Very few people, even among government workers, have taken time to consider a precise definition of government. Governments get away with what they do because their true nature is obscured by propaganda. Most definitions describe “government” as the people in charge, but the foundation of control is always the threat of force. The authority claimed by governments is unique because it is considered license to use force or coercion against peaceful people. There is simply no way around it: government is control by force.
Government apologists claim it’s acceptable for a government to do something that an individual would never be allowed to do. This is why governments come up with special words to obscure what they’re really doing. War is mass murder. If an individual commits
murder on their own, it is a crime and they should face consequences. But if an individual commits murder as part of a massive organized effort they might get a medal. Taxation is theft. If an individual kidnaps you for not giving them half your income, they go to jail. But if someone does that to you on behalf of government, they get a nice salary as a tax collector. No justification for these actions changes their fundamentally immoral nature. Nothing about the “divine right of kings,” the “will of the people,” or the “rule of law” has the power to justify an immoral act. Violent enforcers are essential to governments because without them, their threats would be meaningless.
To say that governments are premised on immorality is not to say everything they do is immoral. They often claim monopolies over very important functions in society, like helping the poor or protecting natural resources. The poor would be much better off and the environment would be much better protected if we did not entrust those functions to the same people who make war. Even when a government gives money to someone in need it must first steal that money from someone else. No noble act can excuse theft, as much as governments would like us to believe.
Government is fundamentally immoral because it is based on violating the rights of individuals. As much as we have progressed, it has not been because of governments but despite them. As free, beautiful, independent human beings, we own ourselves and should never let anyone tell us otherwise. We deserve self-rule. We deserve to be in charge of our own lives. No one has the rightto control others by force, even if they claim to have the majority behind them.
It may be that in the course of society’s development, some control by force was inevitable. Out of weakness, we support some institutionalized violence only because we haven’t figured out a better way. We may have been convinced that government is a “necessary evil,” but because persuasion is always more powerful than coercion, it is inevitable that we will render it unnecessary.
Government is like a cancer. Less government is better than more government, just as less cancer is better than more cancer, but as long as it exists, it’s a threat. As long as society accepts the idea that force is the way to solve problems, the only limit on violence is what enforcers cannot be convinced to do. Government today could be described as a global tumor. While it can be eradicated locally, we will only be safe when it has been completely abolished.
Government is control. Government is exploitation. Government is a protection racket. Government is disorder, violence, and conflict! Government is an idea “so good” that it has to be forced on us. Government is a group of people claiming a monopoly on the initiation of force in a specific territory. Government is the institutionalization of our worst desires to control, dominate, and take advantage of others by force. Governments reflect our tolerance for oppression, and all we need to do to defeat them is demand self-government.
This is an excerpt from the book “FREEDOM!” by Adam Kokesh