Pessimism

Column by Jim Davies.

Exclusive to STR

It's very sad, to see so much of it around STR. Several whose fingers fly over the keyboard to make comments seem to think that government is a fixture, here to stay.

This is not limited to STR, mind; I enjoy much of the work of Fred Reed on another site, and noticed a fine recent example called Your Papers, Citizen which expertly compared the America of today with the America of Fred's youth, with particular reference to guns and their control. It's chock full of delicious turns of phrase, such as “As women got in touch with their inner totalitarian, we began to outlaw large soft drinks and any word or expression that might offend anyone.” Yee-haw. But then he mars it by ending up with this gloomy prediction: “Nobody in America, ever again, is going to be left alone. Not ever.”

In writing that, he falls into a serious intellectual error. Not his only one, alas.

To suppose that government is a permanent fixture, like the weather, firstly takes no account of history. Admittedly, our knowledge of how human societies organized themselves prior to the discovery of fixed agriculture is very slim (writing was invented only after that discovery), but such as we have says that there was no government that we'd recognize as such today. There were personal quarrels, there may have been conflicts between small groups, but there is no evidence of organized war between large groups under the command of leaders. All that came after fixed agriculture was implemented. Tribes and villagers made any communal decisions by consensus. Remnants of this way of life were found – before destruction by the US Army – among American Indian tribes on this continent, and were noted in the much more primitive ones found in Ecuador by Christian missionaries in the 1950s.

Accordingly, since hom. sap. evolved about 100,000 years ago but fixed agriculture was discovered only 10,000 years ago, our species lived government-free for 90% of our existence. The allegation that man needs governing is nonsense on its face.

Second, the supposition takes no account of the nature of mankind. We are self-owners. There is no rational alternative to that premise, so it is an axiom. Now, control over a person's life and decisions can be exercised by only one entity: himself, or someone else. No other possibilities exist. Since (by the self-ownership axiom) each person has the right to do so, it follows necessarily that government does not. A is not Non-A. Hence, government exists only in flagrant violation of reason.

Third, these pessimists are snared in the false logic of the G-Myth. That story is told as a fable about a society on another planet, heavily addicted to a certain substance which always makes everyone ill. Yet they continue to ingest it. What utter stupidity! All that's needed, to restore health, is to identify the poison and kick the habit.

Fourth, some of these pessimists lack perception and compassion or blindly suppose that government isn't all that bad. This failure applies also of course to the great majority of the population including all who work for government, as well as to the pessimists here. The perception they lack is that government is utterly lethal and will, if not stopped, get worse. Consider just their war-making activities, and just the last three major wars, leaving aside the hundreds of smaller ones worldwide, and all the other kinds of misery and poverty they create on a daily basis:
 




War Date Dead
Napoleonic ~ 1800 4 million
WW-I 1914-18 16 million
WW-II 1939-45 64 million*

* Estimates vary from 50 to 80 million

Notice the progression. Each major war killed four times as many as the previous one. If that continues (and why not, given the great increase in lethality of weapons?), World War III will kill 256 million human beings and WW-IV will liquidate over a billion.

The species is doomed if wars continue, and wars will continue as long as governments do.

Compassion must be missing, in the pessimists who warble “Peace; and there was no peace” (Ezekiel 13) because if they can grasp even part of that, they must have no feeling of pity for the future victims of government wars – not even their own children, and theirs, and theirs.

Fifth, they apparently fail to apply their minds to the matter of how government might be terminated, once it's been identified as the culprit. If that task were found to be literally impossible, then of course I'd have to excuse the pessimism; but it certainly isn't. Once you seriously set about the job, the solution begins to leap out. The process is the same as that to be used to solve any other puzzle:

 

  • clearly describe the problem
  • specify the solution desired
  • explore possible ways to obtain it.

 

Only a modest degree of imagination is needed here. The problem is of course the massive damage done to humanity by government, along with its huge power of self-preservation. The needed solution is to end its existence altogether, the sooner the better. Then comes the exploration, needing creativity; all kinds of ideas are worth visualizing and most (or all except one) will be found unworkable. What's left after that sifting is the fix to be followed.

Lastly – and inspired by Don Stacy's recent STRticle – some pessimists have just become discouraged, by lack of success in promoting anarcholibertarianism (gee, I wish we had a name for what we are that didn't need nine syllables and 21 letters!). This is perhaps a subset of the fifth category above, but is very understandable. My answer to it in brief is not to jump ship but to change course. If freedom is a perfect fit for human nature, it cannot at the same time be so poor a fit that mankind will never embrace it. That would be a contradiction, and contradictions exist only in the minds of those who fail to think clearly.

For example, it's not surprising that political action doesn't work in promoting the libertarian world view. Why would it, ever? It is an alien method, foreign to the very non-aggression principle we advance. So, sit down as in #5 above and figure out a better way. The one that I recommend is shown here, and I don't get frustrated at all. I know very well that at any one time, well over 90% (99, perhaps) are just not ready and interested seriously to consider libertarian logic – but it doesn't matter! At any one time, we only need the one person who is. Then next year, another one; and by next year, a few of those whose mind is closed today will have experienced in life something that caused a reappraisal, a reconsideration.

I get the impression that some pessimists just have not been through this intellectual process, vital and simple though it is. Perhaps some of them just like griping; they're gripers, and don't actually want a free society because then there would be little or nothing to gripe about, a bit like Jonah. Perhaps some have a martyr complex, and “enjoy” government maltreatment because of the prestige they earn from freedom advocates. Or just possibly (say it ain't so!) some are plain idle, they don't wish to leave their comfort zone. Maybe other explanations exist; but instead of getting to grips with the anomaly as above, they just say it can't be done and return to their gripes or to their particular form of invited suffering. Or to their couches.

 

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Jim Davies's picture
Columns on STR: 243

Jim Davies is a retired businessman in New Hampshire who led the development of an on-line school of liberty in 2006, and who wrote A Vision of Liberty" , "Transition to Liberty" and, in 2010, "Denial of Liberty" and "To FREEDOM from Fascism, America!" He started The Zero Government Blog in the same year.
In 2012 Jim launched http://TinyURL.com/QuitGov , to help lead government workers to an honest life.
In 2013 he wrote his fifth book, a concise and rational introduction to the Christian religion called "Which Church (if any)?"

Comments

Scott Lazarowitz's picture

It's hard to be optimistic when you hear about one act after another of police harassment, bullying, assaults, tasering, shooting and murdering of innocent people day after day, and only getting worse as well as the militarizing of local police. And the crimes being committed by agents of the federal government from NSA, FBI, CIA, ObamaCare, Common Core hacks, ObamaCrap, I'm disgusted with all this. But the sheeple - millions and millions of them - accept it. How can you be optimistic?
 
But then, the fact that many of the State's criminals are being filmed and the videos placed on YouTube for all to see, and the revelations of what exactly the NSA is actually doing (However, only 1% of the docs, Snowden? Let us see the remaining 99%, you bozo!), and the utter failure of ObamaCrap and its website  HealthDeath.Gov, I guess some of that can tend to cause someone to maybe begin to feel a little less pessimistic. Maybe.

Glock27's picture

Scott--I feel the very same way. Now, intellectually, I have not achieved the depth of understanding of STR philosophy, but I have an empathy for the ideology as vast as the ocean. Yes. I am one of the pessimists, and I do prattle on with a sentence or two of observation and not judgment. I am 69 now. Poor health. And I will never live to see the day when we do become honestly free.

Thunderbolt's picture

For me, there is anger. Lots of it. I want to direct the anger in a manner that is likely to be productive. Working within the system and armed revolution just do not work. The enemy actually loves those strategies. My interest in Jim's approach is that it has some chance of success. I very much want to accelerate the process, if it can be done, preferably before the imbeciles kill us all. I am looking forward to Google-glass eye-wear, for filming the miscreants without their knowledge. Bitcoin--- or something like it--- could cut the bastards off at the knees. The mafia wants to get paid, above all except power. I think an unexplored area might be to use television ads to play their own game back at them, maybe during sports events. I would target the youth, as does Dr. Paul. The ads could be very, very brief, directing the curious to STR or LRC or TOLFA. Thirty seconds might be sufficient. Maybe crowd-funding could be an option. It was recently used to fund the Bitcoin Dark Wallet project, which quickly reached its goal. How about Freeway Bloggers, hanging messages over the interstate!!! This might be the most cost-effective system of all.
I suspect that there are thousands of people who would like to make a few hundred bucks/month in bitcoins.

Glock27's picture

Thunderbolt--You are pressing the idea I have always asked a year past now. What is the solution. I have the good intention of implementing one of your ideas. My other question is where are the wealthy lovers of freedom, if there are any, who could collectively pool resources and begin to actually make these small idea explode. Thank you for the motivation and thank you for at least one idea I, as an individual, can implement.

tesla921's picture

You can't educate the masses. Growing technology in the hands of politicians will soon enable them to render the human race extinct. Politicians are stupid enough to do it and the masses will vote for it if convinced by someone who wins a popularity contest. I wonder if we will make it another 20 years. I doubt it.

Jim Davies's picture

How, quite, do you define "the masses"?
 
I do sometimes ridicule the "Booboisie" as a large number of couch potatoes, but not seriously. Even a low-IQ person can become intellectual dynamite when calculating odds on horses, or when busied by some other task by which he is strongly motivated. Isn't it important to avoid taking an elitist attitude? - nobody is born an anarchist, we were all pretty stupid once.
 
Subject to your better definition, I suppose the "masses" to consist of human beings; and human beings are, despite the dumbing-down they have suffered by government indoctrinators, rational and therefore educable animals like us.
 
But you're right; education is the only possible fix.
 

tesla921's picture

That's a good question. I would define the masses as those who have been through 12 plus years of constant state indoctrination. The vast majority of these slaves think they are free. Even when you tell them that they are forced to work for the state half of their lives, they still think they are free. I like the idea of TOLFA. I like Galambos' V50 even.better. But, I don't think we have enough time to turn things around before our technology gets us. We now have enough hydrogen bombs to easily destroy all life on the planet. We have nuclear power plants managed by gov't idiots. And probably worst of all, gov't goons are in charge of advancing biological warfare technology. I'd say the probability that we completely destroy ourselves is much higher than perpetuating our species into the cosmos. It's not the way I want it, it's just the way it is.

Samarami's picture

Having read and commented on Don Stacey's piece and now Jim's, I've come to a fundamental understanding:

    Optimists are those who agree with me. Pessimists don't.

Now why did it take me 79 years to come to that understanding? Some of us are slower than others, that's why.

Sam

Jim Davies's picture

Merry Christmas, Sam.