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Face Mask, Money, State, and Human Stupidity – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on February 23, 2021

the so-called experts’ notorious about-face on masks this past March. Having said for weeks that face coverings do not stop transmission of the virus, Anthony Fauci, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Surgeon General, and others, did a 180 virtually overnight.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/02/fernando-chiocca/790793-2/

By Fernando Chiocca

It’s summer. The heat on the streets of São Paulo is over 90°F. Without a facial mask, it’s hard enough to breathe. Nevertheless, 98 per cent of people are wearing facial masks (I do a mental accounting of this percentage every day). They pass by me and I see the torment they’re going through. Many squealing under the cloth that clog his breath, with sweat dripping down his forehead. In addition, these people don’t even lower their masks to leave their noses or mouths out. They spend the days, the weeks pass, the months… It’s been almost a year, and I can’t settle for the daily repetition of this abnormal scene – with varying climates, of course, sometimes a torrential rain and there’s the unfortunate under the umbrella wearing his facial mask. Sometimes it’s the only human being on a deserted street… and he’s wearing his facial mask.

The scenario is shocking to any thinking being, although the masses do not realize and seem to have assimilated an abnormality as something normal. If many people do something abnormal, the abnormal does not become normal, but only common. What is common may not be normal. And obstructing your breathing and hiding your face for no reason is definitely abnormal.

Not only is there no evidence that mask use by the general population reduces virus infection, but there is also no deadly pandemic virus to avoid. The data is available to everyone. Covid-19 was touted as being highly fatal, an existential threat, but it soon emerged that its mortality rate was very low. As Donald J. Boudreaux reported in this article,

COVID-19 INFECTION SURVIVAL RATES (per CDC)

Ages 0-19:    99.997%
Ages 20-49:  99.98%
Ages 50-69:  99.5%
Ages 70+:     94.6%

Seasonal Flu Infection Survival Rate (for population as a whole): 99.90%

This single slice of information should be sufficient to put Covid-19 in proper perspective. It makes plain that the risk that this disease poses to humanity as a whole does not differ categorically from the risk of seasonal flu – or, for that matter, from any of the many other perils that we humans routinely encounter. And because these figures show the estimated chances of survival of those who are infected with Covid, even for persons 70 years of age or older Covid obviously is not a categorically unique threat.

And yet, again, humanity has reacted to Covid in a manner categorically unique. It’s as if a hornet rather than a honeybee found its way into our home, and so to protect ourselves from the somewhat-more-threatening invader we commenced to frantically scour every room of our home with a flamethrower.

These data are confirmed by comparing the concrete result of the year of the “deadly pandemic” with other years: there was no increase in deaths outside the normal increase from one year to the next. And the numbers are available for anyone who wants to see. In fact, what happened was an unprecedented and inexplicable dramatic decrease in the number of deaths from other causes – an indication that probably many deaths attributed to such a virus were actually due to these other causes. Obviously, every death is something to regret, but the fact is that the vast majority of deaths of this disease are from people of age within normal life expectancy.

So even if the facial masks really offered protection against a virus, why would anyone under 70 care to wear them? However, they don’t. Before this mass human experiment, scientific studies pointed out that the universal use of masks does not decrease a viral epidemic (see here, here, here, here, here and here). And after the experiment (which is still in progress) it was found empirically that the studies were right (see here, here and here). That’s something anyone can infer. Here in São Paulo, as I said, the use of masks easily passes through 95% of the population, and the number of “cases” (which does not mean “sick”, only “positive PCR tests”) not only did not decrease but also did not decrease. Another empirical example is the case of Sweden, one of the places where no one wears a mask , not even on public transport, (and which has not imposed quarantines) and the number of deaths per inhabitants in 2020 is the same as in 2015. Despite the evidence, people around here are still wearing masks. And they do it just because they told them to do it. It doesn’t matter that the people who told them to wear a mask are the same ones that days before told them not to wear a mask. Jenin Younes comments on this article on

the so-called experts’ notorious about-face on masks this past March. Having said for weeks that face coverings do not stop transmission of the virus, Anthony Fauci, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Surgeon General, and others, did a 180 virtually overnight.

Here in Brazil we also have our famous youtuber “scientist” prophet of the apocalypse doing the same thing. In this video he laughs at the facial masks saying they don’t work, just to shortly after recommending them. Now these same people change their minds again and say that the masks don’t work anymore, that now we have to wear 2 or 3 masks at the same time!

And none of this is capable of making people question the use of masks; they keep using. In an excellent psychosocial analysis, Julian Rose tries to answer why:

Wearing ‘the mask’ is for those who suffer feelings of fear and/or guilt. Think about it.

One might reject such a notion “No, no, I’m just worried about being fined, that’s why I wear it”. Or “I don’t want to take any risks, the health authorities wouldn’t tell us to wear masks unless there was some protection benefit.”

Are these valid responses? Both are based primarily on fear. Fear of what an authority might do if one was to disobey the rules, and fear of sickness should one not follow the authorities’ instructions.

Indeed, fear. However, these fears are completely unfounded, which means that the basis of this fear is stupidity. As we’ve seen, facial masks don’t protect anyone from viruses, and even if someone gets the coronavirus, the risk of getting sick is small, and of dying, even smaller. Influenza and tuberculosis, to name two airborne diseases, together kill 2,150,000 people worldwide each year (650,000 flu and 1.5 million tuberculosis). That’s pretty much the same death toll that Covid-19 has reportedly hit so far. That is to say, in general, the world is not facing any greater threat than the threats that have always existed.

Regarding the fear of a fine, at least in my region, I’ve never even heard of anyone who was fined for not wearing a facial mask. You see, I wear seat belts for fear of a ticket. What should be a personal choice based on an individual risk assessment has become mandatory in several places. I’ve taken several fines. And a lot of other people I know, too. Thousands of people keep taking this ticket. So, after being one of the great funders of the fine industry, I was domesticated by the whip of the State Master and am today a generally obedient puppy. But I don’t know anyone who got a ticket for being out without a facial mask. In fact, only 327 people were fined for not wearing a facial mask in the State in five months. With a population of 45 million this makes the chance of receiving a fine for lack of facial mask as 0.00000727%, making the fear of the fine even more stupid than the fear of the virus. (With the caveat that the facial mask could actually protect you from a fine, but not from a virus) Of course, this number may vary from place to place, but, thank God, for now, only in some places in China there is monitoring citizens by facial recognition cameras, which can identify people in the same way that license plates are identified, and fine them. Therefore, there’s still a chance to run away from these very rare tax. However, as the Communists taught the world, an even better way than ordering you to do something is to make you feel bad about not doing something. And making a stupid humanity believe the sham that they’re saving lives against a fatal virus by hanging a piece of cloth on his face wasn’t difficult.

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Fernando Chiocca is an anti-intellectual intellectual, abolitionist and praxeologist.  He is the editor of the Brazilian Rothbard Institute. (https://rothbardbrasil.com/)

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State or Private Law Society on Dealing With Corona – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on January 4, 2021

Certainly, politicians as a whole do not have the brightest of minds. And the “do-gooding” that unites them all as politicians, i.e. their claim to want and be able to help other people (or even the whole of humanity) to greater happiness and prosperity through their own actions, should be regarded as suspect from the outset.

In view of this, it seems almost self-evident that decisions on appropriate defense measures should be made by local decision-makers familiar with the respective local conditions. And it should be equally self-evident that these local decision-makers must be private owners or owners’ associations. For only they are responsible for their decisions and their selection of experts on whose advice their decisions are based. And only they therefore have an immediate incentive to learn from their own mistakes or the mistakes of others and to reproduce or imitate success, whether their own or that of others, in order to approach a solution to the problem step by step in this way.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2021/01/hans-hermann-hoppe/state-or-private-law-society-on-dealing-with-corona/

By Hans-Hermann Hoppe

Thomas Jacob: Professor Hoppe, you are known as a critic of the state and of political centralization. Doesn’t the coronavirus prove that central states and central government regulations are necessary?

On the contrary.

Of course, the various central states and international organizations, such as the EU or the WHO, have tried to use the COVID-19 pandemic to their own advantage, i.e., to expand their power over their respective subjects; to try out how far one can go with ordering other people around in the face of an initially vague and then systematically dramatized danger of a global epidemic. And the extent to which this has succeeded, up to and including a general house arrest, is frightening.

But if the course of current events has demonstrated anything, it is not how necessary or efficient central authorities and decisions are, but conversely how critically important decentralized decisions and decision-makers are.

The danger emanating from an epidemic is never the same everywhere, for everyone, at the same time. The situation in France is different than that in Germany or Congo, and conditions in China are not the same as in Japan. And within diverse countries, the threat level differs from region to region, from one city to another, between urban and rural areas, depending on the demographic and cultural composition of the population. Moreover, there is a whole range of greatly differing assessments and proposals concerning what and what not to do in the face of this threat level, all put forward by equally “certified scientific experts.” Therefore, any centralized, nationwide (in extreme cases, worldwide) measure to avert danger – a “one-size-fits-all” model – must from the outset seem absurd and inappropriate.

In view of this situation, it was only natural that, in addition to the representatives of the central governments, various provincial and local leaders everywhere quickly and increasingly became involved in the business of danger prevention. The epidemic offered them the perfect opportunity to distinguish themselves from the central state and its representatives and to expand their own sphere of power. They ignored, exacerbated, mitigated, delayed or otherwise modified their central government’s measures for their respective regions. Always with an eye on public or rather published opinion, and often carried by the hope of eventually qualifying for the office of central dictator by becoming a popular regional dictator.

Notwithstanding some improvements in hazard control that such decentralized decision-making has brought about, and notwithstanding the fact that a variety of different and differently treated regions systematically supports learning from mistakes, the overall experience regarding states and state decision-makers in dealing with epidemics is shocking. As in all other areas, the state fails magnificently, especially in the area of public health and disease prevention. In fact, as current events make increasingly clear, the state kills or makes more people ill through its protective measures than it heals or protects from death.

TJ: Are politicians simply stupid?

Certainly, politicians as a whole do not have the brightest of minds. And the “do-gooding” that unites them all as politicians, i.e. their claim to want and be able to help other people (or even the whole of humanity) to greater happiness and prosperity through their own actions, should be regarded as suspect from the outset. But the real reason for the failure of politics in general, and especially in dealing with infectious diseases, lies deeper and is of a structural nature.

The deeper, structural reason is that policy makers, whether central or regional, have what is now casually called ‘no skin in the game’ when making decisions. That is, they are largely freed from the risk of possible wrong decisions and possible losses and costs. They do not have to think long and hard about the consequences and side-effects of their actions, but can instead make ‘spontaneous’ decisions, as they are not personally liable for the consequences of their edicts. On the whole, they can burden other people with the costs of their actions. This is the deeper reason why and when stupidity and do-gooding – especially when combined – become a danger and then systematically promote irresponsibility, arbitrariness and megalomania.

Take, as an example, the coronavirus: Why should one not, in the face of an infectious disease, resort to “bold” means, such as bans on going out and contact, house arrests, company closures, work and production bans, etc., if one does not suffer any direct loss of income as a result? The reason is  as in the case with all political decision-makers and so-called civil servants, one’s own income does not come from productive gainful employment, but is financed from taxes, i.e. by means of compulsory levies, and is therefore secured in the short and medium term. And why should one worry much about the indirect and long-term side effects and consequences of one’s own actions, if one cannot be personally accused, held liable and held responsible for damages? To justify one’s own “bold” actions, one can point to a small but creatively extrapolated number of people supposedly saved from serious illness or even death in comparison to the respective total population, while simply ignoring the consequences of a lockdown, i.e. the fact that a far larger number of people will fall into economic hardship as a result of these measures and will, as a result, indirectly and perhaps eventually fall ill or die.

In fact, at first it seemed as if the political decision-makers did not know at all (or did not want to know) that even “rescue operations,” however well-intentioned, are not, and never are, free of charge. By virtue of being rescue operations, they were rather presented as “not having an alternative”. When the side effects became more obvious and could no longer be denied, they asserted that their decisions were about a trade-off between “health” and “the economy” and that for them, being the do-gooders that they are, human life always has absolute priority over all economic considerations. –– There is an elementary insight that the ‘powers that be’ showed themselves incapable of, or did not want to arrive at. And this is that such a dichotomy does not exist at all. On the contrary, a prospering economy is the basis for safeguarding humans and preserving their health in particular. It is therefore just the poorer regions, population segments and people who are affected most severely by a lockdown (not least regarding their health). Only with difficulty could this   elementary insight be reconciled with the stance taken by all political decision-makers of being the bold rescuer in the greatest emergency.

And when, finally, in view of the actual extent of societal impoverishment as a result of the state-imposed bans on contact, production and sales, company closures, expropriations, insolvencies, unemployment, short-time work, etc., even the naive life-saving argument no longer held water and the politicians’ posturing as almighty savior  sounded increasingly hollow or even hypocritical, they maintained  that the losses incurred as a result of their measures would be  compensated  in the best way possible as a matter of course. In a sense, this would make them a savior twice over:  The rescuer of a rescuer in distress. – And this feat was accomplished by massively increasing the money supply. The loss offset or the compensation took place simply by creating from nothing some new state paper money, produced at practically zero expense. This procedure costs the political decision makers nothing and it hands them, always welcomed on their part, an increased amount of money, the allocation of which enables them immediately to put on airs as rescuing benefactors. In the meantime, the costs of this money supply increase, i.e. the resultant loss of purchasing power of a money unit and an increased future debt service are covered up and foisted on other people or socialized. The whole maneuver resembles the notorious example of the arsonist, who subsequently acts as a firefighter in extinguishing the house he set alight and becomes a celebrated hero in the process. The only difference is that the state, by increasing the amount of money, also socializes the costs of extinguishing the house it set on fire.

But – and this is probably the most frightening thing about the whole corona episode – the state easily gets away with this brazenness. To be sure, there is resistance to the lockdown here and there, and the longer it has lasted, resistance to it has grown. But still the majority of policymakers are seen as heroic saviors rather than arsonists. And the state, its representatives, have used the idea of the danger of being infected, which was systematically hyped up, to extend their own powers to an extent unknown so far, at least in peacetime. This includes the suspension of all property rights and liberties and an almost complete restriction of personal freedom of movement right down to inside private households – and all this in the name of infection control and public health.

In my opinion, the degree of subservience to politics expressed in this development is highly disturbing.

TJ: How would the problem of a pandemic be solved without government regulations, in a private law society?

In a private law society, all land, every square inch, is privately owned. All apartments, houses, settlements, roads, waterways, seaports and airports, factories, offices, schools, hospitals, etc., have a private owner. This owner is either an individual or a group of individuals, a private association, each with its own house rules, organizational structure and internal decision-making rules and procedures. The Myth of National D… Hans-Hermann Hoppe Best Price: $17.10 Buy New $18.66 (as of 01:30 EDT – Details)

So this achieves, in contrast to all and any political centralism, a maximum of decentralized decision-making and, at the same time, a maximum of responsibility and responsible action. Every decision is the decision of a particular person or association with regard to their (and only their) private property. And every decision-maker is liable or covers the costs and consequential costs for his decisions or wrong decisions with his own property.

For the specific problem of dealing with a pandemic, this means that much like the immigration problem, the urgency of which is currently obscured by the coronavirus, the question in the face of a pandemic is simply “who do I let in and who do I bar?” or “who do I visit and who do I stay away from?” More specifically: Each private property owner or property owner’s association has to decide, based on their own risk assessment of an infectious disease with respect to their property, who they allow to enter their property, when, and under what conditions, and who do they disallow. And, especially in the case of commercially used property, this decision can and will include one’s own preventive measures that are intended to facilitate visitor or customer access by making them appear to reduce or minimize risk. And conversely, visitors or customers may also take precautionary measures on their part to provide unimpeded access to various potential hosts.  The result of these multiple individual decisions is a complex web of access and visiting rules.

All encounters or meetings of persons take place voluntarily and deliberately. They come about in each case because both the host and the visitor consider the benefit of their encounter to be greater than the risk of possible infectious contagion resulting from it. Therefore, neither host nor visitor have any reciprocal liability claims, should an infection actually occur as a result of their encounter. This risk (including possible hospital costs, etc.) must be borne by each party  alone. In this case, liability claims are only possible if, for example, the host deliberately deceived his visitors concerning his own preventive measures or if the visitor deliberately and intentionally violated the host’s conditions of entry.

But even without any deception, the decisions of hosts and visitors are never without a price. Every preventive or precautionary measure involves an additional cost that must have an apparent justification, whether by the expectation of additional profits or reduced losses, or whether by increased acceptance or reduced rejection by potential visitors. And, in particular, every private decision-maker also has to bear the costs of possible wrong decisions in this respect, i.e., if the expectations are not only not fulfilled, but even turn into the opposite. If the supposed defense and precautionary measures are not only ineffective, but turn out to be counterproductive and even increase the risk of infection overall, be it of hosts or guests, instead of reducing it.

These are considerable costs that are the responsibility of a private decision-maker and could still be his when faced with an epidemic. His economic existence and his closest social environment may be at stake. In view of this, he will consider his decision thoroughly, and all the more so the more property and friendly relations he has or maintains. He must be quickly prepared, often almost “by force” to learn from his own mistakes and to correct his earlier decisions in order to avoid further economic or social costs.

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How the State Spreads Mass Hysteria | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on December 19, 2020

Fifth, the state sometimes actively wants to instill fear in the population, thereby contributing to the making of mass hysteria. In fact, during the first months of the corona epidemic, an internal paper of the German Department of the Interior was leaked to the public. In the paper, the experts recommend that the German government instill fear in the German population. The paper recommends increasing fear with three communication measures…

https://mises.org/wire/how-state-spreads-mass-hysteria

Philipp Bagus

The history of mass hysteria, or mass sociogenic illness is fascinating. Cases of mass hysteria have been documented since the Middle Ages. Let me just mention a few of the more recent cases.

When a radio play by Orson Welles, War of the Worlds, was broadcasted in 1938 shortly after the suspension of the Munich agreement, the play allegedly caused panic among listeners, who thought that they were under attack by Martians. Another intriguing case is an episode of a Portuguese TV show called Strawberries with Sugar. In the episode, the characters were infected by a life-threatening virus. After the show, more than three hundred students reported similar symptoms as the ones experienced by the TV show characters such as rashes and difficulty breathing. Some schools even closed. The Portuguese National Institute for Medical Emergency concluded that the virus did not exist in reality and that the symptoms were caused by mass hysteria.

Similarly, on Emirates flight 203 in September 2018, dozens of passengers started to believe they were sick after observing other passengers with flu-like symptoms. As a consequence of the panic, the whole flight was quarantined. In the end only a few passengers had a common cold or the seasonal flu.

It is well known that there exist nocebo effects, which are the opposite of placebo effects. Due the placebo effect, a person recovers from an illness because she expects to do so. When we suffer a nocebo effect, on the other hand, we get ill just because we expect to become ill.1 In a self-fulfilling prophecy, the expectation can cause the symptoms. Anxiety and fear exacerbate this process.2

Mass hysteria can cause people to have symptoms. Moreover, hysteria, be it collective or not, makes people behave in ways that prudent persons not affected by the hysteria would likely consider absurd. It is open for empirical research to investigate if and to what extent the world has been suffering from mass hysteria during the covid-19 epidemic.3 We all have seen people hoarding toilet paper, wearing masks while driving alone in cars, or have heard stories of people virtually not leaving their houses for months. We also know people who are scared by the virus even though their own risk of death is minuscule.

While investigating the possibility of a corona mass hysteria is certainly interesting, I would like to focus here on a more fundamental question; namely, the extent to which the existence of the state can exacerbate mass hysteria. Certainly, there can be cases of mass hysteria in a free society, due to the negativity bias of the human brain. We focus on negative news and suffer psychological stress when we think we are not in control. This may happen also in a free society when negative news prevail. Yet in a free society there exist certain self-corrective mechanisms and limits that make it more difficult for mass hysteria to spiral out of control.

As a corrective mechanism, there exist well-known strategies to reduce fear and anxiety. In a free society people are free to make use of these strategies. One can release tension from one’s body through sports and exercises. Moreover, it is essential to find distractions from the negative news and socialize. In a free society these distractions abound.

It is true that hysteria can lead people to inflict enormous harm on themselves and others. Yet in a free society there exists an essential limit to the havoc caused by mass hysteria, and this limit is private property rights. In a free society mass hysteria cannot lead to a massive violation of private property rights by the state, simply because the state does not exist.

Moreover, while anyone in a health hysteria may voluntarily close his business, wear a mask, or stay at home, in a free society no one can force others who do not succumb to the hysteria to close their businesses, wear masks, or quarantine. A small minority who continue to live their normal lives and are free to do so can be a wake-up call to those who succumbed to the mass hysteria, especially the borderline cases. Imagine that a small group of people continues to go shopping, to work, to breath freely, to meet with friends and family, and that they do not die. Others may then follow their example and the group of hysterics shrinks.

While the destruction inflicted by mass hysteria is limited by private property rights in a free society, such limits do not exist when there is a state.4 Indeed, a well-organized group that has succumbed to mass hysteria may get control of the state apparatus and impose measures on the rest of the population and inflict untold harm. The possibility of mass hysteria is an important reason why the institution of the state is so dangerous.

Moreover, while in a free society there are mechanisms that reduce mass panics, mass hysteria can be exacerbated by the state for several reasons:

First, the state can and, as in the case of the covid-19 epidemic, does prohibit and diminish those activities that reduce fear and anxiety, such as sports and diversion. The state actually fosters social isolation, contributing to anxiety and psychological strain, ingredients that spur mass hysteria.

Second, the state takes a centralized approach to dealing with the source of the hysteria, in our case the perceived threat of a virus. The state imposes its solution, and in consequence there is no or very reduced experimentation to solve the problem. People who have not succumbed to the hysteria and oppose the state’s approach are suppressed. They cannot demonstrate alternative ways to confront the “crisis,” because these alternative ways are prohibited by the state. As a consequence, groupthink increases and the hysteria feeds itself, as no alternatives are shown to people.

Third, in a state, the media is often politicized. News outlets and social media platforms have close relationships with the state. Media outlets may be directly owned by the state, as are public TV channels, they may need state licenses to operate, they may look for the goodwill of state agencies, or may simply be staffed with people who were educated in state schools. These news agencies and social media platforms engage in massive negative news campaigns, intentionally scare people, and suppress alternative information. If people listen to, watch, or read negative and one-sided stories all day, their psychological stress and anxiety increases. Mass hysteria sponsored by a biased media sector may run out of control.

Fourth, negative news from an authoritative source is especially harmful for psychological health and produces anxiety. If there exists in society an institution of total power such as the state that intervenes in the lives of people from birth to death,5 the announcements of its representatives acquire weight. Many people attach great authority to these representatives and to the warnings of state institutions. So, when a doctor such as Anthony Fauci speaks in the name of the state and tells the people to worry and wear masks, it becomes easier for mass hysteria to develop than would be the case in a decentralized society.

Fifth, the state sometimes actively wants to instill fear in the population, thereby contributing to the making of mass hysteria. In fact, during the first months of the corona epidemic, an internal paper of the German Department of the Interior was leaked to the public. In the paper, the experts recommend that the German government instill fear in the German population. The paper recommends increasing fear with three communication measures. First, the authorities should emphasize the breathing problems of covid-19 patients, because the human beings have a primordial fear of death by suffocation, which can easily trigger panic. Second, fear should also be instilled in children. Children could get infected easily when meeting with other children. They should be told that when they in turn infect their parents and grandparents these could suffer a distressful death at home. This measure intends to invoke feelings of guilt. Third, authorities should mention the possibility of unknown long-term irreversible damage after a corona infection and the possibility of the sudden deaths of people who were infected. All these measures were intended to increase fear in the population. Fear, at the end, is the foundation of every government´s power. As H.L. Mencken put it:

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

To sum up: mass hysteria is possible in a free society, but there are self-correcting mechanisms. The harm such hysteria may inflict is limited by the enforcement of private property rights. The state amplifies and exacerbates mass panics, causing tremendous havoc. What are local, limited, and isolated outbreaks of mass hysteria in a free society the state can convert into a global mass hysteria. Unfortunately, there is no limit to the damage mass hysteria can do to life and liberty if it takes hold of the government, as the state does not respect private property. The unscrupulous violation of basic liberties during the corona epidemic is a case in point. The possibility of mass hysteria is another reason why the state is such a dangerous institution to have.

  • 1. In a famous case a man tried to suicide himself. He thought he was swallowing twenty-nine capsules of an experimental drug. However, they were in reality placebos. But he was thinking he would be killing himself. He arrived at the hospital with extreme low blood pressure and other serios symptoms. When the doctor of the medical trial arrived and told him that he had taken just placebos, the man recovered within fifteen minutes.
  • 2. During the Spanish flu panic contributed to deaths that otherwise would not have occurred.
  • 3. Keep in mind that the psychological strain on and the anxiety suffered by the population during the lockdowns was tremendous.
  • 4. For the psychology of masses and their irrationality see the classical work of Gustave Le Bon.
  • 5. A related point regards the consequences that come with a population that stopped believing in God and started to believe in the state instead. When people turn away from religion and stop believing in a life after death, they start to fear death more. A strong fear of death is another factor contributing to panics, disorders, and mass hysteria. As Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn has put it: “It is difficult to fear death if one is very pious. It is difficult not to worship health if one fears death. It is difficult to enforce general health without large scale state intervention and it is equally difficult to imagine increased state intervention without a loss of liberties.” The Menace of the Herd or Procrustes at Large (Milkwaukee, WI: Bruce Publishing Company, 1943), pp. 38–39.

Author:

Contact Philipp Bagus

Philipp Bagus is professor at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. He is a Fellow of the Mises Institute, an IREF scholar, and the author of numerous books including In Defense of DeflationandThe Tragedy of the Euro, and is coauthor of Blind Robbery!, Small States. Big Possibilities.: Small States Are Simply Better!, and Deep Freeze: Iceland’s Economic Collapse.

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How the State Destroys Families | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on July 14, 2020

Tacit damage to the family is a much more important variant. In fact, the family-damaging effects of government intervention are sometimes not even considered. Monetary policy is an important example. Our current monetary system is designed to create constant (moderate) price inflation, which in turn creates irresistible incentives for debt management. The risks are obvious. How many families have been broken because they proved to be unable to handle the debt burden? Monetary politicians have no intention of accepting such consequences or even accepting them knowingly. They simply do not take them into account when making political decisions. And yet these are consequences that result from their decisions.

https://mises.org/wire/how-state-destroys-families?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=bdca1e02ca-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-bdca1e02ca-228343965

The peculiar consequences that result from government intervention are similar in all areas of economic and social life. Problems such as indifference, evaporating solidarity, irresponsibility, and short-term thinking are more than often caused or exacerbated by—sometimes well-intentioned—government interventions. This holds true for interventions in the financial world and in business, and it is no different with family policy. To make this clear, we first want to make a few comments about the economics of the family and then explain how state intervention tends to destroy families from within.

A Power Plant without Equal

According to the Christian definition, the family is a community between a man and a woman, before God, with God, and for God. It is a kind of worship. Of course, this is not the only motivation to start a family at all, but worship is what defines the Christian family.

From this covenant of life before God, with God, and for God, a whole series of further consequences follow with logical necessity, e.g., the formal and public alliance of the spouses, lifelong loyalty, openness to many children, rejection of abortion, and Christian commitment outside of one’s own family. Conversely, where there is no reference to God, there is no logical connection between these elements. They then appear as more or less arbitrary conventions. They become optional in the free design of individual lifestyles. Sometimes they become superfluous and even a hindrance.

In a society that loses the love for God, the family also loses its solid form. The Christian family is then gradually replaced by a patchwork of other forms of being together, which are set up according to one’s taste. This is inevitable and cannot be prevented by any human intervention—not even by the state.

But the traditional dominance of the Christian family is not only threatened by widespread apostasy. It is also, and massively, under siege by state intervention. In order to understand these, however, we first have to consider the economic reasons from which families arise and grow. The very first of these reasons is the division of labor.

The theory of division of labor teaches us that the work of specialists who exchange their surpluses is more profitable than nonspecialized work. The shoemaker naturally produces more shoes, the baker more bread than he himself and his family would need. But the point is that their specialization makes more shoes and breads overall than if everyone had devoted part of their time to shoemaking and another part to baking.

The most important precondition of this little miracle is that the specialists have different talents. The productivity of the division of labor is based on the inequality of the exchange partners. And that is exactly why the Christian family is so efficient. Men and women are different, and they happily complement each other. They complement each other in their intellectual and physical abilities, in their social skills, in their spiritual and aesthetic sensibilities, and in their mental lives. It is therefore possible for them to grow together in all these dimensions of being human beyond what would be possible for them alone and on their own.

The cross-generational division of labor within the family is equally important. The generations are also different; they also complement each other. Young people typically have a large work capacity and creativity, but less experience and money. The cooperation between the generations of a family is also favored by trust and affection that has grown over many years, which still has to be built up in relation to people who are not family members.

From a purely economic perspective, families are probably the most efficient form of human organization. Unfortunately, this is hardly ever properly appreciated, not even by the economists. This is probably due to the fact that the family’s performance has many dimensions, most of which are difficult or impossible to measure, in distinct contrast to the performance of a company or of a sports club.

Families are exceptionally efficient, but not infallible. They usually fail in one of the major areas of conflict: finance, raising children, sexuality. If no common denominator is found here, if there is a lack of hope or openness to the gifts of God, then failure is likely.

But how is this failure promoted by government intervention?

The State and the Family

To answer this question, we first have to consider the nature of the state. According to Max Weber’s well-known definition, the state is a monopoly of legitimate violence. This concept of the state is rooted in the legal concept of the modern state—the state that determines the law at its own discretion. It emerged in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries from the debates on the natural law conception of objective law, which is beyond human arbitrariness. In the modern conception, the state itself does not only have special rights that correspond to its special obligations. Rather, it is above the law in a strict sense. The state is completely free to decide what is right and wrong.

Once this concept of the law and of the state has gained a foothold, there is a natural tendency toward unlimited state growth. There is no logical brake on this movement, because the powers and tasks of the state are no longer fundamentally limited, but fundamentally open and unlimited. And there is hardly any economic brake on state growth either, because as it grows, so does the income and power of state servants and all other interested parties.

Family policy has become an important area of ​​state growth in recent years. In the past, various state interventions served to protect the family (tax privileges, child benefits, etc.), but today’s politics are almost exclusively harmful to the family.

It should be noted that explicit political harm to families is rather rare. Communists like Friedrich Engels correctly recognized the family as a source of bourgeois morality and therefore fought them. Such fanatics still exist today, but they do not determine what happens.

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The State and Heresy

Posted by M. C. on February 22, 2020

Or consider the United States. Here, “We the People” are in theory the sovereign authority, and our ruling officers are mere servants. The powers “delegated” to those servants are defined and limited by the Constitution. Must we obey them, even when they usurp powers never entrusted to them? When they claim such powers, it would seem that “they” are in rebellion against “us”, and we have no duty to obey. “Masters, obey your servants”?

Must we obey them, even when they usurp powers never entrusted to them? When they claim such powers, it would seem that “they” are in rebellion against “us,” and we have no duty to obey. “Masters, obey your servants”?

http://fgfbooks.com/Sobran-Joe/2020/Sobran200223.html

A classic by Joe Sobran
Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation

Sobran’s: The Real News of the Month, March 2002 — In recent weeks I’ve been debating with people I usually agree with: conservative Christians. Many of them feel I’ve gone too far in the direction of philosophical anarchism, in defiance of both Scripture and Catholic teaching.

Many people feel I’ve gone too far in the direction of philosophical anarchism, in defiance of both Scripture and Catholic teaching.

One reader, a self-identified Catholic socialist, went so far as to call my views “heresy.” He cited particularly the encyclicals of Leo XIII and Pius XI. His e-mail message was so intelligent, provocative, and yet charitable that I answered him at some length, and we have had a long, friendly exchange ever since. We’re still arguing, and neither of us is backing down.

“You must all obey the governing authorities. Since all government comes from God, the civil authorities were appointed by God, and so anyone who resists authority is rebelling against God’s decision, and such an act is bound to be punished. …The state is there to serve God for your benefit.” – Romans 13: 1-4

I’ve also been in touch with an old Protestant friend, now a minister, whom I haven’t seen since high school. He too thinks Christian doctrine requires submission to government, and he argues his case with a power and sophistication I find especially impressive, considering the level of our old Scripture-banging arguments in our school days.

But this interpretation, though obvious at first sight, soon raises difficulties for Christians. After all, the Christian martyrs — including Paul himself — lived under pagan tyrants and chose to die rather than submit to worship the emperor.

The key text for Christians is chapter 13 of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, which begins: “You must all obey the governing authorities. Since all government comes from God, the civil authorities were appointed by God, and so anyone who resists authority is rebelling against God’s decision, and such an act is bound to be punished. Good behavior is not afraid of magistrates; only criminals have anything to fear…. The state is there to serve God for your benefit.” This is from the Jerusalem Bible; the more familiar King James Version says that “the powers that be are ordained of God.”

St. Thomas Aquinas agreed with Augustine that a positive law that clashed with divine or natural law was unjust and void — a principle that might invalidate most statutes on the books.

Many Christians quote this passage to support the view that we owe allegiance and obedience to the government. But this interpretation, though obvious at first sight, soon raises difficulties for Christians. After all, the Christian martyrs — including Paul himself — lived under pagan tyrants and chose to die rather than submit to worship the emperor. Paul is thought to have died during Nero’s persecution.

Over two millennia …Christians have been forced to grapple with many questions: What is a state? How do we recognize its authority? What are its limits?

Later Christian political thought was extremely varied and complex. But St. Augustine took a dark view of earthly government, which, with slavery and war, he deemed a consequence of original sin. St. Thomas Aquinas held that even unfallen man would need government (as even good drivers need traffic laws), but he agreed with Augustine that a positive law that clashed with divine or natural law was unjust and void — a principle that might invalidate most statutes on the books.

Can we distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate states? Is rebellion ever justified? Must the state defer to the Church? Must the Church obey the state?

Over two millennia, pagan states were replaced by Christian states, which gave way to secularist states. During all this time Christians have been forced to grapple with many questions: What is a state? How do we recognize its authority? What are its limits? Can we distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate states? Is rebellion ever justified? Must the state defer to the Church? Must the Church obey the state? All these difficult questions have been further complicated by the experience of barbarian conquests, feudalism, monarchism, religious divisions, dynastic quarrels, republican constitutionalism, capitalism, nationalism, industrialism, mass democracy, dictatorship, Marxism, totalitarianism, the welfare state, and of course war, particularly total war.

Today almost nobody holds the position of Romans 13 in its full rigor, if that means a duty of unqualified submission to whatever regime happens to exist. Nearly all Christians distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate regimes.

Today almost nobody holds the position of Romans 13 in its full rigor, if that means a duty of unqualified submission to whatever regime happens to exist. Nearly all Christians distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate regimes; if rebellion is always a sin, how can we have a duty to obey the successful rebel when he assumes power? Must we obey the tsar one day, and the Lenin who topples him the next? Does Paul mean to say: “Thou shalt obey anyone who holds coercive power over thee”?

Here, “We the People” are in theory the sovereign authority, and our ruling officers are mere servants. The powers “delegated” to those servants are defined and limited by the Constitution.

Or consider the United States. Here, “We the People” are in theory the sovereign authority, and our ruling officers are mere servants. The powers “delegated” to those servants are defined and limited by the Constitution. Must we obey them, even when they usurp powers never entrusted to them? When they claim such powers, it would seem that “they” are in rebellion against “us”, and we have no duty to obey. “Masters, obey your servants”?

Must we obey them, even when they usurp powers never entrusted to them? When they claim such powers, it would seem that “they” are in rebellion against “us,” and we have no duty to obey. “Masters, obey your servants”?

When there are so many kinds of states, some of them mutually incompatible, the only defining trait they share is the claim of a legal monopoly of coercion. Paul doesn’t assert that brute power constitutes a right to command and compel. He must mean something else. But what?

Paul says the civil authorities serve God, and Christians can obey the law and be good citizens by simply keeping the Commandments.

He says the civil authorities serve God, and Christians can obey the law and be good citizens by simply keeping the Commandments. Were these words meant to ward off suspicions that Christians were subversive and to encourage them to respect human law, at least insofar as it conformed to God’s law?

Paul may have been subtly implying that Christians are “not” morally bound to cooperate with tyranny.

If so, Paul’s words may carry an ironic meaning that would escape the Roman authorities. By positing a just government — very unlike the rule of Nero — he may have been subtly implying that Christians are “not” morally bound to cooperate with tyranny.

If that’s what he meant, maybe I’m not such a heretic after all!

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Doug Casey on Why the State Is a “Parasite on Society” – Casey Research

Posted by M. C. on September 24, 2019

There are two possible ways for people to relate to each other: either voluntarily or coercively. The State is pure institutionalized coercion.

The type of people that gravitate to government like to control other people. Contrary to what we’re told to think, that’s why the worst people – not the best – want to get into government.

https://www.caseyresearch.com/daily-dispatch/doug-casey-on-why-the-state-is-a-parasite-on-society/

By Doug Casey, founder, Casey Research

Allow me to say a few things that some of you may find shocking, offensive, or even incomprehensible. On the other hand, I suspect many or most of you may agree – but either haven’t crystallized your thoughts, or are hesitant to express them. I wonder if it will be safe to say them in another five years…

You’re likely aware that I’m a libertarian. But I’m actually more than a libertarian, I’m an anarcho-capitalist. In other words, I actually don’t believe in the right of the State to exist. Why not? The State isn’t a magical entity; it’s a parasite on society. Anything useful the State does could be, and would be, provided by entrepreneurs seeking a profit. And would be better and cheaper by virtue of that.

More important, the State represents institutionalized coercion. It has a monopoly of force, and that’s always extremely dangerous. As Mao Tse-tung, lately one of the world’s leading experts on government, said: “The power of the State comes out of a barrel of a gun.” The State is not your friend.

There are two possible ways for people to relate to each other: either voluntarily or coercively. The State is pure institutionalized coercion. As such, it’s not just unnecessary, but antithetical, to a civilized society. And that’s increasingly true as technology advances. It was never moral, but at least it was possible in oxcart days for bureaucrats to order things around. Today the idea is ridiculous.

The State is a dead hand that imposes itself on society, mainly benefitting those who control it, and their cronies. It shouldn’t be reformed; it should be abolished. That belief makes me, of course, an anarchist.

People have a misconception about anarchists – that they’re violent people, running around in black capes with little round bombs. This is nonsense. Of course there are violent anarchists. There are violent dentists. There are violent Christians. Violence, however, has nothing to do with anarchism. Anarchism is simply a belief that a ruler isn’t necessary, that society organizes itself, that individuals own themselves, and the State is actually counterproductive.

It’s always been a battle between the individual and the collective. I’m on the side of the individual. An anarcho-capitalist simply doesn’t believe anyone has a right to initiate aggression against anyone else. Is that an unreasonable belief?

Let me put it this way. Since government is institutionalized coercion – a very dangerous thing – if you want a government it should do nothing but protect people in its bailiwick from physical coercion.

What does that imply? It implies a police force to protect you from coercion within its boundaries, an army to protect you from coercion from outsiders, and a court system to allow you to adjudicate disputes without resorting to coercion.

I could live happily enough with a government that did just those things. Unfortunately the US Government is only marginally competent in providing services in those three areas. Instead, it tries to do everything else conceivable.

The argument can be made that the largest criminal entity today is not some Colombian cocaine gang, but the US Government. And they’re far more dangerous. They have a legal monopoly on the force to do anything they want with you. Don’t conflate the government with America; they’re different and separate entities. The US Government has its own interests, as distinct as those of General Motors or the Mafia. In fact, I’d probably rather deal with the Mafia than I would with any agency of the US Government.

Even under the worst circumstances – even if the Mafia controlled the United States – I don’t believe Tony Soprano or Al Capone would try to steal 40% of people’s income every year. They couldn’t get away with it. But – because we’re said to be a democracy – the US Government is able to masquerade as “We the People,” and pull it off.

Incidentally, the idea of democracy is an anachronism, at best. The US has mutated into a domestic multicultural empire. The average person has been propagandized into believing that it’s patriotic to do as he’s told. “We need libraries of regulations, and I’m happy to pay my taxes. It’s the price we pay for civilization.” No, that’s just the opposite of the fact. Those things are signs that civilization is degrading, that the members of society are becoming less individually responsible. And therefore that the country has to be held together by force.

It’s all about control. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The type of people that gravitate to government like to control other people. Contrary to what we’re told to think, that’s why the worst people – not the best – want to get into government.

What about voting? Can that change and improve things? Unlikely. I can give you five reasons why you should not vote in an election (see this article). See if you agree.

Hark back to the ‘60s when they said, “Suppose they gave a war and nobody came?” But let’s take it further: Suppose they gave a tax and nobody paid? Suppose they gave an election and nobody voted? That would delegitimize the State. I therefore applaud the fact that only half of Americans vote – although it’s out of apathy, not as a philosophical statement. If that number dropped to 25%, 10%, then 0%, perhaps everybody would look around and say, “Wait a minute, none of us believe in this evil charade. I don’t like Tweedledee from the left wing of the Demopublican Party any more than I like Tweedledum from its right wing…”

Remember, you don’t get the best and the brightest going into government. That’s because there are two kinds of people. You’ve got people that like to control physical reality – things. And people that like to control other people. That second group, those who like to lord it over their fellows, are naturally drawn to government and politics.

Some might ask: “Aren’t you loyal to America?” and “How can you say these terrible things?” My response is, “Of course I’m loyal to America, but America is an idea, it’s not necessarily a place. At least not any longer…”

America was once unique among the world’s countries. Unfortunately that’s no longer the case. The idea is still unique, but the country no longer is.

I’ll go further than that. It’s said that you’re supposed to be loyal to your fellow Americans. Well, here’s a revelation. I have less in common with my average fellow American than I do with friends of mine in the Congo, or Argentina, or China. The reason is that I share values with my friends; we look at the world the same way, and have the same worldview. But how much do I have in common with my fellow Americans who live in the trailer parks, barrios, and ghettos? Or even Hollywood and Washington? Not much.

How much do you really have in common with your fellow Americans who support Bernie Sanders, AOC, antifa, or Elizabeth Warren?

You probably have very little in common with them, besides sharing the same government ID. Most of your fellow Americans are actually welfare recipients, dependent on the State in some way. And therefore an active threat to your personal freedom and economic wellbeing.

Everyone has to be judged as an individual. So I choose my countrymen based on their character and beliefs, not their nationality. The fact we may all carry US passports is simply an accident of birth.

Those who find that thought offensive likely suffer from a psychological aberration called “nationalism”; in serious cases it may become “jingoism.” The authorities and the general public prefer to call it “patriotism.”

It’s understandable, though. Everyone, including the North Koreans, tends to identify with the place they were born, and the State that rules them. But that should be fairly low on any list of virtues. Nationalism is the belief that my country is the best country in the world just because I happen to have been born there. It’s scary any time, but most virulent during wars and elections. It’s like watching a bunch of chimpanzees hooting and panting at another tribe of chimpanzees across the watering hole.

It’s actually dangerous not to be a nationalist, especially as the State grows more powerful. The growth of the State is actually destroying the idea of America. Over the last 100 years the State has grown at an exponential rate; it’s the enemy of the individual. I see no reason why this trend is going to stop. And certainly no reason why it’s going to reverse. Even though the election of Trump in 2016 was vastly preferable to Hillary from a personal freedom and economic prosperity point of view, it hardly amounts to a change in trend.

The decline of the US is like a giant snowball rolling downhill from the top of the mountain. It could have been stopped early in its descent, but now the thing is a behemoth. If you stand in its way you’ll get crushed. It will stop only when it smashes the village at the bottom of the valley.

I’m quite pessimistic about the future of freedom in the US. It’s been in a downtrend for many decades. But the events of September 11, 2001, turbocharged the loss of liberty in the US. At some point either foreign or domestic enemies will cause another 9/11, either real or imagined.

When there is another 9/11 – and we will have another one – the State will lock down the US like one of their numerous new prisons. I was afraid that the shooting deaths and injuries of several hundred people in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017, might have been the catalyst. But, strangely, the news cycle has driven on, leaving scores of serious unanswered questions in its wake. No competent reporting, and about zero public concern. Further testimony to the degraded state of the US today.

It’s going to become very unpleasant in the US at some point soon. It seems to me the inevitable is becoming imminent.

Regards,

Doug Casey
Founder, Casey Research

 

 

 

 

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Society’s Choice: General Welfare or Equality | Mises Institute

Posted by M. C. on August 1, 2019

https://mises.org/power-market/societys-choice-general-welfare-or-equality

Per Bylund

Imagine a social system in which those contributing to the welfare of others are rewarded for it, and those contributing more get access to more resources—so that they can serve us better. Such a system would generate ever more welfare, and for more people.

Then imagine an alternative system under which we institute a central force in society with the object to make sure resources are always equally distributed regardless of how they are used and whether they contribute to welfare.

These are the two “ideal” but contradictory systems, the eternal conflict between economic and political means, that have generated our current state of affairs: a mixed system of social meritocracy and utter force.

Today, there are only limited rewards for serving others, often combined with a penalty for gaining access to resources, and a parallel system imposed on this order, in which those with influence but without the intention or track record of serving others can gain and retain access to resources.

This access is provided by the central force instituted to take resources used to serve us from those doing it better–to give to those who have little or poor track record in this service. The outcome is unsatisfactory for proponents of both “ideal” systems, both claiming the influence of the other system corrupts the workings and outcome of our present social order. And they are both correct: general welfare is hampered by the distortions of redistribution and regulation; equality is hampered by both the limited meritocracy and the distorted incentives due to the availability of non-welfare based access to resources.

The solution to the problems in our current state of affairs is to move to one of the ideal systems: markets or state.

The choice depends on what we prefer–general welfare or equality.

Either one offers only limited ability to satisfy also the other ideal, which is why these ideals are in eternal conflict.

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The Siren Song of the State | Mises Institute

Posted by M. C. on July 26, 2019

The so-called war on terror has given rise to a huge industry that has emerged almost from scratch during the past few years. According to a 2006 Forbes report, the Department of Homeland Security and its predecessor agencies paid private contractors at least $130 billion after 9/11, and other federal agencies have spent a comparable amount. Thus, besides the military-industrial-congressional complex (MICC), we now have a parallel security-industrial-congressional complex (SICC).

https://mises.org/library/siren-song-state

Robert Higgs

The state is the most destructive institution human beings have ever devised—a fire that, at best, can be controlled for only a short time before it o’erleaps its improvised confinements and spreads its flames far and wide.

Whatever promotes the growth of the state also weakens the capacity of individuals in civil society to fend off the state’s depredations and therefore augments the public’s multifaceted victimization at the hands of state functionaries. Nothing promotes the growth of the state as much as national emergency—war and other crises comparable to war in the seriousness of the threats they pose.

States, by their very nature, are perpetually at war—not always against foreign foes, of course, but always against their own subjects. The state’s most fundamental purpose, the activity without which it cannot even exist, is robbery. The state gains its very sustenance from robbery, which it pretties up ideologically by giving it a different name (taxation) and by striving to sanctify its intrinsic crime as permissible and socially necessary. State propaganda, statist ideologies, and long-established routine combine to convince many people that they have a legitimate obligation, even a moral duty to pay taxes to the state that rules their society.

They fall into such erroneous moral reasoning because they are told incessantly that the tribute they fork over is actually a kind of price paid for essential services received, and that in the case of certain services, such as protection from foreign and domestic aggressors against their rights to life, liberty, and property, only the government can provide the service effectively. They are not permitted to test this claim by resorting to competing suppliers of law, order, and security, however, because the government enforces a monopoly over the production and distribution of its alleged “services” and brings violence to bear against would-be competitors. In so doing, it reveals the fraud at the heart of its impudent claims and gives sufficient proof that it is not a genuine protector, but a mere protection racket.

All governments are, as they must be, oligarchies: only a relatively small number of people have substantial effective discretion to make critical decisions about how the state’s power will be brought to bear. Beyond the oligarchy itself and the police and military forces that compose its Praetorian Guard, somewhat larger groups constitute a supporting coalition. These groups provide important financial and other support to the oligarchs and look to them for compensating rewards—legal privileges, subsidies, jobs, exclusive franchises and licenses, transfers of financial income and wealth, goods and services in kind, and other booty—channeled to them at the expense of the mass of the people. Thus, the political class in general—that is, the oligarchs, the Praetorian Guards, and the supporting coalition—uses government power (which means ultimately the police and the armed forces) to exploit everyone outside this class by wielding or threatening to wield violence against all who fail to pay the tribute the oligarchs demand or to obey the rules they dictate.

Democratic political forms and rituals, such as elections and formal administrative proceedings, disguise this class exploitation and trick the masses into the false belief that the government’s operation yields them net benefits. In the most extreme form of misapprehension, the people at large become convinced that, owing to democracy, they themselves “are the government.”…

Notwithstanding the ideological enchantment with which official high priests and statist intellectuals have beguiled the plundered class, many members of this class retain a capacity to recognize at least some of their losses, and hence they sometimes resist further incursions on their rights by publicly expressing their grievances, by supporting political challengers who promise to lighten their burdens, by fleeing the country, and, most important, by evading or avoiding taxes and by violating legal prohibitions and regulatory restraints on their actions, as in the so-called underground economy, or “black market.”

These various forms of resistance together compose a force that opposes the government’s constant pressure to expand its domination. These two forces, working one against the other, establish a locus of “equilibrium,” a boundary between the set of rights the government has overridden or seized and the set of rights the plundered class has somehow managed to retain, whether by formal constitutional constraints or by everyday tax evasion, black-market transactions, and other defensive violations of the government’s oppressive rules…

National emergency—war or a similarly menacing crisis—answers the political class’s crucial question more effectively than anything else, because such a crisis has a uniquely effective capacity to dissipate the forces that otherwise would obstruct or oppose the government’s expansion.

Virtually any war will serve, at least for a while, because in modern nation-states the outbreak of war invariably leads the masses to “rally ‘round the flag,” regardless of their previous ideological stance in relation to the government.

In searching for the cause of this tremendous, rationally unjustified “rallying ‘round the flag,” we do not have far to go. Such public reactions are always driven by a combination of fear, ignorance, and uncertainty against a background of intense jingoistic nationalism, a popular culture predisposed toward violence, and a general inability to distinguish between the state and the people at large.

Because the government ceaselessly sings the siren song, relentlessly propagandizing the public to look upon it as their protector—such alleged protection being the principal excuse for its routinely robbing them and violating their natural rights—and because the mass media incessantly magnify and spread the government’s propaganda, we can scarcely be surprised if that propaganda turns out to have entered deeply into many people’s thinking, especially when they are in a state of near-panic. Unable to think clearly in an informed way, most people fall back on a childlike us-against- them style of understanding the perceived threat and what should be done about it…

A peaceful state is an impossibility. Even a state that refrains from fighting foreigners goes on fighting its own subjects continuously, to keep them under its control and to suppress competitors who might try to break into the domain of its protection racket. The people cry out for security, yet they will not take responsibility for their own protection, and like the mariners of Greek mythology, they leap overboard immediately in response to the state’s siren song.

When the Israelites had fled from their captivity in Egypt, they made do for centuries with only judges, yet they were not satisfied, and eventually they demanded a king, crying out:

“We will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.” (1 Samuel 8:19–20)

Well, they got a king all right, just as we Americans have embraced one of our own, though we call ours a president. The Israelites, as the prophet Samuel had warned, were no better off for having a king, however: King Saul only led them from one slaughter to another (1 Samuel 14: 47–48).

Likewise, our rulers have led us from one unnecessary slaughter to the next; and, to make matters worse, they have exploited each such occasion to fasten their chains around us more tightly. Like the ancient Israelites, we Americans shall never have real, lasting peace so long as we give our allegiance to a king—that is, in our case, to the whole conglomeration of institutionalized exploiters and murderers we know as the state.

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On Trump, Many Big Lies and Us

 

 

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