Atanu Dey On India's Development

“The immoral use of force is the source of man’s political problems.”

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{This piece was published at NitiCentral.com last week.}

Ron Paul is retiring after serving in the US Congress for 23 years over a 36 year period. There’s a striking line in his farewell speech he gave on Nov 14th to the US Congress. “The immoral use of force is the source of man’s political problems.” It strikes me as the crux of practically all of humanity’s problems, not just political problems. All the manifest problems that we collectively face involve the immoral use of force or coercion. Look and you will find what lies beneath any problem is clearly an instance of someone or some organization using force to take what is not given freely.

The US is a striking example of how freedom promotes comprehensive prosperity, and increasingly unfortunately so, an example of how a steady erosion of freedom can eradicate prosperity.

This year Ron Paul made his last and final attempt at getting the Republican nomination as the presidential candidate. I am really sorry that he did not get it. I am sorry the American voters did not elect someone who stands for human freedom and who understands that human freedom is central to human development.

Ron Paul is not popular. He is a just another voice in the wilderness. I am afraid that not enough people are listening to what he has to say. All that his speech evoked was a bit of half-hearted applause. We need to pay attention to someone who understands the problem that not only the US but all of humanity faces — the immoral use of force.

I listened to Ron Paul’s speech with an ache in the heart. He was not just addressing the US Congress. His message is for all of us, not just Americans. Listening to his speech, I kept wondering how anyone can keep fighting what appears to be a losing battle. Great conviction must evoke great effort.

Here are some excerpts from the transcript of his speech (link at the end of this post).

Politicians deceive themselves as to how wealth is produced. Excessive confidence is placed in the judgment of politicians and bureaucrats. This replaces the confidence in a free society. Too many in high places of authority became convinced that only they, armed with arbitrary government power, can bring about fairness, while facilitating wealth production. This always proves to be a utopian dream and destroys wealth and liberty. It impoverishes the people and rewards the special interests who end up controlling both political parties.

I think there is widespread ignorance among the public regarding how wealth is produced. Politicians cynically exploit that public ignorance for their own benefit.

At one point, among a set of questions he poses, he asks, “Why does changing the party in power never change policy? Could it be that the views of both parties are essentially the same?” As I put it, choosing between the Republicans and the Democrats is a choice between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Supporters of all government edicts use humanitarian arguments to justify them. Humanitarian arguments are always used to justify government mandates related to the economy, monetary policy, foreign policy, and personal liberty. This is on purpose to make it more difficult to challenge. But, initiating violence for humanitarian reasons is still violence. Good intentions are no excuse and are just as harmful as when people use force with bad intentions. The results are always negative.

Every political party and every government India has had since 1947 has as its avowed goal the eradication of poverty – a humanitarian goal. And they have used that excuse to take away freedom from the public. The irony is that it is lack of freedom that is the cause of poverty.

Governments have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force in a nation. But we should be careful not to confuse “legitimate” and “moral.”

The immoral use of force is the source of man’s political problems. Sadly, many religious groups, secular organizations, and psychopathic authoritarians endorse government initiated force to change the world. Even when the desired goals are well-intentioned—or especially when well-intentioned—the results are dismal. The good results sought never materialize. The new problems created require even more government force as a solution. The net result is institutionalizing government initiated violence and morally justifying it on humanitarian grounds.

All large-scale violence is always done by the government. When was the last time that any bunch of citizens initiated any war?

Restraining aggressive behavior is one thing, but legalizing a government monopoly for initiating aggression can only lead to exhausting liberty associated with chaos, anger and the breakdown of civil society. Permitting such authority and expecting saintly behavior from the bureaucrats and the politicians is a pipe dream. We now have a standing army of armed bureaucrats in the TSA, CIA, FBI, Fish and Wildlife, FEMA, IRS, Corp of Engineers, etc. numbering over 100,000. Citizens are guilty until proven innocent in the unconstitutional administrative courts.

Government in a free society should have no authority to meddle in social activities or the economic transactions of individuals. Nor should government meddle in the affairs of other nations. All things peaceful, even when controversial, should be permitted.

A nanny state is just the most benevolent-appearing face of the government. It just appears that way but even when it is benevolent, it uses force – and that is immoral.

Sadly, we have become accustomed to living with the illegitimate use of force by government. It is the tool for telling the people how to live, what to eat and drink, what to read and how to spend their money.

To develop a truly free society, the issue of initiating force must be understood and rejected. Granting to government even a small amount of force is a dangerous concession.

As the old adage goes, people deserve the government they get.

I never believed that the world or our country could be made more free by politicians, if the people had no desire for freedom.

Under the current circumstances the most we can hope to achieve in the political process is to use it as a podium to reach the people to alert them of the nature of the crisis and the importance of their need to assume responsibility for themselves, if it is liberty that they truly seek. Without this, a constitutionally protected free society is impossible.

The problem of people not appreciating the importance of freedom and the immorality of force is universal. Especially in India, we need to understand that.

Go read the transcript and/or download the mp3 of Ron Paul’s speech.

  • pramod

    I’m always hesitant to criticize Paul because his supporters tend to be reprehensible people and arguing with them is just toxic but you don’t fit the usual stereotype so let me give this a shot.

    Aren’t you concerned about Paul’s racism, homophobia, misogyny and his lack of consistency?

    He has said he wants to repeal the civil rights act (racism), he has said that he wants to repeal laws against sexual harassment (misogyny), he has supported the defence of marriage act (homophobia), he has on many occasions tried to introduce the sanctity of life act (misogyny: this would effectively make abortion equivalent to murder), he claims one of the problems with the civil war is that slave owners weren’t compensated for their loss of property (racism!), he claims to be a free market capitalist but apparently supports closed borders (inconsistency of principles). His support for states’ rights and the claim that civil rights etc. need to be legisated at the state-level while simultaneously voting for federal legislation like DOMA and the sanctity of life act are perhaps the clearest examples of his opportunism and lack of consistency.

    I see him as nothing but yet another privilege-denying SAWCASM who wants to redefine government to only do the things that help him while shutting down everything that benefits anyone else.

    Have you thought about this? Do you think that these are not faults? Do you think these faults are unimportant compared to his other strengths?

    • http://www.deeshaa.org Atanu Dey

      Pramod,

      My support of Ron Paul is because of his stance which he has elaborated on in his farewell speech. I do not claim that he is perfect — as no one in reality is. If we were to wait for the perfect human being to become the president of the US (or any other political office), we will have to wait a long time. The best we can do is to choose from a collection of imperfect human beings. Rarely if ever do we find someone with whom we agree completely and without reservations.

      My endorsement of Ron Paul should not be understood to be total or unconditional.

      Thanks for taking the time to express your concerns.

      Atanu

      • http://profiles.google.com/substancemcgravitas Substance McGravitas

        When he talks about the illegitimate use of force by government he ONLY means the federal government; he’s perfectly fine with state governments doing whatever they like. He’s a Republican in the south: what that means in context is not having the federal government intervene when state governments find a way to allow discrimination.

  • anup

    The sad thing about the US is that the majority of the citizens of supposedly the most “freest” country in the world infact vote to power the people who are against the very idea of freedom. The implication is that if the majority of the citizens of a highly developed country such as the US have difficulty choosing “freedom” (in the form of a libertarian like Ron Paul)then what hope does a country like India have whose citizens haven’t even sampled what it means to be truly free.

  • Bhanu Kiran

    @Pramod:

    Ron Paul is not necessarily a racist. He opposes the parts of “civil rights” act that restrict the criteria used by private citizens/employers in choosing their employees/business partners. I oppose them too. What gives government the moral authority to dictate how i make my hiring/firing decisions? It is wrong. Besides, it is unnecessary: if I chose to hire people on the basis of skin color rather than skill, my business would die a natural death, thanks to competition from more rational businessmen.

    Regarding slavery, he never said it is moral. He just thinks that Lincoln should have paid money to confederate states in exchange for slaves’ freedom, instead of going to war over it. It’s just the principle of non-aggression. Possibly racism too, but not necessarily.

    You say he is homophobic. While he does think gay marriage is wrong, he admits that it is because of his personal religious beliefs and that he doesn’t want to enforce it on the society. Unlike real homophobes, who want to have a federal law against gay marriage, he thinks government should not have anything to with marriage.

    “He wants to repeal laws against sexual harassment”.
    Can’t seem to find any such thing on the internet. Perhaps you confused “Ron Paul” with some misogynist Republican (there are quite a few).

    “… apparently supports closed borders”.
    Quite the opposite: he says governments should not block trade, anybody should be free to trade with anybody from any country. He supports free trade with all nations, including Canada and Mexico.

    “His support for states’ rights and the claim that civil rights etc. need to be legisated at the state-level while simultaneously voting for federal legislation like DOMA and the sanctity of life act are perhaps the clearest examples of his opportunism and lack of consistency.”
    Clearly you’ve never read the contents of DOMA. It does NOT say that gay marriage is illegal. It basically says no state would be forced to recognize a same sex marriage license issued in another state. In other words, STATES’ RIGHTS.

    Sanctity of life act is just an extension of the constitutional right to life to unborn children. No big deal.

    Finally I will say this: while my ideal politician would have been more pro-abortion and more pro-gay than Ron Paul, those things are trifles in comparison to the issues that this article talks about.