21 November 2015

Coercion and the State

The primary criteria available to consider is whether or not an organization can claim a monopoly of legal violence within a territory. If it can, it is a state. However, modern State leaders have understood this monopoly is not sufficient by itself to maintain their power. This is why they use ideologies to hide the violent nature of their authority and make the population more accepting of the state’s coercive methods.

In the West, since the nineteenth century, nationalism has largely filled the role of manufacturing consent to government domination, by drawing arbitrarily the contours of a fantasized historical and cultural community. After that came the welfare-state ideology which aims to develop a sophisticated system of fiscal redistribution that cultivates a strong feeling of economic dependence on the political class. And then came the ideology of democracy which allows the state to identify itself with society overall by promoting the illusion that the citizenry maintains control over the state bureaucracy.

Through these means, states in the West have been able to “legitimize” their monopolies over coercion.

For established states, achieving statehood confers a sort of title of nobility on the international stage. That is why many political movements aim to gain international recognition of their state. The status of “state” implies “civilized society”.

And yet, there is nothing honorable about the formation and maintenance of states. States are essentially bellicose and exploitative institutions. None of them can claim to be the fruit of a peaceful or contractual process.

Unfortunately, much of the problem comes from Western citizens themselves who don’t pay attention to their governments, which never hesitate to use a single tragic event in order to increase their power and their “protection” by limiting their citizens’ individual freedoms. By fueling and exploiting fear, governments create a vicious circle which exacerbates the security demands from their populations, which translates into an increase of states” prerogatives. Military spending increases in turn, which satisfies the powerful interest groups that make up the military-industrial complex.
Ferghane Azihari at Mises Daily

25 September 2015

Church and War

War is a counter church. It is the most determinative moral experience many people have. That is why Christian realism requires the disavowal of war. Christians do not renounce war because it is often so horrible, but because war, in spite of its horror, or perhaps because it is so horrible, can be so morally compelling. That is why the church does not have an alternative to war. The church is the alternative to war. When Christians no longer see the reality of the church as an alternative to the world’s reality, we abandon the world to war.
Stanley Hauerwas

25 May 2015

Civil Religion

Once the nation becomes the primary hermeneutical target of Scripture, the primary community of faith becomes the state. The church is eclipsed in this world and so is the kingdom of God.

And once the state becomes the primary community of faith because the Scriptures are applied primarily to the state, civil religion is at hand. The church no longer plays the role of prophet to the nation; it becomes a puppet of the state.
Alan Brevere at Faith Seeking Understanding

24 March 2015

William Godwin

Government can have no more than two legitimate purposes,the suppression of injustice against individuals within the community and the common defense against external invasion.
William Godwin, an English political philosopher of the 18th Century.

15 January 2015


In a democracy, each party bids for votes with the money it intends to steal after it has won the election.
Bill Bonner on Democracy

13 January 2015

Randolph Bourne.

War is the health of the state.
Randolph Bourne.

06 November 2014

Rationality and Goodness

Economists sometime confine rationality and goodness.

Explaining something does not justify it.

Russell Roberts at the London School of Economics.

25 September 2014

Mercy and War

The only mercy in war is a speedy conclusion.
Michael Scheuer

19 September 2014

Ersatz Capitalism

I believe that this high and increasing level of inequality is not the inevitable result of capitalism, nor is it the working out of inexorable economic forces... The high and growing inequality in the United States is a result of its policies and politics, and those that have emulated the United States—the United Kingdom, for example—are seeing similar results. The inequality is a result of the country’s ersatz capitalism—rampant with monopolies and oligopolies, government-conferred benefits on corporations and the rich, bailouts for the banks, deficiencies in corporate governance, and tax laws that allow the richest to move their money to offshore tax havens and pay far less than their fair share of taxes.
From the Economist Magazine

30 September 2013

Market Failure

Economies don’t fail. They do exactly what they want to do exactly when they want to do it.

Fed chiefs fail to improve them. Politicians fail to understand them. And everybody fails to appreciate them.
Bill Bonner on Market Failure.

24 September 2013


Since banking is not a business that creates real wealth, it can only enrich its owners by taking money from other people. It does that by: (1) printing money (and buying the banks’ deadbeat assets); (2) fixing interest rates at artificially low levels (taking money that should rightfully belong to savers); and (3) generally encouraging inflation to rob everyone.
Bill Bonner explaining that the Fed is a vast cartel charged with making for its members and clients.

26 August 2013

William Godwin

Government can have no more than two legitimate purposes: the suppression of injustice against individuals and the common defense against external invasion.
William Godwin in his Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and Its Influence on Morals and Happiness.

22 August 2013


Nothing happens in the Kingdom of God until there is a declaration.
Bill Johnson

01 July 2013

John Locke

In the second of his Two Treatises on Government, the seventeenth-century English political theorist John Locke accepted the inevitability of inequality stemming from the invention of money and private property. But having done so, he also had to acknowledge the need for a state to police the inequities that the market produces. Any state that could do this effectively, however, would also be strong enough to threaten the property holders it was meant to protect. And so a tension was born in the heart of liberalism: you can’t live with the state, since it might rob you, but you also can’t live without it, since the mob might kill you.

04 May 2013

Society is Peacemaking

War is harmful, not only to the conquered but to the conqueror. Society has arisen out of the works of peace; the essence of society is peacemaking. Peace and not war is the father of all things. Only economic action has created the wealth around us; labor, not the profession of arms, brings happiness. Peace builds; war destroys.
Ludwig von Mises

03 April 2013

Dangerous Assumption

The fundamental assumption that both sides share is that those who have a vision of an ideal society have the right and duty to take the reins of power and history and make that vision reality through the use of political power.
An anonymous blog comment highlighting the problem with political power.

11 March 2013

Punishing the Prudent

Throughout our history – any country’s history – the people who save their money and invest for their future are the ones that you build an economy, a society, and a nation on.

In America, many people saved their money, put it aside, and didn’t buy four or five houses with no job and no money down. They did what most people would consider the right thing, and what historically has been the right thing. But now, unfortunately, those people are being wiped out, because they are getting 0% return, or virtually no return, on their savings and their investments. We’re wiping them out at the expense of people who went deeply into debt, people who did what most people would consider the wrong thing at the expense of people who did the right thing. This, long-term, has terrible consequences for any nation, any society, any economy.
Jim Rogers on Punishing the Prudent in favor of Rescuing the Irresponsible.

01 March 2013

Augustine on Empires

Augustine thought that imperial ambition was self-destructive folly. If humans had been rational, they would have created, not empires, but an enormous number of small states—Augustine says regna, literally “kingdoms”, but he means any political arrangement whatever. A multitude of tiny, harmless polities could have lived at peace among themselves and therefore at peace internally, just as a city contains innumerable households, none of which seeks to dominate the others, and all of which maybe domestically at peace.
Alan Ryan in On Politics (p.175).

14 February 2013

Scandal and Democracy

Scandal was common across the democratic world in the early 1960s… It wasn’t just the shadow of the war but the frustrations of the democratic peace that had made people restless by 1963. In many countries, the political class that produced the postwar settlement was still hanging on; old political soldiers were refusing to die. Governments that had been around too long were growing careless, and their publics were looking for something new. These are the circumstances in which scandal becomes a vehicle of democratic change.

The press had a field day, and so did political opponents. Power-starved politicians and embittered journalists used the scandal to advance their own careers. The outs got in; the ins were temporarily put out. Its result was for ‘one network of egotists, with an intricate history of mutual obligations, murky pacts and tacit promises being replaced by an opposing alliance, no more qualified or efficient, held together by similar bargains, ambition and vanity’. There is nothing distinctively English about this. It’s how democracy works… Political damage was done by press and opposition speculation about who had said what to whom. Rumour did the work of fact. Journalists took sides; so did judges. A frustrated younger generation of politicians used the scandal to leverage old men out of power.

The result is usually disappointing: change is never commensurate with the scale of the outrage a scandal provokes. But it is effective: scandals are a good way of telling entrenched political elites when their time is up.
Democracies (especially parliamentary democracies) run on cycles of tolerance and intolerance for indiscretion at the top. New governments get away with a lot, but they are also more alert to what they can get away with. Then, when they become old, they become less alert and they get away with less.

The ability of a scandal to destroy a government usually has very little to do with the merits of the case. It depends on timing. It is asking too much to expect democracies to acquire a sense of proportion about these things.
David Runciman on An English Affair

20 September 2012

Stealing from Ourselves

In older monarchical systems, only a tiny elite was privileged to steal from everyone else, and if they stole too much, people would get angry and overthrow them.

Democracy solved the problem by granting everyone the privilege once reserved to elites. Now we can all steal from each other, and even from ourselves. This way, it is no longer clear who the enemy is. We don’t know whom to blame when things get bad. There is no one to overthrow but ourselves.
Jeffrey Tucker