We previously defined government in its simplest form and identified the basis of government authority, the control of physical force being the most potent. In its most basic form, the government can hurt you in many ways. It can even kill you. This has always been the nature of government’s power. Even in its most primitive forms, if the government wanted your compliance, its trump card was to kill your ass. Usually though, because many of us live with many fears—the fear of dying, of loss, of ostracization, of poverty, of embarrassment, and so on—government can wield considerable power to control us with threats far less lethal than death.
Let’s now look at how government controls this tremendous power.
The parts of government that do the “wet work” (the police, the courts, the military) play their roles expecting to be paid for their services. Granted, there likely are people in these agencies who may perform these roles without pay. In the vast majority of cases, however, these people would not likely do this work if they didn’t earn money to “make a living”—put food on the table, pay mortgages, and enjoy a vacation every now and then.
There has never been a government to my knowledge where the military and police were not paid by the “sovereign authority” whether that authority was an individual (king, despot, ruler) or group (the Roman Senate) or legislative body (the English Parliament). Obviously, the functions of police and the military will be necessary, even with a civilization that has no government. Those functions do not require the infrastructure allowing them to be controlled by a “sovereign authority”, however.
Before going further, we should probably define “sovereign authority”.
With Sovereignty meaning holding supreme, independent authority over a region or state, Internal Sovereignty refers to the internal affairs of the state and the location of supreme power within it.
In fact, a sovereign authority is not even necessary to run a civilized modern society. A Copiosis-based society can do quite nicely with no supreme, independent authority, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
We’ve determined a few critical realities of government:
- Its authority exists in its ability to exert lethal force though weaker levels of force work just as well.
- That authority is maintained by paying people to do the “wet work” (the actual killing, jailing, etc.)
- That force is wielded by a sovereign authority—a person or group of people imbued with supreme, independent dominance over others.
- In the US, that sovereign authority appears to be the people. However, it is clear that behind that facade, it has and continues to be a select few people and businesses that hold this supreme independent dominance over the rest of us.
Wow. We’re making progress.