just as the State has no money of its own, so it has no power of its
own. All the power it has society gives it, plus what it confiscates
from time to time on one pretext or another; there is no other source
from which State power can be drawn. Therefore every assumption of State
power, whether by gift or seizure, leaves society with so much less
power; there is never, nor can be, any strengthening of State power
without a corresponding and equivalent depletion of social power.”
Jay Nock, OUR ENEMY, THE STATE (1935),
The Caxton Printers, 1950, Chap. 1, pp. 3-4.
itself is power.”
Bacon, MEDITATIONES SACRAE (1597)
In the age-old
struggle for individual liberty against the power of the state, there
can be no questions which side has triumphed throughout most of the
The one interest
the state willingly sacrifices to the “common good” is personal
liberty, the freedom to produce and create, to buy and sell, to speak
and publish, to travel, to live freely. By diminishing liberty, government
systematically subverts people’s responsibility for their own lives.
It robs those who produce in order to placate those who only consume.
The result is economic stagnation, retrogression, and political corruption.
seventeenth century, in England, France, and America, and more recently
in Russia and Eastern Europe, revolutions against this tyranny of the
state were fought on behalf of an alternative we can call “natural
liberty.” At first successful, over time these revolutions cooled
down to complacency and hard-won freedom came to mean guaranteed entitlement
to government largess.
liberty means that each one of us is the sole legitimate owner of our
own life and destiny, free to act as we wish so long as we use no violence,
fraud, or other aggression against others. That same freedom dictates
a free-market economy enjoying peaceful production and trade. It opposes
government control by self-serving politicians.
of statist governments has diminished personal liberty more than the
unchecked power to tax. In the United States, the United Kingdom, and
Germany the effective rate of personal taxes far exceeds 50 percent
of earnings. In some nations, such as France and Sweden, it is higher
still. Business is taxed at even greater levels. And everyone pays the
takes wealth from some and gives it to others, this forced redistribution
diminishes the rights and well-being of the former, and often destroys
the independence of the latter.
of taxation involves nothing less that the human and natural right to
own, use, and enjoy private property, a “civil right” of the most
basic kind. Property and wealth determine personal power to control
our lives, to make decisions, to raise a family, to live free.
Jay Nock noted, every additional tax imposed diminishes our freedom.
In an economic
history of the Middle Ages, Paul Craig Roberts, the economist and columnist,
showed that medieval serfs bound to the land and their masters rarely
paid more than one-third the value of their labor in taxes. For good
reason: with very low productivity, serfs could not survive if forced
to pay more taxes. With nothing to lose, they would revolt and kill
the tax collectors.
Yet half a
millennium later, with capitalism’s enormously increased productivity,
we have even less right to our earnings than did those enslaved serfs.
Says Roberts, “You are not free when you do not own the product of
your own labor.”
- From the “Preface,” Robert E. Bauman, ed., FORBIDDEN KNOWLEDGE,
Waterford: The Sovereign Society, 5th edition, 2004.
[Reprint permission dated March 6,
2006 by Shannon Crouch, The Sovereign Society, 5 Catherine Street, Waterford,
Ireland. Phone 888-358-8125. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: