Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Art of NOT Being Governed: Civilization?

"If we examine the centripetal narrative of civilization closely, it is striking how much of the actual meaning of "being civilized" boils down to becoming a subject of the padi state."

Reactions by reflex: there is the state, or there is anarchy (in the wrong definition of the word); civilization requires state enforced rules; man living outside of the control of the state is a barbarian, uncivilized.

Yet are these true? Or is the opposite so? Consider: the state is the monopoly of legalized force over a given jurisdiction. How is living under such a system described as "civilized"? Some men have authority to force others to do as ordered, to pay as ordered, to ingest as ordered. With disobedience comes punishment, up to and including death.

Relationships defined by force is called civilization? How is this so? If your neighbor told you to trim your hedge or he will shoot you, would you describe him as civilized? If he said he didn't want to work and that you should pay his rent, or else he has the authority to put you in jail, with what term would you define your relationship? Civilization does not come to mind.

Voluntary relationships or forced relationships: if you observed two societies, one living through voluntary exchange and the other living through force, which would you call civilized? In which would you choose to live, if offered the choice?

There is nothing civilized about using force to get what one wants. There is everything civilized about a society where voluntary relationships define the society. I avoid for now the concern of "living in utopia, it will never work." This isn't my point. The issue is what we consider as civilized, and what we consider as barbaric. Without the state, society would collapse into lawlessness and crime. I argue that, in fact, lawlessness and crime define the very nature of the state.

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