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Olduvai III: Catacylsm
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Predators and Saprophytes

Predators and Saprophytes

They’re not your protectors if they’re eating you.

Bruno walks into a neighborhood shop and threatens the shopkeeper with unspecified “bad things” if the shopkeeper doesn’t fork over $200 a week. The shopkeeper pays. If Bruno runs a “legitimate” protection racket, bad things don’t happen.

You can skip a class, indeed an entire four-year program in political theory, if you realize that governments are everywhere and always protection rackets. Fork over money and personal freedom and the state will protect you from bad things, specified or otherwise. Sometimes the state aligns itself with a deity or deities, demanding not just money and obedience but worship, too.

What if the shopkeeper pays Bruno, but his shop is still beset with burglaries? What if he discovers that Bruno is the burglar? The shopkeeper faces the same quandary as billions of people who are subjugated by governments: they need protection from their protection rackets. The protector has dropped all pretense of protection and has become a predator.

When the Soviet Union conducted its first successful atomic bomb test on August 29, 1949, it undercut the protection-racket rationale for governments. No one realized it at the time, but how can you run a protection racket if you can’t protect those you’re purportedly protecting from annihilation? Perhaps that wasn’t the case in 1949―the US still had a lead in nuclear armaments―but by 1955, when the Soviets detonated their first hydrogen bomb, it was clear that all either the Soviet or American government could offer its people was assured destruction of the other side, and most likely their own, in the event of an attack.

Of course neither governments’ rhetoric changed from the historical protection-racket justification. They said that escalating budgets for defense and intelligence, foreign intervention, and skullduggery were necessary to protect their people from the other side.

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The Aristocratic Illusion

The Aristocratic Illusion

They’re not as smart as they think they are.

If you draw your sustenance from the government—as an employee, contractor, or beneficiary of redistributed funds—the money you receive comes from someone who had no choice whether or not you got paid. Except for those jobs the government mandates, private sector workers’ compensation comes from employers who have freely chosen to pay it. The jobs they perform are worth more to their employers than what they’re paid, or the jobs wouldn’t exist.

Here’s a new definition of aristocrat: a person legally entitled to take money from other people without their consent. This definition focuses on what aristocrats do and have done throughout the centuries, regardless of their labels.

If you’re an aristocrat, the thought that you’re living on somebody else’s dime may cause psychological stress. All sorts of rationales have been concocted to justify this privileged position. The most straightforward is the protection racket. In exchange for their subjects’ money, aristocrats protect them from external invasion and preserve domestic order. It’s not a voluntary trade—the subjects can’t say no—but at least both sides get something from it.

However, “protection racket” doesn’t have quite the moral gloss aristocrats crave. Deities may not have been an aristocratic invention, but they jumped on the concept of divine favor to justify their position. It makes it harder to oppose the rulers if authority is bestowed by the gods or the government is a theocracy. Ultimately, regardless of rationale, the ideology always come down to: The aristocracy is superior to those they rule. The aristocrats have no trouble believing it; they have to psychologically justify their positions to themselves. The trick is to get the subjects to buy in.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Cataclysm

Cataclysm

Collapse generally comes as a surprise, even to those who predict it.

The USSR didn’t just fail one day, as does a person who dies of a sudden heart attack or stroke. It was more like a wasting illness brought on by an unhealthy lifestyle. A physician tells a morbidly obese patient: “Your daily consumption of twelve cocktails, three packs of cigarettes, and 4,000 calories, and your refusal to engage in exercise more strenuous than walking to the refrigerator will kill you, but I can’t say when.” For both individuals and governments, certain choices are incompatible with continued existence, and the Soviet government made plenty of those.

Very few people foresaw its failure when it was imminent, even purported experts. The small group who said Soviet communism wouldn’t work because it couldn’t work were disparaged right up until it didn’t work. However, the deck is always stacked in favor of those predicting this or that government will fail. Ultimately they all do because they all come to rest on a foundation of coercion and fraud, which doesn’t work because it can’t work.

There is both a quantitative and qualitative calculus for individuals subject to a government: what the government takes versus what individuals get back. Government is a protection racket: turn over your money and it promises physical security from invasion and crime, and adjudication and restitution in the event of civil or criminal wrongs. The quantitative calculus: am I getting more back than I put in? The qualitative calculus: what activities and people does the government help or hinder?

Protection rackets are often indistinguishable from extortion rackets, the “protector” a bigger threat to the “protected” than the threats against which they’re supposedly protected. Such is the case with the US government, as it was with the former Soviet government.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Do We Let Other People Tell Us What to Do?

Why Do We Let Other People Tell Us What to Do?

Lame Theories of Government

We have been disappointed with political ideas and theories of government. They are nothing but scams, justifications, and puffery. One tries to put something over on the common man… the other claims it was for his own good… and the third pretends that he’d be lost without it.

Most are not really “theories” at all… but prescriptions, blueprints for creating the kind of government the “theorist” would like to have. Not surprisingly, it is a blueprint that flatters his intellect and engages his imagination.

government needA protection racket based on circular reasoning

But it does not answer the critical questions: Why do we let other people tell us what to do; are we not all equal? What is the purpose of government? What does it cost, and what benefits does it confer? You may find these questions have drifted far afield from our usual fare. But they’ve been on our mind.

We’re coming up on a major election in the U.S. Several men have come forward offering to take charge of the U.S. government. Maybe it would be worth wondering what it is that they are taking charge of. And since our daily letter is free, we feel entitled to write whatever we damned well please.

Government is a fact. It exists. It is as common as stomach gas. It is as ubiquitous as lice and as inescapable as vanity. But what is it? Why is it? And what has it become?

Born in Conquest

We know very little about the actual origins of government. All we know – and this from the archaeological records – is that one group often conquered another. There are skeletons more than 100,000 years old, showing the kind of head wounds that you get from fighting. We presume this meant that “government” changed. Whoever had been in charge was chased out or murdered. Then, someone else was in charge.

barbariansBarbarians carefully deliberating post-conquest policies

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Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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