Some Facts of Power — and a Question
by Jeff Knaebel
by Jeff Knaebel
Excerpted from his book Experiments in Moral Sovereignty.
Here is an extract from a poem by Pablo Neruda that Harold Pinter quoted in his Nobel Lecture in December 2005. Pinter made profoundly disturbing remarks about American and British conduct in the Iraq War. He quoted Neruda's poem about Spain to make an image of the deliberate bombing of civilians by States as has been their characteristic throughout the past century.
"And one morning all that was burning,
one morning the bonfires
leapt out of the earth
devouring human beings
and from then on fire,
gunpowder from then on,
and from then on blood.
Bandits with planes and Moors,
bandits with finger-rings and duchesses,
bandits with black friars spattering blessings
came through the sky to kill children
and the blood of children ran through the streets
without fuss, like children's blood.
Jackals that the jackals would despise
stones that the dry thistle would bite on and spit out,
vipers that the vipers would abominate.
Face to face with you I have seen the blood
of Spain tower like a tide
to drown you in one wave
of pride and knives.
From every house burning metal flows
instead of flowers
and from every dead child a rifle with eyes
and from every crime bullets are born
which one day will find
the bull's eye of your hearts.
And you will ask: why doesn't his poetry
speak of dreams and leaves
and the great volcanoes of his native land.
Come and see the blood in the streets.
Come and see
the blood in the streets.
This poem — I'm Explaining a Few Things — was written at about the midpoint of the bloodiest century in known human history. Much more blood would be spilled before century's end. This was the so-called "American Century." The century of the Nuclear Nation State. The century when the power of science and technology began to double at the rate of geometric progression. In the womb of this century was conceived the current American policy of "Full Spectrum Dominance," to be imposed upon others by "Shock and Awe" of death raining from the sky.
"Force is that which turns a person into a thing — either a corpse or slave."
~ Simone Weil
Gandhi wrote, "The individual has a soul, but as the State is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from the violence to which it owes its very existence." Others have noted, "War is the health of the State."
"States are not agents of morality and peace. They are instruments of force, disruption, disorder, death, dismemberment, and war instigated by those who rule them and command others. Peace is not brought by bombardment, shock and awe, and machine guns."
~ M.S. Rozeff, 29 October 2005
War Is The Ultimate Profession of Nice Government Men
War is the ultimate profession of government. War is always debt financed. To find the ultimate "beneficiaries" of war, follow the money trail to its creditors. If a State can successfully involve itself in war, it will survive. If it cannot, it will perish. The sanctity of law, the well-being of citizens, and the solvency of its treasury will be sacrificed by any government in its primal struggle for survival. It is therefore in the self-interest of politicians and financiers to involve the State in war, or to create perceived threat of war. The greater the threat, the more massive the war preparation, the greater the need for debt finance.
To involve the State in war, it is necessary to have an enemy. If such already exist, provoke. If not existing, create one by financing the rise of a hostile regime or non-state hostile actor.
The best assurance of peace, as also the greatest obstacle to those who would profit from war, is a government which refuses to finance war via debt. When this occurs, it is in the interest of world debt financiers to encourage regime change in such State so as to install a government more compliant to their goals. This game has been made evident by the American game of overt or covert overthrow of foreign governments (sometimes for "captive oil" in lieu of outright war).
A global condition of perpetual war is the best assurance of continual profit for the financiers thereof. Since they profit from financing both (or all) sides, their interest is in a balance of power, pursuant to which no participant gains a decisive victory. If through exhaustion or victory there is a temporary peace, there will be a reduction of debt. Reduction of debt results in loss of profit form the military-industrial complex and its financiers.
It can be seen from the foregoing that the "War on Terror" is perfectly elegant in its design to accomplish the goal of Everywhere Forever War. There cannot be a decisive victory. It is perpetual. It is very profitable for a few.
The success of its methodology is documented by US Department of Defense studies pointed out by Ivan Eland of the Independent Institute. These studies show that the presence of heavy concentrations of US troops, positions or activity in some part of the world is closely correlated with increased terrorist activity. It is obvious that the presence of a foreign power, even if "benevolent," will breed local resentment. (Tim Case, 16 December 2005).
"They have always taught and trained you to believe it will be your patriotic duty to go to war and to have yourselves slaughtered at their command. But in all the history of the world you, the people, have never had a voice in declaring war."
~ Eugene Debs
The State Monopoly on the Use of Force
The overt power of the State is its monopoly on the use of force within a given territorial area. This monopoly is ostensibly to provide for the safety and security of its citizens. Leaving aside the historical fact that this set-up amounts to a legalized protection racket, how did States perform in the twentieth century on their responsibility to protect citizens? Please note that I am not embarking upon an argument from efficiency. The concern is with moral issues.
"The State lies in all the tongues of good and evil, and whatever it says is lies, and whatever it has, it has stolen, everything it is, is false, it bites with stolen teeth, and it bites often, it is false down to its bowels."
~ Friedrich Nietzsche, 1896
Partial reports of the blood-soaked ledger are presented in two recent monographs cited and abstracted in the following. In considering the background and motivation of these conflicts, note that war is always tax and debt financed. Note who benefits from tax and debt finance: power brokers in government, central and commercial bankers, the military-industrial complex. Consider who it is that has the power of war and peace in a sham democracy controlled by corporations. Note the immutable linkage of means to end discussed elsewhere in this booklet. War can never bring peace, or prosperity, or any good outcome. War is murder.
War results in immense transfers of wealth from the many to a few powerful decision-makers, financiers, industrialists and bankers. Other than this massive transfer of wealth and power, one is confronted with the question: what did these conflicts accomplish, and for whom?
Title: Deaths in Wars and Conflicts in the 20th Century / Netherlands Institute of International Relations / Leitenberg, M. / 1 August 2006.
"An itemized sum for deaths in wars and conflicts 'killed or allowed to die by human decision' of approximately 231 million for the 20th Century. Some of the components are:
- World war I, between 13 and 15 million
- Armenian Genocide of 1915, 1 million
- Russian Civil War of 1918-1922, over 12.5 million
- Mexican Revolution of 1909-1916, 1 million
- Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, 600,000
- Various colonial and other wars pre-1914, approximately 1.5 million
- World War II, between 65 and 75 million
- Conflicts between 1945-2000, 41 million
"Additional components include politically caused deaths of the USSR from the forced starvation in Ukraine and among "kulaks" in the 1930's and the forced deaths of the gulag labor camps during various Soviet purges reported at 35 million killed by political terror or deliberate starvation. The starvation program was intended to destroy the independent Russian peasantry and replace them with agricultural collectives. In 1990, Antonov-Ovseenko estimated starvation deaths at 22 million during 1932-33 alone. In 1986, M. Walker reported Soviet figures of 18,840,000 arrested in political purges between 1935-41, with 7 million shot directly. In 1990 and 1994 Rummel published estimates of 61,911,000 Soviet genocides and mass murders between 1917-1987. In 1983 Dr. Alex Inkles attributed the loss of 100 million Russian lives to Lenin and Stalin.
"For China, detailed figures of mortality during successive "rectification campaigns" have been published by the Chinese government. These campaigns include the land reform movement (1949-54) / "suppression of counterrevolutionaries" (1949-54) / "Anti-Rightists Campaign" (1959) / Great Leap Forward starvation (1959-61) / "Cultural revolution" (1965-75) / Additional deaths in labor camps during Cultural Revolution. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences reports 80 million 'killed or allowed to die by human decision' for this period.
"For the regimes of USSR, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Afghanistan, and East European states under communist rule between 1950 and 1990, an estimated up to 100 million people were killed by these governments collectively. In addition, the North Korean gulags killed 400,000 between 1970 and 2000, and the government-induced famines of late 1990's resulted in up to 2,650,000 deaths.
"Cambodian conflicts between 1975 and 1978 killed 2 million.
"The next significant category is 'the great domestic slaughters,' tabulated from 1955. For these the total is 15 million, with 13 out of 19 events taking place in Africa. Other significant events were in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Iraq-Kurds, Bosnia-Yugoslavia.
"The widely-invoked phrase of 'Never Again' following the WWII Holocaust — which could be considered an historic vow — proved to be empty rhetoric and bankrupt as a policy upon which any State was prepared to act."
Table 2 of the report tabulates deaths in wars and conflicts for 1945-2000. Some extracts are noted in following quotations:
- Dominican Republic 1965, US intervention: 3,000
- El Salvador, US intervention 1979-89: 73,000
- Guatemala, US intervention 1954-95: 223,500
- Nicaragua, US intervention 1978-79: 35,000
- Iran in war with Iraq, US complicity 1979-89: 1,017,000
- Iraq in war with Iran, US complicity 1980-89: 967,000
- Iraq in Gulf War 1991, US: 75,000
- Political killings by Iraq government 1982-2002: 350,000
- Lebanon civil war, US-Israel interventions 1975-89: 131,000
- Afghanistan civil-Soviet war 1978-89: 1,000,000
- India partition 1946-48: 800,000
- India (vs Pakistan Rann of Kutch) 1965: 20,000
- India (vs Pakistan 1971): 11,000
- India Kasmir conflicts 1990-2000: 29,000
- India Sikh autonomy campaign 1983-2000: 25,200
- Indonesia Communists vs government 1956-66: 530,000
- Vietnam (vs France) 1945-54: 600,000
- Vietnam (vs USA): 2,358,000
- Algeria (vs France) 1954-62: 1,000,000
— — — END OF REPORT — — —
"In reviewing the history of the English Government, its wars and its taxes, a bystander would declare that taxes were not raised to carry on wars, but wars were raised to carry on taxes."
~ Thomas Paine
Title: Development, Democracy and Mass Killings / World Bank and New York University / William Easterly, 1 August 2006.
"Abstract: The 20th Century closed with many lamenting civilian killings by the State as its greatest evil. By one estimate, governments killed as many as 170 million civilians from 1900-1987, more than all the soldiers killed in wars of the 20th Century. The century closed with a new euphemism for killing and deportation: 'ethnic cleansing.' Freedom from risk of being killed by the state, and freedom from having your 'group' being the target of violence is surely an important component of social well-being. Power kills — absolute power kills absolutely. Democracies can also engage in massacre and genocide. A majority may agree on the killing of an unpopular minority. Famous examples are the democratic governments of Australia, Canada and the United States who killed indigenous peoples. It is an open empirical question whether democracy turns economic development toward benevolent ends." (my emphasis)
Appendix 2 List of Mass Killing Episodes. From a list of 174 episodes, only a few are noted below:
- Bangladesh 1979-99, massacre of tribals
- Brazil 1988-92, massacre of tribals
- Chile 1986, massacre of tribals
- China 1959-79, occupation of Tibet (1,200,000 deaths)
- Columbia, 1991, mass killings of tribals
- Guatemala 1960-96, mass murder of indigenous groups (200,000)
- India 1992-93, Hindu-Muslim riots
- Indonesia 1976-87, East Timor massacres (230,000)
- Papua New Guinea 1988-91, massacre of indigenous groups
- Paraguay 1990-91, massacre of indigenous groups
- Romania 1989-93, ethnic cleansing
- USA and Canada, pre twentieth century genocide of indigenous population
— — — END OF REPORT — — —
War Consumes Civilians
"Democracies are prone to war, and war consumes them."
~ W.H. Seward in Eulogy on John Quincy Adams (1848)
"Half a century has shown that exaggerated nationalism is so perilous as to place in question man's very survival."
~ Albert Einstein in Man and His Gods, 1952
Attention is invited to the death ratio of civilians versus military. One hundred seventy million of the total 231 million are civilian non-combatants, leaving 61 million as military casualties. Civilian casualties were nearly three times that of the military. Leave aside the moral obscenity of these State-sponsored conflicts, the figures provide a stark measure of the efficacy of the State in carrying out its supposedly primary function of providing security for its citizens.
The following statistics for India have come from internet sources. Their reliability cannot be vouchsafed. Nonetheless, from my sixteen years of reading the daily Indian press, I think the trend and the political realities are not misrepresented.
"Mortalities at hands of Indian government include over 250,000 Sikh men, women and children since 1984; 300,000 Christians in Nagaland and elsewhere; 90,000 Muslims in Kashmir; tens of thousands of Assamese, Bodos, Dalits, Manipuris, Tamils and other minorities. It is reported that more than 52,000 Sikhs remain imprisoned without charge or trial under TADA, an Act which expired in 1995. According to Amnesty International, tens of thousands of other minorities are also being held as political prisoners."
The purpose of presenting these disturbing statistics of State action is to help awaken us from what I perceive to be mass psychological denial of the facts of our situation. Based upon the facts of its record of action and upon perceptions of its real driving forces, I would raise questions about the moral validity of the State as an institutional frame upon which to organize a civil human society.
"Money rules the world. With power to control the money supply, you control the world. That's just reality. Politicians all succumb to the powers that be. Once initiated, their options become clear. Either expose the ruse and commit political suicide while potentially collapsing the economy, or play the banker's game by the banker's rules. Politicians are the puppets, not the puppet masters."
~ Chuhran, 26 April 2004
What is the moral justification for the existence, let alone the tolerance, of an institution which not only cannot protect women and children, but oppresses and murders selectively those within its own borders?
"War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is has international scope. It is the only one in which profits are reckoned in dollars and losses in lives. A racket is best described as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the vary many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."
~ twice decorated Congressional Medal of Honor Marine Major General Smedley Butler,
War Is A Racket, 1935
Here are some glimpses of American action while "conquering" the peaceful people of the Philippines in March, 1906. Six hundred US soldiers with artillery massacred more than six hundred Moro men, women and children who had taken shelter in a volcanic crater. The Americans fired into the bowl of the crater from protected positions at the lip above. A few Moro had knives and sticks. Excerpts from US newspapers of the day: "Women Slain In Moro Slaughter" / "With Children They Mixed in Mob in Crater, and All Died Together" / "Death List Is Now 900."
"They were mere naked savages, and yet there is a sort of pathos about it when that word children falls under your eye, for it always brings before us our perfectest symbol of innocence and helplessness; and by help of its deathless eloquence color, creed and nationality vanish away and we see only that they are children — merely children. We see a picture. We see they are frightened and crying and in trouble, our pity goes out to them by natural impulse. We see the small forms. We see terrified faces. We see the tears. We see small hands clinging in supplication to the mother."
~ Voices of a People's History of the United States, Howard Zinn
Old News in a Continuing Tragedy
12 October 2006. Just released from John's Hopkins University, a report estimates that between 420,000 to 790,000 Iraqis have died as result of war since US invasion in March 2003. Almost a million have been displaced or have fled the country. Add to this the earlier deaths of 500,000 children caused by sanctions — which US Secretary of State brazenly stated in public "Is worth the price" — and you have a feel for the "benevolence" of democracy.
Juan Cole (Informed Comment) notes that this report will have a "hard ride" because a significant portion of the US business elite is very invested in the Iraq War. He asks, "Can you imagine the profits of the military-industrial complex from all of this? Do they really want the US public to know the truth about what the weapons they produce have done to Iraqis? Who is really benefiting from this?"
"The world is governed by very different personages from what is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes."
~ Benjamin Disraeli
"The question of power, and consequently of war, is little else than a question of money. Those who stand ready to furnish this money are the real rulers. The so-called sovereigns of States are nothing more than tools employed by the wealthy. They are simply the chiefs of different bands of robbers and murderers. And these chiefs are dependent upon the lenders of blood-money for the means to carry on their robberies and murders."
~ Lysander Spooner, 1870
A report by Dr. Javed Jamil, Who Is Bigger Threat to World Peace: Iran or Big Five?, February 2006, offers statistical precedent on the behavior of powerful central governments, quoted roughly as follows. His list of wars of the past 150 years indicates that 84% of mortalities have been at the hands of five of today's major military powers: China, USA, Russia, UK and France. The biggest pogroms of history have taken place in Germany and Russia — both Christian — and China, of mixed religions and communist atheism. Two of the biggest killers of all time, Stalin and Hitler, were Christians. The largest number of murders within their own countries for political ends was carried out by governments of China and Russia. The shame of killing the most people abroad goes to USA, especially during the past 60 years. Apart from WWII battlefield deaths, it murdered about 500,000 civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, almost three million in Vietnam, and up to now an estimated up to 790,000 in Iraq. Dr. Jamil notes that Iran, presently in the nuclear bomb sights of USA, appears only once in his list of ninety one wars, and has never waged a war of aggressive invasion against another. He does not mention the Nixon-Kissinger murder of hundreds of thousands women and children incinerated by US napalm bombs in non-combatant Cambodia.
"Take not life, which God has made sacred."
~ The Qur'an
"The highest charity is refraining from violence."
~ Srimad Bhagavatam
Dr. Jamil does not directly mention the absurdity of the world's most rampant terrorist organization — the US government — conducting a "war on terror." Since 1946, the USG has overthrown some 50 governments, often by terrorist means, sometimes by a clandestine assassination.
"US forces and policies are completing the radicalization of the Islamic world, something Osama bin Laden has been trying to do with substantial but incomplete success since the early 1990's. As a result, it is fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden's only indispensable ally."
~ Noam Chomsky Amnesty International Lecture, 18 January 2006
The Federation of American Scientists has compiled a list of over 201 overseas military operations from end of WWII to 11 September 2001 in which the USG was involved and normally struck the first blow. He list is reprinted by Gore Vidal in Perpetual War for Perpetual peace: How We Got To Be So Hated. The USG helped install and then supported such dictators as the Shah of Iran, General Suharto in Indonesia, Fulgencio Batista in Cuba, Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua, Augusto Pinochet in Chile, and Sese Mobutu in Congo-Zaire, as well as a series of American-backed militarists in Vietnam and Cambodia until finally expelled from Indochina. (Chalmers Johnson, On Peddling Democracy)
Reckless in Washington
The US has been capable of both Hiroshima and Vietnam. Which one will it be this time?
Indian Express 19 August 2005
For me, what this headline does not say is a devastating critique of our sorry situation. It asks, "Which one will it be this time?" Which modality of death will America choose with which to murder women and children? It does not ask might there be restraint of greed, respect for the rights and lives of others, goodwill in voluntary exchange, peaceful relations among neighbors. It holds no hope for peace. It asks only what will be the style of war, what is the weapon of choice this time with which to destroy the lives of innocent people who pose no threat.
"Nevertheless, the first task of the Iraqi occupation remains the first task of government — to establish a monopoly on violence."
~ George Will, Washington Post, April 2004
What man would voluntarily provide 40% of his earnings to support such obscene atrocities as mentioned so far? The sweat of my labor is not meant to become shards of depleted uranium in the mangled body of an infant crying for its dead mother. If not voluntary, then taxes are coercion, violence. Is this not slavery?
"The trade of governing has always been monopolized by the most ignorant and the most rascally individuals of mankind."
~ Thomas Paine (1737-1849)
I am reminded, ruefully and too often, of humorist Will Rogers, "Good that we don't get all the government that we pay for." It looks to me that if the governments of 21st Century actually deliver all that we have paid for, surely we will all be killed.
"If the government can take a man's money without his consent, there is no limit to the additional tyranny it may impose upon him. With his money, it can hire soldiers to keep him in subjection, plunder him at discretion and kill him if he resists."
~ Lysander Spooner, 1852
The financial function of the State is clear. This is to coerce money and resources from people that could not have been obtained by voluntary exchange in the marketplace. The end of Power is to exercise authority over others concerning money and resources that can be exploited for monetary benefit. Calls of "democracy-freedom-patriotism-proletariat-general welfare-the constitution-fatherland-war on terror," are all intended as propaganda to extract money or labor from a conditioned people. The aim of power is control. The aim of control is power.
"In order to get power and retain it, it is necessary to love power. Love of power is not connected with goodness, but with qualities that are opposite of goodness, such as pride, cunning and cruelty."
~ Leo Tolstoy
"Power intoxicates men. When a man is intoxicated by alcohol, he can recover. But when intoxicated by power, he seldom recovers."
~ James F. Byrnes
"Power is the greatest aphrodisiac."
~ Henry Kissinger
Next after the family, perhaps the most fundamental social institution is the market — the meeting ground of human beings in voluntary exchange of goods and services. The weakness of the market is the presence of people willing to use violence rather than voluntary exchange, and those who are willing to breach their exchange agreements. Governments are called upon to use their monopoly of force to settle market disputes. The mistaken perception arises that this institution which employs violence is a good thing, whereas the market — the system of voluntary social cooperation — although necessary, is perhaps not good.
What has evolved out of this is the system of fiat currency in which the government has the right to declare what is money and to manufacture this money. This allows the government to debase its currency through printing press inflation. This leads to destruction of the currency's utility and to its eventual repudiation as a medium of exchange. The money power also means the government determines the meaning of private contracts.
A government which manufactures and owns money and forces it to be the only legal tender can remove all rights of the people simply by inflation through printing press additions to the money supply. In this way it can expand government spending to do whatever it wishes, for example invade a foreign country, without the consent of the people. Money earned is one index by which to measure the amount of my life expended. Therefore, inflation is tantamount to loss of life, starvation-by-embezzlement. It also breeds the moral hazard of excessive debt, knowing that dollars when repaid will be of less value than at the time of loan initiation.
If inflation is an incremental starvation of the individual, it is tantamount to gasoline on the fire of worldwide ecological destruction. Major central banks such as the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan — often working in concert — depress the interest rate below the natural risk premium in order to stimulate the economy. Even when they raise interest rates in response to public perception of inflation, they print more money and flood the economy with "new money." This results in serious distortions and irrational investments. It encourages huge, chaotic and wild speculation and waste. The vast pool of paper liquidity stimulates business far beyond normal, actual, rational demand. It permits the so-called "carry trade," pursuant to which funds can be borrowed at a negative real rate of interest, that is a rate below the actual rate of inflation. This in turn results in burning our ecology in a fire of greed.
"The few who understand the system…will either be so interested in its profits or so dependent on its favors that there will be no opposition from that class, while on the other hand, the great body of people, mentally incapable of comprehending…will bear its burden without complaint."
~ A communique from Rothschilds in England to associates
in New York regarding the Federal Reserve System
Every kind of human arrangement is connected in some way or other to money payments. If the monetary system is destroyed, the basis of all human relations is also in some sense destroyed. When governments destroy the market, they in turn destroy human cooperation and peaceful human relations. Currency depreciation enriches the State and those who control it. It allows the State to finance foreign interventions and all manner of mischief without imposing new taxes. This is theft on a grand scale. It destroys human relations through The Lie. War ensues. By a series of emergency proclamations, the government becomes a dictatorship.
Pursuant to the system of manufactured money, it becomes itself an "asset" rather than a temporary unit as medium of exchange. This creates mischief in the function of the market as a natural venue of exchange An "asset" that itself can be bought and sold in speculation, it is divorced from the work product of the human body and leads to divorce from nature as source of our sustenance. Alienation from nature results in psychic disconnection from our own self and from others, disrupting our interdependency and leading to the anomie so evident in society.
"By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens … and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some … The hidden process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million will be able to diagnose."
~ The Economic Consequences of Peace, John M. Keynes, 1919
All protection given to individuals by constitutions and bills of rights is extinguished when the State has power to destroy the meaning of inter-human relations by undermining the system of money and exchange which is called the market. This is violence. The perpetrators sitting in legislative halls are immunized from consequences of their actions, protected by sovereign immunity. Thus the nominal function of State — to provide security to citizens — is violated by the State itself. A prime example of this is the confiscation of all private citizen gold by President Roosevelt in 1933, followed by an immediate government-decreed increase in price of gold amounting to about 20% reduction in purchasing power of the dollar. There was no way for the citizen to protect himself against this grand theft.
"Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes the laws."
~ Mayer Rothschild
"The best way to destroy the capitalist system is to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens."
"The power to tax involves the power to destroy."
~ Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall
My personal experience is that being forced to rely on a man-made system — arbitrary and gorged on corruption as it is — generates anxiety, frustration and resentment. The more distant and tenuous is one's connection to earth and the web of life, the greater is the tendency to insecurity.
From the premise that an individual has an inalienable right to life, it follows that he must have an indisputable right to the product of his labor. This is the most basic property right. The absolute right to the product of one's labor follows from the right to life because one without the other is meaningless. The means to stay alive must be identified with life itself. If the State has a prior right to the product of my labor, it has usurped my right to life. In addition to this, if the State uses my taxes for war, it has robbed me of my moral agency. It has violated my soul.
"Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."
~ John Adams, 15 April, 1814
Borrowing from the work of Frank Chodorov (Taxation Is Robbery, 1962), I add his thoughts to my personal experience. But first, Gandhi: any end is determined by its means. A historical study of taxation leads to a mess of iniquity. The practice originated as looting, tribute, ransom — the economic purposes of conquest. The barons who put up toll gates along the Rhine were tax-collectors. So were the gangs who "protected," for a forced fee, the caravans on their way to market. These taxations served only to keep a privileged class in comfort and finance their internecine wars. These, like all taxes, amount to a permission-to-live price.
As between indirect tax (attached to goods before they reach the consumer) and direct taxes, the latter is most vicious, for it is a direct taking of one's labor product. The direct tax proclaims the prior right of the State to all private property. Private property becomes a temporary and revocable stewardship. The Jeffersonian ideal of inalienable rights is thus extinguished. Substituted for it is the Marxist concept of State supremacy.
"All politics is grounded in lies, deceits, cover-ups and distortions of reality."
~ Butler Shaffer, 2 November 2005
A Vortex of Immorality
A basic immorality becomes the center of a vortex of immoralities. When the State abolishes the right of the individual to the product of his labor, it appropriates an authority which is contrary to the natural man. It thus establishes an unethical pattern of behavior, both for itself and those upon whom it exerts its coercion. The denial of ownership of one's labor — tantamount to denial of self-ownership — arouses a resentment which manifests as perjury and dishonesty. Who among us has been totally sincere and enthusiastic in filling up an income tax form? Men who in their personal affairs would never condone such methods are proud of and are complimented for evasion of income tax laws. It is considered proper to engage the shrewdest minds for the purpose. More degrading is the encouragement by bribes of mutual spying. No other measure in the history of the country has caused such a complete disregard of principle in public affairs, or has had such a deteriorating effect on morals.
The evolution of political exploitation has followed a general pattern: hit-and-run robbery, regular tribute, slavery, rent-collections. In the final stage, rent collections become the primary proceeds of exploitation. The political power is supported by levies on production. The citizen lives for the State which nurtured him. He belongs to the State by right of purchase. Natural man knows by conscience and intuition that he has right of free and unencumbered ownership of the product of his efforts. Observe any family member when another snatches what is "mine."
There cannot be a good tax, or a just tax. Every tax is a compulsion, a violation of person.
Through a process of continuous propaganda beginning in very early childhood and extending with great intensity through twelve years of compulsory public education, we are brainwashed to the point that many cannot see these fundamental relationships.
"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested largely by men we have never heard of. The invisible government tends to be concentrated in the hands of the few because of the expense of manipulating the social machinery which controls the opinions and habits of the masses. It is not generally realized to what extent the words and actions of our most influential public men are dictated by shrewd persons operating behind the scenes."
~ Edward Bernays, Propaganda, 1928
(nephew of Sigmund Freud, assistant to Wm. Paley)
"To enforce the lies of the present, it is necessary to erase the truths of the past."
~ George Orwell
The ethics scandals that continuously roil all three branches of the US and Indian governments, as well as scandals of the corporate-government nexus involving war profiteering, adulteration of products, destruction of environment, misappropriation of land, embezzlement and breach of contract are simply too numerous to catalog. There are large numbers of legislators under indictment in both USA and India. Since I am discussing the State in generic form, I'll use some of the data from India because it is more accessible. Data from internet news sources regarding presently sitting members of Parliament of India indicate that 29 have been accused of spousal abuse, 7 have been arrested for fraud, 19 have more than three criminal cases pending, 117 have been charged and are under investigation for murder, rape, assault, extortion or robbery, 71 are in default of loans, 21 are current defendants in various lawsuits and 84 have been involved in offenses for which they paid fines.
"It is the big bureaucrats and the corporates who are more corrupt than the poorest of the poor. Corruption has nothing to do with poverty. It has everything to do with greed."
~ N.R. Narayana Murthy, Founding Chairman Infosys,
Times of India, 19 October 2006
"A Q Khan, father of Pakistan's nuclear black market, will remain off-limits to the Americans. That's because Khan has Musharraf by the short hairs, having hidden evidence of Musharraf's complicity in nuclear deals with Iran, North Korea and Khan alone knows who else."
~ Ramananda Sengupta, rediff news, April 2005
As will be discussed in material to follow, this all-too-typical game of political blackmail shows how national and world events are shaped by power relations among individuals. We are at their mercy. Similarly-situated counterparts in America are the people who sweat us at law to keep themselves in power, to send our children off to be killed in some atrocious war whose purpose is to enrich bankers and defense industrialists and politicians. These are the people who regulate our lives to the smallest detail, who in many cases decide whether a child far away will eat rice, or wheat, or nothing at all. It is amazing that we buy into it.
Gurcharan Das (Foreign Affairs, July/August 2006) says, "The Indian State no longer generates public goods. Instead, it creates private benefits for those who control it. Consequently, the Indian State has become so riddled with perverse incentives … that accountability is almost impossible."
"One of the saddest lessons of history is this: if we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge — to ourselves — that we've been so credulous."
~ Carl Sagan
It's just as difficult to detect an official's dishonesty as it is to discover how much water is drunk by the swimming fish."
It is my perception that if you follow the money, you'll find that the game is to generate war, finance both sides at interest (all war is debt financed), then finance reconstruction at interest. Using the model of the Treaty of Versailles after WWI, the seeds of the next war and the next financial cycle are carefully planted in the "peace plan" that is promulgated for public consumption after the war. It is an endless circle of cannibalization, using human beings as cannon fodder in wars whose purpose is massive transfers of wealth to the already-powerful.
"The tradition among financiers of profiting from both sides of armed conflict; the formula by which war is converted into debt and debt converted back into war."
~ Griffin, The Creature From Jekyll Island, 1994
It seems to me that our so-called "lawmakers" are in fact a gang of thieves and murderers who meet in congress to fight over division of spoils and to perpetuate the system of "sweat them at law" in order to keep the public trough full. At this trough they feed on the social body like so many leeches. The only difference is that "lawmakers" have the power of selective mass murder of their intended victims.
"It is nonsensical to consider the institution of a State as a solution to the problem of possible conflict, because it is precisely the institution of a State which first makes conflict unavoidable and permanent."
~ Hans Hermann-Hoppe, 16 March 2006
Since the advent of settled agriculture, men have fought over the means of production, beginning with land. Control of the minds of others was a tool of the ruler-priesthood alliance to facilitate control of production. We have now evolved to a "knowledge" economy. "Things" are represented by symbols, and knowledge workers manipulate symbols. The battle has become for control of information, perception and knowledge. The ultimate means of production being the mind, the battle is for control of the mind itself. The mind is the ultimate "property right" which must be defended against the powers of the Corporate State.
I believe our situation is much more dangerous than most — or even perhaps any of us — can understand. Powerful men are planning to manipulate consciousness itself. We face a direct confrontation with the "Dark Side" of human consciousness. Individuals who have enlisted with the dark side now have under their control weapons with power of annihilation, both quick and slow. Quick is represented by nuclear-biological-chemical. Slow is represented by control of the genetic material of the world's food supply. Genetically modified "designer-human" cloned for particular purposes such as war is not far below the horizon of future. Mental conditioning via mass media is the anesthesia by which we are benumbed to the future being planned for us.
If we have not the will to revolution of consciousness itself, how can this end?
August 1, 2008
Jeff Knaebel [send him mail] is an expatriate American domiciled in India since 1995. He formerly practiced as a registered professional engineer, having been trained at Cornell Univ. and the Colorado School of Mines. Visit his website.
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