Chapter Overview: 6

From Slavery, War, and Poverty to Freedom, Peace, and Prosperity

Decline and fall has been the fate of all human societies since the dawn of recorded history. The primary cause is simple: it is the human need for security, which is met with a supply of political coercion. Such coercion causes the failure of a society by destroying the incentive to produce to the point where production of even the most basic necessities of food and shelter falls below the subsistence level.

Sack of Rome

Thomas Cole, “The Course of Empire – Destruction” (1833-1836)

But let’s start at the beginning.

When humans lived in bands of tribes, a strong man would become the “tribal chief”. In exchange for protection from other tribes and wrongdoers within the tribe itself, the chief received tribute, a precursor to taxation. Later kings, barons, dukes and emperors became the equivalent of a tribal chief ruling over a larger population and a larger geographical area.

The tribal chief had an ally in the “witch doctor”, a precursor to organized religion. The witch doctor introduced fraud to assist the ruler, by convincing the people that it was in their best interests to yield to the coercion of the tribal chief, because he was a god, or of divine descent sent by the gods to rule the people. In more recent times, the doctrine of the divine right of kings is a manifestation of the witch doctor/tribal chief alliance.

The principal difference between the tribal chief of the past . . .

Tribal Chief

Tribal chief and warriors with spears

and contemporary political rulers. . .

Leonid Brezhnev (2nd from left), Moscow May Day Parade 1975

Soviet dictator Leonid Brezhnev (2nd from left) with cohorts
Moscow May Day Parade 1975

. . .is the technology available for the use of force.

May Day Parade

Russian tanks in Moscow’s Red Square for May Day Parade

Tribal chiefs, kings, and modern political rulers all wield force to coerce men to do their bidding.

In 1776 there was a true revolution in human understanding, when Americans rejected the concept of monarchy.

Signing of Declaration

John Trumbull’s “Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776” (1819)

While ending monarchy signified a step forward in the evolution of the concept of government, it did not end political tyranny.

The appeal of communism is its promise of security through economic equality. This concept fails because it violates a law of nature—the first law of thermodynamics—that says, in effect, you can’t get something for nothing.

Free Lunch

In the physical sciences the Least Action Principle says that all physical phenomena operate so as to minimize the total amount of energy expended over a period of time.

The Least Action Principle operates in the travel of light. The path of light is usually in a straight line. However, light from a distant star, as seen from earth, will bend in towards the sun as it comes within the sun’s gravitational pull, because it takes less energy for the starlight to bend in toward the sun rather than continuing in a straight line. This phenomena was first observed in famous observations in 1919 which corroborated Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

Least Action light bending

Light from a star “bending” from the gravitational pull of sun

In human action the Least Action Principle is manifested by the desire to get the most with the least action or effort.

Innovation as in the invention of tools is a positive application of the Least Action Principle in human action. Every labor saving innovation demonstrates human desire to get more done with less action or effort. Examples range from the wheel. . .

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to the simple washboard . . .

washboard2

. . . to modern household appliances such as machines to wash and dry clothing and dishes.

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Trying to get something for nothing is the negative manifestation of the Least Action Principle in human action. Politicians specialize in offering something for nothing as illustrated by the observation of George Bernard Shaw that “A government with the policy to rob Peter to pay Paul can be assured of the support of Paul.”

Socialism illustrated

Most governments eventually over promise and over spend and must find new ways to finance their coercion. . .

rob peter AND paul

Socialism in action produces poverty for everybody but the political elite, as demonstrated in the former Soviet Union from 1918 to 1991, as just one example. The demise of the Soviet Union also exemplifies how coercion causes the failure of a society by destroying the incentive to produce to the point where production of even the most basic necessities of food and shelter fall below the subsistence level.

Bolshevik famine

Starving children during the Russian famine of 1921 where five million died

North Korea is another tragic example, where as recent as the 1990’s, approximately four million individuals – 20% of the country’s population – died from starvation.

north_korea_famine_children

In China, 43 million people died from what is known as the Great Chinese Famine of 1958-1961. During this time the Chinese Communist leaders implemented communal farming, forcibly moved farm workers to steel and iron factories, and mandated new methods of planting that proved ruinous to crop yields. 

The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1961 - 43 million dead Communal farming was implemented in an attempt to increase crop production. More relevant, however, was the importance the Communist Regime placed on iron and steel production. Millions of agricultural workers were forcibly removed from their fields and sent to factories to create metal.In addition to these fatal errors, Chinese officials mandated new methods of planting. Seeds were to be planted 3-5 feet under the soil, extremely close together, to maximize growth and efficiency. In practice, what little seeds that sprouted were severely stunted in growth due to overcrowding.

The United States of America is an example of the power of a modicum of freedom to engender prosperity. In 1776 America had a low population density while before it lay a vast, resource-rich, sparsely populated continent. Low population and vast resources were not the cause of America’s ascendance. Rather, American success was due to the relative freedom of people in America to make the most of life with the minimum political coercion.

Norman-Rockwell-Freedom-from-Want-1943

Norman Rockwell, “Freedom from Want” (1943)
This iconic painting by Rockwell illustrates American wealth and prosperity

Other countries with large space and immense resources have remained poor as exemplified, yet again, by the Soviet Union. And among the richest people in the world are residents of small countries with minimal natural resources, such as Switzerland. . .

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Zurich, Switzerland

and Singapore

Singapore

Singapore

The aim of this book is to show that the benefits of even the modicum of freedom in the U.S. could be magnified greatly by evolution to a natural republic, one based on total sanctity of property, including individual man’s life, thoughts, ideas, and actions as well as tangible property and money that is derivative of an individual’s life.

At first it may sound Utopian to claim that it is possible to build a totally free society, one with no tolerance for coercion of any kind, political or otherwise. Morality—in the Golden Rule sense—and rationality are the postulates for a free society advocated in this book.

However, as Baruch Spinoza observed more than 300 years ago, any social structure that depends upon all people being rational is doomed to failure.

Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) Dutch philosopher

Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677) Jewish-Dutch philosopher who laid the intellectual groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment

Spinoza was right, but only insofar as it is true that consistent and total rationality cannot be expected from human beings. However, in order to build a totally free, secure and prosperous society it is not necessary for everyone, or even a majority, or even a large minority of people to be rational and moral all of the time or part of the time. Galambos likened this to the notion that in order to use and enjoy television, one does not have to understand the science and technology upon which TV is based.

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Freedom is a product—a product of human innovation and ingenuity. Just how that product—freedom—can be built piece by piece and bit by bit will be elucidated later in this book.

As services and products to protect property and freedom become more and more available, their desirability will become increasingly more obvious and the services of the political state will appear less and less desirable.

 

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