18A046 Civilization by Jim Davies, 11/13/2018    


There's a word not easy to define, though most of us know it when we see it. It's used - misused, rather - even today, to try to justify continuing the existence of government. recently I encountered some who insisted that without it, there would be no civilization. Incredible! Here's what one dedicated left-archist posted on a forum I haunt:

"Gov't is required. You have no civilization without gov't. You wouldn't be able to instantly send your nonsense to others without gov't."

To demolish such mendacity, we do have to attempt a definition first. What is this state or stuff?

"Civilization" does include the huge range of material good things we enjoy, from running water, soap, refrigerators, cookers, homes and their heating and cooling, bikes, cars, phones, and yes indeed, the Internet. But there was a time when there was no Internet, no phones no fridges and no piped water; and it's only a few generations ago. Did people send each other messages and opinions in those days? Of course. Were they civilized? - absolutely. In America, two centuries ago the common man could read and understand Paine's "Common Sense" better than he can today. He had no planes, trains or flush toilets, but he was well acquainted with classical literature and even classical Greek and Latin. Speaking of which, the Romans were quite civilized as well, and that's 2,000 years ago. They even had baths, and sometimes underfloor heating, and horse-drawn chariots.

It's not just those nice material goodies, though; civilization includes art and music and courtesy and manners and delicately made meals and fine wine. Those things too go back many hundreds of years, some of them to Roman times. It includes literature and scholarship and physics and math, fiction and philosophy, contemplation of the universe, market trading, and at least the option of religion.

It may help us define the word by going even further back in history. What of the nomadic tribes, busy populating the planet, say 11,000 years ago? There are traces of art from them also, as on the cave walls in Lascaux from even earlier; yet at that time they did not write or read and, happily, had no government. Any needed communal decisions were taken by consensus. Were they civilized? I'd say, yes they were. They clearly had a sense of the finer things of life; they used caves for shelter, cooked food to make it tastier, made pictures (though not movies) of everyday life. I'd be surprised if they never lay on the grass and contemplated the stars, on a warm clear Summer's night.

It may further help if we consider what is not civilized. At once, warfare comes to mind; there can not be any human behavior that is less civilized than the vicious, bloody business of systematically killing other human beings. As far as can be told, wars never happened in that ancient era; only after government appeared, ten millennia ago, is there evidence of battle. And it has never stopped. Even the civilized people of America have fought about 115 wars since the founding. And the Romans, for all their otherwise civilized ways, built their empire exclusively by conquest in war. Government began in plunder and war, and has made war its primary business ever since.

Conduct is recognized as uncivilized if it hurts someone else in any way, from discourtesy to outright theft, assault and enslavement - on a personal level. There's no way to reconcile such kriminal conduct with respect and courtesy; and if it occurs in a civilized society it must be countered with a civilized system of justice. "Justice" means the restoration of lost or damaged rights, and that has nothing to do with vengeance or a vendetta, ie punishment. Today governments operate only vengeance systems - and charge the cost of the punishments to uninvolved third parties. The establishment of true justice will be one of the most important, civilizing achievements of the coming zero government society.

Isn't it interesting that the virtues associated with anarchism (respect for the self-ownership of everyone one encounters) are so very close to what is very widely recognized as civilized behavior? So much so that some might accuse me of rigging the comparison! But I'm not.

It's even more interesting that the features of uncivilized behavior (theft or plunder, assault, killing, domination...) are precisely those of government, from its first appearance to the present day! When it began to pollute society about 10,000 years ago it did so when one group raided the property of another (which had stored the products of its labor, in a fixed-agriculture economy) and stole it, slaughtered the defenders and married the surviving women, ready for the cycle to repeat.

Now that we have some idea of what "civilization" is, we can evaluate the absurd claim shown in purple above. Is government the source of it? - the exact opposite is the case. Government in its basic nature is and always was an entity that plunders, dominates and kills. It cannot operate at all without large scale theft, either of labor directly, or more commonly now, of money to buy it. In seeking always to expand its power and influence, it wages war - almost incessantly. These are the very features of UNcivilized behavior. Far from being the source of civilization, government is its implacable enemy.

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How Government Silenced Irwin Schiff

2016 book tells the sad story and shows that government is even more evil than was supposed