The last resort of the State is the realm of National Defense. Briefly put, National Defense is defined as the need for a government to protect citizens from invasion by other governments.
This is an interesting paradox, even beyond the obvious one of using government to protect us from governments. If you were able to run a magic survey throughout history, which government do you think people would be most frightened of? Would it be (a), their local State or Lord, or (b), some State or Lord in some other country. What about ancient Rome – would it be the local rulers, who forced young Romans into military service for 20 years or more, or the Carthaginians? What about England in the Middle Ages? Were the peasants more alarmed by the crushing taxation and strangling mobility restrictions imposed by their local Lord, or was the King of France their primary concern? Let stop in Russia during the 18th century, and ask the serfs: “Are you more frightened of the Tsar’s soldiers, or the German Kaiser?” Let’s go to a US citizen of today, and demand to know: “Are you more frightened of foreign invaders, or of the fact that if you don’t pay half your income in taxes, your own government will throw you in jail?”
Of course, we have to stop at the Second World War, which has had more propaganda thrown at it than any other single conflict. Didn’t the British government save the country from Germany? That’s an interesting question. The British government got into WWI, helped impose the brutal Treaty of Versailles, then contributed to the boom-and-bust cycle of the 1920’s, which destroyed the German middle class and aided Hitler’s rise to power. During the 1930s, the British government supported the growing aggression of Hitler through subsidies, loans and mealy-mouthed appeasement. And then, when everything had failed, it threw the bodies of thousands of young men at the German air force in the Battle of Britain. Finally, it caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands more British citizens by defending Africa and invading France, rather than let Nazism collapse on its own accord – as it was bound to do, just as every tyranny has done throughout history. Can it really be said, then, that the British government protected its citizens throughout the first half of the 20th century? Millions killed, families shattered, the economy destroyed, and half of Europe lost to Stalin… Can we consider that a great success? I think not. Only States win wars. Never citizens.
The fact of the matter is that we do not face threats to our lives and property from foreign governments, but rather from our own. The State will tell us that it must exist, at the very least, to protect us from foreign governments, but that is morally equivalent to the local Mafia don telling us that we have to pay him 50% of our income so that he can protect us from the Mafia in Paraguay. Are we given the choice to buy a gun and take our chances? Of course not. Who endangers us more – the local Mafia guy, or some guy in Paraguay we’ve never met that our local Mafia guys says just might want a piece of us? I know which chance I’d take.
Here in Canada, all this talk of foreign invasion is patently absurd. If the US suddenly decided to appropriate our natural resources, what would happen? We’d hand it over with a barely-audible whimper, because the US would just threaten to nuke Ottawa and then walk over the border. So the idea that we need our government to protect us is utterly foolish.
There is a tried-and-true method for resisting foreign occupation which doesn’t require any government – which we can see being played out in our daily news. During the recent invasion, the US completely destroyed the Iraqi government, and now has total control over the people and infrastructure. And what is happening? They are being attacked and harried until they will just have to get out of the country – just as they had to do in Korea and Vietnam, and just as the USSR had to do in Afghanistan. The Iraqi insurgents don’t have a government at all – any more than the Afghani fighters did in the 1980s. So even if we were invaded here in Canada – and we didn’t like the invaders – we could just take to the sewers and pick them off one by one until they were forced to leave.
(Of course, if some foreign government invaded Canada and cut my taxes in half, well I’d still fight them – but it sure as hell wouldn’t be to restore our current band of bandits!)
But let’s look at the Iraqi conflict in a slightly different light. It’s crucial to understand that America was attacked on 9/11 because the American government has troops in Saudi Arabia – and because it caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children through Clinton’s Iraqi bombing campaign. Given that the US government provoked the attacks, how well were the innocent victims of 9/11 protected by their government? Even if we don’t count the physical casualties of the war, given the massive national debt being run up to pay for the Iraq war, how well is the property of American citizens being protected? How much power would Bush have to wage war if he didn’t have the power to steal almost half the wealth of the entire country? As I have written elsewhere, the government does not need taxes in order to wage war; it wages war because it already has the power of taxation – and it uses the war to raise taxes, either on the current citizens through increases, or on future citizens through deficits.
This simple fact helps explain why there were almost no wars throughout the West from the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1915 to the start of WWI in 1914. This was largely because governments could not afford wars – but then they all got their very own special Central Banks and were able to pave the bloody path to the Great War with printed money and deficit financing. World War I resulted from an increase in State power – and in turn fed State power, and set the stage for the next war. Thus the idea that we need to give governments the power to tax us in order to protect us is laughable – because it is taxation that gives governments the power to wage war.
For pacifist countries, this ‘war’ may be a war on poverty, or illiteracy, or drugs, or for universal health care, or whatever. It doesn’t matter. The moment you give one man the power – and moral ‘right’ – to force money out of others, you set the stage for the eventual destruction of your society.
So the question arises – how does a citizen keep his property and person safe? It’s an interesting question. The first answer that I would give is another question, which is:
Which sector does more to protect you and your property – the public or the private?
Let’s look at the security mechanisms the private sector has introduced in just the last 40 years:
– ATMs (less need to carry cash)
– Cell phones (can always call for help)
– Call display (virtually eliminates harassing phone calls)
– Sophisticated home security systems
– ID tracking tags
– Credit card numeric security
– Pepper spray
– and much more…
What has the public sector done? Well, they shoot harmless drug users and seize property. They’ll shoot you, too, if you don’t pay the massive tax increases they demand. The police are virtually useless in property crimes – and many violent criminals are turned loose because the courts are too slow, or are put in ‘house arrest’ because the prisons are too full of non-violent offenders.
So, who has most helped you secure your person and property over the past twenty years? The government, or your friendly local capitalist? Those who have stepped in to protect you, or those who have doubled your taxes while letting criminals walk? Have capitalist companies enraged foreigners to the point of terrorism? Of course not – the 9/11 terrorists attacked the World Trade Center (for protest the financing of the US government), the Pentagon, and the White House. They didn’t go for a Ford motor plant or a Nike store – and why would they? No one kills for shoes. They kill to protest military power, which rests on financing.
Thus the most effective securer of our person and property is the private sector. And even if we never get a private-sector army, it doesn’t really matter. Even without an army, the most effective method for keeping foreign invaders out of Canada is for us to get rid of our government. Then, no foreign invader has a clue as to how many of us have rifles, or bombs, or landmines lying around. If you’re some foreign government looking to pillage, are you going to set your sights on some weak government which has disarmed its citizens, or a land with strong private security forces, and where no records exist as to who is armed with what?
In summation, then, it makes about as much sense to rely on governments for security as it does on the Mafia for ‘protection’. The Mafia is really just protecting you from itself, as are all governments. Any man who comes up to you and says: “I need to threaten your person and steal your property in order to protect your person and property” is obviously either deranged, or not particularly interested, shall we say, in protecting your person or property. As long as we keep falling for the same old lies, we will forever be robbed blind for the sake of our supposed property rights, and sent to wage war against internal or external ‘enemies’ so that those in power can further pick the pockets of those we leave behind.
Stefan Molynuex, is the host of Freedomain Radio (www.freedomainradio.com), the most popular philosophy site on the Internet, and a “Top 10” Finalist in the 2007-2010 Podcast Awards.