Topic: is a government less real than a football team (or a religion)?
It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a bunch of people kicking a round ball across a pitch or a bunch of people running with a pigskin across a gridiron — or even the Australian version thereof — if there’s a game called football in existence then there’s also going to exist a certain thing called a football team. Team, club, whatever. The point is, if the game was just imaginary, nothing but a fantasy that someone dreamed up, then even though creating a thing called a “football team” might be nonsensical such a team-without-purpose would still exist, because the concept of a team is simply the way by which people describe two or more individuals cooperating to reach a desired goal (such as winning by default the trophy for “Greatest Football Team Ever”).
Other examples of individuals teaming up have nothing to do with sport. Musicians start bands, orchestras, etc. Entrepreneurs create businesses, corporations, etc. Wage earners form unions, guilds, etc. Criminals join gangs, syndicates, etc. The general term for all of them, footballers included, is voluntary association. You choose to have associations with other people.
You never stray, though, from the path of being you. Deciding one afternoon to do something that many others chose to do as well doesn’t turn those multiple coincidences into a group action. Whether a person is passing by others while walking down a sidewalk or working at one desk among many in an office, each of us constantly coordinates our individual actions with those of others in an attempt to achieve some kind of goal that each person decided would be best for their future interests (e.g. “I don’t want to collide with any window shoppers here because I have to get to a meeting back at the office to discuss next year’s production targets”).
Much of the time, individual efforts become coordinated without any complex communication being necessary. For every formal office meeting there are a thousand strangers walking down the sidewalk who will use brief moments of eye contact with passersby to help each navigate around the other. Even formal meetings reduce to each person making individual pledges to those present regarding good-faith efforts to complete the different portions of the project under discussion.
Sometimes, regrettably, individuals agree to work in coordination to defraud some others who aren’t present at any kind of meeting where the fraud is under discussion. An example of such conspiratorial behavior is found among members of crime syndicates. Governments, which exist through forced “contributions” called taxes, fees and inflation of the money supply [note: the doctor has since self-corrected historical misinformation regarding the nature of so-called money], are particular examples of such syndicates.
There is no voluntary agreement by which any man or woman claiming to represent a government gets to take your time or your wealth. That doesn’t mean, however, that governments don’t exist. A popular assertion among modern anarchists is that governments are imaginary. They are no such thing.
Governments exist every bit as much as any team or any orchestra. Think of it this way: you might not like other kinds of crime syndicates trying to defraud you, yet those other crime syndicates still exist, pretending like the muggers & extortionists & rapists & murderers they are that an argumentation fallacy known in the vernacular as Appeal To The Stick constitutes sufficient authority over others. As Bowery Boys and bureaucrats will agree: “You don’t wanna cause yourself to get hurt, so just go right on ahead and obey whatever external caprice comes down on you as officialdom.”
No, governments are all too real. What’s imaginary is the so-called Social Contract, as make-believe as the concept of Divine Right. Each man and woman, regardless of age, is in possession of a permanent individual jurisdiction resulting from their birth, a jurisdiction which persists all the way to their outermost layer of skin. That is the territory within which each may pass any law, and within that particular territory the sole inhabitant can hold one person to the lawful standards they create.
Outside all those individual jurisdictions lies the concept of society. Societies are real, each a voluntary association featuring exactly one property: an interplay of reputations. There are no inherent or potential laws, except by way of fraud. There are no inherent or potential rights, except by way of fraud. There are no involuntary contracts, except by way of fraud.
Depending on the set of self-styled laws that a person chooses to impose upon their own actions within their own jurisdiction of flesh and mind, others might accuse them at some point of committing fraud. A reputation is a delicate thing, no one owns the slightest bit of theirs for each is the exclusive property of society — each exists only as part of the ongoing interplay. In turn, a set of reputations that is undergoing constant changes in both size and consequence represents each society’s one and only property.
When a person pays little heed to either the design or the implementation of their jurisdictional authority over themselves, when others consider a person’s actions as dangerous to their reputation, that’s when the person in question starts to exist more and more outside the boundaries of society. Existing outside the boundaries of society is about as dangerous as life can ever get. Society itself cannot punish anyone, because there is no such thing as group action, but plenty of individuals exist who would be willing to face the consequences of their decision to hunt down and kill someone who they feel is no more a part of society than any other animal. Hatfields and McCoys are incapable of genocide, but a succession of President Hatfields and Prime Minister McCoys is guaranteed to “give it the college try” after concluding that “citizens” are not “behaving properly.”
How, then, do fraudsters wanting more properties for themselves — but not wanting to be hunted down like an animal — manage to trick others into believing that some Social Contract nonsense turns certain people into legitimate stewards of society’s misnomered commonwealth? There is only one possible way: behavioralist mind control.
As far as mind control swindles go, inventing a government to claim rulership under a pretext of something like Divine Right or Social Contract is right up there with any blind-faith ministry. Governments, though, while real, are not religions.
“Government is a religion” is another popular misconception among well-intentioned anarchists. Both governments and religious insitutions claim certain rights to the properties of others, and both show as purported evidence of those invented rights some additional claim that approaches Divine Right, and both trick as many people as possible into believing such claims by way of ritual-based mind control. Where they differ is where all philosophies differ: one invents stories about what will happen to material bodies and the other invents stories about what will happen after death to a spirit or a soul. To put it in secular terms, one tries to force you to obey its commands by threatening you with punishment while you’re still alive and the other tries to force you to obey its commands by threatening you with punishment in the unknowable afterlife.
Neither is the same as the other. Each is half of a one-two combination that beats up opponents of social engineering with cheap shots of terror to the body and the spirit. One deals in syllogism, the other in song, and in sequence the two pillage reputations — but the two are not the same.
The individuals themselves, though, are still real, those self-professed authorities claiming personal jurisdiction over others from behind a facade of so-called official existentialism and groupthink fiction (e.g. “You are only as free as the group permits you to be”). Likely, it’s best to concern oneself with affecting the impression that others have of one’s reputation, and to act as though those people out there making claims of extra-dermal jurisdiciton are cruel animals existing somewhere other than society. That might be the key to thriving in the tomorrow following today, the tomorrow following this petty Age, and the tomorrow following each individual’s final, fleeting thought.