ON THE VERGE OF VICTORY
- (Note: If judicial accountability is not of your interest please write "Remove" in header. Otherwise, place "subscribe" in header. We don't want you to receive unwanted mail.)ON THE VERGE OF VICTORYFrom an article by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.,
President of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.
Looking back at the history of political philosophy, only a few geniuses have bothered to think and write about the dynamics of state collapse.
Preeminently, in the 1550s, Etienne de la Boetie wrote Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, a tract emphasizing that "in order to have liberty nothing more is needed than to long for it."
This is because tyrants are "automatically defeated if the country refuses consent to its own enslavement: it is not necessary to deprive him of anything, but simply to give him nothing; there is no need that the country make an effort to do anything for itself provided it does nothing against itself. It is therefore the inhabitants themselves who permit, or, rather, bring about, their own subjection, since by ceasing to submit they would put an end to their servitude."
What did Boetie suggest that a subjugated people do? "I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces."
Behind Boetie¹s thinking was the assumption, later spelled out in great detail by David Hume, that states cannot rule by force alone. This is because the agents of government power are always outnumbered by those they rule. To insure compliance with their dictates, it is essential to convince the people that their servitude is somehow in their own interest. They do this by manufacturing ideological systems that seem to justify despotism, such as socialism (among a thousand other excuses). If a population comes to believe in one or another form of statism, their compliance with despotically coercive schemes is assured.
If, however, resistance develops and spreads among the subjugated people, the state must relent or step up its use of coercion and make examples out of the non-compliant. The risk of escalation is two fold: the forces of despotism may make martyrs of those singled out for malign treatment, and this can demoralize those within their own ranks who are squeamish about violating essential human rights. Once this dynamic of state collapse begins, it can be difficult to reverse, since further coercion only entrenches internal and external opposition.
What about our own country? How secure is the imperial rule of Washington, DC? The ideology that supports big government has been undermined at the intellectual level and it is increasingly rejected at the public level. What the commentators decry as public indifference to public affairs is actually a reflection of widespread revulsion at the character and actions of the political class. Lacking a coherent ideological structure for their rulemost of the available ones are leftovers from the New Deal/Cold War period of American history the political class flounders around demonizing civilian sectors that dare to resist its rule (e.g. Microsoft).
Polls consistently reveal that about one third of the American people fundamentally object to the political system as it currently exists and instead seek radical change. Even government officials themselves sense the deep lack of public support for their activities. They believe a fundamental disconnect separates them from the public. Washington, DC, has become an armed camp, not to protect itself against foreign attack, but to guard against citizen reprisal. The young and talented no longer aspire to political office or public service. Voters no longer have faith in the integrity of the system.
Most important for gauging our present historical moment, discontent is spreading within the rank-and-file of the nation¹s military. They are outraged at the politicization of promotions, disgusted by the wild-goose chases and murderous expeditions that the commander-in-chief has foisted on them, and no longer believe the patriotic cliches that once put a moral gloss on imperial globe-trotting. Those who can flee for civilian sectors do so, while potential recruits are loathe to sign their lives away to people they no longer trust.
Indeed, the dynamic of state collapse is already set in motion right here in the US. There's no point in making predictions about precisely when and how the process will end. All we know, based on every other occupying power in human history, is that the means and the shape of the restoration of liberty will surprise us all. At some point, the people will tell Caesar precisely what he is entitled to and claim the rest for themselves, while those in captivity will ask in bemusement: "What has happened? Where are the guards?"
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