by Benjamin Marks, Economics.org.au editor-in-chief
Using or threatening force to take the justly earned property off another is theft. You would hope that this point is not too controversial, that its implications would not lead to one of the most radical philosophies of today, that those people commonly considered smart would not disagree, and that some highly respected members of society are not the thieves. But, alas: it is, it does, they do, and they are. This thieving is not only happening in some far away time or place. In fact, it’s happening to you.
You are living under a cartelising, monopolising and racketeering gang of thieves. Your parents have been and their parents have been. Don’t believe me? What would make you? What would convince or even begin to convince you that you live under the aegis of a protection racket? What would you regard as being some evidence of it?
If you figured out that this criminal band is (and has been) using or threatening force to take money from you, in the name of protecting you from others doing the same, would that be enough? If you found out that this group called themselves “government” and their pillage “tax,” would you believe it then? If this government took special interest in making sure that what it wants children to learn is taught, even if it means confiscating children from their parents, how about then?
Speculate what living under a cartelising, monopolising and racketeering gang of thieves might entail. Would this gang claim to do things for its subject’s benefit? Would they allow some freedoms and enforce some rights, so they could claim they do believe in them, so they can use it as leverage for committing higher-priority oppressions? Would they ensure that they had control of the most important aspects of society: things like money, schooling, transport, business regulation, defence and the judiciary? Would the protection racket attempt to make itself look respectable and useful, and welcome into its arms anyone who considered it so? Would there be countless logical inconsistencies in the protection racket’s actions and policies, which the professoriate they fund and the syllabus they enforce ignore? Would the protection racket claim that its behaviour is consensual, without any evidence of written, signed and witnessed contracts? Would the protection racket maintain that the services it provides are of superior quality and of an entirely different type to the services that anyone else could provide, and that therefore the protection racket itself is an exception to the rules it applies elsewhere? Would the protection racket claim that a bit of paper gives them legitimacy, even if you didn’t sign it and it is an invalid contract (the Constitution) that would never be considered sufficient evidence of consent in a civilian relationship? Would the protection racket claim that the fact you do what they tell you and do not run off is evidence of consent, even though that would mean that paying a ransom to a kidnapper turns them into a babysitter?
Why then, if that is exactly the situation now, do you not think you are living under a protection racket? It takes a lot more effort to try and defend the protection racket than to say what it actually is. How can you, who may be otherwise-intelligent, support the protection racket? Do you really lack the alertness, education and confidence necessary to question such everyday occurrences?