elaboration on why politics contains no viable solutions

Deconstructing Politics

Why Politics Doesn't Work

If you're like most of us, you've probably perceived that the world faces some serious problems. And again like most people, you've probably contributed to a few political causes, cast your vote for change, or otherwise participated in trying to make things better through the political process. Leaving aside the question of "How's that been working out for you?", let's examine some reasons why political action cannot succeed in solving our serious social, economic, or environmental issues.

To begin with, we need to define political action. Simply put, political action is righteousness combined with force. Politics has become the great forge of morality, an anvil on which a society hammers out a collective determination of right and wrong. This righteous determination is then implemented and enforced through the coercive power of the state. The body of all legislated rules constitutes the circumstances under which we are willing to send armed men to coerce the behavior of our fellow citizens, and punish them if they do not obey. Law stipulates the conditions under which violence may legitimately be employed in our society. The fact that most citizens usually comply long before any actual violence has to be employed, does not change this.

The problem with this system is obvious: the threat or actual use of force is not a moral act (except for strictly defensive purposes). This means that rulers must always believe — and their subjects accept — that the government has the right to transcend the very same morality which the law enforces upon the ordinary citizens. In other words, morality can never be universal because the state always has a special exemption. This results in glaring contradictions: stealing isn't theft if it's called taxation; killing isn't murder if it's called war; armed kidnapping is fine so long as it's called arrest.

For this reason, viewing the political process as some kind of fountain of righteousness is frankly insane. In actual fact it's about as far from moral as one can get. There is also no reason to expect that appeals to a central power will diminish the central power. Belief in a leader who will save us is a delusion, because the only way he or she could do so is by wielding the power of the state's moral exemption. In other words, by doing evil in the name of doing good.

In fact, it's even worse than that. While orders from rulers are always backed by force, enforcement comes a lot easier if the subjects comply voluntarily. To make this happen, the ruler must empower the subject to obey, by giving them a reason to do so that's better than just simple fear or self-preservation. Typically this is done by providing infrastructure, protection services, or "free" stuff (roads, schools, police, fire districts, courts, national security, welfare or unemployment checks, etc.), while implying that none of these things would exist if the ruler didn't provide them. The unfortunate reality is that law-makers and bureaucrats will remain sovereign without challenge, and above obedience to moral rules in the exercise of their offices, for however long people continue to believe in the democratic process which legitimizes them.

Which means that politics is actually a web of cowardly moral delusion which justifies systematic plunder, mass murder, and injustice of every kind without end. Not only are elections an advance auction of stolen goods, but voting is an act of aggression against one's neighbors, because it's about deciding which criminal will get to steal everything we have. Most ordinary citizens are, naturally, in complete denial concerning this. The self-enforcing cult of denial must be broken.

The main reason the global economy is now faltering is that economic surplus has been forcibly collected and redirected to a central point through taxation and regulation for far too long. Not only is this redistributed wealth largely wasted by the state, but removing almost all surplus from the hands of those who produced it cripples the expansion mechanism of the economy, and a downward spiral is initiated. This spiral results in racking up enormous debts, in both the private and public sectors. Investment capital becomes scarce, and finance gets channeled through centralized institutions where government entities crowd out everyone else at the trough. The predictable result is economic stagnation, and ultimately mass default and systemic collapse. Regardless of whatever temporary unearned handouts may be on offer, the centralization of surplus is finally the complete enemy of the productive working person.

In the end, centralized systems can only produce plunder, regardless of intentions. Conversely, a decentralized structure will inevitably produce cooperation, again regardless of intentions. Therefore the solution is plain: the state needs to lose control of the means of production, just as it did in the early days of the industrial revolution. Because the state couldn't control people's economic activities, those times were a period of tremendous expansion, innovation, and economic progress. The way to bring about this loss of control is not to fight the state, or seek to change it, but simply to leave it behind. Rulers can survive being hated, but they cannot survive being ignored.

We cannot reform the state into a benevolent and progressive organization, any more than we could reform the mafia into a charity. So get over it. Forget about electing a better captain for the Titanic. And since there aren't enough lifeboats, it's time to start building our own — without asking anyone's permission.

Illustration of the value of voting.