Essays on Mooted Questions
IS GOVERNMENT NECESSARY?
Some power capable of protecting the weak against the strong is manifestly requisite for the maintenance of rights, and this power is exercised by the organization constituting thestateorgovernment.Rights can evidently rest secure only when there is a power in control whose authority is paramount.—Hugo Bilgram, in The Cause of Business Depressions.
Here is another way to look at it:
Some power capable of subjecting the many to the few is manifestly requisite for the maintenance of wrongs, and this power is exercised by the organization constituting the State or government. Wrongs can evidently rest secure only when there is a power in control whose authority is paramount.
Everyone is aware that the State or government is a paramount power whose main function is supposed to be to protect the weak against the strong, and to maintain
rights, but it also aids the rich against the poor, and maintains wrongs and causes harm far overbalancing any credit that may be given it.
Rights that can stand the test of reason, not subtle, legal tricks, called
rights, could be maintained by voluntary associations of defense, in the absence of government.
A supreme, monopolistic, sovereign State, is a dangerous thing, not a necessity.
Confliction that might arise between voluntary associations could not in a thousand years equal the horrors of a single one of hte ever occuring wars of States.
What is the record of these institutions of State in
protecting the weak against the strong? They have killed about six billions of people in a few centuries in wars against each other. They have instituted, sanctioned and upheld white and black slavery and feudalism; they uphold idle royal classes and maintain privileges and monopolies for the few, and have kept the wealth producers in misery and oppression. Have they ever—do they now—protect the weak against the strong? Why, they have ever oppressed and enslaved the weak for the benefit of a few favorites.
Who can show, by any rational and valid argument, that, in the absence of government in the years since 1913, over 20 millions of murders would have occurred, over $300,000,000,000 in wealth wasted, and the people now have $200,000,000,000 interest-bearing debts to pay? Who can show that robbers would get more of the wealth in freedom than is now taken from producers by State maintained monopolies, or legal
rights? Look at the showing of the State! Could liberty make one-tenth as bad a showing?
Governments or States never have, do not now, and never will do that which benefits people that would not be done by non-governmental agencies, but they do more in the way of legal assault and robbery than all the James gangs possibly could do in the absence of the State. The State stands as a bar against every sound economic reform Mr. Bilgram or anyone else favors; without it, progress toward economic, social and political justice would be possible. Under government, any real or worth-while reform means decades of agitation, and generally requires war, as in the abolition of slavery. There is nothing, except national robbery, that cannot be done without government.
The first argument advanced against freedom generally is,
In the absence of government men would fly at each other's throats.
That's just what they have been doing, with little time between bouts, at the instigation and with the authority of government, for many thousands of years! Far from being a beneficial institution, or even a
necessary evil, government, a coercive organization assuming all powers—offensive as well as defensive—is an unnecessary and a harmful one. E. H. F.