The latter half of the 19th century marked the beginning of a new era of mankind, an era of politics and comparative economic stagnation. Through an illusion of need, the political class has managed to shrewdly maneuver the people under their rule so that its position as government has been ever fortified. Today almost no one seems able to even imagine a society without a ruling class of political gods-wannabes. How did we come to this?
Looking to the history books will not help. History, as we know, is written by the victors, not by the people carrying society on their backs. But through looking at historical events from a non-statist point of view we can easily see how we came to this. Let's recapitulate the last hundred years or so, and see where all this madness comes from.
In the 19th century the Western world experienced enormous economic growth. The reason was partly due to the changes in Europe from dictatorial rule by monarchs to a less easily controlled, and thus less regulated, society through the development of technology, but also in part because of the great opportunities for "ordinary" people west of the Atlantic Ocean. Parliaments were ordained to attend to the revealed political shortcomings of monarchs, resulting only in limited monarchical powers and ineffective parliaments. Progress in the areas of science and technology combined with decreasing State power called for enormous economic growth.
The majority of the European and American populations were lifted from poverty to prosperity thanks to this. Of course, such an enormous change did not come about without problems; when society changes from a stable and stagnant rural order to industrial mass production with rapid economic growth, some people lack the courage, opportunity or means to seize the promising prospects. So the first real noticeable change of this mammoth growth in the economy was inequality.
This first effect, where some quickly became very rich while others stayed very poor, made people call for the centralist power of the State to redistribute the newly created wealth, i.e. to steal from some in order to flatten the wealth hierarchy. It is safe to say there were quite a few people being exploited back in those days, but it was most likely a temporary problem. In a society under the strain of rapid change, some people find themselves unwanted and unfit (before finding their new role in society) whereas others find great opportunities. Some people surrender to their greed and cross the natural border lines of ethics and natural rights.
One would think the State, seen through minarchist eyes, would protect those whose rights have been violated and then stay out of people's business. That is exactly the opposite of what the State is about, and it is exactly the opposite of what the State did. Politicians have no sense of morality or ethics; they are always worse than any greedy industrialist. After all, industrialists seize opportunities to create wealth (even if they sometimes exploit workers to get there), but politicians seize only opportunities to destroy wealth through appropriating it from the people creating it. Politicians are unable to create.
So the most progressive politicians of the State responded to the inequalities following the enormous economic growth through creating alliances with some of the great industrialists, dismissing others. This system of politics destroyed whatever innovation was available in the marketplace, in order to protect industrial allies, and used appropriated wealth to set up enormous systems to bribe voters, while proclaiming these systems a "safety net" for those vulnerable.
The monarchs were criticized for being remnants of old times, and were eventually dismissed or their powers removed. Parliaments of politicians took it on themselves to be the leaders of the State and society, and the only source of authority and progressive policies. A system of rewards is set up in order to keep the masses in check and provide a basis for power. The people is used as a source of legitimacy through letting it decide who (rather than whether) should rule it.
We are now some years into the 20th century, and to keep this reward system, i.e. the machinery of buying votes going, it has to be constantly growing. To keep the illusion of a common need for a centralized power alive, more rewards have to be handed out and more people made into believing they, as a people, have ultimate power. Thus, whatever free market there was was bit by bit eliminated by state regulations, rules, laws, taxes, and subsidies — under the guise of being for the public good. Regulations and taxes were imposed to counteract inequality and injustice.
While living happily with their industrial allies, politicians could control their voting populations and benefit greatly personally: how many politicians have not accomplished to be thought of as "great men" and the "fathers" of nations? Politicians are a class of unable, unwanted, unproductive, indecent, dishonest people, who try to remedy their inferiority through oppressing those morally superior. Nothing pleases them more than being the center of attention, to be called upon as the pious providers of mercy.
So the State increases in size and gives room for more politicians, the friends and allies of the formerly very limited political class are rewarded for their loyalty and bought off to ensure friendships. The number of power hungry grows at the expense of the poor people leading decent, hard-working lives. The First World War marks the end of monarchical rule in Europe, and the beginning of the age of parliamentarian political parasites. The grip tightens at the same speed as economic growth is stifled. More problems occur that need to be fixed. Political rule stands unchallenged and unquestioned. "War is the health of the state."
President Woodrow Wilson is appalled by the States' dedication to destroy each other during the war. He believes States' governments should be able to coexist and thrive in union, they should not tear each other apart and while doing so leaving the back door open for potential opposition. The Fourteen Points are presented and an organization founded with the purpose to see to the interest of States and mediate when political interests collide.
The Western States back each other up in times of need, or so the newly instated League of Nations was supposed to work. The international peace during the years after the First World War lets the political bodies of all nations concentrate undisturbed on national issues such as regulation, taxation, and border controls. To keep the illusion of politically provided public goods alive — and to pay for the warfare — the parasitic class goes further in their quest to find ways of satisfying the "public need" for reforms and alms. They start meddling with the value base of currency, which quickly devastates the financial system and results in a depression.
The Great Depression is not a real problem for the political class, even though the history books discuss it in terms of despair and misery. There is a reason it is called "great," and it is not because it was a period of very difficult years (even though it was). To the political establishment, the depression was truly "great" in many ways: it was a perfect catastrophe to be blamed on political enemies and used as a foundation for increased power. "The market" was said to be the problem, and only more politics would be able to solve the problems the market had caused. The depression acted as a catalyst for political power-grabbing all over the world.
Some countries were affected more than others, and in Germany a certain power-hungry fellow managed to inspire the population with hope through providing both scapegoats and a strategy to restore ancient glory. This mustached little man aspired to real and eternal greatness through trying to create a Third Empire of Europe, and made a pact with an equally successful and mustached man to split half a continent between them.
As things are in politics, you cannot for sure trust anyone. Politicians tend to make alliances with anyone who can increase their personal influence or power, and break any agreements for a seemingly better deal. Russia's mustached ruler thus broke the pact and became allied with the little man's enemies, which eventually caused the downfall of the little German and his State.
The end of the Second World War called for more propaganda: yet again "evil" was defeated and "good" (i.e. our kind of State) was victorious. Now all people needed to do was trust their governments to organize the restructuring and rebuilding of their States and societies. The immense destruction of the war created a great need for construction workers and engineers, as well as for a political leadership generously supporting the remaking of order and infrastructure.
These times called for a political focus on domestic organizing and weeding out political opponents; this great effort to rebuild society could not be allowed to be jeopardized by the selfish concerns of the few unsympathetic towards our great civilization. The Bretton Woods system of fixed currency exchange rates was established in order to direct attention from the worthlessness of fiat currency to problems suiting the power elite. The States needed to focus on more important problems, such as regulating and taxing the restructuring of society. Bretton Woods supplied a great illusion of stability to provide for economic growth and enough prosperity for the populations to tolerate and unquestioningly accept more fundamental contradictions in political society.
The League of Nations was reestablished as the United Nations to provide for national sovereignty and protect the interests of modern princes. A time of fictitious economic growth and the illusion of inherent peacefulness of "democratic" States followed. Power was secured as the masses were kept under control through a belief in the promises of future opportunities.
At the same time, the former allies of the East and West played a game of mutually reinforcing political power. Through portraying "the other" as the greatest threat to "our" way of life, support was gained for further increases in political power. The establishing of a "Cold War" made sure opponents to political rule could easily be done away with.
This time period is characterized not by war, but by unwar — unlimited State spending on military and intelligence in order to make sure there would be no war. The State is yet again declaring society's need for strong leadership and rule, and the point is proved to the masses through pointing to the obvious threat of "the other side."
After more than eighty years of a too tight grip on society, the eastern power finally collapses under its own weight in 1991. It seems too much control, too much harassment of the people, too much regulation, too much taxation — i.e. too much political power — causes too many problems for power to survive. This is a real threat, and the fall of the Soviet Empire was not welcome news for the political leaders of the "West."
Of course, the public statements say differently, but the power elite had to continue the lie. The collapse of the "evil empire" meant but one thing to politicians of the "West": now they had to figure out how to continue the lie without relying on the obvious communist "threat." And the powers of the State had to be salvaged and reinforced.
The lesson of the Soviet People's Republic was quickly learned by the powers of the western hemisphere, where a greater degree of unregulated markets were allowed and some markets were even opened up in order to avoid a possible collapse. As a direct result of the collapse of the eastern threat to "our" way of life, and thus as a result of the threat of not being able to threaten the masses with "the other," more markets were partly deregulated as a drastic measure to avoid the End of Power.
The decade following the collapse of the "East" included a few wars to direct attention from domestic failures, but was at large characterized by politicians desperately seeking ways to reinforce the illusion of a public need for structure, order, and rule. In Europe this post Cold War decade of political desperation had effects even among people in the masses. This caused breaks to long-term party majorities in many national parliaments — even the seventy years suite of socialist rule in Sweden was temporarily broken — and a chance for former oppositions to enjoy the sweeter side of the political power struggle.
This politically rather unnatural state of affairs in a time without obvious enemies to combat, forced the political elite to look further away and consider new strategies to provide for a solution to the "problem." On both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, the political classes considered unconventional methods as a way to force society back to "normality."
In Europe, a union was created from a formerly inter-State community for the mutual benefit of economic growth. The union was quickly maneuvered so that formerly national parliaments bit by bit transferred their powers to a centralized European Parliament and government. Through stressing inequalities on a pan-European level rather than nationally, politicians found they could still prove society's need for their existence.
A constitution was drafted in which all rights of Europeans were ultimately revoked in exchange for unlimited power for the new Brussels- and Strasbourg-based political center of the United People's States of Europe. Aiming for regaining ancient glory, the European Union strives to establish a Third Empire through domestic control and integration of political powers rather than waging war on foreign States. Diplomacy and "peaceful" political means — not wars.
America tried that other strategy never considered by the rather cowardly laid-back Europeans: war. The power elite of the United States launched a number of military campaigns abroad in order to direct the people's and media's attention to non-domestic issues. Being a super power, the federal government claimed the provoking role of World Police, and set out to command leaders of other States as well as the Organization for Securing State Supremacy (more known by its new-speak name, the United Nations).
A Gulf War was launched by George Bush I as a great policing effort to restore justice in the Middle East and show the Iraqi prince Saddam Hussein he wasn't allowed to continue doing what the Americans had taught him to do. American troops were also sent to Somalia in a "humanitarian campaign" where they mercilessly mowed down innocent Somalis in the recently declared independent north-western part of the country. The Somalis, anxious to defend their homeland and newly regained state of statelessness, were publicly identified as "war lords" and "militias."
In 2001 an attack, possibly a provoked counterstrike, was launched on the States of America by religious fundamentalists, making quite a few things easier for the people in Washington DC. This first attack ever on American soil (well, except for the civil war) proved in a political sense the existence of a nation-wide need of the people for the State to aggressively fight back on terrorism in an attempt to bring safety to the people and justice to those responsible. Wars were waged on Afghanistan and Iraq and the State could thereby accelerate in its attempt to continue growing.
Through a number of reforms called the Patriot Acts, centuries-old rights of the people were abolished or "modified" to simplify further growth of political power and control of the opposition. The Patriot Acts had the same effect on American society as the harmonization efforts in the European Union had on Europe and thus political powers on both shores of the Atlantic were enforced and strengthened, however different in appearance.
The police state on the western shore grows rapidly in terms of public welfare and domestic control and surveillance, whereas the socialist state on the eastern shore leads the way in welfare spending but is quickening its pace regarding policing and surveillance.
This is where we stand today.
March 31, 2006