"It is curious that people tend to regard government as a quasi-divine, selfless, Santa Claus organization. Government was constructed neither for ability nor for the exercise of loving care; government was built for the use of force and for necessarily demagogic appeals for votes." ~ Murray Rothbard
A Theory of Natural Hierarchy and Government
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There was a time here on Earth when human beings did not yet exist, and now here we are. From this simple observation, it logically follows that X created human beings.
But who or what is X? That is the million-dollar question that I am absolutely not interested in answering here.
Because whether the answer is God, Tao, Mother Nature, Chance, Evolution, Intelligent Universe, Black Obelisks, or something else, the fact is that we all must acknowledge that some Creator—be he/she/it sentient or not—created human beings. I hereby give this Creator the label X, and however the reader may personally interpret X, the following argument holds because it is based on the irrefutable observation that X generated human beings on a planet that previously had none.
The Top Level
The fact that X created human beings defines a natural hierarchy, with X on the top level and human beings on the bottom. As creations of X, we human beings are subject to the laws of X.
And what exactly does it mean to be subject to a higher natural hierarchical level? It means that the lower level exists strictly due to its creation by the level above it. This creator owns its creation, and can do what it pleases with it, including eliminate it. The creation has no such reciprocal power it can direct toward its creator.
A natural hierarchy defines the division between the creator and its creation. The creation involuntarily belongs to the lower level of the hierarchical division, and the creator has sole control and power over the relationship.
Ethics and morality do not enter into this relationship. If a human being kills another, then we can make ethical and moral judgments on the action since all humans reside at the same natural hierarchical level. If, however, a human being is struck and killed by a lightning bolt, no such judgment can rationally be made against X. And for those who would wish to do so, the words are empty as there is no way to punish or in any way change what X decides to do. Ultimately, we are powerless in the face of X.
We are dependent upon food and shelter for survival (laws of X), and we can successfully exist for a while here on Earth if we acquire these necessities, but eventually all attempts at living just one more day fail (another law of X). And if the Sun burns out tomorrow, then it's game over for everyone.
We live at the pleasure of X. We are subject to X's laws of physics, chemistry, and biology. We are X's creation and property, and X can take our existence away at any time. This is neither good nor evil, but is just the way it is.
The Bottom Level
There is another natural hierarchy that exists between human beings and our imaginary creations. These creations belong to us and are subject to us. By definition, we human beings have sole control and power over our imaginary creations that populate this lower-level realm. They have no such reciprocal control or power to direct against us.
As far as imaginary creations go, we humans are quite adept at creating imaginary hierarchical organizational structures. We create groups and put people in charge of others and then these groups work together to achieve a goal. The empirical evidence shows quite clearly that the efficient meshing of various human skills within a hierarchical organization can achieve wonders.
But the hierarchies that exist within these organizations are imaginary, as are the organizations themselves. X did not create corporations, baseball teams, Moose Lodges, CEOs, and college professors—human beings did. These are all examples of human imaginary creations, not real human beings. Imaginative labels can place human beings at particular hierarchical levels within the imaginary organizations to which they belong, but these labels in no way have the power to transform a human being into some type of superhuman who exists at a higher natural hierarchical level than any other human being.
The hierarchy that exists between human beings and our abstractions is a natural hierarchy, whereas the hierarchies that exist within the abstractions themselves are imaginary hierarchies.
Since an idea must occupy the bottommost level of the natural hierarchical structure, all imaginary hierarchies—which necessarily need human participation in order to function—must be strictly voluntary. We can choose to participate in these imaginary structures if we like, but we can also choose to ignore or abandon them.
Imaginary hierarchies are abstractions that are agreed upon by those who choose to participate in them. They hold no intrinsic power over human beings. If the architect does not like how his boss domineers over him, he can simply quit. He decides not to play the game and walks away. It is his inalienable human right to do so, as all such imaginary structures and labels are creations of and are subject to their human masters.
Now let's turn our attention to the concept of government within this hierarchical framework. Being a human conceptual invention, government exists within the realm of imaginary creations that is the lowest natural hierarchical level. Being an imaginary hierarchical organization, it is also strictly a voluntary proposition. Imaginary constructs cannot impose authority over human beings any more than we can dictate terms to X.
Government is an organization that consists not only of those who are "given the mandate" to assume authority, but also of all the "citizens" who support the imaginary enterprise. The citizen is just as integral a part of the definition of government as is the King, President, Parliament, or whatever other fancy label some of the participating humans choose to affix to themselves. All governments must have citizens in order to exist.
If one calls himself a citizen, then he is actively choosing to participate in the government organization. If one does not wish to participate, he can simply stop calling himself a citizen. There is no paperwork to fill out. One can just walk away, and fix the thought within his mind that he is no longer participating in the imaginary hierarchical organization that is called government, and just like that, he is out. It is, after all, his innate human right to rule over everything within the lower realm of imaginary creations.
Isn't it amazing just how powerful we are as sovereign human beings?
It remains a widespread illusion that government is a special type of organization that can exercise authority over human beings. When an individual expresses his preference to be excluded from a government organization, he is typically given the following advice from the willing government participants—That's fine, you are free to leave.
The implication is that if he does not want to participate, he is not free to stay. But I would venture to say that if the theory of Natural Hierarchy is valid, then the government non-participants are indeed free to stay.
The government participants falsely assume that all of the land within their organization’s declared borders is subject to their government’s rules—that in effect their organization actually owns all of that land. Non-participants are trespassers who must vacate the premises.
This assumption is false according to the theory of Natural Hierarchy because it is incorrect to believe that an imaginary creation can own land. Human beings are not subject to imaginary creations—rather the other way around—and so in any competition for essential and limited land resources, the human being can choose to ignore any claim made by some imaginary creation.
Claims to land by human beings also cannot be arbitrary. X’s land resources are here for all human beings to utilize in order to survive. A human being may justly claim as much land as he himself can put to use, and no more.
I cannot justly claim all lands west of the Mississippi as mine. And if I had enough firepower at my disposal to enforce such a claim, it still would not make the claim just. It would mean that I was either a powerful thug or a government.
But I can justly claim a piece of “public land” within the borders of the United States as my own, as there is no other human being who has a just claim upon it.
Since there can exist no just claim to land by the imaginary creation called government, there is no ethical basis for forcing non-participants to leave. Government participants who forcibly remove non-participants from what they claim is government land act as if they are protecting the property rights of a human being who is being aggressed against—but there is no human being—only the imaginary being named “government.” They view the non-participant as a trespassing aggressor, and they exercise force against the aggressor as a defensive measure.
However, we have seen that the non-participant who remains on “government property” is not aggressing against anyone, and so any force directed against him is in fact aggressive, and not defensive.
Aggression and Ethics
If we define aggression as the initiation of force against a human being who has not initiated force against anyone else, then it is clear that aggression is unethical. (If it is not clear to the reader that aggression is unethical, I invite him or her to email me examples of ethical aggression.)
It was mentioned earlier that ethical judgments can be made upon human interactions, and when humans aggress, we can easily judge that action. Aggression is always unethical, every time, and without exception.
Most people do not understand that the very concept of government is unethical. They think that government is perhaps imperfect, inefficient, bumbling, incompetent, and even quite dangerous if control is placed in the wrong hands, but it is not intrinsically unethical as a concept.
But the territorial claims made by all imaginary organizations called government are illusory. There is no ethical justification for the exclusion of non-government participants to own land within their borders. The aggression that must be called upon to enforce these unjust land claims is unethical, and governments cannot exist without enforcing these unjust land claims.
Therefore all government organizations must be unethical in order to exist.
No imaginary hierarchical organization can overturn the natural hierarchies. Governments are imaginary organizations populated by voluntary participants. When human beings aggress against others—regardless of the imaginary organizations to which they belong—these actions are always and without exception unethical.
Most of us learn the basic principles of non-aggression by the time we are five years old (don’t hit people, don’t take their stuff), but then we are led through labyrinthine paths of twisted logic that purport to explain all the exceptions to this golden rule—and the roots of all the proposed exceptions are embedded in the imaginary organization that is called government. (It must be noted here, and I don’t believe it is coincidental or insignificant, that we primarily learn about these exceptions in government schools.)
The idea that government possesses just authority over human beings is false. The idea that government can justly possess land is false. Government participants aggress (or allow aggression) unjustly against non-participants, as well as other fellow participants, under the illusion that the actions are just.
Government is an attempt to subjugate sovereign human beings to an imaginary creation, which contradicts the proposed theory of Natural Hierarchy.
Government is an attempt to disguise aggression and to convince its participants to unwittingly participate in unethical behavior.
Government is, at its very core, an attempt to define certain unethical actions as being ethical.