THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 485, September 21, 2008
"The American Empire, like all empires, is about to end."
The Butterfly (Cause and) Effect
Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise
Of course I haven't the slightest scintilla of an idea what any of them big words in the subtitle mean, but lots of people are impressed by big words, especially a friend of mine at work (Hi, Chev!) so I thought I'd use some. Anyway, there is a lot of talk lately, and even a really crummy movie, about what is called "the butterfly effect". As near as somebody as dumb as I am can figure it, it means that if a butterfly in the Azores lets loose a fart, said flatulence can eventually cause a typhoon in the Philippines. Talk about "breaking wind", eh.
The point is that things are inter-related, and often in ways and with effects that the average Joe might not foresee. Or even notice. Even afterwards.
Things are happening whether we notice them or not however, and to understand how one event or change will affect a larger system we have to look at that whole system (which in my day us simpletons simply called "the big picture"), and we have to accept that this big picture can be changed in big ways by even small alterations.
Why I raise such an uncharacteristically philosophical point is this: many of my dearest friends argue against Liberty and in favour of statism as follows: "But in a libertarian society, how would we have roads?" and "But in an anarchy, how would we deal with a bully?" and "But if the state didn't tell us when to wipe our arses, how would we know when to do so?" et cetera. The unstated but omnipresent presumption is this: any change to the status quo of totalitarian statism would happen in a vacuum, and everything else would continue to (mal)function exactly as it had before. This is a false presumption and a real dumb idea.
Heck, us rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth libertarians don't even advocate changing only one aspect of the oppressively regimented State in the first place, but even if we did, the effects of even one significant change in The Way Things Are Always Done could have widespread, unpredictable, unforeseen, surprising effects. In fact, changes always do.
Everything is connected. When I taught school I frequently reminded my students that there was no such thing as "getting off the subject" when we were learning, because there is only one subject and that is Life In The Universe. One of the many big problems with the government schools is that they treat knowledge as a series of static "subjects", each in isolation from the rest of The Big Picture. This makes it easier to push the "shit just happens" theory of which the State's schools are so enamored.
So a change in say, the way communities contract road-building just might result in open bidding and requiring contractors to complete projects on schedule and to budget. Paying for the highways with user fees could eliminate a lot of false taxation fattening up the "general revenue" government slush funds, too. You can't tell.
The disbanding of the militarised Taser-happy goon forces which run amok in our cities could possibly cause communities to look after their own security, and to do it in entirely new and different and better ways. Having to maintain and police our own neighbourhoods without government coercion could set off a chain of responsibility which could result in more responsible behaviour in general! Who knows?
What frightens otherwise intelligent people so much about every suggestion of a reduction in government is that it portends The End of Certainty and the guaranteed "security" of The Taser State. It means that individuals and societies would have to take responsibility for their own lives. It means endless decisions to be made. And it means that We Won't Know For Sure What Will Happen Next.
The God damned state, on the other hand, always guarantees the future. We will win quickly in Iraq. The Iraq war will pay for itself. Success in Afghanistan is just around the corner. The War On Terra will have to be waged forever. The economy is fine. You don't have to worry about crime; you just have to always be "compliant" and we'll take care of you. You don't have to worry about foreigners terrorising and murdering you at the airports; the TSA will do it instead. You don't have to worry about what to think; just turn on the television.
Really, statism is a good deal for those who are too cowardly and/or lazy to govern themselves and to risk the uncertain effects on society of the dreaded twin plagues of...
Peace and Liberty.