Undermining The Levers of State Power

Imagine, for a moment, that you wanted total power over a society and the ability to perpetually control dissent. What levers of power would you seek to control?

If you were to take a lesson from religion, then it's obvious you'd want to control the education of children.

If you were to take a lesson from business, then you'd want to control the market.

If you were to take a lesson from people's inclination to chatter, then you'd want to control all means of communication.

And, naturally, if you were to take a lesson from history, you'd want to control the means of violence.

Any tyrant worthy of the title would, consequently, want to control all four levers of power.

If you had your hands firmly on all four levers, then you'd be the dictator of a "total" state. Of course, in real life, states have different levels of power at their disposal - depending on what type of social organisation they administer.

You could say that communism represents the "total" state - in that it also attempts to commandeer the means of production. That experiment failed of course, but at least communists understand the nature of power and are theoretically consistent.

Fascism is a "variation" on Communism, because under such a system, property is not nationalised - but simply controlled indirectly.

But what about our modern democracies? How to they rate on the total "full dominance" spectrum?

Well, the "democratic" state still has monopoly control over the means of violence, education and money. It doesn't overtly control the media, but does the best it can!

The important point here, is that democratic states have learnt they don't need to own everything (like in communism), when they can get the voters to grant them as much control as they desire.

Each of the four levers of state power are important - military, educational, monetary, and where possible, media. However, there are two levers that are absolutely essential to the state's continuance: the control of education and money.

These two power levers are much more important than controlling violence and the media, for they are fundamental, and form the basis of a pre-emptive control strategy. After all, violence is an "endgame" - something you do when all else fails. But if you can ensure no one resorts to violence, because no one even thinks of dissent, then you are ahead of the game.

Similarly, pre-emptive control of the content of people's minds is more effective than than controlling the media - especially if the media proves difficult to fully control.

It's the same with money. If you give people unlimited access to it, by not taxing them, and allowing total freedom of business, then this could see the rise of many economically powerful individuals, which could be a threat to the political order. Best to keep most people poor. That way, their minds are on more mundane issues, rather than thinking of challenging the established order.

Therefore, the "efficient" omnipotent state will always divert significant resources to maintaining control of both money and education. Freedom of speech is not such a big threat, if people can't think straight, and don't know what important questions to ask!

So the first line of "attack", to rid us of state tyranny, is to undermine its power over the critical areas of both education and money.

They are both equally important - but for different reasons.

To control education means to control the mind - what goes into it. And to control money means to control the market - that organic consequence of the mind, where people trade the results of their personal efforts. In other words, control the mind AND the body.

Government control over money is maintained by what we call "legal tender" laws - which is an assertion by the state that we must accept the paper it prints and calls money. This paper is intrinsically worthless, but gains acceptance because of the force of law.

Previously, money has historically been commodities that the market has delivered - like gold and silver (or anything of widely accepted value). This money had intrinsic value - as determined by the market, not the state.

Kings of old would often debase such gold or silver, by shaving off small amounts - so the weight was not as stated. But this thievery could not go on forever, particularly when the means of assaying the gold or silver became an easy matter.

Modern governments got rid of this annoying limitation on their power by doing away with gold - and replacing it with paper. Sure, at first they offered paper money that promised to pay a certain amount of gold (like a receipt), but over time, this promise was whittled away. These days, if you look at a crisp new dollar, you are likely to see that it promises to pay exactly one dollar. That means you can take it into a bank and exchange it for another one. Great!

What the king used to do when shaving gold coins, the modern state is able to do by creating paper money out of thin air. And in so doing, is able to debase the paper currency by inflation. Now, contrary to all the waffle about inflation being a rise in the consumer price index - it is in fact a rise in the supply of money in excess of a corresponding rise in the supply of goods and services. Thus inflation is the modern equivalent of shaving gold off coins. Theft, in other words.

The state's control over the supply of money allows it to manipulate its own finances and the general economy at will. By means of access to virtually unlimited money (either by taxation, borrowing or money creation) it can buy votes to ensure its ongoing survival. It can also manipulate the market in many ways.

The solution is to abandon state money - and for a "market money" to come into being. The transition will not be easy - but now, more than ever, the possibility of such an alternative is more likely. Internet-based alternatives like e-gold offer a possible way forward. And the fact they even exist is a major sign of progress in this regard.

Ultimately, freedom requires a non-state money system - one that is the result of free market forces and independent of any state control.

In other words, we need state-free banking AND state-free money.

Government control over education is maintained by curriculum laws. It doesn't matter whether your child goes to a state school a private school - or even if you home-school him, the end result is the same. You are forced to educate your child according to the priorities and requirements of the government.

Sure, a private school may deliver a better quality "state" education. Or you may do it yourself - but ultimately it is necessary to challenge the state's role in determining WHAT shall be taught.

After all, when you think about it, it is really none of its business as to what your child is taught. If you are a parent, YOU are best qualified to decide the curriculum, or to choose who will decide it.

The normal assumption is that if the state does not control the curriculum, then nothing of value will get taught. What poppycock!

Think of it this way. Commerce delivers what customers want every day - in every sort of way. And to grasp the import of this, just consider how much useful variety would be present in your local supermarket - if all food production was controlled by the state.

Fortunately, you don't have to imagine it - you can read the history books and note the wonderful shopping available under the auspices of the old USSR.

Education is no different. It is a product. And it is in demand. Consumers of education - parents in most cases - are more than up to the task of choosing a suitable education for their children. And education, unshackled from state control, would flourish into a dynamic marketplace of useful alternatives.

The bottom line of state education is that it is a "one size fits all" philosophy. Sure, they offer more alternatives than 50 years ago - but in essence, it's a centralised system doomed to deliver a uniform "mass" end product. And an inferior product to boot!

Just consider one glaring deficiency of state-controlled education - being educated with the sole purpose of being able to find a "job".

Think about that for a moment. If everybody is being educated to the standard required to get a good job, then who is being educated to the standard required to be able to CREATE such a job? For without "job-creators" there are no jobs.

You'd think, in these times of "unemployment", the primary goal would be to turn out more job-creators. But that would mean a revolutionary change in how children are educated - something a monolithic state education system is incapable of achieving.

Such a real-world, creative education market, will only ever come when education is completely unshackled from state control. And the sooner the better.

As with potential alternatives to state money, there are many potential alternatives to state education and state curricula. However, a word of warning: the idea of education "vouchers", as often promoted by various libertarian thinkers, is NOT the answer. To accept the concept of a voucher, you are accepting the idea that the state still has the right to take your money first, then hand it back to you in a controlled fashion, via voucher.

The point is this: even vouchers represent a form of control - for they are only redeemable at an "approved" school. In other words, control by the back door.

No, what is required is a complete break.

It is my firm belief that there will be no substantive progress towards a truly free society until the power inherent in the control of money and education is wrested from state control, and put back where it belongs - into the hands of free agents in a free market.

Yours in freedom

David MacGregor