The Phaserl


Doug Casey: The Real Problem is Government

by Doug Casey, International Man:

I give a good number of speeches each year. For some time I’ve asked audiences a question: “What useful purpose does the U.S. government serve?” I do that not to be challenging or provocative, but to actually find out if anyone else can think of a useful purpose the government serves. The question at first shocks, then amuses and then perplexes almost everyone because it is both so obvious and outrageous that no one ever thinks of asking it. Most people accept the institution of government because it has always been there; they have always assumed it was essential. People do not question its existence, much less its right to exist.

Government sponsors untold waste, criminality, and inequality in every sphere of life it touches, giving little of value in return. Its contributions to the commonweal are wars, pogroms, confiscations, persecutions, taxation, regulation, and inflation. And it’s not just some governments of which that’s true, although some are clearly much worse than others. It’s an inherent characteristic of all government.


The essence of something is what makes the thing what it is. But surprisingly little study of government has been done by ontologists (who study the first principles of things) or epistemologists (those who study the nature of human knowledge). The study of government almost never concerns itself with whether government should be, but only with how and what it should be. The existence of government is accepted without question.

What is the essence of government? After you cut through the rhetoric, the doublethink, and the smokescreen of altruism that surround the subject, you find that the essence of government is force…and the belief it has the right to initiate the use of force whenever expedient. Government is an organization with a monopoly, albeit with some fringe competition, on the use of force within a given territory. As Mao Zedong said, “The power of government comes out of the barrel of a gun.” There is no voluntarism about obeying laws. The consent of a majority of the governed may help a government put a nice face on things, but it is not essential and is, in fact, seldom given with any enthusiasm.

A person’s attitude about government offers an excellent insight into his character. Political beliefs reflect how a person thinks men should relate to one another; they offer a practical insight into how he views humanity at large and himself in particular.

There are only two ways people can relate in any given situation: voluntarily or coercively. Almost everyone, except overt sociopaths, pays at least lip service to the idea of voluntarism, but government is viewed as somehow exempt. It’s widely believed that a group has prerogatives and rights unavailable to individuals. But if that is true, then the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) – or, for that matter, any group from a lynch mob to a government – all have rights that individuals do not. In fact, all these groups believe they have a right to initiate the use of force when they find it expedient. To the extent that they can get away with it, they all act like governments.

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