Unity is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Everything I said is contained in a single word—collectivism. And isn’t that the god of our century? To act together. To think—together. To feel—together. To unite, to agree, to obey. To obey, to serve, to sacrifice. Divide and conquer—first. But then—unite and rule. We’ve discovered that one at last. Remember the Roman Emperor who said he wished humanity had a single neck so he could cut it? People have laughed at him for centuries. But we’ll have the last laugh. We’ve accomplished what he couldn’t accomplish. We’ve taught men to unite. This makes one neck ready for one leash. We found the magic word. Collectivism.
Ellsworth Toohey to Peter Keating, The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand, 1943
Countless commentators have decried disunity. They fret about our divided nation, warn of impending civil war, and implore us to come together to avert it. Unity’s desirability is taken as given, but what if the longed-for unity is that of passengers on a jet plunging into the ocean? A reappraisal of disunity is in order.
Unity was doomed with the passage of the 16th, or Income Tax, Amendment. It’s hard to feel any goodwill towards a government that forcibly relieves you of what you’ve produced, benefitting itself and those to whom it redistributes. The income tax divides the country into makers and takers, a division that cannot be bridged.
For the productive, “Unite!” is a poisonous bromide, code for: support your own slavery. For a long time they bit their tongues and holstered their weapons as perpetually expanding government and its partner in crime, the Federal Reserve, took an increasing portion of what they produced, made it increasingly difficult to produce, loaded the country with a pile of debt and unfunded liabilities that cannot be paid, and depreciated the unit of exchange. Boxed in, a shrinking minority, the country they and their productive forebears built circling the drain, some are finally realizing they are underwriting their own servitude.
With whom are the productive to unite? The politicians who believe they have first claim on all income, ignore or marginalize anyone who points out that it’s not their money, and reject accountability for how they spend it? Government employees “working” paper-shuffling sinecures? A military-industrial-intelligence complex milking perpetual war for all it’s worth? Rabid recipients demanding still more unearned benefits: higher education, health care, housing, and whatever other goodies to which they feel entitled?
If there were any goodwill—a sentiment that promotes unity—among those groups, one would expect gratitude towards those who provide their sustenance. SLL knows of no instance where a taxpayer received a thank you note from a government beneficiary. Even suggesting it would be met with derision from many of them, who believe they have a “right” to what they receive. Unity for this crowd means: “Shut up and get with the program!”
Enslavement of the producer class has not been mentioned as a decisive issue in the 2016 election. Nobody—Trump included—in the current constellation of power wants to question the servitude that pays for bullets, bombs, welfare, veterans benefits, corporate subsidies, agricultural support payments, interest on the debt, clean energy programs, infrastructure, grandma’s pension and medical care, and so on.
A few crazed libertarians whisper that people should be able to either keep what they’ve legitimately produced or voluntarily exchange it for something they value more. Everyone else has one or more cherished government programs that receive money wrested from their fellow Americans.
Yet, the producer-recipient divide is the yawning chasm in American politics. Take Trump’s signature issue, immigration. Are people who support him xenophobic racists, or do they believe that many illegal immigrants avail themselves of government-provided goods and services for which the productive must pay, and those who find employment lower wages for the rest of the labor force?
No doubt some Trump supporters are the former, and they get all the media attention, but many Trump supporters are motivated by self-interested economic considerations. The obvious truth, which elites in both the US and Europe ignore and suppress, is that an open-arms welfare state is incompatible with welcome-mat immigration. The common sense notion—if you hand out money they will come—should have stopped this nonsense before it ever began.
Who gets what and who pays for it are the questions floating over every issue in American politics. Put aside statistical noise and deliberate obfuscation and it’s clear the tired-of-paying-for-it contingent was a big factor in Trump’s victory. If the cleavage is this dramatic now, what happens when crisis hits and the debt-saturated financial system collapses?
As the bill comes due, how many producers will have either the desire or the capability to pay it? How many recipients will recognize that funding is insufficient for their “rights,” entitlements, payola, and scams and adjust to the new reality? The answers do not augur well for unity. Rampant disunity will rend a cataclysmic fissure that, in combination with fiscal exhaustion, will imperil warfare-welfare state governments.
It is long overdue. Governments are colossal, cancerous carbuncles whose malignant purposes and practices threaten the wellbeing and lives of those who pay for them. Their calls for unity are thinly veiled threats to accept its depredations. The or else has arrived and will become increasingly tyrannical, until the tyrants have figuratively, and in many cases literally, killed the geese laying their golden eggs.
Governments are collectivism and control—unity under tyranny. According to IRS data for 2015, the latest year available, 45 percent of American households paid no taxes, the top 50 percent by income paid 97.2 percent, and the top 1 percent, with 21 percent of the nation’s income, paid 39 percent. Those statistics are a clarion call for disunity. If producers decided en masse, a la Atlas Shrugged, to secede from current arrangements, those arrangements would collapse.
If you’re footing the bill, isn’t that the desired outcome? Most divorces would be more amicable if they began earlier, after it was obvious the divorce was inevitable but while there was still some comity between the parties. Right now, before the inevitable collapse, a managed process of dissolution, managed disunity if you will, would be more desirable than the messy break-up that’s coming.
There’s nothing sacrosanct about political arrangements whereby fifty states send a good share of their production to a federal government that grows ever more powerful, intrusive, and repressive. But because the government and its political support depend parasitically on that production, managed dissolution will never happen. Imagine a split of the US between its maker and taker regions into two nations. How long would the latter last?
So is producers’ secession a pipe dream? Not at all, because crisis and unmanaged dissolution will happen. The pipe dream is that the government’s roughly 3.4 million civilian and 1.4 million military personnel will be able to suppress, manage, or contain uprisings fueled by an appreciable portion of the rest of country’s 325 million people. Yes the government has bullets, bombs, surveillance, data bases, and prisons. Insurrectionists of all stripes will have their own bullets and bombs, sheer numbers, anger, desperation, hackers, and guerrilla warfare, which numerous foreign engagements have demonstrated the US military’s inability to quell. Chaos is the betting favorite.
The shattering will present producers with our best opportunity since the American Revolution (the US disuniting from Great Britain) to defend territory and set up political arrangements based on liberty, individual rights, honest production, and voluntary exchange. In the meantime, we must reject our oppressors’ calls for unity. It isn’t free and we’re paying for it. Disunity is our path to freedom.