Notes Book

Breaking Up

I loved it when the Justice Department broke up the telephone monopoly. Prices for electronic communications have been falling since that event.

Now all we need is a way to break up the Justice Department and cause a corresponding fall in the price of justice.

I don't expect to ever see a world without organized violence, but I do think it is possible to have a lot less of it than we do now. One good way to do this would be to bring down the size of violent organizations.

In a family, when the baby cries, nobody sleeps. In a state, when people die in prison, nobody cares. Violent people are kept in check by communications feedback. The feedback paths with bigger bandwidth provide a better check on violence. Smaller social entities naturally have larger bandwidth in their feedback loops because the people involved are physically closer to each other.

If you can see, hear, feel, and smell someone, you have a high bandwidth connection. The feedback you receive from them comes in on many channels, and it arrives immediately. If you are just writing letters from far away, that is a very low bandwidth form of communication. There is only one channel that doesn't convey a lot of information, and the response time is very slow.

As communications bandwidth improves, it is harder for violent people to get away with their crimes because the knowledge of the impact of the crimes is more immediate and graphic. Television has higher bandwidth than radio, but both are just broadcast media. The Internet doesn't yet have quite the broadcast bandwidth of television, but it is an interactive medium, which makes it powerful. As the bandwidth of the Internet improves, it will have a greater impact on society.

The largest and most dangerously violent organizations are states. If we could end the monopoly of force that states have for a particular geographical area that would be a big step forward. Substituting a free market for force instead of a monotheistic state might not eliminate all our problems, but it would minimize them.

Another way is just to make states smaller. Viewed in this context, the dissolution of the Soviet Union is a big step forward, and the unification of Europe is a big step backwards. Actually every empire known to man has broken up within a few hundred years, so waiting is enough. But the break up of Empires and states is often painful. It would be nice if there were a way to make it happen faster and with less collateral damage.

It seems that Empires go through several phases. In the beginning, they are just states that have some kind of luck. Usually they have a good location, good political organization, etc. Gradually, they expand to cover more territory. As this happens the original states retain a privileged role, and the founding families hold on to political privilege. As the Empire expands, the difference between the power elites and the common people grows. Laws grow in number and punishments grow in severity. Economic differences between the center of the Empire and the edges become more pronounced. Something the common people want or need is outlawed, and a black market is established.

Members of the elite make huge fortunes from the black market, but so do common criminals. The elites try to keep most of the profits for themselves, but gradually, they lose control. The prison population rises. The prisons become training camps for the revolutionary armies that will eventually rage out of control and destroy the Empire. The black market provides the financing for these armies. The common criminals evolve into warlords and their violent competition for power becomes the force that causes the Empire to collapse. As each generation of the pampered elites becomes less disciplined and less talented because of lack of competition, each generation of organized crime becomes more disciplined and more talented because of intense competition. As the excesses of the elites become more and more apparent to the common people, the former criminals become heroes to them and the elites become villains.

The Empire collapses, but the criminal organizations remain. It has been centuries since the collapse of the Roman Empire, but the Italian Cosa Nostra remains an international force to be reckoned with. And since the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the Russian criminals have made their presence felt all over the world.

It is very difficult to tell just when the US Empire will collapse. Very few expected the Soviet Union to fall when it did.

I think it might be possible minimize the violence and chaos if enough people understand the process and take constructive action make the dissolution of the American Empire happen peacefully.

Lowering taxes, shrinking government, bringing our troops home from foreign countries, and releasing people from prison are all laudable goals, but very difficult to achieve.

Perhaps a series of secession movements might be easier, or just help achieve the usually proposed methods of shrinking government. Every concerned citizen could support the secession of the state from the central government, the secession of the county from the state, the secession of the city or town from the county.

At the same time, perhaps some non-coercive organizations of groups of cities and towns could be formed to perform the useful functions that state federal governments are now pretending to perform.

Breaking up the coercive Empire may be hard to do, but it is going to happen sometime. Preventing it from happening forever is not an option. Letting the air out of the statist bubble on a rational basis would surely be a better than just waiting for the monster to collapse into violence and chaos.