy...". (Emphasis mine.) Granted, theocracy is common among the provinces' constitutions. Later we find the preamble larded with soft socialism and parental mush " order to provide for the health, safety and welfare of the people;...; eliminate poverty and inequality; assure legal, social and economic justice; provide opportunity for the fullest development of the individual;...".

(4) "So, when?"

How about at noon on day of the next equinox? A silent standing against the organized crime state. Wear black. Noon would be when the sun is at its highest in the sky wheresoever one happens to be, thus noon is not necessarily at 12:00. I have some other ideas, too, and have already written down a few.

Hat tip to TED. See video, esp. 4:55. Ghonim mentioned everyone gathering for an hour, so if we followed that example and raised our hands at noon for a minute, harmony and balance suggest arriving thirty minutes before noon. These suggest also raising one's hand thirty seconds before noon.

Since movement building is important, I think it wise to repeat this silent standing procedure at the following equinox, as well as the solstices. The periods in between are, as ever, when the difficult work would be done to cultivate harmonious thinking on key points such as voluntaryism, the right to private property, ownership of one's own body, nonmonopoly of protection services (as with military communism), and so forth. Anthony Gregory published a long list of important concepts. The list can be found at The Libertarian Standard.