It rests on you!
By Fred Woodworth
There is one thing- and only one – that the State really and truly does fear. And no, it’s not the use of violence against itself or any of its “citizens” (if it really deplored the latter, it wouldn’t use so much violence against them itself, and as for the former, the government is ARMED TO THE TEETH and only chafing restlessly most of the time because it doesn’t have nearly enough opportunities to try out its latest big-time bullying weapons on even pitifully organized and armed sectors of the populace.)
These days the State doesn’t even fear dissent much. Sure, they’d prefer there not to be any, and they’ll intimidate and harass and persecute dissenters, but that’s only to stay in shape, so to speak. Besides, the actual enforcers are always police of one variety or another, and they enjoy doing directly to people what bureaucrats only do from a distance: pushing them around, generating pain and fear, and stealing their belongings and money. The truth is, the State doesn’t fear ANY of the things that most protest or reform movements think it does – not voting, not letters-to-the editor in newspapers (those are carefully controlled so that the fearful ideas can never get through), not movements to place more enlightened people on juries. The only thing the State or Government is afraid of is this: Your withdrawal of consent. Illegitimacy.
Anything else you do only adds to its total of amassed power. If you vote to change some aspect of it, AND WIN, the change may or may not be implemented (as the voters approval for measures to partially decriminalize marijuana in Arizona and California has not been). Chances are that it’ll be delayed for so long and subjected to such a slow death by law suits that when the “winning” reform finally slips into its grave hardly anybody will even notice. Even if the reform is implemented, the State will license whatever it is, regulate it, inspect it, and so on, to such a degree that the totality of statism is not only increased, but the State is further enabled by the aura of justness in its alleged willingness to change (never mind that to get it to do even THIS required millions of hours of human effort and untold expense by the hopeful reformers.)
And of course, if you LOSE in a vote, which in all likelihood you will, whatever it is you were objecting to and voting against will now have even more power because it has been ratified by “the will of the people.”
In other words, as long as you play the statists’ game, the state will win over the long run the same way that the “house” wins over the long run when people gamble on roulette wheels. There’s enough of an edge in the odds for the “house” that it keeps amassing money – and how much it amasses is directly related to the number of people who walk through the door and play the game.
The only thing the “house” fears when it comes to roulette, is that people will stop walking in the door at all and playing the game. So it provides lots of incentives to get people to do that: free drinks, shows, scantily-clad girls, tour packages with low-priced hotel rooms, availability of prostitutes, and, of course, always the great lure of Winning Big. The gambling industry, then, is willing to encourage you to enjoy yourself and try to win big, so that IT can enjoy ITself even more and win even bigger.
And the State would go out of business, too, if people gave up on its games and realized that over the long run governments only keep enlarging themselves. Here in the USA we’ve had a clear progression from an initially small and perhaps not too harmful government, to a gargantuan one, millions of times as large as when it started out. There’s almost a biological imperative about this, and despite the hoped-for effectiveness of written limitations, the horrible thing has grown and grown, the same way that a tiny rattlesnake grows – no matter how much you may not want it to – into a large and highly dangerous one.
The State stays in existence for only one reason: Most people think most other people think it ought to. Back in the 1800’s, the insane King Christophe of Haiti used to shoot to death some of the workers on his projects – despite the fact that there were a lot more of them than there was of him. One writer gives us this episode: “The slightest hint of insubordination brought down his murderous wrath. Suspecting the fidelity of a company of Citadel guards, he lined them up on the highest battlement and commanded them to march forward, right over the edge of a 130-foot wall. And … they obeyed, to be dashed to pieces on the rocky mountainside below.” The mental concept of the propriety of these orders, OR the fear of the tortures that might result from an individual’s refusal to obey them, combined with the inability of any single person to know whether the others would stand with him or not in his refusal, all contributed to an irresistible exercise of power, that, at base, ONLY rested on those victims’ own attitude and resolve.
This state and all its myriad incredible tyrannies, likewise rests on you.[This piece originally appeared as part of “From the Editor” in THE MATCH! (Issue 94, Summer 1999, pp. 2-3). Contact THE MATCH! at P.O. Box 3012, Tucson, AZ 85702]
Copyright Voluntaryists 4th Quarter 2001
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