The Last Days of Government

At about 7.35 p.m. ET on February 22nd, the NBC News TV reporter grabbed my attention with the following, as well as I can recall it:

“Government has disappeared.” and “The are no policemen to be seen. Not even traffic cops.”

This, again, was 2014 – not 2027. And it was not a spoof, like the alien invasion one in 1938. The newscaster was casting news the way it was. What a feast for the ears!

More below, but this is one of two bits of news that were new to me this month, on the subject of the likely way in which government will expire; and they were of great interest because I've already written a book about it: Transition to Liberty, on whose cover is a photo of an avalanche because I believe that long-overdue event is both imminent and inevitable. Readers who are already familiar with its contents may care to scroll down to the paragraph with “New Stuff” at its head, while I summarize its theme for everyone else.

Transition tells how a process of replicative, exponential growth started back in 2006 with the advent of The On Line Freedom Academy, in which participants do four key things:

  • Study the material and Graduate from that interactive course, so understanding liberty
  • Resign in disgust, accordingly, from any government job they may hold
  • Recruit one friend a year to join the Academy and do the same, and so, each year
  • Repeat, until every literate American has graduated and stopped being one of the PIGS (Persons In Government Service) 

That forms a handy acronym, GRRR – making us Growlers. We don't bark, we certainly don't bite or use other violence, but we do growl. And we will eliminate altogether the institution of government, for it consists of nothing at all except those who work for it. Nothing more is needed, and nothing less will suffice. Twenty-eight years of annual doubling equals 268 million, or the entire literate US population. And nobody even breaks a sweat.

The “recruitment” part of that is to invite and mentor one friend a year, and currently I reckon the average American has one chance in 100, this year, of being invited to join TOLFA. Next year, those odds will shorten. Towards the end of the process, he will be invited – by different friends - several times a year and ultimately several times a day. Hence, the avalanche.

So I've not been too worried about the admitted and obvious fact that people working for government will be among the later graduates of TOLFA; more reluctant than most to join. Naturally. But that intensity of invitations will, I reckon, suffice to move them off their perch. At the very time he sees government falling into collapse (and so, that his own job is actually a long way from secure) the PIGS will be bombarded by friendly invitations to explore some ideas about freedom. Almost irresistible.

Now to the new stuff.

First came the extraordinary events In Kiev, Ukraine, this month. The country was being ruled by an elected tyrant, who inter alia had reneged on a promise to move the country towards membership in EU, with the advantages of free trade that brings (for now, never mind the extra layers of bureaucratic control it also brings). The communications from the Maidan that I saw included this video, which emphasized that the protesters were not interested in the EU, but “want[ed] to be free from the politicians, who work only for themselves," and "We are normal people . . . civilized people; but our government are barbarians." I suppose they did not have the advantage of an in-depth anarchist re-education like TOLFA's, but on its face that does look pretty libertarian.

On the Thursday, February 20th, government police carefully sighted 70 protesters in their rifle scopes, and shot them dead. Then the next day, encouraged by government ministers from Germany and Poland (!), the tyrant, sensing the collapse of his support base, fled the capital. As one marvelously witty observer remarked, “Chicken Kiev.”

And so by Saturday, even NBC was reporting that government had quit. Other strong rumors held that the police, some of whom 24 hours earlier had been murdering them on command, had changed out of their uniforms and joined the protesters. Wonderful!

Because of the lack of in-depth re-education, it's quite possible that this revolution will fail to develop into a real libertarian one, with at least a radical reduction in government power. It may turn out to be merely an exchange of one government for another. At this writing it is severely threatened by four malevolent influences: the EU, which wants to move Ukraine out of Russian hegemony into its own; the US government, which wants Ukraine in its sphere of influence and disparages the EU with a four-letter word; a rather sinister internal group of Ukrainian Nazis who might hijack the movement, and of course Vlad Putin, whose aim is directly opposed to those of the EU and US. So it could be strangled at birth.

The strong positive that comes out of the extraordinary week ending February 22nd is that this government, probably like all others, is so vulnerable. One day it looks impregnable; next day, it is history. For us who want to terminate governments, this is enormously encouraging. Sometimes it's said I have overestimated the ease with which the government bubble can be burst; the events in Kiev suggest the very opposite may be the case.

Second, an STReader passed along his observation of a detail of the Milgram experiment that I had failed to notice.

Professor Milgram, you'll recall, experimented in 1963 at Yale with volunteers who obeyed an “authority” figure by administering electric shocks of increasing intensity to others whom they thought were other volunteers (in fact they were collaborators and no shocks were given). He showed that two thirds of the volunteers were willing to go all the way with 450 volts, a fatal figure, and concluded that obedience to authority frequently overcame instinctive moral standards. A very scary study.

The reader wrote:

 “I was reading about the Milgram and Berkely prison experiments in the book Behavioural Investing (which is heavy on psychology) when I read something that I had never heard before (on p. 606): "The only thing Milgram found that consistently resulted in rapid dropoffs in compliance [with the "scientist" telling the subject to administer a shock to the supposed subject] within his experiment was dissent . . . . Milgram ran one variant of his experiment with one psychologist and three helpers (two of whom were confederates of the experimenters, and one genuine subject). One of the helpers asks the question, another says whether the answer is correct, the third (the real subject) throws the switch to administer the shock. At 150 volts, one of the helpers (one of the confederates) walks out of the experiment. At 210 volts, the other helper (confederate) also walks out. The psychologist goes on alone with the true subject. Once the first helper leaves, the number of compliant subjects drops from 90% to around 35%. Following the second helper walking out, the compliance rate drops steadily, although 10% still go on to administer the maximum voltage.”

 So evidently the subjects have a troubled conscience about continuing to obey Authority, and when one of “their number” gets up and walks out, many more of them do the same; the dissension is contagious, the first brave dissenter strengthens the spine of the second, and so on. How would this apply to the rate of acceptances of invitations to study in TOLFA, by government employees at a time when many (say, a quarter or a third) of their colleagues have already not only taken the course, but also quit their jobs as a result?

It certainly can't hinder, but let's consider whether it will help. Remember, the motivation at this time will be the many signs that his employer is disintegrating, together with a failure of his salary to maintain its purchasing power, and the pressure of so many repeated invitations from several of his friends to open his mind to what the Academy teaches. Will the probability of acceptance for this subject increase because the guy at the next desk accepts?

It will, I think, provided that at this stage of the process the subject has a troubled conscience. That is what the Milgram volunteers all had; they had accepted money to take part, but were being told to injure a fellow human being, which went against their lifetime moral standards. That is not normally the attitude of government employees. It seems ridiculous to us, but they really think they are “doing God's work” and that resistors to government are the “bad guys.”

However, that is now, not then – when the suggestion that government is actually the primary source of evil in the world will daily be gaining widespread currency. The subject will not have to burn midnight oil in front of a TOLFA screen to get the outline of that message. Therefore, it's not unreasonable to assume that at that late stage in the process (say, around a year prior to E-Day) very many government employees will, indeed, be having moral second thoughts.

Accordingly, I think this perceptive reader (to whom many thanks) is correct: This part of Milgram's work shows that government employees, at that late but vitally important stage of the process, will quit their jobs at an accelerated rate.

The avalanche will gain even more momentum than I had thought.

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