THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 853, January 3, 2016
Believe me, to get what we want to
make of society, libertarians must
learn not to act like Republicans.
A Utilitarian Argument for the Complete Abolition of the State
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
This paper will examine the question of government itself and whether or not the abolition of government serves the best interests of humanity. This paper will utilized the moral philosophy of Utilitarianism exclusively to arrive at an answer to this question. First, a brief summary of the philosophy and its originators will be introduced. Second, the State or government will be explicitly defined according to its actual purpose and function in society, not the civics class mythology school children are indoctrinated with. Third, a sober examination of the human toll of government will be documented. Finally, the Utilitarian Calculus will be applied to the problem and the most moral outcome to this question revealed.
Utilitarianism is a moral philosophy developed by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. (Pojman, p. 223) John Stuart Mill is the name most associated with the philosophy but it was Bentham that first expounded upon it. Utilitarianism is a collectivist philosophy as opposed to an individualist philosophy like Objectivism. Utilitarianism aims at maximizing human happiness or "utility." "The greatest happiness for the greatest number" is the Utilitarian operating statement. (Pojman, p. 223) Bentham builds Utilitarianism on the bedrock insight that humanity is ruled by two sovereigns: Pleasure and Pain. Bentham "argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic value and pain the only intrinsic evil." (Pojman, p. 227) Therefore, the goal of all Utilitarians is to maximize everything which increases pleasure and happiness for the most people while abolishing that which increases pain for the most people—the only evil Utilitarianism acknowledges.
The object of this analysis is government or the State. To honestly evaluate the subject, it must first be objectively defined. The Declaration of Independence formulates government as being a construct arising out of the consent of the governed (the People) for the purpose of protecting life, liberty, and happiness. This formulation springs forth from an idea that a "social contract" exists in that the people collectively agree to divest themselves of some of their freedoms in order to empower a structure called government which will punish those who transgress against the peace of society.
"The usual view of the origin of the state (when is it discussed at all) is that it rose spontaneously and naturally. People voluntarily gave up their sovereignty. This is known as the Social Contract, a convenient metaphor. It is an implausible theory and there is just no proof that such a thing every really happened." (Hamilton, p. xviii.)
It is important to note that when this thing called the State is mentioned, a method of political organization is implied, not the geographical boundaries of a territory.
Before the origins and purposes of the State can be defined, an understanding of the two, and only two, ways humans have available to satisfy the economic needs of survival must be explored.
Franz Oppenheimer, a German sociologist (1864-1943), reveals these two methods of satisfying human economic needs. "There are two fundamentally opposed means whereby man, requiring sustenance, is impelled to obtain the necessary means for satisfying his desires. These are work and robbery, one's own labor and the forcible appropriation of the labor of others." (Oppenheimer, p. 13)
The first Oppenheimer dubs the economic means; the former the political means.
Therefore, the State is the "organization of the political means." (Oppenheimer, p. 15)
The origins of the State can only lie inside "conquest and confiscation." (Nock, p. 40)
"The State, completely in its genesis, essentially and almost completely during the first stages of its existence, is a social institution, forced by a victorious group of men on a defeated group, with the sole purpose of regulating the dominance of the victorious group over the vanquished, and securing itself against revolt from within and attacks from abroad. Teleologically, this dominion has no other purpose than the economic exploitation of the vanquished by the victors." (Oppenheimer, p. 8)
The State, therefore, is diametrically opposed to the objectives of protecting life, liberty, and property. It is an engine designed to steal each of these ends from the exploited proletariat.
Albert J. Nock puts it more bluntly: "Taking the State wherever found, striking into its history at any point, one sees no way to differentiate the activities of its founders, administrators and beneficiaries from that of a professional criminal class." (Nock. p.42)
The human toll of government will be presented by three indexes: Life, Liberty, and Property. The first index is arguably the most sacred: Life. The formula for government we're sold is that government's primary task is the protection of its citizens' lives. Is it?
Professor Rudy "R.J." Rommel (1932-2014), Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Hawaii, has spent most of his professional career documenting the human toll of government by examining its most stark statistics: the statistics of democide. Rommel coined the term, which means literally "death by government." Rommel discovered that democide surpassed war as a cause of non- natural death in the 20th Century (by his count, this grand total is 262,000,000 people exterminated by government in the 20th Century alone).
That's over a quarter of a billion people exterminated by the State through means other than war.
"Just to give perspective on this incredible murder by government, if all these bodies were laid head to toe, with the average height being 5', then they would circle the earth ten times. Also, this democide murdered 6 times more people than died in combat in all the foreign and internal wars of the century. Finally, given popular estimates of the dead in a major nuclear war, this total democide is as though such a war did occur, but with its dead spread over a century." (Rommel, http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/20TH.HTM)
When the number of humans sacrificed on the altar of war—the health of the State—are added into Rommel's figures, we're up to almost a half a billion people: 394,500,000 souls. (Brzezinski, http://necrometrics.com/all20c.htm)
One must dig hard to find any evidence at all that supports the notion that government exists to protect human life or any other kind of life. The numbers indicate the contrary; that government itself is designed to inflict maximum casualties on the human race.
Some would consider Liberty more sacred than life. After all, how fulfilling is a life without individual freedom? As of 2012, 23% of the people in the world live under absolute oppression, under governments that allow the people no say in how they are governed. (http://www.livescience.com/21368-measuring-freedom-and-repression-infographic.html) That's 1.6 billion people living their whole lives with the boot of the State constantly stomping on their faces. Of course, the majority of 7 billion people live under government period. There is no such thing as total Liberty on earth. Everywhere, in every place, government is there restricting and restraining real Liberty in some concrete way. In reality, government is inclined to grant only so much freedom as is necessary to secure itself from internal insurrection. Oppenheimer already pointed that out directly.
Government's favorite restrictive method is called Law. It's second is called Regulation. Its third is called imprisonment.
The real cycle of "crime" under government goes like this: a legislature makes more laws that then create more criminals. Crime statistics then "go up" and government bemoans the "crime wave" and offers more government to combat the crime and more prison space to warehouse all the new criminals in.
The United States, the alleged Land of the Free, has the most people rotting in prison than any other nation on earth. Most of these inmates are non-violent offenders guilty of mostly drug "crimes." These types of offenders are preferred because they work dutifully in the private prison for-profit industries. It's really a form of slave labor. Government officials are caught all the time incarcerating good candidates for the private prison work programs on trumped up charges in order to meet quotas private prisons have set. Every new prison has beds to fill.
In reality, government is a mechanism of restraining Liberty, not protecting it nor nurturing it.
According to the Libertarians, private property is the bedrock upon which all other rights and freedoms are built. After all, a man's home is his castle. Again, the civics school mythology claims private property rights are high on the government's list of things to protect. Yet, the majority of the people on the planet have no private property and by law are prevented from owning any. Where private property is allowed or at least paid lip service to, government is always busy devising ways to gain easier "legal" access to a person's private property. In the United States, this is called civil asset forfeiture. This is a game where property is declared guilty of a crime and duly confiscated by the law enforcers of the State. The State also grants itself the powers of Eminent Domain. Eminent Domain allows government to take any property it deems necessary to service the "public good." Again, the mechanisms of government are designed not to protect property but to take it away without fair remuneration.
Thus far, rather than being an instrument of happiness in the lives of all humanity, government is actually the source of humanities most acute pains. According to Utilitarianism, pain is the only evil that there is. Pain is the one thing all humans have a duty to diminish. Government has been demonstrated to be the point of origin for most of the man-made suffering inflicted upon the people of the world. Therefore, if the goal is to eliminate the very real horrors of suffering and oppression and genocide across the planet, the proposition to abolish government should be undertaken immediately.
A rough hedonic calculus of this could be the equation P = [N(C x I x D) + Nf(Cf x If x Df)] x F x E. P equals Total Pain. N equals how far off in the future this pain is. C equals the certainty that any given encounter with government can cause fear or pain to an individual. I equals the intensity of the pain. D equals the duration of the pain. F equals the probability that one government induced pain will lead to another government induced pain. E equals the extent—how many people are affected by this pain? The subscript 'f' equals future measures to compare with present measures.
I will set N to 1 meaning that government pain is always close at hand. It can be applied immediately at any time to anyone. C and D will be a number between 1 and 10. C is set to 9 which means nine times out of ten, interactions with government cause some kind of pain to a person. I is set to 8 on the basis that as a whole group, humanity is more oppressed than free as a result of government. A 10 in this reading would mean total government and no freedom for anyone. D equals 65, the normal life span of a human being. F equals 90 or the probability that one pain induced by government will lead to another pain caused by government. Finally, E equals the number of people affected by this pain. That number must be set to 7 billion. The equation with the numbers looks like this:
P=[1(9x8x65) + 1(10x9x65)] x 90 x (7x109)
Total Pain of Government = 6633.9 x 1016.
That's a lot of pain. The Utilitarian conclusion?
Pojman, L. (2000). The Moral Life (3rd ed., p. 223, 227). New York, New York: Oxford University Press.
Oppenheimer, F. (1975). The State. Montreal: Black Rose Books.
Nock, A. (1983). Our enemy, the state: Albert Jay Nock's classic critique distinguishing "government" from "the state" Delavan, Wis.: Hallberg Pub.
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