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Rethinking the State Concept

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

~ Thomas Paine, Common Sense

As a scientist, it is my job to make observations, interpret the data based on a fundamental understanding of the system under scrutiny, and report the useful findings to the greater scientific community (or perhaps, employ my newfound knowledge in a worthwhile endeavor). Humanity has had thousands of years of experience under State rule, but only very rarely are meaningful adjustments made. It's disturbing to me how often and easily valuable lessons are ignored for the sake of familiarity and tradition.

The Newtonian Revolution brought mankind a workable understanding of the Laws of Nature. Almost immediately - as John Locke was a friend of Newton - concepts such as divine right came under the fire of reason and logic. Can kings break the Laws of Nature? Such a question leads one to the conclusion - All men are equal before the Laws of Nature. The American Revolution was simply an offshoot of the Newtonian Revolution.

I have several Chinese colleagues, and it's always a pleasure to converse with them. Today, as I spoke with one of my friends, the concept of the State came up - as it often has in the past. The statement was made (paraphrasing) - "In China, special economic favor is given to those closely connected to the politicians. The class of wealthy entrepreneurs is dominated by such people - while opportunities for common people are much less prevalent especially in major industries." Sound vaguely familiar? (How about that solar farm of Reid, for example?)

People from around the world place different flavor labels on various State designs, but in reality, a State is a State is a State.

My friend lauded the opportunities people have in the United States to become successful. However, I quickly pointed out, we've been living on our grandfathers' grandfathers' wealth - which is quickly vanishing in our, now, debt-based, nanny-state dominated system. It's only ever a matter of time before the State plunders what it considers the excess wealth of its perceived subjects - regardless of the flavor.

A question that will receive a virtually uniform response from people across the globe is - In general, are politicians trustworthy?

If your child had a friend that you suspected of stealing from your household, would you continue to allow him/her to come over? Would you marry or have a significant relationship with a person which you clearly couldn't trust? If you owned a business, would you fire a person for stealing from the cash register, or would you promote him/her to manager? If there was an entire group of people you couldn't trust, do you think it would be a good idea to give them billions of dollars, a shitload of automatic rifles, tanks, & nuclear weapons, and the ability to punish anyone they wanted to with impunity?

Adhering to flawed philosophy out of familiarity and tradition is a cop out. Often I've heard - "Well, that's just the way things are. So, you may as well just take it up the woo-hoo like everyone else." Truthfully, the reason why "things are the way they are" is because of this complacent attitude. If people continued to have a similar stance for the remainder of human existence, would anything ever change?

Rather than engaging in the futile endeavor of trying to perfect the State, Humanity should aspire toward anarchy. We should venture to make the State as small as people are willing to tolerate, and then, once they become comfortable, shrink it a little more until one day, hopefully, it disappears.

People tend to, more or less, say - "Who will protect me?"

Who protects you now? For instance, do the police protect you? How often are police present when a crime is being committed? Police don't prevent crimes, police respond to crimes after they occur. Deferring protection to other individuals only provides a false sense of security that often places victims at greater risk.

It was reported that a college girl where I live was sexually assaulted in a university parking deck over the weekend. Suppose that she was packing a Derringer - which is forbidden on campus - and plugged the perpetrator? What if the headline read - Attempted Rape Victim Shoots and Kills Assailant - rather than - Girl Gets Sexually Assaulted at Parking Deck: Assailant Remains at Large?

Crime is prevented much more effectively when it is known by potential criminals that the potential victims are willing to defend themselves - rather than when a criminal knows the victim is likely defenseless and the police are minutes-and-minutes away. (This is no fault of the police. It's simply the nature of the beast.)

Lysander Spooner provides an entertaining example which demonstrates the absurdity of the current US State in Section III of No Treason:

The proceedings of those robbers and murderers who call themselves "the government" are directly the opposite of the single highwayman. In the first place, they do not like him make themselves individually known or, consequently, take upon themselves personally the responsibility of their acts.

On the contrary, they secretly, by secret ballot, designate someone of their number to commit the robbery in their behalf while they keep themselves practically concealed. They say to the person thus designated:

"Go to A B and say to him that the government has need of money to meet the expenses of protecting him and his property. If he presumes to say that he has never contracted with us to protect him and that he wants none of our protection, say to him that that is our business and not his, that we choose to protect him whether he desires us to do so or not and that we demand pay too for protecting him.

If he dares to inquire who the individuals are who have thus taken upon themselves the title of 'the government' and who is soon to protect him and demand payment of him without his ever having made any contract with them, say to him that that too is our business and not his that we do not choose to make ourselves individually known to him, that we have secretly, by secret ballot, appointed you, our agent, to give him notice of our demands, and if he complies with them, give to him, in our name, a receipt that will protect him against any similar demands for the present year.

If he refuses to comply, seize and sell enough of his property to pay not only our demands but all your own expenses and trouble besides. If he resists the seizure of his property, call upon the bystanders to help you. Doubtless, some of them will prove to be members of our band.

If, in defending his property, he should kill any of our band who were assisting you, capture him at all hazards, charge him in one of our courts with murder, convict him, and hang him.

If he should call upon his neighbors or any others, who like him may be disposed to resist our demands and they should come in large numbers to his assistance, cry out that they are all rebels and traitors, that our country is in danger. Call upon the commander of our hired murderers. Tell him to quell the rebellion and save the country, cost what it may. Tell him to kill all that resist though they should be hundreds of thousands, and thus strike terror into all others similarly disposed. See that the work of murder is thoroughly done that we may have no further trouble of this kind hereafter.

When these traitors have thus been taught our strength and our determination, they will be good loyal citizens for many years and pay their taxes without a why or a wherefore."

The logic that underlies the concept of the State is extremely flawed.

This generation is not the first to encounter State tyranny. It has been around for ages. The State cannot be perfected and, very likely, cannot be limited once given a monopoly on the use of force.

What must one do to change it? Spread ideas. Learn to communicate effectively. Speak in a regular volume so that those lingering in the immediate vicinity can hear what you are saying. Never be ashamed to admit that you're a minarchist or anarchist or whatever else. Be proud and stand on sound logic. And, rather than telling people what you want them to know, try to instead ask them questions that will get them to think about the message you are trying to convey.

If you were around during the days of chattel slavery, would you have been for immediate abolition? Or, would you have been for gradual abolition for practical reasons? To hell with what's practical. Stand for what is right. Stand for what you truly believe and nothing less. Even if you don't change every mind you encounter, you will earn quite a bit of respect for your candor and consistency.

The State is not great. This is something virtually everyone knows yet does nothing to change. Be the exception. Politicians are not divine; they, too, cannot break the Laws of Nature, just like the kings who came before them. If you disagree with them, challenge their supposed authority. Stagnation is not progress. If something is broken, it is reasonable to make appropriate changes - while leaving things unchanged and expecting different results...

It's high-time to rethink the State concept.

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Nice rant

"The logic that underlies the concept of the State is extremely flawed."
-I don't think so. It's rooted in sound logic and it's been wildly successful...to our mutual detriment.

Government is an entity that has achieved military dominance over society and grants itself the ability to harm with legal impunity.

This is the legal reality of the state. Like it or lump it.

It doesn't work for you. It has no obligation to you. And it can take everything you hold dear as it pleases.

Learn civics and know your adversary.

More accurately the logic that is sold to the people to justify

it's existence is extremely flawed.

On the other hand, the logic, "Holding a gun against someone's head is a good way to take their money," experience shows to be true.

Detrimental, compared to what?

You make it sound like there's a world of stateless societies in competition with state societies. There are only state societies. All human civilization, on your guys definition, is a state society. Even the early American republic is a horrific state for you guys. So how can you say the state has been good or bad? It has neither failed nor succeeded, it is the only thing there is. It's like saying the principle of gravity has failed. Compared to what? Or sexual reproduction has been detrimental. Compared to what? Where are the non state societies that had capitalism and political rights?

Could we disagree MORE?


We disagree it seems on the topic of theism, we disagree on the topic of anarchy, and you even KNOCK the NAP (non-agression-principle) as one of your threads.

I adore your mind, I adore your depth, I despise your conclusions.

That was a very emotional declaration

but it did not include an argument. Thank you, all the same.

compared to the ideas that have taken root in me


You'd think over ten thousand

You'd think over ten thousand years there'd be a successful example of anarchism producing a stable, well defended territory with efficient criminal justice. Since there isn't, we can only assume it doesn't work, and be very cautious in trying it out experimentally, since drastic changes in social order most often lead to less liberty and less law and order.

How about Biblical Israel pre-monarchy? (Judges)

Its worth considering - the biblical model has a lot of advantages:

- Straight forward law enforced by the community (eye for an eye)
- No senseless wars
- No welfare state = strong families
- No drug laws
- Respect for property and property rights
- Sound money and debt is erased every 50 years

It wasn't perfect but there was way more freedom than we have today.

It can't be...can it?

The story of why the state developed

The people felt as though the anarchic system could not defend them and demanded a King.

Ventura 2012

Never read it

But assume it involved coercive law enforcment. I need to read that eventually, can't seem to make it past the dull parts of Genesis and Exodus.

Here is the relevant part

1 Samuel 8

4Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”

6But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. 8According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. 9Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”

10So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. 11And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. 12He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. 15He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. 16And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest £young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. 18And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.”

19Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, 20that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

Bottom line: What does the State do? TAKE TAKE TAKE!

It can't be...can it?

Genesis and Revelations are the only parts of

The Bible that I find interesting. Holy books should be written from the right side of the brain and the only right - brained parts of the Bible seem to me to be Genesis and Revelations.

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus

ok bill


Great post

Worthy of bumpage!

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*

Thanks Marc


Did it really take Newton for

Did it really take Newton for people to realize that physical laws applied to all people equally? Didn't King Canut command the tide to go back and fail? How do you figure Newton was needed to show that Kings could die or fail when they'd been doing so for centuries? I don't understand how you draw this inference.

Humanity lived without the state for most of prehistory. The state came into existence when real private property did, that is, property beyond personal possessions and communal territory. Land, treasures, and human laborers. The requirement for defense against organized gangs occupying or stealing tangible stored or potential (land) wealth is why states formed.

It's true that the powerful can bestow favors on their friends, but that's true under any system. The powerful can always try to use coercion, and the only question is whether the less powerful are organized in such a way to prevent it.

When the American government was miniscule, and the market hugely free, and there was no Fed, and very little legal privilege, what happened? Inequality and rapid technological change produced concentrations of wealth and collusion. The balances of economic power changed and private forces expanded the government to do their bidding. Groups that felt oppressed responded with their own collective efforts like strikes or political movements and violence was often used on both sides.

To have distributed political power requires some kind of stable system that distributed economic power, as the latter can always be converted into the former, and vice versa. Force is always for sale to economic power, and force is a weapon that can cause economic power to be shifted between parties.

If you made the state disappear tomorrow, those with the power and influence could re establish it if they desired. To block their ability you need a sufficiently large and powerful segment of society to have a deep opposition to concentrated political power (and economic) power, and to hold it at bay through some kind of institutions.

That is much closer to classical 20th century anarchism than anarchocapitalism, which supports any concentration of economic power as long as it didn't use political methods... until then it does.


Prove this statement:

"Humanity lived without the state for most of prehistory."

It was prehistory and, thus, not recorded.

"It's true that the powerful can bestow favors on their friends, but that's true under any system."

I directly made this point in the post.

"The powerful can always try to use coercion, and the only question is whether the less powerful are organized in such a way to prevent it."

I indirectly addressed this point in the post, when I suggested that it is very likely that a State cannot be limited once it is granted, by popular belief, a monopoly on force.

"When the American government was miniscule, and the market hugely free, and there was no Fed, and very little legal privilege, what happened?"

A hell of a lot of wealth was produced, which is now being (has been) squandered by the debt-based system - which I also touched on. (Did you not read the OP at all?)

"Force is always for sale to economic power, and force is a weapon that can cause economic power to be shifted between parties."

And with a popularly sanctioned military under the thumb of the economic elite, history has shown that millions of people often are murdered for silly reasons. If the State didn't exist, I wouldn't be in fear of Apple Inc, for instance, raising a military to force their cellphones upon us.

"To block their ability you need a sufficiently large and powerful segment of society to have a deep opposition to concentrated political power (and economic) power, and to hold it at bay through some kind of institutions."

Those [sarcasm]rich[/sarcasm] cowboys and citizens that backed off the BLM, I suppose, should have checked with you first - since it's an [sarcasm]impossibility[/sarcasm].



we take your principle that nothing in prehistory can ever be stated with confidence, just because there's no written records, would leave us in a position of total ignorance about any period before there was reliable historical records. We may not have the certainty about prehistory that we have about the year 2013, but we can still state confidently that when people were mobile hunter gatherers, the State as we define it today didn't exist.

If a sgate can be eliminated by popular belief, why couldn't it be limited by popular belief. If popular belief is the only force needed to control power, then it could create whatever level of state it wants. You need some argument other than popular belief.

You ignored the point that those who reaped the windfall of the free 19th century free market are the ones who created the interventionist state and colluded to form cartels and expanded the government from a small, limited government into the modern state. The private owners of wealth created the state, because they had the wealth and power to do so, not because the state made them.

If the state didn't exist, there's every reason to think that the economic powers would work to form a state to provide the highest possible security for their economic activity. If the wealthy did not want a state, they have the power now to eliminate it. It isn't the poor who empower the state, it is the rich.

The Rich created the state and sustain it. Force and economic power feed into each other. Your argument treats the word State like a magic incantation, something that is outside of regular human social intercourse and is imposed from the outside. In reality, it develops out of the power of human beings, and is just the organized use of force to impose rules for the benefit of those who have the power.

In anarchy, some individuals will have power; they will use it to provide order and rules that benefit them. Simple.

Please doctor, minimize my tumor?

If a state can be eliminated by popular belief, why couldn't it be limited by popular belief.

Why would we limit government? Because when it gets too big IT REALLY HURTS! Like a tumor. And the sickness is apparent when it spreads.

So when you get a cancer diagnosis, you will ask the doctor "Can we just limit the tumor? Instead of getting rid of it altogether?"

Seems like you missed the question.

It was, why couldn't it be limited, not why does sump1 think we shouldn't want to. That would be a different, less interesting question.

And metaphors are not arguments, btw. Anyone can play that game. To your tumor quip, I could retort just as flippantly "I'm drowning, I wish there was no such thing as water."

Neither one proves any point.

It seems too obvious though

If we are to reach the position of "no government," then we will first have to "limit the government." How can we get to 0% if we don't first get to 50% it's current size, 10%, 1%?


One thing that cracks me up though... Is how much people here at the DP argue about simple stuff, like taxation = theft, spanking = hitting and is violent and wrong, and that 1% government is WAY BETTER than 0% government.

They all seem pretty self-evident to me.

But to think that we would argue over SUCH SMALL DIFFERENCES is funny.

It seems you could lay a feast in front of us, and instead of eat, we would argue over small differences in opinion over the "best food" and "how much food is good?"

Yeah, but to interact with

Yeah, but to interact with the wider public discussion about dietary habits, we won't make much headway if we keep getting confused with the "zero food" people who are correctly regarded as fools.

We would be the fools

If we didn't eat, but just argued and missed out.

And it would seem that our main goal was "to argue tiny differences."

Does sgate = stargate?

I'm not sure if a stargate can be eliminated by popular belief. It took a nuclear weapon for Kurt Russel to get the job done.

I really enjoyed Big Trouble in Little China when I was a kid, also.

Good to see you

going for tasks more your size, like proofreading.

It's telling that you think you can accurately presume...

what happened when there is no evidence, yet can't put two and two together when the evidence is directly under your nose.

I'm not the first scholar to suggest the connection. I certainly won't be the last.

The discourse speaks for itself. I'll let the folks decide for themselves. They're not as dumb and helpless as you give them credit for.

I hope the State lasts forever, like you do.

What do you hate the most about the State, Billy?

Appealing to nebulous 'scholars'

instead of quoting them is a winding road that goes nowhere. I replied on your thread. Seems to me you are fishing for things people dislike about this particular government, or about human nature in general, and equivocating it with the undefined "State" to bolster an anarchism which has almost no adherents. We all hate lots of things about various governments and about human nature. It doesn't follow they prefer anarchism, which would be attended with as much or worse miseries.

One can't say with certainty

anything about prehistory, besides speculations based on archaeological findings of hunting goods and such. However, none of that suggests anything about the hierarchical structure of prehistoric societies. For instance, everyone may have bowed to, worshiped, and followed the orders of the most able hunter. Further, that hunter may have appointed underlings in an official capacity to enforce his will. Perhaps, they even voted. Who knows? I don't and neither do you. It's a horrible basis for an argument.

To make the conclusion you made, one must accept that in the absence of a State, history tends to go unrecorded. However, that is patently false. Even with the existence of prehistoric States, it is entirely plausible that history wasn't recorded faithfully due to a lack of literacy. It stands to reason that power was attractive even before the advent of written language.

I didn't ignore any point. Those that founded this country were under the impression that the State could be limited - which, thus far, thousands of years of experience has proven to be false. It somewhat worked for about forty years - until the Tariff of Abominations started the trend towards tyranny (perhaps even sooner).

If the state didn't exist, there's every reason to think that the economic powers would work to form a state to provide the highest possible security for their economic activity. If the wealthy did not want a state, they have the power now to eliminate it. It isn't the poor who empower the state, it is the rich.

This suggests to me that you haven't paid attention to history. State rule is reliant upon the consent (at least the complacency) of the governed. Authority is an illusion that only lasts as long as the people are willing to believe in it. I don't see too many politicians or billionaires personally pulling triggers. As a 16th Century Frenchman once said (paraphrasing):

"Where do they get the arms to harm you, if not from you?"

In anarchy, some individuals will have power; they will use it to provide order and rules that benefit them. Simple.

As long as they don't have a monopoly on force, I'm not worried.

To make the conclusion you

To make the conclusion you made, one must accept that in the absence of a State, history tends to go unrecorded. haha, where do you infer that? please quote, I said nothing like that.

Your problem seems to be that you have no definition of State. It is just a catch all for what you don't like, so you never define it unequivocally. Please take this opportunity to do so.

In your words, state rule requires the consent of the governed. So be it. Then how is it involuntary? If its voluntary, how does it violate your norms? It may be messy and not 100%, but based on what you've just said, the State can only exist if it is voluntarily consented to. So then it must be voluntaristic in a broad sense.

The intellectuals have had it figured out for some time..

however, much of the general population of the world still believes in divine right. Just ask a North Korean.