0 Peace, a natural state
1 What would an alien think
2 The emperor has no clothes
3 The state is out of date
4 Chaos theory
5 Playing God?
6 Do you believe them?
7 Natural government versus state control
8 Legitimising coercion
9 The constant confrontation
10 A terminal tool bag
11 Our problems - our solutions
13 Divide and rule
14 Birthright denied
15 The thin border line
16 Who owns you?
17 Victimless crimes
18 Poverty & crime: a popular myth
19 So what's news?
20 The state of business
21 Global Corporation Inc.
22 The arms industry toilet
23 What's wrong with money?
24 Banking and banksters
25 Strange fruit
26 Meat of the issue
27 The drugs problem
28 Positive protest - get fluffy!
29 A working example
30 The ways and means
31 Emptying the corridors of power
32 And where from here?
0 - Peace, a natural state
People accept their governments as a necessary evil, assuming that we could not live without central control underwritten by force. War, taxes and corrupt politicians are assumed to be a natural part of the human lot – an inevitable accompaniment to civilization. The Preface points out that we have tried an awful lot of variations on the theme of government, from kings to military juntas, pharaohs to parliaments, and keep hoping that the next one will work - vainly. Maybe we are not all natural-born killers and it is not necessary for us to kill and maim each other for unnecessary reasons. Perhaps living in peace with each other and our planet is actually an easier and more natural condition than that which we experience today.
1 - What Would An Alien Think?
We project many human idiosyncrasies onto our depictions of extra-terrestrial cultures. We assume they are run by governments like ours, fully equipped with advanced weapons of mass destruction. This opening chapter proposes that a highly advanced alien visitor might not possess the tools to defend itself against the ferocious firepower that we have dedicated our wealth and technology to developing. Why do we assume that massive destructive power is the hallmark of an advanced successful civilization? A fully-fledged, intelligent and culturally sophisticated civilization might easily exist on some other planet without the need for a heavily armed state running it with rulebooks, police, jails and judiciary. What we do on Earth is more likely the exception than the rule for those gifted with higher intelligence.
2 - The Emperor Has No Clothes
We all know the tale of the little child who had the innocence to point out what everybody else could see, but not perceive. We can all see that government by force is as ineffective as beating your child into good behaviour. But few are willing to question it and consider whether we might survive without it – whether we could self-organize into a stable and free system, as does all else in the universe. Many great thinkers have made the point that there is no such thing as good government, and that the best we can hope for is less of it.
We use the term "for political reasons" to describe something done for reasons that are somehow not honourable. And yet we all go about our lives as though the emperor had his clothes on, as though government was working, continuing to hope that with the right tweaks and twists of the knobs, the politicians will eventually get it right. Most of the problems which we expect governments to sort out are, sadly, problems caused by governments, whether that be orphans or terrorists, refugees or the unemployed, bulging jails or even mad cows…as we shall see.
"We shall get nowhere until we start by recognising that political behaviour is largely non-rational, that the world is suffering from some kind of mental disease which must be diagnosed before it can be cured." George Orwell (1903 - 1950
3 - The State Is Out Of Date
Here, we see that little has changed in the underlying operation of the state since its first beginnings some four thousand years ago. Whether the rules are written by divine emperors, dictators or presidents, by priests or elected parliaments, the resultant state tells us what to do, taxes us as much as it can and threatens to damage us if we do not comply. And its primary raison d'etre is to protect us from other versions of itself.
It now seems apparent that any new version of this ruling apparatus will, at best, be less costly and corrupt than the preceding one – a meagre hope seldom satisfied. It does not seem to ultimately matter what sort of people run the state or how they got to power. All is subservient to their primary goal of remaining in power.
The most positive thing we can do is to recognize that the state will neither be able to bomb, nor even negotiate us into world peace. Neither can it legislate and tax us into harmony with our environment. Until we free our heads from such expectations the route to viable forms of peaceful self-government will be difficult. We have the technology, the will and the need.
"The budget should be balanced. Public debt should be reduced. The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered, and assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed." Marcus Tullius Cicero - Rome 63 B.C
4 - Chaos Theory
There is a difference between the chaos in "chaos theory" and the “chaos” in our news headlines. This relatively new science looks at the order coming out of unmanaged (chaotic) systems. Scientists prove how a butterfly's wing flap can make the difference between fair days and a tornado, but dare not look at the social implications of their discoveries. Anything affects everything. We now realize that it is impossible to manipulate a few parts of a complex system, such as society, in order to make changes to the whole. Nobody can predict where the butterfly will be ten flaps ahead. Chaos theory removes the foundations of the deterministic government that has been imposed upon us for several thousand years. There is a natural organization that does indeed pervade our civilization, providing a governing structure that changes as we change, supplying us with most of the basics of life. This works so invisibly that we do not even see how miraculous it is, supplying us with communication and clothing, food and living spaces. We focus our attention upon government by decree, a place where things are done according to a plan that we must stick to, whatever happens – a place where things often go wrong.
5 - Playing God?
A brief chapter that discusses whether a God, should such exist, is likely to be devoting His energies to plotting out molecules and microbes; laying out rivers and mountains; and deciding how many types of fish to put in the sea. There just isn't much evidence of a God who forcibly intervenes in events to get His way. The world that we live in just seems to get on with itself, adapting to new circumstance and resolving problems as they arise. If there is some God, then its power is based on allowing every element of creation to be free to create and enjoy its own destiny in a universe that is somehow programmed to create order. We enjoy this order in everything from the delicate skin of our earth's atmosphere to the complex set of bacteria that protect our own skin and help us digest our food. This free system works, and when we use our considerable intellectual powers to construct an artificial structure that attempts to forcibly control the system, we are not playing at being God - we are denying and obstructing the greatest tool that God built into the universe.
6 - Can You Believe It?
A brief look at the thin basis for believing what political power holders tell us. Readers are urged to look within and question their faith, since over half of their working life and productivity is devoted to supporting the proposition that some day the state will get it all right. Perhaps one day the state will cease being a burden on the back of society and become a true servant of humanity, rather than a Frankenstein-like creation to be milked by politicians, manipulated by special interest groups, lobbied by big business and courted for supplies by war-makers around the world, to mention but a few of its major functions.
7 - Natural Government v. State Control
Here we grapple with the issue of just who is going to run the emergency services, educate us, set speed limits and so forth, recognising that those things that are running well in our society were not developed by the state These are things such as being able to regularly feed ourselves, furnish our homes, communicate with each other, travel by many means, insure ourselves, read literature, be entertained, make or play music, party, work, use smart technology, and do many things we associate with living our lives. All of these arose from the interactions of a free society – from our natural government. Some vital areas are the responsibility of the state or under its legislative control. Yet when their activities or policies damage the environment or food chain they are quick to assure us that everything is safe and we shouldn’t worry. By setting safe levels for food additives, food manufacturers are relieved of their responsibility when those levels are later found to be dangerous. For decades the state stifled damning evidenced on the dangers of asbestos and pesticides. Health service costs balloon without improving health. Millions who have done nobody wrong remain in jail. The cost of supporting the state's services is immense – over fifty percent of all our productive energies are devoted to its support. Perhaps if that immense wealth remained circulating in society we would not be suffering from so much deprivation. Perhaps we would figure out solutions rather than create departments that institutionalize the problems. It's just a thought.
"That government is best which governs least, because its people discipline themselves."
8 - Legitimising Coercion
Not a lot of us give much though to coercion and how much it pervades our society. The consequences of legitimizing coercion at the top are aired. We see that the destruction meted out to humanity as a result of those in the employ of government or wanna-be-government organization can at times, within a few months, exceed all of the "private sector" murders, rapes, mutilations and abductions of recorded history. And most gun-toting unlicensed criminals are likely to have received their initial training in uniform. A gripping example of the power of coercion is set out for the reader wherein it becomes apparent that absolute and unyielding unwillingness to pay a humble parking ticket would ultimately and inevitably lead to one's death. It is this power of coercion that underlies every law and regulation passed by the state. We see how setting the example of coercion at the top imprints many of us with the notion that coercive techniques are alright when special interests, including that of the "public good," are at stake. Unfortunately, lots of us have different ideas about what constitutes the public good and just who the public are. Waste, corruption and inefficiency on many levels continually permeate state and state-related activities - what does this tell us about the mechanism they are using? We see how coercion in the system breaks the feedback loop between supplier and receiver. We have only to look into history to see the end-result of all coercively managed economies and empires: collapse and decline.
"The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations." David Friedman
9 - The Constant Confrontation
The mechanics of a state or regime have always hinged upon confrontation from its origin, as a previous state was beaten either by force, deceit or a popular election. Our own personal experience of the state is most commonly of the confrontational variety, whether over parking tickets, building permits or tax demands. This is considered a normal way of going about things for those in control. Points out just how much we, as a society, are able to produce without confrontation. We look at the variety of shoes on sale. It is not about boots confronting shoes or sandals versus tongs. Take your choice. The state engages itself in making EITHER/OR decisions that pit one side against the other, whereas in society we manage well with BOTH/AND solutions that allow diversity. We are able to generate better self-governing mechanisms than the confrontational "regulating, banning or taxing it" tactics that are the first resort of the state. Sure we have some big problems, but perhaps we will some day realize that government is not going to "fix" the drug problem, nor legislate racial harmony, nor tax us into being green, nor protect us from those corporations that line its pockets. Then we may develop effective and protective solutions to those problems – solutions which do not thrive upon the continuation of the problems.
"It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination" Abraham Lincoln, Inaugural address 1861
10 - A Terminal Toolbag
Takes a trip through the various flaws in the mechanics of the state's tools and techniques for dealing with problems. • Overgrowth Mechanism – Explains why the state and its subdivisions keep getting bigger and bigger. All organisms like to grow, but most of them have natural controls. • The Disconnected Factor - Explains how it is that the normal feedback loop does not connect us properly to the state's services. A comparison is made between the speed of product recall when a company's products are contaminated and the "everything is ok" assurances that usually mark the discovery of contamination which implicate government. (i.e. nuclear accidents and farm animal epidemics). • Repression – How banning things that the government disapproves often ends up publicizing and promoting them. • Support it – How government support for the victims of society will frequently create more of those victims. As a wheelchair user for forty years, the author is acutely aware of ever-growing numbers of the fully able "disabled." • Attack it – In many cases the bodies established to attack specific problems, whether they be organized crime or dangerous drug trafficking, themselves rapidly become dependent upon the continued growth of that which they exist to attack. Have we ever heard of the Home Office budgeting for a reduced police and prison population when their policies have lead to less crime and greater security?
"It is characteristic of the most stringent censorships that they give credibility to the opinions they attack. Voltaire (1694 - 1778)
11 - Our Problems - Our Solutions
There is a very simple point made in this chapter, which is that when those who are responsible for problems find solutions to them, then the problems are less likely to recur. The statistics are presented correlating increased state expenditure on law and order with an increasing incidence of arrestable offences. We create, out of society, innumerable organizations to do everything from looking after abused donkeys to launching lifeboats. Where central government becomes involved, we usually hear of things such as abuses in care homes or funds given as foreign aid, tied to large and dubious construction projects undertaken by donor nation companies, and etc.. Yes we need to deal with problems like homelessness, drug-addiction, pollution, malnutrition, sexual abuse, poor education, bad health and indeed the whole catalogue of society's ills. But by letting the state take responsibility for these problems we usually condemn them to ultimately becoming worse as we deprive ourselves (society) of the funds and motivation that would enable us to be more effective in finding positive and flexible solutions.
"The more laws and restrictions there are, The poorer people become. The sharper men's weapons, The more trouble in the land. The more ingenious and clever men are, The more strange things happen. The more rules and regulations, The more thieves and robbers. Lao Tzu, 600 B.C.- Chinese philosopher
12 - Voting
With ever increasing numbers of the population disenchanted by the voting process this chapter lets them know just why they feel the way they do. It goes far deeper than being apathetic or disillusioned with the politicians on offer. Voting does not deliver us majority rule in the first place, and in the second place there is nothing inherently virtuous about rule by the many. What if the majority want to ban redheads from society, or enforce veil-wearing? They can in a voting democracy. Most who do vote, do so against one side rather than for another. When we vote with our pockets we can stop drinking Guinness after a 30-year relationship and they will not even intervene. When we vote with the ballot we don't get to stop buying the product, nor do we get to buy a new product; we simply get to change the manufacturer of the product. It’s like saying yes, you can stop drinking Guinness, but you still have to buy and consume some other variety of beer.
"In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place." Mahatma Gandhi (c 1950)
13 - Divide and Rule
Seeks to unmask the divide & rule techniques that take the division between the In Party and the Out Party and extend it into society. At the same time, the populace always have somebody to blame for the problems of society, whether because of what they have done, or have not done. As H.L.Mencken put it in 1956: "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." We saw the extension of this policy during British colonization when it was a standard method for getting one side to ask Britain for military intervention – the rest is history around the globe. It continues today when we see Iraq, under American occupation, dissolve into civil war between factions that once lived peaceably together.
"The two party system is like magic black and white squares which look like a staircase at one moment and a checkerboard the next." I.F. Stone, American journalist
14 - Birthright Denied
Once, like every other inhabitant of the planet, we were born onto this Earth and everything else was provided. We have progressed a long way since then, protecting ourselves with houses, travelling around in clever devices and letting others do our food production for us. In the chapter we reflect upon the consequences of it now being virtually impossible to forgo all the benefits of civilization and move back to a close-knit symbiotic relationship with the planet of our birth. It is illegal in most countries of the world to live like we were born to be. In our development of civilisation we have so surrounded ourselves with the often wonderful inventions of our species that it is quite possible to forget that the natural state of our ancestors, not that long ago, did not involve apartment blocks, motor cars, telephones, suitcases, personal documents, lawyers, stereos, policemen, television, couture and all the other trappings of life that we sometimes mistake for our life itself. Many pieces of state legislation define our "right" to live in a home with adequate facilities and, indeed, such facilities are given out free by the benevolent state to those occupants of the UK who are without them, and top of the waiting lists. Yet we have no right at all, indeed it is virtually illegal, to live on and from the land with no dependence whatsoever upon government support and with a minimum ecological footprint. How ludicrous is this?
"I was born on the prairies where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures." Geronimo, Apache chief (1829-1909)
15 - The Thin Red Line
Readers are reminded that we are one of the few creatures on this earth that may not use its own free will to move from place to place completely oblivious to lines drawn on the map. We, the most intelligent and developed species on earth, have our movement carefully controlled and monitored by states around the world every time we seek to move across a red line on the map of our planet. In this chapter we look at the real necessity for having lines drawn across the planet and suggest that such concepts should be becoming obsolete rather than ever more entrenched. Rather than being based on human realities, many border controls have little purpose other than to prevent people entering countries in order to "unfairly" benefit from state handouts and free services. The Internet and satellite communications are rapidly breaking down the old societal barriers between our different cultural heritages. It is time also, to wither away the unnatural boundaries erected by the red tape of bureaucracy, to end the sad plight of humans being unable to wander about the planet they were born upon.
"Nationalism is an infantile sickness - it is the measles of the human race." Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
16 - Who Owns You?
An unsettling point is made here, but it is one of which we might as well be aware. We like to think that, all things considered, we are free individuals neither beholding nor belonging to anybody. Yet history demonstrates to us that the state thinks otherwise and routinely exercises total authority over its own citizens whilst the rest of the world looks on and occasionally sighs. There was little worldwide concern during the mass murdering by Pol Pot of his own Cambodian people. Nobody cares much the 150+ protest demonstrations being put down EVERY DAY in China, or the million+ Americans behind bars for victimless crimes. Nobody cared all that much about Saddam Hussein's behaviour to his own Iraq people - until the USA set its sights upon his oil. The world looks on and sees the great American democracy stealing freedom from its own people, feeding them on lies and forcing them to fund worldwide wars of aggression. Instead of reprimanding them, other world governments seem more interested in acquiring the latest American technology for dealing with citizen unrest and crowd control.
"Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them" Frederick Douglas, orator and ex-slave (1817-95)
17 - Victimless Crimes
Here we look at the proliferation of victimless crimes appearing upon our statute books. The original remit of the state was to protect us from other states. As the need arose this was expanded to include protecting us from criminal elements within our own state. Now, satisfying the state's need for increased regulation, it takes on the mantle of protecting us from ourselves. We briefly explore the laws against cannabis use, which have imprisoned millions for enjoying a safer and happier alternative to alcohol; those governing the education of our children, which have seen parents killed and children taken into care for disagreeing with legislated educational requirements; laws covering the entire sexual arena, from determining what orifices may legally be used to banning visual or verbal depictions of the activity that creates us; laws governing permissible and non-permissible housing, which can make it impossible to live in a hand-built shack on your own land with a compost toilet; and forfeiture laws in America which routinely deprive people of large sums of their legitimately earned money as punishment for having unknowingly neglected to fill out a required form, or for accidentally making an incorrect entry upon a form. It would seem obvious that more laws against victimless crimes creates more criminals and less resources to reduce the number of victims of actual thieves and violent criminals. It will be obvious to readers by the end of this chapter.
In Bolivia, a clown known only as "Mr Twister" has been threatened with prison for refusing to promise a Santa Cruz court that he would not repeat his offence. Mr Twister was charged with repeatedly feeding the parking meters of complete strangers. Report in the Guardian, June 96
18 - Poverty & Crime: A Popular Myth
It has almost become an accepted truth in the Western world today that poverty is one of the fundamental causes of crimes against property - crimes that have victims. That this is both untrue and baseless becomes obvious with but a moment's reflection on the situation. It is suggested that we insult the poor, who comprise most of the world's population, with the assumption that their morals are inherently lower than those of rich affluent Westerners. Jesse James, Jack the Ripper and Bonnie & Clyde went into legend because they were rare one-offs. Today we have shocking crimes of a similar order-taking place with depressing regularity and they primarily occur in affluent and developed nations. How do we define poverty anyway? By some scorecards, a contented third world peasant in a supportive community with ample food and a clean environment could be seen as less poverty-stricken than a wealthy New York executive earning a hundred times as much, struggling to keep up with his lifestyle, child support and deteriorating health.
19 - So What's News?
This short chapter takes a sideways look at the media. Makes the point that a high proportion of the "serious" news is reporting upon either today's plans, programmes and proposals by politicians - or the failures, wars and scandals that have resulted from the plans, programmes, and proposals about which we were reading in the years gone by. It seems like only the names and the places change from week to week. There is not a lot of new stuff being reported. But god bless the media too! Were we relying solely on government bulletins, we would know little of oil spills in the oceans, corruption in government, rising asthma among children, Mad Cow Disease, radiation leaks, Gulf War syndrome, endangered species or global warming. Sure, we could use some more fearless investigative reporting out there, but the growing Internet media "channels" are filling in admirably.
"The danger that the press may misunderstand or misinterpret or even misinform is in the final analysis a small price to pay compared to the services the news media render when they expose wrongdoing or gross errors of judgement by the powers that be." Leonard H. Marks, lawyer 1995
20 - The State Of Business
Looks at the considerable effect of the state upon how we run our business enterprises. • Taxation has many negative spin-offs beyond the simple draining of capital resources from the economy. These include its encouragement of short term thinking; the moving of resources offshore; the brain drain of talented minds devoting themselves to saving taxes, or living abroad to avoid them; the considerable add-on cost to all goods and services. • the state made possible the Limited Liability company concept. Prior to this companies, or the people who owned them, were liable for the consequences of their activities. Knowing that you can lose their shirts tends to keep your eye on the ball. Now they can just call in the receivers and drive home with clean hands and full pockets. • We consider all those government schemes that fail in their objectives, consuming vast sums of our money in the course of it. The nuclear power industry and the Common Agricultural Policy are discussed. • the effect of relentless regulation is studied. In business from the age of 19, the author points out that were the fork invented today it would not be permitted. We have natural standards, such as the one Heinz set for baked beans, Bic for disposable lighters or Apple for personal computers. They work, and are flexible too. • False legitimacy given by the state begets so-called business enterprises that would never occur in a freely operating business climate. We see how the uninsurable nuclear industry would not exist, nor the arms industry nor artificial fertilizers. Most state legislation channels us into a corporate world where the small start-up gets harder and harder. How our natural enterprise is stifled by all the above and more.
"The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose to obtain the largest amount of feathers, with the least possible amount of hissing." Jean-Baptiste Colbert, treasurer to Louis XIV.
21 - Global Corporation Inc.
Taking a look at the picture often projected, of a nightmare world run by big business – everything done for a cash profit. The previous chapter highlighted how the state encourages large companies over small but companies and brands and products are a part of our life. And on the face of it, they are not all bad. A few points are made about companies, large and small. • Though bigger than many major countries, large corporations don't stockpile bombs, or even hand-grenades, just in case they need them to settle an argument one day. • Businesses don't put us in jail or fine and harass us for not buying their product, however brilliant the advertising, however many millions they spend promoting it, or however much they know we need it. • Businesses often do respond to consumer needs and demands, changing their product rapidly in response to changing consumer tastes – if they are too entrenched in tradition they risk being trampled by newcomers. • Companies usually stop short of killing or imprisoning the competition. Even the world dominating IBM Computers could do nothing but watch whilst two young nerds in a California garage changed their world with Apple. There are quite a few other things companies do that we don't find in government, such as sticking to their guarantees, refunding you when their product fails or sacking disgraced executives caught stealing from the company or lying to customers. When we contrast the activities of business with those of the world's nation states, we see how absurd it is to expect those nation states to be the ones to police and monitor the activities of corporations.
"A business must have a conscience as well as a counting house." Sir Montague Burton, the tailor
22 - The Arms Industry Toilet
It is worse than a joke. One and a half TRILLION dollars every year! Eisenhower and Kennedy warned us clearly, but now the Military Industrial Complex controls the world's current reigning superpower, its dominion challenged by no one. There are still some who believe that, wars aside, the arms industry is a viable part of a nation's industrial mix, creating jobs and healthy export sales. Here we explode that myth and demonstrate just how much worse than useless is this industry. A contrast is made with ships and bricks and bikes and computers – products that we actually use; products that add value to our lives. Military hardware is a product we hope never to use; a product that is expensive to look after whilst not being used, and a product that causes great damage if ever put to the use intended. And let us not forget the waste of intellect that designs lethal weaponry and of human skills and resources devoted to their production. It is suggested that it would be far better just to pile up that 1,500 billion dollars every year and set fire to it. Better yet, leave it within the society that it has been taken from to provide so-called defence – in Britain and America's case, just who is massing upon the borders anyway? We shouldnot forget that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council are the world's five largest arms dealers. Their road to peace will alway be paved with the weaponry of war.
"A thousand years scarce serve to form a state, An hour may lay it in the dust." Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812-28)
23 - What's wrong with money?
There are plenty of books telling us about scandals involving the money supply and how it was looted by governments when the Gold Standard was abandoned; about banks profiting by lending money they don't even have, etc, etc. We sometimes need to be reminded that money does actually represent something and possess inherent meaning, however distorted and manipulated it may be in the financial capitals of the world. When that pound of clay is transformed into a useful and perhaps beautiful fruit bowl there has been value added to our world. It is the same with most human endeavour whether it adds value to the land; makes music to please our ears; creates products to enhance our lives; or finds means to make us healthy. We represent that value with money. So don't be confused into thinking it is all imaginary, even though some strange people might be in control of it.
24 – Banking and Banksters
This chapter, new to the upgrade, cuts through some of the obscurity of banking, a long-established and sanctioned industry with dubious moral standards. The severity of bankers' moral transgressions is highlighted by fines from the hundreds of millions to over a billion dollars, yet none go to prison for their crimes, instead being effectively allowed to treat them as business operating costs. Unlike fines imposed for industrial accidents, oil spills, and drunken driving, the bankers' crimes are intentional, deceptive and fraudulent. This chapter ends with a very strong and revealing selection of quotes on banking, from bankers, statesmen and Henry Ford.
25 - Strange Fruit
It is fashionable today for politicians to try and combine the coercive power of the state with the creativity and efficiency of our enterprise culture. This chapter points out the obvious about some of the illogical offspring of this misbegotten concept. In the UK today, government builds roads then gets private enterprise to harvest fines from the drivers when they infringe a regulation. The strange practice of wheel clamping those who have parked in a disallowed space, or returned late to the parking meter, is prolonging the offence. It is like making a drunken driver drink another bottle before driving home. Will it be very long before we are able to purchase four parking fines in advance and get one free, or benefit from 25% discounts at Christmas for retrieving cars towed away from London's West End? With the growing privatisation of the prison "service" we now have a growing industry lobbying for more and more reasons to lock us up. Since their introduction to the USA, the prison population has risen from half a million to 2 ½ million, fivefold, while crime has stayed pretty constant. The coercive "do it or I'll hit you" approach has never been a successful long-term strategy for businesses, companies or enterprises. Attempting to harness this approach to private enterprise in order to make the state more efficient brings very grave dangers with only an occasional cost-saving benefit.
26 - Meat of the Issue
As inventor of the original Vegeburger, the author feels entitled to take a sideways look at meat eating in this chapter, suggesting that we are the losers in the host-parasite relationship we have with our farm animals. Our cows, pigs and sheep easily outnumber all other large mammals on the planet. They are safe in that position as long as we continue to eat them, devoting 70% or more of our farmland to producing their food. What do we get in return for breeding all these animals? Degenerative diseases, obesity, polluted and exhausted land, 90% of food poisoning cases, and the subsidised factory farm are but a few of the benefits. Once we just fed food processing and other edible waste to our domestic animals. Meat eating was more likely to be a weekly occasion than a daily event. Then the state got involved, thinking we all needed to eat more meat, and it all got exploitative and unsustainable - its ultimate expression being the factory farm. Here it is pointed out that the best motivation for reducing or eliminating meat and animal products from our diet is the self-interest that wants to eat most of its food first-hand and avoid all the downsides of intensive meat consumption.
"I think it could be plausibly argued that changes of diet are more important than changes of dynasty or even of religion." George Orwell, 1937 "The Road to Wigan Pier"
27 - The Drugs Problem
Making a case that the main problems we experience have been caused by the blanket illegality of recreational and inspirational drugs in the first place. These things entered our culture 30,000 years ago and we evolved until very recently without any ban against their use. Now that all but one are stringently controlled we have record levels of alcohol consumption and a plethora of pharmaceutical drugs manufactured to counter depression, attention deficit disorder, manic depression, paranoia, anxiety and etc. In much of the world it has become virtually impossible to obtain cannabis or psychedelics, drugs that have near zero risks. Cocaine seems to have expanded worldwide as America spends tens of billions fighting it at source in South America. The chapter is not about drugs but the point is made that heroin, aspirin, cannabis, whisky, wine, tobacco, cocaine, penicillin, lsd, coffee, ecstasy, warfarin, and cigarettes are all very different substances – but all drugs. We cannot generalize about drugs, whether they are legal or illegal. Casualties arising from the War on Drugs are explored, with a flashback to the days of official Prohibition, when alcohol consumption doubled. The demands of an insurance company to cover a legal drug supplier might have more bite than the law & order operations that end up seizing 10% of the traffic. Closes by highlighting the real drug problem, which sees the majority of Americans prescribed addictive drugs they must take for the rest of their lives in order to feel "normal." Some of those products are now targeted at children. The pharmaceutical companies are making every effort to spread this ethos of drug dependency around the world. Pot-smoking teenagers are not the problem.
"The Drug War is fueled by the fact that at this historic moment...our politicians are suffering from enemy deprivation. Faced with the real problems of urban decay, slipping global competitiveness, and a deteriorating educational system, the government has decided instead to turn its energies toward the sixty million Americans who use illegal psychoactive drugs." Timothy Leary
28 - Positive Protest - Get Fluffy
This chapter describes the birth of what is now known a NVDA, non-violent direct action. It used to be called "fluffy" and arose in the early 1990's as a loose-knit community of people arose who challenged the ongoing paving of this green and pleasant land. Their argument was that chopping down trees to make roads would bring more cars and that what the world needed was fewer cars and more trees. They didn't talk about global warming or carbon footprints…they just acted on very powerful instincts. A new form of protest arose from this group, which consciously developed strategies of non-violence that would, like jiu-jitsu, takes the force of the attacker and turn it back against them. And they had to be fun, as were the legendary Reclaim the Streets parties across Britain, and eventually the world. Today, over a decade later, legislation has been passed that greatly restricts the freedom of people to group together, even in small gatherings, to voice their minds. The same people passing this legislation increasingly invite us to "Have your say" on neat little surveys designed by their customer satisfaction experts. Is this what freedom and democracy have been reduced to?
29 - A Working Example
Much is made in this book of society's ability to rise to the challenges of self-responsibility when unrestricted by state-conceived rulebooks. Whilst not the remit here to specify the structures and organizations that would arise in the absence of government monopoly, we examine two good examples of the principle in practice. One of them is old, having organized itself hundreds of years ago – the other is a child of the Internet. It would be hard to imagine anybody providing the old example if it did not already exist. Insurance is one product that we buy in the hope of never needing it. It was conceived not by any government but by a group of ship-owners and merchants looking for a co-operative way to protect themselves from disaster. It is a governmental type of service that works, that evolves to cover new risks, and that manages to do so without the need to force our money from us. And when they pay a claim we are not made to feel like some supplicant receiving their blessing. Recently, the Internet auction house eBay created an innovative means to keep buyers and sellers honest by getting them to rate each other's level of service and honesty in the transaction. It is a simple idea and it works, giving us more assurance when buying from an unknown and invisible supplier online than we have when buying in a high street shop - without the need for police, courts, fines and jails, let alone a protective umbrella of nuclear weapons.
"Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it." George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)
30 - The ways and means
Musing out loud about a few areas and products that could be adapted in order to provide, in a non-confrontational manner, some of the services that are being ill served by the state. Questions whether we really need the huge edifice of central government to determine which side of the road we drive upon, or determine safety standards meant to ensure the purity of our food chain. There already exists a natural infrastructure of protection, giving us the ability to have certain types of providers vouched for by the associations to which they belong, whether they be architects, solicitors, surgeons, homeopaths or nannies. On a simpler level community instincts kick in and we are guided by the recommendation of friends or family. The strength of commercial law is stressed, defining a code of conduct and contractual obligation that most companies will observe, because if they do not it will be difficult to find people willing to do business with them. A case is made that private ownership of the road network is unlikely to have suffered from the same over-planned blight as has the state run system. We would not be treated as criminals to be caught out, nor suffer from the driving distractions of incessant signposting and road painting, bumping, posting, painting and endless re-arranging. And how would we deal with crime? We would, as it is a phenomenon that no community wants to see flourish. Our current situation sees the police and prison service thriving as crime flourishes. A suggestion is made that those who would thrive from a reduction in crimes, at least those of the victim-creating variety, would be a more sensible choice for dealing with the detection of, and response to crime.
31 - Emptying The Corridors Of Power
We are well aware of the growing feeling of disgust towards to the whole political system, whatever colour and creed it parades. This is an idea for a political party that the author could engage with as a declared political de-activist. Its stated goal would be to peacefully reduce the greatest problem facing humanity– politicians of all types. Sure, we have other major problems – but politicians worldwide do more to reinforce them than reduce them, simultaneously sucking away the funds with which we could, perhaps, intelligently save our collective asses. One less politician is no big deal in itself, but if brought about by the vote and not a bullet or a bomb then it would be something genuinely new in the political world, and a sign to its practitioners that they should start looking for real jobs in the future. The One-Less Party fields a candidate who has sworn an official oath that, if elected, they will undertake none of the duties of office, use no facilities of office, pay no staff, attend no meetings, receive no money or benefit whatsoever – in short they would empty a set of parliament, creating one less politician. That will teach them to call non-voters apathetic.
"The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop." P.J. O'Rourke, Parliament of Whores
32 - And Where From Here?
Summarizing the book, this upbeat chapter shows us just how capable we are of coming up with solutions and dealing with situations. There almost certainly is a way forward but will we create the climate in which to make our route through to the future, or will we entrust it to the politicians? That which we most reliably enjoy today is the fruit of our own complex and chaotic society, not the creation of any parliament, king or emperor. We can live happily within our complex system and we can find ways to govern and manage some of the more universal elements of it. Refers to George Orwell's satire on an "ideal" Soviet world. He had the cameras indoors rather than outdoors but his vision of an endless war against a shifting and indeterminate enemy was spot on. And he foresaw well-programmed humans doing similar people-monitoring data-collection work to that now processed through computers. We can do it. We have the tools and the intellect to advance our civilisation. It is unlikely that we can do it however while still carrying the monkey of the state on our backs, diverting the resources that we have generated into ever more distorting and damaging schemes, hopeless programmes and deadly confrontations with other monkeys. The futility of attacking the state is reiterated, or of expecting political animals to accomplish anything with their taxing and punishing tools. The first and most important step is to live without the state as a focus in our lives, and to start building to survive its decay.
"The time is always right to do what is right." Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 - 1968)