Always keep in mind that the government is not “us.” “We” are not the government. The “government” is a relatively small elite ruling class whose sole function and intent is to take property from the productive class. – jtl, 419
The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false- face for the urge to rule it. - H.L. Mencken
Why are so many men and women driven to seek and to exercise political power? If you were to judge their motivations on the basis of promises they make, you might conclude that they desire to promote the well-being of our society, or of all mankind; or to end injustice and promote the rights and interests of the poor and down-trodden; to protect children; to defend the country from foreign aggressors; to generate economic prosperity; or to advance other noble ends that serve the public interest. Our willingness to accept such benevolent objectives as the explanation for a few wanting coercive power over the many, is a reflection of our gullibility.
The question of whether people are to control their own lives, energies, and resources for their own ends, or whether they are to be subservient to the interests of those who want to forcibly control others, has been with us from our beginnings. The impulse to advance one’s interests by controlling others can probably be traced to our earliest so-called “primitive” ancestors. While male tribe members were off hunting for a gazelle, one bright young man might have figured out a less burdensome way of being provided for. “Why should I spend so much of my energy chasing a bunch of wild animals around in the hot sun, especially when the other guys are better hunters than I?,” he reasons. He then concocts the following scheme and presents it to his fellow tribesmen. “I am in contact with the gods who control the world in which we live. They can inform me of how best to capture gazelles, how to protect our tribe from the deadly ‘Nine Bows’ from across the river, and how to organize our tribe for our betterment. I can pass this information on to you, and if you obey what I tell you, our lives will be better.” In such primordial ways was politics invented, allowing the few to control the many.
Whether they are channeling the gods, translating nature’s secrets into scientific truths, envisioning the inexorable march of historic forces, or identifying causal connections so as to be able to plan for economic well-being, clever minds have conceived increasingly sophisticated ways of playing upon the fears and uncertainties of their neighbors in order to gain power over them. Such schemes depend upon keeping the subservient in a constant state of fear of the adverse consequences that will likely follow from their disobedience: there may be food shortages as the supply of game animals dwindles; the “Nine Bows” may sneak into our village at night and destroy our buildings; or deadly earthquakes, drouths, or great storms may occur if we do not live in accordance with the dictates of the gods.
While the details of the political power-game change, the underlying logic of the system remains basically intact. The tribal shaman with his collection of trinkets and magic smoke would fully understand the modern government bureaucrat’s use of licenses, rules, and other gimmicks to accomplish his ends. The more primitive shake-down shaman, with his alleged pipeline to the gods, has been replaced by the academically-trained PhD-“expert” with his computer projections, each psychic racketeer claiming the capacity to predict outcomes in a world that is forever chaotic and uncertain.
The concoction of fears of an intensity sufficient to sustain the obedience of the many ultimately depends upon the use of lies. For a primitive society, the lies have a simplicity and narrowness of reach that they may be accepted by tribesmen. But for a more complex society – wherein millions of people interact through a myriad of networks – the lies become an avalanche of conflicts and contradictions that insinuate themselves into every facet of human action. By virtue of this ubiquitousness, social discord, economic dislocations, wars, genocides, and other dehumanizing and dispiriting practices have become the norm of mankind’s present existence on earth.
Maintaining power over others requires a sufficient flexibility that allows political practitioners to respond to changed conditions. Urban renewal programs of the 1960s – through which the power hungry were able to tear down old inner-city housing – came under criticism by the 1970s. Suddenly the cause of conservancy, premised on the preservation of old buildings, became more important, and many of those who had promoted urban renewal became advocates of this new program for controlling cities. To this crowd, it didn’t matter whether old structures were to be destroyed or maintained: what was central to the elitists’ purposes was that they – not property owners – were to have the final decision in the matter.
One sees the same resiliency among so-called environmentalists: the threat of global cooling that drove the elitists in the 1970s, quickly morphed into the problem of global warming in the following decade. When it became evident that the earth had undergone numerous fluctuations in global temperatures over millennia, the imagined threat was transformed into climate change. But whether the planet is getting cooler, warmer, or just changing really doesn’t matter: the elitists will insist upon resolving the “problem” by controlling the lives and activities of all human beings. If it were ever suggested that the climate was in a condition of equilibrium, these elitists would come up with a “stimulus” program to have the state “get the planet going again.” We will be told that, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must submit to the authority of the environmentalists to manage the details of our lives, lest earth suffer the same lifeless fate as Mars!
As long as the lies are propagated and reinforced by persons respected by members of the general public – and such esteemed voices are always to be found within the halls of dominant institutions – any correspondence to truth is rarely questioned. As the falsehoods and exaggerations spread, so do the adverse consequences metastasize, bringing more disorder to which the power-elitists respond with more distortions and contradictions.
The specter of Hitler wanting to take over the world, became the ogre of communism that wanted to take over the world, and has since turned into the bogeyman of terrorists who want to take over the world. Like children at a “Frankenstein” movie, members of the boobeoisie keep purchasing tickets for the next show, believing that those in power have a magic bullet, a bag of garlic, or a scarecrow to ward off the monsters others have planted in their heads.
Those who demand coercive power over others must convince their intended subjects to do what no rational individual would ever think of doing, namely, subordinating the pursuit of his or her interests to someone else’s agenda. To overcome the insanity of making one’s own purposes – indeed, one’s life – inferior to the self-serving interests of the elitists, institutions have been empowered to condition minds in the virtue of obedience and self-sacrifice. Those who resist this campaign are labeled “selfish,” a word whose meaning, to the elitist, comes down to no more than this: “one who puts his greedy interests ahead of mine.”
Boobus is not to ask the “why?” question, for to do so is to invite “truth” into the political equation. Intelligent minds have long been aware that lies are the currency with which political systems transact their business. As with monetary systems, inflation of the supply of untruths accelerates the diminution in value of prevailing lies, as even the dullest minds become suspicious. In an effort to overcome these deleterious effects, further inflation occurs. Lies become increasingly fantastic, with the threshold of gullibility continuing to get elevated. Even some of the more respected members of the mainstream media and academia begin to see the wisdom of abandoning the sinking ship. A variant of Gresham’s Law arises, as runaway falseness leads increasing numbers of people to inform their minds with truthfulness.
But “truth” is to the power-seekers what industrial waste is to manufacturers: a form of entropy to be disposed of in the least-costly manner. That some of the more observant of one’s subjects might inadvertently stumble across the incongruity of a lie with the unforgiving harshness of the real world is unavoidable. But the effects of such an eventuality can be isolated by members of the philosopher-king class, whose expert training will make their explanations more palatable to those who have discovered the contradiction.
Far more troublesome to the elitist-class are the people who uncover and reveal to others the truth found behind the falsehoods. The lies, forgeries, exaggerations, provocateuring, and other distortions and misrepresentations of reality are understood to intelligent minds to be essential to corporate-state interests. If institutions are to be ends in themselves, individuals are expected to subordinate their purposes to those of the established order. But since the real-world functions in decentralized forms and practices, the idea that institutions are to have a pre-eminent, centralized importance in human behavior is a fiction that can only be maintained with distortions of truth. Those who say “I never believe anything the government tells me,” or “never accept anything as true until it has been officially denied,” help awaken their neighbors to the fundamentally dishonest nature of all political systems.
Those who reveal the lies upon which politics rest are an embarrassment to the elitists who scheme to control and consume others in service to their special interests. To those who insist upon the privileges of coercive power, the rest of humanity amounts to nothing more than “Soylent Green” raw materials to be converted to their narrow interests; resources to be kept as “contented cows” until their energies are sacrificed for the “greater good” of elitist interests. Government schools, the mainstream media, and corporate advertising are focused on such ends; conditioning minds in the necessity of maintaining the society as it is presently organized, and of being prepared to make major sacrifices to protect the interests of their rulers. The fabrication of the “terrorists” – the updated equivalent of the “Nine Bows” – helps to reinforce the sacrifice of self upon which political structuring depends. To reveal this alleged threat to be a lie is more easily dealt with by the statists who can – as was done with the imaginary “weapons of mass destruction” threat – treat the falsehood as no more than a failure of informational intelligence.
What the political order cannot abide, however, are the persons who reveal governmental policies and practices to be more than inadvertent statements generated by the uncertainties of a complex world, but as contrived intrigues; conspiracies contrived by the self-appointed ruling classes to maintain their power over all of mankind. Like the young boy who informed others of the emperor’s nakedness, the truth-tellers will not be allowed to upset the plans of the power-elite. When Rotary Club members begin to question the purposes of those who would rule humanity by violence, the system is in dire trouble. To discourage truth-telling is the reason Ed Snowden must seek sanctuary in Russia; why Julian Assange must hide out in an Ecuadorian embassy; why a great journalist like Glenn Greenwald has moved to Brazil; and why Bradley/Chelsea Manning was sentenced to thirty-five years in prison, a term far longer than those of any previous American government employees who had sold secrets to other governments or terrorist groups. A corrupt and utterly dishonest system cannot allow truth-seeking and truth-telling to prevail in a world run of, by, and for those who fancy themselves entitled to rule mankind.
The “whistle-blowers” provide evidence that the higher qualities of character, moral courage, and a commitment to truth – traits that offer a synonym for “integrity” – remain within the soul of mankind. These are the kinds of people Albert Jay Nock had in mind when he spoke of “the Remnant,” the men and women who will help to create social systems that serve all of mankind, not just the few who create and control the instruments of human destruction.
When men of character must go underground, hide out, or are imprisoned or threatened with death by the rulers, you can be assured that the society dominated by such brutishness is in its death throes. A system that insists on controlling others through increasing levels of systematic violence; that loots the many for the aggrandizement of the few; that regulates any expressions of human behavior that are not of service to the rulers; that presumes the power to wage wars against any nation of its choosing, a principle that got a number of men hanged at the Nuremberg trials; and finally, criminalizes those who would speak the truth to its victims, has no moral energy remaining with which to sustain itself. The treatment accorded private Manning may have been the final nail driven into the coffin of the American state. Those who pretend that the state serves any credible purpose on behalf of the well-being of mankind, will face the impossible task of demonstrating any such ends. When those who speak truth are imprisoned for doing so, there is no pretense of decency or worthwhileness left to the system.
Butler Shaffer [send him e-mail] teaches at the Southwestern University School of Law. He is the author of the newly-released In Restraint of Trade: The Business Campaign Against Competition, 1918–1938, Calculated Chaos: Institutional Threats to Peace and Human Survival, and Boundaries of Order. His latest book is The Wizards of Ozymandias.
Copyright © 2013 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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