Politics isn’t just the “systematic organization of hatreds” as Henry Adams observed; it is a fight to wield the biggest and most threatening guns in the state’s arsenal. In the eyes of the top echelons of bureaucratic regulators and professionalized warmongers, naturally independent lives are in dire need of management. It is why the state, through its monopolized infrastructure of predation, is seemingly forever on the path to further centralization. When you leave a bowl full of candy unattended in the presence of small child, the child will indulge himself till his stomach aches. When a state is unchallenged by the very public it lauds over, its gluttonous appetite for authority only becomes satisfied that much more.
And as the state grows, the central planners within become even more disconnected from the people they wish to govern. Planning schemes become more intricate. Technocrats start focusing more on how to command civil society rather than allow it flourish on its own. Mankind’s freewill is viewed more as an impediment to total domination rather than a unique gift from nature. Political dissent is criminalized.
Alliances between states are made. Even more bloated bureaucracies are formed in an effort to consolidate power. Militaristic aggression is used with little apprehension as dreams of empire are lived out. The lives of those not in direct affiliation with the state slowly begin to lose their value amongst the elite. Chairman Mao was absolutely correct when he wrote, “all political power comes from the barrel of a gun.” The millions murdered in cold blood by Mao’s regime show just how precious life was to a government hell-bent on full blown tyranny.
Though the massacring of political resistance which took place in communist countries such as the former Soviet Union and China were indeed horrendous, the same disregard for life and human dignity is becoming more evident in the actions of the U.S. government. The Transportation Security Agency feeling up a four-year-girl before she boards a plane is terrible enough. A sitting president ordering the assassination of an innocent 16-year-old and his teenage friends when neither stood accused of committing a crime is even worse. But in a recently leaked video showing the disgusting and unprovoked attack of two alleged poppy seed farmers, one American solider is heard singing “bye bye Miss American pie…” just before a U.S. Hellfire missile explodes. Shortly after the attack, another solider is heard uttering “nice.” Judging by their expressions, there is no doubt the soldiers were not only pleased with the slaughter; they thoroughly enjoyed it. Instances such as this are hardly new in America’s ongoing War on Terrorism. According to the Daily Mail:
The footage is the latest clip to emerge on LiveLeak which will prove embarrassing to top brass. In January footage emerged on the website which showed four American soldiers urinating on dead bodies in what appeared to be Afghanistan. The Marine Corps began an official investigation over the clip in which one of the men can be heard saying: ‘Have a great day, buddy’ to laughter from his colleagues. Another of them joked, ‘Golden like a shower’ and said ‘Yeahhhh!’ as they groaned with relief whilst urinating. The reputation of America’s military has also still not fully recovered from the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal in Baghdad. Then there was the ‘Thrill Kill’ squad which murdered three Afghan civilians for sport and took their body parts as trophies.
Now that the Pentagon is considering giving the pilots of unmanned drones “Distinguished Warfare Medals” for the very act of killing people in the total comfort of a base halfway across the globe, the U.S. government is showing just how much it supports the new sprees of apathetic murder. If the reader needs any more evidence as to the callousness toward life that “Playstation warfare” represents, see no further to the slang term the military uses for drone victims: bug splat.
With those in the state firmly disposed to the use of violence, what does the other side of society then represent?
Civil society in modern times is dominated by the central theme of cooperation. The standard of living the world enjoys today was brought about people working mutually and serving one another. It is only through collaboration that the division of labor is deepened and extended. There would be no iPhone or internet if the whole of the human race was relegated to individually growing and maintaining its own food supply. As Adam Smith famously put it, “the division of labor is limited by the extent of the market.” Basically, the more we specialize in trade and transact with one another, the more goods we can produce.
The most intriguing part about market cooperation is that none of it occurs through good will alone. Personally hating your local grocer doesn’t always stop you from purchasing his food. People will trade and interact to better their own living conditions.
We generally respect each other’s lives not for humanitarian reasons but for the sake of having our lives held to the same standard. In a free society, luxuries such as having food to eat and a bed to sleep in aren’t guaranteed. They must be worked for and work implies satisfying the needs of others. Freedom means no one is forced to hand over their earnings to another without their consent.
With the state, there is no appealing to the sanctity of life. It is all out plunder to a degree that it doesn’t drive away the most productive who are forced to involuntarily support the system. If killing the innocent is required, then government enforcers will oblige. As Ludwig von Mises wrote, “The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning.” In our world of growing statism, the unfortunate truth is that state administered violence is likely to escalate before turning a corner in the opposite direction.