Notes Book

Autocracy, the God that Failed

A lot of ideas that seemed good in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have lost their luster by the start of the twenty-first century. Some think that democracy is a god that failed. Communist states have collapsed. Capitalism survives, but has been widely socialized. We saw the spectacular rise and fall of Fascism. Property rights of the wealthy are often enforced at the expense of the property rights of the poor. Central banking is in doubt. Representative government seems to have more and more government and less and less representation.

There is a common thread that runs through all these failures. That is the idea that one person, or a small group of people should have the right to enforce a particular ideology through the use of violence. The enforcers soon begin enforcing their own wealth and privilege at the expense of a logical application of any social theory.

The great communist slogan was “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”. This was to be achieved through a “dictatorship of the proletariat”. The dictatorship of the proletariat quickly became the iron rule of a few former proles transformed into a brutal oligarchy.

Fascism was a belief in State Power without any softening ideology, and its lifetime was nasty, brutish, and short.

Democracy in the United States was to be a government “By the people, for the people, and of the people.” By the end of the last century, we began to hear the term “meritocracy”. Now we seem to have lost the “merit”, but we have plenty of “ocracy”, and out current President, Congress, and Supreme Court comprise a sterling example of this trend. The government of the people, by the people, and for the people, has evolved into a government by the elite, for the elite, and of the elite. Why is it that India can maintain social order with a prison population of 25 per 100,000 while the United States has 645 out of every 100,000 citizens behind bars? This hardly paints a picture of a society where you can do what you want as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.

The world has gone from a gold and silver based currency, to one based on the illusion of the omnipotent state. Now we have economies that can be thrown into chaos by the actions of a few, greedy, central planners. A centralized currency based on violence is unstable and steadily looses its value by government plan. A marketplace of currencies based on the voluntary transactions of free and equal people is not subject to the single-point failure that plagues central planning. In a free money market, the groups that evolve the best forms of money will succeed, and other, less efficient mechanisms will fail, but the entire system will not be vulnerable to the bad decisions of a few. Now, if Alan Greenspan stumbles, we all take the fall.

There is a tendency to blame these great failures on the content of ideologies rather than the failure of the more general idea of giving some special group the right to enforce an ideology with violence. This is a basic mistake, which leads us to treat the symptoms rather than the disease. We will make no progress just moving our social organization from one where group A enforces ideology A through violence to one where group B enforces ideology B through violence.

Perhaps the fortunate should share with the unfortunate, or we should count noses to make decisions, or a person should be secure in his person and his property. Many forms of analysis should be taken into account when negotiating social agreements, but making an agreement that any group should have a sanctioned right to initiate force in the name of any ideology is a recipe for disaster.

All men are created equal, but the man with the biggest gun is more equal than all the rest. To make people more equal, we need to expand the right of private ownership of weapons, and also the right of private organizations and militias to own weapons. Many people are uneasy at the thought of a world with weapons everywhere, but a world in which George Bush and his friends are the only people controlling the means of destruction seems to be an extremely worse alternative. Even if you like George Bush, are you going to be able to trust Presidents for the foreseeable future? Or is “Trust but Verify”, a better idea. And you can't verify if the Government won't tell you what it's doing, and if the government has all the guns, it has no reason to let citizens in on the decision making process. A majority of bullets has a much greater impact on public policy than a majority of ballots, especially “secret ballots” which make the results of any election secret from the voters.

I subscribe to the libertarian idea that it is wrong to initiate force. I also subscribe to the idea that the more weapon ownership is distributed through the population, the less likely force will be initiated. Even a belligerent and foolish man might hesitate to initiates force against a well-armed populace.

“Isms” and “ocracies” should be abandoned. The best form of social organization is liberty and equality. If enough people ignore the Statists they will go away.