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The Ethos of Weeds

u201CAnarchism (from the Greek an- and arche, contrary to authority), the name given to the principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government – harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being.u201D

~ Prince Peter A. Kropotkin (1842–1921) Russian Revolutionary & Author

Pick a point in history on any continent and you will find, with a few rare exceptions, man being ruled by some form of government. This is hardly a new or a startling revelation. However, the question can be posed as to why this is a reoccurring theme. More accurately we can ask: What is it about governments that holds mans loyalty and allows others to rule them?

More than once we have been instructed as to the necessity of a majority consent before a state and its accompanying hierocracy can be formed. Murray Rothbard further defines this general consent:

u201CThis support, it must be noted, need not be active enthusiasm; it may well be passive resignation as if to an inevitable law of nature. But support in the sense of acceptance of some sort it must be…u201D

You will note that above I used the word u201Chierocracyu201D instead of the more common description of the ruling class as being a u201Chierarchy.u201D This is intentional for the simple reason that throughout the ancient world there was little or no distinction between the ruling clergy and the ruling class and as I hope to show, this lack of distinction continues in the modern age.

So for the moment let's assume that the consent given to any ruling class isn't a switch from one inamorata to another, rather it is the same harsh, acrimonious mistress under different labels.

Voltaire, the renowned u201Cinfidel” of the eighteenth century, was fond of saying that if there were no God, people would have to invent one.

The ancient people being practical did just exactly that. They fully realized that man and his world were imperfect and, more often then not, extremely violent. This drew the ancients to conclude that only through government could people be forced to live in peace with each other. They further deduced that the politics of force, via the institution of the state, was the only answer. Indeed from all quarters of the ancient world the common wisdom declared that is was necessary for good people to do horrible things in order for the majority to be happy and prosper. Thus, war was not only necessary but was elevated from being deadly, and destructive to society, to being exalted as the highest of noble acts.

The problem that arose was the questionable morality of these acts and the consequences that accompany man's violent actions.

The question of morality was overcome by the simple step of elevating the great warriors of antiquity to the status of god. One of the first man-gods can be found in the person of Gilgamesh of whom I wrote earlier. However, as time progressed and the myths that accompany these warrior-gods became more prominent we find the gods of the ancient world exhibiting more and more of mankind's darkest nature.

It should not be startling to find that the ancient gods had committed all forms of decadent behavior. For instance Cronus (Saturn) came to power by castrating his Father Uranus with a sickle. Cronus' wife, Rhea, was the mother of the Olympians. However, the god Cronus was afraid that one of his children would take over the throne of the supreme god so he ate each of the children as they were born. This worked until Rhea became fed up with the death of her children, and managed to trick Cronus into swallowing a rock instead of the god-child Zeus.

When Zeus grew up Cronus' worst fears were realized because Zeus would lead a revolution against Cronus and the other Titans, defeat them, and banish them to the world of the dead, which was ruled by Hades.

If there is anything that is common among the ancient myths it is the acts of murder, rape, war, conspiracy, and bestiality of these gods.

Thus we should not be amazed to learn that Alexander the Great grew up in a time when Macedonian kings didn't die of old age but rather were murdered, nor that Alexander saw his own father, King Phillip II, stabbed to death.

The problem of morality was thus solved. The hierocracy of the state now acted like the gods and the gods had all the faithless and treacherous behavior of those who ran the state.

The very idea of human kingship was to be recognized, honored and worshiped as the human expression of the reigning god and the title of king was in fact an ancient god's name.

In the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre the god Melqart was worshiped. This god is variously known as Melkart, Melkarth or Melgart and in the ancient Akkadian language as Milqartu.

Melqart was the guardian or protector god and his name means literally u201Cking of the city.u201D Melqart was also given the title Baal Sur, u201CLord of Tyre,u201D and was worshipped as far west as Spain.

Thus the original u201Cdivine rightu201D of kings was to be called u201Clordu201D which was the name of a god, in this case Baal or Melgart.

These ancient kings were popularized among the people as the u201Cseat of compassion,u201D u201Cthe great house,u201D which is the literal meaning of the word Pharaoh, or as the Emperors of China who wore the title u201CSon of Heaven.u201D

Throughout the ancient world, the concept of the king being god was so accepted and well known that to the Roman mind the word u201Cgodu201D was especially reserved for the emperor.

In official inscriptions of 48 BC at the town council of Ephesus, and in conjunction with other Greek cities of Asia, Julius Caesar was spoken of as u201Cthe God made manifest, offspring of Ares and Aphrodite, and common savior of human life.u201D

We also know that the formula for an oath of allegiance to Rome always contains, u201Cby Caesar, god of gods.u201D

Augustus was given the title of u201Cgod of godu201D and his birthday was called the birthday u201Cof the god.u201D

In at least one instance, during the time of St. Paul, Nero is actually called, u201Cthe good god.u201D So important was this term to the Roman emperor that when Emperor Vespasian reclined on his deathbed he quipped, u201CDear me! I must be turning into a god.u201D

It is of interest to note that even the title Caesar has within it the word u201Cgod.u201D The ancient Roman historian, Suetonius, informs us that u201Caesaru201D is u201Cgodu201D in some ancient languages; we should also remember that u201Caesiru201D in mythology means the Norse gods.

Even with all his ruthless brutality, Alexander the Great was officially called u201Cthe son of godu201D and he styled himself as u201CKing of Kings.u201D

Once the king became the point of communion between the common man and the gods then all that was needed for the king to remain in power was for the clergy and hierarchy of the state to remove or modify those gods considered offensive to the will of the king and his priests.

The masses were thus kept in line because the rulers compelled the people, by fear, to obey the law of the land. This law, then, was received by the king directly from the ruling god (or so it was said). As far back as we go in ancient mythology and history the common denominator is a king or priesthood who stand as the exclusive representatives of the u201Clordu201D and u201Clawu201D of the domain.

It is easily understandable then that in this ancient form of rulership, they saw themselves as the final arbiter of the laws that govern men. John Locke identified these laws as being three: 1. the divine law; 2. the civil law; and 3. the law of opinion or reputation. Furthermore, Lock says of these laws: u201CBy the relation they bear to the first of these, men judge whether their actions are sins or duties; by the second, whether they be criminal or innocent; and by the third, whether they be virtues or vices.u201D

I don't believe the amalgamation of divine law and the civil law needs any further elaboration other than to say that the edicts that proceeded from the throne were by nature both divine and civil. However, what are we to do with the law of reputation or opinion that John Locke spoke of?

Locke's third group of laws is the subject of Lysander Spooner's 1875 work entitled, u201CVices Are Not Crimes.u201D

Vices, as the law of opinion, Spooner argues, u201Care simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons.u201D More to the point, a vice is an act that a person commits against himself or his property.

Quite frankly the ancient states didn't care much about the vices of the individual. As far as holding property, the ancient peoples had little they could call their own. As long as their taxes were paid (yes, the tax collector was as hated ancient world as they are now), and the proper homage was paid to the current ruler, the state wasn't too concerned with what people did with what was left. After all they served gods, and as such, they really owned nothing since everything was subject to change on the whim of the king.

What occurred among the masses of these ancient societies is exactly what Hans-Hermann Hoppe correctly elaborates in his book, Democracy The God That Failed.

u201C…(I)f government property-rights violations take their course and grow extensive enough, the natural tendency of humanity to build an expanding stock of capital and durable consumer goods and to become increasingly more farsighted and provide for ever-more distant goals may not only come to a standstill, but may be reversed by a tendency toward decivilization: formerly provident providers will be turned into drunks or daydreamers, adults into children, civilized men into barbarians, and producers into criminals.u201D

These obvious flaws in the ancient social orders should have been predicable because there is ample evidence that it was also well known that those who sought to rule did not set the highest standards.

One such statement comes from the fabulist Aesop (ca. 620 BC) who wrote: u201CWe hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.u201D Another comes from, the orator and statesman, Marcus Tullius Cicero (ca. 106 BC) who proclaimed: u201CA bureaucrat is the most despicable of men, though he is needed as vultures are needed, but one hardly admires vultures whom bureaucrats strangely resemble. I have yet to meet a bureaucrat who was not petty, dull, almost witless, crafty or stupid, an oppressor or a thief, a holder of little authority in which he delights, as a boy delights in possessing a vicious dog. Who can trust such creatures?u201D

There is an even older parable defining government from around 667 years before the first Olympiad, (ca 1400 BC) and is found in the in Judges 9:7–15 of the Old Testament.

The gist of this parable is the trees of an orchard are looking for a king. As they ask each producing tree of the orchard they receive an answer of no, followed with good reason for the refusal. It isn't until they ask the brambles and weeds of the orchard, the plants that rob all the producers of the needed nutrition that one is found that will accept the position of kingship. The acceptance of the position has one stipulation. The brambles demand that all the producing trees come and take shelter in the shade of the brambles.

We may look and think that the absolute power of the monarchs has been discarded by modern thinking and the civilized nature of modern man. However, this is far from the truth.

That which began as a check on this man-god power, parliamentary democracy, has been perverted into support for the state. Whether we like it or not the divine right of kings, with its accompanying religious fervor, has been turned around and now stands as the divine right of parliaments, with the demands of the parliaments being no less than that of the kings.

So we return to our original question: What is it about government that holds man's loyalty and allows others to rule them?

It is the antediluvian and seductive idea, perpetuated by a governmental priesthood, that the worst in society is capable of sheltering, protecting, and caring for all of the society. It is the pipedream that this time, this government, in this land with this people will establish and keep its promise to u201Cestablish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.u201D

This covenant of lies presides not just as the opiate of the deluded masses but as the creed of its fanatical religious adherents ever since the first social weeds, of the hoary past, sought to rule over the orchard.

August 2, 2005