Archive for the ‘collapse under a nonviolent revolution’ Category

After Doomsday, What?

February 17, 2010

Dr. Higgs on what comes next after a collapse:

Some doomsayers think the collapse will be triggered by runaway government spending, excessive taxation, oppressive regulation, food shortages, fuel shortages or natural disasters such as deadly pandemics or lethal changes in the world’s climate. I have yet to encounter a claim that we are doomed because of an impending beer shortage, but I’m confident that sooner or later, such a scenario will be bruited about.

Still other doomsayers are anticipating hyperinflation when, as Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises observed in his book “Human Action,” the monetary system breaks down, “all transactions in the money concern cease; [and] a panic makes its purchasing power vanish altogether.” Mises saw such calamity in Austria and Germany after World War I. Similar crackups have occurred elsewhere at various times, including the Confederate States of America during the final year or so of the Civil War.

Even in the worst of times, however, economic calamity doesn’t mark the end of economic life. Austria, Germany and the U.S. South did not disappear as a result of their currencies’ ruin. Although many people suffered, most people found a way to survive, life went on, and economic activity eventually resumed after the adoption of a “reformed” or foreign medium of exchange. Most people survived even the recent hyperinflation in Zimbabwe, notwithstanding the Mugabe government’s best efforts to starve them…

We need to have a modicum of faith in people’s common sense, creativity and will to survive and prosper even in the face of great difficulties and obstacles. If people could keep society running in the aftermath of the Black Death, they could keep it running after the U.S. government defaulted on its debt…

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It Is Your Choice Or Our Chains…

January 15, 2010

A discussion of the works of Etienne de la Boetie, November 1, 1530 – August 18, 1563, a French judge, writer, political philosopher, friend of Montaigne, and author of the Discourse on Voluntary Servitude.

Murray Rothbard recognized that for La Boétie the central problem of political theory was why is it that people consent to their own enslavement? La Boétie cuts to the heart of the central problem of political philosophy: the mystery of civil obedience.

Why do people, in all times and most places, obey the commands of the government, which always constitutes a small minority of the society? To La Boétie the spectacle of general consent to despotism is quite puzzling and utterly appalling:

I should like merely to understand how it happens that so many men, so many villages, so many cities, so many nations, sometimes suffer under a single tyrant who has no other power than the power they give him; who is able to harm them only to the extent to which they have the willingness to bear with him; who could do them absolutely no injury unless they preferred to put up with him rather than contradict him. Surely a striking situation! Yet it is so common that one must grieve the more and wonder the less at the spectacle of a million men serving in wretchedness, their necks under the yoke, not constrained by a greater multitude than they . . .

And this mass submission must be out of consent rather than simply out of fear:

Shall we call subjection to such a leader cowardice? . . . [I]f a hundred, if a thousand endure the caprice of a single man, should we not rather say that they lack not the courage but the desire to rise against im, and that such an attitude indicates indifference rather than cowardice? When not a hundred, not a thousand men, but a hundred provinces, a thousand cities, a million men, refuse to assail a single man rom whom the kindest treatment received is the infliction of serfdom and slavery, what shall we call that? Is it cowardice? . . . [W]hen a thousand, a million men, a thousand cities, fail to protect themselves against the domination of one man, this cannot be called cowardly, for cowardice does not sink to such a depth. . . . What monstrous vice, then, is this which does not even deserve to be called cowardice, a vice for which no term can be found vile enough . . . ?

La Boétie’s celebrated and creatively original call for civil disobedience, for mass nonviolent resistance as a method for the overthrow of tyranny, stems directly from the above two premises: the fact that all rule rests on the consent of the subject masses, and the great value of natural liberty. For if tyranny really rests on mass consent, then the obvious means for its overthrow is simply by mass withdrawal of that consent. The weight of tyranny would quickly and suddenly collapse under such a nonviolent revolution. (more…)