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27


THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 27, May 1, 1997

Kick The Habit!

By Victor Milan
vicmilan@ix.netcom.com

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 governed.
         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 protecting.
         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 Congress.
         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 mirrors.
         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 conceive.
         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 from TSR.


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