GOVERNMENT BY ANARCHY

June 10, 2010

GOVERNMENT BY ANARCHY
Just what is a nation? Is it the piece of land within some borders? Is it the people living therein? Or is it only the citizens therein? Is it the government of those people? What does citizenship mean?

I’m asking you to think from outside the box of the system we were all born into, and try to bring some insight into something so ingrained that we never really question it: the nature and purpose of government. I know that anarchy sounds scary, but anarchy is simply the absence of government. Thinking about anarchy could be a very powerful tool to understand government, and perhaps improve it.

From my perspective, government has always been an institution of power which enables some of us to use the rest of us, and to use the land, to their own benefit. A democracy or a republic is government which permits us some degree of choice of which bandits will “protect” us, just as the local mafia “protects” us. Democracy obliges politicians to offer us something in return for our votes. Usually we elect the ablest liars.

Conquest may clarify the relationship between people, land, and government. When we won the war with Mexico, the USA acquired what now comprises California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas. The inhabitants came with the land, and became Americans. They had no choice in the matter. So do the people own their land or does the land own the people? It seems from this example that the government owns both the land and the people. Wars are fought between governments to determine which government shall own the disputed land and people therein.

Do we really own the land we buy? I believe not. If government can tax us for “owning” the land, then the government really owns the land and we are paying rent to the government for the privilege of using it. When we “buy” the land we are really just paying the former “owner” for the transfer of the privilege of renting it from the government.

Who really owns the land becomes even more apparent when the government uses the power of eminent domain to take the property from you, compensating you with whatever amount it considers fair. That’s generous of government, since it really owns that land already, and you are just renting it. Government is just terminating your lease.

Income tax implies government ownership of people, and of what they produce. I have had the personal experience of having to file income tax returns for 2 different countries every year for several years.

From 1979 to 2000, I was resident in Scotland. Then I returned to the USA. I retained my US citizenship throughout that period, but was officially resident in Britain. During all that time, I had to file income tax returns for both countries.

The USA and Britain have a tax treaty agreement. The country of residence (Britain) at the time of the tax has first claim on my income. The country of my citizenship (The USA) has a second claim. If the American tax calculated on my whole income for the year exceeds whatever I have paid to Britain, I owe the USA the difference.

From this I deduce that, as a US citizen, the US owns me, and while I’m resident in Britain, the US shares that ownership of me with Britain.

Absolute proof that government owns us is the conscription of soldiers in time of war. The USA used conscription in the Civil War, WW1, and WW2.

So here’s my analysis; a nation is a territory with set borders. The land and the people therein are the property of the government. Wars are simply struggles between governments to secure ownership of the land and people.

A Libertarian/Anarchist Approach

As a libertarian, and a tentative anarchist, I find the power of government to be the big problem. With government, the government is sovereign and we are its servants. In the free market, the consumer is sovereign. He chooses those who serve him.

To view government from an anarchist or libertarian perspective, lets assume that government is here to provide some essential services for us, its citizens. How could we get the benefit of these services, but avoid the coercive monopoly of government?

Let’s see how a free market approach could provide these services. The free market prohibits coercion, and that eliminates monopoly. Suppose we have competing governments competing to provide us with their services. Such governments could offer services paid for by fee per service, or by subscription. You choose the government that offers the best value for money.

If you are disappointed with your choice, you can shop for a better deal from another government. Or you might get one service from one government and another service from some other government. There would be no room for politics, just competition. Competing governments would have to be efficient and honest to get and keep customers/subscribers/citizens. Government would be your servant, not your master.

The term “government” would hardly be appropriate in such a situation. “Service Provider” might better describe the new role of government.

Anarchist proposals are similar to this but they tend to designate these servants as insurance companies. Individual companies might specialize in one service such as education or roadways. Some might provide groups of related services such as police, courts & prisons. An insurance company might insure your life, safety, & property in conjunction with providing home security measures and police services. A free market in the services that governments provide would give us many choices. Competition would assure value for money. Wasteful bureaucracies would disappear.

Under competing governments, you and I might subscribe to different governments. In any transaction between us, we should agree in advance which government shall be given authority in case of a dispute. The Anarchists have this sort of problem worked out in some detail. Such arrangements would probably give us arbitration courts independent of the other services of government. The free market always produces solutions to problems with variations to suit everyone. I suggest you read “Chaos Theory”, by Robert P Murphy, ($8 from Mises Bookstore)

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