[Editor's Note: The following post is by TDV Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Berwick]
As a listener and fan of your work for years, I've noticed that you've welcomed more and more anarcho-capitalists and libertarians (and good friends of mine), such as Stefan Molyneux, Adam Kokesh and Peter Schiff to the Joe Rogan Experience. You've also had other, more liberal guests on, many of whom were very interesting. Thank you for allowing all of us in on so many of your stimulating, fun conversations. Since some of your guests say that government is the answer to problems like 85 individuals having more money than the next 3 billion people, I wanted to write to you to express that I couldn't disagree with this more.
Hang with me here Joe, I know what I am talking about… and think you are so close to figuring out the solution. Government is the very reason why wealth inequality has grown to such staggering and disgusting proportions. Not that there is anything principally wrong with wealth inequality. If those 85 people really produced that much more than the other 3 billion people then we should build monuments to thank them for producing so much. Sadly, that is rarely the case… they manipulate and use violence (government) and theft (government and central banks) to impoverish others while enriching themselves.
There is one point I think that has yet to truly be driven home on the Joe Rogan Experience. Namely, that government is a tool for the few to control the many. (no matter if it's "small" government or "big" government) All you need to do is look at the word "government" itself. Here is Wikipedia's etymology:
Government is a compound formed from the Ancient Greek κυβερνάω (kubernaō, "I control, steer, drive, guide, pilot") and the Latin -mente, ablative singular of mēns (“mind”).
So, the word government literally derives from a word which meant to "control men's minds." I think both you and I would agree that there is never a reason for any individuals, group or anything to seek control of other men's minds. That's a plain psychopathic thing to do. There are some exceptions, like a small child who is too young to know why crossing the street is dangerous. But having to show up everyday to a classroom (for a terrible, taxpayer funded "education") and recite an allegiance to a flag is creepy and wrong.
Another thing that I can't believe people haven't figured out about life is that government is not the only way to get things done in a human society. Everyone I meet – man, woman or sometimes child (children usually being the smartest) – believe that a government is the only way to do get things done, like making sure one individual doesn't kill another individual or steal his or her property. You know, the basic things we were taught were unacceptable when we were children.
It's a misnomer, however, to think that governments are the only way to make sure things don't go Mad Max. In fact, governments have failed for millenia to nurture a healthy human society. Although human societies have been governed by governments for millenia, for most of "pre-history" people lived in 'stateless societies.' (without government) Why do the ordained history books call life before government "pre-history?" I wonder.
Some evidence suggests that the first state existed in ancient Mesopotamia around 3700BC, suggesting that the state is just 6,000 years old. The first states 'officially' came into existence around that time and at the same time as slavery and organized religion. Coincidence?
I don't know for sure, but I do know that after millenia of government-intervention in the economy, daily life, and so on, mankind seems to have been brought to its knees in a way. (Thankfully, the internet has given us reason for hope) I also know, there's got to be another way…
The anthropologist Tim Ingold writes:
"It is not enough to observe, in a now rather dated anthropological idiom, that hunter gatherers live in 'stateless societies', as though their social lives were somehow lacking or unfinished, waiting to be completed by the evolutionary development of a state apparatus. Rather, the principal of their socialty, as Pierre Clastres has put it, is fundamentally against the state."
Despite being against the state, these societies still ended up being governed by states within a very short amount of time. As the anthropologist Robert L. Carneiro comments:
"For 99.8 percent of human history people lived exclusively in autonomous bands and villages. At the beginning of the Paleolithic [i.e. the stone age], the number of these autonomous political units must have been small, but by 1000 BC it had increased to some 600,000. Then supra-village aggregation began in earnest, and in barely three millennia the autonomous political units of the world dropped from 600,000 to 157. In the light of this trend, the continued decrease from 157 to 1 seems not only inescapable but close at hand".
That's quite a change. From "autonomous bands and villages" to a nearly "one world government," about which your friend Alex Jones so boisterously, and rightly, warns the world, in but a few millenia.
As you're well aware, these are not merely barbarous communities that existed "pre-history." Stateless societies have been historically "complex" societies, meaning there has been a division of labor such that people are specialized in particular forms of production or other activities, and depend on others for goods and services through trade or even early forms of money.
In many stateless societies, conflicts are resolved by appealing to the community. Each of the sides of the dispute voice their concerns, and the community, often voicing its will through village elders, reaches a judgment. Evidence suggests that, even without legal or coercive authority to enforce these community decisions, people adhere to them, due to a desire to be held in esteem by the community.
In other words, they don't wish to risk their reputation. You express this desire everytime you sell your Onnit products. Your money-back guarantee demonstrates your desire not to screw people. I think this desire is instinctual. If we are social animals, which humans are, wouldn't we also have an evolutionary drive not to be hated by our peers. So how can hated corporations exist if that's the case?
BIG OIL, BIG PHARMA, & BIG BANK SUBSIDIES
Many people point towards big corporations which destroy the planet and steal from the poor as the source of our problems. But what few realize is that most hated mega-corporations rake-in much of their pofits from government subsidies. In other words, government makes big oil companies which benefit from wars possible, as well as a pharmaceutical industry that churns out dopey products, and even big banks which clear-as-day rely on big government bailouts like the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), but also on more covert subsidies.
So, it seems to me the only reason why a lot of these backwards corporations which get away with murder do so because they have the protection of the government. That's how you get the British Petroleums, the Blackwaters, the JP Morgans, Goldman Sachs & Enrons of the world. With government help.
THE MEAT OF THE MATTER
I've spoken about history and a bit about finance, but let's now talk about principles and rationality.
What gives these governments (and their evil stepchildren, the central banks) the right to have rights that we don't?
Under their framework we don't have the right to kidnap people for victimless crimes that we imagine are crimes (jailing people for smoking marijuana or a million other victimless crimes)… we don't have the right to steal from them (taxation) and we don't have the right to counterfeit money (which is what central banks do).
So, who gave them the right? I didn't… did you? Did anyone? In fact, those aren't natural rights. Even in a stateless society you wouldn't find anyone who would agree I have the right to kidnap, kill (if they resisted kidnapping), steal from people or counterfeit money. So, if we don't naturally have those rights how could we even give "the government" those rights?
I don't personally have those rights. If I get together with 30 people and we all say we have those rights everyone would agree we don't. Even if 300 million people say they have that right, most would disagree. In other words, you can't give rights to large groups of people that you don't have.
This is the great ruse and over a century of government (public) education, which are simply indoctrination camps and all the media (which is just the marketing arm of the government at this stage), like the disgusting nationalistic "worship the troops" propaganda at yesterday's Super Bowl, all just work to brainwash people into believing that government is a natural, good part of life.
As the old saying goes, "nothing is sure but death and taxes"… but, in fact, taxes (involuntary extortion and theft) are not a normal, natural part of life.
THE REAL MEAT OF THE MATTER
People can talk forever about the rights and wrongs of statism/government/collectivism but it all boils down to this. This is the one thing I believe you have been missing as I see you slowly figuring out what is going on.
It comes down to principles. Do you have as a principle that you do not want to initiate violence against others? Most people would say that they do but they haven't taken that principle to its obvious conclusion. If you have as a principle that you do not want to initiate violence against others and you do not want others to initiate violence against you then you are an anarchist.
The thing that people get confused about is when you have a collective of people (being a republic, democracy, kingdom etc.) how is it that they have the right to initiate violence? When a person gets stopped by people with guns for having a herb (marijuana) in their pocket, accosted, kidnapped and thrown into a cage how is that any different just because those people were wearing costumes and say they are acting on behalf of "government"?
There is no difference except that many people who have been brainwashed think somehow the "government" has certain rights we don't have.
While I am not a Christian (I am agnostic) I believe that Jesus had quite a few words to say on this matter. The true story of Jesus was fighting government (the Roman government at the time). He said, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."
I don't want to get into the topic of what God is here… its extemperanous… but I have a feeling you may have found it a few times in your isolation tanks, on DMT or mushrooms.
I have written a few open letters to people I think are close to getting the true answers, including previously Russel Brand, but who haven't figured out that we as individuals own our own bodies. Think in terms of the Drug War. Why can the government tell people what they can or cannot put into their own bodies? How did this system come to exist in which the government owns our bodies, instead of us owning them for ourselves? Once one realizes that we as individuals own our own bodies, an important first principle helps everything to make sense.
The non-aggression principle (NAP). You do not initiate violence against others and you refute those who wish to initiate violence against you. At first you may find this interesting from your perspective as you are such an adamant fan of the UFC (as am I). But every fighter in the ring voluntarily enters. And you can see how those fighters agree to a place, date and referee and how it works so well. NAP even entails yelling at people. Not only do we not possess the right to pick a fight with another individual for no reason at all, but we also don't have the right to psychologically torture people.
You may say, "Yes, but some people don't believe in NAP and they will kill, steal from and enslave us all."
That is the world we have today… with governments. Unfortunately, there is nothing spiritual about government. Although, the belief in government (statism) is by far the biggest religion on Earth now.
The more we can spread NAP the quicker we will have a world that turns their backs on the violence, murder, wars, extortion, theft and kidnappings, most of which is done today by government.
We are actually very close and by having you on-board I think we can greatly move these ideas forward and have a truly free and prosperous world where we can all sit in our isolation tanks, take mushrooms, trade in bitcoin (or whatever money we choose) and change the world.
If we do, you have no idea how much better the world will be.