Abstention is not Apathy

Abstention is not Apathy:
Must We Depend on Political Protection?

(With Apologies to Robert LeFevre)
by Alvin Lowi, Jr.

If an informed and conscientious democratic electorate patronizes only ‘good’ candidates for office in a monopoly institution of governmental power, will the politicians they elect thereafter dedicate themselves to looking after the people’s business in preference to their own?

Can politicians, however elected, actually do the people’s business for them through the institutions allegedly built for that purpose?

What’s to keep politicians from behaving opportunistically to make the most of what they find for themselves while in office?

If the politician’s government is found to be incapable of delivering its promised protections and benefits, how can the people peaceably recover their prerogatives from the coercive monopoly once they created it?

If political institutions fail to fulfill their promises, how can the people go about their business anyway as they must in order to survive and prosper?

If entrenched politicians are ignored, will they go away?

If the polls are boycotted, will despots succeed to rule?

These are frequently-asked and searching questions. They beg for answers. In the following exposition, these questions among others will be examined. Politics as it is known rather than it ‘ought’ to be will be explored in search of answers.

The author presumes the reader is as familiar with politics as he. Accordingly, the reader is advised to consider carefully the observations presented and come to his own conclusions.

1. Doing Something Versus Doing Nothing
2. Political Qualifications, Participation, and Consequences
3. Political Abstention and Consequences
4. An Alternate Form of Voting
5. Causes and Effects
6. Political Etiquette for Political Victims
7. Man Versus the State
8. Political Reform
9. What Can Be Done

Go on to the next page, Doing Something Versus Doing Nothing, or return to the introduction.

Alvin Lowi, Jr. is a writer based in California.

1. Doing Something Versus Doing Nothing

Typically, arguments for political participation assume humanity has no alternative for enjoying private life than to submit to the kind of public order brought about by political means. Most people are convinced that the community and society accouterments to their private lives are gifts from government. So the common idea of “doing something” to improve human circumstances almost always becomes a political initiative of some sort. More politics to obtain more government is supposed to be the remedy for “poor” government. The possibilities and practicalities of this approach are rarely questioned.

At the least, political action is upheld as a sort of self defense measure. Few question whether such a defense is really practical. Most overlook the fact that they delegated their right to self defense to the government when they last voted and they cannot nullify their delegation of power to the collective authority by continuing to vote. They fail to realize that they can have no real defense against an institution that is supposedly already looking after their self-defense needs based on a ‘superior’ notion of what that defense entails. Some Mexican skepticism (roughly translated from Spanish) puts the situation into perspective: “Since when do the chickens on the ground shit on the chickens that roost on the top?”

When human action is contemplated in a political context, non-political alternatives are seemingly invisible. No wonder, then, that politics is such an all-consuming preoccupation and political outcomes are always disappointing. However, as long a such attitudes prevail, the cycle of political disappointments and frenzied participations continues on into despair.

Many people believe that to ignore politics is tantamount to committing suicide or worse, like conceding future generations to bondage. That to abstain from political activity will bring them despotism instead of freedom, destitution instead of prosperity. However, such faith in political government flies in the face of the historical fact that political participation has never failed to bring about a monopoly of coercive power over the believers and non-believers, the living and the yet-to-be-born all alike, and that the only thing that saves them from being reduced to a condition of abject servitude is political incompetence. However, this is the only compensation they will get for their impoverishment because incompetence will have denied them any returns on their forced “investments” in government programs.

A political scholar once observed that coercive government always fails to work but government never fails to coerce. Historically, government has always been at the root of enslavement and poverty. So how is it that government expansion can still be expected to produce liberty and prosperity? Without ever considering this question, let alone waiting for an answer to it, people developed a belief in redemption by political means. Regardless of the contradictions, this belief has become a tenet of ‘civilized’ society.

Some believe so fervently in the propriety of political processes that they act out their belief zealously and condemn vociferously all who doubt or demur. Curiously, discussion of this contradiction in the folklore of politics is seldom heard in even in polite and sober company. Remarkably, it is a subject that remains even more taboo than sex. This observation strongly suggests that politics is actually a religion. The resemblance appears even stronger when one takes note of the rituals and incantations that come into play. For example, consider the spectacle of a president under impeachment and possible criminal indictment for perjury delivering a nationally televised state-of-the-union address containing over fifty thoroughly fascistic proposals to the cheers of his congressional audience.

Traditionally, political government is thought to be precedent to society because otherwise, it is argued, there is no way to establish an umbrella of law and order without which contrivance society is said to be impossible. Never mind clear evidence to the contrary.

Devotees of this tradition seek a certain fate in the conservation of familiar political institutions regardless of the absurdities and miseries that follow. They denounce all forms of nonconformity and they mistrust even the suggestion that there may be alternatives to monolithic government and a rigidified social structure. To them, change is abhorrent and should be resisted. They constantly reinvent politics as a means of coping with a world disinclined to conform to human preconceptions. In its most recent incarnation, politics has been referred to euphemistically as a means for the socialization of risk.

Politics does not actually mitigate the risks of living. Come what may, human life will remain an adventure. Politics can only spread the risks via coercive means and make them seem less pressing than they actually are. As a result, deception and impoverishment are spread along with risk thereby impairing people’s abilities to cope with their lives with their means at hand. Then, to the extent risk aversion remains a human preoccupation, political institutions stand ready to capitalize on the opportunity to apply more coercion and cause further impoverishment.

Unrealistic expectations of protection from risk combined with aversion to risk tends to paralyze people in dealing with their lives as best they can. They may neglect to use the means they have at hand and wait out their lives with false hopes of government coming to their rescue. Such apathy guarantees that the risks they face will be exacerbated and that politics will seize the opportunity to play the part of the redeemer with ever greater zeal, and so on ad nauseum.

Politics makes one thing certain if nothing else — coercion. For some, even that much certainty is better than no certainty at all, especially if they can be convinced that the coercion will be applied in the direction of their preferences for order and security. Then, the coercion would always seem to apply to anonymous others rather than themselves. Even when they encounter the harsh reality of the state, they will have been conditioned to believe that the pain experienced was for a “good” cause.

Politics bears a strong resemblance to messianic theology. Regardless of all the obvious problems associated with its practices, adherents remain steadfast in their belief that the savior is just around the next election.

It is often said that a rational man must enter the political fray to fight for freedom and truth, at least with his pen, else he abandons mankind to an ignominious fate at the mercy of thieves. It is generally assumed that the conscientious will also use their pens to mark up state-furnished ballots at election time and thereafter to sign petitions for a redress of their inevitable grievances.

Apathetic and cynical people reject direct participation in the political system because to them it seems that conscientious political activism achieves nothing. They are wrong, of course, but no less so than their active and optimistic counterparts who fervently believe to the contrary. From the point of view of the political participant, voting has about the same effect as a supplication to the deity. However, politicians see it differently. For them, it accomplishes precisely what they crave — legitimacy.

Neither the cynical nor the faithful seems to understand what politics is really about and politicians would like to keep it that way. Politicians naturally prefer, indeed require, a docile population in order to maintain their province. Such a state of affairs requires that people remain dutiful in their patronage, unrealistic in their expectations and ignorant of their part in maintaining the political establishment.

But ignorance is bliss only for cows, and politics may be said to work only in the sense that cattle ranching works. The parallel is uncanny. The hallmarks of successful political institutions are likewise custodial, regimentary, exploitive and extractive. Such purported benefits of the state as education, defense, welfare, security, transportation, justice and welfare are merely fanciful expectations.

Humans are free agents who need to know that it is their broad and active indulgence in the political system that, perhaps inadvertently, provides the essential sanction of a process, the sole purpose of which is to subject them to conquest like cattle. When they find they are being treated as cattle rather than free men, they should realize how their diminished status is a consequence of their having become cow-like in their approach to politics. Queuing up at the polls at election time bears a strong resemblance to a gathering of the herd at a dip trench at branding time.

It is important for people to understand the meaning and consequences of political voting. They also need to know the reasons and consequences of abstention from such voting. The future of civilization depends on such understanding.

Can such knowledge be any less important than truth in advertising? What if a ballot was emblazoned with a caption warning the user that the consequences of dropping it into the ballot box can be harmful to ones health and safety?

2. Political Qualifications, Participation, and Consequences

Every mature person alive has some social experience. In all likelihood, he has had some contact with the political institutions popularly known as government. Such experience will have produced knowledge of government that is just as valid if not as sophisticated as anyone else’s inasmuch as all knowledge of the world, limited though it may be, is equally valid. As a result, every adult of whatever age can be regarded as equipped and prepared to some degree to render judgments on political affairs. Since, by nature, none of humanity is disqualified (or more properly, perhaps, all “sane” persons are equally qualified) to participate in politics, it seems there is no rational basis for denying any person the right to vote on issues coming within the province of government.

Participation by the subjects in the affairs of their government was instituted for the first time in the modern era following the American Revolution. The essence of the American Revolution was the recognition that all “men” had equal moral standing under the sun. Although this idea was not new to philosophers, it remained for the sojourners in North America to discover its reality, demonstrate its practicality and thereby popularize its value. Such recognition was instrumental in breaking the back of earlier divine-right rule and other primitive despotisms. During the interregnum — the temporary absence of political paternalism in the lives of Americans — free market phenomena grew and spread. So it was not participatory government but the absence of government regimentation that was responsible for enlightening the world as to the possibilities for real democracy. However, in spite of this progressive development, the participatory political government that followed the American Revolution retained many of the reactionary features of the earlier despotisms. This result should be a matter of great curiosity.

Popular voting is the distinguishing feature of any participatory government. Voting signifies that an election is taking place in which votes are cast and tallied for one or another proposition offered on a ballot prepared by the government. Although the ballots used in such elections are free for the taking, the taker must have proven himself qualified by citizenship. It is otherwise for the propositions. They appear on the ballots at great expense to their sponsors who pay the government for the privilege of entering the game. In this sense, the ballot box is like a toll booth and the tolls collected by the government are the price of admission charged those who want to play the game. The voters are incidental kibitzers in the game at hand, not realizing that it is their lives and fortunes that are the real stakes of the game. Like all games, the winners take all, but in the game of politics, the contest is for control of a monopoly of power over all people within the jurisdiction.

For all voters to have chosen to participate in politics on the basis that the winner takes all, not merely the table stakes, they would have entered that arena with the same expectation as a poker player prepared to bet his life on that game of chance. But politics is not merely a poker game nor is the poker player a realistic model for all voters. Moreover, politics ensures that the odds overwhelmingly favor the “house.”

Political elections are comparatively rare. They occur only when called by the government. Then, the tally is strictly a nose-counting exercise. Regarding the possible significance of the count, Jonathan Swift observed more than three hundred years ago that “some people have no better idea of determining right from wrong than by counting noses.”

However, it appears that political voting has come to mean something much more sinister, if possible. The vote now represents a sanction of authority empowering some persons to rule not only the voter himself but all others as well, and for an indefinite time to come. By participating in political voting, the individual person abandons not only his hereditary sovereignty over himself but he also obligates his descendants to do likewise. In the process, the sovereign rights of all individuals within a given domain are transferred to a hegemonic collective known as “the state.” In return for this favor, the political voter expects to receive from the state all the rights and privileges of “citizenship” in an immortal, corporate nation, whatever those perquisites might be. Thereafter, only the collective has any “rights,” which it proceeds to exercise in mimicry of a hypothetical individual human being imagined to be benevolent, omnipotent, omniscient and immortal. The state then designates which specific “rights” it will recognize as deserving a remedy pursuant from the power of the state. Such remedies individuals might obtain if transgressed by anyone other than the state itself.

The only justice offered by the state is access to procedures promulgated by it, which are called “due process of law.” Since access to this process is prohibitively expensive for most people, such “justice” is largely rhetorical. If the state happens to be the infringer, there is not even rhetorical justice.

Citizenship is widely perceived to be a bargain because most people are oblivious to the price they are paying for it. That the price could be exorbitant is rarely recognized. At what cost does one compromise his humanity and join the ranks of the political animals? Prior to joining up with the other political participants, a person is nakedly inclined toward fair play with his fellows as a means of survival and improvement in the world. Afterward, his sense of fairness is shaped by peer pressures to remain loyal to the membership, whatever it stands for. Then, he finds himself in conflict with the group when he attempts to pursue his own goals, which he is bound by nature to do to the best of his ability. To trade one’s integrity as a human being for a life of conflict and hypocrisy would not seem such a good bargain.

Since all voters have equal authority in the political arena (none), elections have become accepted as “democratic;” etymologically, “rule of the people.” Curiously, this process does not facilitate the people to rule themselves. It only enables them to participate in a ritual that facilitates the imposition of rule by an institution masquerading under the name of “the people.”

Mathematicians have long been concerned with the problem of how any system of voting can actually measure the “will of the people.” Under a pluralistic regime, even the more narrow “will of the majority” is a questionable outcome of elections. Kenneth Arrow won a Nobel Prize in mathematics in 1951 for his proof that perfect political democracy is impossible and that no so-called democratic voting system can be completely “fair” under the condition that the winner take all. Regardless of Arrow’s brilliance or the strength of his mathematics, his conclusion seems obvious. Because, no matter what system of voting is used (and many are possible), as long as the purpose of elections is to determine a monopoly of authority, no amount of political shenanigans can remedy the defect in fairness due to the summary dismissal of the minor number of votes for the alternative(s). As one sage has observed, “no matter who gets elected, ‘the government’ always gets in.” Apparently, the Nobel Committee was oblivious to this fact.

To the extent an effective choice for all participants is a criterion of fairness, political voting will never be fair until it can not only accommodate but implement a diversity of choices in the outcome of elections. This means that politics, to be “fair,” would have to embrace competing authorities, which is inconceivable as long as politics stands as presently constituted. On the other hand, “competing authorities” is precisely the outcome of economic voting in the marketplace (see below). There, winners do not take all. They only make profit. In the unfettered marketplace, all competitors may win to some degree. (The author is aware that his reference to free-market behavior at this point in a discussion of politics will appear to some as a non sequitur. This only goes to show the difficulty of dealing with fundamental social questions in the face of conventional wisdom.)

Since by nature, everyone’s political knowledge is equally valid, any person is as qualified to vote as anyone else. Thus, for whatever it’s worth, there can be no argument with universal suffrage. However, regardless of a consensus of diverse and possibly enlightened voters, human history provides a weight of evidence against the possibility that even the most sophisticated and skillful among us is competent to rule his fellows, let alone pick someone else who can.

Clearly, if human judgment in such matters is fallible, there is no way a consensus of such judgments can be any less infallible. To the contrary, a consensus can only be formed on the basis of the lowest common denominator, i.e., the least competent judgment. Accordingly, the thoughtful person would be entirely justified if he shunned all such elections. He would not waste his vote and the sanction that goes with it on empty nose-counting rituals, realizing his participation would be a perverse form of adult amusement.

A famous cynic, George Bernard Shaw, once explained the presumed infallibility of the political voting process as follows:

“The majority is always right. They never fail to elect superior people to office. Because, no matter how stupid or perverse the person elected, the majority was always the stupider and more perverse for having done so.”

Cynical but true, Shaw’s critique of political voting exposes the leveling effect of the process. Since a majority cannot be formed at a higher level of intelligence than that possessed by those elected to office to represent them, many of the participants will have settled for a lower standard of judgment than they normally use in their own everyday lives. By conceding to the lowest common denominator of the electorate — a level of intelligence just below that of the elected — the majority cannot possibly enlighten those chosen to rule them. Such is the nature of a majority. How else could it form? The result may be heart-warming for egalitarians with an inferiority complex but it does no justice to the prospects for human achievement. Adolph Hitler was right about one thing: “If you wish the sympathy of broad masses, then you must tell them the crudest and most stupid things.” How a minority, reaching majority, seizing authority, hates a minority!

Politicians are fond of citing public opinion as the basis for their authority. This they claim to know by virtue of their elected position. Actually, scarcely anything could be farther from the truth because the political process of election will have deprived them of any access to such knowledge, whatever it might mean, if anything.

While the voters may be equally qualified to respond to the polls and cast ballots, serious questions arise in the process of election. At the outset, all the ballots are alike as befits universal suffrage. When voters go to the polls, they take along all their delusions but leave their sense of humor at home. Then, each one proceeds to deface a uniform ballot with marks presumed to represent all his choices. However, unless the ballot provides for the complete universe of alternatives (e.g. “none of the above,” “fill in the blank”, “for or against”, “no for President”, etc.), the voter will be unable to express a valid choice because his choices are among false alternatives and are therefore corrupted. As a result, he, along with all the other voters, participates in a violation of classical logic called “excluding the middle.” Thus, the voters’ choices are defective such that the results of elections are something other than what was intended or what was generally believed to be happening regardless of all contrary illusions.

Notwithstanding the universal qualifications of people to express political choices and otherwise rule themselves, there is no evidence that they or anyone else is competent to rule over others. Regardless of presumptions of superiority by virtue of status, race, birthplace, circumstance, etc., what really happens in an election is little more than a poll to select one set of officials from among the contenders, all of whom must have sufficient chutzpah to try to rule. Thus, participation in the vote may signify less a political choice than an allegiance to an atavistic bias and/or a concession to an unreasoned civic duty based on the perception that some among the candidates will inevitably succeed to rulership anyway. After all, somebody has to rule, doesn’t he? Yes, but who and over what? (Look in the mirror to find the answer.)

Presumably, most voters are resigned to accept the outcome of political elections regardless of their real choice or preference in the matter. There is even some compelling evidence that many believe their vote obligates them to obey whatever outcome as a matter of fairness to their fellow sufferers. Oblivious to logic, this is no choice worthy of the name. No doubt for some, political “choices” are like those made by a horseplayer to pick a winner. However, for most participants, it is merely a ritual designed to demonstrate allegiance to a system that offers those contending an opportunity to rule their fellows. The actual selections are incidental. The winner is doomed to failure and disgrace because he succeeds to an impossible task. So in the limit, there are no winners in politics.

A world-famous politician experienced in such so-called democratic government was England’s war-time ruler Winston Churchill. In a rare moment of candor, he conceded such government is bad government. But Churchill cleverly let himself off the hook by insisting that as bad as is political democracy, no better government is possible. Clearly, Churchill was either ignorant of the alternatives or determined to conceal them. Take your pick but history supports the latter case. In terms of sheer demagoguery, Churchill was almost as capable as his arch enemy Adolph Hitler.

Beyond the questions of rationality that are raised in the practice of political government, there are serious questions of legitimacy. Specifically, who, if anyone, is entitled to lay down the law and what, if anything, qualifies as legal subject matter?

Consider the meaning of the sanction represented by the outcome of elections. If the voter has no authority to rule over any other person but himself, how then can he authorize someone else to do it for him? There being no rational basis for such empowerment, government that is formed and maintained by such a defective consensus appears to be a blatant usurpation of power. Its legitimacy is a pure illusion maintained by the mystique of majority rule and other equally outrageous fictions.

It is rare indeed for a political candidate to put his own money where his mouth is. Should such a qualification apply to candidacy, it is doubtful anyone would run for office. Consider the consequences of electing officeholders lacking adequate resources of their own to engage in such an unproductive pastime. To elect someone who offers no explicit commitment backed up by credible evidence to apply whatever is in his estate to finance his bid to rule is to also sanction him to take (i.e. appropriate) from those who would be under his jurisdiction to finance his rule as well as himself. Such “taking” is regarded in Anglo-Saxon common law as grand larceny. Political processes seek to remove this stigma while maintaining the practice.

Were a consensus on the specifics of “taking” to have precedence in any particular succession to rule, not only it is doubtful that anyone would run but none might ever get elected to political office. Given such a choice, people would realize they could be putting their personal estates and their existing community at risk for an uncertain benefit. Under those circumstances, the only remaining participants would be clearly identified as those who have nothing to lose or who expect to receive services without rendering any.

3. Political Abstention and Consequences

Abstention from political participation is nothing more than a boycott of the polls where sanctions are gathered. Abstention implies neither apathy with respect to political ambition nor resignation to inevitable political usurpation. Abstention from politics implies nothing whatsoever about politics or any underlying ideology. It simply declares disdain for political procedures and nothing more.

Abstention from political participation constitutes a de facto expression of skepticism regarding the legitimacy of political processes and institutions. Such skepticism empowers more general and acute forms of scrutiny and criticism of political power without which human life would be forever subordinated to the whims of a political elite. The abstainer demonstrates the only valid choice available in politics — to vote or not to vote.

While he has no duty to do so, the knowledgeable non-voter will find it to be in his interest to explain his approach to government to the sincerely curious within earshot. It is not important for him to tell the politicians. They already know all the reasons why people should turn out and vote, if not for them, at least for the process that enables them or their fellow contenders for office to rule other people. Indeed, politicians would have their fellow man believe it is their duty to support the monopoly of their choice.

Voters may rejoice in exercising a ritualized privilege to choose among false alternatives. They manifest a kind of “citizens pride” that is attributable to a privilege that was once quite exclusive. Nowadays, however, voting is such a universal prerogative that it could hardly qualify as a privilege. Curiously, even as they do participate, sometimes eagerly, voters remain oblivious to the fact that the habit never fails to bring them pain and suffering. This situation would be analogous to that of an alcoholic who denies the cause of his hangover except that the effects of his intoxication will have been propagated to non-imbibing others.

Non-voters do not escape similar travails of pain and suffering at the hands of political government merely by not voting. Unfortunately, they do not escape gang violence by merely remaining aloof from the follies of their fellows. But having dispensed with the ritual, they can at least enjoy a vast simplification in their lives while saving themselves time to devote to the chores of self-government that remain with them come what may and which they can never delegate. They also gain time to devote to other more productive activities while sparing themselves the frustration of trying to make an unworkable system of governance work. In the process, they will discover that “time” is indeed their most precious asset.

Non-voters will have equipped themselves to realize significant satisfaction from explaining their reasons for not voting if they know how. If they don’t know the reasons well enough to articulate them in support of their conviction, they will soon have good reason to learn because human misery loves company and the politically faithful will demand an accounting from the non-voters for their seemingly unfair advantage.

Experience has shown that outspoken skepticism of political methods and means can improve one’s personal relationships. Such skepticism can also have a wholesome influence on his peers to exercise the essential skepticism that is required to keep politics in check and, in the limit, eventually to supersede it with ordinary and normal volitional human activity. But it also shows that the political establishment is virtually impervious to criticism from individuals.

To communicate one’s disdain for politics to newspaper editors, columnists, academics and politicians is a highly challenging enterprise. This is true no matter the dignity or eloquence of the expression and regardless of the correspondent’s voter registration status. Few have been better positioned and talented for political criticism than Henry Mencken (1880-1956), long-time Editor of the Baltimore Sun. Mencken tried for many years without significant influence even though his critique was undeniable as follows:

“Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule — and both commonly succeed, and are right. Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage. Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses.”

“The United States has never developed an aristocracy really disinterested or an intelligentsia really intelligent. Its history is simply a record of vacillations between two gangs of frauds. A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker. A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.”

“It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office. Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under. It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.”

“A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier. Freedom of press is limited to those who own one.”

Because of a blatant conflict of interest, it is unlikely that any private criticism of the political system made public will make any specific history in this arena. Official political ambition seems oblivious to either censure or quiet resignation. The media serves itself by supporting the political powers that operate the circus that provides the divertissements comprising its contents with little effort on its part. Likewise, academia does not risk biting the hand that feeds it.

The political establishment and its coterie of sycophants is apparently too arrogant and sequestered to pay much heed to any individual criticism or complaint from outside the inner circle. Clearly, registering and voting does not make one an insider. It only makes one a conformist to be taken for granted one way or the other because any voting record is likely to be considered tainted with some sort of partisan or ideological bias while providing prima facie evidence of loyalty to the process. On the other hand, the sheer novelty of the articulate non-voter’s position may elicit some curiosity on occasion, which may prove to be helpful in getting some media attention that is attractive to the curious.

Disdain of politics is the essence of the American Revolution. Therefore, political abstention is the only approach that keeps faith with it.

It would be the height of naiveté to advocate abstention from political participation as a measure capable of “killing” political institutions once established. That is something those institutions will do to themselves in the absence of any ‘help’ from the subjects. In this respect, politics is like cancer. It requires a host to survive. Politicians are more mindful of this than their hosts. Therefore, they will want their hosts to survive in order that they can. A slave is a political burden. A dead slave is the more so. So the apocalyptic theory of political activism, namely that politicians left unchecked will destroy the earth to achieve their goals, is poorly supported. Such an outcome from politics would have to be considered a blunder. That humanity has been spared a nuclear holocaust so far is evidence that politicians are not so stupid after all. They are self-interested like everyone else.

There is no hope of a lethal sentence on politics as long as humanity is what it is, a willing host. Neither is there any such thing as magic bullet or even a poisoned pen. There may be, however, some rules of etiquette regarding hospitality toward politicians and their schemes which may prove to have value as an antisepsis. What is called for is a political equivalent of Joseph Lister’s method of preventing physician-induced infections, something like a political analog of a carbolic acid wash-down. Until that discovery is made, some clever science fiction along these lines might prove helpful, especially if it can show plausible means for withdrawing hospitality to politics without inviting a hostage-taking home-invasion robbery.

While abstention from political participation is admittedly no “cure” for political afflictions, it can weaken the ostensible legitimacy of the various political contrivances thereby making their human operators more circumspect and less bold. Even if none of the non-voters ever express their reasons for abandoning the polls, the politicians must wonder that those non-voters may yet show up at the polls to protest and even turn them out of office.

Protest or no protest, no matter what dissidents may do, the politicians may very well live out their lives on generous public pensions. So be it. It could be worse, if that’s any consolation. Benjamin Franklin advised an angry taxpayer: “Just be glad you don’t get all the government you pay for.” At the time, national government under the young Republic had little or no dealings with its citizens consistent with the still novel Constitution. Franklin already knew the constitutional limitations on the Republic were fragile. He predicted the impending French Revolution would be no answer to political despotism but he did not live long enough to know how right he was. But he knew militia movements of any kind would only strengthen the hold of political institutions and add their own brand of misery to the status quo.

4. An Alternative Form of Voting

In the marketplace, voting can express only positive choices using money as the ballot. Anyone who has previously earned and holds money, or has established credit for such an achievement, can participate in the selection of providers of goods and services. No other qualification is necessary and the voter (customer) is free to cast any number of such votes as he possesses as often as he likes. His money ballots are also impersonal and anonymous. As they say, money has no smell.

Democracy is readily recognized in the operation of free-markets wherein economic voting ( purchasing ) determines who will be more or less successful. Ideally and to a large degree in practice, such plebiscitary proceedings never exclude any competitors nor limit any choices or preferences. Everyone’s money-ballot is equally valid. Whether green or colorless, these ballots are all alike in the sense that they represent promises to deliver value for value. There are no gerrymandered districts, no privileges of race, religion or citizenship and no status or seniority. Everyone is qualified to vote and to run. There is no such thing as registration. No declaration of party affiliation is required for admission to participation. The election process is continuous and there are no terms of office. Tenure has to be earned every day. Incumbency is alien, legislation nonexistent. No quorum is necessary and a consensus means nothing more nor less than the sum of individual consents impersonalized by a universal medium of exchange (money). The customer is king. Who’s that? Everybody!

Adam Smith characterized this phenomenon thus: “In the obvious and simple system of natural liberty, the labors of individuals would be led by an invisible hand to contribute to the common good” (from An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1776). While his publication was too late to benefit the founders and subsequent subjects of the United States as a political entity, Smith’s insights are still highly informative and relevant guides to present society. Nobel Laureate Friedrich A. Hayek recently noted Smith’s perspicacity in the summary of his last published book (Denationalization of Money-The Argument Refined, Third Edition, Institute of Economic Affairs, London, 1990):

“In a world governed by pressures of organized interests, we cannot count on benevolence, intelligence or understanding but only on sheer self-interest to give us the institutions we want. The insight and wisdom of Adam Smith stand today.”

5. Causes and Effects

Political science has discovered how monopoly government can be made less despotic, but it has yet to show how such government can ever be made humane. Is monopoly political government somehow different if there is a plurality of political parties promoting broad participation in the electoral process in their contention for control?

A contemporary exponent of American government (T. J. Lowi, “Incomplete Conquest: Governing America,” Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981) makes it clear that monopoly political government — and there is no other kind by definition — is bent on conquest regardless of party contention. But he shows that the contentions of factions notwithstanding their corrupting influences in the political process render completion of the conquest somewhat less likely.

As this theory goes, participation is an instrument of conquest because it encourages people to give their consent to being governed by the state. Stemming from a sense of fair play deeply embedded in the human psyche, people generally obey the principle that those who play the game accept the outcome. Those who participate in politics are no less committed even if they are consistently on the losing side. Therefore, to no ones surprise, politicians plead with everyone to get out and vote because voting is the simplest and easiest form of participation by masses of people. Even though it is minimal participation, it is sufficient to commit all voters to being governed, regardless of who wins.

This scheme of politics is remarkably ingenious in the way it exploits the natural inclination of humans toward fair play, loyalty and cooperation in process of subjecting them to conquest. This kind of subjugation of the masses is no recent discovery. Etienne de la Boetie described this phenomenon as “Voluntary Servitude” over two hundred years ago, well before the mystique of majority rule became the subliminal message in sophisticated, saturation propaganda campaigns instrumented by a mass communication media.

However, the ingenuity of politics is not limited to concealing the presence of the gun that backs the conqueror. It cleverly inculcates a desire for more of the same thereby perpetuating the process. So it appears that, regardless of all the political checks and balances that have been devised to thwart despotism, politics remains a high-stakes game in which the winner takes all and the devil takes the hindmost.

La Boetie found it curious that political losers could so far outnumber political winners and yet remain victims seemingly indefinitely. This he could not explain in terms of simple cowardice. There had to be another explanation. It would remain for Twentieth Century experience with media hype of omnipotent government to reveal the massive deceptions involved.

But life is not a game. It is a process in which gains and losses need not balance. In real life, all may win though not necessarily to the same degree. Clearly, politics is not coextensive with human life although this would be difficult to discern by reading the newspapers.

Notwithstanding its popular appeal and commanding presence in human affairs, politics can offer no more than a temporary sanctuary from reality for some people at the expense of all others. Politics gives the superficial appearance of man succeeding to conquest over nature and then it celebrates the illusion. This fanciful notion can be entertaining and diverting from more pressing matters. But the fact remains that politics is irrelevant to living in harmony with nature because it forsakes the prerequisites for the practice of scientific method which is the only way humans can keep in touch with reality. Politics claims to be the art of the possible when it is actually only the art of the expedient.

Human life proceeds regardless of the political charade because people find it to be in their interest to continue to rule themselves notwithstanding new obstacles to contend with. If this were not so, civilization would have ended before it started and politics would have an even more difficult time than it now faces taking credit for all governance in human life. In fact, it has been shown (T. J. Lowi, 1981) that political government cannot prevail before at least two conditions are established: (1) Each and every individual must be capable of governing himself, i.e. pursuing his own wants while adjusting to the wants of others and (2) Individuals must be susceptible of being governed, i.e. capable of understanding rules and willing to accept them as worthwhile. Clearly, these conditions are necessary and sufficient ones for society to prevail without political government. To employ coercive institutions to compel people to do what they are already inclined to do with incomparably greater competence is a bewildering complication to social life, to say the least.

To the extent monopoly political government is humanity’s main problem, the Libertarian Party is sadly irrelevant. It will not make any creative political history in Washington or in any other political venue as long as it is contending for control of the very monopoly that is the nemesis of all its grand ideas. While the Party is publicizing some common sense notions about self-government and humane society, it is also helping its political and ideological adversaries to boost the turnout at the polls to strengthen the sanction for authoritarian rule and fuel the political fires with new/old “issues” that invigorate the charade.

This is not to say that libertarian sentiments are unimportant or irrelevant. It is that they are basically apolitical. As such, they are more appropriately the basis for a league of non-voters. So when they are politicized, they are corrupted and merely add to the blizzard of campaign cliché to become lost to meaning either by eclipse or hypocritical mimicry. Libertarianism is a social movement whereas politics, whatever ideology is embraced, is antisocial. As they say, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

In the twilight of participatory politics hypothetically brought on by widespread abstention, some might fear the rise of a breed of human that has a strong stomach for violence. They worry that some reincarnation of Cesare Borgia might fill the “vacuum” created by a decline in public participation in politics. While such an outcome is possible, it would be wise to recall that such Twentieth Century scourges as Lenin, Mussolini, Roosevelt and Hitler rode to power on a plebiscitary wave. By contrast, the “government” of Washington, Adams and Jefferson had only a minuscule of popular support. The latter had little need of such inasmuch as they were resigned to play a minuscule role in the affairs of their fellows. Even if they had been more ambitious, they would have been hard-put to obtain a broader sanction in those days, if not because of the attitudes of subjects recently escaped from European bondage, then by geographical and social circumstances. As luck would have it, Americans would thereby unconsciously show the world the way to peace and prosperity. Unfortunately, historians have misattributed this achievement to incompetent political institutions. Otherwise, the world might have benefited even more spectacularly.

Sentimentally, it would be refreshing to try and live nowadays with the comparatively benign type of statecraft manifest by the young American Republic. Although it is doubtful that such a state of affairs could be restored merely by popular abstention from voting, clearly, this republic grew into the monstrous state with which its subjects must now contend as a result of the cultivation of popular participation in the political process. The germ of conquest and scheme for obtaining the sanction of its victims (voting) was present in American government from its outset. It was just a matter of time that ubiquitous political opportunists, bent on obtaining legal privilege, would find the means to subvert the noble intentions of the framers. Suffrage was a big part of those means.

If the power of political government could be limited by political means, surely such charismatic libertarian leaders as Leonard Read, Ayn Rand, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and Harry Browne would have produced some evidence of it during the past fifty or more years. However, none of these aficionados of political expressions of libertarian leadership, separately or in concert, have produced any appreciable progress along these lines. So it remains a mystery how any sensible notion of political leadership, libertarian or other, could succeed in rounding up a herd of cats, let alone a population of autonomous human individuals. Inasmuch as politics is analogous to sheep-herding, libertarianism — the ideology of human freedom — would seem irrelevant to politics or any of its manifestations. Libertarians, of all people, should be mindful that no matter the vote, the “government” always gets in.

Bolshevik means “majority” in Russian. It did not seem to matter that the Bolsheviks never actually enjoyed a majority as long as their leadership succeeded in passing them off as one. Whatever is the word for majority in Chinese, it is certainly in the mind of the Chairman of the party. He sees to it that “his” people are punished for not voting. Never mind what can be expressed via the ballot — the politicians will represent whatever they wish as long as the bulk of the population participates in the process. It is not important that the outcome makes any rational sense or that anyone can have any real visibility in the results. What is important is participation, for that is the source of the power.

Americans should count their blessings: they don’t face jail for NOT showing up at the polls. (Mr. Clinton, eat your heart out.) Freed from such compulsion and possessed with a tradition of voting with their feet, Americans participate in political ritual in far lower proportions than the populations of other so-called democracies. Could this be the reason that American governments are the least oppressive on earth?

No one including the politicians has any real visibility as to the meaning of the results of general elections, primaries, referendums or shaded opinion polls. Aside from any deceptions involved in obtaining them, such results consist of nothing more than a jumble of numbers which pollsters sort according their statistical stereotypes. Since figures don’t lie but liars can figure, the results can be used to suit the convenience of government, whatever that happens to be at the time. So how does one come to grips with political humbug? The Internet seems to offer some promise here because it facilitates one-on-one communication between millions of individuals. But this has nothing to do with voting. Technology to the rescue!

6. Political Etiquette for Political Victims

Divine right monarchy is a throwback to medieval times. This form of statecraft no longer shows itself in the sunlight, thanks in part to Thomas Paine and the American Revolution. Therefore, the cockroach model of politics is obsolete. Anybody knows that a dose of the mild antiseptic boric acid in dust form is anathema to that species. Paine found the political equivalent to boric acid for monarchical insects (The Declaration of Independence), but he left the problem of finding a more comprehensive solution to politics to his intellectual descendants. His reincarnation is probably out there somewhere on the Internet right now broadcasting words of well-reasoned disenchantment with and condemnation of political arrogance and inhumanity. Hopefully, he will find an audience for his views.

Although he did not live long enough to fill the role of a modern-day Thomas Paine on the Internet, Robert LeFevre comes to mind as the one person who could have fit this bill. LeFevre had no peer when it came to expressing the arguments for abstention from political participation and, like Paine and Mencken, he enjoyed a publicist’s platform for many years. He was variously a columnist and editor of The Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph (one of Hoiles’ Freedom Newspapers), founder of and teacher at the Freedom School and Rampart College, Publisher of the Pine Tree Press and author of various books and pamphlets. His works are libertarian abstentionist classics.

One such classic he titled “Abstain from Beans,” a short essay based on the motto of the Stoics of ancient Greece. The Stoics developed a philosophy of individualism well before the modern era that exposed political voting as a nothing more than support for a system that assumes might makes right. LeFevre pointed out that the modern practice of using printed ballots placed in lock-boxes is no different in principle or outcome than that of the Greeks who dropped beans of various colors into clay jars to record their submission to a monopoly of control over all, whatever beans they chose to drop, if any. Accordingly, the Stoics shunned such bean counting. LeFevre points out that 2500 years of political history accredits the wisdom of the Stoics.

LeFevre personified the obvious fact that one can abstain from beans and still enjoy a full diet. He proved that abstention from voting need not paralyze articulate dissent and disapproval of the remnants of political decadence, official brutality and injustice. To the contrary, he demonstrated how such a posture could inspire eloquence, fellowship and scholarship.

Although LeFevre was a pacifist, he advocated self-defense. He knew that condemnation of a disease would not suffice for a cure and advised that one should concentrate on maintaining his mental health notwithstanding the fact that the epidemic disease of politics is raging and it will run its natural course and take its toll. Not that he liked that prospect, but he could not conceive of an alternative outcome of a political binge in a population any more than he could see how an individual alcoholic could escape a hangover or death. He only hoped that not everyone would be so afflicted and that some would practice political abstention as a hygienic measure. Toward the end of his life, LeFevre addressed his students in a “PRIMER TO A NEW WORLD,” which he subtitled “The Confessions of a Man Who Tried to Remake the World and Didn’t Succeed and Who Leaves the Uncompleted Task Reluctantly to You.” His appeal was simply to take care of yourself and to pass the word.

LeFevre demonstrated that abstention is not a political act or even a statement of political defiance. He realized he had a choice to make — political animal or human being. He maintained an arms-length posture with regard to politics for reasons of personal sanity. His experience shows how abstention from political participation can liberate one’s mind and body to become more articulate, outspoken, resourceful, optimistic and industrious. At the least, he demonstrated that abstention produces freedom from frustration, anger and time lost from truly creative endeavors.

In light of LeFevre’s example, one might wonder whether his fellow man might construe such self-concern as evidence of a unfair attitude or an inclination to inhumane behavior. Will a person regret having taken this wholly selfish approach to life? Hell no! Will he alienate family, friends and neighbors with this self-centered attitude? Hell no! Will he be able to convince them all to emulate him? Hell no! Will this bother him? Hell no! — not if he is mindful that indulgence, opportunism and promiscuity are the personal choices of others over whom he has no control.

Political participation seems to present people with a Hobson’s Choice — they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. If they participate, they sanction the loss of their freedom and become the subjects of thieves and brutes. Not only that, they sanction the subjugation of innocent bystanders who took no part in the proceedings. If they don’t participate, they fear they will have abandoned their chance for protection without effort and that they will become victims of thieves, brutes and circumstances over which they otherwise have no control. Woe is them! Can this dilemma be so intractable?

Look around. Observe that politicians do not have the guts to be thieves on their own recognizance. They are only bagmen dealing in stealth and preying on innocence. One-on-one, politicians dare not risk molestation on their own. Hollywood to the contrary notwithstanding, politicians are cowards who hide behind numbers of unsuspecting victims. Shine the light! Watch them run for cover. Where’s the Raid?

But obviously, it takes more than scandal to drive politicians from office let alone reform the system. For a politician, the only thing worse than a bad press is no press. The same goes for the press itself except that the mass media thrives on scandal and will do anything to keep it going. Politics seems to make strange bedfellows, but perhaps not so strange when self-interest, opportunity and hypocrisy are taken into account. This discovery is persuasive that no politics of any kind can ever be trusted to look after the commonweal.

7. Man Versus the State

The machinery of state is designed to be feared. This is the first principle of political science and its discovery goes all the way back to the beginning of human civilization. The state strives for recognition as an omnipotent and omniscient entity. When politicians talk about “legitimacy,” they are merely seeking to popularize belief in these superhuman and therefore mythical traits. Individuals test the authenticity of these traits at some risk to themselves. While the state is just an armed human contrivance that is in no way omniscient or omnipotent, it is hard to know when it may be bluffing. Thus far in history, it seems that just a few harsh object lessons in each generation are required to preserve this myth. Yet, myth it is and like all myths, it can be shattered.

Free-lance criminality is a whole other thing. While its existence is no myth, it prevalence and its effects are widely misapprehended. While self defense is no cure and government tends to exacerbate it, individuals manage to cope with it well enough on their own. Lock your doors. Avoid hazardous situations. Keep in shape. Don’t be promiscuous. Be prudent. Insure, even with legally privileged companies. Don’t depend on political protection.

The judicial system is little more than the private reserve of “officers of the court” — the lawyers. It is an institution that has been contrived to serve the welfare of lawyers who, in exchange for the privilege, accept the duty to protect the state against you, not you against the criminals.

Nature provides abundant evidence as to how predation from feral humanity works. Contrary to popular opinion, such predation is not mankind’s main problem. It is only the ruse that fuels the political campaign for law’n’order, politicians’ not yours. And if feral predation fails to produce enough victims to sustain the system at a level sufficient to suit the ambitions of lawyers and law enforcement bureaucrats, then there is always legislation to create criminals without victims.

The main problem facing humanity is the mob, organized crime or institutionalized coercion, whichever term fits. However, even the old-time-type crime syndicates can be withstood by ordinary people as long as the rackets have to compete with ordinary businesses. Notice how such rackets quickly pass from the scene when they have to face up to competition in a free and legally-uninhibited marketplace. Mobs become an insurmountable problem only when they obtain legal privilege.

Society’s problem comes to maturity when the rackets are protected by or subsumed under a national monopoly that may license them to continue legally as long as they pay tribute — taxes, etc. The history of prohibition and abolition is instructive on this point. Notice that when the state succeeded in putting down Al Capone and John Brown, it turned their rackets over to the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) and the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic). Conquest of native lands became a national racket under the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) and the BLM (Bureau of Land Management).

True enough, there are at least two factions contending for leadership of the national racket, the ins and the outs, known as Democrats and Republicans for the better part of 150 years. Two-party competition is widely extolled as a virtue of American government. The virtue touted is apparently the negative one that a single party in control of the government would have worse consequences for the subjects. Regardless, these popular factions are now and always have been united in a common purpose, namely the preservation of the monopoly racket popularly known as the United States Government.

So far, the politicians have gotten away with their shenanigans because the “75%” non-voting public are inarticulate. Most are lazy and apathetic just like the politicians say and rely on. Even the “25%” voting are mute on all matters of government except for obedience to the process that sustains it. This condition permits the politicians to go unchallenged in their claim to superior knowledge of the public interest, whatever this may mean. It should come to no one’s surprise that the politicians will paint the face of fear, insecurity, instability, uncertainty, incompetence, poverty, etc. on the so-called public interest because, true or not, those poignant concerns serve their opportunity to stay in power. Intimidate, deceive, divide and conquer, this is the essence of political strategy. While this strategic threat may well oblige one to engage in articulate discussion with one’s fellows, it does not suggest that participation at the polls is warranted since that activity only serves to placate the establishment.

Articulateness should not be wasted on political personalities. That talent should be focused on politics itself as the disease that it is, namely stupidity practiced by non-stupid people. Ridicule of the system is perhaps the only cure. Denunciation of the individual politicians as thieves, etc. is a distraction from the problem. After all, how much can one man steal without ganging up with others. Most politicians cannot spell “billion” let alone count to a billion. If they could, they’d be even more dangerous.

Once a person enters the political rat-race, the only humane choice he has afterward is abdication. Clearly, impeachment is just more of the same rat-race. Widespread abstention corners the rats and as everyone knows, cornered rats can become vicious. However, abstention also unmasks the rats for what they are — rats. Now a naked rat can never masquerade as a public benefactor and people thereby freed from their delusions are better able to defend themselves from predation by rats.

8. Political Reform

If it was possible to reform another person, one could reform a whore by going to bed with her. On the other hand, abstention from prostitution does not remove whores and pimps from the street. Therefore, abstention is no more a reform measure than is participation. This observation is as true for political reform as any other kind.

Ignoring politicians does not make them go away because they follow Barnum (“A sucker is born every minute.”) without any of his virtues. But suppose the non-voting fraction of the population grew to 80% and 1-2 million of the newcomers were cognizant of the scam taking place and were willing and able to express their own views on the matter, at least to their friends and neighbors? What then? This does not mean picking a fight or inciting a riot — please, no juntas or counterrevolutions. Remember, politics is built for conflict. That’s its stock in trade. It has to have a war or a threat of one to subsist. Behind every “liberation” movement, crime or environmental “clean-up” campaign, cultural “purification” pogrom or public “enlightenment” program will be found a political racket.

LeFevre pointed out to his students that governments can always be overthrown because there are always more victims than victimizers and smashing government is like smashing any other man-made object. However, he counseled that this is not an appropriate thing to do because a world without violence must be born without violence. Thomas Paine gave similar advice to the French revolutionists when he said “Kill the monarchy but not the man,” referring to Louis Bourbon, King of France. But Paine was denounced, Louis was beheaded and France succumbed to a reign of terror, militarism and social regimentation incomparably worse than before.

Don’t make war. Don’t even threaten. Such gestures only strengthen political institutions. Instead, make love, as the old Hippies used to say. But rather than practice the promiscuous sexual variety popularized by the Hippie generation, engage in the universal, impersonal form of love exemplified by what entrepreneurs do in the marketplace. Find out what people want and give it to them in a voluntary exchange. Since politics is uninvited and unwelcome in this process, political intrusions will be exposed as such — impositions and usurpations. True enough, politics can be counted on to butt into private transactions anyway via monopoly money and taxes and for no better reason than to raise revenue for the state. But think of the opportunities to unmask the racket and advance your life while you are at it.

It takes a lot of intimidation to get people to support a known racket, and no doubt this has happened on occasion in the past. However, in most cases, popular support goes to such humane-sounding institutions as unions, public interest foundations, lobby groups and political parties that have thus far managed to conceal their real racketeering nature and deny that there was ever any intimidation involved in their rise to dominance over their memberships. How else could it happen that only the votes of the leaderships of such so-called special interest groups actually count in the make-up and operation of political government at all levels? This is the political system that now exists in the United States and it is known euphemistically as pluralism.

Pluralism resembles political democracy only in the sense that a majority of such institutional votes really counts. Squeeky interest groups are the wheels that get the political grease. Individuals are seduced to politically support these groups to keep their wheels running and squeeking. Should people withdraw their support, these wheels stop rolling and the squeeking stops. What happens to a wheel at rest? Dogs piss on them.

So it is a mistake to condemn democracy for the failures of politics because democracy in the strict sense of the word has never actually existed in politics and never will. Regardless of voter turnout at the public polling places, the votes that control public policy, executive orders and legislation are a minuscule fraction of that number. Is this small number of votes representative of the people who sanctioned the leadership? Who knows? All that can be known is that the leadership was sanctioned by the multitude who remain mute spectators. Whereas real democracy cannot be found in a political setting, it is found alive and well in the marketplace, wherever it is.

What the popular polls mean is a pure fiction, a cruel hoax played strictly for the diversion of a gullible public — vox populi. Politicians know the “will of the people” is a joke. So far, it is an inside joke. When people realize they are the brunt of this joke and can laugh at the whole scene, the joke will be on the politicians. Who is the Great Wizard of Oz? Why he is just another fool behind a curtain of illusions.

Politicians and businessmen are alike in one respect — both are more attentive to a cash register than a ballot box. However, here the similarity ends. The politician sees the cash register as the means of buying the ballot box, or at least its contents consisting of tokens of consent coaxed from depositors by advertising promises that cannot be kept. The cash register is the businessman’s ballot box in his daily campaign to stay in business, the contents, if any, signifying promises actually delivered in a voluntary exchange.

Politicians are armed and ready to deal with resistance. They are prompt to justify forceful retaliation against non-conformity as if that was essential to the maintenance “order” for the “public good.” Everybody “knows” people must not be allowed to take the law into their own hands. After all, as they say, “anarchy won’t do,” while they allow political institutions to proceed to disrupt the spontaneous social order that exists and leave anarchy in its place. This destruction of public order is euphemistically referred to as government regulation and law enforcement.

Politicians seem to cope well enough with personal insults and character assassinations between themselves as just a part of the game. This behavior reveals a sort of honor among thieves. But when such attacks come from outside the political arena — no fair! Criticisms from outside are usually dismissed as the work of crackpots, incorrigibles or mean spirits, or denounced as evidence of a scheme devised by a subversive conspiracy. This is predictable so be prepared.

However, politicians may be wholly unprepared to face disparagement, disdain or derision when it is dispassionately connected with their chosen profession in the game of politics. Impersonal admonitions that leave no doubt of the connections with racketeering are most effective, especially if expressed in shocking or humorous language. Political cartoons can have the greatest impact on politicians. Invective and obscenity may have its only justification in the language when used in this context. This is about the only thing the Berkeley “free-speech” movement accomplished.

George Santayana observed that humor consists in the perception of the absurdities contained in the illusions upheld in conventional wisdom. So shall humor that comes from disillusionment play an important role in the growth of human wisdom to the point where it can cope successfully with the political menace.

How best to shame an association of thugs? Show good-natured contempt, not abrasive confrontation. Whatever your age, you are too young to die. Ridicule the institution, don’t contest it aggressively. It does not deserve the benefit of a reasoned argument or a truthful confession, and it cannot be fought physically on equal terms regardless of the status of the Second Amendment. Politicians are like prize fighters. They would not be in the ring if they cared what their faces looked like afterward.

Remove the conflict and let the thing atrophy. What’s a bully to do when he surrounded by nothing but contempt and no challenge to his brutality. Let the politicians bring on their dogs, tails wagging. Let them try to make something more of their pompous charade than the hypocrisy that it is.

Once a person recognizes politics is a game and that it is a game in which only politicians can be winners and everyone else must lose, he will get out of the game for self preservation. This game like all games cannot be played without willing losers. While this game cannot be stopped merely by some who refuse to play it, the non-participants can at least know the game is absurd and turn off to it. While a person can be victimized by a gang of players, he cannot lose a game he does not play.

Politics is basically a means of facilitating the human impulses of greed and power. Not ever and in no way can it masquerade as altruistic service to mankind once this simple connection is made. The jig is up!

The cold war was revealed as a sham in 1960 by a bumper-sticker that read “fuck communism.” This ingenious put-down by an anonymous author discredited the international political contest in one fell swoop. The jig was up at this point, at least intellectually, but it took another 30 years for the military/industrial complex to start unraveling. This demise would have happened much sooner had it been in the unlikely interest of the national security wonks and apparachiks of all nationalities, none of whom was ever exposed to elective politics. However, without elective politics, the rent could not have been paid on their playpen.

If local popular opinion is a myth, consider the fantastic proportions of “world opinion.” Think what another few years of growing skepticism of “patriotic” motives might accomplish. How long do you think people will suck on the sterile tit of nationalism? Is there no limit to hypocrisy and delusion?

Welfare is another matter. Many people really believe they have paid into a trust or inherited an annuity that entitles them to receive future benefits from the government that took from their income while they were earning it. Understandably, they might well participate in politics as the only avenue “open” to them to “protect” their interests, an avenue politicians are much obliged to keep open to traffic to allow people to harmlessly vent their concerns and preserve their illusions. There is no question that the expectant “beneficiaries” have paid dearly and, in that sense, they may be said to have have earned something. There is also no question that they are deluded in their expectations.

Were it not for delusion, it would be plain to see that political government is nothing more than a collection of empty promises well concealed as such. The government masquerades as a fiducial benefactor while it holds no funds in trust bearing interest for the benefit of the payee. An insurance company that practiced such fraud on it policy-holders would be put down forthwith by penal enactment. But the government monopolizes such fraudulent practices. It collects funds on false pretenses and squanders them on current expenses and other adventures. It scams for loans collateralized by coerced “retirement contributions” and fictitious trust funds and uses the proceeds in the same promiscuous manner, all in the so-called public interest, of course. Thus, to add insult to injury, the self-same wage-earners or their descendants will be forced to pay back these loans with interest even as they continue tithing for what they hope will be protection when they are no longer producing. Few realize that FICA is just another income tax and that their Social Security “accounts” are a pure fiction.

As a purely opportunistic institution, political government is permanently blind to equity. Equity is impossible without ownership and ownership is alien to politics. Indeed, politics fundamentally preys on proprietorship for its sustenance and that is a cost to society which is a total and irretrievable loss. “Social security” is just one example.

Since politics is contrary to proprietorship, it is hostile to human welfare by nature. This is an irredeemable defect that cannot be remedied, reformed or mitigated. Notice how the political response to the glaring inequities in the governmental schemes of coercive redistribution is nothing more than a massage of dizzy formulas leaving rake-offs untouched. If one examines the government “privatization movement” that is currently fashionable with some politicians, he will find more political ploys instead of any political reforms. Real privatization is as unthinkable for politicians as abdication, and for the same reason.

Many people are in the habit of romancing politicians to some extent, even if in a negative sort of way. Politicians in office crave gratuitous recognition, especially if it extols a supposed omnipotence in their position ordinary people should fear. People should be aware that this is just the kind of mystique politics thrives on. Don’t do them any such favors! Paying your taxes without their having to call the cops on you is favor enough.

Politicians are actually naked like the prancing king portrayed by H.C. Andersen in one of his famous fairy tales. Why not leave it at that and get on with your own business as best you can? How politicians may manage to continue to strut and plunder without your help then becomes a matter of self defense. In that matter, one has complete authority.

There is no question that politics is the medium for systematic insult and injury to human individuals. It is also a fact that we individuals afford the expense, painful though it is, not only to endure but even to contemplate. However, we must be able to overcome our resentments, illusions and resignations if we are to keep our wits to fashion a defense in the face of what is best regarded as a natural calamity. From that perspective, we are most likely to devise even more ingenious schemes with which to cope.

9. What Can Be Done

The existence of autonomous human life on this planet stands as a living refutation of political dependency. Therefore, growth in autonomous behavior will eventually shatter the myth of the state and put politics in its rightful place in the pantheon of dread diseases mankind has succeeded in bringing under control.

Autonomous people survive as long they produce and exchange peaceably with their neighbors on the planet. While autonomy is no guarantee of rationality let alone genius, to awaken to the fact that one is endowed with the power to act autonomously will sharply reduce the likelihood that he will voluntarily sacrifice his time and effort on such lost causes as political reform. He will not pay such a tax if he sees it as such. The autonomous people on earth will have won as much freedom as they can get under the ‘laws of nature’ when their neighbors join with them and laugh the politicians out of town. Autonomy seems to be its own reward.

So political reform is a lost cause. So what if all politicians are reprobates and utter parasites. So what if shit stinks! Surely, only a masochist would go out looking for futility and unpleasantness. And please let’s not contribute to the Nielsen Ratings of politics as if it were significant. We might as well allow politicians to be the nincompoops and scavengers that they are and must be to engage in politics because we don’t have the power to change that. Yet, we are capable of dealing with cornered rats if necessary. At least, we can refrain from giving politicians credit for being anything other than what they are. They are like the ladies of the night. We already know what they are. It only remains for us to learn their price. But admittedly, it is not easy to establish the rock-bottom price of extortion and blackmail.

Murphy observed: “Nobody’s wallet is safe when the legislature is in session.” Thus, legislative gridlock is cause for celebration even though the impasse is bound to be only temporary. Conceivably, the duration of legislative stalemate might increase as fewer voters sanction the process. This was the case in Franklin’s time. It could happen in ours.

Notice Murphy did not qualify his “law” by making allowances for whatever party might be in the majority. If one is inclined to “get out the word,” he should make sure he emphasizes that it is the system that is corrupt and it is the system that victimizes him. After all, individual politicians are only human, taking what they can get while the gittin’ is good. Let’s not make their behavior a personal matter, criminal though it is in the ordinary sense of the term. That politics has succeeded in “legalizing” such crime is truly the coup d’etat of all time. That such a coup passes as “rule of law” is an outrageous deception. Don’t let this lie escape your notice. Be prepared to show that rule of law, if any, prevails outside the province of political institutions and then only in the civil dealings among people of equal moral standing.

Granted, such preparation is not as common or as easy as it sounds. K-12 plus college “education” presents a significant barrier, namely cultivated blindness. The institution of public education was concocted by politics to be its “firewall” against public disenchantment. The purpose of “public education” is to maintain the wizard’s curtain. However, with the advent of the world wide web, educational alternatives that are more resistant to state regimentation have come to pass. Technology to the rescue!

The Internet also offers the prospect of electronic alternatives to the government’s monopoly money whereby individuals may deny their funds to political folly altogether. This dream becomes a reality when autonomous individuals are able to facilitate their commercial transactions reliably and anonymously in cyberspace without relying on legal tender. Ample technology is available to perfect a “money” in cyberspace like digital cash that is sufficiently attractive to users and invisible to the authorities to sustain a robust level of commerce with reliability and fidelity. But it takes time and experience to establish the necessary trust and familiarity demanded by a new kind of money because money is not merely invented. It is a natural phenomenon that is embraced by people. As cybermoney evolves and its utilization grows, the political institutions will begin to feel the pinch on their budgets. This will certainly accelerate political attempts to corral the Internet. Maybe the window of opportunity to break free of government extortion as represented by the Internet won’t last. Yet, it is just possible that the unregimented Internet has already progressed beyond the point of no return. Politicians may be ambitious, arrogant and predatory but they are not knowingly suicidal.

Nature apparently denies us mere humans the option of changing human nature. However, it does give us the option of abstaining from participation in destructive practices. While we can change ourselves, we cannot change others. Clearly, election to political office doesn’t change anybody. It just perverts the ordinarily benign self-interest inclinations of humans and diverts them into predatory enterprises.

We manage to survive free-lance criminality without any help from the state. We are surviving institutionalized criminality in spite of the state. So why not just shun the political bastards collectively. If you are going to patronize somebody, you should make sure that person is engaged in making an honest living as you are. You have your precious life to live and you don’t have time for sergeants, shepherds, eleemosnynaries, mendicants or predators. If you are rational, you won’t concede any part of your life to some Quixotic scheme conjured up by some clever but bankrupt snake oil salesmen to fake you out. The taxes taken from you at the point of a hired gun are one thing. The taxes you pay in anguish over the atrocity is yet another matter. If you think for a second, you won’t do it. You are the new breed, not the Borgias. Your autonomy is your strength. Use it or lose it.


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