Commerce is Civilization; Government is Barbarism

by William Norman Grigg

According to Barney Frank, a former Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts, “government is simply things we choose to do together.”

As it is used by the political class, the word “government” tacitly encompasses every form of human cooperation – because there is nothing they would leave outside of their sphere of control. Not only is it possible for people to cooperate without the supervision or interference of the state, such interference actually undermines peaceful and productive cooperation. This is because everything done in the name of the state involves either the exercise or threat of lethal force.

Civilization depends on self-government, by both individuals and through voluntary associations. Every expansion of political control over private life is a retreat from civilized living in the direction of barbarism, since it represents the elevation of force over mutually beneficial peaceful cooperation.

This principle was understood by the signers of the Declaration of Independence. While the American Founders didn’t apply this principle consistently – they were, after all, noble but flawed men – they boldly embraced the view that individual rights are non-negotiable, and that “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive” of them “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it….”

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