Who Are The True Exploiters?

November 5th, 2010   Submitted by David Kretzmann

Was it the “free market” that exploited Japanese Americans in World War II? Was it “capitalism” that drafted thousands of young men to be sent off to Vietnam, with many to return in body bags? Is it the free market that implements mandatory wage and price controls, takes a third of each American’s income, and leeches money to politically connected corporations? Who is the true exploiter, free markets or government? All things involuntary and compulsory are not compatible with freedom, yet it is constantly government using its monopolized force to accomplish its various goals, not the market. In a free society and market your greed, anger, and any other such negative qualities are purely limited to free and voluntary exchange. You cannot work like government using coercion to sell your products, force to maintain your position, and threats of imprisonment as your insurance.

There are many social injustices, uneven economic scenarios, and plenty of misery in the world today. Saying these miseries come from the free market is a gross misunderstanding of where the free market itself is born: freedom. Freedom has its root in the individual, not in an all-powerful group of people such as government. If some people choose to live in a socialist system with limited property, redistributed wealth, and controlled production, there is nothing standing in their way. But the line is drawn when they feel they have the right to force others into the system. Freedom does not mandate how you live, it simply prevents you from coercing others (either an individual or a group) into a certain lifestyle. No one can force you to buy their product, live the way they think is best for you, and no sensible person can use force with bogus reasoning such as “protecting you from yourself.”

Yet again we see that it is government coercing individuals to subsidize corporations such as Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, General Motors, AIG, and a host of others, in effect forcing individuals to contribute funds to corporations against their will with nothing in return. Where is the free market exploitation we hear so much about? Freedom cannot coexist with aggressive force, which is why both establishing government and maintaining freedom has been especially tricky business throughout American and worldwide history. In a free, non-coerced society hair-brained schemes would die out as quickly as they were created. However, when government is in the picture those schemes become the law and survive solely through force. For instance, no free people would see the benefit in bailing out corporations (because there is none), because people would instantly recognize that any corporations seeking money must offer people a product or service worth paying for, not the pathetic excuse that the entire economy hinges on their existence.

History has shown that the great majority of people do not voluntarily drift toward a powerful centralized government if given the ability to choose for themselves. A splendid example is that of the Native Americans, who migrated to the Americas many thousands of years ago. There was no preexisting government, no bureaucracy or group controlling where they go or how they live, interact, or trade; people were generally free to establish and spread as they pleased in the new land. What we saw was the creation of a vast amount of local tribes and communities, each with a mix of similar and unique customs to the tribes around them. There were no wars or coercive threats that compared to the destruction in the highly centralized and “governmentized” nations of Europe.

In fact, according to Encyclopedia, ideas (such as hunting methods or other helpful techniques) spread through developing trade routes among the various tribes on the North American continent. Spirituality and religious ideas were developed by each tribe and spread through these trade routes, as opposed to much of European history where governments and churches collided over religion and its place among the people. The tribes “did not centralize power into the hands of dominant political leaders.” After all, who in their right mind would voluntarily give their individual power to one all-powerful central leader or group? This is an excellent demonstration of how a free society leaves power with the individual where it rightly belongs. As the pre-Columbus years of Native American history are explored, it shows a period of many different tribes cooperatively living and spreading goods and ideas with tribes across a massive continent. Government was decentralized and it appears that political decisions were commonly made through “consultation and consensus” from the entire adult community of a tribe. While Europe was suffering through poverty, government and Church corruption, and horrendous injustices in the Middle Ages, Native Americans were experiencing a world of peaceful living and voluntary interaction and trade, within vast amounts of local tribes who resisted central empowerment that plagued much of the world.

The Native Americans are one of the few examples of a truly free society unbounded by central force, and the result was hardly a corrupt and exploitative age. Creativity flourished, voluntary trade and diplomacy abounded, and ideas were not punished or restrained. European “civilized” governments existed through force, rather than the decentralized governments of Native American tribes that were created and maintained by the entire adult community. When force is not in the picture, people have naturally chosen local “systems” to that of a powerful centralized government. Local governmental structures are naturally created when freedom is “free” to flourish and provide the groundwork for a society of individuals who are empowered with responsibility of their life, liberty, and well-being.

Modern politics has become a win or loss type of deal. Issues are seen as black and white, jailed into sides with no room for compromise. The beauty of freedom is that it is precisely the basis needed for voluntary actions, diplomacy, exchange, and compromise. Freedom encourages education, involvement, and creativity; it is the only sustainable “system” precisely because it allows all individuals to adjust as necessary. Freedom and liberty are the building blocks of a prosperous society built on the luxury of choice, wisdom of nonaggression, and sustainability of voluntary actions.

Originally written for DavidKretzmann.com.

13 Responses to “Who Are The True Exploiters?”

  1. Seth KingNo Gravatar says:

    It seems like we’re always hearing about free societies that get wiped off the map by some unfree empire. I generally find freedom to be stronger and more resilient than tyranny. So I have a hard time believing that the ancient irish, or native americans, or icelanders were as free as we like to think of them.

    There had to have been some sort of flaw in their system if it left them exposed to the whims of tyranny. In our situation, not only do we NOT have a freedom paradise that needs to be defended against the tyrannical onslaught, but we have no foothold at all. The freedom crowd has to topple the empire. So, we are going to have to be a lot smarter and stronger than our so-called free ancestors if we want to dramatically increase individual liberty.

  2. Had the highly specialized division of labor emerged in North America, Ireland, or Iceland to a greater extent before it emerged from European feudalism, the world might be a very different place.

    Unfortunately the benefits of specialized labor were in the hands of tyrants … or at least those who still believed in coercive authority.

    Today with a global division of labor, we are seeing the end of coercive world empire and the emergence of “trade empire” (if you can call it that). The U.S. has the most expensive policy for foreign trade (war). China has a much less expensive one (trade agreements).

    There’s very little “empty” or “unarmed” world left to conquer and rarely does a conflict involve only two groups (as say, europeans vs indians). Will this make war “too expensive” relative to trade?

  3. RJ MillerNo Gravatar says:

    You’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head in terms of how governments operate versus free market institutions.

    If governments had no speck of tyranny they would cease to be governments and would likely become businesses if anything at all.

  4. JustSayNoToStatismNo Gravatar says:

    Both Seth and David have posted great comments on this article. Often when debating with people, I end up at the point where they say something like “well with no government someone would take over!!!” ….to which I say, “so the downside of having freedom is that you can lose it? The reason to not go there is because it is possible to end up back where we’re at?”

    While that’s a good rebuttal, it still leaves ME wondering why there aren’t free societies anymore. Was it simply due to the chance outcome of the centralized states discovering division of labor earlier…? If a free society popped into existence today (I use the abstraction of appearing instantly because otherwise it would be seceding, which is more complicated), could it survive, now that the technological playing field is more level? The answer to this question determines whether our goals are worth achieving. If an anarchist society can’t survive, then spending the energy to overcome the seemingly insurmountable challenges ahead of us just isn’t worth it. One could apply the same argument we use against political libertarians, “Even if you COULD restore the republic, it would just wither away, you simply turned back the clock.”

    At this point, I believe (and hope) that an anarchist society, of people having the same values as us, could not be held down. We wouldn’t allow ourselves to be taken captive. Education in a free society wouldn’t teach people that submission is the only way, and as a result, people would have different mindsets. All just speculation though….I wish I’d live to find out.

  5. augustNo Gravatar says:

    Great article.

    I think the estimate of taxation being 1/3 of our income is too low. Add up Fed income/Fed corp/ State income/ Property/ Sales/ Excise taxes and I come up with more like 1/2 of the avg income. And that’s not including inflation (about 15% per year) or social security (about 15% year).

    The Indians are a great example of freedom at work. Supposedly many of the founding fathers were inspired by the Indian systems such as the Iroquois Confederacy.

    I say that Jefferson really wanted to be an anarchist based on this quote:

    Letter to Madison,

    …Societies exist under three forms, sufficiently distinguishable: (1) without government, as among our Indians; (2) under governments, wherein the will of everyone has a just influence, as is the case in England, in a slight degree, and in our states, in a great one; (3) under governments of force, as is the case in all other monarchies, and in most of the other republics.

    To have an idea of the curse of existence under these last, they must be seen. It is a government of wolves over sheep. It is a problem, not clear in my mind, that the first condition is not the best. But I believe it to be inconsistent with any great degree of population. The second state has a great deal of good in it. The mass of mankind under that enjoys a precious degree of liberty and happiness. It has its evils, too, the principal of which is the turbulence to which it is subject. But weigh this against the oppressions of monarchy, and it becomes nothing…

  6. JacobNo Gravatar says:

    Anarchism is an ideal societal construct. It has rarely found expression and has always been short lived for good reason. In order to blossom, flourish and survive, its supporters must invest enormous work into self and group restraint, and into building and perfecting. It requires commitment, vigilance, sacrifice and love for self and others.

    For the first time in history, humans are instantly communicating globally. As we’ve become hyper-aware of our social disfunction, we’re becoming increasingly intolerant of governments’ anachronistic enslavement. There is a global awakening to the possibility of outgrowing obedience to all forms of oppression. A critical mass of such awareness would make anarchism more than mere possibility.

    • Seth KingNo Gravatar says:

      It seems to me that intelligent people of my generation are rapidly becoming aware of the philosophy of freedom. We’re going to change the world and the older generation and dummies are just along for the ride.

  7. There were other factors (aside from force) that led to the demise of the Native Americans, namely disease. They are not the greatest example of a stateless society but generally they were not as exceedingly primitive and dumb as people believe today. They were quite advanced with trade routes, bartering skills and techniques, and interestingly they had longer lifespans than Europeans.

    Native Americans were defenseless against Europeans in the same way that Earth would be defenseless if an alien race attacked and enslaved the planet. It would be incredibly difficult for humans to gather the knowledge about the invaders and how to best defend ourselves. Our weapons could be next to useless against the invaders, we would not be immune to their germs, etc.

    Because of this I don’t see the downfall of Native Americans as a result of a stateless society, but rather because of the unfortunate reality of the situation. Another example of a stateless society, that I have yet to research too in-depth, is California during the Gold Rush. Tom Woods mentions this as an episode of incredible human cooperation and development in the absence of even a territorial state government.

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