Kick The Habit!
By Victor Milan
Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise
There's no mystery why people institute government: in order to
derive unearned benefit from the lives and labors of others, of
course. To question the why of this is as goofy as pondering why
criminals outside of government steal.
The Big Question is why people all but inevitably agree to be
I say: habit.
Too simple? I don't think so. We're pattern-loving creatures. As
a recovering asthmatic, I can tell you that a severe spasm is liable
to persist until actively broken.
We're all taught a conventional explanation for why we put up
with governance: "anarchy" is so awful that the people invariably
welcome those who confer the blessings of subservience upon them. One
standard-issue fairy tale runs that bands of robbers settled down --
presumably when they had accrued too much loot to carry readily away
-- and made compact with local peasants, whereby the peasants would
supply their needs in exchange for the first pack of marauders
protecting them against the depredations of subsequent thieves.
That, my friends, is a load of happy horseshit.
First, please notice, those of you clinging to authoritarianism,
that this widely-accepted scenario shoots the concept of "legitimate
authority" right in the back of the head. Unless one accepts the
notion that long usage somehow confers legitimacy; which would mean,
say, that it was fine for the Carthaginians to sacrifice children to
Moloch, because they did it for a while.
But the scenario itself is nonsense on a rocket sled. There's no
evidence anything of the sort has ever happened, anywhere. Sense,
observation, and a reading of history not colored by the
soul-purchased subservience to power characteristic of most
historians -- like other academics -- leads strongly to the
conclusion that what really happened was that said band of robbers,
immobilized by stolen wealth, squatted down and enslaved the
circumambient farmers. They then fought off other packs of
two-legged predators out of sheer self-interest, with no more thought
for the well-being of the slaves they were defending than a rancher
trying to ward off coyotes has for the suckling calves he's
The rancher does not chase away the coyotes and rustlers because
he loves his calves; he does it because he wants to eat them.
Similarly, governments are instituted for the benefit of the governed
to precisely the extent that stockyards are instituted for the
benefit of cattle.
The myth of external authority -- which is really what we're
talking here -- benefits any numbers of players, hence the
universality of its perpetuation. Even families: there have always
been parents shiftless enough to borrow the mantle of external
authority from government in order to exploit their children without
exerting any wearisome efforts to earn or maintain their respect;
even as today there are plenty willing to abdicate all parental
responsibility not just to our abusive "public schools" but to
The reason we keep getting government is we're taught to believe
it's necessary. We're in the habit. It doesn't actually provide
us anything except illusion, sulfurous smoke and cracked fly-specked
Yet even people who claim to be libertarian will utter gibberish
to the effect that "the only way to win liberty is through
governing." The only liberty to be won through governing is the
liberty to share in the plunder.
Government is theft and rape. Most libertarians have heard those
words, or concepts, so often that they don't hear them anymore, the
way most Americans shine on the words "give me liberty or give me
death" as mere vibrations of air, mantras if you will, not to be
taken seriously by reasonable folk. And yet government literally is
about those things, and it isn't about anything else. Nor can it ever
be. The urge to govern can be nothing more than the urge to enslave,
no matter how the possessor of that urge may deceive even him or
herself as to its true nature.
As long as most people accept the lie that government is
necessary and good, we'll have government. So long as we play
government games -- so long as we participate at all, we support
government. It is imperative that we give over fantasies of reform,
of making government "better;" of returning to some cloud-cuckoo land
of "constitutional" government. There are no limits we can impose on
government power and growth which those in government will not figure
out how to evade -- if, indeed, they haven't already figured how to
subvert or ignore any constraints the most resourceful of us can
There is no government we can build that will safeguard our
property or our freedom. Government is government. Government is
theft. Government is tyranny. We will change those things after we
change the Sun to cherry Jell-O.
Sometime in the next 20 years, technology will gift our rulers
with the choice of whether to unbreakably enslave us all with
self-replicating assemblers controlling all our brain functions in
real time, or to simply wipe out the bulk of humanity as superfluous
and annoying, and use their nanotechnology to supply all their
desires -- an ever-warring handful of sorcerer kings and queens.
We don't have forever to fart around with failures -- as manifest
and undeniable as the other side's Wars on Poverty and Drugs -- such
as "working within the system" and "limiting government," that
surrender all meaningful objectives before battle even begins.
Freedom can win. But the only way to do so is to kick the
ancient habit of faith in government.
We, the freedom movement, must be first to break the spasm. Or it
will most assuredly break us.
Prometheus Award-winner Victor Milan is the author of over 70 novels,
including the just-released CLD from AvoNova and War In Tethyr