Simple Liberty  



Reflections From The Front Porch

The Rules of Life

Written by Darrell Anderson.

The rules of life are straightforward. Do not worry if you are unable to articulate the rules of life. Most people live their entire life without being able to do so. Do not be upset with other people who did not teach you these rules. More than likely they too were unable to recognize and articulate the rules.

The rules are simple to understand:

Rule No. 1:. Survive.
Rule No. 2.: Use as little energy as possible to support Rule No. 1.

Understanding the rules is much easier than implementing the rules. With each rule there are risks, benefits, and consequences.

Humans are not self-sufficient. At birth every human would die without the support of other humans. This support continues as humans grow and mature. Theoretically, but only after several years of depending upon other people, humans could satisfy Rule No. 1 without the support of other humans. However, such a life would be little more than a fearful hunter-gatherer life. Thus, satisfying Rule No. 1 almost always requires interaction with other humans.

Rule No. 2 articulates the concept of efficiency. Humans could satisfy Rule No. 1 in a hunter-gatherer environment, but that kind of life is inefficient. Satisfying Rule No. 2 helps humans satisfy Rule No. 1 in a more efficient manner. However, satisfying Rule No. 2 requires that humans depend upon one another.

Whether or not conscientious of such efforts, observing the universe reveals that all living creatures go about life trying to satisfy the first two rules.

Satisfying Rule No. 2 depends upon the nature of the species being observed. For humans, satisfying Rule No. 2 depends upon how each individual defines his or her pursuit of happiness.

Generally, all sapient humans recognize that they are not self-sufficient. They recognize that a degree of cooperation with other people is necessary to satisfy the Rules of Life. Therefore humans tend to be social creatures. However, individually humans tend to embrace a wide variety of beliefs about how to satisfy their pursuit of happiness. Most often humans cooperate together to overcome their differences, but often too the result is conflict. To avoid conflict, and to reduce the effects of conflict, humans tend to create social rules of behavior.

Yet, most humans have demonstrated a desire not to delve deeply into many ideas and concepts. Many seem willing to accept without question whatever they are taught by others. This is true especially in childhood but that habit continues into adulthood. Thus, many superstitions, illusions, and myths perpetuate.

One of the perpetuated illusions is that humans cannot survive peaceably with external coercive control, commonly identified as “the state.”

Is “the state” merely an abstract construct, independent of the form or process of government? The word state can describe three ideas:

  1. A geographical area.
  2. A social process of government.
  3. A political community of people.

Generally, ancient groups of people placed survival of the group above survival of any individual. As these older communities became more mature and sophisticated, early philosophers believed that individuals should act only in ways that benefited the entire group.

Many people seem to accept that the modern state — a political social system, is a part of the natural order. Many reasons are offered to explain “the state,” all revolving around the concept that “the state” is an instrument or tool:

  1. To maintain peace.
  2. To protect natural rights and property.
  3. To express the general will.
  4. To improve social arrangements.
  5. To forcibly override resistance to coordinating efforts.
  6. To promote or ensure “distributive justice” and equality.

The German sociologist Franz Oppenheimer called voluntary exchange the economic means of satisfying needs and wants, and forced exchange as the political means. The former method implies persuasion and cooperation to obtain title to resources, the latter implies force and coercion — and often violence or the threat of violence. The former method implies moral power, the latter political power.

The French Liberals of the early nineteenth century also recognized the distinction between voluntary and involuntary exchange, articulating that difference as a class struggle between warriors (bandits) and the industrious class (producers). This struggle can be expressed in many ways: power vs. liberty, takers vs. producers, administrators vs. producers, force and coercion vs. persuasion and cooperation, idlers vs. laborers, predators vs. creators, moneyed elite vs. workers, exploiters vs. creators, status vs. contract, or rulers vs. the ruled. The political means is merely a way to sustain energy flows with minimal effort — the desire of getting something for nothing.

Like the word “society,” “the state” is merely an expression describing a complex social system. Like all concepts, “the state” does not exist in the unconditional physical realm of matter and energy, but only in the conditional realm of ideas. As a system, the concept of “the state” represents a specific collection of people defined by its own elements and relational rules. “The state” is not a mystical thing, or a science-fiction blob, but a collection of people. “The state” possesses no consciousness or will. Understanding that “the state” is only a descriptive collection of certain individuals is critical to understanding the philosophy of statism — the political means of sustaining energy flows.

The desire for a formal structure of government is a natural outgrowth of human interaction and is a natural result of wanting to protect self-interests and to benefit everybody. The philosophical and political process of statism is an outgrowth of wanting to promote self-interests at the expense of others and to benefit a privileged few. Statists are people who embrace the philosophy of statism, individuals who prefer the political means of sustaining energy flows rather than the economic means. Statism is a philosophy promoting class struggles and conflict, and of sanctioning trespass under the color of law. Statism is a belief in compulsory association and domination, rather than free association and voluntary exchange. Statists consider this system of privileges and denials as applying to everybody, including themselves. Thus, they have no problem extending that process to people who have not provided explicit consent to participate.

Statists are a collection of people who, with respect to a given arbitrary geographical territory, by fiat, “claim” standing to:

  • Enact dictatorial laws, even when those laws contradict ordinary and accepted customs.
  • Resolve all disputes and conflicts within that territory, and to do so with impunity.
  • Forcibly expropriate and redistribute wealth under the color of law.
  • Initiate force, coercion, and the threat of violence to maintain the illusion of jurisdiction.

“Legitimate” use of this alleged monopoly is not a concern for statists because they believe they can define the word any way they want. Unlike the natural boundaries created through free association and voluntary exchange, statists create boundaries by fiat. The collection of people calling themselves “the state” use the threat of violence to enforce their decisions. Indeed, statists consider themselves the sole source of the “right” to use violence. Explicit consent is meaningless.

The goal of every statist to use whatever method practical, and while using as little energy as possible, to coercively redirect wealth into their pockets.

Statists are experts at manipulating Rule No.2 and fooling others into believing their precepts.

And now you know the rules of life.


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