Chapter: 31

Governance, Government, and the State

“A government in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice. . . That Government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.”—Henry David Thoreau 

“I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”—Thomas Jefferson

Because of the use of advancing science and technology to create weapons of mass destruction, war has become a threat to the survival of the human species.

The source of war is not conflict among nations, but is rather the existence of national states with the power to tax and to force people to submit to conscription into the armed forces of the state. “The power to tax involves the power to destroy,” observed John Marshall (1755-1835), the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. 1 History corroborates John Marshall’s observation.

In the 1960s Andrew J. Galambos created a lecture series that resonated with the desire of many in his audience to see a world without wars, a world in which a new ideal of governance would enable people to live together peacefully, secure in the liberty that is essential to protecting individuals in their pursuit of happiness.

NOTE: In this chapter the word “governance” is used to signify generically all the institutions that have been called “governments,” whether organized as monarchies, dictatorships based on political ideology, political democracies, or voluntary governance services. Except as otherwise indicated by context, the word “government” herein is reserved for voluntary governance services.

This chapter is an exposition and development of Galambos’ ideas on human governance. The premise and the subject of this chapter and the chapter that follows is that the ideas and technologies already exist to accomplish human governance by voluntary means, without the political coercion that spawns war. It is proposed herein that humanity has advanced already nearly to the point where wars will become impossible, and a thing of the past. That does not seem so now because it is difficult to see a future that is emerging, but has not yet fully emerged.

 The historical inspiration for this chapter is the ideal of human governance that started to emerge during the age of enlightenment that began in the late 17th century and continued up until the early part of the 19th century.

In 1690 the English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) became the first person to write that the purpose of government is to protect property. Locke also asserted that the only legitimate governments are those that have the consent of the people. 2

Locke’s idea of governance was adopted by Thomas Paine (1737-1809) in his influential essay Common Sense (1776) and in the American Declaration of Independence of 1776, which both state that “to secure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Thomas Paine – Advocate for abolishing monarchy and establishment of democratic governance with the consent of the governed; probable author of the American Declaration of Independence

Locke and Paine did not imagine their ideas on governance in an intellectual vacuum. Rather, their ideas grew out of the mind and spirit of the Age of Enlightenment in which they lived. From the beginning of the 16th century to the end of the 17th century there was an enormous advance in human knowledge of the world and of the cosmos, due to the discoveries of Nicholas Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton and others. These discoveries persuaded thinkers in England and continental Europe that the Church did not have a god-granted authority over humans, and that kings ruled by force and not by divine right.

Thomas Jefferson—also a man of the Age of Enlightenment—expressed the attitude of the Age of Enlightenment towards church, state, and human governance, when he wrote “I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” 

Achieving this ideal—that government is based on the consent of each and every individual— requires the introduction of competition into the realm of governance service, so that individuals who are dissatisfied with a governance service can terminate that service easily and without violence, just as one would terminate any other provision of service that has become unsatisfactory. Therefore, Andrew Galambos proposed the following definition of Government:

A government is any person or organization that sells products or services to protect life and property, to which individuals may voluntarily subscribe.”

 The foregoing definition of government uses the indefinite article “a” rather than the definite article “the,” because a government is not a monopoly. In the free market there are numerous and varied governments. Under this definition, examples of a government include companies that produce protective products, such as manufacturers of door locks. The lock manufacturer offers for sale a product that prevents many crimes. It is probable that door locks have prevented more crime than all the police who have ever lived.

An important form of governmental function is furnished by security companies.  A security company is a voluntary service. No one has to use its services. Security companies are more efficient and effective than state police because they are profit-oriented (see below) and their customers are free to terminate their services.

The ultimate form of government is the insurance company. If someone suffers an insured loss, insurance will pay the amount specified in the contract of insurance. No one is compelled to buy insurance. However, people buy insurance because it is prudent to do so.

Insurance evolved in human society as a way of sharing losses that would be catastrophic for an individual, but are not catastrophic if the risk is shared with a group of people. The whole group bears easily all the single losses which might otherwise be crushing blows to individuals.

Insurance is not compulsory. It is voluntary. There are many insurance companies competing for business and many types of insurance coverage.

At present insurance companies are defective, largely because of the state method of regulating their activities—determining what protection they may offer, how the contracts of insurance are worded, and what the rate structure may be. However, because insurance companies pay reimbursements for losses they perform a valuable protection service.

Because of state regulation, security companies are also defective at present. Due to the state’s monopoly of protective services, security companies may only offer services that are not prohibited by the state.

Andrew Galambos defined the “state” as follows:

 “The state is any person or organization that claims to protect property by coercing the owner of the property to use and pay for its ‘services,’ claiming legality as its justification.”

The state does not sell its services. It compels their usage. Everyone has to pay for the state’s services, whether or not they choose to buy them. A state acquires its revenues through taxation, without which it could not operate. Taxes are collected through the threat of violence. There is no choice whether to pay or in the amount that must be paid.

Notice the similarity of a protection racket to the way a state finances its operations through taxation. A protection racket and state taxation each consist in extorting money with threat of harm to the persons and property of those who do not pay what is demanded.

The only difference between a state and a criminal is that a criminal does not have the authority of a political state. If a tyranny acquires political authority over a people, then it is called the state. This phenomenon is illustrated by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany—one of the most absolute tyrannies that ever existed.

In 1923 Adolf Hitler was an outlaw in the Weimar Republic, the political democracy in power in Germany from 1919 to 1932.

In 1923 Hitler was a rabble rouser who caused riots. The Weimar Republic jailed Hitler in 1923 because he led an attempt to seize political power in Munich, Bavaria. Hitler was convicted of treason, and sentenced to prison. He was released in only one year because his ideas were consistent with those of many politically influential people not only in Bavaria, but also in the office corps of the German army and in German universities.

After release Hitler built a large private army that terrorized people with acts of brutality. Hitler never won an election in Germany, but received a plurality of votes in an election for President in 1932. Early in 1933 Hitler persuaded his former opponent, the aged and probably senile President, Paul von Hindenburg, to appoint him to the powerful post of Chancellor. Hitler then used fraud and terror to destroy the Weimar Republic and become absolute dictator of Germany under the title of Der Führer, or The Leader.

The Führer led Germany into aggressive war—the Second World War in Europe (1939-1945)—that caused enormous death and destruction throughout Europe including in Germany itself.

Adolf Hitler was a criminal in 1923. He was a criminal in 1933. He was a criminal in 1943. He would be a criminal in any year. However, after 1932 he had the power, prestige, and the authority of head of the German state, which he lacked before 1933.

ANARCHY AND THE STATE

 The first objection people have to the idea that government should be by voluntary subscription rather than by political means is that without the state there would be anarchy. That is not true. It is a false alternative to believe that the only choice people have is between political rule and anarchy. There are other choices.

The original meaning of the word anarchy, from its etymology in ancient Greek, was “without leadership.” However, absence of the state does not mean there will be no leadership.

Ideological leadership is the alternative to the state’s coercive control. Ideological leadership comes about from knowledge, not commands, when people benefit from knowledge that improves their lives and is compatible with their pursuit of happiness.

The automobile is an example. A contemporary automobile is a self-propelled wheeled vehicle, powered usually by an internal combustion engine that burns a refined fossil fuel and is controlled by the driver with the assistance of mechanical, electronic and computerized devices. Every aspect of an automobile is based upon human discoveries and inventions—from the invention of the wheel and axle to the development of the technology of automotive engineering, the discovery of the laws of the physical sciences, and the development of digital computers. The discoverers and inventors are the ideological leaders for the designers and manufacturers of automobiles and for the people who buy and use them.

No one is ever coerced into buying an automobile. Those who buy and use automobiles are following the ideological leadership of those whose discoveries and inventions are the basis for automobiles.

The same thing is true of the insurance purchased by owners of automobiles. People who buy insurance are following the leadership of those who developed insurance as a service and of those who have organized and operate insurance companies.

The state is actually the cause of anarchy as that word is generally understood at present—that is the state is the cause of chaos and disorder. This is illustrated for the United States by the effect of prohibition of alcoholic beverages and narcotic drugs—and the effects of high rates of incarceration.

Between 1920 and 1933, the United States of America and the various local states outlawed what had been previously a lawful business—the production and distribution of alcoholic beverages. However, because many people still wanted to consume alcoholic beverages, that activity continued despite Prohibition.

Those who continued to produce and distribute alcoholic beverages were called bootleggers and “organized crime.” They prospered because illegality—by reducing the supply of alcoholic beverages—made the business more lucrative than ever. Bootleggers bought legal protection by bribing police and politicians. Alcohol prohibition engendered a rise in violence as organized crime gangs fought with each other for control of bootlegging.

Prohibition ended in 1933, but the criminal gangs that had grown large during Prohibition expanded their activities into protection rackets extorting money from a variety of businesses, for example in municipal trash disposal, large-scale construction projects, and in the labor unions that represent workers in those industries.

The mistake of prohibition of alcohol has been repeated in the United States with the War on Drugs that has been waged by the United States since 1971. The War on Drugs makes the illicit sale of narcotics an extremely lucrative business in the United States and in the Latin American nations where large supplies of narcotic drugs are produced. In the inner cities of the United States rivalries among organized street gangs, often over drug turf, have contributed to high rates of homicide. In Mexico, between 2007 and 2014 at least 80,000 people died in turf wars involving the drug trade. 3 In the 21st century, turf wars over the illicit drug trade have made Central America the most violent place in the world. 4

In the United States, incarceration has increased 500% since the early 1970s. Prisoners are in prison because they have been convicted of felonies. After release from prison these people are placed under extended parole supervision. The rate of recidivism is high among released prisoners, due in large part to their status as convicted felons that limits their opportunities for productive and gainful employment in activities that are lawful.

The communist state in Russia and its Soviet Union was the source of anarchy, despite its coercive and tyrannical control of the people. The anarchy consisted in widespread private criminal organizations known as the Russian mafia, and in even more widespread corruption in which the elite of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union enriched themselves, and to a lesser extent all those working for the state at the expense of everybody else. No individual who was not a part of the state or the Russian mafia was safe from abuse, extortion, and violence from these two sources.

Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921) a Russian anarchist of the late Czarist era in Russia claimed that the absence of the state would lead to a better life for the people. Kropotkin wrote:

Either the State for ever, crushing individual and local life, taking over in all fields of human activity, bringing with it its wars and its domestic struggles for power, its palace revolutions which only replace one tyrant by another, and inevitably at the end of this development there is  . . . death! Or the destruction of States, and new life starting again in thousands of centers on the principle of the lively initiative of the individual and groups and that of free agreement.5

Kropotkin said presciently, early in the communist regime in Russia that the regime was bound to end in failure because it was a strongly centralized state under the iron law of communist party dictatorship. 6

Every tyrant from Kings of the past to the dictators of the present era has used political action to organize a gang, then to direct the gang to carry out his will, and to steal from the people by taxation to pay for those activities.

The example of Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) will suffice here to illustrate the linkage of politics, taxation and war. Hitler used politics and violence to become dictator of Germany. With the power of the Nazi German state he was able to steal from the German people through taxation to create a mighty and terrifying war machine to conquer other nations. He planned to steal from the Slavic and Jewish peoples of eastern Europe all of their property including their lives. Hitler died by suicide in the final days of the war he started that ruined Germany after causing destruction throughout Europe. 7

The histories of monarchies, empires, and other tyrannies of the past—e.g., ancient Rome,  France under the dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte, and the Empire of Japan—record theft, coercion and wars that differ very little in essence from that of Hitler and his first victims, the people of Germany.

As Jacob Bronowski observed “Organized war is not a human instinct. It is a highly planned and co-operative form of theft.” 8

Carl von Clausewitz epitomized the connection between politics and war in his observation that “war is politics carried on by other means to compel our adversary to submit to our will.” 9 One of the premises of this chapter is that political action—the organization of people for the purpose of coercing other people—is the cause of all wars; therefore, human governance without politics is a necessity if humanity is to avoid wars.

PROFIT AND THE MARKET FOR GOVERNMENT SERVICES

John Deming observed cogently that,

The key to governance is the concept of profit. Profit is the most important measure in economics. It is the ultimate governor. The quantity and quality of profit over time guides entrepreneurial efforts in a free market to deploy capital consistently in ways that serve others. Profit integrates into one numerical measure (for each entrepreneur) the voluntary choices of everyone in the market to buy or not to buy. It is an absolute measure untainted by anyone’s bias or preferences for what ought to be.  In essence, entrepreneurs, at great personal risk, anticipate what people will want at some future time. Profit measures how successful an entrepreneur has been in forecasting the needs and wants of others. Profit is the ultimate governor of any free civilization.”  10

A recent problem of inadequate police protection in Oregon illustrates the role of profit-based entrepreneurial activity in government services. In southern Oregon, starting around the year 2008, police and sheriff’s departments became unable to respond adequately to citizens’ calls for protection, due to a sharp reduction in tax funding for police and sheriffs’ departments. To meet the public’s needs for protection 24 hours a day and seven days a week, Jeff and Julie Thomas of Grants Pass, Oregon, started what has become a successful and profitable private security business. 11

A COMMENT ON TERMINOLOGY

 The word “governance” in this chapter is used to signify the provision of property protection, security, and dispute resolution service, however organized, financed, and provided, whether by voluntary subscription or by taxation and the operation of the political institutions of legislatures, police, prosecutors, courts, and prisons.

In this chapter, the word “government” means the definition innovated by Andrew J. Galambos in his V-50 lectures, i.e.,

A government is any person or organization that sells products or services to protect life and property, to which individuals may voluntarily subscribe.”

That definition excludes the institutions that previously have been called governments that function through legislatures, police, prosecutors, courts, and prisons.

This chapter uses the word “state” to signify every kind of political institution that maintains coercive power to control the activities of the people of a nation or geographical region.

Galambos’ definition of government makes a deliberate change to the meaning ascribed to that word in common parlance. Changes in the meaning of words occur, usually by evolution of attitudes.

The word “liberal” has had an entirely different meaning in the United States throughout the 20th century and so far in the 21st century than it had in Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries. In Europe the word liberal originally signified the idea inherent in the French phrase laissez faire et laissez passer, “Let be and let pass.” This phrase stood for the proposition that the state should abstain from interfering in the operation of the free market, a concept incompatible with liberalism in the United States in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The word “government” has heretofore referred to a variety of political institutions, including political democracy, monarchy, dictatorships such as the fascist and communist states of the 20th and 21st centuries, and oligarchies such as The People’s Republic of China since 1976.

The essential nature of a state is its coercive control of people, no matter how the state is organized, named or operated. For example, in common parlance the regime in power in North Korea since 1946 is called a government, but how different it is from the institutions called government in Canada, Switzerland, or the United States.

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights says that the North Korean state commits a wide array of crimes against humanity, arising from policies established at the highest level of  the State, including murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, and other crimes against its subjects.

In North Korea people accused of political crimes are arrested and sentenced to prison camps without trials, while their families are often kept in the dark about their whereabouts. Up to 120,000 inmates were in the country’s four major political prisons in 2014. Prisoners are starved, forced to work, tortured and raped. The United Nations found that hundreds of thousands of political prisoners have died in the prison camps of North Korea over the past 50 years. 12

In China the state was significantly different during the lifetime of Mao Zedong than it became after his death in 1976. China was ruled by a dictatorship operating under the name of the Communist Party of China from 1949 until the death of dictator Mao Zedong in 1976. For ten years beginning in 1949 millions of Chinese people were murdered because they were classified as enemies of the working class in Mao Zedong’s communist ideology. Due to Mao’s policies nearly 10% of the Chinese people died of starvation in the years 1958-1962. In the years 1966 to 1976 in a campaign known as the Cultural Revolution another million or more Chinese people were murdered in a purge of alleged enemies of the revolution, i.e., supposed enemies of the Mao Zedong regime.

Mao was a mortal danger to his closest associates, some of whom perished when he decided they were unreliable or a danger to his own safety. After the death of Mao his successors protected themselves from each other by forming an oligarchy with the unwritten rule that no one in the oligarchy may be targeted for killing by the other members of the oligarchy. The oligarchy embraced economic principles that are anathema to communist ideology. The oligarchic state in China has abandoned communism while continuing to hold coercive political power under the name of the Communist Party of China.

In present-day Venezuela the ruling regime’s attacks against its own people have caused large numbers of deaths through starvation and lack of medical care. 13 In present-day Nicaragua a dictator represses public protest by using brutal paramilitary forces to terrorize and kill protestors. 14

In common parlance the ruling regimes in China, North Korea, Venezuela, and Nicaragua are governments that are no less governments than the political establishments of democracies such as Canada, Switzerland and the United States. When one word—government—is used to describe so many differing political regimes the word loses its value as a means of communicating qualitative differences that are of enormous importance.

This book reclaims the word government to describe a better means of protecting life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and assigns the word state to the political regimes that control the lives of people in every nation in the world.

EVOLUTION OF THE STATE

Galambos’ views on political rulers and states correspond to the following quotations from Jared Diamond’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies (1997). However, it appears highly improbable that either Galambos or Diamond knew of the other’s ideas.

Professor Diamond writes that, “once food can be stockpiled [in an agricultural society] a political elite can gain control of food produced by others, assert the right of taxation, escape the need to feed itself, and engage in full-time political activities. Hence . . . agricultural societies . . . organized in chiefdoms . . . and kingdoms are . . . able to mount a sustained war of conquest. . . A stored food surplus built up by taxation can . . . be used to feed professional soldiers. . . Stored food can also feed priests, who provide religious justification for wars of conquest . . .

“[C]hiefdoms introduced the dilemma fundamental to all centrally governed, nonegalitarian societies. [They can] function . . . as kleptocracies, transferring . . . wealth from commoners to upper classes. . . [Then it becomes] a matter of just how large a percentage of the tribute extracted from producers is retained by the elite. But why would people tolerate the transfer of the hard earned fruits of their labor to kleptocrats?”

Diamond explains that kleptocrats throughout the ages have resorted to a mixture of four solutions:

  1. Disarm the populace, and arm the elite
  2. Redistribute much of the tribute received, in popular ways
  3. Use the monopoly of force to gain public acceptance by maintaining order and curbing violence
  4. “[C]onstruct an ideology or religion justifying kleptocracy. . . [Typically] chiefs [have asserted] divinity, divine descent, or at least a hotline to the gods. . . The chief may either combine the offices of political leader and priest in a single person, or may support a separate group of kleptocrats (that is, priests) whose function is to provide ideological justification for the chiefs.” 15

Professor Diamond’s description of political rulers is as appropriate to the Kings of the Hawaiian Islands before Americans gained control in Hawaii as it is to Egyptian Pharaohs, Roman Emperors, the Kings of England before the 18th century, and the regimes that ruled communist Russia and fascist Nazi Germany.

THE ILLUSION OF CONSENT IN POLITICAL DEMOCRACY

The evolution of the requirement of the consent of the governed is the remarkable achievement of the English-speaking peoples of Britain and the United States of America, an ideal admired but emulated imperfectly in much of the world.

The history of the evolution of the gradual liberation of English people from arbitrary rule of tyrants extends from the Magna Carta in 1215 C.E. to the founding charters of the United States of America at the end of the 18th century. 16

Once independence from both Britain and the abolition of monarchy were achieved by Americans, it was necessary to establish a stable form of governance that assured that the consent of those ruled was the foundation of the power of the rulers.

The American Articles of Confederation (1781) recognized the independence and sovereignty of each of the thirteen original states, but provided no means for the nation to pay for defense of the nation from attack by foreign aggressors and would be domestic tyrants. The Constitution solved that deficiency by empowering Congress to “lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises.” 17

The Constitution established a system of representative democracy, in which the people of each state choose representatives in the national legislature and choose the President and Vice President indirectly by means of the Constitution’s electoral college system. The representative democracy of the United States was emulated by establishment of governance by representative democracy in each of the local states.

Immediately there developed a fundamental problem with representative democracy in the United States—a problem that has never been resolved to the total satisfaction of anybody. That problem was and is that when decisions are made by majority rule the minority is always dissatisfied. Those who are in the majority on some issues will be in the dissatisfied minority on others.

The dissatisfaction of the minority can be extreme and can even lead to massive civil disobedience as occurred in the Vietnam War.

Lysander Spooner, American lawyer,  entrepreneur, and philosopher of liberty

As Lysander Spooner (1808-1887) pointed out, very few Americans consented explicitly to the U.S. Constitution at the time of its adoption or thereafter. 18 Furthermore, in all of the history of the United States very few Americans actually consented to the Constitution or any of the laws enacted by the legislatures of the various states and the national legislature. That lack of actual consent to political authority is a fundamental characteristic of both direct democracy, as in ancient Greece, and representative democracy in the United States and every other nation ruled by political democracy.

According to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., one of the most articulate and influential judges in the history of the United States Supreme Court, the U.S. Constitution establishes “the right of a majority to embody their opinions in law.” 19 Holmes asserted time and again in his legal opinions that the Justices of the Supreme Court should defer to the preference of the majority as established by the legislature. In a letter to a friend he said, “if my fellow citizens want to go to Hell I will help them. It’s my job.” 20

Too many laws for anyone’s consent

There is only one law of human action and interaction that is a fundamental necessity for human freedom and progress. That is the biblical Golden Rule enunciated by Hillel the Elder (110 B.C.E—10 C.E.)—“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole of the law; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.” That principle is found in the religions of virtually every civilization that survived over an extended period of time.

 That principle is the basis of the moral component of the teaching of Andrew J. Galambos that inspires this chapter and the book of which it is a part. It is not necessary for everybody to subscribe to and endorse the Golden Rule. However, those who act contrary to it will soon find that they are shunned by others and eventually ostracized if they persist in anti-social behavior.

The Golden Rule has an economic derivative: the principle of laissez-faire that facilitates the maximum in productive and socially beneficial activity.

The laws of the United States are far too numerous for anyone to consent to them all, or even to a small portion. There were 20 crimes in the first U.S. Code of 1790. In 2008, in the criminal code alone there were 4,450 federal crimes—and the number is constantly growing. 21

When federal laws on all subjects were first codified in 1927, they fit into a single volume. By the 1980s, there were 50 volumes of more than 23,000 pages. By the second decade of the 21st century no one knew the number of laws and pages of laws in the laws of the United States, not even the staff of the Library of Congress. 22

No consent to legislation  

When the Congress of the United States enacts a law, the Congress neither asks for nor receives the consent of everyone who will be affected by the law, much less the consent of everybody. Therefore, it cannot be said justly that there is actual consent of individuals to any of the laws of Congress.

Legislators are ignorant of the law 

Individual Americans are represented by members of Congress who vote on laws they have not read and do not understand fully. How can the consent of individual Americans be manifested in that way?

The laws enacted by the Congress of the U.S. are voluminous. They are written by unelected staff of members of Congress. Most of the members of Congress who vote on a law do not read it or know about its details. For example, the first iteration of a new federal health care law in 2009 written by a committee of the House of Representatives was one thousand pages in length. Congressman John Conyers admitted he had not read the proposed law before voting on it. He said in an appearance at the National Press Club, “I love these members, they get up and say, ‘Read the bill.’ What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?” 23

In 2010 when a much longer version of this legislation was under consideration by Congress, the leader of the House of Representatives said in televised remarks that “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.” 24

Almost no one consents to the laws of the United States or the individual states

In political democracy in America there is an almost total lack of consent of the people to the governance imposed on them. Out of a population of around three million in 1788 when the Constitution was written by a committee of delegates, just a few white men voted to adopt it and send it to the states for ratification. In the state legislatures just a few white men voted on ratification.

The laws of the Congress of the United States have multiplied to many thousands of volumes and many millions of pages, 25 yet almost no one actually reads these laws or consents specifically to any of them. Even if some people approve of the purpose of a particular law, many others do not. Even those who approve do not know the complete content of the laws they believe they approve.

What conclusion can be drawn from this state of affairs other than the consent of the people of the United States of America has become irrelevant to the making and enforcement of laws imposed on the public through the processes of representative political democracy.

GOVERNMENT AND STATE: A COMPARISON

Andrew Galambos, whose lectures inspire this book, defined “a government [as] “any person or organization that sells products or services to protect property, to which the owner of the property may voluntarily subscribe.” By property he meant an individual’s life and all non-procreative derivatives of a person’s life, including thoughts and ideas, but not including children, who are not the property of their parents.

By this definition, what has been universally called “government” is not government at all. Rather, it is something else—an institution that Galambos called the state, which he defined as follows:

“The state is any person or organization that claims to protect property by coercing the owner of the property to use and pay for its ‘services,’ claiming legality as its justification.”

Under Galambos’ definitions the United States of America is not a government. Rather, it is a political state.

The United States of America consists not only of the federal state, but also the individual states, fifty in number as of the beginning of the 21st century, such as Massachusetts, New York, and California. Each such state has its own legislative, executive, and judicial branches and also has within it lesser political authorities such as counties and cities. For clarity, Galambos referred to the fifty states and their subdivisions as local and sub-local states. None of these are “governments” under the definition used in this chapter, because none are services to which people may subscribe voluntarily, or unsubscribe when they choose.

Note: The thoughtful reader may object that to change the definition of the word government arbitrarily is not helpful or useful in attracting support for the idea of a non-coercive, non-political form of governance. However, the word government has been used to describe political institutions as different as are present day North Korea and Venezuela in comparison with Canada, the Swiss Confederation, and the United States of America. The intent of the definition of government in this chapter is to claim for that word a unique meaning that signifies voluntary governance as contrasted to coercive rule.

All definitions are arbitrary. However, arbitrary definitions will come into common use if they are helpful in communicating ideas. For example, Isaac Newton (1642-1727) in his monumental and influential scientific work Principia Mathematica (1687) provided original definitions of several words including, but not limited to, acceleration, force, momentum, and velocity. These definitions proved so useful in communicating the ideas they represent that they have become part of what are referred to as Newton’s Laws of Motion, which are the basis of the subject of classical mechanics in the science of physics.

In physics each such word has a single, clear, and precise meaning. However, in common use of the English language, each of the above mentioned Newtonian terms can have several different meanings. For example, the word force has four separate meanings, according to an online dictionary definition. 26

The etymology of the word govern is from ancient Greek and Latin in which to govern means to direct, rule, guide, or steer. A representative English-language dictionary definition states that to govern is to exercise continuous sovereign authority; and that government is the political institutions, laws, and customs through which the function of governing is carried on.

Andrew Galambos’ definition of government is useful in communicating the idea embodied in the definition—that government can be a service to which one may subscribe voluntarily, and terminate if it proves unsatisfactory. 

However, one may disagree that it is useful to assign a new meaning to a word such as government that has a long-established meaning because assigning a new meaning to a word with a settled meaning is confusing, and therefore not helpful to communication. However, that is a very restricted and limited view of how words are used in the English language.

According to English professor and linguist Ann Curzan, words in the English language have changed meaning over time. For example, “unique” once meant “one of a kind” but has in common usage come to mean “very unusual.” According to Professor Curzan, history tells us that words have been changing meaning — sometimes radically — as long as there have been words and speakers to speak them. 27

GENERAL SEMANTICS AND THE MEANING OF THE WORD GOVERNMENT

Alfred Korzybski (1879-1950) pioneered the development of the discipline of general semantics as a tool for achieving a clear understanding of the meaning of language. Korzybski remarked that “the map is not the territory,” to illustrate concretely his idea that “the word is not the thing” that it describes. In general semantics, the word “referent” is used to represent something signified by a word. 28

To understand the meaning of the word “government” it is appropriate to examine the various political entities which are the referents for the word government.

As of the second decade of the 2lst century, political institutions that are included in the common understanding of what is a government include the following categories:

  1. Slave States: Dictatorships that imprison all their subjects by preventing citizens from leaving, e.g., North Korea and Cuba in the second decade of the 21st century; the communist states of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989; and communist China before the death of Chinese dictator Mao Zedong in 1976.
  2. Oligarchy of a single political party: Nations ruled by a single political party that perpetuates its control through an oligarchy, for example communist China after 1976, Vietnam, Myanmar, Iran, Syria, and Singapore. Argentina and Mexico had single-party oligarchies for much of the 20th century.
  3. One-person dictatorship operating under a façade of democracy, for example Russia under Vladimir Putin beginning in 1999, Venezuela beginning in 1999 under Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro, Nicaragua under Daniel Ortega since 2006, and Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe from 1980 until 2017. 29
  4. Nations ruled by a theocratic state or by an alliance between theocratic powers and a monarch, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and a few other Arab nations
  5. Politically unstable nations in which control of the state has been changed frequently by violent means, including coup d’état. This category includes a large proportion of the nearly 200 nations that are members of the United Nations General Assembly.
  6. Political democracies in which voters can make a peaceful change of rulers through the process of political elections, for example fifteen nations in Continental Europe, the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Note: People living in the sixth category comprise no more than thirty percent (30%) of the world’s population as of the second decade of the 21st century. Some nations, such as Chile and Brazil, may appear to be in category 6 as of the early 21st century, but their prior history indicates it is more appropriate to place them in category number 5.

All these categories are governments according to the common understanding. However, for the people residing in the world of the early 21st century there is an immense difference between living in North Korea, Cuba, or Venezuela in comparison to living in Australia, Canada, Switzerland, or the United States.

It is said that people are “voting with their feet” when they choose en masse to flee a country where they are oppressed by the state. The worst of political states are those that prevent people from leaving by outright prohibition, such as North Korea, or impose almost insurmountable obstacles to leaving, by means almost as effective as outright prohibition, such as Cuba beginning in the 1960s.

Since all of the six foregoing and widely differing categories of nation-states have governments in the common contemporary usage of the word, what is there that they all have in common politically? What they have in common is the maintenance of a monopoly of coercion. They all claim and enforce, with violence, a monopoly of the right to rule the people under their control. This is as true in principle of democracies as it is of dictatorships. In democracies both or all political parties insist that one or several of them in coalition shall hold supreme political power.

The word “state” is a better description of what has been considered government in common understanding. Every political state in each of the six categories described above has in common that it rules by imposing a monopoly of coercion on the people under its jurisdiction and control.

THE IDEA OF LEVIATHAN AND ITS INFLUENCE

The 17th Century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) is famous for his book Leviathan (1651) in which he argues that without a powerful ruler a society will degenerate into chaos, in a war of all against all, expressed in Hobbes’ own words as follows:

“[When] . . . men live without a common Power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is . . . a war . . . of every man against every man. . . In such condition there is no place for Industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continual Fear, and danger of violent death; And the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” 

Hobbes advocated submission to the authority of an absolute and unlimited sovereign power.

The title of Leviathan has become symbolic of the idea that a ruler is a necessity in human society, an idea expressed by the phrase “somebody has to make the rules.” Almost no one questions this proposition. Even self-professed libertarians who advocate an extremely limited state concede that there is still an absolute necessity for the functional equivalent of a Leviathan.

Thus, the great libertarian economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) stated the following as a fundamental rule of human action:

“The essential task of government is defense of the social system not only against domestic gangsters but also against external foes . . . The maintenance of a government apparatus of courts, police officers, prisons, and of armed forces requires considerable expenditure. To levy taxes for these purposes is fully compatible with the freedom the individual enjoys in a free market economy.30

Except for this statement, in all of Mises’ writings he advocated the maximum freedom of action for individuals as the only way to achieve the greatest productivity and hence the greatest prosperity for all. 31

The influential libertarian writer Matt Ridley states in his book The Evolution of Everything (2015) that “There is a vital role for government to play in keeping the peace, enforcing the rules and helping those who need help.” 32

The authors of the United States Constitution envisioned the state established by the Constitution as one with extremely limited powers, which did not include maintenance of a standing army. Thus, according to James Madison, one of the authors of the U.S. Constitution, “[T]hose who ratified the constitution conceived that [it created] . . .  a limited government tied down to the specified powers, which explain and define the general terms.33

The U. S. Constitution did not create a standing military force; it made no provision for a permanent army or navy. In that regard James Madison commented that:

A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.” 34

The history of the development of the United States of America shows that a state endowed originally with ostensibly limited powers has expanded those powers so much that it intrudes upon almost every human activity, from birth to death, from education to economic life, from individual power to enter into contracts to maintaining the world’s largest military forces, and committing the lives of its young men and the republic’s fortune to wars around the world where no vital interests of the American people are at stake.

The experience of an ever-expanding state is not unique to the United States. It is also true of totalitarian states. Thus, nations ruled by political parties founded on the teachings of Karl Marx never limited their scope to the elimination of the supposed oppression on which Karl Marx based his ideas, that is oppression of workers by entrepreneurs and business owners whom Marx called “the bourgeoisie.” Marxist states’ oppression of almost everybody has been so far-reaching that it amounted to de facto enslavement, severely restricting human action and suffocating human aspiration.

The dictatorial states known as “Fascist” obtained popular support by advocating dictatorial rule to respond to economic difficulties. Fascist demagogues could never have won wide popular support by telling the public that mobilization for war was a primary objective. However, that is what happened in the two most prominent fascist states, the Italy of Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) and the Germany of Adolf Hitler (1889-1945).

As Andrew Galambos observed:

“Do you suppose that Hitler got up before his victims, the German people, and announced to them, ‘I plan to enslave you and destroy you, and when I get through with Germany all you will recognize is a pile of rubble. And in the meantime, you’ll suffer for twelve miserable years and wish you were dead.’ That’s what happened . . . Obviously that was not his sales approach.” 35

STATE COERCION IN A POLITICAL DEMOCRACY

For many residents of the United States of America it may be difficult, even inconceivable, to think of the United States of America as an oppressive monopoly of coercion—unless one considers the example of what was happening to individual citizens as a consequence of the U.S. prosecution of the war in Vietnam in the years 1964-1975.

Among the Americans sent by the United States to wage war in Vietnam there were 58,000 killed, 153,000 wounded, and 10,000 missing and not accounted for. Conscripts comprised 25% of the military force in the combat zones. The Vietnamese suffered over one million military and civilian deaths during the war. 36

In 1964, during the Vietnam War, noted popular singer Joan Baez withheld from her income tax payments an amount that she calculated was the portion of taxes going for the U.S. military. Federal tax collectors seized the income from Baez’s concerts as a means of colleting the tax due under the law. A spokesman for the Internal Revenue Service commented that, “If there were a good-faith belief that exempted you from paying taxes, we’d have 100 million converts.” 37

In 1968, Baez’s husband David Harris refused to report for induction into the armed forces of the U.S. because of his objection to the U.S. prosecution of the war in Vietnam. He was convicted of draft evasion and sent to prison.

During the Vietnam War some men who received notice to report for processing under the conscription law refused on principle to be inducted into the armed forces of the United States.

There were about 9,000 prosecutions and convictions for refusal to submit to conscription. Far more evaded the draft in one manner or another. Their number may have been as high as 200,000 or even more. It was the most extensive episode of civil disobedience in the history of the United States. This is examined in detail in the Vietnam War section of Chapter 13 of this book entitled Wars of the United States of America.

Conscription for military service stopped in 1973 as the Vietnam War was coming to an end. However, conscription is still embedded in U.S. law. The Selective Service Act requires that every male at age 18 register for conscription. Failure to register is a felony that is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and up to five years in prison.

U.S. President Lyndon Johnson attempted to justify U.S. military involvement in Vietnam as a necessity to stop the spread of communism, which not only Johnson but many others believed was a real and imminent threat to the safety of the United States. However, beginning in 1989 the number of avowedly communist states shrank considerably, the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union ended, and American tourists and investors became welcome in Vietnam. In 1995, twenty years after the end of war, the U.S. and Vietnam resumed diplomatic relations. As of the early 21st century Vietnam had become one of the most pro-American countries in the world, with 84% of Vietnamese people viewing the U.S. favorably in 2017. 38

By the beginning of the 21st century in the United States, the Vietnam War was viewed widely as a terrible mistake by those in political power at the time. However, there is nothing about the characteristics of political democracy in the United States that could prevent a recurrence of similar mistakes and concomitant coercion of the American people.

Militarization of regulatory agencies of the United States

Non-military agencies of the United States of America spent $1.6 billion on weapons and ammunition between 2006 and 2014. 39 According to a report issued in 2016 by OpenTheBooks.com, it was estimated that there are more than 200,000 law enforcement officers and security personnel employed by 67 non-military federal agencies. 40

Non-military federal agencies with armed personnel include such surprising agencies as the Departments of Agriculture, Education, and Energy, the Fish and Wildlife Service, Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Geological Survey, Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Reclamation, Railroad Retirement Board, Small Business Administration, Smithsonian Institution, and the Social Security Administration. 41

Abuse of power: the Peter Gleason case

Peter Gleason was a psychiatrist. The word “was” is appropriate because Dr. Gleason committed suicide in consequence of being prosecuted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. Gleason had found that a medicine called Xyrem was effective for relief of a number of off label conditions, including fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Dr. Gleason advocated such use at medical conferences. He was paid an honorarium by the manufacturer of Xyrem for his appearance at such conferences.

One day while waiting for a train on Long Island, New York, near where he was in medical practice, six federal agents arrested him, handcuffed him and took him to jail to answer charges of aiding and abetting the manufacturer in illegal advertising of Xyrem for off label use.

As part of its prosecution, the Department of Justice (DOJ) on behalf of the FDA, seized all of Dr. Gleason’s financial assets under federal law providing for such seizure of assets garnered by an illegal activity—here advocating an off label use for Xyrem in a talk for which the manufacturer paid him an honorarium.

Deprived by this seizure of funds to hire a lawyer of his choice, Dr. Gleason had to be represented by the federal public defender. His medical practice had been ruined by the charges. He decided to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge, take probation, and pay a nominal fine. The prosecutor presumably thought this was a most generous settlement. Exhausted and despondent because of the prosecution, Dr. Gleason committed suicide.

Meanwhile, another defendant in the same case was vindicated by a court decision that if applied to Dr. Gleason would have found him not guilty of the charges. It was too late for Dr. Gleason. He was already dead. 42

Abuse of power: the Gibson Guitar case

Gibson Guitar Corporation imported rosewood from India for use in making the fingerboards of guitars. In August, 2011, without warning, 30 federal agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with guns and bulletproof vests entered the company’s guitar factories in Tennessee. They shut down production, sent workers home, seized boxes of raw materials and nearly 100 guitars.

The Fish and Wildlife Service contended the company had violated Indian law by importing the rosewood. However, The company had the written permission of the government of India to buy rosewood in India and export it from there to the United States.

The raid and seizure received a great deal of publicity on the internet, much of it unfavorable to the Fish and Wildlife Service. Consequently, federal prosecutors agreed not to prosecute Gibson provided the company adhered to some remedial measures meant to assure that it would never again violate regulations—regulations that it likely didn’t violate in the first place. 43

ORGANIZED CRIME and THE STATE

Organized criminal gangs have provided a form of governance in various nations, for example the Sicilian mafia which originated from the practice of Sicilian people organizing to protect themselves from the predations of hostile, foreign occupiers. By the 19th century these Sicilian protective organizations began to engage in extortion of protection money from landowners. The landowners paid to protect themselves from the purported protectors.

Sicilian mafia members immigrated to the United States in the early 20th century, where the prohibition of alcohol provided an opportunity for the mafia to acquire huge sums of money due to the prohibition of the sale of alcoholic beverages, formerly a lawful business.

The name “mafia” became widespread and notorious internationally in part because of American gangster motion pictures. At present the term mafia is used to describe large-scale criminal operations in Russia—the Russian mafia. Similar gangster organizations occur in other countries, under other names, such as Yakuza in Japan, Tamil in Sri Lanka, and Triads in overseas Chinese communities.

Criminal gangs can succeed in overthrowing a political state and becoming a new state. That is what was attempted in Colombia where a terrorist organization known as FARC started with kidnapping and extortion and ultimately waged war against the Colombian state. 44

In a political state, including democracies, that is a crime which is prohibited by law. Organized criminal gangs violate the laws of the state that define what crime is. Organized crime has been defined in the laws of the United States of America as “the unlawful activities of a highly organized, disciplined association.”

This book on human freedom uses Andrew Galambos’ definition of crime:

Crime is a successful, intentional interference with the property of another. In other words, it is an act of successful coercion.

 With the application of that definition the state has been the most foremost practitioner of organized crime in the world. Thus, as mentioned below, it is a certainty that far more people have been killed by the wars of political states than by non-state violence.

In Nazi Germany the state was organized to commit crimes—first against the German people themselves through terrorist activities, including murder, to take control of the German state, and then to steal the property and lives of German Jews, to rob France and Belgium of territories desired by the Nazis, and to achieve an enormous expansion of Germany in territory and population by exterminating the Slavs and Jews of Eastern Europe in order to replace them with Germans.

The state in communist Russia was no less criminal than the Nazis. In order to impose the ideology of Marxism-Leninism on the people of Russia and the former Russian Empire, the people at the head of the state in Russia and its Soviet Union killed 20 million people by shooting, starvation, or imprisonment in concentration camps where most prisoners died. 45 Eleven million peasants died of starvation or violence in the state’s campaign to do away with private operation of farms and force all the peasants into state owned and controlled farming. 46

States of every kind, not just terrorist states, have committed crimes on a large-scale basis ever since the political state came into existence. The wars of political states have killed more people than all the individuals and organized crime syndicates that ever existed. Examples abound and need not be enumerated in detail. Mentioning just a few should be illustrative.

The Thirty Years War in central Europe from 1618-1648 reduced the population of the German-speaking peoples by about one-third.

World War I took the lives of 40 million people including both military and civilian fatalities. In World War II there were 60 million military and civilian fatalities.

In the American Civil War, there were 750,000 military fatalities out of a total U.S. population of thirty million, comparable to a death toll of 7.5 million in contemporary America. 47

Stealing is a crime by any definition. When the state steals it is called taxation. What else can taxation be but stealing if the definition of crime is a successful, intentional interference with the property of another/?

Readers may object that taxation is a necessity agreed to by the people of a nation or lesser political entity to pay for the operation of the state’s protective services.

It is a fundamental premise of this book that taxation is not a necessity, but an imposition on the people of a state operated protection racket.

During the Vietnam War, the Unites States engaged in forcing young men into its armed forces via a process of legalized kidnapping called conscription. Taxes were taken from people to pay for conscripts to participate against their will in a war that many Americans disapproved of, a war that most Americans now consider a terrible mistake on the part of the United States.

Conscription was a crime during the Vietnam war. It has always been a crime wherever it has been practiced. It is a crime even in the defense of a nation from external aggression, as large-scale defense can be accomplished successfully by means of voluntary governance and protective services, as explained in a preceding chapter herein entitled Insuring and Assuring Defense.

It is a central premise of this book that protection of life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness can be accomplished without taxation or coercion of any kind. The following chapter elaborates this concept.

IS GOVERNMENT THE SERVANT OF PEOPLE OR THEIR MASTER?

Any governance organization that claims a monopoly of coercive power will become inevitably the master of the people it is supposed to serve, and they will become its servants. The state, even in political democracy, is a danger to human liberty.

That any concession to supremacy of a state must cause abuses of power is demonstrated without the slightest doubt by human history. That historical fact is documented in this chapter and throughout this book. Why this is so is shown in a hypothetical proposition of economist and philosopher Hans-Hermann Hoppe, as follows:

Assume a group of people, aware of the possibility of conflicts between them. Someone then proposes, as a solution to this human problem, that he (or someone) be made the ultimate arbiter in any such case, including those conflicts in which he is involved. Is this a deal that you would accept? I am confident that he will be considered either a joker or mentally unstable. Yet this is precisely what all statists propose.” 48 [Emphasis added]

Philosopher Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) is among America’s leading champions of freedom and individuality. Thoreau was keenly sensitive to the injustices perpetrated in the name of the United States of America. He advocated abolition of slavery at a time when most Americans seemed to be indifferent to the existence of slavery in the American nation. He criticized the aggression of the United States in starting and waging the Mexican-American War.

Thoreau refused to pay poll taxes in Massachusetts for six years as a protest against the Mexican-American War and the fugitive slave laws. Thoreau asserted “That Government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.49 Perhaps Thoreau was anticipating presciently a future time when protective services in America would be accomplished by voluntary means rather than through a coercive political state.

POLITICAL DEMOCRACY—VIRTUES AND DEFICIENCIES

The word democracy is derived etymologically and historically from ancient Greek. The word in Greek and in English and other languages means rule of the people.

The basis of political democracy

The basis of political democracy is that the majority must have its way—that might makes right. In case of a disagreement among people that is not resolved peacefully, the majority—the greater number—could get their way by forcing the minority to submit to the will of the majority. Voting is substituted for fighting in order to resolve disputes without violence.

Suppose an electorate of seven voters, or sixty voters, 100,000 voters or 100 million voters. The viability of the outcome depends on the implicit understanding of all concerned that the larger number of the majority could prevail in a physical fight with the minority. In a seven voter contest a majority of four usually could beat up a minority of three. The principle is the same for any number of voters. In majority rule might makes right. Voting is a substitute for violence.

In this regard, that might makes right, democracy is no different than monarchy where a king’s will was enforced, if necessary, by violence. 

Choosing a ruler empowers a ruler

 A supposed advantage of political democracy is the right of the people to choose those who will rule. However, political election confers on the chosen ruler the power to control other people. This power can be used to make the state an instrument of oppression of the people. The examples of this happening are numerous.

In the 20th century Adolf Hitler in Germany, Benito Mussolini in Italy, and António de Oliveira Salazar in Portugal came to power by using the processes of democracy to become dictators and destroy democracy.

In Latin America since the overthrow of colonial rule of Spain and Portugal, every nation has been established as a political democracy. However, every nation in Latin America has been ruled for most of its post-colonial history by politicians who have used the powers of the state mostly for the benefit of an entrenched elite class of people or for the politicians to enrich themselves at the expense of the people. This is why corruption in Latin American states is the rule and not an exceptional occurrence.

In the nascent democracies of post-colonial sub-Saharan Africa, the democratic principle of one man, one vote often became instead one man, one vote, one time. Elected Presidents became president for life. This frequent outcome is typified by Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Joseph Mobuto in the Congo, and Sékou Touré in Guinea.

Democratic safeguards against the tyranny of dictatorship

Historically, a principal virtue of democracy, in comparison to monarchy, has been protection of the people from arbitrary rule by a dictator.

Political democracy as it has come to exist in Great Britain, the United States, and elsewhere consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the state, each with separate powers. The insistence on separation of those powers is a hallmark of English and American democracy. Without separation of powers, one man or an oligarchy could make laws, enforce them, and decide disputes arising under the laws they had made. 

King John I signing Magna Carta: The King cannot do whatever he likes but is subject to law

The English people gradually imposed limits on the power of Kings, starting with Magna Carta (the Great Charter) in 1215 C.E., that established the principle that Kings could not do whatever they liked, but were subject to the law as agreed with the feudal barons they ruled.

England’s law-making body, i.e., the legislature, is the Parliament which evolved over many centuries. The English Bill of Rights of 1689 finally established the supremacy of Parliament over the monarch.

The English Bill of Rights (1689) established Supremacy of Parliament and limitation of powers of the monarch; protects civil liberties of the people

Another principal virtue of democracy is the peaceful change of rulers. In stable democracies those voted out of power relinquish it without being ousted forcibly.

Deficiencies of political democracy

A principal deficiency of democracy has been weakness in defense of life, liberty, and property. In 1936, France and England failed to take action to stop Nazi Germany’s aggression when timely and decisive action by the democracies could have prevented World War II in Europe without the firing of a single shot. 50

Democracies without strong institutions and traditions like those established by the English-speaking countries, Switzerland and The Netherlands are susceptible to being undermined and destroyed by would be tyrants. They are also susceptible to impoverishment of the people by an elite group of kleptocrats who loot a nation by organizing political rule for their own benefit at the expense of most of the people.

The principal defect of democracy has been that the state operates on a not-for-profit and monopoly basis in making and enforcing political laws. That is the source of the weakness of the state in the defense of life, liberty, and property, which constitutes the basic justification for governance.

The law-making function in a political democracy can be and is used as a means to take property from its owners and transfer it to others who did not earn it, in effect robbing Peter to pay Paul. It is this power that often leads to the state making financial promises to its citizens that it cannot fulfill.

The ability of the state to make promises it cannot fulfill leads to ruin of the state’s money through inflation and to eventual bankruptcy of the state. The solution for these evils is voluntary, proprietary government in which the governments have no right to tax the people, but rather must rely on voluntary subscription and payment for governance services.

Absent politics and political disputes, there would be no necessity for the state’s courts of law. Most disputes among the people, including those involving business associations, could be resolved by voluntary, proprietary, dispute resolution services. Such services exist already in America. The cost of such services has been shown to be far less, with decisions being made far more rapidly, than the high costs and slow process of politically constituted courts. Financial inability of the impecunious to access these services would be a problem, but no more of a problem than exists already in the state court system. 51

In its judicial function, the judges and juries of state courts make decisions for which they have no responsibility or liability in case their decisions are mistaken and unjust. The way to avoid unjust decisions by judges or juries is for dispute resolution to be supplied as a service, on a proprietary, profit-seeking basis wherein those making decisions are chosen by the parties who are in dispute, and are liable to make restitution for mistaken and unjust decisions.

The security functions of police and of armed forces in a political democracy are expensive and inefficient because they are supplied on a not-for-profit basis. Chapters 20, 22-24, 26 and 27 herein describe the advantages and benefits of free market, voluntary, non-coercive provision of money, security, defense of life and property, and justice.

STATE MONOPOLY OF COERCION

A state can survive only through coercive force. This is illustrated by the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794, early in the history of the United States of America, when the nascent United States was one of the least coercive states in human history.

In 1791 the Congress of the United States enacted an excise tax “upon spirits distilled within the United States.” This was the first national tax of the United States. Farmers in western Pennsylvania distilled whiskey, which was easier to transport and sell than the grain that was its source. In western Pennsylvania whiskey was used as a medium of exchange—that is as money.

Small-scale farmers in western Pennsylvania protested the tax. Attempts to collect the tax touched off an organized rebellion. In July of 1794 about 500 armed men attacked and burned down the home of the regional tax inspector. After fruitless negotiations with a 15-member committee representing the rebels, President George Washington organized a militia force of 12,950 men and led them towards Western Pennsylvania, warning locals “not to abet, aid, or comfort the Insurgents.” This had the desired effect of essentially ending the Whiskey Rebellion. 52

George Washington rejected a proposal that he become King of the new American Nation

Note: The role of George Washington in the Whiskey Rebellion is not presented here to denigrate Washington. He was a man of sterling character. From his experience in standing up to the British state, at the risk of being executed for treason if captured, he spoke from his heart and his mind when he said, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

In his will Washington freed his slaves and enjoined his Executors to see that directive “be religiously fulfilled without evasion, neglect or delay.”

King George III said, on hearing of Washington’s rejection of Kingship, that if that was true Washington would be the greatest man alive

According to a biographer, Washington rejected a proposal that he become King, saying that idea was “big with the greatest mischiefs that can befall my country.” Subsequently, [King] George III [of England] was heard to say that “if Washington resisted the monarchical mantle . . . he would be ‘the greatest man in the world.’” 53

Tyrants and their gangs

According to author Matt Ridley, “throughout history, the characteristic feature of the nation state is its monopoly of violence. . . Virtually everywhere . . .  [the state] originated as a group of thugs who, as Pope Gregory VII trenchantly put it in the eleventh century ‘raised themselves above their fellows by pride, plunder, treachery, murder—in short by every kind of crime.’” 54

In his treatise Common Sense (1776) Thomas Paine commented as follows concerning the history of monarchy in England.

“[Since the Norman conquest in the eleventh century C.E.] thirty kings . . . have reigned . . . in which time there has been . . . no less than eight civil wars and nineteen rebellions. . . Monarchy and [hereditary] succession have laid (not this or that kingdom only) but the world in blood and ashes. . .  

“In England a King hath little more to do than to make war and give away places; which in plain terms, is to empoverish the nation and set it together by the ears. . . Of more worth is one honest man to society, and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.” 

NOTE: Paine’s description is not an overstatement of the murders and warring of the English kings, beginning with the Norman (French) invasion of England by King William I (William the Conqueror) in the year 1066.  The next year William’s soldiers invaded and began the conquest of neighboring Wales. Over the ensuing centuries English kings fought wars to conquer Scotland and Ireland and numerous subsequent battles and wars to put down Scottish, Welsh, and Irish uprisings against England’s Kings. From 1109 to 1763 English kings fought twenty-nine wars in France, most frequently over the issue of who would rule in France.

Three English kings were murdered by their successor. King Richard III, in order to become king, murdered several potential heirs to the throne of the king who preceded him. Richard III himself was killed in battle by his successor, King Henry VII. King Henry VIII, In lieu of divorce, which the Church disapproved, ordered the beheading of two of his six wives. He also ordered the beheading of many high placed English nobles either for disobedience or because Henry suspected the victims of plotting to overthrow him.

The violent history of six kings of England is illustrated in the historical plays of William Shakespeare, such as Richard III and Henry IV. Shakespeare epitomized the fear of the violence that could depose a monarch in the famous line from the play Henry IV in which the king laments “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.”

England was not unique in the violence of its kings. Other nations in Europe had monarchical dynasties with a similar history of conquest, warring and violence, including France, Russia, and the Habsburg dynasty that held sway in Central Europe and Spain.

In Europe, Holland and Switzerland stand out as countries that never had hereditary monarchy. Perhaps on that account the Dutch and Swiss did not seek conquest of their neighbors.

No one man—not a King nor an Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin or a Mao Zedong—can rule a whole country without the help of confederates who get special privileges in return for their support and their loyalty in carrying out orders from those higher up in the ruling regime.

Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin made all the important decisions of the regime of which they were the head. In this regard they wielded power more like European absolute monarchs such as Louis XIV of France (1638-1715) who said “l’état, c’est moi”—literally “I am the state.”

Tyrannies after the death of Joseph Stalin in communist Russia (the Soviet Union) and Mao Zedong in China have operated usually as oligarchies with one man representing and exercising the power of the oligarchy. The oligarchy provides safety for the oligarchs as they operate under a tacit agreement not to attack each other.

Tyrants need protection from those they rule. In ancient Rome the Praetorian Guard was an elite group of soldiers who served originally as protectors for high-ranking officials during the Roman Republic, and later as personal bodyguards of Roman Emperors.

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, established in 1979 as a theocratic dictatorship, the rulers are protected by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. In Iraq before the overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein by the armed forces of the United States in 2003, the dictator was protected by his Republican Guard. Each of the Guard forces shared in the spoils of kleptocracy enjoyed by the dictatorship; that is, they were rewarded out of property stolen from the rest of the people.

In communist Russia that was true also of the secret police, known as the KGB, a force of nearly 500,000 agents that constituted probably the largest armed force ever assembled to protect dictators. KGB is the acronym for the full title of the secret police, which translates into English as “Committee for State Security.” The duty of the KGB was not to provide for the security of the people, but rather to assure the security of the state—that is to protect the state from the people it ruled.

The violence of monarchies and the democracies that replace them

England is rightly considered one of the most civilized of nations because of its long history of gradually increasing freedom for the English people, as well as the cultural achievements of the English people in science and the arts. However, the history of England is also a history stained by political violence.

English kings established the United Kingdom of Great Britain by conquest of the peoples of Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.

The kings of England and Britain required protection from those who might seek to seize power by murdering the king. The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace in London is a ritual that preserves a practice that was once a necessity, but in modern times has become one of the rituals of affection of the English people for their now powerless monarchy.

After the 18th century C.E. England still had a monarchy, but English monarchs had been deprived of political power by the evolution of democracy in Britain. Nevertheless, the British state continued to use its power to coerce individuals every bit as much as any king might, for example, in its treatment of English mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954). In 1936 Turing created one of the foundations of computer science by innovating mathematical concepts that are the basis for computer technology.

During World War II Turing invented a machine to decode secret German military communications. Turing’s cryptography is considered the first programmable general purpose digital computer.

In the early 1950s Britain prosecuted Turing for gross indecency because of his homosexuality, then illegal in Britain. He was convicted and forced to choose between imprisonment or temporary probation on the condition that he submit to what amounted to chemical castration. He chose probation and chemical treatment. As a result of his conviction, Turing’s security clearance was removed and he was barred from continuing his work with cryptography at the British state’s intelligence and security organization.

Turing committed suicide on June 7, 1954. His life story was presented in the motion picture entitled The Imitation Game (2014).

THE STATE AND THE VIOLENCE OF FAITH

The title of this segment was suggested by the title of the book Taming the Violence of Faith (2012) by Jay Stuart Snelson (1936-2011), a man of keen intellect and boundless curiosity. 55

The tragic history of human violence in the name of religion includes persecution of religious minorities, punishing heresy by torture and death, and warfare between adherents of different branches of Christianity and of Islam.

The Thirty Years War of 1618-1648 started when Emperor Ferdinand II of the Holy Roman Empire tried to impose conformity to Catholicism on the people living in political states where Protestant churches flourished. The fighting devastated much of what became modern Germany, causing an estimated reduction of 25% to 40% in the population.

A schism that arose in 632 C.E. between two branches of the Muslim religion—Shia and Sunni—has continued to cause violence between Shia and Sunni over the 1,400 years since the schism developed.

Religious persecution in England, France, and Germany motivated large numbers of people to flee to America beginning in the 17th century.

When India and Pakistan gained independence from Great Britain in 1947 a war erupted between Muslims and Hindus that caused the death of one million people. Since 1947 there has been continuing tension and violence between Hindus and Muslims in India and Pakistan.

STRONG, CENTRALIZED STATES START WARS

It takes two nations to fight a war—but only one to start a war. Strong, centralized states start wars. That includes democracies that are strong, centralized states.

The German people were never a threat to other nations until they were organized into a strong, centralized state in the mid-nineteenth century. Thereafter, the strong, centralized German state sought to create an empire, and started three major wars

The United States of America started two wars of aggression, the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848 and the Spanish-American War of 1898. The American Civil War was fought because President Abraham Lincoln maintained—indeed he insisted—that the nation should be a strong, centralized state rather than a confederation of individual, relatively autonomous states.

Fallen soldiers after the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863

 

The Civil War has been called a just war because it was fought to abolish slavery. That is not true. At the time the war started, in 1861, there were slaves in every state of the United States except Vermont. There were Americans who favored abolition of slavery throughout the nation, but at the time of the Civil War abolitionists constituted only 2% of the population. 56

President Abraham Lincoln stated his objectives in steering the American nation into the Civil War. In a famous public letter in 1862 during the Civil, War Lincoln said:

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union. I have here stated my purpose according my view of my official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.” 57

Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 carried out his objective: it freed only slaves “. . . within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States . . .” Thus, slavery was to continue in the so-called border states such as Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri which did not join the Confederacy of southern states trying to secede from the union. Not a single slave was freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. It was a war measure designed to weaken the south by encouraging slaves to flee.

An English newspaper commented that “the principle [of the proclamation] is not that a human being cannot justly own another, but that he cannot own him unless he is loyal to the United States.” 58

The Civil War was by far the bloodiest in the history of the United States. It was an unnecessary and unjustified war. There was widespread popular opposition to the Civil War in the North, as many people, including the small minority who advocated abolition of slavery, believed the South had the right to secede. Slavery ended peacefully in all the countries of Europe and Latin America between 1813 and 1888. It could have ended peacefully in the United States as well.

COERCION AS THE CAUSE OF THE FAILURE OF POLITICAL STATES

Andrew Galambos asserted that there was a single, underlying cause to the decline and fall of all political states. The cause is coercion. He said that every political state, no matter how long maintained by coercion, eventually will fail because of its coercion.

It appears to the author of this book that coercion is the best explanation for the decline or failure of political states.

Generally, the more coercive a state the sooner it fails and then falls. However, an extremely oppressive state may continue for a long time, as time is experienced by those who suffer under its oppression. Eventually, though, oppression erodes the very framework of society which allows the state to exist. Then, even the most coercive and oppressive state will fall. That is what happened to the Roman Empire and the Soviet Union—coercion destroyed the capacity of the people to produce the basic necessities of life in adequate quantity.

In the case of the Empire of Japan and the German Empire, their coercion against other nations was met with an overwhelming military response by other nations that in the final years of World War II destroyed the entire structure of the state in both Japan and Germany.

The British Empire failed, rather than fell, because its expansion had become unsustainable and was reversed by peoples and nations that Britain once ruled.

Note: It appears useful to distinguish between the fall of a state, in which it goes into extinction and the shrinkage of a state because it has been enfeebled by its own coercion. The Roman Empire fell; it became extinct. In comparison, the British Empire failed, but the British state did not become extinct; it continued its political existence, but in much weakened condition.

Except for the initial comments on Switzerland, the examples discussed below illustrate the idea that coercion is the root cause of the fall or failure of an empire or political state. The Swiss Confederation has survived, expanded, and become progressively stronger over seven centuries because the Swiss people have avoided creation of a strong, centralized state and thereby established what appears to be the least coercive state in history.

Switzerland: a durable, peaceful and stable political democracy

 Switzerland, uniquely among European nations, has been a model of stability and peacefulness because the Swiss people have shunned the aggressiveness that caused wars and ruin for other nations.

Switzerland is a confederation consisting of a federal state and 26 relatively autonomous cantons. A Swiss canton is an entity of governance over a specific and limited geographical area. The history of Switzerland as a nation began in the year 1291 when the people of three cantons united for mutual defense. Over the ensuing centuries an additional 23 cantons joined the federation.

Switzerland has four official languages: German, French, Italian, and Romansh. 59 65% of Swiss are native speakers of Swiss German, 60 18% are native French speakers and 10% are native Italian speakers.

The official name of Switzerland in each of its four national languages 61 translates into English as the Swiss Confederation.

Two religions, Protestant and Roman Catholic together comprise 80% of religiously observant Swiss.

The principle of governance in Switzerland is that nothing that can be done at a lower level of governance should be done at a higher level. Thus, ordinarily, the cantons and their communes provide all services of governance other than foreign and security policy, national defense, customs and monetary matters, and legislation that has national application.

The decentralized governance of Switzerland has enabled its linguistically and religiously diverse people to live together in peace and unity for seven centuries. 62 No one language or religious group has attempted to exert the political power to control the rest of the nation.

Switzerland maintains scrupulously a policy of neutrality regarding international disputes. Swiss law prohibits its citizens from serving in foreign armies.

The Swiss attack no one and keep their armed forces at home. If these principles had governed ancient Rome, and modern Britain, Germany, Japan, and Russia, those nations would have avoided ruinous wars.

Despite being a small, landlocked nation located between large and often aggressive neighbors who fought numerous wars in the 19th and 20th centuries–Germany, Austria and France—the Swiss armed forces have deterred foreign aggression against their country. No foreign troops have been on Swiss soil since the time of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe (1800-1815), not even the army of Nazi Germany sent to the Swiss border by Adolf Hitler when he was ambitious to incorporate Switzerland and all other German speaking people of Europe into a new German empire.

Note: It may be observed that the Swiss policy of neutrality is a necessity due to the small size of Switzerland in both area and population. That is true. However, Swiss governance by design is decentralized with a small and limited central authority. That factor impedes aggression by the state. Often, in other nations it is the existence of a strong, centralized authority that lends itself to being taken over by militaristic, aggressive, megalomaniacal dictators. Thus, Germany became a menace to its neighbors after 25 separate German political entities were unified under a centralized authority in the period 1864-1871.

Roman Empire 

The Roman Republic and its successor Roman Empire expanded from the vicinity of Rome until at its greatest extent the empire included what in the 21st century have become the nations of England, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, much of Germany, Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Israel, and North Africa including Egypt.

Rome became dependent on taxes and slaves from conquered territories. When the Empire receded so did tax collections. Slaves were ready to flee at any opportunity.

Edward Gibbon, in his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, described as follows the effect of a swollen bureaucracy and heavy taxes during the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284-305 C.E.).

“The number of ministers, of magistrates, of officers, and of servants, who filled the different departments of the state, was mul­tiplied beyond the example of for­mer times; and (if we may bor­row the warm expression of a con­temporary) ‘when the proportion of those who received exceeded the proportion of those who con­tributed the provinces were op­pressed by the weight of tributes.’” 63

To continue paying for all its expenses, Rome increased the money supply by debasing the basic monetary unit, the silver denarius, through adding base metals to the coin to reduce the silver content. Consequently, over the two centuries 100 C.E. to 300 C.E. the denarius lost 96% of its purchasing power.

The devaluation of the money led to rising prices, then price and wage controls enforced by the death penalty for violation. The price controls made it impossible for merchants and farmers to continue supplying the public with its needs. People fled the cities in an attempt to find food and other necessities in the countryside.

During the last barbarian invasion of Rome, slaves joined the invaders.

From this selective account of some of the social pathologies leading to the extinction of the Roman Empire, the connecting line is coercion, through military conquest of foreign peoples, building a society based in large part on slavery, and theft from the people by means of inflation and heavy taxation.

British Empire

Britain, or Great Britain, is an island nation off the northwest coast of Europe that through trade, commerce, and force of arms grew to comprise the largest empire in world history.

Starting in the 12th century Kings of England engaged in two centuries of wars of conquest against neighboring Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. However, uprisings continued in all three for hundreds of years. The Irish were never reconciled to British rule. It was ultimately a two-year guerilla war—the Irish War for Independence from 1919 to 1921—that persuaded British authorities to consent to complete independence for Ireland (with the exception of Northern Ireland which remains a part of the United Kingdom).

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the English colonies in North America comprised the largest land area that was nominally under control of Britain. By 1775 one in three British subjects resided in the North American colonies, an area many times larger than the home islands of Britain. These colonies were too vast and populous to be controlled against the will of their inhabitants.

Frustration in America with Britain’s exploitation of the colonials started in the 1650s, and grew gradually to the point of stimulating armed conflict in 1775, the formal American Declaration of Independence in July 1776, and an all-out war of rebellion from 1777 until 1781 when Britain gave up the battle to suppress American independence.

After the war King George III of England declared that loss of the American colonies was the biggest setback of his monarchy.

British authorities learned from this loss to treat Canada, Australia, and New Zealand quite differently. All were British ethnically and culturally. Each negotiated for and achieved independence from Britain in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Britain had extensive colonies in Africa and Asia. British colonies in Africa and Asia were relinquished necessarily, some after World War I and the rest after World War II, when England no longer had the resources and will to continue its dominance. In 1947 India became the last big subject of Britain to throw off British rule.

Britain established foreign colonies and possessions for purposes of trade and commerce. The British military enforced British dominance and exploitation of the foreign colonies and possessions. If Britain had confined its relations with other nations to trade and commerce, in all likelihood those relations would have remained cordial and profitable to Britain. 

Empire of Japan

 Japan was for most of its history an island nation whose people lived in isolation from their neighbors and from the rest of the world. During the reign of Emperor Meiji (1868-1912) Japan experienced a political, social, and industrial revolution that transformed the country as it moved from feudalism to Westernization.

Starting with the invasion of Taiwan in 1874, Japanese authorities embarked on a course of empire building, first by formal annexation of its vassal state in Okinawa, followed by seizure of Taiwan, Korea, and a portion of Manchuria (northeast China) in wars with China (1894-1895) and Russia (1904-1905).

Japan expanded militarily throughout Manchuria in 1931 and then invaded the rest of China in 1937. Japan’s goal in warring with China was to control the natural resources of Manchuria, and the roads, railroads, and cities of coastal China, the most populated and industrialized portion of China.

In 1941-1942 Japanese military forces invaded the U.S. controlled Philippine Islands, British Malaya (now Malaysia), the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), French Indo-China (now Vietnam), Thailand, and Burma (now Myanmar). The Japanese goal was to capture the natural resources of Malaya (rubber and tin) and the Dutch East Indies (petroleum) and to control all of East and Southeast Asia.

As part of the strategy of conquest, in December 1941 military forces of Japan attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and U.S. military installations in the Philippine Islands. The attacks on China and on the U.S. were a tactical success, but were monumental strategic errors. The Japanese military bogged down in the vastness of China. By bringing the industrially powerful U.S. into the war, the Empire of Japan assured its eventual defeat.

In August 1945, World War II ended after the U.S. military detonated atomic bombs over the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, forcing Japanese authorities to agree to unconditional surrender and concluding a war of aggression that culminated in the complete eradication of the military and political authority of the Empire of Japan.

The people of Japan continued to live in the archipelago of islands that forms the geographical entity of Japan, albeit in numbers reduced by nearly three million military and civilian fatalities.

Note and comment: Japan has few natural resources. However, after the nation industrialized it needed natural resources to function as an industrialized economy. To acquire natural resources Japanese authorities embarked on a course of military aggression against other peoples and nations. Japanese authorities built an empire by attacking other nations. The empire fell when Japan attacked so many other peoples and nations that it could not subdue them all.

In the decades following World War II, Japan engaged in peaceful trade and commerce to acquire resources, in the process becoming far wealthier, prosperous, and economically powerful than could have been imagined before the years of war.

German Empire

Among the goals of Imperial Germany in World War I were to weaken France; seize territory in Belgium and France; defeat Russia in order to seize Poland, of which the eastern part was held by the Russian Empire; and to make Poland, France, and Belgium vassals of Imperial Germany. 64

German authorities believed at the outset of World War I that the war against France could be won in a matter of weeks, allowing the German military thereafter to focus all its resources on war with Russia. Although the war with Russia ended in German victory, the war with France and Britain became a stalemated war of attrition until the defeat of Germany was assured by the entrance of the United States into the war in 1917 on the side of Britain and France.

In the wake of defeat in World War I there was turmoil and chaos in Germany. An incipient revolution was put down. Social Democratic political parties, with strong public support, were instrumental in establishing a parliamentary democracy in Germany.

The 1919 Treaty of Versailles that formally ended the war, imposed reduction of the German military to 115,000 soldiers and sailors, required heavy war reparations payments to the victors, and stripped Germany of its conquests in Poland, France, and Belgium.

From 1918 to 1932 the German people suffered not only the defeat in WW I, but a devastating hyperinflation (1919-1923), and the Great Depression that started in 1930. All these catastrophes paved the way for a demagogue to seize power by taking advantage of public disillusionment with democracy in Germany.

Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) established a new political Party, named Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (National Socialist German Workers Party), commonly called the Nazi party. Hitler used democracy and a large and violent paramilitary force to seize power in Germany. The Nazi party never received a majority of votes in any election, but with the aid of tactics of terror and intimidation of voters, achieved a plurality in the last election of 1932. Hitler then persuaded the President of Germany to appoint him to the powerful post of Chancellor. Within weeks thereafter Hitler’s Nazis put an end to German democracy. Hitler became the Führer, or Leader, with complete dictatorial powers.

Hitler’s goals as dictator over the German people were in part the same as the goals of Imperial Germany in World War I: to conquer and humiliate the French; to make the various states of western Europe vassals of Germany; and then to achieve an enormous expansion of Germany in territory and population by exterminating the Slavs and Jews of Eastern Europe in order to replace them with Germans.

The Nazis were able to murder two-thirds of the Jews of Europe, because they were relatively few in number and lacked a nation of their own. Hitler could not eradicate the Slavs together with the non-Slavic peoples of the Soviet Union because they were nearly three times as populous as Germany, possessed powerful military forces and received extensive wartime economic and military aid from the United States.

Still, Hitler might have conquered the Soviet Union because many of the Slavic people in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia proper, initially hoped the Germans would liberate them from the tyranny of the communist regime that ruled them. When the German army committed atrocities against those Slavic peoples it turned them from potential allies to bitter enemies, fighting for their lives.

In declaring war against the United States, an unnecessary decision, Hitler brought all the industrial and military might of the United States into the war in opposition to Germany. The combined power of Russia, the United States and England brought Hitler’s new German empire to an end in 1945.

Russian Empire

Russia was ruled by a series of Czars beginning in 1547 when Ivan IV (1530-1584), also known as Ivan the Terrible, named himself Czar. The Czars conquered and expanded their territories over huge masses of land and diverse ethnic populations, eventually becoming an empire, and remained in power until their defeat in World War I in 1917.

A bloody civil war between the communist Bolsheviks and anti-communist forces followed the downfall of Czarist rule, claiming the lives of over five million people from combat, sickness, and starvation.

The Bolsheviks seized power and instituted a reign of terror to quell insurgency and dissent within the Russian Empire they had seized. They organized their political party, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), and ruled Russia and the territories acquired under the Czars, calling it the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

If governments are instituted among men to protect life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as asserted in the American Declaration of Independence, did the USSR succeed as a political institution?

In a word, no.

The Soviet Union persisted until 1991. It was not overthrown by internal or external enemies. Rather, it fell due to internal rottenness caused by coercion, corruption, bankruptcy of the state itself, never ending hardship endured by most of the people, and resentment of the special privileges of a favored class that formed a new elite.

For the seven decades of its rule the regime of the CPSU seemed impregnable, resting its power on a reign of terror that caused the death of 20 million people by execution and starvation, and on incessant propaganda, telling the people they were better off than the downtrodden people of the West who they said face poverty, hunger, racial and ethnic discrimination, unemployment, and are governed by corrupt, inept, greedy, dysfunctional, and feuding politicians who sell out to big business.

For most subjects of the Soviet state, life was hard due to virtual enslavement of most of the farming population and attendant chronic shortages of food, pernicious corruption, never ending shortages of housing, woefully inadequate health care and pervasive injustice that frustrated all attempts of the people to protest and ameliorate these conditions.

The communist state prohibited employment by anyone other than the state, on the premise that employers exploit their employees, and that profits of an enterprise would of necessity be stolen from the workers, because all value was created by labor, and none by enterprise and entrepreneurs. The state controlled all economic activity. That was called Marxism-Leninism.

Illegality of profit deprived the peoples of the Soviet Union of the small and large businesses that provide most of the goods and services that people take for granted in much of the world. Accounts of life in the Soviet Union tell of this deprivation. Examples:

  • State food stores with nearly empty shelves
  • Perpetual shortages of everything but bread and vodka—query: did the state deliberately provide an ample supply of vodka in order to pacify people with drunkenness?
  • Endless waiting in line to buy the necessities of life—when they were available
  • Married couples waiting for years to get a state assigned apartment and in the meantime living in parents’ already crowded apartments
  • Families having to share a one or two room apartment with another family
  • People sleeping on the floor in train stations, or trying to sleep standing up because the floor of the station was filled with sleepers, due to  lack of accommodations for travelers
  • People dying for lack of adequate and timely medical care

This was true in the 1950s when Russia was recovering from the enormous losses of World War II. However, it continued to be true throughout communist rule—in the 1960s, in the 1970s, and still in the 1980s two generations after the end of the war.

In consequence of such deprivations there arose an illegal underground market for all kinds of goods and services not available in adequate supply from the state—e.g., food, clothing and services such as plumbing, electrical, medical and dental care. 65

Widespread resentment existed because of the harsh and deprived conditions of life for most people contrasted with the privileges of the elite classes, the so-called Nomenklatura who wielded the power of the Communist Party, a large establishment of bureaucrats known as Apparatchiks, and a massive police force operating with the primary purpose to protect the interests of the ruling party.

The socialist suppression of the profit motive and the bureaucratic control of agriculture depressed agricultural production below what it had been before the Bolshevik’s seized power. In 1861, Russia produced more grain than any other country. In 1913, when peasants could own the land they tilled, Russian wheat production was second only to the United States. 66

In 1976, a Soviet Air Force pilot, Viktor Belenko, defected by flying a top-secret jet aircraft fighter to Japan. He risked his life to escape from the Soviet Union. He explained that he could no longer stand the corruption, lies, deceit, hypocrisy and brutality of life under communism. In the name of bringing true communism to the people—in which no one would have to work because everything would be provided by the state—the communist party had established a tyranny over the people. It was a tyranny in which the material conditions of life never improved. Despite all the promises of the regime, the people experienced shortages and hardships that never ended. These were the conditions of life in the 1950s, in the 1960s, and in the 1970s. 67 They continued through the 1980s, until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

By the 1980s the ruling oligarchs of the CPSU recognized that the Soviet Union was falling further and further behind the West in productivity, standard of living and even in the military on which the CPSU had lavished much of the nation’s resources. Beginning in 1985, a new head of state, Mikhail Gorbachev (born 1931), attempted unsuccessfully to restructure the economy in order to increase productivity. Gorbachev also introduced a modicum of openness in discussion of public affairs, and relaxed the restrictions on emigration. This succeeded only in verifying an adage—that a tyranny is most vulnerable when it starts to liberalize.

Gorbachev’s liberalization permitted a modicum of political democracy. 68 That was enough to end the communist regime without violence. The end came rather suddenly in summer 1991 when members of the communist oligarchy attempted to remove Gorbachev from power. Spontaneous popular demonstrations against the regime occurred in Moscow and Leningrad. 69 The oligarchs of the communist party ordered the army to put down the demonstrations. High ranking offices of the army refused to do so, almost certainly because they had come to believe the communist party was unfit to continue ruling.

Consequently, in August 1991, the CPSU was outlawed by the vote of a new parliament of the Russian Federation. The new Russian State, together with those newly in power in Ukraine and Belarus, agreed to the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991. By 1992 all of the former conquered nations of the Soviet Union had declared their independence from both Russia and the defunct Soviet Union.

In 1992, a Soviet air force pilot who had defected by flying a jet fighter plane to Turkey in 1989 explained his motive. He said that he was no longer willing to serve the Soviet state; that the functions of the Soviet military and the secret police were not to protect the people, but to protect the regime from the people; that the regime “. . . had massacred millions of innocent people and was obviously intent on continuing the slaughter; that Communism [in the Soviet Union] created the greatest prison in the world, . . . had ruined the country’s economy and enslaved hundreds of millions of people simply to support a criminal clique that wrapped itself in the protection of the [Communist] Party.” 70 [Emphasis added]

Unfortunately for the people of Russia and the former Soviet Union, after the fall of the Soviet Union and the CPSU, a new criminal clique took control of Russia. Nine years after the demise of the CPSU, a former agent of the KGB (Soviet secret police), Vladimir Putin (born 1952) succeeded in becoming President of Russia, and six years after that he became virtually President for life. Putin’s regime is staffed by many of the several million former members of the Soviet nomenklatura and apparatchiks. They did not lose their jobs after the fall of the Soviet Union. The only change was in the name of their employer—from Soviet Union to Russian Federation.

Putin rules by coercion and terror similarly to his predecessors in the CPSU. In Putin’s Russia elections are held, but they are a sham. It is a mortal danger to be a prominent critic of Putin.  Popular opposition politicians are murdered, e.g. Boris Nemtsov in 2015; critical journalists are silenced by murder, e.g., Anna Politkovskaya in 2006, or by well-founded fear of being murdered. 71

The secret police have been reestablished under a new name. In addition, Putin has created a military force of 350,000 troops under the direction of his former personal bodyguard, who is not obliged to receive approval to use this force from anyone other than Putin. 72

Putin declared that the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century was the demise of the Soviet Union. Judging from Russian aggression against neighboring peoples since Vladimir Putin became the head of state, he has set about attempting to conquer independent states that left the Soviet Union in and after 1989. 73

Putin’s Russian state eventually will encounter the historical reality that its coercion predestines it to eventual failure or extinction.

DICTATORS’ POPULARITY

It is said sometimes of political dictators that they are popular—that they are carrying out the will of the people they rule.

That is not true. A dictator who overthrows a tyranny may enjoy short-term popularity. However, in almost every such case the new dictator turns out to be as bad as or worse than the one that was ousted from power. A few examples must suffice here.

France: King Louis XVI (1754-1793) was the least oppressive and most liberal of the Bourbon dynasty of kings that ruled France for two hundred years. The beheading of Louis XVI in 1793 occurred in the reign of terror during the French Revolution of 1789-1794, that was followed soon after by the dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon created a French Empire, raised a large conscript army and waged wars of aggression throughout Europe in which two million French citizens perished. Napoleon’s aggressive military actions dispelled any popularity he ever had. As testimony to the unpopularity of political dictatorship in France, after the final defeat of Napoleon in 1815, in revulsion to the horrors of two decades of terror, killings and war that followed the execution of Louis XVI, the French people restored a liberalized monarchy under Louis XVIII, grandson of Louis XVI.

Cuba: In 1952 Fidel Castro, who was running for a seat in Cuba’s parliament, presented to the legislature a petition to depose the government of dictator Fulgencio Batista on the grounds that it had illegitimately suspended the electoral process. The petition was ineffective, so Castro organized a band of fighters who waged a guerilla war to overthrow Batista. Once in power, Castro immediately instituted a reign of terror in order to annihilate real and potential opponents. When asked about free elections he said there was no need for elections because the people had spoken. Nearly twenty percent of the pre-Castro population has fled Cuba to escape the tyranny of Castro’s regime. Fidel Castro is hated and unpopular among Cubans inside and outside of Cuba.

Nicaragua: Daniel Ortega and his brother Umberto led a revolt against dictator Anastasio Somoza, the last of the Somoza family that ruled Nicaragua from 1936 to 1979. After overthrow of Somoza the Ortega brothers headed a regime that was unpopular, as evidenced by strong opposition that continued during eleven years of civil war (1979-1990). After a quasi-democratic period (1990-2006) Daniel Ortega managed to seize dictatorial power through manipulating democratic processes—he never secured a majority of the votes in any election. Turning away from the communism he and his brother originally espoused, Daniel Ortega has become the richest man in Nicaragua. He is not popular. Rather, he is hated. In street demonstrations against his rule people shouted that Ortega was the same as Somoza—a dictator enriching himself at the expense of the people of Nicaragua.

Russian Empire: The Russian czars were never popular in the democratic sense. They were feared and despised by most of the people. The communist dictators who followed the czar murdered more people for political reasons every few days, weeks, or months than had been executed by the Czars during the entire century preceding the Bolshevik revolution. 74

Since 2000 Vladimir Putin has become a new Czar of Russia under the spurious title of President. He is not a President elected democratically but rather has been elected and reelected by means of intimidation, force, and fraud. Potential opponents with popular support have been intimidated into withdrawing from opposition to Putin, jailed, or murdered—in the case of Boris Nemtsov a popular opposition politician assassinated in 2015. 75

Under Putin the lamentable suffering of the Russian people continues virtually unabated. Since the fall of the communist regime in 1991, the Russian state has ceased preventing Russians from emigrating, and allowed people to go into private business. Otherwise, conditions in Russia are just as bad for the people as under the communists.

The Putin regime is just as corrupt as its predecessor. It maintains an apparatus of oppression just as powerful as before, including a secret police numbering several hundred thousand and a personal security force of 300,000 that serves only to protect Putin. Putin has made himself enormously wealthy via his alliance with corrupt business oligarchs and the Russian Mafia who together control Russia’s enormous wealth of petroleum and natural gas.

The Russian people have experienced continuous and chronic aggravation in everyday life, aggravations that existed in the 1950s, the 1960s, the 1970s,  continued until the end of the CPSU in 1991, and persist still in Putin’s kleptocracy, for example:

  • having to pay bribes to petty officials to obtain basic state services
  • having their sons conscripted into a harsh and brutal military
  • an appalling lack of availability of medical care
  • Access to the best of secondary, university, and professional schooling is reserved for the children of the new elite.
  • Successful entrepreneurs suffer extortion from the Russian mafia or the state as the price of creating and maintaining profitable businesses.

The Russian people blame the state for these pathologies. Because Putin has made himself the unquestioned head of state, all of the frustrations of the people with the state are also frustrations with Putin. He cannot be popular politically in the way that several Presidents of the United States were, for example Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Dwight Eisenhower, and Franklin Roosevelt. These men were able to win the popularity contest of elections and then win reelection. Putin does not and will not allow a free election, the ultimate evidence of his lack of popularity.

Germany: It has been said that Adolf Hitler was extremely popular with the German people during the time he was absolute dictator. Even sophisticated people have voiced this opinion, stating that Hitler would have achieved landslide victories in any election held after he came to power.

This opinion mistakes submissiveness for popularity. Democracy was not unpopular with the majority of the German people. Rather, it was murdered by the Nazis.

While there were no public opinion polls published in Germany before Hitler took over, anecdotal evidence indicates that in the 1920s and early 1930s the sentiment of a large percentage of the German people could be summarized in the single phrase “no more war and no more inflation.”

A novel entitled All Quiet on the Western Front about the hardships of German soldiers at war in France during World War I was published in 1929 and was an immediate and enormous success. In 1930, screenings of a film based on the book were disrupted by Nazi-organized protests and mob attacks on both movie theatres and audience members. In 1933, when the Nazis rose to power, All Quiet on the Western Front became one of the first books to be publicly burnt. 76

During the Weimar Republic (1919-1932) that preceded Hitler’s rule, Germany had a variety of political parties including Social Democrats, the largest, as well as several others including the communists that attracted significant numbers of votes in national and local elections. When Hitler became dictator one of his initial objectives was to destroy the Social Democrats and the communists.

Once in control of the German state, the Nazis instituted a house to house search to confiscate weapons in the hands of the public. Resistance was futile. The Nazis were organized to intimidate and coerce the people; the Nazis had guns; the people did not. Any brave enough to resist were shot, summarily executed on the spot.

In 1933, according to an account of a German man then living in Berlin, one day “SA patrols appeared in Köpenick [a suburb of Berlin] . . . entered the homes of every known Social Democrat and killed them on the spot.” 77

Hitler came to power in the first place by organizing a private, paramilitary group, the Sturmabteilung or SA (storm detachment or storm troopers) that numbered 400,000 by 1932. The SA used violence to intimidate other political parties and crush opposition to Hitler’s Nazi party. After Hitler seized power, he replaced the SA by violent means and created agencies that were even more violent and intimidating, the Schutzstaffel (SS), literally protective force, the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo), Secret State Police, and the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) or Security Service, the intelligence agency of the Nazi Party and the state. These agencies spied on the German people in order to identify and root out any who appeared not to support Hitler and the goals of his regime.

Under this apparatus of terror and control there could be no free elections in Germany to test political popularity, and no popularity of Hitler or his regime that was genuine rather than feigned to avoid arrest, incarceration, torture, or even death.

FAILED STATES AND THE PERPETUATION OF TYRANNY

 A political state that gains power by promising to protect the people and make them prosperous and then becomes a tyranny is a failed state. It has no justification for continued existence because it has failed to keep its promises to the people and its ruling class has no intention of keeping those promises.

Tyrannies can perpetuate their existence though force and fraud—through oppression and propaganda—by telling the people they are better off than other nations and better off than they would be without the state to protect and take care of them.

The process of holding on to power by force and fraud can continue for a long time in the experience of the people ruled by the tyranny.

In the long run every state depends on the consent of the governed. When the governed realize the truth of what has happened, they withhold their support and consent, even if only by seeing through the lies of their rulers, and then through passive resistance to even the harshest tyranny. Thus in the communist Soviet Union there were two sayings that expressed the attitude of most people.

  • In capitalism one man exploits another, and in socialism it is the other way around
  • We pretend to work and they pretend to pay

Once the attitudes represented by these sayings take root in the minds of the people, the regime that rules them is on shaky ground and ultimately will be thrown off.

Unfortunately, new demagogic tyrants will rise to take over state power and rule and steal from the nation.

The ultimate end to this sad process comes when the people reject immediately a new demagogic tyrant and turn to their fellow citizens for real protection—protection offered on a voluntary, non-coercive, non-compulsory basis, as discussed below under the heading Entrepreneurial Governance When a State Fails.

That process of awakening and emergence of voluntary governance does not occur over night, like the day follows the night. It emerges gradually. That gradual emergence has been going on in America for some time.

Political democracies and promises that cannot be fulfilled

After the end of World War II the United States was perpetually spending heavily on its military because of the existential threat posed by Russia and its Soviet Union with their arsenal of nuclear bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Despite the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the existential threat of nuclear war continues. The new threat is from the Russian state that was the heart of the former Soviet Union. Under Vladimir Putin, Russia’s dictator, perpetual conflict with the United States is a means of persuading the people of Russia that they need Putin to protect them. 78

Another threat to the existence of the United States was developing during the Cold War years, but the threat was not from military attack by an external foe. Rather, the danger was from the potential chaos and turmoil that would result from failure of the U.S. to honor financial commitments to its own citizens for old age retirement income and medical care.

“The American Republic will endure until the day congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money” – Alexis de Tocqueville

This problem was anticipated by the French historian and author Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859), when he wrote that “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” 79

The Social Security Act of 1935 created a right to a pension in old age. The federal Medicare and Medicaid programs enacted in 1965 provide medical expense insurance to people age 65 and older, regardless of income or medical history and medical insurance for persons of all ages whose income and resources are deemed insufficient to pay for medical care.

These three programs are the primary drivers of a growing, unfunded federal liability that has become unaffordable by the U.S. and its tax paying citizens. As of the early 21st century, benefits were still being paid under these programs, but the programs were sustained only by constantly increasing their unfunded liabilities.

In these programs the U.S. Congress has made promises that cannot be kept over the long term. A former chief actuary of the U.S. Social Security Administration, A. Haeworth Robertson, has written three books warning that Social Security and Medicare are not sustainable because they are actuarially unsound and in fact are large-scale pyramid, or Ponzi schemes. 80

In 2004 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued a report to the U.S. warning of the underlying insolvency of the Social Security and Medicare systems. This report noted that the unfunded future liabilities of Social Security and Medicare then could be as high as $47 trillion (equivalent to about $400,000 per U.S. household). That amount, together with other U.S. debt was more than five times U.S. household net worth. 81

The IMF warned that to fund Social Security and Medicare adequately “would require an immediate and permanent 60 percent hike in the federal income tax yield, or a 50 percent cut in Social Security and Medicare benefits . . . with the burden on future generations increasing if further corrective measures are delayed.82 [Emphasis added] These unfunded liabilities had increased by $6 trillion, to $53 trillion, by the end of the 2010 U.S. fiscal year while total federal debt, including unfunded future liability for retirement and health care benefits, had increased to $66 trillion, an amount that far exceeded total U.S. household net worth.

However, the true debt may be far higher. Economist Laurence Kotlikoff claimed that as of the year 2011 the amount of unfunded liabilities plus acknowledged federal debt was more than two hundred trillion dollars, basing this claim on analysis of data published by the Congressional Budget Office. Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute observes that the range of estimates for unfunded social welfare liabilities is between $90 trillion and $130 trillion for total federal debt including unfunded liabilities. 83

Two hundred trillion dollars is two hundred thousand billion dollars. That amounts to more than $1.6 million per U.S household, an amount that as of the second decade of the 21st century is 20x average U.S. household net worth of $81,000 . 84

To place these federal assets and liabilities in perspective, the United States of America is comparable to a family that has debts that far exceed its total assets, debts that are growing constantly and that must be fully paid over the working careers of the family members. Those debts are too much for U.S. households to pay.

The situation is similar in the activities, commitments and finances of many, if not most, of the fifty states of the U.S. California has $500 billion in unfunded liabilities for state and local employee pensions and other employment-related benefits, and $59 billion in unfunded liabilities for repair and maintenance of state highways. 85 The unfunded liabilities of the state of California come to around $50,000 per California household. The states of Illinois and New Jersey are already nearly de facto bankrupt. 86 Throughout the United States many cities and local agencies have a similar predicament.

Perhaps due to reliance on the existence of the presumed safety net provided by federal social welfare programs, many Americans fail to save and invest adequately to achieve financial security in retirement. Tens of millions of Americans depend on federal welfare programs for survival. Many more tens of millions are already middle aged and are approaching their older years without assets sufficient to provide for their needs without federal benefits.

Debts that are too large to be paid in full will not be paid in full. That is as true of the debts of a political state as it is of business or personal debts. A default by the U.S., direct or indirect in the payment of federal social welfare benefits would cause social turmoil and chaos in the United States.

When a state cannot pay its obligations it has two choices: default, or hyperinflation. A political state such as the United States is not likely to repudiate its obligations to its own citizens by defaulting on its social welfare promises. That would cause the electorate to reject those in political authority who will be blamed for the default. Most likely is surreptitious default by means of inflation of the money supply.

The United States possesses the means to minimize its obligations by cheapening the U.S. dollar. Through its monopoly control of money, the U.S. can inflate its money in order to reduce the real cost of fulfilling its obligations. The United States has been inflating and devaluing its currency since the second decade of the 20th century. According to the U.S. Treasury, U.S. public debt was $2.9 billion as of July 1, 1914. 87 By 2018 the public debt amounted to $21 trillion, over 7,000 times more than in 1914.

The effect of this money cheapening is evidenced by prices for basic goods and services in the first decade of the 20th century. In 1910 a loaf of bread cost 5 cents, 2 cents was the price of a postage stamp to mail a letter, and a gallon of gasoline cost 12 cents.

The subsequent increase in prices is the result of sustained, continuous inflation of the money supply. The U.S. could virtually eliminate its debts, including unfunded liabilities by pushing the ongoing inflation into a hyperinflation. Hyperinflation is possible when political states have monopoly control of the supply of money. They can cheapen the money at will, thereby devaluing the promises that were made to the nation’s citizens.

According to economist Peter Bernholz, who made a study of hyperinflation, “There has never occurred a hyperinflation in history which was not caused by a huge budget deficit of the state.” 88

A political democracy that causes a hyperinflation is a failed political state. Whether it goes out of existence depends on the degree of coercive power that the authorities use to hold onto power against the will of the people they rule.

The United States of America is not alone among nations in which the state has made financial promises that cannot and will not be kept. Most, if not all, political democracies have social welfare programs with unsustainable finances. 89

ENTREPRENEURIAL GOVERNANCE WHEN A STATE FAILS

The failure of a political state to provide essential services, due to bankruptcy or otherwise, while it will cause social turmoil, does not have to cause a permanent state of anarchy and chaos. To the contrary, if a state fails to provide governance services, for example police and fire protection, entrepreneurial governance services will arise to meet the unfilled need.

Fire protection

In 1948, a man named Lou Witzeman lived in a small, rural community, Scottsdale, Arizona, population then 2,000. One evening Lou saw a neighbor’s house burn down due to lack of fire protection because there was no fire department in Scottsdale. To meet the need for fire protection, Lou founded a fire company that now bears the name Rural/Metro Fire. According to the company’s website:

“Lou raised money, bought a fire truck, and began the operation of a four-man fire department. He couldn’t collect taxes, so he went door to door, asking his neighbors to subscribe by paying an annual fee.

“‘There was no master plan in forming the company,’ Witzeman said. ‘I simply needed fire protection for my neighborhood, and I was determined to get it.’

“His idea turned out to be a solution for many surrounding communities. ‘I never expected the company to grow so big,’ Witzeman said. ‘I just wanted to provide my neighborhood with fire protection. But soon I began to realize that I had really stumbled onto something. I found that the established ways of providing [fire protection] services were not as efficient as they could be. So Rural Metro Fire’s cause became to look for new and better ways to do the job . . . for less money.’” 90

Proprietary fire protection services exist throughout America. 91

Public safety and security

In the first two decades of the 21st century, there has been an entrepreneurial response to drastic reductions in funding police in various locales in the United States.

As of late in the second decade of the 21st century there were approximately twenty private security companies in a five-county area of south central and southwest Oregon. Although nearly 500,000 people live in the area, local police protection had become deficient and undependable because cities and towns had made significant reductions in spending for local policing.

In 2012 in Grants Pass, Oregon, a city of 38,000 in Josephine County, a woman telephoned the Sheriff’s office via the 911 emergency response system asking for personal protection from a would-be assailant. After waiting on the telephone for over ten minutes, she was told there were no officers available to help her. Shortly thereafter she was raped in her home.

According to a report in the New York Daily News in 2013, a recorded message on the telephone of the Josephine County Sheriff said “due to budgetary constraints we are only able to answer the phone from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. . . Yet Josephine County residents said no to . . . extra property tax [for police] . . . Sheriff Gil Gilbertson says that defeat will force him to cut even more deputies — after laying off 65% of his staff last year.” 92

Jeff and Julie Thomas retired to Grants Pass, Oregon after 50+ combined years of law enforcement experience in the United States, Africa and Asia. When the economy took a downturn after 2008, crime rates started to rise in and around Grants Pass. Concurrently the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office lost the bulk of its funding. In 2009 Mr. and Mrs. Thomas decided to establish a company to meet the safety and security needs of residential and business clients in Grants Pass and throughout Josephine County and neighboring Jackson County.

The Thomas’ company, Concierge Home and Business Watch (CHBW), grew rapidly to meet the needs of the community. CHBW is now a full service security company serving residential and commercial clients throughout Southern Oregon. As of 2018 the company employed 56+ state certified armed and unarmed security officers. Most of the CHBW Team members are former law enforcement officers, military veterans, and first responders committed to the safety and security of their communities.

Home Watch services include regular checks of homes and properties, 24/7 alarm response, neighborhood patrols, 24/7 emergency response to calls directed to CHBW via the 911 emergency response system due to lack of law enforcement resources, among other services.

According to the New York Daily News, there have been cuts in local law enforcement funding nationwide. In Oakland, California, citizens stepped up to provide security when the Oakland Police Department was failing to do so. 93

In Indiana’s most populous city and county, Indianapolis in Marion County, funding cutbacks have reduced the number of sheriff’s officers. 94

There is a similar problem in Britain. 95

Public transportation

In and around New York City, inexpensive transportation is provided by so-called “dollar vans.” The name originates from the first such van service in New York City during a transit strike that halted all subway and bus lines for twelve days in 1980.

During the strike individual owners of vans offered rides for $1. This service continued after settlement of the strike and resumption of municipal subway and bus service. Three plus decades later the price is more than $1, but still low enough to attract many riders. In the second decade of the 21st century, dollar vans pick up as many as 100,000 riders a day, ferrying passengers through so-called “subway deserts” in Brooklyn and eastern Queens; Chinese immigrants shuttle people among the city’s three Chinatowns. Independent van service is also operating to serve people who commute from New Jersey suburbs into New York City.

According to an article in the New York Times in June 2018,

Since the 1990s, van owners have been allowed to apply for permits from the city, but the stringent licensing requirements and the high cost of insurance have led many of them to choose to stay illegal. The taxi commission, which regulates commuter vans, has encouraged passengers to take legal vans, and in recent years, has used a number of tactics to set them apart — from making them white, to issuing decals with a “C” — but nothing has really worked. The passengers don’t care, drivers say.96

Food production and distribution 

Under communism in the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea, the state forced peasants into collective farms where they were virtual slave labor, lacking the incentive to work efficiently and productively. Under collective farming agricultural production was not adequate to feed the nation.

Because the state took most of the farm production from the peasants to feed industrial workers, in all three countries there were periods of widespread starvation in which about 10% of the rural population died.

Eventually in all three countries peasants were permitted to keep some of what they produced for their own consumption or for sale. This partial liberation of farmers increased farm production.

In the Soviet Union peasants were allowed to farm small private plots, usually less than acre, for their own benefit. The private plots amounted to about 2% of all farmland but produced about 25% of all food.

In China after 1976, the state gradually privatized agriculture, although it still taxed peasants heavily and did not allow peasants to own the land they farmed. Despite these limitations, the partial privatization of agriculture gave peasants the incentive of keeping part of what they produced for their own consumption or for sale in a relatively free market for food. 97

In North Korea, during the famine years of the 1990s, the state monopoly of food production and distribution ceased functioning for all but the political elite. To survive, North Koreans had to violate the law to obtain food. Some began crossing the border into China to bring back food and other goods to sell. This was an illegal black market operation under the law, but it became widespread. The black market eventually lifted the country out of the famine and kept operating with the tacit consent of the state.

According to defectors who fled to South Korea, by 2008 over two-thirds of North Korean employment was in the black market. In a 2015 survey of defectors, over half said the black market had been their main source of food. 98

Note: Andrew J. Galambos described a black market as a moral market in an immoral society. The market is called “black” only because its operation has been prohibited by the state.

EVOLUTION OF NON-COERCIVE, VOLUNTARY GOVERNANCE

Two forms of voluntary human governance have evolved, originally separately but eventually in combination with each other. They are insurance protection and security protection. Insurance and security as businesses have developed in America and other nations not burdened and hindered by repressive tyrannies where free enterprise and profit have been unknown—or outlawed if known.

Insurance evolved in human society as a way of sharing losses that would be catastrophic for an individual, but are not catastrophic if the risk is shared with a group of people. The whole group bears easily all the single losses which might otherwise be crushing blows to individuals.

Insurance is one of the most important social institutions ever created by human beings. The invention of insurance compares in importance with the invention of the wheel because insurance is the most effective way to prevent loss and thereby protect property.

Insurance evolved gradually through trade, commerce and usage, in a manner similar to the development of agriculture, art, contract, language, law, markets, music and science.

Insurance is also a social tool that can be expanded to provide far better than the political state all the functions that people commonly believe are uniquely suitable only to a political state. These include protection of life and all other forms of property from criminal attack, both domestic and foreign; and protection from losses due to exceptionally destructive natural phenomena.

Loss prevention is an already existing or emerging element of virtually every form of insurance. However, if a loss does occur, insurance will compensate for the associated financial damages.

In an ideal operation of insurance, insurance companies would have much more than the responsibility to pay for losses suffered by an insured. An example of this would be a fire insurance company that provides fire prevention training, reduces the insurance premium cost for customers who keep a working fire extinguisher in their homes, surveys the insured property to provide fire safety recommendations not only for buildings but also for the surrounding land, and provides fire-fighting service when fires occur.

The enormous damages and losses suffered in wildfires in California in the last decades of the 20th century and early decades of the 21st century afford an example of the inadequacy of current fire protection measures and the possibility of far better protection with a full, integrated development of insurance and security against fire.

Wildfires in three counties in the wine country of Northern California in 2017 caused losses estimated at six billion dollars. Wildfires in the hills east of Oakland, California in 1991 caused nearly three billion dollars of insured losses. 99

Large-scale wildfires and concomitant large losses are frequent in California because population growth and construction of homes reach into wooded areas adjacent to cities and towns.

Wildfire losses occur in areas where several, perhaps many, insurance companies write policies of homeowners’ and fire insurance. All companies writing homeowner’s and fire insurance could combine in a consortium to create a permanent fire-fighting service employing a staff of professional firefighters who would be on call and ready to respond at a moment’s notice. Existence of such a service would enable professional fire fighters to take immediate action to stem a wild fire before it did significant damage. 

As of the early 21st century some fire insurance companies already provide prevention services including private firefighters to protect still undamaged homes of customers from nearby fires. 100   

 Insurance companies would have incentive to spend the money to create and maintain permanent fire-fighting services in areas prone to costly fires. Doing so probably would be far less expensive than paying out loss claims after a fire has done damage.

Whatever the cost of establishing and maintaining permanent fire-fighting services, insurance is the ideal means of financing that expense, as its cost can be added to the periodic premium charges to insured customers.

An insurance company would have a proprietary incentive to protect the customer from the actual occurrence of loss. If the insured suffers a loss so does the insurer. If the insured is protected from loss, both the insured and the insurer benefit. By purchasing insurance the insured would be purchasing an ally in a company that would have a great deal to gain by protecting its insureds and a great deal to lose if it fails to protect the insureds from losses. 

The institution of insurance plus security has the capability of expansion to provide real security against domestic crime and foreign aggression. The institution of insurance plus security also has the capability of preventing or providing successful preventive defense against terrorist attacks of would be state organizations such as the terrorist organization that twice, in 1993 and again in 2001, attacked the World Trade Center buildings in New York City.

The insurance industry has the potential to be the world’s most needed and largest industry and to grow to a size and importance virtually undreamt of in the early 21st century. For example, this chapter envisions, as did Andrew Galambos, that eventually insurance companies competing for business will supersede all (100%) of the functions now deemed almost universally to be a suitable monopoly for the political state.

The business of making and keeping promises

Insurance is a business of promises. The sole product of an insurance company is a promise to pay claims in the future in return for receipt of advance payments by its customers, the insured.

Protection by a political state is also a business of promises. However, the state does not accumulate funds in advance of losses in order to protect against loss and to pay claims if losses occur. In contrast, that is what insurance companies do.

Loss prevention

Following is a brief listing of activities that insurance companies use to prevent losses or minimize the risk of loss:

  • lower costs for customers who take precautions to minimize risk of loss
  • provide loss prevention services and safety information for customers
  • provide safety training and information to help property and casualty insurance customers minimize the risk of losses
  • provide loss prevention services including private firefighters to protect still undamaged homes of customers from destruction

 These examples portend the ultimate potential of insurance as a loss prevention service in addition to its historical function of reimbursing customers for losses. The subject of insurance as a protector against the occurrence of loss is explored in some detail in this book’s chapters on security, justice, and defense.

Insurance and security

 Insurance and security are related. Insurance companies can expand into business activities directly related to insurance, a most important example being the security industry.

Proprietary, profit-seeking insurance as an industry combined with proprietary security operations has immense advantages over the political state as a source of security for a number of reasons, including the following:

  • Insurance companies profit when their customers do not experience losses. The state is not a profit-seeking entity, so it gains nothing when its citizens are kept safe from harm.
  • An insurance company suffers loss if its customers suffer loss. The state suffers no loss when its citizens suffer loss.
  • Consequently, the profit motive of insurance companies is beneficial to their customers.
  • Insurance companies use actuarial science to make realistic appraisals of the probabilities of loss. The state does not.
  • Insurance companies price their promises of protection through the process of underwriting. The state does not employ underwriting principles to establish a price for its protection services.
  • Insurance companies collect payment in advance and use the payments to accumulate assets to pay eventual losses. The state does not; it has no assets obtained by voluntary subscription of customers. Therefore, at the most unfavorable time for citizens, when they have already suffered losses, the state compounds their losses by tax increases to pay for its protection services.

A preceding chapter herein about security investigates the ways in which insurance and security businesses could function so well that they would supplant and supersede state and local police, absent political coercion restricting or outlawing some or all the activities of private security businesses. 

Insurance and defense against large-scale attack

Currently, insurance companies are not in the business of providing defense against attacks by aggressors originating outside the territory of the nation in which customers live. Insurance companies could provide such protection. At present they do not provide such protection only because the state claims and enforces a monopoly of the business of defense against external attack.

If insurance companies were not legally precluded from offering defense insurance, in that business they would have the same advantages mentioned above in regard to private security against domestic attacks on persons and property.

In the stateless societies that will exist after the decline and fall of political states, there will still be nations. A nation is the sum total of people with a culture and usually a language in common, living in an area where they predominate. In the future, England will be English, but this book posits that it will not have a political state that exists by means of coercive force. However, the people of England will not be defenseless militarily. They will be able to hire private military firms (PMFs) that have the capability to defend their nation. A number of sizable PMFs already are headquartered in England.

Private military operations have a long history, going back at least as far as renaissance Italy.

As of the beginning of the first decade of the 21st century private military firms constituted an industry with global revenues of $100 billion, an amount that has been growing larger over time. PMFs exist and operate on every continent but Antarctica. It was estimated in 2003 that there were several hundred PMFs worldwide and that the number was growing rapidly.

A coercive political society that depends on a conscript army could never prevail against private military forces, made up of well-paid and highly skilled professionals using the most technologically advanced military equipment. It will become beyond the competence of a political state to achieve in its military the level of sophistication, skill, and power of private military forces.

Two prior chapters analyze and discuss in more detail large-scale defense as it could be provided by free enterprise operations of insurance companies and security companies. See chapter entitled National Defense, under heading Private Military Firms, and chapter entitled Insuring and Assuring Defense

OBJECTIONS TO THE IDEA OF VOLUNTARY GOVERNANCE

In the contemporary world of state monopoly of protective services, defective though those services are, the idea of proprietary, profit-seeking governance service may seem unrealistic, impractical, and virtually impossible to some readers for reasons mentioned immediately below.

The burden of choice 

It may seem burdensome for individuals and businesses to purchase protection services from a multiplicity of providers, rather than a single provider, namely the state. However, Individuals and businesses already purchase protection services from a variety of insurance companies offering protection for a variety of risks, for example automobile, homeowners, property and casualty (fire, flood), medical, life insurance, and product liability.

Affordability 

It may seem that most people or at least the most impecunious people cannot afford to pay for vital protection service. That is a misconception of the way protection services are offered on a free enterprise basis.

In chapter 26 on large-scale defense it is explained that everyone will receive protection from external aggressors by the payments people make to companies that serve the public, such as insurance maintained by owner-operators of multi-occupant residential properties, commercial offices, places of public assembly, transportation companies, roads and highways.

Many companies, numbering in the hundreds and even the thousands in America alone, have businesses that generate revenues of hundreds of millions or billions of dollars annually. In aggregate such companies generate revenues of trillions of dollars annually. Examples of such companies that provide goods or services to many people include large grocery stores and other types of retail stores; transportation companies such as airlines, railroads and trucking companies; entertainment companies that create motion pictures and television programming; manufacturers of automobiles, trucks, and aircraft; petroleum companies that explore for, extract, refine, and sell gasoline and other petroleum products.

The foregoing is a partial and far from complete list. All such companies have valuable properties, and people working for them who they need to protect. Such companies are a natural market for insurance against attack by an aggressor, foreign or domestic on themselves and the people who make the company productive.

The insurance maintained by the world’s most productive companies, together with a global, professional security service, would be more than adequate to deter external or domestic aggression, or to defeat any aggression that was not deterred.

The general public would never know of, care about, or share directly in the cost of such insurance protection. The public would be benefited by it without any individual effort. The general public, including the most impecunious people, would be paying for a part of such protection every time they purchase goods or services from large companies and organizations that through their insurance would subscribe to the protections afforded by private security firms and private military firms.

WHAT COULD PREVENT A NEW COERCIVE MONOPOLY OF GOVERNANCE?

Almost everyone in the world today still carries in mind some belief in the idea expressed in Thomas Hobbes’ book Leviathian, namely that a centralized and coercive state is necessary for peace and stability. Vladimir Putin, the dictator over the Russian people and would-be builder of a reincarnated Russian empire believes this. Putin has been trying, with some success, to persuade the Russian people of this idea since he seized political power in Russia.

Anecdotal evidence indicates many Russians believe Putin is right, even though many also resent the state that Putin now controls.

In countries far freer than Russia, almost every discussion of governance among people, including experts on governance, university professors in all fields, and thoughtful individuals in every walk of life, proceeds on the assumption that some kind of strong, centralized authority is necessary to keep the peace—that is to restrain people from attacking each other.

A central premise of this chapter and this book is that absence of a Leviathan state will not result in anarchy and a war of all against all. In case of the ultimate failure of the political state there are factors of human socialization that will prevent the rise of a new and coercive political state. Those factors include competition among protective service companies, the large number of insurance companies and security companies, and access to information about the activities of insurers and security companies.

In America alone there are thousands of insurance companies and thousands of security companies in these two vital, large and growing industries. These companies compete on the basis of the quality and price of their services.

Those who suspect that some of such companies would become coercive believe, in effect, that the companies could become protection rackets—like the mafia or the state itself. That could not happen. There are thousands of insurance companies and security companies in America alone. If one or several such companies turned rogue—attempting to extort payment by threatening   harm—other insurance and security companies would be available for protection from the rogue company. The information that a security company had turned rogue would be sufficient in itself to put them out of business in a competitive market with thousands of competitors.

A VISION OF A BRIGHTER AND BETTER FUTURE FOR HUMANITY

Andrew J. Galambos, the man whose lectures this book memorializes, asked a rhetorical question: Why is it that in the thousands of years of recorded human history no one challenged the idea that coercion was the only tool available for resolution of humanity’s social problems?

Galambos was not the first to recognize that a political state is a hindrance to human progress, rather than a means of achieving progress. The great musical artist Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) wrote that “Only art and science give us a hope for a higher life.” This quotation originated in, and epitomizes Beethoven’s disillusionment with Napoleon Bonaparte’s betrayal of the ideals of the French Revolution. 101

In 1849 the remarkable American philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote:

This government [of the United States] never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the west. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way.”  102

This book’s message offers a vision of a future in which humanity gradually turns away from the false alternative of coercion. Civilization is not built by coercion. It is built by cooperation, knowledge, innovation, and freedom.

The Statue of Liberty

In the harbor of New York City there stands a magnificent symbol of human aspiration for freedom, the Statue of Liberty. The statue’s builder, French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904), entitled his work  La Liberté éclairant le monde—Liberty Enlightening the World.

Engraved on a tablet within the pedestal on which the statue stands is a poem by Emma Lazarus in which the following stanza epitomizes the eternal human quest for liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

 On the other side of the North American continent there is a Golden Gate at which there stands another symbol of human freedom, creativity, and enterprise—the Golden Gate Bridge that spans the entrance to San Francisco Bay. The bridge was born in the imagination of Joseph Baermann Strauss (1870-1938), an American structural engineer who served as chief engineer in charge of overall design and construction of the bridge project.

Both edifices, the Statue of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge, were paid for by private subscription, not taxation. The cost of building the Statue of Liberty was paid for almost entirely by individuals and private organizations in France and America. 103

The Golden Gate Bridge, one of the wonders of the modern world and a symbol of American achievement

The Golden Gate bridge would not have been built but for the enterprise of Amadeo P. Giannini (1870-1949), the son of Italian immigrants and the founder of San Francisco-based Bank of America. When public financing for the bridge project failed to materialize Mr. Giannini agreed on behalf of his bank to finance the project by purchasing the entire bond issue that had been authorized politically to pay for the construction.

Just as people, individually and cooperatively conceived of and built the Statue of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge, so can people conceive of and build human governance that is voluntary, non-coercive, and effective. To paraphrase Henry David Thoreau, through innovation, enterprise, and cooperation individuals conceived of and have built institutions of governance—the insurance and security industries—and would have done much more to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness if the state had not gotten in the way.

Notes:

  1. Quoted from the Opinion of Justice Marshall in McCulloch vs. Maryland (1819), 17 U.S. 316, at 431
  2. These ideas appear in Locke’s second treatise on government, entitled “An Essay Concerning The True Original Extent, and End of Civil Government (1690)
  3. According to, “The Staggering Death Toll of Mexico’s Drug War,” by Jason M. Breslow, PBS Frontline, July 27, 2015, https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/the-staggering-death-toll-of-mexicos-drug-war/
  4. See “We Know How to End Drug Violence in Central America: Stick to what worked in Colombia,” by James Stavridis, Foreignpolicy.com, March 18, 2015, https://foreignpolicy.com/2015/03/18/we-know-how-to-end-drug-violence-in-central-america-colombia-drug-war/
  5. Quoted from Peter Kropotkin’s essay The State: Its Historic Role (1896]
  6. Quoted to that effect at Wikipedia, Peter Kropotkin, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Kropotkin#Return_to_Russia
  7. See Shirer, William L., The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (1960), a leading treatment of the subject by an American reporter who lived in Nazi Germany during the first half of its brief existence (1933 to 1940)
  8. Quoted from Bronowski, Jacob, The Ascent of Man (1973), at page 88
  9. Von Clausewitz (1780-1831) was a Prussian Army General and military strategist
  10. John W. Deming, Jr. is a perceptive and discerning student of human freedom and the free market and is also a long-time friend of the author of this website. His statement above is from an email to the author of this website. 
  11. The Thomas’ security business is examined in more detail below under the heading Entrepreneurial Governance When a State Fails
  12. See “Atrocities Under Kim Jong-un: Indoctrination, Prison Gulags, Executions,” by Maya Salam and Matthew Haag, The New York Times, June 11, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/11/world/asia/north-korea-human-rights.html
  13. See “The Agony of Venezuela–from democracy to tyranny, hunger, sickness, and ruin–and a way back from the catastrophe,” Post published June 2, 2018 in the blog portion of the website of which this book is a part, https://www.capitalismtheliberalrevolution.com/blog/the-agony-of-venezuela-from-democracy-to-tyranny-hunger-sickness-and-ruin-and-a-way-back-from-the-catastrophe/
  14. See “Nicaragua’s Political Crisis Descends Into ‘Dark Days’—A surge of violence has snuffed out economic activity and dimmed prospects to resolve a revolt against longtime leader Daniel Ortega,” by Juan Montes and José de Córdoba, The Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/nicaraguas-political-crisis-descends-into-dark-days-1528235963
  15. Quotations from Guns, Germs, and Steel, Chapter 4, “Farmer Power” at page 90 and Chapter 14, “From Egalitarianism to Kleptocracy, pages 276-278
  16. This book adopts the abbreviations C.E., standing for Christian Era, and B.C.E., standing for Before Christian Era, that in recent times have begun to supplant A.D. and B.C. as markers of historical time
  17. Article I, section 8
  18. In Spooner’s essay entitled No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority (1867)
  19. Dissent of Justice Holmes in Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, 75 (1905)
  20. Letter to Harold Laski, March 4, 1920, cited in Root, Damon, Overruled: The Long War for Control of the U.S. Supreme Court (2014), quoting from DeWolfe-Howe, Mark, editor, Holmes-Laski Letters (1935), page 239
  21. According to “Revisiting the Explosive Growth of Federal Crimes,” by John Baker, The Heritage Foundation, June 16, 2008, https://www.heritage.org/report/revisiting-the-explosive-growth-federal-crimes
  22. According to, “Frequent Reference Question: How Many Federal Laws Are There?” by Jeanine Cali, Law Library of Congress, March 12, 2013, https://blogs.loc.gov/law/2013/03/frequent-reference-question-how-many-federal-laws-are-there/
  23. Quoted from “Rep. Conyers: Don’t Read the Bill,” by Paul Blumenthal, Sunlight Foundation, July 27, 2009, https://sunlightfoundation.com/2009/07/27/rep-conyers-dont-read-the-bill/ and John Conyers on video at https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=youtube+john+conyers+read+the+bill+&&view=detail&mid=9B581B71BC6F90E17E759B581B71BC6F90E17E75&rvsmid=AD87F5CE29E21E5A2F4FAD87F5CE29E21E5A2F4F&FORM=VDQVAP
  24. Reproduced at Mediaite, November 17, 2013, https://www.mediaite.com/tv/the-context-behind-nancy-pelosis-famous-we-have-to-pass-the-bill-quote/ 
  25. Including statutory law itself and court decisions and administrative interpretations having the force of law
  26. See https://www.bing.com/search?q=force
  27. See “20 words that once meant something very different,” TED Talk by Ann Curzan, June 18, 2014, https://ideas.ted.com/20-words-that-once-meant-something-very-different/ Professor Curzan is a distinguished professor of English and Linguistics at the University of Michigan. https://acurzan.english.lsa.umich.edu/ 
  28. Language in Thought and Action (5th ed. 1991) by S. I. Hayakawa (1906-1992) is a leading popular book setting forth the principles of general semantics innovated by Alfred Korzybski
  29. As of the year 2018 the people of Zimbabwe still suffered under a dictatorship of an oligarchy of the political party that Zimbabwe headed.
  30. Mises, Ludwig von, Human Action (3rd Revised Edition 1966, Henry Regnery Company) p. 282
  31. Von Mises (1881-1973) was an eminent leader of the Austrian School of free market, laissez-faire economic thought, a prodigious originator in economic theory, and a prolific author. He followed and broadened the intellectual path previously discovered and explored by Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot (1727-1781), Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850), Carl Menger (1840-1921) and Eugen Böhm von Bawerk (1851-1914)
  32. At page 101
  33. Quoted from “James Madison’s “Advice to My Country,” in James Madison (1977) by David B. Mattern, p. 32, reproduced at AZ Quotes, http://www.azquotes.com/author/9277-James_Madison/tag/limited-government
  34. Quoted from James Madison, Speech before Constitutional Convention (June 29, 1787) in “Both James Madison and the Anti-Federalists Were Right About Standing Armies,” by Lawrence Hunter, Forbes.com, July 29, 2012, https://www.forbes.com/sites/lawrencehunter/2012/07/29/both-james-madison-and-the-anti-federalists-were-right-about-standing-armies/#26da659075a0
  35. Quoted from Sic Itur Ad Astra (1999), page 6
  36. Resistance and Revolution: The Anti-Vietnam War Movement at the University of Michigan 1965-1972, http://michiganintheworld.history.lsa.umich.edu/antivietnamwar/
  37. Quotation from Entertainment, “When Joan Baez defied the IRS,” by Nancy Ramsey, April 12, 1991, http://ew.com/article/1991/04/12/when-joan-baez-defied-irs/
  38. United States-Vietnam Relations, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States%E2%80%93Vietnam_relations
  39. See Ridley, Matt, The Evolution of Everything (2015), page 240
  40. OpenTheBooks.com is a project of American Transparency, a nonprofit, nonpartisan charitable organization that accepts no federal or state funding. For media summaries of the report of OpenTheBooks.com see “FDA, Smithsonian, other fed groups gathering war arsenals,” CBS News, June 27,

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/report-fda-smithsonian-federal-agencies-stockpiling-military-weapons/  “The FDA is stockpiling military weapons and it’s not alone,” by Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe, June 26, 2016,

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/06/25/the-fda-stockpiling-military-weapons-and-not-alone/iGbHhnnkTbsSMnnO23obiI/story.html “Why Are Federal Bureaucrats Buying Guns And Ammo? $158 Million Spent By Non-Military Agencies,” by Adam Andrzejewski, Forbes.com, October 20, 2017, https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamandrzejewski/2017/10/20/why-are-federal-bureaucrats-buying-guns-and-ammo-158-million-spent-by-non-military-agencies/#4cf77f8664a1

  41. Sources for this statement appear in the preceding note
  42. See “A Doctor’s Posthumous Vindication: Peter Gleason spoke his mind about a drug’s benefits—then saw his career ruined by the FDA and federal prosecutors,” by Harvey Silverglate, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 25, 2012, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887323981504578174973015235686
  43. See “Gibson’s Fight Against Criminalizing Capitalism,” by Henry Juskiewicz, Op-Ed, The Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2012, and “Gibson Is Off the Feds’ Hook. Who’s Next? The guitar company settlement reveals a disturbing effort by federal prosecutors to silence their corporate targets,” by Harvey Silverglate, Op-Ed, The Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2012
  44. FARC is an abbreviation of the organization’s title in Spanish, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
  45. See Courtois, Stéphane, Nicolas Werth, et al., The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (1999)
  46. See Conquest, Robert, Harvest of Sorrow (1986)
  47. See the discussion of the American Civil War herein in the chapter entitled Wars of the United States of America.
  48. Quoted from Hoppe, Hans-Hermann, The Great Fiction: Property, Economy, Society, and the Politics of Decline (2012), page 8
  49. Quoted from Thoreau’s essay On Civil Disobedience
  50. As explained in Chapter 25 on National Defense
  51. Issues of access to service are to be addressed in the chapter that follows this chapter.
  52. Quotation from George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Whiskey Rebellion, https://www.mountvernon.org/library/digitalhistory/digital-encyclopedia/article/whiskey-rebellion/
  53. Quotations from Ellis, Joseph, His Excellency George Washington (2004), pages 139 and 263
  54. Quoted from Ridley, Matt, The Evolution of Everything (2015), chapter 13 on the Evolution of Government, page 239
  55. Mr. Snelson’s work and ideas are perpetuated in the Sustainable Civilization Institute, http://www.suscivinst.com/ established by Mr. Snelson and his wife and close colleagues.
  56. The context for the Civil War is considered in the chapter herein entitled Wars of the United States of America.
  57. From a letter of August 22, 1862 to Horace Greeley, editor of The New York Tribune, quoted in Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men (1996), pages 207-208 by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel; quoted also in The Real Lincoln (2002) by Thomas J. DiLorenzo, page 35
  58. Quotation from the London Spectator cited in The Real Lincoln (2002), cited in The Real Lincoln, page 36 by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
  59. Romansh, spoken in part of southeastern Switzerland, is spoken by relatively few people and is in process of becoming archaic. Where it is still spoken, the predominant languages are German and Italian.
  60. as distinguished from High German spoken in much of Germany,
  61. Including Romansh
  62. During the 17th century’s devastating wars between Protestants and Catholics in Europe, the Swiss had relatively minimal religious conflict.
  63. Quoted from “Bureaucracy Kills: A Lesson from Rome,” by William Henry Chamberlin, Foundation for Economic Education, January 1, 1963, https://fee.org/articles/bureaucracy-kills-a-lesson-from-rome/
  64. This summarizes some principal conclusions of German historian Fritz Fischer (1908-1989), whose work is generally considered the most authoritative thesis on the subject of German aims in World War I.
  65. See Voinovich, Vladimir, The Anti-Soviet Soviet Union (1986) and Simis, Konstantin, USSR: The Corrupt Society: The Secret World of Soviet Capitalism (1982)
  66. According to Gregory, Paul R., Russian National Income, 1885-1913 (1983) quoted in “Agricultural Productivity Growth in Russia, 1861-1913: From Inertia to Ferment,” by Carol S. Leonard, https://www.scribd.com/document/238264778/Agricultural-Productivity-Growth-in-Russia-1861-1913
  67. See Barron, John, MiG Pilot: The Final Escape of Lieutenant Belenko (1980)
  68. This is apparent from events of the late 1980s reported in books by two American journalists with long experience in Russia, Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire (1993) by David Remnick, chapters 10-18, 19, and 23; and The New Russians (1990) by Hedrick Smith, Chapters 18-23
  69. subsequently restored to its former name, St. Petersburg
  70. Quoted from Zuyev, Alexander, Fulcrum: A Top Gun Pilot’s Escape from the Soviet Empire (1992), pages 322-323
  71. A very large number of journalists have been murdered in Russia since the early 1990s. See, e.g., Wikipedia, List of journalists killed in Russia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_journalists_killed_in_Russia
  72. See “What Does Vladimir Putin Fear? His Own People,” by Marvin Kalb, Time.com, November 28, 2017, http://time.com/5039688/vladimir-putin-fears-own-people/
  73. Putin started wars of aggression against Chechnya (1999), Georgia (2008), and Ukraine (2014-2018).
  74. According to the account of Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his famous history, Gulag Archipelago, published originally in samizdat—typed copies distributed surreptitiously—and then published in the West in print form starting in 1973 when Solzhenitsyn was expelled from Russia by the communists.
  75. For elaborate documentation of Putin’s anti-democratic rise to power see Dawisha, Karen, Putin’s Kleptocracy; Who Owns Russia (2014)
  76. Wikipedia, All Quiet on the Western Front, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Quiet_on_the_Western_Front
  77. Quoted from Haffner, Sebastian, Defying Hitler: A Memoir (2000), page 126. Sebastian Haffner is the pen name of German journalist and historian Raimund Petzel (1907-1999). See also Klemperer, Victor, I Shall Bear Witness: The Diaries of Victor Klemperer, 1933–41 (1998) (Nazi house to house search for weapons in Dresden, Germany; and Halbrook, Stephen P. Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “enemies of the State” (2014)
  78. As explained in McFaul, Michael, From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia (2018), pages 239-263 and 418-420
  79. De Tocqueville toured the United States in 1831-1832, and subsequently published his influential book Democracy in America (1835, 1840). The book is still in print after nearly 200 years.
  80. Mr. Robertson was the chief actuary for the Social Security Administration from 1975 to 1978. His three books are The Coming Revolution in Social Security (1981); Social Security: What Every Taxpayer Should Know (1992); and The Big Lie: What Every Baby Boomer Should Know About Social Security and Medicare (1997)
  81. Household net worth is the total of household assets minus liabilities.
  82. According to “U.S. Fiscal Policies and Priorities for Long-Run Sustainability,” Martin Mühleisen and Christopher Towe, Editors, International Monetary Fund (2004), http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/nft/op/227/index.htm
  83. Kotlikoff, Lawrence and Scott Burns, The Clash of Generations: Saving Ourselves, Our Kids, and Our Economy (2012) note 15 on page 238; and Tanner, Michael D. Going for Broke: Deficits, Debt, and the Entitlement Crisis (2018), page 8
  84. See “Household net worth in the US hits a new record but the wealthy reap the benefit,” by Bryan Cronan, Christian Science Monitor, September 18, 2014, https://www.csmonitor.com/Business/new-economy/2014/0918/Household-net-worth-in-the-US-hits-a-new-record-but-the-wealthy-reap-the-benefits
  85. According to “California’s $500 billion pension time bomb,” by David Crane, Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2010, http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/06/opinion/la-oe-crane6-2010apr06 and California Legislative Analyst’s Office, The 2015-16 Budget: The Governor’s General Fund Deferred Maintenance Proposal, https://lao.ca.gov/reports/2015/budget/deferred-maintenance/deferred-maintenance-020915.aspx
  86. See Whitney, Meredith, Fate of the States (2013) and Malanga, Steven, Shakedown: The Continuing Conspiracy Against the American Taxpayer (2010)
  87. According to Treasury Direct, https://www.treasurydirect.gov/ at https://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt_histo3.htm 
  88. Quoted in Coggan, Philip, Paper Promises: Debt, Money, and The New World Order (2012) at page 240.
  89. According to Coggan, Philip, Paper Promises: Debt, Money, and the New World Order (2012)
  90. See https://ruralmetro.co and https://amr.net/ and https://www.globalmedicalresponse.com/
  91. For example PAR Fire Protection, https://pargroup.com/par-fire-protection/ and Flame Master Fire Protection, https://www.manta.com/c/mmg733m/flame-master-fire-protection-inc
  92. See “Cash-strapped law enforcement agencies in Oregon stop answering calls,” by Deborah Hastings, New York Daily News, May 23, 2013, http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/woman-oregon-raped-911-no-send-home-article-1.1353085 and “Southern Oregon Officer Shortage Diverts State Troopers,” by Shaun Hall, Grants Pass Daily Courier, March 8, 2014, https://www.opb.org/news/article/state-police-bailing-out-understaffed-sheriffs-department/
  93. See “As Police Budgets are Cut, Citizens Step In,” by Steve Yoder, The Fiscal Times, August 7, 2012, http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2012/08/07/Police-Budget-Cut
  94. See “Indy mayor unveils budget as Sheriff plans to stop providing major services, close APC,” Fox News, August 14, 2017, http://fox59.com/2017/08/14/marion-county-sheriffs-office-to-stop-providing-important-services-to-local-police-close-apc/
  95. See “Reality Check: Did the government protect police funding?” BBC.com,” March 2, 2017, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-39144620
  96. Quoted from “Inside the Dollar Van Wars,” by Annie Correal, The New York Times, June 10, 2018,” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/08/nyregion/inside-the-dollar-van-wars.html
  97. Sources: Chang, Jung and Jon Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story (2006), Dikötter, Frank, Mao’s Great Famine (2010) and Gardner, Bradley M., China’s Great Migration (2017)
  98. See “A Consumer Class Wields New Power in North Korea,” by Travis Jeppesen, The Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-consumer-class-wields-new-power-in-north-korea-1527867489
  99. Reported in “Billions in losses – where will wildfires rank among California’s costliest disasters?” by Dale Kasler, Sacramento Bee, October 20, 2017, https://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/fires/article179945776.html
  100. See “Private fire crews find rich niche,”  by Catherine Saillant and Jia-Rui Chong, LA Times, November 24, 2008,   http://articles.latimes.com/2008/nov/24/local/me-wildfire-private-insurance24 and Chubb, Monitoring and Response Services, https://www.chubbfiresecurity.com/en/uk/
  101. See Wikipedia, “Symphony No. 3 (Beethoven),” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_No._3_(Beethoven)#Dedication
  102. Quoted from Thoreau’s essay Civil Disobedience (1849)
  103. Funding of the Statue of Liberty, https://www.wonders-of-the-world.net/Statue-of-Liberty/Funding-of-the-statue-of-Liberty.php

5 Responses to Governance, Government, and the State

  1. William Vetter says:

    Chapter 31 presents a cogent, rational and moral argument for the propositions that the human species is harmed by the very existence of coercive states (a redundancy), and that competitive markets for the protection of property would propel the species forward to a stable and durable growth of civilization. I commend you, Fred Marks, on your intelligence, and stamina, at preserving this hopeful argument for posterity.

    • fgmarks says:

      Dear Bill: I am glad that you take the time to read CTLR. For me, it is a labor of love to memorialize the ideas that I heard from Andrew Galambos, and to record what would be lost if no one wrote uphis ideas in an accessible form. Fred

  2. fgmarks says:

    Dear Richard: Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I will certainly review the relevant portion of the chapter with a view of providing as clear an explanation as I can of the reasons that coercion causes the decline and fall of a state.

    Just having returned from a vacation, I need time to consider how to approach this point that you raise.

    For now, note that I have said that when coercion destroys the ability of people to produce enough for bare subsistence, and when consequently most people view the state as interfering with their ability to survive, a coercive state is on shaky ground. It can survive longer only by consuming the substance of the host to which it a parasite, namely the people it rules. That is what is now happening in Venezuela. The state is deliberately holding on to power by physical attacks on those who protest, and depriving almost everybody of the means of subsistence, as shown by the hunger, sickness, and flight, engendered by the state.

  3. Congratulations on another excellent chapter. Over time I’m sure I’ll be commenting on a few of its topics and will begin with this.

    Under the heading, COERCION AS THE CAUSE OF THE FAILURE OF POLITICAL STATES, you write: “Andrew Galambos asserted that there was a single, underlying cause to the decline and fall of all political states. The cause is coercion. He said that every political state, no matter how long maintained by coercion, eventually will fail because of its coercion.

    It appears to the author of this book that coercion is the best explanation for the decline or failure of political states.”

    I agree. But it seems to me that we must go further and ask, “Why is this so? Why does coercion lead to failure?” Why isn’t it helpful? What is it about coercion that made Galambos certain that every political state will fail?

    Statists argue that the power to coerce is necessary. When states decline or fall, if anyone suggests that coercion itself was the cause this must of necessity be denied, and other reasons offered. For example, perhaps the coercion had been the wrong type or amount, or not judiciously applied, or applied for the wrong reason or by the wrong political party. A statist can never agree that coercion itself is at fault.
    To say that wherever there is coercion the state fails is to say that there is a correlation between coercion and failure. But as we know, correlation does not prove causation.

    Fortunately, Galambos did posit a cause, and it was a unique and original one. He noted, as you did, that societies using coercion do fail, but added that they MUST fail. In Course V-50, as transcribed in Sic Itur Ad Astra, he claimed that this is true because political states attempt to violate a law of nature, the first law of thermodynamics, and that success is impossible. Galambos said:

    ”I’ll say any social structure that is not compatible with what I call freedom [people having 100% control of their property, i.e., no coercion] is doomed to destruction. Of course, we have observational evidence of this, the decline and fall of blank, and you fill in the name of your favorite country. Any country that does not have freedom, as I defined it, is doomed to failure because it is impossible for it to survive, and I will state the law of nature that is violated, the same law of nature that I just stated for the perpetual motion of the first kind. The first law of thermodynamics is violated — better known and more generally known, as the conservation of energy. You cannot create or destroy energy. All you can do is transform energy from one form to another.

    Any social structure where freedom does not prevail is impossible to stay in existence for an indefinite period, because there is a constant attempt to violate the conservation of energy, and this will cause the civilization to collapse. There is an economic derivative of the conservation of energy that is a common saying: “You cannot get something for nothing.” All social structures that collapse behave as though you could get something for nothing and in this delusion the social structure operates until it produces conditions which produce the breakdown that is called the ‘Decline and Fall of __________.’

    …all historical societies have collapsed for one reason — because of the ideological demand for security being met by the political or coercive supply of tyranny.

    …the basic problem is that the desire for security is met with a political supply of coercion, which is a facsimile of security, by depriving those who have more in order to give to those who have less. Those who have less will feel that this is in their interest. They will become more satisfied, at least in the short run, and it will seem as though this is an improvement. Well, this is what ultimately will cause destruction to all of society because it ultimately eliminates incentive, and those who produce more will get tired of being robbed. Ultimately, they will protect themselves, since they don’t see any other way to do it, by producing less.

    These actions ultimately produce a lack of incentive and a diminishing of production which ultimately brings the total production of the society below its subsistence level, which causes the decline and fall of the given culture.”

    In my view, Galambos, although moving us closer to the answer (which he knew), doesn’t quite take us there in this explanation. When he talks about getting something for nothing, he doesn’t explicitly tell us what the “something” is. It is, and must be, property, because property, as he defined it, is the only thing you can “get.” Political states use coercion to get people’s property. This step leads to the above negative effects.

    But once again, why? Why doesn’t it work? The answer is that it violates the first postulate of volition, “all volitional beings live to pursue happiness,” and its second corollary, “all volitional beings live to acquire property.” Coercion interferes with the pursuit of happiness, which consists of the acquisition (and retention) of property.

    Interference, (undefined by Galambos) is, as I recommended in my paper on coercion, best seen in terms of the control of property, in the same way that Galambos saw freedom and ownership as being about the control of property. When we acquire property, we are gaining control of it, and if we do so according to Galambos’ definition of morality, we own it. Numerous scientific studies suggest that these feelings of ownership are basic to human nature.

    The problem for coercers, whether state or otherwise, is that people will resist, in one way or another, any involuntary reduction of their control of what they see as their property. They can’t help it; it is human nature. Therefore, when the state uses coercion to wrest that control from them it is attempting to violate a law of nature and must fail. That’s why coercion doesn’t work. It is impossible for it to work. Although, a la Bastiat, “success” might be seen in the short run, the unseen effects of coercion must ultimately lead to the failure of every state.

  4. This is a stunning and eye-opening subject of expanded thinking by a man of extraordinary and coordinated reasoning ability. The practicality and extensive application of the conception of competition among service providers with the consent of each and every individual who chooses it is truly profound. It is simple to grasp and exiting to follow and to understand this enormously important concept. It is for the increase and preservation of successful and peaceful societal and civilization development.

    The author, Frederic Marks describes well the A. Galambos’ knowledge of coercion and its application by state governments (including the US). It is presented in a most understandable way that is not otherwise thought of by the average citizen. It is keenly clear, however, and inspires corroborative agreement.

    Reading and thinking about Mr. Marks’ description of “governance” is fascinating and very satisfying.

    This chapter is an excellent example of exciting and educational conception.

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