For the eighth time in my lifetime alone the UK government is dropping bombs in foreign lands. Both left-wing and right-wing UK governments over the past three decades have deployed the State military apparatus in misguided attempts to either improve the lives of a foreign people or to keep Britons safe. Neither aims were ever achieved. The results were always much closer to the opposite of the intended outcomes.
Innocent Syrians will almost certainly very soon die at the hands of the UK government and military. Just as innocent Europeans have died at the hands of those who represent Islamic State, which as a group of similarly sociopathic people acts in direct response to previous Middle Eastern military aggressions and interventions by the U.S. and UK States. It’s a hopeless and vicious circle of death and destruction. The total opposite of everything that is good about humanity. No one gains. Everyone loses. There’s no good guys.
Taxation is the lifeblood of war and global military interventionism
I’m reminded of why I have come to oppose a political system that gives the incumbents of an institute (the State) the legal right to expropriate a proportion of everyone else’s money (even, potentially, all of it) and use it towards whatever foolish or monstrous ends they wish.
The bombing of Syria should bring to the forefront of our minds the fact that taxation is what makes State military interventionism and war possible. War, however short or prolonged, is an extraordinarily expensive endeavour. It is a black hole that money is poured into. Only a constantly renewing source of a massive amount of money (acquired at the point of government guns) makes it possible. That’s what taxation is. The old saying goes that there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. But death to innocent people in great numbers is a certain consequence in a world of nations that can build giant armies with money stolen from the people.
The parallels between slavery and taxation
Taxation is to humanity in the 21st century what slavery was up to the 19th century. It is the one practice that must be abolished in order to make the next great advancement. Slavery in the British Empire and elsewhere in the world didn’t stop because it was outlawed. Slavery became illegal and ceased to be practiced only after an anti-slavery movement had begun at least some 50 years prior.
The world of commerce stopped using slave labour not just because technology was rendering it obsolete but also because the public at large had stopped believing in it as a necessary evil for society’s functioning or as an act of virtue based on the false belief that black people could not function in civilised society. Laws against slavery merely codified a conviction already arrived at by the common man, consumer and producer: that all men have the right to be free.
We will not see the end of global military interventionism conducted by democratically elected left-wing and right-wing sociopaths until we see the end of taxation. But taxation will only end when a majority of people in the 21st century stop believing that it is a necessary evil for society to function or an act of virtue because some expropriated money is redistributed to the poor. To believe in necessary evil is to believe that evil is necessary. Which is an open invite to be ruled by force by those willing to do so. And so we are.
Another leap of rational faith in freedom
Not knowing how society will function without taxation is no reason to believe that evil is necessary. No one knows. But no American knew how the cotton industry would work without slaves to pick cotton, but they invented ways. Unimaginably better ways. No 19th century American or European knew what the world would be like without legal slavery. But we, as the beneficiaries, know it is a much more peaceful and prosperous one.
For the two thousand years or so prior to the gradual global abolition of legal slavery every civilisation enslaved at least some of the labour force. For two millennia Man believed that the physical enslavement of some men was only natural and necessary for society to function. Much like people today believe taxation (coercive redistribution of wealth) is necessary for our societies to function.
It was a leap of faith for humanity to attempt societies without slavery, but it took it because Man had come to the conviction that anything else would be unethical. The abolition of slavery required not only a raising of the current moral standards, but also a (conscious or not) faith in freedom.
The abolition of the institute of taxation, even more so, requires faith in freedom. But this is not a blind faith. It’s a reasoned and rational faith arrived at through sound economic reasoning and supported by the lessons of two thousand years of trial and error in societies controlled by an Authority. The repeated trial and attempt of every kind of rule by every kind of Authority – from democracy to despot. Always ones with the legal right to take and redistribute the property of their subjects by force. And always resulting in the eventual complete loss of peace and prosperity in every society they ruled over and every economy they planned.
Grounds for optimism for a future without war
The evil incentives and misguided morality that drives malevolent and benevolent men to drop bombs will probably always permeate the minds of men. But it’s within the power of the people to make it so that the means do not. Due to the proliferation of knowledge through the Internet and the emergence of disruptive and decentralizing technologies like the blockchain, and its first major application, cryptocurrencies, I think we have grounds to be optimistic that a similar kind of combination of a technological revolution and a moral evolution will end taxation in the 21st century – just as it did slavery in the 19th century.
Thanks to the spread of free market economics we’re already on the brink of a world without poverty. With a bit of luck, a world without war might not be too far behind. Let us hope the future holds one certainty: the death of taxation.