In olden times, the size and scope of the state was necessarily limited due to the fact that individual productivity was low. Taxes had to be limited because each citizen had little to offer. The ruling king or dictator typically made the most of it by building several palaces and funding a limited bureaucracy consisting mainly of tax collectors and a few police and army officers. Over time those economic limitations were significantly lifted due, in part, to the free market.
The free market provided an environment in which entrepreneurs were able to create products and technologies that enabled a great increase in personal productivity. This increase in productivity allowed the state to skim “more off the top” thus enabling the growth of its bureaucracy and the creation of myriad pet programs, things that would have been previously impossible to accomplish when productivity was lower.
Unfortunately, the state has had access to the very same technologies that increased productivity in the private sector. Unlike the private sector that uses higher productivity to deliver goods with greater appeal to its choosy customers, the state uses its higher productivity to forcibly deliver “bads” with worse appeal to its hapless citizenry (“bads” is what Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe calls the output of the state’s “work”). Indeed, at no other time in history has the state been able to force its bads upon its citizenry with more efficiency and vigor.
We who live in the west see the effects today. Our governments have created thousands upon thousands of laws administered by millions of bureaucrats, regulators, inspectors and enforcers. Government programs take an unprecedented amount of wealth from individuals and businesses in order to fund enormous social and corporate welfare programs, military campaigns, space and spy programs, economic and financial interventions and any number of corrupt political boondoggles.
The state’s excess wealth-taking has allowed it to grow like a cancer where it now intrudes into most aspects of our communities, schools, hospitals, businesses, industries, private properties and recreation. Not only is the state intruding to ever increasing degrees, but it is attempting to transform our language, culture and traditional relationships (again, the delivery of “bads”).
For example, state legislators have embraced the Club of Rome’s/UN’s anti-human climate change agenda in order to reduce population and standards of living and to enable unprecedented micromanagement of everyone’s lives (after all, when the state controls a man’s energy usage, they can control most everything about him). Court scientists, like David Suzuki, have called for the jailing of anyone who disagrees with their “settled science”.
Governments have been eager to confiscate rural properties and put their owners in jail if they resist, even going so far as to charge them with terrorism related offences. Provincial politicians in Canada are attempting to subvert centuries of common law regarding trespass by making it legal for the public to stroll across private properties adjoining waterways. Next will be properties adjoining the ever-expanding list of government parks, and finally, no property owners will be left alone. In fact, the high courts of the land have already ruled that there is no longer any such thing as private property – we live on a plot of land at the discretion of the state and they can tell us what we can and cannot do while we are on it.
Adding to such travesties, the state’s well-funded, high-tech armies are being used to re-engineer the politics and economics of foreign lands, such as the Middle East (“Seven Countries in Five Years”). A side benefit for the state has been the resulting increase in terrorist attacks and mass migrations which have necessitated more central interventions and the crack-down on the freedoms of citizens. Furthermore, the state robs us of the ability to protect ourselves and our families against violent intruders and attackers by ensuring that only criminals, politicians and the police can effectively protect themselves with weapons.
Politicians have gone full-bore with implementing the Frankfurt School’s political correctness agenda and are attempting to severely pervert the traditional relationships between men, women and children. They are also attempting to pervert the children themselves. Of course, such a task is not so difficult because they run the educational system from start to finish. It should come as no surprise that perverts can rise to high levels inside the government educational system.
The state also robs us of our wealth and decreases our standards of living by centrally planning the economy, not only through micromanaging regulation but through its central bank that artificially sets interest rates and makes bankers immune to financial failure and prosecution for crimes. The resulting booms and busts are attributed to capitalists rather than the technocrats who pretend to have God-like competence in tweaking the “levers” of the financial system.
Canada’s government-run but taxpayer-funded medical system has been declared one of the most inefficient in the world by a past leader of the Canadian Medical Association. (In Britain, the government health care system actively euthanizes more than 100,000 old and very sick people each year.) But no politician is calling on the free market to set things right. Instead, they are putting the pedal to the metal by prosecuting doctors who demonstrate any sort of entrepreneurial ambition.
We are given the illusion that we are free as witnessed by the federal government’s recent “Canada Proud, Strong and Free” campaign. The reality is that it is the state that is proud, strong and free – not us.
How has this ever-expanding state machine been permitted to come about in western democracies? Should our elected representatives not have intervened long ago on our behalf to ensure that we common folks retained our pride, strength and freedom? Why have democracies failed completely in ensuring that our personal and traditional freedoms endure? It appears that democracy has turned out to be nothing more than a system to determine who will be responsible for pillaging our pocketbooks and regulating our lives even further.
Rather than stealing from a neighbor directly, something that might get a man injured or shot, it is much easier and safer for him to have the state do the stealing on his behalf. This way, if the victim of the theft objects or attempts to prevent the theft, the state can bring as much force to bear as is necessary to ensure compliance through threats of arrest, fines, imprisonment and, given sufficient resistance, even death.
For those who value individual freedom, the trends of the past one hundred years, and particularly those post 9/11, in democratic countries are of great concern. The negative impacts to our personal freedoms have been substantial. Given these trends, what is a freedom-minded man to do?
One method is to work towards taking over the government by winning an election. However, freedom-minded political parties have historically garnered only a small percentage of the vote – typically 1% to 2%. If freedom is so important, then shouldn’t the average citizen jump at the chance to be more free? Why would only one to two percent of voting individuals cast their ballot for parties that promise less government rather than more?
The definitive answer is provided in Dr. Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s sobering presentation “On Democracy, De-Civilization, and the Quest for a New Counterculture” (the transcript is available at Lewrockwell.com). In his presentation, Hoppe provides the definitive analysis which sets the tone for the future of freedom in democracies. He states that in the U.S.A. (and by extension other similar countries), “only 79 million people or about one third of the adult (above 18) US population of 260 million (or about 25 percent of the total population of 320 million) can be said to be financially wholly or largely independent of the State, whereas close to 70 percent of the US adult population and 57 percent of the total population are to be counted as State-dependents.”
So, there we have our answer. With 70% of the U.S. adult population dependent upon state handouts (and it is reasonable to assume that other democracies are at least as high a percentage, particularly Canada), the point of no return was passed some time ago. If a man is part of the 70% that is dependent upon the state stealing other men’s wealth, then there is no possible way that he will ever vote for a political party that promises to reduce the very theft that benefits him. Because of his dependence, the man will be necessarily willing to put up with whatever transgressions the state commits against him and other citizens.
Moreover, events in Greece prove that even when a democratic government succeeds in completely destroying the economy and the spirit of the people, the electorate will continue to vote for the very same politicians, state programs and failed interventions that resulted in the destruction of their society in the first place. They will never let go of the goodies promised to them by those who cannot deliver. In a democracy, therefore, the enemy of freedom is not primarily the state itself, but rather the vast numbers of state dependents who will continue to vote themselves more of other people’s stuff.
Is freedom finished? If we assume that our future is in a western democracy whose majority of the electorate will continue to vote for governments that promise more handouts, intrusions, property violations and corruption, then yes – it is finished. And there is little to no hope of a turnaround in our lifetimes or in those of generations to come.
However, if we assume that our future is in a western country whose freedom-minded and privately productive individuals are sufficiently determined to band together to lay their own foundation for a better future independent of the outcomes of political elections, then I would suggest it is not finished. Consider that approx. 1.5% of Canada’s 14 million voters voted for freedom-oriented parties in past elections – that amounts to 200,000 individuals. In the U.S.A. we can estimate at least 10x that number, or 2 million+ individuals. Is it not unreasonable to imagine a time that these individuals collectively and concretely work towards creating their own future independent of, and free from, the intrusions of the state?