Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Government is imaginary?

I see a few people who make the claim that government isn't real.  It is all in your mind.  And, to an extent, that is true.

The same could be said of "family".  Or "society".  Or the NRA.  Or any group.

There are only individuals.

However, while a group is nothing without individuals, individuals become "more" within the group.  That "more" may be positive or negative.

Seeing yourself as a part of a group can give you courage to do things you would never think of doing on your own.  It might give you the courage to mount an effort to collect coats for poor people, or it might give you the courage to join a middle-of-the-night armed raid on someone's home.

The "collective" has a real-world effect.

It also has an effect on those who are not a part of the group.

It can be discouraging to see individual members of a gang attacking others with no consequences.  It can be discouraging to see what happens to their targets who fight back.  Bad guys find safety in numbers.  And the biggest numbers are found in that coercive, violent gang known as government.

Government doesn't exist apart from bad people willing to do what they believe government is empowered to do- the belief that belonging to government empowers them to do things that are forbidden to non-members- and those individuals, and their beliefs, are a danger to those who find themselves in the cross-hairs.  Ridiculing the existence of government will only get you so far.

While I could fill this blog, every day from now on, with individual examples of evil committed by people who only have the courage to commit the evil because of their membership in The Gang, that would be tiring, and no one would want to read that.  So, the shorthand of referring to the evils of government is useful.

In the end it comes down to individuals initiating force and theft.  But to ignore what motivates them, emboldens them, and helps them escape responsibility is to ignore the elephant in the room. As long as most people see government as a real thing, apart from the interchangeable individuals who make it up, you will keep needing to address that belief.



  1. "Government doesn't exist apart from bad people willing to do what they believe government is empowered to do"

    True, but only partially so. Frighteningly, government also coopts a lot of very good people who believe that what they're doing is the good and right thing, some who will even gladly risk or even lay down their lives because they think that they're doing the right thing. These can be the most dangerous individuals of all; those willing to risk their lives for what they are led to believe is the 'common good'. I was one of those myself for most of my adult life (20 years as an Army Military Policeman), and it scares me to think where the Superman/Captain America/Christ complex could have led under the wrong circumstances. Those people should, in my opinion, be pittied, but also feared. There's no one more dangerous than a well-meaning person who's willing to give their life up for a 'good cause'.

  2. Once those "good people" start doing evil things, no matter that they believe they are doing the right thing, they become bad people for the duration. I am glad some are able to rise above it, as you apparently did.

  3. It is highly unlikely that governments can be got rid of. The only thing individuals can do is change the structure of government for protection against it. Limiting government powers by simply not allowing them to legislate anything and everything.

  4. I think the myth that government can be allowed to exist, and still be limited, has been disproved. It's like allowing just a little cancer to remain, but limiting its growth.

    Once you stop ridiculing the notion that you can give some individuals the power to run the lives of others, there's nothing that can't be justified in time.