Nations and government have been hand-in-hand in recent history. Ancient history is replete with civilizations operating with no government. Let’s define “government”.
The most appropriate dictionary definition:
5 a: the organization, machinery, or agency through which a political unit exercises authority and performs functions and which is usually classified according to the distribution of power within it. 5 b: the complex of political institutions, laws, and customs through which the function of governing is carried out in a specific political unit. [The term “govern” (from 5b) is defined as “to exercise continuous sovereign authority over; especially: to control and direct the making and administration of policy in.”]**
As you can see from this definition, there’s no reference to the people governed. Government is a function designed to use authority and power expressed through laws, policy, and the distribution of wealth to maintain a status quo. It has been and remains a tool of those in power, not a mechanism for ensuring individual freedom. History is full of examples supporting this assertion.
I will not attempt to refute patriotic US arguments concerning the US founding fathers’ intent behind the Declaration of Independence and their calls for freedom and democracy. Deliberate research will uncover how the founding fathers really felt about democracy and freedom. Their feelings were not about freedom for all, just freedom for those in power in the colonies at the time.
Instead, I want to focus on our definition of government, build a case for why this form of government is so nineteenth-century, and conclude with a positive, optimistic call for its end.
Government authority comes from the control of force: If you don’t do what they say they can kill you. The military and police are the basic instruments by which this force is organized. This force has become blatant and common, and is exerted within the US and abroad. Those who control the force usually seem to be the party in power. In the US, the ultra-rich and corporate entities fund elections and control government force.
Mind you, these ultra-rich people and the people leading corporations (often these groups are one and the same) are not evil, sociopaths, disconnected from humanity, or boasting any of the other signs of villainy we throw at them. They merely see the world differently. From their perspective, they are right and justified in their actions. Toppling foreign leaders, killing children of suspected terrorists with drone strikes, and destroying economic infrastructures of nations they deem targetable all are A-OK in their reasoning. They are not the one percent. They are people, just like the rest of us. I made this argument in a previous post. In fact, you’d probably make the same decisions if you were in their shoes.
So we’ve defined government in its simplest form and identified the basis of government authority—the control of force, physical force being the most compelling. Next, we’ll answer the question, how does government control this force?
“Seal of the United States Congress” by Ipankonin – Vectorized from SVG elements from 50px. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
**http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/government, accessed 9/30/2014