Scope and Scale
by Larken Rose
Why would anyone ever give up his freedom, in favor of having a master? Because aspiring tyrants are very good at deceiving people into thinking that it's for their own good. It's sad that this ever works, since it's akin to a slave-master convincing a slave that the purpose of the institution of slavery is to serve the slaves. How on earth could a megalomaniac ever make such a ridiculous lie sound believable?
One very popular means of deception, used in an effort to justify tyranny, is to talk in really big terms, on a scale that most people can't imagine. The aspiring tyrant needs to use problems--real or made up--to make normal people think that normal people can't possibly solve them. Compare and contrast the following:
Scenario #1: In a town of a few hundred people, a guy stands up, and says, "There's a family in our town, and they're just down on their luck--good people, but they could use a helping hand. So vote for ME to be mayor, and I'll tax all of you, and give to the poor family!"
Scenario #2: In a country of a few hundred million people, a guy stands up, and says, "There are families in our country, and they're just down on their luck--good people, but they could use a helping hand. So vote for ME to be President, and I'll tax all of you, and give to the poor families!"
The only difference between the two is scale. In the little town, no one would fall for the aspiring tyrant's trap. They'd just say, "Well, we know the family; we'll just chip in and help them out; we don't need a mayor, or a new tax, or any government program." But when the exact same bad idea is done on a huge scale, millions of people fall for it, because helping that many people (millions, instead of one family) seems beyond the capacity of "normal" people.
Of course, it only seems that way. Hundreds of millions of "normal" people can help out millions of poor people, just as hundreds of people in one town can help out a few people in that town. But when giant statistics are thrown around, it creates a hopeless picture to many average people, who think, "Well, I could picture helping out one or two people, but I can't help a million poor people!" Of course, no one person has to. People in your town help a few poor people there, the next town will do the same, and so on. Everyone gets help, not from some centralized, authoritarian monstrosity, but by lots and lots and lots of people exercising little bits of compassion and charity--which adds up to a huge amount.
The template used by tyranny apologists is very predictable: "This problem is so huge that normal people can't possibly fix it, so we need government to save the day!" The politicians always say it, and it's always a lie. After all, "normal" people are what fund all "government" programs anyway. If the people can't afford to do something, then they certainly can't afford the bloated, top-heavy, bureaucracy-laden version of that same "something." The state isn't the tooth fairy. It doesn't make wealth magically appear. It takes it from the normal people. So to say that the people can't possibly afford to help all the poor, but can afford to pay taxes to pay to help all the poor--in addition to paying the bureaucrats, tax collectors, and politicians--is just mathematical stupidity.
And the politicians use the same deceptive template for many things other than "the poor." "Normal people can't possibly make sure that millions of old people have money when they retire!" "Normal people can't possibly build roads!" "Normal people can't possibly pay to educate everyone's kids!" And so on, and so on.
Each version of the lie can be specifically rebutted, but for this article, I'll specifically address just one more: "Normal people can't possibly defend themselves against an invading army!" Once again, this lie depends entirely on the scale of the matter confusing and scaring people. After all, if the Chinese army shows up at your front door, could you fend them off? Of course not. So doesn't that prove that we need "government" to save the day?
No. Again, just like with the "helping the poor" scenario, when you divide the big picture up into lots and lots of little pieces, it stops being scary. For example, if you live in a town of three hundred, and three Chinese soldiers show up to take over the town--yes, three, as in: one, two, three--will you be able to resist them? Um, yeah. Really easily. If you're a statistically average town, there will not only be a hundred armed residents in your town, but they will, on average, own three guns each--and they'd probably be more than happy to loan a gun to each of the other two hundred residents of your town. (Yes, there are as many guns as people in this country.)
So now you have three hundred armed people in your town, against three Chinese soldiers--and that's if the biggest military in the world completely evacuated its own country, just to come half way around the world to invade just the U.S. Of course, the logistical possibility of that happening is zero. The amount of wealth and resources required to ship three million Chinese soldiers over here, even if no one lifted a finger to resist them, would be enormous. And, of course. people would lift fingers to resist them--trigger fingers, in particular.
So, could you and three hundred of your fellow Americans fend off three Chinese soldiers? I'm pretty sure I and a few hundred of the people I know could. In fact, you can give the three invaders a damn tank, a dozen grenades, and three machine guns, and they'd still lose. (No, the Chinese army doesn't own a million tanks--it's about 1% of that--but we'll pretend, just to give them a better chance.) So that's a worse-than-worst-case scenario, if the biggest military on planet pulls off a dozen miracles, and gets its entire army here, if we had no military at all--no planes, no tanks, no battleships, not even a prepared or trained private militia. And in that worse-than-worst-case-scenario, the invaders still wouldn't have a prayer in hell of conquering this place.
So now are you scared of a foreign invasion? Now do you think it's some horrible threat that normal people couldn't possibly handle? I don't. It's just another lie that politicians use to try to scare you into giving away your freedom, in exchange for the enslavement they call "protection." Now, there is one gang (and only one) capable of occupying and oppressing this land. It's not because of their manpower or firepower. It's because they're the gang that the American people imagine to have the right to rob and control us. The gang is called the "United States government." In other words, the ONE gang capable of extorting and oppressing the American people is the gang which gullible Americans keep voting for, to protect them from all the gangs which pose no threat to our freedom at all. Gack.
- Perpetual Lies About Freedom and Democracy
- Who Trusts This Government to Regulate the Internet?
- Too Dumb for Democracy?
- Political Relativity and the Infinite Cynicism of Prohibitionists
- One-Dimensional Thinking on Drug Legalization
- Social Pressure Triumphs Again
- Worship the Veterans Day
- The Political Sterility of Jon Stewart
FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which in some cases has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for the purposes of news reporting, education, research, comment, and criticism, which constitutes a 'fair use' of such copyrighted material in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the DMCA and other applicable intellectual property laws. It is our policy to remove material from public view that we believe in good faith to be copyrighted material that has been illegally copied and distributed by any of our members or users.