Thursday, July 8, 2010

Statism and Myth as a Tool of Survival and Perpetuation Part IX: Religion as the Opiate, and Nationalism as the Methamphetamine of the People

Statism and Myth as a Tool of Survival and Perpetuation Part IX: Religion as the Opiate, and Nationalism as the Methamphetamine of the People


 

“Markets within nations inevitably produce groups of people who have more money and power than others.  So, it would be odd if global markets did not create an international upper class of people whose economic interests had more in common with each other than with the majority of people who share their nationality.”  

 

-Jeff Faux, The Global Class War: How America’s Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future-and What It Will Take to Win It Back (Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2006), 1.

 

“The market in which the new elites operate is now international in scope.  Their fortunes are tied to enterprises that operate across national boundaries. Tehy are more concerned with the smooth functioning of the system as a whole than with any of its parts.  Their loyalties-if the term is not itself anachronistic in this context-are international rather than regional, national, or local.  They have more in common with their counterparts in Brussels or Hong Kong than with the masses of Americans not yet plugged into the network of global communications.”  

 

-Christopher Lasch, The Revolt of the Elites: And the Betrayal of Democracy (New York: Norton, 1995) 35-36.

 

As ordinary people, we worry about ordinary things.  We worry about our sphere of concern, those limited concerns which touch upon our ability to to provide for ourselves or our children.  We tend to organize ourselves or identify ourselves as nationalists in many respects. Our modes of identification may additionally be oriented around racial, gender, or religious concerns.  We think of money as the root of all evil, and disdain those individuals whose primary concern is with money or wealth above all else, including the implications for human life which the means in which money is attained and wealth is accrued often have.  

 

Corporations externalize costs.  The whole of their existence is an attempt to not only externalize costs, but to quantify those costs.  This is accomplished in a variety of ways when those costs are uncertain.  Chief among those ways is a maximum cap on the costs of litigation.  The government is procured by large corporations and the interests they represent to limit the liability of those interests and concerns where potential litigation is concerned.  

 

The reason for this attempt to quantify costs is simple enough: corporations need a figure that they can know.  They need to know a figure because they need that figure to measure against the cost of things like compliance with environmental regulations and safety laws.  If they can limit the costs of their potential liability with caps on litigation rewards to plaintiffs, they can construct a cost-benefit analysis which will enable them to decide whether or not compliance with the law is too expensive.  It may be that the corporation can simply decide to pay the costs associated with non-compliance in those isolated incidents where lax safety and environmental compliance do result in injury to human life, or the loss of human life altogether.  

 

This is the straightforward explanation of medical malpractice caps and civil liability caps.  The explanation proffered by corporations is that such caps limit costs, because costs associated with litigation are inevitably externalized to consumers in the form of higher prices and workers in the form of lower wages.  In this way, it is said that limiting civil liability for large corporations and the interests they represent is beneficial to the whole of society, even if the individual who is injured by a corporation is deprived of due process and a trial by a jury of his peers where those peers set the price of a corporation’s liability according to the evidence presented at trial.  

 

The question ultimately comes down to one of process: does the jury or the legislature set damages in civil trials?  The Seventh Amendment to the United States clearly indicates that juries were to set such damages in controversies exceeding $20 in value.  The Fourteenth Amendment has generally been held to establish that the rights set forth in the Bill of Rights apply to the states, but the Seventh Amendment is a notable exception to this standard.  However, when a state court is hearing a trial concerning a federally guaranteed right, where the right to a trial by jury is a “substantial part,”  the court may not remove trial by jury for the elements thereof (http://www.gpoaccess.gov/constitution/html/amdt7.html).  

 

Additionally, most states have constitutions which provide for the role of a jury in assessing damages, and so the legislature of that state may not egress its enumerated role by going into the enumerated role of a civil court.  In short, determining damages is the role of a jury or a court under many state constitutions, and this eliminates legislative authority or power over such matters.  

 

How does this relate to the state? Quite simply, it relates to the state in many ways: in order to reduce your standing as a potential plaintiff, the state attempts to deter you from filing suit by limiting the amount of damages you might conceivably get if the matter were left to a jury of your peers, given their likelihood to be more sympathetic to one of their peers as opposed to a large, multinational corporation whose officers violated the law or were negligent in their enforcement or obedience to that law.  It is nothing more than an attempt to set their interests above your own by limiting the value of your interest to a set amount.  

 

Furthermore, it is in keeping with a tendency of the state to appeal to your sense of shared national identity on the one hand while simultaneously acting in a manner that contravenes your basic interests as an individual citizen.  You are told that in order to have a more business friendly environment in your state, certain concessions have to be given, and if those concessions involve quashing your rights and prerogatives as a free citizens, so be it.  

 

George Bernard Shaw said it best in his address to the Academy of of Political Science at the Metropolitan Opera House on in New York on April 11, 1933.  In that address, entitled “The Future of Political Science in America, Shaw said that while our intent had been to prevent political dictatorship with our constitution, we enabled a society where “every ward boss is a dictator, every financier a dictator, every private employer a dictator.”  That’s the view of the individuals who make up the world’s employers: that while the government should be in chains where their interests are concerned, it ought to be deployed at their behest against ordinary citizens who make up the working class in order to deprive them of a civil damages determined by their peers, or to establish that a corporation’s officers are exempt from personal liability when they act as officers of the corporation and break the law and violate the life, liberty, and property of others.  

 

In the meantime, you and I are expected to buy an argument that based on national pride and a Protestant work ethic, we should just accept lesser standing before the law while our betters receive a higher standing before that same law.  It’s the American way.  It’s the free market way.  Central to the statist concept of power is the myth and the narratives thereof which can be used to justify such nonsense.  

 

There isn’t a free market anywhere on this planet.  If anyone can find me a market exempt of tariffs and protectionism, I’ll be happy to investigate their findings and refute them.  It just doesn’t exist.   Moreover, much of what you and I are expected to swallow as free market doctrine is utter poppycock.  

 

Free market advocates are quite in favor of limited liability and corporate structures in business.  They abhor government interference in the market, but what is the corporation and what is limited liability other than government creations erected as direct consequences of government meddling in market economies?  In a free market, many of the corporations who routinely overextend themselves by taking on highly leveraged positions would fall into insolvency and liquidation.  Their shareholders would come in a distant second to their creditors during the unraveling of the company and its assets.  Instead of a free market, these types clamor for government intervention, and say that it is necessary to stabilize markets and prevent upheavals which would occur at great cost to humanity.  The reality is that markets would eventually stabilize as the inevitable consequence of the liquidation of insolvent companies and the emergence of stronger companies in the wake of their demise.  The weak would be culled from the strong, and this is as it ought to be.  

 

The cost to humanity is irrelevant to these types.  The only individuals they consider to be a part of humanity are their own peers, and those peers are in the upper 10% of the world population, a socio-economic status which means that they partially own some 85% of the world’s wealth.  They care only to evade being dropped into the bottom 90%, where they might be subjected to the same treatment as ordinary folks who don’t know enough to expect preferred treatment from their governments.  

 

When these individuals talk of American greatness, it is not the greatness of America they speak of with such fondness.  They speak of American greatness and fret about the demise of America because they realize that America is the best deal they can get.  Failure is our national pastime, and we incentivize it with bailouts that spare the wealthy the natural consequences of their bad business acumens and fiscal hubris.  All of the machinations they engage in, the linguistic contortions they attempt to accomplish, the sloganeering about free markets and capitalism, all of it is to establish advantages for their own interests and positions which will ensure that they never face a free market which judges them as impartially and coldly as it judges you or me.  

 

This is not about promoting market forces as an arbiter of the fates of various businesses, it is about subverting and subjugating those forces through regulatory regimes which preserve the existing order and prevent any new order from ever emerging.  Merit is not the criteria of success in business for these types.  Merit is what they seek to quash and avoid ever having to meet.  

 

At the end of the day, if you could work for 20 hours a week to enjoy the same standard of living you currently possess working 40 to 60 hours a week or more, depending on your situation, would you take the tradeoff?  If you wouldn’t, why the hell not?  Is it because you believe in hard work as opposed to smarter work?  

 

A free market ensures that goods are more widely available at lower prices, a “natural price” defined by Adam Smith as the lowest price at which merchants can sell an item and still survive.  Such a pricing mechanism, determined by market forces and a government committed to ensuring natural pricing as opposed to price fixing and collusion, would increase the standard of living for individuals who currently exist in desperate poverty.  It would enable those individuals to do more with less.  

 

Karl Marx rightly recognized religion as the opiate of the masses, an instrument by which the powerless had been seduced into accepting a subservient position under the auspices of the idea that God endows the rich with their wealth regardless of their labors and the rest of us should just line up behind the arrangement unquestioningly.  I don’t deny God as Marx did, for I am a firm believer in his existence and in the truth contained in various biblical passages.  

 

I look at Amos 8:4-7, which decries those who swallow up the needy and cause the poor of the land to fail by falsifying the balances in order to defraud them of their silver in commercial exchanges, and which concludes by saying that the Lord will never forget their works.  Exodus 23:6 further establishes that wresting justice from poor people in a lawsuit is expressly prohibited.  

 

As you read this, and you consider that my advocacy is for a reality in which statism is abolished or at least severely curbed, consider God’s warning to the children of Israel when they requested a king to succeed Samuel in I Samuel 8:6-18: 

 

“But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”

Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day.”

 

Tell me, does this passage sound at all like what we endure under our government today?  Does our government not seize our earnings, at rates well beyond ten percent, in order to make weapons of war and provide wages and benefits for the attendants of that government who make a good living for doing what is arguably an inferior job, given their history of constantly failing to ensure the safety and security of the American people?  Two World Trade Center bombings; the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade by the CIA in a “mistake;”  the debacle that was an infrastructure failure when Katrina’s surge flooded New Orleans in part because the Army Corps of Engineers dredged a ship channel through wetlands which led that surge directly into the heart of New Orleans and into shoddily constructed levees and canals; and a Christmas Day bombing that wasn’t intercepted or stopped by our national security apparatus or our intelligence communities, but instead by ordinary people who apprehended and restrained the Nigerian born bomber in order to stop him?  What, exactly, are we paying trillions of dollars for?  

 

Is it a defense budget that represents a total greater than the defense budgets of the rest of the world combined, even though that expenditure isn’t sufficient to the task of extinguishing an enemy whose fighters dwell in caves?  Or a navy that by itself is larger than the next thirteen largest navies combined, with 11 of those 13 navies being our allies to boot?  

 

The people of Israel thought they were getting a real deal with a king.  They’d be like everyone else, and isn’t that what we all want to be in the end?  Isn’t that our folly as human beings?  We aspire to be as mediocre as our peers, to bring upon ourselves their problems and foibles in our own endeavors as a nation.  Ladies and gentlemen, republican democracy has become the kingship of yesteryear.  It doesn’t deliver on the advertised expectation for anyone but the king and his attendants, who manage to get by quite well on their parasitic gleanings from the hard earned money of the people they rule over.  

 

If religion is or was the opiate of the people, then nationalism has become their methamphetamine, and it has inured them to the genocides, unwarranted invasions, and constant security crises whipped up out of thin air by warmongers and the corrupt military industrial establishment they represent.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  

 

I discern between the nation and the state by classifying the state as those assorted and sundry bureaucracies and what not who parasitize us, ostensibly while promoting our own interests; while they in fact proceed on courses which run counter to those interests by fomenting wars under false pretenses and insisting that we can sow liberty on the end of a rifle butt.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt may have gotten a good bit of his tenure wrong while president, but he had one thing right: “In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.”  Try to instruct the nation-builders among our neoconservative types as to this reality.  Tilt at windmills if you dare.  

 

America is an ideal, an ideal which decrees that men should be free to pursue their lives, liberties, and that which makes them happy.  Samuel Hendel, a political science professor and civil rights defender, said that in order for freedom to be meaningful in an organized society, it had to “consist of an amalgam of hierarchy of freedom and restraints.”  For ordinary people, that’s true.  Our freedoms consist of such an amalgam, and in recent years and decades, the balance of that amalgam has tilted towards the side of restraint as the government has arrogated wide latitude to intercept our emails, phone calls, inspect our library records, detain us indefinitely without charges, hearings, or legal representation, and we have bought into this in the name of national loyalty and patriotism.  

 

I wonder how many people who have money find themselves on watchlists.  I wonder how many of those individuals who summer in the Hamptons find themselves being searched every time they take a flight.  

 

You may choose to buy the myth and you may even call it your truth. There is no deceit so cruel as the deceit which is voluntarily self-imposed.  As a free individual you have the right to deceive yourself.  But your choice should not be binding on others, and what you should realize is that your failure to actively resist the encroachments of our government on the lives of citizens who don’t look, talk, or act like you and your friends do is a failure to defend the ideals which make our nation what it is and which provide the clearest evidence that our state has departed on a fundamental level from the nation it claims unity with.  It is treason.  

 

According to Thomas Paine, “He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself.”  You may not identify with the Muslim or the individual of Middle Eastern descent who finds himself apprehended for no crime, detained without charges or hearings, and renditioned to a nation where torture is the normative standard of interrogation, but you are obligated to speak out anyway if your commitment to freedom is real and true.  

 

Those individuals who occupy positions of power no longer entertain the delusion that nationalism is of any real concern to them or their peers.  They identify more with others who possess real power and self-determination, the sort of power and determination which ensures that the rules which apply to regular people on vacation who find themselves arrested at airports and funneled abroad to Syria will not apply to them.  The law has no efficacy or legitimacy if it isn’t applied equally.  

 

Far from being a means of establishing order and fairness, it is perverted into a vehicle whereby preferential treatment is assured for some and your own position of inferiority is permanently cemented into place.  The rules are being and have been rewritten over the past years and decades, and the only question is whether or not you will resist in a significant and meaningful way against the tyranny which is being foisted upon us by them.  You have no reason to defend the existing order: it isn’t capitalism.  It isn’t a free market.  It isn’t morally in alignment with the Bible.  It isn’t freedom, or democracy, or even a republic.  It’s statism, and while it appropriates each of the aforementioned items as disguises to mask its innate ugliness and gain legitimacy in the minds of those ignorant enough to buy the charade, it is simply tyranny and thuggery when one scrutinizes.  It is the means by which the favored have preserved a system of perpetual inequality and deprived others of the rights their forefathers fought and died to ensure.  

 

Would you see your Constitution reduced to mere ink and paper, or do the ideals that make our nation what it is really mean something to you?  Does due process, equal protection of the law, and protection against unreasonable search and seizure mean something to you?  Does freedom of speech?  Does the right to petition your government for a redress of grievances and have that government actually listen to you mean something?  

 

Stop imbibing the nonsense, the statism which dresses itself up in the flag while it goes about dismantling your liberties and privileges as a citizen.  Stop defending a market of tariffs and privileges for large corporations and banks who can commit fraud with impunity and take on liabilities which your children and your children’s children will pay as capitalist free market economics.  Stop saying that it’s patriotic or biblical.  It isn’t any of those things, and you dishonor the merit in each of those things by falsely linking them to our statist reality.  Start using your ability to discern between the true and the false, and call it for what it is: tyranny.  

 

Posted via email from momus1978's posterous

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Statism and Myth as a Tool of Survival and Perpetuation Part VIII: The State Above the Law

 

When individuals establish for themselves a government of their own choosing, they generally establish a structure for that government, and explicitly spell out the mission of that government, its purposes, and most importantly, the limitations they impose upon that government.  Every bit of detail which outlines the functions of the various branches and bureaucracies of a government is in and of itself a kind of parameter which limits the scope of government to a particular area.  Governments which step outside of the boundaries of these missions are generally held to be in violation of the charters and constitutions which give them their authority.  In short, a government which violates its mission by stepping beyond the boundaries of its enumerated authorities and roles has abdicated its claim to legitimacy.  It is no longer a government of informed consent; it is instead a government which exists in spite of consent and whose continued existence depends on misinformed consent.  

 

In an earlier section, I delineated between the state and the nation by distinguishing the former as the various bureaucracies, organizations, and entities established ostensibly to help the state fulfill its mission while classifying the latter as the people, the land they occupy or hold claim to, and the ideals which those people sincerely believe represent their unique identity as a country.  In nearly every state, there is a fundamental bifurcation between the ideals of the people and the actions of the state.  Our laws flow from those commonly held ideals which we share with each other, at least insofar as those laws represent what we believe about ourselves and our country.  The inevitable result of the state is that those laws are perverted against the very ideals which gave rise to the state and its foundation in various charters and constitutions.  

 

The state accomplishes its abuses in a two-fold manner: it either ignores the laws which its agents find to be archaic and in conflict with some overriding state interest, or it codifies the power to override individual liberty into the very law which flows from a constitution whose very purpose was to prevent abuses of individual liberty by limiting government to a defined role.  Ends justify means in either case according to those individual agents, elected or otherwise, who perpetuate the erosion of freedom in order to promote expansions of state authority at the expense of individual liberty and self-determination.  These men and women share a commitment to pragmatism above all else, and, as noted in another section, this commitment to an ends justifying means philosophy naturally results in their classification as Leftists.  Some will call them utilitarians, but for my own purposes, I refer to them as Leftists.  The end result of this pragmatism over principle is that any claim of the state can be justified in hypothetical contexts if not in real world precedents.  

 

For instance, we have never encountered a situation where an individual with knowledge of a deployed dirty bomb was apprehended before the detonation of said bomb, and where intelligence agents had the opportunity through interrogation to prevent the detonation of the bomb in question by using any and all means imaginable.  Yet because such a hypothetical is possible, even though it isn’t at all likely, intelligence agencies and defense hawks argue that they need to be legally permitted to torture not only the suspect, but also his children and his spouse in order to compel him to give up what he knows.  The torture rises to the point of sexual mutilation of the children, to the point where an infant’s testicles can be crushed in order to compel his father and mother to divulge information, though they are merely suspects and have not even be charged, tried, or convicted of any crime.  

 

This sort of reasoning, based at is it is entirely on hypothetical eventualities or possibilities, can be used to justify any behavior by a state.  The logical extension of such logic is thus: we know that a terrorist group resides within a particularly populous area, and that they possess materials which can be used to construct a nuclear bomb.  Due to the intelligence we’ve already gleaned, we can be fairly certain that they are already in the process of constructing said bomb.  They are actually near deploying the bomb to its target, and their departure from the populous area is impending.  

 

We have the means to strike to preempt their attack, but the strike will involve killing tens of thousands of people in order to eliminate the threat posed by two dozen individuals.   However, if the two dozen people in question are successful, their bomb will kill hundreds of thousands.  This is the moral and ethical calculus posed by pragmatism, utilitarianism, or Leftism.  

 

The whole of our perspective is comprised of two options, either/or.  Both lead to the destruction of human life, but one leads to the destruction of less human life.  Then again, given our intelligence agency’s history of lying, assassination, conducting human experiments outside the purview of law, and various other improprieties and illegalities, how do we know that in this particular instance they are telling the truth to us?  We know only because they are us.  They are an agency of our government.  That’s the whole of their credibility, and their shared nationality with us is supposed to expunge or negate their long-documented and oft-lamented record of wrongdoing. 

 

We believe that they exist for our defense, and that their actions, no matter how reprehensible when taken in separately by themselves, are somehow rendered acceptable within a context that remains forever classified or hidden for purposes of national security.  This despite the fact that declassified examples have routinely exposed the agencies in question as having no basis from which to assert that their actions were in fact related to national security.  Usually, the intelligence community and the security establishment as a whole use national security and the penumbral secrecy thereof to hide evidence of their own incompetence and malfeasance so that they are never held to an account for their failures.  By the time declassification occurs, those responsible have long since died, and the public’s outrage has faded.  Many individuals who read of the acts in question at the time of their declassification were not even alive at the time the illegalities occurred.  

 

Claims of national security are a key part of the state’s reliance upon myth: one can absolve oneself of accountability for any number of transgression by ensuring they remain hidden in perpetuity, or at least as long as one is alive.  In this way the guilty parties ride off into the future to enjoy their lives after entire careers filled with theft, murder, and torture, each example of which was committed supposedly in service of the country and the security of its people.  If this is the case, why not have it all out in the open?  Surely we can judge for ourselves whether or not a state-sponsored assassination was in fact in our interest.  

 

This is the key distinction between the state and the individual: an individual who commits the sort of acts committed by an intelligence operative is said to be sociopathic and even criminal, while the intelligence or defense operative can continue through the decades of his career racking up impressive statistics even by the standards of our most prolific sadists and serial killers.  

 

For our purposes, let’s reflect a moment on the Holocaust, a tragic genocide in which the lives of six million Jews were systematically extinguished for no other reason than their race.  They were judged as complicit in the real or imagined crimes of their forefathers and peers, regardless of their actual involvement in the banking establishment which allegedly brought about Germany’s decline during and after World War I. If the Jews in fact possessed such influence and vast power, as the National Socialists and other backwards bigots alleged, one wonders why such a powerful race was unable to prevent the genocide of six million of its own people.  They financed armies, moved nations against their own interests and for the interests of the Jews, and possessed the world’s banking system at their disposal, if one believes the sort of rhetoric propagated by inbred bigots and morons.  Yet when a failed artist and World War I veteran set in motion events which would kill six million of their kind, they were unable to prevent the genocide from occurring.  

 

The wealthy Jews of Europe had long existed in ghettoes and slums, from which they were unable to escape.  They could not move freely throughout much of Europe.  In Italy, the Jews had been crammed into one ghetto in Rome.  After Italy’s independence, the Italians did take down the walls which prevented the Jews from walking through the city after sundown, but the vast majority of the Jews lacked the means or the wherewithal to go anywhere else.  When the Nazis came for Jews of Italy, they backed their trucks right up to the entrance of the ghetto and began to apprehend them.  This took place 300 yards from the Vatican, by the way.  These powerful Jews were unable to do anything substantive to resist their persecutors, despite holding sway over the entire world by virtue of their race, if one believes the myth and narrative constructed by the National Socialist state.  

 

Six million people were done in lawfully by a state because of a mythic narrative, with both the myths and the laws constructed by the state who extinguished six million supposedly omnipotent Jews as if it were an afterthought.  This was accomplished through the bureaucracies of the German state, through propaganda which flowed from its official ministries and through laws which poured forth from its legislature.  The parts of the Holocaust which were not explicitly authorized by the law took place through vaguely constructed laws which gave the government ambiguous powers to subvert the explicit letter of the law in the name of some security interest, some pragmatic concern.  Ambiguity in the law is the ally of genocidal maniacs, especially when it empowers a state to override the letter of the law in emergency situations and circumstances.  

 

Now let’s consider another law you may not have heard of, in a place you rarely think of, if you think of it all. In the Bolivian mountains, there is a city named Potosí which lies beneath the Cerro de Potosí, a mountain which sits upon one of the richest silver deposits ever discovered in the history of mankind.  Back in the time when Potosí was at its peak, Bolivia was part of the Viceroyalty of Peru under Spanish rule, and the administrator of Potosí, a man named Francisco de Toledo, Count of Oropesa, adapted the Incan system of mita for his own purposes.  The Incas had evolved a system of conscription for public service to construct their empire, and owing to their wealth, a family could tend their crops for sixty-five days a year and then spend the rest of the year laboring under the mita system.  

 

Francisco de Toledo’s idea was to use mita for the mining of the silver at Potosí, and the practice eventually evolved into Indian laborers being forced to toil in the mines for months at a time, at a wage which did not equal out to the costs of their subsistence.   While the free labor rate was 30 pesos a month, the monthly expenses for food alone came to 28½ pesos. The free laborer also had to pay taxes, and his total expenses for the month were as high as 60 pesos.  That’s the free labor rate.  If you were conscripted under mita, you were paid around 25 pesos a month at most.  

 

This system and this wage continued for two hundred years, all the way up into the 1800s.  The truth was that the mitayo would never get out from under the debts he accumulated under mita, which paid him less than half of what he needed to survive.  For him to make up the difference, his wife and children would also have to work in the mines as well.  Of course, he would have to feed and shelter them as well.  

 

The fact that forced mine labor was illegal under Spanish law was of no consequence.  The fact that Spanish law required mitayos to be paid for their travel to the mine (they were conscripted from all over the Viceroyalty of Peru and had to travel to get to Potosí by foot and through the use of llamas as pack animals) was ignored as well.  Eventually the Spanish government repealed the aspects of the law which prohibited forced labor when it became apparent that free labor was more profitable.  

 

This is the state: when the law conflicts with practical purposes of the state and its favored groups, the law is ignored and overlooked.  Far from binding the state and men equally, the law holds no efficacy whatsoever to ensure the outcomes for which it was constructed.  Then and now, the law is of no concern to the state when the binding power of the law conflicts with the state’s overarching interest, even if that interest is of dubious validity.  The Spaniards though they would accomplish cheaper labor costs and better returns through the use of coercive labor practices, but the reality was that on Sunday, the k’apcha workers (workers who worked on Sunday to make up the difference between their wages as free laborers and as mitayos and their actual needs) turned in more silver to the Banco de Rescates than the Spanish did between the years 1773-1777.  As noted by John H. Rowe in his article The Incas Under Spanish Colonial Institutions, this fact raises “some interesting reflections on the efficiency of Spanish mining operations (20).”  

 

By some estimates, eight million indigenous people and African slaves died at Potosí due to the harsh labor practices of the Spanish, practices which were arguably inefficient due to the aforementioned k’apcha worker production between 1773-1777.  At one point, the Spanish had compelled individual to remain in the mines for periods of four months at a time.  Forced labor in the mines was illegal under Spanish law when it began, as was the failure of Spanish officials to compensate mitayos for their travel to Potosí.  

 

This wasn’t capitalism.  It wasn’t a free market.  The Spanish and didn’t gain their wealth and position, a position which survives to this day in our current world economy, by employing capitalist practices.  They gained their wealth by behaving like thugs and ruthlessly crushing any opposition to their practices, even when those practices were illegal by Spanish law.  As a state, the Spaniards disregarded their own laws when those laws conflicted with what individual Spaniards or groups among the Spanish elite wanted or saw as conducive to their own interest.  The law loses legitimacy when it isn’t enforced equally or fairly, and what is more, a society which has no law has no real structure or consistency and is economically inefficient.  People have no motivation to play within the boundaries of the law when the law is merely the instrument with which they are bludgeoned into submitting to policies against their own interest.  

 

All of the colonial powers engaged in this sort of behavior.  They had laws which prohibited many of the abuses they engaged in, but it was a state policy to ignore the very laws which limited state abuses if those laws got in the way of what the colonial powers believed to be a profitable course.  The natural result of such injustice is strife and revolution, both of which hold bloodshed as a consequence.  As further noted by Howe, “...Inca nationalists fought colonial abuses by legal means, petitioned the King for something like equal rights for Indians, and, when peaceful measures proved ineffective, attempted to establish an independent Inca state by armed revolt (158, Ibid emphasis added).  

 

Today, we confiscate the assets of drug dealers and criminals when those assets are accrued through criminal enterprises.  Imagine the same logic applied to the various colonial powers who routinely violated the very laws they passed in order to achieve an end.  It’s not a comforting thought, but it’s an increasingly likely one in certain instances.   The 371 treaties signed by the U.S. government with Indian nations who were recognized as sovereign by the United States at the time of the signings are now coming back to haunt present day landowners, who find that their deed to the land upon which their houses sit is based upon an uncertain and likely illegal provenance.  In short, because the United States entered into binding legal agreements Indian nations which established certain territorial and ownership prerogatives, only to disregard those agreements almost immediately after the ink had dried on the documents, modern landowners are finding their ownership of land challenged in court by newly assertive Indian tribes.  This is the consequence of a statist disregard for and indifference to the law.  

 

Such statist illegalities hold real consequences for people decades and centuries after the abuse occurs.  All that is required is for a court with a rightful sense that contracts cannot be broken with impunity to decide to enforce those contracts decades and centuries after a state broke its legal obligations under the contract with impunity.  The bill comes due.  

 

But before it does, human misery reaches catastrophic proportions.  We look upon the suffering of the Jews with understandable compassion and we are revolted by the German state’s overreach and abuse.  We deny that states can legitimately claim for themselves the power to wipe out entire races of people.   But where does the denial begin?  Does it apply retroactively to the eight million people who died at Potosí when the Spanish government disregarded its own laws on forced labor and compensation to arrive at a result which its officers and elites perceived as convenient?  Can the Spanish state today be sued by the Bolivian government as a representative of those individuals who endured what was arguably a holocaust for the economic convenience and advancement of colonial powers?  Probably not.  However, when a state violates its own law, the consequences are far reaching.  

 

One could fairly and accurately make the argument that the economic thuggery and lawlessness of the colonial powers is the foundation upon which their current day position and prosperity rest.  I am an unabashed capitalist, and I take issue with anyone who suggests that what transpired under colonialism was capitalist.  Admittedly, I’m marginal in my views because I also take issue with the idea that there is a true free market anywhere on the planet today.  Show me the market without tariffs and barriers to free trade.  It doesn’t exist.  However, with all of this said, I cannot dispute that economic thuggery and outright lawlessness was the foundation for the prosperity which gives western countries their unique advantage today.  

 

The tariffs and coercive methods which deprived the developing world of a chance then are still in existence today.  We allow the developing world to excel at the production of raw goods, but we do not allow them to process those goods. We insist that tea and coffee produced in Africa and South America be processed and finished into a final product in Germany.  We erect trade barriers to finished goods from African and South American countries in order to keep them in their place.  There are those who argue that these countries aren’t good at manufacturing and processing such products, because they lack the technologies and skills necessary to excel in those areas.  We take it as a given that this is the way things are naturally.  Without the artificial barriers and economic legacies of colonialism which compel developing countries to specialize in one crop above all others, and deter them from diversifying because those very tariffs prevent them from having an export market and therefore a demand which would enable them to sell their finished products, how can we know that they are just naturally lacking in aptitude?  

 

What’s more, where is the evidence that such arrangements work for us or for them?  The idea of a free market, as Bastiat so eloquently pointed out in his work on the subject, is to eliminate scarcity.  What does it matter to you or me if we have less in the way of employment if exports make it easier for us to work less and have more?  In point of fact, why wouldn’t we want such convenience?  Why wouldn’t we want the maximum possible level of that convenience?  If you could have the same amount of purchasing power you currently possess working half of the time, would you take the tradeoff?  

 

The acolytes of free trade are not those polished types on CNBC and Fox Business who use empty sloganeering to uphold protectionist policies in banking and decry government interference in fraud riddled financial sectors.  In all truth, those types and the interests who own their media outlets are the enemies of free trade.  They are the ones at whose behest governments disregard the laws on the books in order to achieve an end, even if it means breaking the law.  After their malfeasance is revealed, they exculpate themselves with claims of privilege, or they declare their actions classified and therefore exempt from scrutiny, and they go on their merry little way, breaking the law anew.  By the CIA’s own admission, its agents break the law over 100,000 times annually.  

 

These types will tell you that there should be no laws against fraud, as Allan Greenspan allegedly said to then CFTC chairwoman Brooksley Born during their first meeting, for the market should sort out fraud.  How can the market punish fraud when bailouts incentivize fraud by providing a publicly funded backstop?  You cannot have it both ways.  The idea is to have laws, but to protect against their enforcement at all costs.  The end result is lawlessness and abuse, and states which careen along, never out of control, but sowing chaos in the lives of middle and working class people the world over with their concerted lawbreaking and malfeasance, and their unequal application of the law as they exempt this person or group while punishing that person or group.  

 

A state above the law is incompatible with individual freedom, and any free people who accept such a state as their own virtually guarantee their enslavement.  There is but one appropriate response when the law is of no effect, and that is the overthrow of the lawless state by people who have exhausted legal means and now find themselves forced to choose between slavery and self-determination by a force of their own choosing.  Whether it is by the ballot or the bullet, such revolution is never as illegitimate as a state which claims to rest upon the law while simultaneously disregarding that law with wanton impudence.  A nation of people whose allegiance is to the ideals for which the state exists to promote, defend, and expand has every right to rebel against a state which departs from those ideals.  It is the state which loses its right to continued existence when it departs from the law, and the people hold the rightful power to act.  If they fail to do so, everything upon which their lives exist falls.  They can have no guarantee of property, for the state may grant them claim to land which it has already granted to another person or group.  They can hold no guarantee of individual rights, for their rights are dependent upon the state’s whim at a given time.  Order itself ceases to exist in such a nation when a state lays claim to a position above and beyond the law.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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