Gregory Sams
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3. The State is Out of Date

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.
Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions.The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

Thomas Paine, Common Sense - 1776
Little has changed in the management of the state for four thousand years.* Whether we are told what to do by pharaohs, emperors, priests, generals, senates, kings, presidents or democratically elected representatives, the resultant state operates on the same basic principles of legislating change with coercively supported laws. These should not be confused with natural laws such as those of gravity and thermodynamics. Instead of relying upon willing "customers" or popular support for its public service, the state has always funded itself with coercively raised taxes or plunder from other nations. As we will see in the next chapter, these principles of state management are now shown to be flawed and destined to ultimately fail whenever and for whatever purposes they are applied.

*It was about 2000 BC that the history begins of city states, armed marauders and organized systems of government and belief.

Maybe there was a time when the state was the lesser of two evils - when it was necessary to have strong men willing to kill on command in order to protect us from the bakers, tailors and farmers living over the hill or across the river. Today however, in most of the world's frightening conflicts, the danger comes from the confrontation between those who have control of a territory, and those who seek to wrest it from them.

Maybe civilization did get a boost from some of the stability that early governing states were able to achieve. We certainly know that rulers today and in the past have always taken credit for the achievements of civilization that occurred during their reign.* Yet, too often we have seen a large part of that civilization's achievements destroyed with the state when it is eventually conquered,** or decayed and dissipated by the time that it falls of its own weight. This happened dramatically in the former Soviet Union which ultimately fell apart from the weight of its own uselessness, without any actual penetration or provocation from outside forces or agencies.

*England's erstwhile former Prime Minister John Major sought to take credit in 1996 for London's image as a swinging city, despite his governments steadfast efforts to control and ban most of the behaviour that makes London swing. His successor displays the same hypocrisy with the "Cool Britannia" theme.

**Much of the knowledge of earlier civilizations was lost when the library of Alexandria was destroyed for military or political reasons. Great cities such as Carthage and Constantinople were razed to the ground. Most of Archimedes' knowledge was lost in the taking of Syracuse.

The world is full of the magnificent ruins of civilizations past - the temples, statues and fortresses that remain as the monuments to the pomp and paranoia of rulers past. Had the Romans invented dynamite it is unlikely that even these would remain.

The main reason most of us believe it necessary to have a state "of some sort" centrally controlling society is because we think it to have always been done that way and therefore it has to be done that way. Who else would decide which side of the road we drive upon, or what to do with murderers, or what are safe chemicals to add to the food chain? The fact that our road programme has gone berserk, that murder and incidental violence continue to grow, and that our food chain is dangerously polluted rarely comes to mind when we consider with horror the void that we imagine would be left without "central control" telling us all just what we need to do and making damn sure we do it - or else!

In practice, we can see from history that this management of the system by dictate has not worked so far, and now we can both see why and understand that it could never be possible. Yet we are so used to its inefficiencies, iniquities and regular horrors that we accept it with resignation as the way of the world - a necessary evil. It does not seem to matter much whether the state is run by good men or bad - or run by women. It does not seem to matter whether it gets power by divine right, inheritance, struggles for freedom or democratic elections. When every state comes to its inevitable demise, those elements of society that it has been controlling most are generally those in the greatest disarray. Hospitals seize up, law and order decays, and the money for social-support payments runs out.

And yet we still somehow believe that without this system in place there would be a terrible void, gross disorder and a degeneration of society into some kind of a violent morass ruled by the whim of the mob. In fact, as we will see, most aspects of society that we can currently depend upon, evolved outside of this state-run system - things such as our food supply, communications and entertainment which were neither planned nor centrally controlled, but work just fine.

Yet the state's modus operandus is to determine just what is a standard standard-of-living and then try to legislate us all into it, either by supporting people who have not reached the ideal standard, or by attacking those who choose some other way to live. Why should we let officials of the government be responsible for our living standards, when so many of the problems they deal with are caused by them, or would not be seen as a problem to anyone else but them?
"It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government - except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time"

Winston Churchill, 1947
In a sense the state, like slavery or war, has always been a very flawed concept. It doesn't work, has never worked and is not in the long-term interest of our society, our civilization or our own personal evolution. That said, it seemed like a reasonable way to run things - especially when everybody else was doing it. But we haven't found a way to make it work in four thousand years and we threaten our very existence with our persistence in putting new clothes on the Emperor. Four thousand years is not a long time in our own evolution on this planet, which may have spanned anything up to two million years or more.

We are now faced with some clear evidence that this system cannot work. The one constant feature binding the states that have been trying to run the world for four thousand years is the foundation stone of DETERMINISM. Determinism is, quite simply, the belief that by central planning, with the right information, you can determine the actual development of a complex system. It is the belief that by passing man-made laws and launching programmes and plans we can more positively affect and effectively control the evolution of society than it can do by itself.

This intent to control, it now seems, is equivalent to believing we could do a better job of managing the solar system by adjusting and carefully regulating the orbits and rotations of each of its planets, moons and asteroids. What science can do with some regularity is determine, in the sense of correctly predicting, what a complex system is going to do, or guess the probability of various possible outcomes. What it cannot do is alter or accurately influence the outcome of the system by mandate, combined with manipulation of some of its parts.

The new discoveries of science provided by the study of chaotic systems shows us not only that efforts to mechanistically control them are futile, but also that they have an organizing force of their own. That is to say that chaotic systems, systems with an uncountable number of parts operating independently in an unpredictable manner,* have a fundamental tendency to organize themselves into stable and flexible working systems, constantly adjusting themselves according to feedback from within and without the system. The information that fuels this process is the continual exchange between all of the system's infinite components, feeding back information and reaction from one to another. This is portrayed as a system made up of multiple-layered "feedback loops" weaving patterns at all levels throughout - organizing themselves around things called "strange attractors."

*This is the definition that I use for a chaotic system - there may well be other ways to describe it.

A good example of such a system is the rain forest, which creates a stable system sustaining the existence of its myriad components, while delivering oxygen to the rest of the globe as a by-product. Another manifestation of chaos organizing itself is the evolution of music in our society, evolving through constantly new harmonies, forms and technologies in order to provide continually new variations of pleasure for billions of differently tuned ears.

We could worry much less about the fate of the Amazonian rainforest, were the Brazilian state not actively subsidising clearance for cattle ranching, as well as building roads and facilities for Japanese timber interests. One of the "jokes" in the rain forest is: "Where's the beef," as many contractors simply clear the land, take the subsidy money and run, rather than sticking around for the precarious business of trying to feed cattle on the thin topsoil that is exposed. The state, in its brazen desire to expand its effective tax base, spends great sums of so-called public money to entice business to rape an ecosystem that would economically otherwise remain untouched. Though the whole project bears all the hallmarks of a disaster that will be forever regretted, it could be doggedly pursued for years by a state which will always have successors to be responsible for its short-sightedness.

And just imagine if our society believed music to be so important to our lives that it had to be regulated, like housing, with strict government controls and regulation. Would we ever have had jazz, rhythm & blues, rock "n roll, the Beatles, punk rock, acid house, ambient music, or techno in any of its growing manifestations? The state of the music industry in France today is a testament to that government's absurd attempts to legislate the content of music and maintain its French "cultural integrity." They have at least excluded classical music from their complex regulations since many of the great dead composers were not French, a situation which even the French government recognizes to be now unalterable.

That the state is unable to deterministically manage a system as complex as human society is evident in every area over which they exert control. A classic case in Europe is the Common Agricultural Policy which - through trying to safeguard our food supply - has come to pose the greatest threat to it and our health.

Some of the effects of the Common Agricultural Policy are:
  • It counters our evolutionary change to a healthier diet, by interfering with the essential and effective feedback loop supplying information from the consumer to the producer. Subsidizing farmers and producing according to central decision-making badly interferes with the natural information exchange. The Soviets tried to do it.
  • It encourages the introduction of toxic chemicals to our ecosystem through supporting and subsidising food production beyond society's demands. Much of the use of toxic chemicals and treatments is, when not mandated, certainly encouraged by the state's guarantee to purchase, or subsidize the sale. This lowers the quality of our food.
  • It is responsible for the surplus of cattle that were fed back to themselves, as a means of reducing the "beef mountain." This created the conditions for the growth and spread of BSE (mad cow disease). The original cause of this modern tragedy is the intervention of the state in our food chain. The main alternative theory, put forward by organic farmer Mark Purdey, points to the effects of a state-imposed painting of all British cattle with a highly toxic organo-chloride potion covering the head and spinal column.
  • It has been cited by regular studies as unworkable, corruption-prone and grossly inefficient since the early 1980's. Literally billions of pounds, our pounds, are scammed and lost every year as this out-of-control creation of Brussels gets on with its regular job - which itself has little merit.
Yet somewhere in Brussels, nerve-centre of the growing European Empire, the wielders of deterministic power think that some more of our money and some clever manipulation of their ever-more complex formulae will get it all working. The alternative of lost jobs (their own) and responsibilities is too awful to contemplate. We will have more on the above points later. I leave it to researchers and historians to determine, but suggest that almost any large empire, in the final 10% of its existence, has more priests and bureaucrats and military, with more volumes of laws and regulation, than at any other point in the 90% of the rest of its existence. I suggest that this applies as much to the Aztec Empire as to the Roman Empire, the former Soviet Union or to the world's current last-surviving superpower.
"Corruptissima republica plurimae leges."
"The worse the state, the more laws it has."

Tacitus - 55 - 120 A.D.
People may plan their lives ahead and often live out the plan successfully, companies can plan five-year strategies and projects that may come to fruition. But in neither instance is civilisation as a whole forced to accept these plans, and they stand or fall on their own merit. Should someone in Japan develop a car that runs on water, then all the plans of the oil companies will need rapid alteration. They are part of the chaotic mix of billions of entities making decisions that affect all of the other entities on the planet in unpredictable ways - the ways of a complex system. If they do fit in and positively enhance our lives they survive and prosper.

Our newly discovered scientific appreciation of the nature of chaotic and complex systems (see next chapter), gives us a clear explanation for the eventual failure of all past and future government programmes involving the forced manipulation and management of "vital" aspects of the complex system that is our society. In every area that the state controls, the natural feedback loop inherent in a complex system is broken. We cannot expect "our say" at the ballot box to make more than a marginal difference to things. We know that whoever is in power will be ineffectual and a waste of our money - and yet we continue to avoid even wondering if there are possible alternatives to the palpable madness of the modern state, democratic or otherwise.

In this book, we accept that, however the controls are rearranged, the state is never going to be able to legislate the world into peace, harmony and progress. It appears to have no positive part to play in the healthy or successful evolution of our species and its own activities are indeed counter-evolutionary. It does not work and many now realize this, accepting it only as a necessary evil. But there it is - what to do? First of all - stop believing that the state is necessary, stop being frustrated by its inevitable failures and stop expecting that it will get something right in the long run. By realizing that the state is not a viable option, we open ourselves up to the discovery of alternative forms of managing our society.
"I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of the way and let them have it.
...Every warship, every tank and every military aircraft built is, in the final sense, a theft from those who are hungry and are not fed, from those who are naked and not clothed."

Dwight D. EISENHOWER,Allied Military Commander World War II and US President 1952-1960
"What luck it is for governments that the people they rule do not think."

Hitler, circa 1940
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From the book "Uncommon Sense - The State is Out of Date"
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