You’re driving on a two-lane road and see cars headed your way. Do you drive off the road to protect yourself or your family? Probably not. You stay on your side, while they stay on theirs. In most cases you’re in a situation of mutually assured destruction if either one crosses the center line. It is not from the benevolence of the other drivers that we expect them to stay in their lane but from their regard to their own self-interest.
It’s self-interest, usually condemned as morally reprehensible but without being clearly articulated, that guides us throughout the days of our life. Self-interest, in a rational sense, is devoid of sacrifice, where “sacrifice” refers to surrendering higher values to lower ones. A value is that which one acts to acquire or defend. The mother who risks her life to save her kids from an active shooter is acting according to her values. So is the armed and trained cop who takes cover instead. The cop may want to intervene but fails to act. Neither is making a sacrifice.
In dealing with others there are incentives to act in ways that promote mutually agreeable outcomes. My grandson needs money, so I hire him to detail my car. I have clothes I no longer wear, so I give them to Goodwill. A church health spa needs a membership database and hires me to write one. At no point is anyone coerced. At no point does anyone part with their property involuntarily. At every point both sides of the transactions benefit. We are in an important sense governed without the state.
How does the state benefit our lives? How does it “establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”? In Murray Rothbard’s words, by providing “a legal, orderly, systematic channel for the predation of private property,” it sustains the lifeline of the parasitic caste in society, usually referred to as the government, in a “certain, secure, and relatively ‘peaceful’” manner.
We’re told from day one that peace, justice, and prosperity depend on this “government” and that in any case it is too powerful to abolish, so we need to learn how to reform it to get the results we want.
Historically, as numerous scholars have detailed, the state intruded on peaceful societies. Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense,
Could we take off the dark covering of antiquity and trace [kings] to their first rise, that we should find the first of them nothing better than the principal ruffian of some restless gang, whose savage manners or pre-eminence in subtlety obtained him the title of chief among plunderers; and who, by increasing in power and extending his depredations, overawed the quiet and defenseless to purchase their safety by frequent contributions.
And Albert Jay Nock argues at length in Our Enemy, the State: “The positive testimony of history is that the State invariably had its origin in conquest and confiscation. No primitive State known to history originated in any other manner.”
It’s hard to accept the gaslighting we’ve been subjected to about the necessity of state rule—especially today, as many states have undertaken a serious depopulation campaign, a less alarming term for mass murder (also here and here)—with the aim of global enslavement of whoever’s left under the Great Reset. Given that the state’s taxing and counterfeiting powers support only a favored few while bleeding the rest, it’s possible economic collapse will arrive before any reset, leaving societies in a state of near anarchy.
Statists have defined anarchy for us as “a state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority or other controlling systems.” Anarchy is disorder? As we’ve seen during the last few years especially, the state is the driver of disorder, forcing business closures, disrupting supply chains, lying about covid and vaccines thereby killing people and ruining the lives of medical professionals who protest, creating a stampede of immigrants on the southern border, curtailing the power of police to make petty theft and assault noncrimes, fostering a division between white people and everyone else, feeding a war in Ukraine that will either go nuclear or last until the money runs out, encouraging and exhibiting perversion in government schools, driving the cost of living to new heights with special pain reserved for those who depend on cars or are in the habit of buying food, and converting the legacy media to a Ministry of Truth.
The myth abounded that formal confederation was necessary to win the war, although the war would be virtually won by the time confederation was finally achieved. The war was fought and won by the states informally but effectively united in a Continental Congress; fundamental decisions, such as independence, had to be ratified by every state. There was no particular need for the formal trappings and permanent investing of a centralized government, even for victory in war. (my emphasis)
Thomas Paine saw firsthand the anarchy Rothbard describes and later wrote in Rights of Man,
Great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It has its origin in the principles of society and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished. The mutual dependence and reciprocal interest which man has upon man, and all the parts of civilised community upon each other, create that great chain of connection which holds it together. The landholder, the farmer, the manufacturer, the merchant, the tradesman, and every occupation, prospers by the aid which each receives from the other, and from the whole. Common interest regulates their concerns, and forms their law; and the laws which common usage ordains, have a greater influence than the laws of government. In fine, society performs for itself almost everything which is ascribed to government. (my emphasis)
I would scratch the word “almost.”