Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Government, shmovernment - Part 1

Ack!  If I don't post this now, I never will!

Admittedly this not exactly my most coherent post; I feel it's a bit disjointed and repetitive at times. I find the ideas I am trying to express are interconnected in so many ways that I'm not sure how to wrap it all into a clean piece, but I have been picking over it for over a year and I feel the need to finally post this sucker.   Every time I try to "buckle down" and finish this post I just wind-up adding more to it.  I also have other ideas I want to express in future posts that link back to my ideas on statism.

I'm at the point where I feel the need to finally post something and maybe I can flesh this out some more at a later date.  I'm also breaking this into parts to save you all the long read.


In this modern era we are lulled into the idea that we can live in this near-utopia, where everything will be automated and mechanized, that all needs and wants will be quantified and processes will be perfected and tuned to the point where things are done in the most economical, equitable and in the least harmful manner.  We needn't ever worry again about where our food comes from and whether it is processed safely.  We needn't worry about having access to medical care should we fall ill. We needn't concern ourselves with the maintenance and safety of infrastructure.  We needn't concern ourselves with protecting ourselves from those who wish to do us harm.  We needn't worry about who will care for and educate our children while we work. We needn't worry about having the money and facilities to take care of us when we are old and gray. And we will do this using a system that is accountable to us, the people, through the power of our vote.

This is the promise of the State.

And I used to truly believe this; I believed that if we really had a transparent government with a true system of accountability and no private corporate involvement, and that if our scientific and technological research and development was truly driven by the quest for innovation as opposed to maximum profit, and if we were all well educated and well fed with access to "free" healthcare, then the end result would be a near-perfect society.   And even though I never suspected I would ever see such near-perfection within my lifetime, I at least saw it getting progressively better over time with the hope that eventually the rest of the world would follow suit. But I'm beginning to see some faults in these ideas. I'm leaning more and more towards the idea that a voluntaristic/anarchistic societal model is the most logical and ethical way to (un)organise ourselves, and that ultimately statism is wrong. 

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who watches the watchmen?)

My first misgiving about the statist utopia goes back to my post about absolute power: I have my doubts that any government or law enforcement system can exist without eventually caving to nefarious interests.  When a small minority controls the necessities of life for the majority there is always the temptation to take advantage of that imbalance. And if anyone has to campaign for your vote and persuade you to put them into power, then inevitably there will be a twisting of the truth. And if you employ a third-party watch-group to provide oversight into governmental affairs, then the bribery and influence of the power-hungry is then focused towards that very watch-group.

So while the idea is supposed to be that the government is "for the people, by the people" and that it is the responsibility of the people to hold their governments accountable, I think I'd be hard pressed to find anyone who would argue that the system is actually working that way right now.  And does anyone really believe that it will ever change when the same interests that run our government, make our laws and enforce our laws are the same interests that sell us things and feed us TV advertisements and non-news, not to mention the same interests that provide us our education and paycheques?  Some might argue that we need a revolution, but if it takes an uprising of the people to make their government listen to them, then does that sound like democracy is a system that really works as a voice of the people in the first place?  Sometimes listening to people defend the need for government feels like a battered spouse making excuses about their abuser: "Well, I know he lies and spends most of my tax money on wars and paying-off his rich CEO buddies, but he pays for my kid's doctor visits and schooling and I feel safer knowing he's there to protect me from all the scary criminals and terrorists out there..."

While it is true that during almost every type of crisis we can pick-up the phone and have police officers rush to our aid, the downside is that we are also giving a bunch of strangers and their corporate heads — whose directives, motives and processes are not decided by you and me — a dangerous and unbalanced amount of power.  We also allow corporate interests to have a disproportionate say in the formation of the very laws to which we are all supposedly subject — laws that are so complex that we need a third party who has devoted years of study on said laws to translate and interpret them for us in court, after we've already supposedly broken them... (Wha?)  And while we like to think that most lawyers, judges and police officers are impartial, fair and altruistic individuals, the truth is that they are mere mortals who live in the same "gotta get what's mine" society that the rest of us do; they have quotas and numbers to meet in one way or another and can always justify doing some not-so-fair-and-just things to other human beings while using the same "just doing my job/I've got bills to pay and mouths to feed" excuse that the rest of us use in our own jobs. Just ask the police officers involved in the Toronto G20 debacle; I'm sure that for the most part the humans in those policy-enforcement uniforms are very well-meaning and fair-minded individuals, but within a hierarchical structure, and using the power that we as a society supposedly have consented to give them through the "social contract", they can do some terrible things to their fellow humans simply because it is what their bosses told them to do.

Some would say that the reason why governments get away with what they do today is because people in general are too lazy or wrapped-up in their own lives to hold their elected officials accountable.  I don't disagree with that, but isn't that evidence in itself that democracy doesn't work?  Do believers in democracy think that one day the general populace is just going to become magically interested and informed about political affairs?  Voter apathy is a rather convenient state of affairs for those who wield political power, is it not?  I don't know about you, but I am quite uncomfortable with the fact that the same mega corps that profit from our consumerist society also have links in government.  Not only that, but most of us spend the majority of our lives working for such corporations, then we leave work and indulge in one of the many diversions that these same corporations feed us, giving us very little free time to focus on the problems with our CLOG-run societies.  And as we plunge toward an ultra-technological age I don't see much if any movement by Western governments to truly assess and address the effects of modern media and technology on people.  There is also no denying that some very important news stories that are critical of the CLOGs of the Western World and their activities seem to get buried in the infotainment fluff pieces and scare stories du jour.

I could go on, but for a much more well worded piece on how the promises of a Utopian society are often used and twisted in order to profit the unscrupulous among us who tend to seek high positions of power, I recommend watching this short video titled The last word on Utopia by James Corbett of corbettreport.com.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain

I also take exception to the idea that just because the majority of people vote a certain way this therefore means that the rest of us have to be subject to their decisions for X number of years.  Twain pretty well sums up my feelings about the majority of people:  Lets face it, the peoples of the Western world at large can hardly be described as being the most informed, logical and critically-thinking in history, and yet these are the same people who are supposed to decide who is going to run things for all of us?  No thanks.

And why should anyone have to live their lives the way that the majority thinks is best anyway?  Who made that rule and, for that matter, who cares?  Some would say "well if you don't like it, feel free to move to another country", as if it is in any way logical that just because a baby pops out of a vagina within some imaginary boundaries that some white men "declared" to be such-and-such country centuries prior (whilst conveniently ignoring the existence of  the peoples already living on those same lands) thereby means that the baby is automatically subject to rules that some men wrote down in some book.  Again, "says who?"

I believe that this automatic, involuntary association with the state is wrong and totally goes against the idea that we are free people living in a world that is run by the consent of the governed.  When did I get to consent to this, and how did I consent?

For examples of some people who are asking these questions of their governments and informing them that they no longer consent, you might consider reading my post on the ideas of freemen, sovereigns and natural persons.

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