The following essay was published at The Libertarian Enterprise on 20 July 2014. http://ncc-1776.org/tle2014/tle780-20140720-02.html
by Tyrone Johnson
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
In the July 13th, 2014 issue of The Libertarian Enterprise, our intrepid editor quotes someone named "Tom Kratman" posting at a blog site called "Vox Populi" that "we're stuck in a self reinforcing cascade of civilizational decay."
First a few quick points about the blog site, Vox Populi. It appears to be a site maintained by Theodore Beale writing under his pen name "Vox Day." Anyone who can be purged from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America must have at least a few interesting things to say. I expect to visit that site again in the future, and I thank our editor for the pointer.
Are we "stuck" in a cascade of civilizational decay? Goodness, that sounds very scary. One has visions of being caught in an avalanche or mud slide, clearly nothing to joke about, although it necessarily makes one feel there is some sort of slippery slope involved.
Other writers have considered the possibility that civilisation is in decay. Kratman might enjoy some of the writings of Thomas Hobbes, a wicked authoritarian with lots to say about centralised power and authority. Or he might consider "Uneasiness in Culture" as its title might be transliterated from German, or, more commonly, "Civilization and Its Discontents," by Sigmund Freud. This book was first published in German in 1930.
Freud has some impressive thoughts on the topic. For example, he wrote, "Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility."
In the same book, Freud writes, "It is impossible to escape the impression that people commonly use false standards of measurement - that they seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others, and that they underestimate what is of true value in life." You know, things like freedom, beauty, grace, possibility, enlightenment, knowledge.
One so very rarely finds a writer speaking openly in favour of mass murder. But Kratman does. He says he has an "holistic solution" to the cascade of civilisational decay, to whit:
"Kill all the common law felons in custody. Round up and kill all the people ever convicted of a common law felony currently at large without clear and convincing evidence that they have amended their lives (job, wife, home, no further crimes of any kind). For us, that's probably in the range of 6 million people. And then we need to round up the progressives and kill them too. (Why do we call them "progressives," anyway? Their job isn't progess; it's decay.) And then use all the overmilitarized police and prison guards to round up and kill or deport illegals."
My, my. He starts with six million people, which figure happens to correspond to a rather notorious number widely used in descriptions of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, that is believed by many to have resulted in the deaths of at least six million Jewish persons, and probably tens of millions of German cripples, mentally handicapped, socialists, anarchists, communists, homosexuals, dissidents, Jews, and Europeans caught in German-occupied territory who were either opposed to Nazi aggression or members of some race the Nazis thought should be exterminated (which included Jews, Slavs, Poles, Russians, Gypsies, and a good many others).
A person has to really wonder about anyone who calls for mega-deaths on this scale. So, I visited the link to the Vox Populi site that was so helpfully provided by our editor, Ken Holder. To my surprise, Kratman begins his piece (after a throw-away comment denigrating anarchists as being unnecessary) with a fairly calm paragraph asserting that more than 0.33% of the population should not be police, or bad things result.
That is, he says "The usual and reasonable percentage of cop to citizen is about 1 per 300 or so. ... But 1 to 300 is it; any more than that and you start letting in too many hyperactive yet not too bright, violence prone sorts. (Obviously I don't have a problem with violence; I have a problem with excessively and needlessly violent police.)"
So, I took 1, divided by 300, and converted to percent form. Then I went looking for data, and I learned that a huge number of American cities have a much, much higher ratio of police to "citizens." In particular, all 101 cities listed here have as much as 19.6 cops per 300 citizens (Washington, DC), and no fewer than 7.53 cops per 300 citizens (Boca Raton, FL). It was really, really easy to find that study, and I can only wonder why this data wasn't used by Kratman to suggest, oh, say, dramatic reductions in the size of police forces throughout American cities.
There is a saying going around lately that "orange is the new black." In other words, the orange jump suits issued to prisoners, represents the new group that is being discriminated against. In the 1960s, as some of you recall, a great many black men and women stood up against decades of repression and systematic, legalised, government-enforced discrimination to win a great deal of change. Many people from northern states, both black and white, went to Mississippi in 1964 to challenge the endemic and socially-accepted racism of the national Democratic party. Although they did not succeed in getting their delegates to the racist Democratic national convention seated that year, their work was vital for the subsequent passage of the voting rights act.
So much progress has apparently been made that, even more recently, the Supreme Court ruled that forty years of "affirmative action" in college admissions was enough, and schools could go back to being "colour blind" on admissions. Similarly, the Supremes have evidently determined that the states which were so violently racist in their administration of voting laws in the period before the voting rights act can, now, fifty years on, stop being monitored closely.
Orange people, however, seem to be a different class, an actual "untermenschen" to judge by Kratman's call for their extermination. By orange people I am not necessarily referring to those like Republican John Boehner who use excessive amounts of fake tanning skin treatment, but only those convicted of some crime in the United States. I say "not necessarily" since I cannot express much optimism that Boehner won't ever be convicted of a crime.
Notwithstanding that decades of research makes it clear that the death penalty does not deter crime, and, indeed, that the cessation of executions in some places has correlated with a decrease in homicides, Kratman enthuses about setting up a system to review the "convincing evidence" that persons convicted of a "common law felony" by which I assume he means a violent or major-property crime, should be allowed to live (in other words, reversing the presumption of innocence and insisting that convicted criminals must be killed unless they can plead that they have changed their ways). I should probably bother to offer at least a link to some other links about how the death penalty fails, in case anyone isn't up to date on this topic. Links There are various links to criminology studies, views of police chiefs, and a national research council study of studies (meta-study) that concluded that there is no evidence that the death penalty has any deterrent effect.
So, what is to be gained by slaughtering 6 million people who once wore orange jumpsuits? Presumably, there will be a whole bunch more ammunition sold. Maybe Kratman thinks he can cash in on the extermination technologies by investing in the contemporary equivalent of Zyklon B. Or, perhaps he is happier under a system of brutal authoritarianism.
Consider Freud's idea that law and order, power, and wealth, are not really the great things in life. If beauty, grace, technological innovations, creative ideas, freedom, possibility, enlightenment, knowledge — if these things are the great parts of life, then what is "civilisation" and its law and order enthusiasts doing for us? Is it bringing about an elevation of the spirit of mankind, such that persons who are very sensitive, creative, and intelligent are able to feel good about themselves, write great works of literature, create great works of technology, make and do great things? I suspect that the civilisation that Kratman wants around him does nothing of the sort.
Rather, I think, the police state serves to obliterate that spirit of intelligence, sensitivity, and creativity. "The greatest of spirits can be liquidated if its bearer is beaten to death with a rubber truncheon," wrote Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf, published in German in two volumes in 1925 and 1926.
My purpose in mentioning this viewpoint is to suggest that what Kratman is perceiving as a cascading failure of civilisation might be something else, entirely. I suggest another quote from Wide Is the Gate by Upton Sinclair, "I believe I would point out to them that the increase in employment...is based entirely upon the manufacture of armaments; also, it depends on the piling up of debts, and so it cannot go on indefinitely. It can have but one end, another slaughtering.... It is obvious that when a nation turns its whole substance into war materials ... the time will come when that nation has to go to war — it can do nothing else because it is equipped for nothing else...". Sinclair's novel was published in English in January 1943 at a time when the German and Soviet armies were busy bleeding the snow red along an enormous Eastern front, eighteen months before the British, French, Polish, and American forces would stage their landings on the beaches at Normandy. Although I certainly don't agree with much of Sinclair's views on economics, I think he was well-positioned to think deeply on authoritarian cultures, including his own.
How likely is Tom Kratman to find himself arrested? There hasn't been a lot of good data on that topic, but a recent study, "Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates, National Inmate Survey 2011-2012" available at bjs.gov from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, has some interesting facts to report. It notes that 3.2% of all people in jail, 4% of all people in state and federal prisons, and 9.5% of all those held in juvenile detention facilities were sexually abused in their current facility during the preceding year. Most of these sexual assaults were committed by guards in the detention facilities, and most of the victims were sexually abused more than once a year. Among the other disturbing facts in the report, it says that 13.6 million people were arrested in the United States in the 12 months ending mid-year 2008.
In other words, the "justice" system arrests, tries, and attempts to convict, quite a lot more than twice as many people as Kratman thinks are likely to have committed a "common law felony." Or, as our editor notes, "that's the way it is in the American Police State, July 13, 2014."
But, wait, there's more! Kratman does not only want to slaughter those convicted of felonies, to the tune of six million, he also wants to "round up and kill or deport illegals." What is an "illegal" person?
Is it illegal to be a human being in certain circumstances? I gather from his follow-on notes, "Then put them on the border to our south, and on small patrol craft at sea. They'll be happier, and so will the rest of us," that Kratman means persons who are not documented by a national government and are, therefore, not supposed to have residence nor travel nor work activities inside the United States. Funny thing, though, how the United States Congress passed laws signed into effect by Republican president George W. Bush in 2008 that have dramatically increased the number of "illegal alien" visitors to the United States.
One of my associates at work noted recently that at SilentVault, "we focus mainly on economic and financial regulation, but of course other forms of regulation do not work any better, and there's no reason to expect them to do so. For example, consider this news article
"'Many of the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who have been crossing America?s southern border in the past few months are purposely surrendering to Border Patrol because they know they will be sheltered, fed, transported deeper into the U.S. and ultimately released with a court date so far into the future that it doesn?t really matter."
"'Even if they did show up to their court date, what we're going to start seeing is what we call the "anchor babies" because these court dates are being set from what I understand so far down the road that these people are going to come here, settle in, some of them are going to have children, and those citizens are now United States citizens.?
"So, due to the inherent absurdities of laws about 'citizenship' and legal process, "illegal immigration" cannot be prevented so long as enough people are doing it. All folks have to do is: 1. Cross the border. 2. Get caught. 3. Within the next three years, have a baby within US borders. 4. Don't bother showing up for court date. 5. If caught again, display child who cannot be deported.
"Of course Alex Jones and his fellow right-libertarian types are foaming at the mouth about how bad this is. Securing the borders is one of the few functions even Ron Paul-ers think the feds should perform, and there *is* some evidence that immigrants are being recruited as Democrat voters. But really it's another example of regulatory failure and statist absurdity. Mexico is said to be a failed state, and American constitutionalists direly predict the same will happen to the USA. But as Jeff Berwick says, 'You say that like it's a bad thing!'"
Let's try to put a figure to the number of "illegals" who are currently in the United States illegally. We'll give Kratman a break on all the formerly "illegal" persons who have subsequently been given amnesty, and assume for a moment that he wouldn't want to also slaughter all of them. Figures vary, but it seems that the "illegal" immigrant population declined from 12.5 million in 2007 to 11.5 million in 2011, according to wikipedia A more recent article puts the current figure at 11.7 million.
Finally, Kratman wants to exterminate "Progressives" because "their job isn't progress." He seems uncertain about who would actually be a Progessive. His uncertainty seems to mirror national polling data for Americans on this topic. Link Apparently as many as 12% of adults in the USA think they are Progressives, though 54% are unsure. If we take a rough figure of 317 million Americans, then 12% of adults would be a further 38 million.
Mind you, Kratman might want to demolish part of the monument at Mount Rushmore, since Theodore Roosevelt was very clearly a Progressive. The Progressive Era in the United States (1890s to 1920s, mostly) is associated in the minds of some people with expanding democracy, including women in the voting population, putting government agencies in charge of many industries, breaking up national trusts to further limit corporate power, and creating other new national enterprises, such as national parks. Of course, the people most closely identified with Progressive politics, namely Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson, are also closely identified with overseas adventurism, military occupations of the Philippines, Central America, Cuba, and other places, and an incredible race hatred. Wilson was so horribly racist that he segregated the civil service bureaucracies of the government. Roosevelt was so racist that he insisted that Filipinos were not capable of self-government. Many Progressives promoted the ideology of eugenics — the killing of inferior persons — so Kratman might feel at home with that crowd. Wilson was also extremely fascist, creating a brown-shirt organisation called the American Protective League, forcing the country into war, and promoting the Federal Reserve and other major interventions into free markets. Prohibition and other interventionist policies are directly associated with the Progressive agenda. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Black Chamber, and other domestic espionage operations are directly a part of Progressive policies.
Kratman then defends his mass murder ideology by saying, "That's all pretty harsh, right? Unjust? Horrid? Horrible? Unthinkable? Yeah, well, the collapse of civilization, which is where we're heading, is going to be a lot worse, and to much more innocent people. Think little kids turning on spits over low coals." I'm not so sure. With 55.7 million persons slaughtered to fulfil the policies Kratman outlines (felons, including those who have served their complete sentences; "illegals;" and Progressives), would we be further toward, or further away from, the collapse of civilisation?
Really, think about it. A police state, a national government that spends more on military activities than every other nation on Earth, and about 38.8% of the total spent worldwide (see here for details), which cannot itself treat the veterans chewed up in its wars of overseas aggression without putting them on waiting lists for months at a time (visions of what national healthcare managed by the USA government might look like) until some of them die waiting for medical attention, which is run by people who might generously be characterised as Freud did as people who "seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others," and would more accurately be characterised as sociopathic, psychopathic, homicidal, misanthropic maniacs, is not civilised.
Let me say that again: the United States government is a police state, run by maniacs who hate humanity. The United States government is not civilisation.
I believe that what Kratman is saying about civilisation is really true only of that concept of law and order that he finds virtuous. The United States government is failing, and one can certainly point to the large number of people arrested, the large number of people entering the country illegally, and the large amount of disregard for the government's policies by ordinary American civilians, as evidence that the government as a nation state in control of its territory and population is failing.
But is that a bad thing? A police state isn't civilisation, so its downfall isn't bad news.
Rather, on the contrary, there is something else entirely different happening, right now, which is important. For over two hundred years, Americans in particular and a great many others all over the world in general, have been against the central state. Consider the actions of the American patriots of 1775, the words of people like Patrick Henry, the destruction of the Bastille in 1789 by French peasants, the revolutions all over Central and South America, the slave uprising that resulted in the freedom of every slave on the island of Haiti, and the many other struggles for individual liberty in the two centuries since then. Consider the generations of men and women all over the world who believe as they were taught that "all men are created equal," that men and women are most human when they are most free, that freedom in individual affairs is a positive good, and that government is, at its very best, when very thoroughly limited and controlled, a "necessary evil." Consider the people like George Washington who consider government to be like fire, useful if controlled, terrible if unleashed, and then consider another type of civilisation.
Think, if you would, please, about a civilisation built by men and women who want their children to have more freedom than they do. Consider, then, a world in which you don't hear the imperative voice, "Call now!" and "Obey orders!" in both commercial and governmental promotions, but in which you hear requests followed by courtesy words like "please." Consider a world in which the centralisation of power is understood to be a fundamental mistake, in which the collection of great databases of information is recognised as evil, and in which people are free to operate communications devices without constant surveillance being possible, let alone conducted by their own governments. Consider a world in which people are so free of centralised, bureaucratic regulation that they can invent new tools and technologies, build flying cars and fly them without licences, develop launch systems and travel to the Moon or Mars, see great works of art on the walls of their home, or on their computer screens, and live just as they please, all the time.
Think about what you would do with much greater freedom, with control of much more of the wealth you create, the "income" you earn every week. Think about how you could make your life better, and possibly make the lives of others, in your family, in your neighbourhood, or on your planet, better. Then imagine what it would look like if all the systems of control, of police authority, of surveillance, and of enforcement that intimidate you, that concern you, that worry you even a bit in the back of your mind, were gone.
Doesn't that sound much more like civilisation? Doesn't that sound like a world worth your time, your energy, and your creativity?
If so, if that's what you want, don't just sit there. Get busy. Figure out how to arrange your affairs better so that you keep more of your own money. Figure out how to undermine the systems of surveillance, command, and control that burden you. Contribute less to the system that abuses you and undermines your freedom. Build a better future.
It's your life. You choose.
Tyrone Johnson is SilentVault's key person for marketing and business development. He has experience in business operations in Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America. Johnson has a classical education in the arts and sciences and a graduate degree in business. He has worked in mainstream banking, alternative currencies, technology development, and management consulting. He is working on the August 2014 launch of SilentVault.com digital currency wallet service.