This is an updated version of a previous post that I thought was a bit terse.  Let’s try it again.

Let me attempt to first discuss the characteristics of gov’t. I see four:

1) A monopoly on violence. A group of people who want to control or exert their wills on others is obtained by force over a given geographical area, call it a nation, province, state, or whatever. This group of people must eliminate all competition from other groups seeking the same control. There can be only one, or you have areas that look like Sierra Leone, where juntas are competing against each other to become the new government.  Whether they use fists, stones, spears, machine guns or nuclear weapons, to exert their force or implied threat of force, a monopoly of force is required at first. How that force is obtained (i.e. a military junta, a dictatorship, fascism, communism, aristocracy, plutocracy, democracy, or a republic) is an academic exercise. The requirement for control is basic.

Once that monopoly on violence (MoV) is obtained, I argue we still don’t have a government. We need the second point.

2) The sanction of the victim. I can think of no better phrase than to coin Ayn Rand’s phrase from Atlas Shrugged. People living under a military dictatorship will not produce willingly unless they consent. The economic construct is such that people will only produce if they are forced to. What do they produce? Whatever the monopoly on violence forces them to do and nothing more, other than squabbling for the essentials of food, water, and shelter. Normally, I would add safety, but if people were expected to produce only to have it confiscated by the ruling MoV, they would make no effort to improve productivity. This is why some areas under control of an MoV without sanction of the victim are so destitute. No one will produce very much under constant threat of having the fruits of their labour stolen.

Think of the difference between a prisoner and a slave. A prisoner is an economic liability whereas the slave is an economic asset to the owner. The variable here is the degree of submission. A prisoner is a prisoner because he refuses to submit. A slave submits instead of refusing to work at all for their owners. Now we can certainly make the case that a slave will do the bare minimum of work as directed in fear of receiving punishment, or have sustenance withheld, but they still submit. I read somewhere that during the slave trade era, there was a particular tribe that refused to submit at all. There resistance was so stoic, they would opt to die than to submit. Consequently, the slave traders stopped trying to capture members of that tribe or clan.

You cannot have economic output with prisoners if the prisoner refuses to submit. Once any degree of submission is obtained from the prisoner, they begin the transition from prisoner to slave. Certainly slaves would not look for productivity improvements in the task at hand to benefit their owners, but probably would to alleviate their workload.

3) Point of contact with government. This is the next requirement. Government secures agents to enforce their edicts. If they did not, the controlled would ignore them eventually. This happened in recent years (well, relatively recent) when the US was being colonized. They paid no tax to the King of England for 100 years. If government moved into the area, they simply moved further out west. What is interesting is, of the literature I read, they were a peaceful lot by in large. It was amazing how many of them became “criminals” when the State muscled in to try and collect tribute or confiscate the fruits of their labour via taxation.

You might want to reference these books:

The Not So Wild, Wild West: Property Rights on the Frontier

A review of this book: Far from being an anarchic free-for-all, the American West was a ferment of social innovation, a place where men and women strove to invent co-operative arrangements they could trust. Anderson and Hill powerfully undermine the pervasive idea that social order and property rights are imposed from above by the state, and reveal instead that they are usually achieved from below by free negotiation between individuals.” – Matt Ridley, Author of The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation and Nature via Nurture


Frontier Violence: Another Look by W. Eugene Hollon

4) Economic surplus. A group of non-productive people removed from the economy to rule over its constituents must be able to siphon off economic wealth to sustain them. This is not to say the political parasitic class isn’t busy; it is – devising ways to suppress you.

In closing, the State first obtained its power by exploiting our superstitions at first, believing their power descended from deity, a witch doctor, a cleric, (i.e. a King or Pope received their powers from divinity or other such nonsense).

The United States experiment began with the notion that this was poppycock, and the concept of representative government was formed. It was one of the first establishments of State that did NOT have its power connected to some sort of supernatural being, and instead thought of men as created equally, holding some rights as self-evident. It purported that a man had property rights and should keep the fruits of their labour. The benefit? The United States became the most productive wealthy nation ever known.  Too bad the State is hell-bent on destroying that.

I stagger to think what we have lost in terms of economic innovation and prosperity if we’d stop this foolishness of erecting the false requirement of needing the State.  Whose to say we wouldn’t have had teleporters by now?