Regarding political government as a disease is most useful. Recently I read Plagues And Peoples by William H. McNeill, (1976 Anchor Press/Doubleday, Garden City, New York). Here are his thoughts on the subject: (pp. 53—55)
"Before proceeding further with disease history, it is worth pointing out the parallels between the microparasitism of infectious disease and the macroparasitism of military operations. Only when civilized communities had built up a certain level of wealth and skill did war and raiding become an economically viable enterprise. But seizing the harvest by force, if it led to speedy death of the agricultural work force from starvation, was an unstable form of macroparasitism. Nevertheless such events happened often enough, and deserve to be compared with parasitic invasions like African rinderpest of 1891 that also destroyed the hosts in such numbers as to inhibit the establishment of any stable, ongoing infectious pattern.
"Very early in civilized history, successful raiders became conquerors, i.e., learned how to rob agriculturalists in such a way as to take from them some but not all of the harvest. By trial and error a balance could and did arise, whereby cultivators could survive such predation by producing more grain and other crops than were needed for their own maintenance. Such surpluses may be viewed as the antibodies appropriate to human macroparasitism. A successful government immunizes those who pay rent and taxes against catastrophic raids and foreign invasion in the same way that a low-grade infection can immunize its host against lethally disastrous disease invasion. Disease immunity arises by stimulating surplus production of food and raw materials sufficient to support specialists in violence in suitably large numbers and with appropriate weaponry. Both defense reactions constitute burdens on the host populations, but a burden less onerous that periodic exposure to sudden lethal disaster.
"The result of establishing successful governments is to create a vastly more formidable society vis-à-vis other human communities. Specialists in violence can scarcely fail to prevail against men who have to spend most of their time producing or finding food. And as we shall soon see, a suitably diseased society, in which endemic forms of viral and bacterial infection continually provoke antibody formation by invading susceptible individuals unceasingly, is vastly more formidable from an epidemiological point of view vis-à-vis simpler and healthier human societies. Macroparasitism leading to the development of powerful military and political organization therefore has its counterpart in the biological defenses human populations create when exposed to the microparasitism of bacteria and viruses. In other words, warfare and disease are connected by more than rhetoric and the pestilences that have so often marched with and in the wake of armies."
Thinking of "antibody formations" to the disease of state "macroparasitism" leads me to think of far more than merely out-producing their theft. It leads me to think of immunizing institutions that actually protect us from the disease. Here we need a new form of insurance, as suggested by Hans-Herman Hoppe in Democracy, The God That Failed, that would guarantee us protection from predatory infection by the state. After the current agents of this disease bring Western Civilization to its knees, perhaps such private institutions will arise to ensure our survival.
March 8, 2003
Copyright © 2003 William H. McNeill