- The Nature of "the Government" -- Force
- Representative definitions
- War vs. Criminal due process
- trust no one
- McManus/Gow letter
- "privatize" = eschew criminal
- Service: A "Well-Governed" Society.
1. The State: The Institutionalization of
The word "government"
can be used in different ways.
- Personal responsibility is "self-government."
- We can speak of a "well-governed family."
- The owner of a business imposes a form of government on his
In family, school, neighborhood association, and groups of all kinds,
there is "government." When we obey "the
Laws of Nature and of Nature's God," our society is orderly,
peaceful, harmonious and well-governed. James Madison,
"the Father of the Constitution," is reported
to have said,
We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon
the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all
of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to
govern ourselves ... according to the Ten Commandments of God.
Every individual and every business and institution created by
voluntary associations of individuals is morally obligated to be well-governed,
and to respect the rights
of others to life, liberty,
and property. "Self-government"
creates a society of "Liberty and Justice for
What is "THE
"Self-government" -- following the commandments of God --
is what it means to be human.
But "the government" ("the State")
claims the right to seize the property of others by
force, have those who resist beaten and
raped, and kill
all those who get in the way. "Self-government" is vitrue.
"The government" is violence.
George Washington is reported
to have said,
Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force. Like
fire it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. . . .
"Private" persons and businesses can only raise money by
persuasion. A business can entice a customer to exchange his money for
the goods and services produced by the business. A charity can persuade
donors to give money voluntarily. But the State raises money through
force and threats of violence
Political scientists and scholars in the field of political economy
agree with George Washington. The essential feature of "the
State" is its use of force to achieve its objectives.
Ludwig von Mises, the most
influential political economist of the "Austrian" school of
economics, gives us this definition of a "State":
The state is essentially an apparatus of compulsion and coercion.
The characteristic feature of its activities is to compel people
through the application or the threat of force to behave otherwise
than they would like to behave.
Suppose I come up to you and say, "If you murder anyone I'll
kill you." I am compelling you through the application or threat of
force to behave otherwise than you might like to behave; am I a
"State?" Not necessarily; Mises continues his definition:
But not every apparatus of compulsion and coercion is called a
state. Only one which is powerful enough to maintain its existence,
for some time at least, by its own force is commonly called a state. A
gang of robbers, which because of the comparative weakness of its
forces has no prospect of successfully resisting for any length of
time the forces of another organization, is not entitled to be called
a state. The state will either smash or tolerate a gang. In the first
case the gang is not a state because its independence lasts for a
short time only; in the second case it is not a state because it does
not stand on its own might. The pogrom gangs in Imperial Russia were
not a state because they could kill and plunder only thanks to the
connivance of the government.
Consider this question: under Mises' definition, and based on the
account in Genesis
14, was Abraham a "State?" It would certainly seem so.
13:1) commands us to obey "the powers that be." How does
this find expression in Genesis 14? Were there no "powers?"
Was Abraham "the powers?" Was it a more complex situation? Was
Abraham fighting "the powers" by fighting the "United
Nations Peace-keeping Force," this demonic alliance of kings? It
seems clear that in Abraham's life there was no earthly
"State" outside of himself, and this situation is acceptable
in the eyes of God. (Nevertheless, to advance our thesis, we will never
call Abrahamic Patriarchies "states." "State" will
be a term reserved for non-familial or supra-familial systems of social
"The State" is thus a group of individuals who can
steal from and kill a selected target of people without expecting
any other group to be willing or able to stop them.
Sociologist Max Weber says
"the State" is "a human community that (successfully)
claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a
Augustine, in his book City of God, wrote
Justice being taken away, then, what are kingdoms but great
robberies? For what are robberies themselves, but little kingdoms? The
band itself is made up of men; it is ruled by the authority of a
prince, it is knit together by the pact of the confederacy; the booty
is divided by the law agreed on. If, by the admittance of abandoned
men, this evil increases to such a degree that it holds places, fixes
abodes, takes possession of cities, and subdues peoples, it assumes
the more plainly the name of a kingdom, because the reality is now
manifestly conferred on it, not by the removal of covetousness, but by
the addition of impunity. Indeed, that was an apt and true reply which
was given to Alexander the Great by a pirate who had been seized. For
when that king had asked the man what he meant by keeping hostile
possession of the sea, he answered with bold pride, What you mean by
seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am
called a robber, while you who does it with a great fleet are styled
The essential point of this Thesis is that God in the Bible nowhere
gives any individual or group the right to steal or kill, even if they
call themselves "the State." Being a politician does not make taxation
less theft, or war
When a business in the "free market" needs to raise money,
it must use persuasion to entice the voluntary support of others. By
contrast, when "the State" needs money, it takes it by force.
This taking is called "taxation." (Other forms of taking, such
as fractional reserve banking,
asset forfeiture, and debasement
of the currency, are also used. These "revenue
enhancement" devices are, like taxation, also immoral.)
| It is
important to remember that government interference
always means either violent action or the threat of
such action. The funds that a government spends for
whatever purposes are levied by taxation. And taxes
are paid because the taxpayers are afraid of
offering resistance to the tax gatherers. They know
that any disobedience or resistance is hopeless. As
long as this is the state of affairs, the government
is able to collect the money that it wants to spend.
Government is in the last resort the employment of
armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison
guards, and hangmen. The essential feature of
government is the enforcement of its decrees by
beating, killing, and imprisoning. Those who are
asking for more government interference are asking
ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.
[I]n face of the modern tendencies toward a
deification of government and state, it is good to
remind ourselves that the old Romans were more
realistic in symbolizing the state by a bundle of
rods with an ax in the middle than are our
contemporaries in ascribing to the state all the
attributes of God.
Ludwig von Mises, Human
from the shield of the
The Fasces: Weapon
of Political Thugs
When the target refuses to "contribute" its money to
"the State," the target is threatened with prison. Such threats
are calculated to create "voluntary compliance."
"There Oughta Be a Law!"
Actually there already is a Law. The Declaration of Independence
speaks of "the Laws of Nature and of
- When someone says
- "There ought to be a law!"
- he really means
- "There ought to be government
-- there ought to be vengeance --
ought to be misery and pain inflicted on the person who
Suppose Jones wants some extra money. He asks Smith for some money and
Smith refuses. Jones threatens to lock Smith up in the Jones Basement for
five years with a violent sociopath, who will beat and rape Smith every
day for the next five years. Smith pays up. That this form of coercion is
at the heart of the State's "criminal justice system" is seen in
this opinion from the Los Angeles Times in June of last year
(before any allegations of cooked-books or any other illegal conduct had
been made against Enron):
"The State" is "a violent and terrible" idea.
what California Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer said at a
press conference about Enron Corp. Chairman Kenneth
Lay: "I would love to personally escort Lay to
an 8-by-10 cell that he could share with a tattooed
dude who says, 'Hi, my name is Spike, honey.'"
why Lockyer should be removed from his office of
public trust: First, because as the chief law
enforcement officer of the largest state in the
nation, he not only has admitted that rape is a
regular feature of the state's prison system, but
also that he considers rape a part of the punishment
he can inflict on others.
because he has publicly stated that he would like to
personally arrange the rape of a Texas businessman
who has not even been charged with any illegal
remarks reveal him to be an authoritarian thug,
someone wholly unsuited to holding an office of
his remarks do have one positive merit: They tell us
what criminal penalties really entail.
to some depictions of prisons as country clubs, they
are violent and terrible places.
My Name Isn't Justice, Honey,' and Shame on Lockyer,
Times, Wednesday, June 6, 2001 || more
5. "War" vs. Criminal Due Process
The State claims the right to kill. The State is symbolized by the
sword for this reason.
Osama bin Laden was accused of conspiring to vandalize the World Trade
Center and murder its occupants. Instead of being pursued by law
enforcement agents, in accord with Constitutional procedures, the power of
"the sword" was invoked. War does not observe constitutional
limitations. Thousands of non-combatant Afghanis were killed in "the
war on terrorism."
- If Smith resists the confiscation of his property, and then resists
his own imprisonment, the State will kill him.
- If Smith is not a citizen of "the State" in question, the
State will label him an "enemy combatant" and will kill him.
- Sometimes even citizens are killed as part of a "war on
drugs" or "war on terrorism."
Rall Online - "George W. Bush, Warlord"
6. Is this an "anti-government" attitude?
- a. "Trust No One" -- An American
- How do libertarians respond to the accusation that they do not
have enough trust
in government? John Adams wrote in 1772:
There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free
government ought to be to trust no man living with power
to endanger the public liberty."
Should libertarians have more confidence in their government?
Thomas Jefferson, 1799:
Confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism.
Free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence; it
is jealousy, and not confidence, which prescribes limited
constitutions to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with
power.… In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of
confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains
of the Constitution.
James Madison warned the people of Virginia (1799):
the nation which reposes on the pillow of political confidence,
will sooner or later end its political existence in a deadly
Madison added in Federalist No. 55,
[T]here is a degree of depravity in
mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and
distrust. . . .
Trusting government, having "confidence in government,"
The British historian Lord Acton put it this
Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts
men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise
influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the
tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no
worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.
The exercise of political power is problematic. We should assume
that "great men" -- that is, powerful men --
men who wield the force of "the government" -- are morally
corrupt. This assumption should be considered confirmed if he increases
his own power during his time of "public service."
- b. McManus/Gow
- c. Religion as "Private" =
failure of public criticism of criminal acts by the State
- In the modern world, the State claims to be "neutral"
with respect to religion. "Religion" is said to be
"private." It is religion that says "Thou shalt not
steal," and so by privatizing religion, the State avoids
criticism based on its violation of Divine Law. Requiring the State
to be "under God" is derided as "imposing religion on
others," or violating a mythical "separation of church and
state." Criticizing the State based on religion is
(conveniently) undignified and inappropriate.
- 1. "The
Laws of Nature and of Nature's God."
- 2. The Myth
of "Private Religion"
- d. Hodge: Moral Revulsion
- This thesis is not rooted in hedonism or antinomianism. Our desire
to abolish the State is motivated by the fact that (to adapt the
words of Princeton professor A.A. Hodge in 1887) the State is
appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and
atheistic unbelief, and of anti-social nihilistic ethics,
individual, social and political, which this sin-rent world has ever
In particular, the State engages in more theft, murder, and
kidnapping than any other group of people, including the criminals
from which the State promises to protect us. The State is, without
close competition, the greatest thief and mass murderer on the
planet. The 20th century, marked by the final destruction of
Christian localism and the rise of the secular State, has been the
century of mass death on a scale unparalleled in human history.
A.A. Hodge, Popular Lectures on Theological Themes, Phila:
Presbyterian Board of Publications, 1887, p. 280, quoted in R.J.
Rushdoony, The Messianic Character of American Education,
Nutley, NJ: The Craig Press, 1963, p. 335. Hodge was referring to
the government-run school. But all of government, as propagator of
law, is an educator. See R. Lerner, “The Supreme Court
as Republican Schoolmaster,” 1967 Sup.
127. Legal systems educate the masses. They set the agenda for
private citizens (see "private religion,"
7. Service: A "Well-Governed" Society
There are several features of a well-governed society. All of them
require attitudes of service. None of them require theft, violence, or
threats of force.
Education of Children
and Vocational Training
Care of the Elderly
of the Fatherless
of the Ill and Handicapped
A well-governed person, who yearns for a well-governed society,
wants to place firm limits on "the government."
But can there be too many limits on "the government?"
What if the chains of the Constitution strangle
"the government" or "the government" is abolished all
I believe this would be a good thing.
"But wouldn't that be anarchy?"
some might ask.
If you equate "anarchy" with "lawlessness." then
"anarchy" is a bad thing. But if you understand that
"anarchy" means "the absence of archists," then your
next question should be, "What is an archist?"
Keep reading on this page if you want to learn more about "law"
and "lawlessness," or click the link below to find out why good
and moral people are against "archists."
Free Market Dispute Resolution
The Nature of Government
is the "State"?
State as Criminal
Order without Violence