Tag Archives: Trump

To Be Governed…

To be GOVERNED is to be kept in sight, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right, nor the wisdom, nor the virtue to do so…. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under the pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and, to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality. And to think that there are democrats among us who pretend that there is any good in government

— Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, John Beverly Robinson’s 1923 translation of Idée générale de la révolution au XIXe siècle

A well known quote in anarchist circles (in various translations), but more than that, a sentiment familiar to many in history with experience to know better than many people right now.

I worry about anyone naive enough, or brief enough in their momentary span of historical (and cultural and geographical) awareness, that they would believe one recent election could make all the difference. Only now does it perhaps begin to occur to them that political power was not centralized in the state just for their benefit. Only now do they look with any real suspicion at the exercise of it.

The institution of the state is not some new problem for people who have suffered under bureaucracy, or the whims of political leaders, or the systematic and recurring uses of power at their expense for the advantage of one agenda or special interest or another.

For example, the troubles of an immigrant coming to America certainly did not begin with the Trump administration, as many young protesters seem to think. It would doubtless surprise most of them to learn that the Obama administration deported more people than any other administration (and all others before 2000), and pushed other enforcement policies such as criminalization, internment, and border militarization.

The abuse of power concomitant with power itself is not a partisan problem but an institutional one. It’s noticing the evidence of the problem (or failing to notice, and rationalizing) that turns partisan, and biased according to party, faction, and animosity.

The original monopoly of “the state” or “government” (on which all other attempted monopolies depend) is that of an exclusive claim to legitimate force, to compulsion—a claim to deserve obedience but also the right to compel it. This remains the essential formula of a hierarchy of political power to this very day.

Those who believe they and their agenda rule, believe power is rendered fine and respectable as long as they rule, and only feel it is corrupted and dangerous when they lose power. It’s a strange alchemy, and a secular faith.

If only it would occur to more people that any state powerful enough to give them things they demand, or dream of—if indeed their wants and dreams can truly be delivered and sustained by demands on other people—has to be powerful enough to take away what they hold dear, also.

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The lure of accessible, short, relevant writing

… It sounds good, all right.

Briefly considered a return to writing internet articles today, which came to mind from reading a couple of excellent ones from Jeffrey Tucker. Sure, he reminded me what a sociopolitical article can do well if written skillfully: apply a familiar and important theory to current events.

Well, it’s a familiar theme to me, at least, that modern economies incorporate (ha) far more economic fascism (corporatism) than generally recognized, and that the threat of fascist rhetoric mobilizing a more dangerous form of politics still lurks in modern day, outside of meaningless usage of these terms for political points, like “islamofascism” or calling every politician you hate a fascist. The point is really that the article is able to bring this theme to new people, for whom it isn’t familiar from reading Thomas diLorenzo and other Misesians twenty years ago. But I digress.

Then I came to my senses. Or rather, I decided to get back to work on the gigantic work I chose to undertake properly five years ago. Opportunity cost is real and working time is scarce. I’ve already decided that trying for a magnum opus that dwarfs and might eclipse all my previous commitments to paper (or, webpages) is worth the cost of creation, and I should see it through.

The thing is, extended literature can’t be matched. Short articles worth reading almost always descend from that kind of primary, essential work. Would Tucker have written this without the likes of von Mises in his education? I doubt it.

This means that if you think you have a shot at writing a great work of philosophy, political thought, literature, psychology, or anything else that might eventually inspire others to generate, second-hand, good articles like this, I think you really should. It’s not easy at all to work your way into that position, and not easy at all to do the highest level of work, for years. It has nothing to do with instant gratification, certainly.

Nor do you get the satisfaction of personally joining the barricades of civilization and intellectualism versus prospective President (!) Donald Trump. But sixty or seventy years from now, it might be nice (I say, understating the point) if enough people could think for themselves that a repeat of this travesty became impossible.