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Thread: The Nature of Man and His Government

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    the flying pig Capitalist Pig's Avatar
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    Post The Nature of Man and His Government

    Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of mankind is Man.
    Man is a conglomerate of many things. His distinctive characteristic, above all others, is his ability to create tools. In this department he is unique. No other animated entity of all creation, so far as we can tell, has this ability, at least to the extent that man has it.

    Man has learned, because of his remarkable toolmaking facility, to extend himself into all kinds of worlds and situations which would be beyond him except for his tools. It is the use of tools which gives man mastery over this planet. If man plunges beyond this planet, it will be his tools which take him there.

    One of the principal characteristics of the toolmaker is his ability not only to devise the original tool but to improve upon that tool which he has devised. It could be argued that a failure to improve a given tool, while other tools were being improved, might seriously handicap man's progress. In other words, if man found himself addicted to the use of, let us say, the hand axe as the only tool for cutting wood, to such a degree that he would not consider a better method, the development of power saws would have been meaningless and impossible. If man wants to use an axe, and if his desires in this connection are buttressed by superstitious fear, by religious conviction, by stubborn willfulness or mental inertia, so that he believes the use of the axe is right whereas any tool other than the axe would be wrong, then man would never be able to go beyond the use of the axe. To convince him that the use of the axe in the midst of far more effective tools in other categories is no longer desirable, would require a virtual revolution of thought. Mankind would have to examine its habits, its thought patterns, its moral convictions, the very mores of the race itself before it would consider anything else.

    Therefore, man's use of a particular tool beyond the date of its obsolescence, though it admittedly had served a purpose at one time, might actually become a harmful usage. An insistence upon the use of an archaic instrument could hold back man's progress, perhaps indefinitely. Further, if the tool were basic, a dedication to its employment could become actually destructive. For it might be that this one tool was of such a nature that it could and would interfere with the development or the improvement of virtually all other tools. Man could be bound and limited by the very device which once was, perhaps, one of his chief aids.

    If we can begin to understand the tools men make, we may begin to understand more about man's true nature. The nature of the creator is discernible in his works.

    One of the most curious and one of the most useful toolmaking facilities which man has is his ability to organize. Any organization made by man can be classed as a tool.

    Man begins his organizational efforts by classifying things in groupings according to his understanding of those things. He learns to make associations on the basis of identity and similarity. He then learns to make disassociations on the basis of differences and, finally, opposites. Man organizes his thoughts, his time, his physical possessions. Finally, he organizes his neighbors and politics is born.

    Men have made hundreds of thousands of organizations. Each one has a purpose. Men have learned to combine their energies around a specific objective; harness the energies of diverse and sometimes even conflicting personalities; and concentrate upon a program, project, or product, to the exclusion of all other things. If you look at this process objectively, you cannot help but be amazed.

    During the long and bloody history of human progress, the most prolific and fertile efforts have been put forth by men to create an organization which is called "government." Government has been deemed by primitive and semicivilized men as the single most important tool ever to be devised.

    Government is important because it is a tool designed to multiply the strength and power of individuals. If one man is strong, two men would he stronger. From earliest times man has desired strength. If government, the invention of man, could be so formed that it multiplied man's strength, then man would have an important device of power to use against his enemies. This is the reason for government. It was the answer to the search made by primitive men for collective strength in place of individual lack of strength.

    For us to understand the nature of man, a good beginning could be made by attempting to understand the nature of this tremendous tool of man's devising.

    What is government?

    Clearly, all governments are simply groups of men or women which are put together for the purpose of finding strength, of providing protection. Every possible combination of rules, codes, laws, charters, constitutions, regencies, protectorates, treaties, contracts, specifications, and customs has gone into the tens of thousands of governments which have been devised during history's meteoric course. But however the framework is made, however the structure is built, the fact remains that government is a tool of man's devising, neither better nor worse than the men who devise and use it, and calculated to make man stronger and better able to protect himself in his weaknesses, by the use of force, exerted by some over others. That is all.

    The understanding of what government is, and what government is not, is of paramount importance. The importance of understanding government lies not in the importance of government itself, but in the importance men place upon their beliefs respecting government. The importance of understanding government lies in the importance of the security and protection which governments have been devised to provide. Thus, while men may believe that a government is important in itself, beneath this belief is the fact that government is a means to an end, not an end in itself. So we must not only examine this means, this tool of protection, but we must also explore protection, and the necessity for it if it exists.
    [FULL TEXT: HTML | PDF]

    What you have just read is the first chapter of Robert LeFevre's The Nature of Man and His Government. Published in 1959, it remains at the forefront, in my opinion, of the proper libertarian perspective on government and society. He argues not for anarchy, but for self-rule. Anarchy, LeFevre contends, is a contradiction; its very etymology means without rule, which is the exact opposite of what an anarchist might truly believe. While their political doctrine may be sound, it is their economic doctrine that LeFevre rejects. He favors the free market over its subjugation and regimentation; private ownership as opposed to common ownership. He (rightly) recognizes property rights as the cornerstone of any civilized, human society.

    The introduction -- written by the infamous Rose Wilder Lane, who was also a teacher at his Freedom School/Rampart College in the early '60s -- concludes by saying "[t]he value of this little book is its contribution and its stimulus to true revolutionary thinking. I think you have not read its like before. If it jolts you, that's good; these are the times when minds need waking up. Let nothing keep you from it any longer."

    I'm posting this because I believe it's important. I believe there are quite a few open-minded people here who may be receptive to LeFevre's rhetoric. I also have the dual purpose of clarification and simple informing*. People might misinterpret what Ashton or I support when we shout from the rooftops, "Abolish the State!" They think we support chaos, disorder, and anomie over a peaceful, prosperous society.

    Claude Frédéric Bastiat said it best when he wrote, "Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain."

    Further clarification of the distinction between LeFevre's position and anarchy can be seen in a later essay written in 1965 titled Autarchy Versus Anarchy. If you enjoy what I shared with you above, you will most definitely eat up anything else the revolutionary, and refreshingly original Robert LeFevre has authored.


    * I also thought you guys could use a politico-economic thread that wasn't started by the state capitalist discojoe and his obsessive idol-worship of prominent Objectivist figureheads. So, here I present to you my own idol worship. Enjoy!

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    Governments are created by LSIs to foster a spirit of togetherness. Anyone who disagrees needs to discuss the matter with an LSI.

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    the flying pig Capitalist Pig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcaudilllg View Post
    Governments are created by LSIs to foster a spirit of togetherness. Anyone who disagrees needs to discuss the matter with an LSI.
    You can't be serious.

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    the flying pig Capitalist Pig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dynamicism View Post
    Okay, I think I'm more or less convinced the guy is Te-ENTj.
    Dude, I totally freaking called it.

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    He makes leaps of thought and connections that aren't really obvious to me.

    BTW I have no clue about his type

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    the flying pig Capitalist Pig's Avatar
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    Requesting this thread be moved to Econ/Poli. I'm also bumping this for MegaDoomer's benefit.

    (BTW I'm going to reply to your post in your thread later tonight sometime).

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