I was thinking last night of just going and burning down my local council. How much gasoline do you need to burn down the local council? I never used to think things like this. But these days I’m so sick of these arrogant and abusive cunts that it’s begun to creep up the agenda a bit.
Where have they all come from? I’ve been thinking about the growth of government in modern Western societies, and wondering whether it’s a logical consequence of the increasing efficiency that comes with economic growth.
In ancient Greece, the Spartans were outnumbered 7 to 1 by their helots. And a survey of Attica showed that there were 30,000 free men and 400,000 slaves. Slaves worked, and their masters idled. The Spartan overlords spent their idle hours exercising and practising the art of war. The Athenian overlords spent their time writing philosophy and literature and building temples and stuff. About 10 busy, hard-working slaves were needed to support one idle overlord (see left). It seems that Greek society was about 10% idle. And in both Athens and Sparta the government was drawn from the idle elite. The government supervised society, and defended the realm, and administered justice The slaves had no say at all in any of it.
And although slaves outnumbered masters by about 10 to 1, they had little time in which to organise and practise and conduct revolts, while their masters had all the time in the world, and the arms, and the military expertise, to be able to suppress any revolt. So the numerical superiority of the slaves was cancelled out by the military strength and organisation of their indolent armed overlords.
Two thousand years on, thousands of technological innovations have changed the picture radically. Instead of 10 slaves supporting 1 person in idleness, one person can support 10 people in idleness (see left below). Modern industrial societies are about 90% idle (I don’t have an exact figure). The necessary work of producing and transporting food and other necessities of life is performed by relatively few people.
And as fewer and fewer people are needed to produce and distribute the necessities of life, what do the rest of them do? Simple. They form a vastly expanded government.
It’s not quite that simple, of course. Alongside the essential work of food production, there has grown up a parallel economy of luxury production. Of beer and cigarettes and newspapers and books and art and music. So there are a lot of people who are producing fun things to go with the essential things like food and water and clothing and shelter.
But then there are a lot of people who are unemployed for one reason or other. It may be that there’s simply little demand for labour. Or it may also be because they are disabled or sick. Whichever way, there have been more and more of these unemployed people in the past century or two. And the state – i.e. the government – has stepped in to ensure they remain fed and clothed and sheltered. It has increased taxes on the working population to do this.
And because the supervision of unemployment and social security requires numerous civil servants, the government has expanded. The appearance of mass unemployment has given government a new task over and above the defence of the realm and the administration of justice.
And if the government has expanded to cater for the unemployed, it has also expanded to provide housing and education and medical care for social groups like the unemployed and the handicapped and the elderly and the sick. More and more people survive courtesy of government hand-outs, extracted as taxes from the dwindling working population.
And so the result is that as the productive working sector of society has become more efficient and productive, the unproductive government sector has expanded to fill the vacuum. There are more and more layers of government. There’s local government, and regional government, and national government. And in Europe they’ve been busy recently adding a whole new layer of government in the form of a whole goddamn EU government. And a World government is rumoured to be under construction next. It’s a multi-tiered governmental wedding cake, supported at the base by an ever-shrinking (because ever-more-efficient) industrial base.
And what this really means is that government has been becoming less and less efficient as industry has been becoming more and more efficient. It takes more and more government to administer the fewer and fewer people. While private industry has to earn its keep by providing a competitive product, government just taxes people more and more. Want to fund an antismoking ban? Gouge the taxpayers some more. Want to set up a green, climate-change-preventing recycling scheme? Gouge the taxpayers again.
And since there are no disciplinary constraints upon government, one madcap scheme is just as good as any other.
And because governments make and administer laws, expanding government necessarily means more and more laws, and more and more rules and regulations.
And whereas in antiquity the governing elite was vastly outnumbered by its toiling slaves, modern governments and their dependants outnumber the toiling slaves. And they also have all the weapons as well. Revolt is all but impossible. Unlike in antiquity, modern governments have both the guns and the numbers.
And, very arguably, if the government cannot be removed by force, neither can it be removed by the democratic electoral process. They can’t be voted out either. And this is because the votes of government workers pretty much outnumber the votes in the productive working sector. In effect, the government can re-elect itself. And also, since all political parties these days are all but indistinguishable from each other, even if government workers voted against the government, the government would still be re-elected.
And, as a consequence of this apparent political power, the government increasingly sets the political agenda, deciding among itself what has to be done, without reference to those affected by their decisions.
The smoking ban is an excellent example of this. It’s something that has been imposed on ordinary working people by the government. It wasn’t pubs and pub-goers who called for smoking to be banned. It was instead government employees – like doctors and the RCP, and government-funded campaign groups like ASH and BHF, and government-paid MPs – who decided among themselves that a smoking ban would improve public health. The pubs and the pub-goers had no say. They weren’t asked. And the new antismoking laws were also, of course, just yet more restrictive rules and regulations.
The result is an emerging new tyranny. Smoking has been banned. And very likely alcohol will be banned too. Any number of diktats are set to be imposed upon people without their consent or even their consultation. Everything is decided behind closed doors.
What is to be done? Can anything be done at all?
One fairly obvious question to ask is whether in a democratic society it should be possible for a government to re-elect itself. There would seem to be an argument that if you are an employee of the government, you ought not to have a vote. From Wikipedia:
In the United Kingdom, public servants have to resign before running for an election.
The 1876 Constitution of Texas (article VI, section 1) stated that “The following classes of persons shall not be allowed to vote in this State, to wit: (…) Fifth–All soldiers, marines and seamen, employed in the service of the army or navy of the United States.”
A political assembly of some sort is supposed to represent its electors. While these government assemblies were numerically small, it didn’t matter too much if the representatives were able to vote for themselves. But when assemblies begin to outnumber their electorates, such votes defeat the purpose of the assembly, which was to represent their electorate. So there would seem to be a powerful argument that the government should not be permitted to vote in elections. And that means that anyone who works in the public sector, or who is supported by government hand-outs, should not have a vote, because they are effectively part of the government.
This is one possible measure to curb the growing power of government. There are others. The Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher privatised many state-owned industries. There is probably plenty of scope for the re-privatisation of medicine and education and much else.
If something isn’t done, the state is set to just get bigger and bigger, and more and more tyrannical.
We might think about what’s likely to happen as the state becomes ever more tyrannical. Ordinary people will begin to become angry and obstructive. They’ll start thwarting and wrecking government programmes. And people will stop paying taxes. A black economy will grow up (a bit like the black market in tobacco).
And in many ways, the government thwarts and obstructs itself whenever it imposes new rules and regulations upon productive members of society. For such regulations serve to make them less productive, and thus less able to support the multiplying layers of government supervising and regulating them. In the end, government regulation is likely to strangle industry, and stop the flow of tax revenues that support all these useless pen-pushers.
Before that happens, however, there would probably be a general strike by the productive sector. Farmers would stop producing food, and hauliers would stop transporting it, and the necessities of life would rapidly become scarce. And, even though it was numerically superior, there would be little that the government could do about it, and would have to surrender before the real power of the productive sector.
Well, that’s a few thoughts about the way things might go. But it’s all a bit long term and pointy-headed. It’s idle theory. In the short term, the best thing to do would be to simply go and burn down the local council.
Because today I had a letter from my local county council demanding that I pay the rest of my council tax right now. I’ve been paying it by instalments, and I’ve already paid nearly half of it. Now the cunts want the rest, right now. But what do they do for me? Nothing. Absolutely fucking nothing. They don’t even collect my rubbish these days. And they’re probably assembling teams of Quit Advisors to come and force me to stop smoking. Fuck them.