Freedom and central planning can never coexist
by Brandon Smith
The average person is a statist, whether he realizes it or not. It is important that liberty activists recognize and accept this fact because the truth of our limitations as a movement determines the kinds of solutions into which we should ultimately put our time and energy. The fantasy of a final grand march of an awake and aware majority on the doorsteps of power is just that: a fantasy. Some people might argue that given more time, such an event could be organized or could happen spontaneously. But what these people seem to forget is the immediacy of crisis inspires awareness and cuts the bindings of complacency for a certain percentage of any given population. With “more time” often comes more complacency.
So history becomes a kind of balancing act, with crisis generating the necessity of intelligent and moral action in some people but rarely, if ever, in most people (even during the American Revolution, in which patriots represented a stark minority). The reason that the culture of freedom consistently plateaus and remains stuck at underdog status is because human beings are obsessed with the idea that governments should retain prohibitory and administrative power over the public. As stated earlier, the average person is a statist.
Not all people necessarily “love” their current government, but many citizens tend to see the idea of government as an inevitability of a stable society. They assume pre-eminence of the state because they have never known anything else. Not only that, but as people separate into political and ideological factions, often based on false paradigms (such as the false left/right paradigm), they covet government as a kind of tool or weapon that can be used for “the greater good” if only their side had total control of it. Very few people in this world want to shrink government down to a manageable size comparable to that which existed just after the American Revolution, and even fewer would entertain the idea of erasing central governments entirely. The allure of the state as a means to impose ideological control over others is intoxicating.
At bottom, the only viable purpose of any central government is to safeguard individual liberty. All other claims and supposed benefits are irrelevant. Infrastructure, food and water, health, education, public security: All of these issues can be provided for at a local level by common people without the aid of a central authority. In a culture where vigilance is encouraged rather than labeled paranoia, in a culture where productivity is enabled rather than obstructed, in a culture where free thought is treated with interest rather than disdain, government holds no value.
The only people who understand the true nature of government and still value the existence of an overreaching state are the people who would like to exploit the unchecked power such a state affords. We often call these people “elitists.” They often call themselves elitists. Big government serves only the interests of these elites. Everyone else is either a hapless victim of it, a useful idiot in service of it or a revolutionary opposed to it.
When a government becomes a power mechanism for a select few, it has lost all relevance. When a government like ours here in America violates the tenets of individual liberty despite its constitutional mandate in the name of “protecting” individual liberty, that government no longer serves any purpose. Even further, when a government’s policies are designed only to ensure its own continued dominance rather than the freedom and prosperity of the citizenry, that government becomes separate from the people and is, by extension, an enemy to the citizenry.
Governments and the elites behind them retain control over populations through the use of central planning. Central planning is essentially a bureaucratic structure that bottlenecks productivity, resources, academia and ideas until all progress and expression require approval. That is to say, central planning is a machine that turns rights into privileges. It also sets up bureaucracy as the final arbiter of who is considered an authority in any particular field and who is a “layman.” These designations are not based on individual ability, intelligence or accomplishment. Rather, they are based on subservience and the level of blind faith in the establishment each person is willing to display in order to attain professional status.
Some of the most ignorant people in any given field or profession are often those deemed “experts” by establishment institutions, from politics, to law, to medicine, to economics, to science, to history, etc. The sad fact is mainstream experts are rarely the most knowledgeable, but they are the most indoctrinated.
As central planning gains ground, it moves away from more subtle institutional dependencies into full-bore tyranny. The line between permission and despotism is razor-thin, and this is where we in the U.S. stand today. Most nations around the globe are socialized nations, with central planning as the very foundation on which their societies stand. For the most part, these cultures are disarmed and servile with a modicum of perceived freedom that is treated as a privilege granted by the state rather than an inborn right of natural law. Yes, many societies have “freedoms,” as America does; but the difference is that these societies can have their freedoms confiscated at any given moment on the whim of the political elite. They have no recourse to obstruct such an action and no power to remove the offending system that rules over them when they finally get fed up.
In the U.S., central planning is surely prevalent and socialization is on a fast track. But Americans still retain the ability of independent response — as we saw at Bundy Ranch, for instance, or in the defense of shopkeepers in Ferguson, Missouri, despite threats from government. We will lose our advantage of independent action if we allow the following changes to occur within our culture.
A disarmed population is utterly useless, philosophically and organizationally impotent, and easily ruled. Take a look at simpering weakling societies like the U.K., which prohibits anyone under the age of 18 to purchase plastic knives and punishes victims of crime for physically defending themselves. Governments that seek to undermine personal liberty always disarm their respective populations if they can get away with it. In America, the only reason we have not yet been disarmed is because the establishment understands that revolution would immediately follow any attempt and that revolution would be seen as justified. I believe ultimately that disarmament in the U.S. will not be fully attempted until a national crisis has been triggered.
Centralized health standards
The real purpose of Obamacare was not to provide universal health insurance. Such a task is utterly impossible in an economic system that is in the midst of decline with an aging population and reduced profit opportunities for the young. Socialism works only as long as there is someone from whom to steal money and resources. No, the purpose of Obamacare was to bond the healthcare industry to government in such a way as to make it an appendage of the state.
Already, we have seen the push for the use of doctors as government informants, the issuance of forced vaccinations regardless of religious orientation or philosophical objection, increased taxation in the name of “harmonization” of care, etc. The system must continue to perpetuate its own usefulness. And I have no doubt that one day we will see such things as mandated health appraisals of individuals up to and including psychological health, as well as restricted care based on age, life habits or even ideological orientation. If the state can have your flight status restricted merely for your political beliefs, then why not one day have your access to medical care restricted?
We have heard it said many times that people should be required to attain a “license” before they are allowed to have children, but who gets to decide who is eligible for the “privilege” of children? Well, the state and its central planners do, of course. And what makes such people so ethically competent as to deserve this power over the right to family? Not a thing. In many cases, bureaucrats are the most psychopathic and unintelligent people in any given society.
Some people might argue that this kind of development is unthinkable in America and not a legitimate concern. But already in the U.S. we have seen instances of Child Protective Services abductions of children belonging to parents with political conflicts with the existing establishment and living habits outside of the mainstream. We also live in a system in which many parents are forced by law to hand over their children to state-controlled schools for half of every weekday (and home-schoolers are attacked as aberrant child abusers). We are only a short step away from a world in which having a child invites as much government intrusion and restriction as rearing a child.
Overt militarization of police
Yes, many people would claim that overt militarization of police has already occurred. I would say that they haven’t seen anything yet. We do not yet live in a country where jacked out cops with armor and M4 carbines stand on every street corner 24/7, but it won’t be long before this becomes our everyday environment. With politicians openly suggesting extreme measures to combat “lone wolf terrorists,” up to and including internment camps for “disloyal Americans” (thanks for at least being honest about your intentions, Wesley Clark), all it would take is one large-scale attack to inspire enough confusion in the population to provide cover for a full-blown police state. Central planning survives and thrives through fear. Fear is defeated through preparedness, planning and mindset.
A person cannot plan or prepare for crisis if he is not allowed to manage his own resources. In Venezuela today, the government has locked down all food production and is rationing out necessary supplies through sophisticated electronic tracking due to economic crisis. Make no mistake, America is just as vulnerable to financial disaster as any Third World nation, if not more so. Resource management will be the inevitable result. In fact, the Obama administration has already positioned itself for resource management through the National Defense Resources Preparedness Executive Order. Government officials will call preppers “hoarders” and argue that no one person should be allowed to have more than he needs. Again, it will be state bureaucrats who will decide what amount of resources is too much.
We already have a centralized and socialized economy for the most part, but private trade and production are still possible. Central planning is designed to wipe out alternative forms of trade and subsistence so that all people can be made dependent on the singular state. As in Venezuela, we should expect that economic declines will be used as a rationale for a clampdown on individual trade. The only way to fight these kinds of measures is for average people to become avid producers and be willing to fight back physically against confiscation and government-controlled rationing.
Beyond trade controls, centralization will culminate in economic “harmony” through multilateral currency schemes, ending in a one-world currency. A single currency system by default calls for a single economic authority, and this by default calls for a single political authority. A one-world currency is not only a fiscal coup for central planners; it is also a stepping stone toward world government.
A cashless system is a kind of unholy grail for central planners because it allows for total control of economic trade. Electronic-based currency systems can be dictated from the comfort of a computer, and savings can be erased or limited arbitrarily. Cashless systems also allow banking structures to operate without the normal consequences of supply and demand fundamentals. Today, even in our massively corrupt financial system, one cannot get around the concrete effects of diminishing demand, endless debt obligations and criminal fiat creation. We are seeing these effects vividly so far in 2015, just as we saw then in 2008. In a completely cashless system, though, debts can vanish, capital can be stolen and shifted away from the public in a more precise manner, taxes can be excised without waiting for taxpayers to comply, and demand can be artificially generated with digital fiat directed to the correct accounts without any trail to follow.
Of course, there will be damages. But those damages will be foisted upon the general public incrementally until Third World living standards become normal, and no one will be the wiser after a couple of generations. Control of the population would be absolute, while any dissent could be met with immediate financial reprisal, as activists are sentenced to starvation.
The examples listed above may be measured as extreme, but every single one has support within our existing government structure either legally or through actual programs already being implemented. The speed at which they might occur is an unknown, but the desire for them by central planners is absolutely certain. There is no good or benevolent form of central planning. There is no scenario in which the system will not be abused because such power concentrated in the hands of any group of human beings invites abuse. Therefore, the only prudent course, the only solution to the absolute terror of complete state power, is to reduce government down to a shell of its current size or to remove its existence entirely and focus on localized systems and independent trade and infrastructure development. If the state as an edifice no longer exists, then it can no longer be exploited by evil people.