They Built the Roads, Bringing Genocide to Millions


Column by Jesse Mathewson.

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Manifest destiny: these two words were used to promote genocide, the expansion of the state and War with Mexico. This term was coined and subsequently popularized in 1845 by John Sullivan in an article titled “Annexation” written for the United States Magazine and Democratic Review. There was and remains, an overwhelming belief, among state supporters that the United States was not only destined to consume all property from sea to “shining” sea, but that we as a nation were meant to promote and defend democracy around the world.

Abraham Lincoln was a firm supporter of manifest destiny and the role of the United States as international policeman. The establishment of a Britain-like empire was the primary goal of the Hamiltonians as noted in my column, Understanding Why the Constitution Was and Remains a Detriment to Individual Liberty. The government did not bring freedom when it annexed the West piece by piece, it brought genocide to the American Indian. The government allowed and promoted the enslavement of hundreds of thousands of Chinese. When the railroads were done with the Chinese, the government passed legislation making it illegal for them to stay in this land they had built. The Chinese Exclusion Act was signed into law in 1882, and effectively suspended immigration, specifically that of the Chinese, who had been brought to this nation by the thousands to build the railroads and roads.
Walter Block wrote in his book The Privatization of Roads and Highways that: “We must realize that just because the government has always built and managed the roadway network, this is not necessarily inevitable, the most efficient procedure, nor even justifiable.” (Block, 2009) I tend to disagree with his opinion regarding the government always building and maintaining or managing the roads. In fact, I would direct the reader to the various waterways around the Great Lakes that were built and adjusted for better commercial transportation by none other than individuals. I would also direct the reader’s attention to the many roads that crossed the plains and land west of the Mississippi. These were not put in place by the state but by the hundreds of wheels of wagons and hooves of horses of those individuals moving west to secure liberty. I can accept that the modern interpretation of the road in its paved condition is financed by government theft. However, they are still built by private companies, using the proceeds of government theft from the private individual.
The creation of new railways and dedicated roads brought the state. The many stories of the Wild West and of the U.S. cavalry riding in to save the day are at best inflated. The terrible truth was that the United States sent its army to take the native tribesmen off of their land. The shocking truth is that until the state’s military enforcement authority was sent into this land of liberty, massacres were isolated. Yes, they occurred, however, almost every one of the major atrocities against whites by Indians were precipitated by the state and were the result of the state’s drive to remove the Indian from land it claimed as its own through the genocidal doctrine of Manifest Destiny.
I was raised to believe that Custer was a hero and that those poor Indians were bloodthirsty savages. And yet, the truth is that Custer visited several atrocities upon innocents in his campaign to rid the West of the Indian menace. In the Battle of Washita River, he murdered women and children and took several more captive. So his eventual death at the hand of those who would defend their country from invasion by the state was fitting. Genocide was the result of the campaigns, roads and railroads. Manifest Destiny can be seen in the plethora of Indian casinos and skyrocketing rate of diabetes among the contemporary Native Americans.
Yes, the state and its enforcers in uniform brought roads, rails and easier ways to tax the minions who accepted their authority. However, with that they also brought genocide to millions. The end of the Wild West is not something to be celebrated, but mourned. Liberty and   freedom are no longer real ideals; they are words bandied about without thought. We bring freedom at the point of a gun, and liberty is dropped by the ton from airplanes. What exists now is a road building entity that taxes, enslaves and ensures that liberty is neither obtainable nor understood. What exists now is a state bent on dominating the world and enforcing democracy whether you want it or not.

Voluntary societies have existed; liberty is obtainable, and anarchy is not a dirty word. Only when each of us begins to realize that liberty cannot be had without hard work, only then, will we also begin to embrace the sense that it is again possible. We need a new Wild West; maybe space is the new frontier?

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painkilleraz's picture
Columns on STR: 4

No gods no masters


Samarami's picture

Jesse, this is an excellent treatment of Manifest Destiny (which gave rise to a strange drumbeat called "American Exceptionalism").

    Yes, if I were able to forgo all "civilization" today I would. I would prefer traveling in the woods, living by my own hand, and without any interference from others. Very likely I would be as he, I appreciate the positive nod.

    Thank you as always for the great comments!

I got in deep trouble drinking in Texas in the 60's. James Michener once wrote a line something like, "...Texas is lavish with her successes, brutal with her failures..."

I was able to buy a small farm in Iowa (thanks to the late Harold Hughes, then US Senator from Iowa, who underwrote my court review. Predators of state ain't all bad when you need 'em to attack predators of neighboring states on your behalf. Right?). My family and I snuck across the Red River with Texas coyotes nipping at our tails.

My dream was a family organic farm (before organics were cool) where the children could learn and help, but my 7th child came along in 1973, forcing me to rent out the cropland to big row crop farmers. I had to forgo my dream for reality. It was necessary for me to earn federal reserve notes to keep the ship afloat.

White Indian is absolutely right. I sometimes feel he keeps hammering away at the same old nail, but his philosophy is accurate as to the facts.

But I am here, and it is now. I remember a frame on the wall of one of the rehab units I used to frequent so regularly:

    I am where I am
    I know where I could have been
    Had I done what I did not do.
    Tell me, friend --
    What can I do today
    To be where I want to be

Just got called to go truckin', so will leave it there. Sam

WhiteIndian's picture

In many ways, agricultural civilization is like being an alcoholic.

First, alcohol for ritual and social control is likely the very reason for domesticating grain. Lots of fun promised ahead! Where's the car keys? Euphoria!

Second, the results are similar. Much of the world is now wrecked. The vast cedar forests of Mesopotamia? Yeah, that's the Iraqi desert now. Oak forests in the Sinai and Saudi peninsulas and the Negev desert? Burned down to smelt copper.* Yay, that was fun while it lasted.

Civilization is like a 10,000 year bender with all the abuse and destruction and denialists and enablers.

Derrick Jensen writes eloquently about the abusive nature of city-Statist Culture. Premise Nineteen: The culture’s problem lies above all in the belief that controlling and abusing the natural world is justifiable.

Drive safely, man.
* Even the Sinai which is located to the Southeast and the Negev, East of the present state of Israel, bear evidence of past, perhaps abundant forests. The 1960 investigations of Sir William Flinders Petrie into mining operations in the Wadi Nash area of the western Sinai desert, believed to date from the third millennium, BC, yielded unmistakable clues:

"(Petrie) found a bed of wood ashes 100 feet long, 50 feet wide and 18 inches deep, and also a slag dump from copper smelting, 6-8 feet deep, 500 feet long and 300 feet wide. It seems that the adjacent area, now desert, must have borne combustibles during the period when the mines were operating. Similarly, in the Negev, copper smelting kilns of a highly developed kind dating from 1000 BC have been found in the now quite desert-like Wadhi Araba."

Man and the Mediterranean Forest: A history of resource depletion. J. V. Thirgood. Academic Press. 1961. p. 57.

quoted from chapter 4 of:
by William H. Kötke

jimmonomoy's picture

Hello Jesse -- a wonderful piece. Part of the mystery of "Who will build the roads?," we can now see that the imperialists will. And certainly the state will.

The scales began to fall from my eyes when I read 2 revealing works on major transportation sagas, Stephen Ambrose's book on the transcontinental railroad and David McCullough's work on the Panama Canal. These works are not even muckraker's pieces, but the imperialism, political corruption, plutocracy, militarism, and statism are rampant.

painkilleraz's picture

Those are great authors and I will indeed look to their work - as for the other, yes resoundingly and unfortunately, yes :( the state can keep its roads- as what is necessary for free trade without state compulsion will occur with free individuals working together!