What is Government? A Monopoly on Force

Government is a fascinating invention of man. It is a social construct that promises so much yet can never deliver any of what it promises. Despite the continual shortcomings of the State and it’s continual abuse of the individual, people still worship at its altar. They still sing praises in its honor. I’m surprised no one burns incense to it in a temple or shrine; though I shouldn’t hold my breath, there could be such a person out there. So many people think that without government, society would crumble. Mankind would revert to inert, passive matter with no direction and no order. Or maybe chaos would reign and the weak would be subjugated and abused by the strong (though one could argue that is precisely what we have now with governments). Roads would disappear and no one would be able to build them. The environment would be abused and the general standard of living would be greatly reduced. This, without a doubt, is pure fiction. People should not fear anarchy for it isn’t a dirty word like the statists like to proclaim. It is the ultimate freedom and the ultimate respect for the individual as a valuable human being.


So what is government? What, when reduced to it’s most simplistic idea, what does it do? Once this is seen, what, if any, are it’s benefits?


The traditional definition of government is something like “the organization, machinery, or agency through which a political unit exercises authority and performs functions and which is usually classified according to the distribution of power within it.” This definition isn’t simple enough. I prefer the definition that it is “a monopoly on force and violence within arbitrary borders defined by those in authority.” This seems harsh only until you understand another aspect of reality. This is the Non-Aggression Principle. It is central to libertarian anarchy and its political philosophy. The Non-Aggression principle is as follows: “The Non-Aggression Principle is an ethical stance which asserts that ‘aggression’ is inherently illegitimate. ‘Aggression’ is defined as the ‘initiation’ of physical force against persons or property, the threat of such, or fraud upon persons or their property. In contrast to pacifism, the non-aggression principle does not preclude violent self-defense.


Essentially the Non-Aggression Principle is the idea of “mind your own business.” I think most people can agree with this sentiment and would say “yes, this is true and what we would call moral and just.” The issue and fallacy in this is the willingness to apply this to individuals and their social interaction but not government. I simply wish to ask why government is, for some idiotic reasons, above this axiom? Isn’t government just a collection of individuals? Or when enough individuals form a large enough group, their ideas begin to transcend the rest of humanity? Isn’t government just another form of human interaction just like the interactions between individuals? Since it is just another form of human interaction, shouldn’t the Non-Aggression Principle also apply to government as well? For government and society do not exist outside of the realm of individuals, but are composed by them. Society is simply individuals, who have differing ends and means, working together in order to achieve their various ends. Society is the individual giving up an immediate gain (gains that could be had through initiating violence against others in order to better their own circumstances) for far better gains brought about by social cooperation.


Government is composed of people, therefore, the laws that apply to the individual must also apply to the collection of individuals. What then does government do in violation of the Non-Aggression Principle? Taxation is a perfect example.


Taxation is legalized plunder and theft. What I mean by this is that government, under threat of violence, takes a portion of an individual’s property. Why is it taken through force and aggression? Because if one refuses to pay taxes you get contacted by those in authority to do so. If you refuse once again, they send uniformed agents of the state to arrest you (or kidnap you) and lock you up. If you refuse to be locked up, you will more than likely end up killed or injured. This is a breach of the non-aggression principle that is perpetrated by a group of people against an individual. If it is immoral for one individual to demand (through violence or threats of violence) the right to another’s property, why then is this moral truth not valid when applied to a collection individuals that happen to call themselves government?


Taxation is just one example out of the many ways that government violates the rights of an individual. Among others is conscription (the draft), the drug war, foreign aid, foreign policy, gun control, and central banking just to name a few. The whole issue with government is that it is the few exercising force and their wills over others. On basic moral principles, this cannot stand as a legitimate institution. As such, government cannot exist without violating the rights of someone. This is why government must be abolished. Only then can true freedom actually become a reality to mankind.


So what is government? Nothing but a monopoly on force. What does it do? It exercises its monopoly at the expense of the individual’s freedoms and inalienable rights. Are there any benefits? Not to those under its thumb. I will leave you with the parable of the traveler that Bastiat uses to sum up his argument in his essay “The Law”.


He found himself in the midst of a savage tribe. A child had just been born, and a crowd of soothsayers, magicians and quacks were around it, armed with rings, hooks, and bandages. One said–“This child will never smell perfume of a calumet, unless I stretch his nostrils.” Another said–“He will be without the sense of hearing, unless I draw his ears down to his shoulders.” A third said–“He will never see the light of the sun, unless I give his eyes an oblique direction.” A fourth said–“He will not be able to think, unless I press his brain.” “Stop!” said the traveler. “What ever God does, is well done; do not pretend to know more than He; and he has given organs to this frail creature, allow those organs to develop themselves, to strengthen themselves by exercise, use, experience, and liberty.”
God has implanted in mankind also all that is necessary to enable it to accomplish its destinies. There is a providential social physiology, as well as a providential human physiology. The social organs are constituted so as to enable them to develop harmoniously in the grand air of liberty. Away then with quacks and organizers! Away with their rings, and their chains, and their hooks, and their pincers! Away with their artificial methods! Away with their social laboratories, their governmental whims, their centralization, their tariffs, their universities, their State religions, their inflationary or monopolizing banks, their limitations, their restrictions, their moralizations, and their equalization by taxation! And now, after having vainly inflicted upon the social body so many systems, let them end where they ought to have begun–reject all systems, and try liberty–liberty, which is an act of faith in God and His work.


Whether you believe in God or not, liberty is the only just system for man to live peaceably with his neighbor. If we throw government into the mix, all we are left with is a system where the moral law is perverted into a system of theft and murder that the majority exercises over the minority. Where neighbors can legally plunder and steal from one another and it’s called “civil.” So like Bastiat, I suggest the abandoning of all legislative systems and that we try liberty.

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