P.O. Box 22231,
Carmel, CA 93922, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lecture at Santa Ana College, CA – May 27, 1977
Profile of LeFevre
Robert LeFevre is one of the most
influential libertarian theoreticians and authors on the West coast. It is said
that he is mainly responsible for motivating the first major student
libertarian movement in California in the late 1960's. It was LeFevre's
presence at the libertarian Long Beach 1969 Conference that inspired student
leaders across California to rally behind LeFevre's Rampart College and
libertarianism.(Professor Ludwig von Mises was the keynote speaker at the Long
in Gooding, Idaho, in 1911, LeFevre's life-long love was the theater. He
attended Hamline University in St. Paul to achieve that dream, but never
graduated even though Hamline waived LeFevre's freshman English requirement
because of his ability. Hamline University told LeFevre that the combination
of courses he wanted to take would not get him a degree. LeFevre replied by
saying he wanted an education instead.
years following his college days, he took jobs ranging from newsboy to door-to-door
salesman. When the United States entered World War II, LeFevre joined the Army
Air Force for four years. LeFevre had no real interest in the military although
he was over the draft age at the time enlisted. Publicly, he has said that he
joined the Army because it was “the only proper procedure.” He served on year
on General Lee’s occupation staff in Paris.
the war, LeFevre re-entered the real estate business and soon came face to face
with government restrictions. Everywhere he turned, from the real estate
business to apartment owner to restaurateur, LeFevre confronted government
harassment. At one time, the city wanted him to install a dry standpipe for the
attachment of fire hoses. Soon he discovered that only one man was authorized
by the city government to build them, and the price was anything but inexpensive.
another instance, the office of Price Administration accused him of
rent-gouging. At the time, LeFevre charged $25 a month for two-room, furnished
apartments with utilities, and wanted to raise the rent to $30 a month. The
increase was to cover tax increases. “When the government raises taxes,” LeFevre
said, “that’s not a gouge, but when you try to earn money so you can pay your
taxes, that’s a gouge.”
1948, LeFevre went into semi-retirement for one year to study economics and
political philosophy. After discovering that government couldn’t do anything
that people couldn’t do by themselves, he decided to do something. LeFevre
turned to politics believing that the solution was to elect “good” people into
office. He ran for Congress in the 14th Congressional District as a
Republican. Since California at the time permitted cross-fling in primary
elections, LeFevre lost to Democrat Sam Yorty and fellow Republican Jack Hardy.
off to politics, he worked for the United Taxpayers of California until he
landed a job with WQAM in Miami. Later he became the news director for WFTL-TV
in Fort Lauderdale.
1954 he became the editorial writer for the Colorado Springs Gazette which was
part of the Freedom chain newspapers owned by the Hoiles family in Santa Ana, California. A few years later he became its editor.
with the newspaper for 10 years, LeFevre started the Freedom School in 1965, as in his words, “a part time hobby.” The school was located at the base of the
wooded foothills of Colorado's Rampart Range near Larkspur. Colorado. With his
second wife Loy and his four children, they renovated three uninhabitable old
cabins. Eventually, they expanded to 14 dude - ranch - style log buildings with
land was sold in 1966 and the operation moved to downtown Santa Ana, California. Since the move, Rampart College increasingly became the center of the West
Coast libertarian movement. Students operated many of Rampart College's
ventures, which included a newsletter, a large, short-lived magazine named Pine
Tree, seminars, publishing pamphlets and books, and sponsoring conferences
like the Left-Right Festival of Liberation at USC in February, 1970. It
attracted hundreds of dropouts from both the Left and Right, including such
speakers as Karl Hess, Carl Oglesby, Phillip Abbott Luce, Dr. F. A. Harper,
Lowell Ponte, Dr. John Hospers as well as Robert LeFevre. Organized by Dana
Rohrabacher, Shawn Steel, Jean Berkman (Doug Kennell) and others with
assistance from Rampart College, USC Libertarian Conferences are still being
1973 Sy Leon, author of None of the Above, became the new president of
Rampart College. LeFevre retired to write books and publish his quarterly LeFevre's
is the author of This Bread is Mine, The Nature of Man and His
Government, The Philosophy of Ownership, Lift Her Up, Tenderly, and a
small booklet entitled The Libertarian.
Rampart College closed its doors in late 1975.
College worked closely with the California Libertarian Alliance during all of
theUSC Conferences held prior to its closure.
by Prof. Devon Showley
where this remarkable person had been hiding. Bob is a dynamic speaker and
fortunately many of us had a chance to hear him again last month as he spoke at
the libertarian conference (Future of Freedom Conference, 1977) at USC and
again he gave us another really beautiful talk! I would have to use the word
inspirational to describe it.
I never had
the chance myself to be in a class that Bob has taught and that is my loss. I
noticed that among those who have been in his classes, there is some sort of
apotheosis that takes place. You become more than a mere mortal, Bob; so I am
going to have to take a class from you sometime.
I had a chance
to be in Bob’s home a few years ago. I remember two thing about this; one, the
really genuine warmth and hospitality that he and Loy extended to everyone
there. It was beautiful evening. Really beautiful. And another thing I remember
were the books. There were over 10,000 books along the balcony circling the
Bob has a rich
and varied background. He has a skeleton in his closet also. We won’t hold this
against him. I found out last month that he ran for Congress as a Republican
many years ago. But no one is perfect.
Bob is also
sort of minority with our minority libertarian movement. He is an “autarchist.”
I hesitate to use labels but I believe this is the proper word. For those of you
who are not familiar with it, I am sure you will know more about it before the
evening is over.
He has done
television, radio and newspaper work all over the United States. I suppose most
of us have known of him through Rampart College in Santa Ana where he did much
of his educational work. Currently, he is giving one week seminars all over the
country. In fact, he is booked up at least a year in advance. I know that there
is one place where he hasn’t spoken recently and I know he would like to, and
that is right here in Southern California.
I also would
like to mention his new book—The Power of Congress. In addition to his
writing, Bob publishes LeFevre’s Journal. I am sure many of you are
already on his mailing list. The caption on the masthead of LeFevre’s
Journal states that it “is published every quarter approximately in Orange, California. It is not for sale, but it is supplied to those who are dedicated to
human liberty and those who are dedicated make it possible.
GOOD GOVERNMENT: HOPE OR ILLUSION?
By Robert LeFevre
Thank you very much, and good evening ladies and
gentlemen. This is a great pleasure for me.
talking with the distinguished gentleman who just introduced me, he said one of the things he likes about me is that
I have a sense of humor. Gosh, I hope
that holds true tonight! I don't feel particularly humorous. But it may be that
things will be funnier...before I get through.
Anyway, the topic this evening, as I presume you know
from the numerous blurbs that went out about it, is "Good
Government: Hope or Illusion?" It is in that area that I want
to concentrate my remarks.
First of all, I would like to utter a word of warning.
Please, ladies and gentlemen, in my remarks I am seeking a cerebric, and not an
emotive, reaction. What I mean to say is "don't get mad." I am going
to say some things that tend, I suppose, to be a little inflammatory, but I
don't mean to inflame. I mean, instead, to
engender thoughtful consideration. I think this is the prime need today.
We Americans seem to be bent on doing something, but
very few of us are bent on thinking through what needs to be
done. We're a little bit like the famous general who was so
patriotic that when he heard the bugle call he raced from his tent, leaped on his horse and rode off in all
directions. We're a little bit like that. We want to do things, rather
than think them through.
Now I am going to talk about government. And if I do
inspire you to action, make it thoughtful action. Let's think
through what we are going to do first. My
presentation tonight is not intended to get you to march out of here to burn the
Post Office or something of that sort. I hope that is understood.
The second thing I had better do is to define for you
what I mean by "government." The word "government" means so
many different things to so many different people that I am not always sure I'm
being understood when I use the word. So I
want to be sure that we are in communication on this point.
Many people, for example, equate government with almost
any kind of organization. And so, if they hear me say "I
don't think we need any government," they
think they heard me say, "We don't have to organize"—human beings
don't have to organize. Well, that's NOT what I mean.
I think it is a natural thing for human beings to
organize. I think it is true that no one of us
has enough brains or enough time or enough energy to put the pieces together that we have to put together, if we are
going to live and live in relative comfort and happiness in this
troubled world. So I am not at all opposed to organization.
However, there are two kinds of organizations, just as
there as two kinds of human relationships. There are organizations
which are coercive in character and organizations which are
voluntary by character, just as there are relationships
between persons in the same categories. And by the way, those are the
only categories we have.
relationship that you have with another is either a voluntary or a coercive
one. What else is there? That's all there are. So when it comes to
organizations it's the same thing. There are two kinds of organizations:
coercive and voluntary. What else have you got?
1 do not mean for you to relate the word
"government" to organization. And it is my position, of
course, that when it comes to motivating people to perform well that the carrot is always superior to the stick. I think
that when we use coercion to get
something done what tends to happen is that people will do only enough to prevent punishment. However,
when there is a long, and often a
visionary dream of carrots before one, there is almost no limit to what one
will attempt to do in order to increase his supply of carrots. I am using the terms
"carrot" and "stick" with the assumption that you are
familiar with the old cliché and know what I mean.
So the thing I object to about government isn't its
organizational feature. Organization has to be accomplished. It is
the coercive nature of government organization.
My argument is that we can organize better without
coercion. People don't like to be coerced; they resent
being pushed around. And in consequence, they do not perform as well under coercion as they will perform if they
are left alone and inspired, encouraged by an offer of carrots.
Now, in speaking of organizations, I want to get to
specifics. I would like to stipulate that there are three types
of organizations that are basic to our species. We are going to have them
regardless of what government says about
them, and, I might say, government has said all kinds of things down through
the ages about these organizations. These organizations are such that they provide the essential law and order
that we must have. Now let me expand that one before going on.
Many times when 1 use the term "government"
people think that I mean law and order. And so, if they hear me say
"We don't need government," they think
I mean we don't need law and order. Well this is probably what makes me an "autarchist" rather than an anarchist. I
think we need law and order. You see, I am
dedicated to the idea of lawful and orderly procedures. And because of that I have to stand against government.
Because government doesn't provide either law or order, as I am going to show you.
The first and fundamental organization that human beings
put together—and we have done this since human beings
appeared on this planet so far as I know—for
want of a better term. I am going to call "the family." I am not referring
necessarily to the current legally recognized, and often abused, situation which we call monogamy. This particular
arrangement is not what I am talking about: 1 am talking about something
that could be termed "genetic necessity." It just happens that our
species arrived on this planet with two
genders. I have been informed that there may be more, but there are at least the basic two. Now, I don't know if that
is the best design—male and female.
I wasn't consulted. This sexual division was working before I appeared and
we're stuck with it. But I have news
for you. The boys and girls will
get together. You can relax: we are going to have families. Now that is what I mean by a natural non-coercive organization.
There are going to be men and women who voluntarily get together because they
are men and women. We call this "genetic
necessity." It's going to happen people. Relax. Be free. It's going to happen.
I am not suggesting indiscriminate happenings, but boys and girls
will get together.
I might say that at times in the past certain governments
had decreed that certain males in a given territory are
required by law, by what they called law,
to be married to certain women in another area as of a certain year. You know
what has happened in those cases, historically? The men flee the territory. It
isn't that they don't plan to have families. It's that they plan to have their own families: when and with whom they
please. And the government can go fly a kite.
Then there have been times when the government has
declared that people of this particular cast or class cannot
marry at all. What do you think happens?
They get married, when they feel like it with whom they choose. Governments
constantly intrude; they constantly try to tell you that you can do certain
things and that you must not do other things. But when it comes down to genetic
necessity, you know what we do. We thumb our noses at government and do as we please. And we are going to
continue to do that. We have always done it. That's the first type of organization — the
family, based on genetic necessity.
The second type of organization, ladies and gentlemen,
for want of a better term, I am going to call
"business," or "enterprise." Why do we have that? We happen to live on a planet in which all resources are
in scarce supply. There isn't enough to go around. And that
means that for us to have the things we
need so that we can stay alive and stay alive with some degree of happiness and comfort, it takes more than the effort of one
person. We have to get together and put the pieces together so that we can have enough to
eat, clothing to wear, and buildings to
meet in and microphones and all of this nonsense, etc., etc. It takes a putting
together of the resources in the hands of people who organize for this purpose or, quite frankly, we would all
starve to death.
Don't tell me that you can build something like this
(LeFevre picks up the microphone). I don't know whose this is, but,
you know, it is a very delicate, complicated
instrument. You cannot produce it without organization. The people who put this instrument together had to have some
kind of blueprint to follow. They had to draw up all kinds of diagrams,
understand circuitry, build all kinds of
tools. That takes careful planning, careful organization, people of great skills. And I am only talking about one little
item here. There are thousands of things in this room that have been put together the
same way...by human beings volunteering
their skills, their energies, their time to put things together so that all of us can have more and better things.
This is how we stay alive, and this
is how we improve our standard of living. That is what I mean by
Business is certainly something that is carefully
organized. And it is organized under rules which you can call laws,
if you like. For business organization works that way.
I want to buy an automobile, for example, I don't want to buy an automobile
that was put together by haphazard workmen who went to work when they felt like
it and did whatever they felt like doing while they were there. I want to have
an automobile put together under very rigid, quality control specifications so
that when that automobile comes out it will have been engineered to the peak of
efficiency. And if the one I buy isn't, I'm going to scream my head off. I want
one that's good. And. ladies and gentlemen, so do you.
takes organization. It takes people disciplining themselves, learning how to
work together. This is not one of these "Oh, let's just go have some fun
and in the process make a car." You don't do that. You work at it and it's
hard. But then you get something that is worthwhile. That's the second type of
organization. And, ladies and gentlemen, we're going to have that regardless of
government. It's called "the business" and it's based on what can be
called "economic necessity."
don't say that it is necessarily a happy thing. I'm saying it is necessary. Just
as I don't know that the man-woman relationship is always a happy thing. It's
necessary. These are the grim facts that face us on this particular planet
before the STAR WARS take over.
so these are two of the basic organizations that we are going to have.
Incidentally, government has gotten into the act on business. Well, you know
that! But I mean in another way. Sometimes government has issued orders and
even helped finance certain types of businesses which they wanted to encourage.
You know what happens when they do that? Investors try to find some other place
to put their money. If the government favors it, investors will be certain it's
then sometimes the government comes out and says "We forbid you to produce
this." You know what we do? We produce it anyway. We call it a "Black
Market." A black market is just a free market driven underground by some
silly regulation put out by a bureaucrat somewhere. That's all it is. Of
course, we call it a criminal act because the government doesn't know the
difference between a criminal and a free man. Both of them confuse the people
then there is a third type of
organization that arises out of the nature of man and the nature of the world
in which we live. This third type is probably not as well known as the others.
We are only today beginning to study it in depth. This organization, for want
of a better name, I would like to call "the fraternity" or "the
sorority," "the brotherhood," or "the club," if you'll
pardon the term. What I am getting at is this. Human beings by their nature are
fundamentally communicative creatures. Perhaps you haven't thought about that
the moment of your birth and all through your life you are going to be engaged
in an almost frantic effort to communicate with other people the unique fact of
your own individual existence. There is no one else quite like you. You are
unique. And you are very eager to let others know about that. It's fundamental
with us; with every one of us. In consequence, we human beings have developed a
vocal language. No, we have developed hundreds of vocal languages. We have
written languages. We have a language of facial expression. We have a language
of gesture. We have what we now call “body language” which we are only
beginning to understand. Our posture, our stance, the things we wear, the
places we go, the people we associate with—we employ all of these to constantly
scream, "Look at me! I'm unique. Here I am! I exist in this one place in
the universe and that's me!"
is the result of this behavior? The result of this, ladies and gentlemen, is
that I want to talk to people I can reach with whatever communicative talents I
may have. How do I do that? In this world there are literally thousands of
things that take our attention. And the consequence is, I find, that there are
people who get together, for example, because they want to communicate about,
say, yachting. So we have yacht clubs. And people like to communicate with
others of similar interest. "Hey, look at me! I'm a yacht captain! I own a
yacht." They want to talk to other people who have yachts because they
have "yachts and yachts to talk about." Terrible! But it's what
happens to me because my philosophy makes me happy.
will be people who get together to organize the Boy Scouts or the Girl Scouts
or the Women's Sewing Circle or the Chowder and Marching Society, if you like
chowder and like to march, or they will even organize a libertarian club or
some other thing. Why? Because these are people who communicate with you in the
areas of your interest. How are these groups organized? Well, when you organize
these clubs, many are organized under a charter—a constitution—if you'll pardon
the expression, and many have by-laws. It's all spelled out. The dues are so
much a month, a year, or whatever. It's all very carefully set down.
ladies and gentlemen, it's still a voluntary organization: nobody has to join
it. You are not compelled to get in. And if you're in and you don't like it,
you are not compelled to stay in. You can get out.
what do we have? We have three basic types of organization: the family, the
business, and the fraternity. Each is strictly voluntary. You get into them
because you like them. You move into them, in other words, because there are
plus factors in it for you. If you find that the plus factors you anticipated
aren't there, then you leave. And it's up to you whether you stay or not.
here's the interesting point. You and I spend about 98 percent of our time, our
waking time, in the family, the business, or the fraternity. What else do we
have? That's where we live. That's it. Aside from these, you're driving
GOVERNMENT: BAD AND WORSE
Now, what do you want a government for, a coercive one, when here
are by-laws, rules, constitutions? We have everything arranged beautifully so
everything fits together in an orderly fashion and it's all voluntary. It
works beautifully. That's where we live.
ladies and gentlemen, when I say I don't think we need government, I hope
you'll understand I'm not saying, "We don't need law and order." Of
course we need law and order! I have to explain that a little more, because
some of you are still looking a little doubtful. People, government doesn't
provide law and order.
is always a derivative of reality. Reality binds us; that's law. Our job is to
discover reality. We don't create reality; we discover it. You know we
learn something is real? You kick it and it kicks back. Then you know. “Hey, that's a brick wall." You run into
something, and it's real. Its reality is impressed upon you one way or another. That's what life is about:
learning about reality. That's where law comes from.
Ladies and gentlemen, law leads to order. In
the same way, for example, here is the law of having a meeting. It's not
because I have anything to say about it, but because you cannot have a meeting
unless you fulfill two requirements. You
have to have an agreed upon time and place. Try to have a meeting sometime if
you don't have a place to meet in or a time at which to meet.
So, that's the law of having a meeting. We
didn't ask Congress to enact that. You
don't enact those things; they just exist. We deal with reality. We have to. Well, then what does government do? Ladies and gentlemen,
the government deals with legislation. That is not the same
as law. What is legislation? It is the
opinions, the subjective judgments, if you'll please, of a handful of people who write down what they want other people to do. That's
law? Come on! What has that got to do with reality? I mean
some of these may be nice people. But they are putting down
in writing, "I want those people over there to behave as I wish them
Let's be entirely fair. The people in
government are at least as intelligent as
we are. Though, one sometimes marvels. But let's give them the benefit of the
doubt: they were human once. But, these people at least should be able to detect
reality, let's say, as well as we can. Therefore, it is entirely possible that legislators could write a piece of
legislation completely in harmony with reality. They could pass legislation
which says, "We now make it law number...special law 21-12, (whatever),
that all people in California wishing to have a meeting will have to first
announce the time and place. That could be done. Such legislation could be passed. But, may I point out the obvious? This
is a redundancy. You don't have to
enact legislation to compel people to do what they're going to do
All right, what other kind of legislation
can be enacted? Ladies and gentlemen,
the only other kind is legislation that is contrary or other than natural law. It's either in harmony with reality or it's out of
harmony with reality. What else is
there? That's all there are. Things either correspond to reality or they
Reality binds us. So what can the legislators do? They
can enact legislation that corresponds to reality, which is a redundancy, a
foolish expense. We are already bound. We don't need it. The only other kind of
legislation possible would be contrary to reality. And that would be positively
So what do we have? You have two kinds of government—wasteful,
redundant, unnecessary, which I would have to
classify as bad. And then you have the other kind that is vicious. And that's
worse. So we have two kinds of government: BAD and WORSE. What else is there?
Nothing. It comes down to bad or worse.
FRUSTRATION AND DISORDER
what happens about order when government appears? The real reason for having a business, a family, or a
fraternity is to engender orderly processes
so we can work together in harmony towards mutually acceptable objectives.
We put the things together so that will happen. It happens; it works for us.
That’s order. Now, what happens when government, as I am describing
it, gets into the act with some of its legislative fiats? What happens when we
are forced to do something we wouldn't do unless forced, or we are prevented by
force from doing what we normally would do?
ladies and gentlemen, I think psychiatry and psychology have reached a
consensus in this area. That's unusual in itself, and should be noted. But the
fact is that any person who is engaged in a perfectly proper pursuit and who
knows within his own heart and mind that he is doing a perfectly proper thing
suddenly confronts a bully who says to him, "I'm not going to let you do
what you're doing: you are going to do what I want you to do, and I am not
going to let you keep the money you earned. That's my money. You are only good
enough to earn it; I know how to spend it better than you do." And when
this force interferes with you, you experience what is called
"frustration." That's the technical term. You're mad as hell. But to
express it politely, you're frustrated.
does frustration do? Well, when you are frustrated by someone larger than you
are, and you cannot strike back at him, you sort of bottle up your feelings.
This creature has made you furious, but he is too big to attack. You know,
you're facing King Kong. So, what do you do? You're pushed down, repressed, but
you're seething inside. You don't like it. But this process repeats: it goes
on. Again and again you find yourself frustrated. You get a job. Why? So that
you can earn some money. Why? So that you can buy some of the things that you
need to stay alive. You begin to have plans, dreams, things you want to
achieve. And here is a 600-pound gorilla standing on your front doorstep telling you what you can and cannot do. You
how it works. I'll just give you a quick and very graphic illustration. A man
goes to work, a nice fellow. He feels good: he had a nice weekend. He starts
doing his job, whatever it is. The boss comes in. And for no reason that this
fellow can observe, the boss bawls him out. Maybe the boss had a bad weekend,
whatever. This young fellow now experiences frustration. Of course he could
tell the boss off, but he would probably lose his job. So he doesn't tell the
boss off; he just sits there and takes it. Okay. The minute the boss's back is
turned this fellow is seething and the emotional upheaval goes on until
somebody comes in that has less authority than be has. He jumps him. He gets it
out of his system and lays it on the next fellow. Well, he, too, has no
recourse but to bottle it up. And finally when he goes home he walks in and
there is his wife. She's smaller than he is. So he lights into her. And tells
her what's what. And, you know, she doesn't want to get knocked down, so she
bottles it up. But the kid comes in, so she lays it on the kid. And what can he
do? He waits until the dog shows up and he kicks the dog. The dog yelps, runs
down the street and bites the boss who lives in the next block. And that ties
have a self-perpetuating mechanism that continues to feed on itself until all
of us get increasingly angry and distressed at what the government is doing. We
feel absolutely helpless and shut out. And we don't know what we can do. That's
one of the reasons why I cautioned you at the outset; please don't be angry.
Our job is to think the problem through and to see what we can do about it. But
let's think it through first. For tonight we are going to think. Later if you
want to do something: that's something else again.
I wanted you to understand. When I am talking about government, I’m not talking about law and order. I think we need law and
order. I think we get law and order out of our voluntary
organizations. I am now ready to define government
for you. 1 would like to give you my definition.
Government is "a group of people who sell
retributive justice to the inhabitants of a limited geographic area at
monopolistic prices." I think you will
find that's quite precise. I'll repeat it; some of you are taking it down. Government is "a group of people who sell
retributive justice to the inhabitants of a limited
geographic area at monopolistic prices."
Now. I want to give you the definition of politics,
because politics is the thing that makes the government work.
Politics is a method—some call it a science—some
call it an art. It's neither one nor the other.
It's a methodology. Politics is
"the method employed in power structures by means of which a monopoly of coercion can be obtained and
maintained." That's power. Now that
means that the government I'm talking about is a group of people who sell retributive justice to the inhabitants of a
limited geographic area through the method of getting and keeping a monopoly of
coercion. That's what I'm talking
about. And that's what we can do without in the interest of law and order.
Now, where did we ever get the idea that there is such a
thing as "good government?" That is a contradiction in
terms as ridiculous as "constructive rape."
There is no such thing. So what we want to do is to take a look at government
to see what it is, where it came from and how it got started. Oh, and this, also. I run into this so many times. People tell me one of the
great privileges we have in choosing is choosing our own form of government. Of
course, anybody who wants to can
choose a government. There is nothing wrong with a person having a government.
There is nothing wrong with a person having a government if he wants
just going to put this to you. I am
going to suggest that there isn't anybody
in this room; there isn't anybody in this city; there isn't anybody in this
state, in this nation, or in the world who
has ever selected a government over
him. Never! Now if you think I'm wrong, let me show you how easy it would
be to have a government. I could go up to my good friend who introduced me and say, "Sir, I hereby appoint you
as my government. I grant you the power to take whatever part of my earnings
that you think you ought to have
taken from me. I furnish you with a gun so that, if I resist, you can get it by force. If you feel that I'm hiding something in my house, you can kick my door down and come in and take it. If you think my
wife is interfering, arrest her. Do
whatever you please because I'm choosing you as my government." I can do that, if I can find someone who will
agree to these terms and conditions.
That would be setting up a government of my choice. Have
you ever done that? Can you think of anybody in his right mind ever having done
that? Do you think anybody ever did it? People, you have been told that this
happened in this country. That your forebears got
together and did it. That is utter, unmitigated, uncollected garbage. It simply
isn't true. It never happened. I am
sorry if this is offending anybody. I don't mean to offend. I don't mean to make you angry. But, it is ridiculous. I wish I had time
to get into it more fully.
Do you know how governments are established? I have made
a list of the things that happen. Number one is by direct force and violence.
That is basic. Governments all use force directly or indirectly, because
governments employ politics and rely on a
monopoly of coercion. So force is always there. Another procedure that some governments employ is that they convince a significant number of people in the territory
over which they propose to rule that God has willed it. Therefore they
are carrying out the orders from on high.
That's a very persuasive argument. Very few people want
to defy God. And if you can, convince a significant number of
people that God is behind you, you can become a God in their eyes.
there is another method that is used.
The argument is, that although when I'm your government I'm going to kick in your door, steal your property, abuse your friends and
relatives, and take your money, if
you don't let me do it, there is a guy bigger than I am on the other side of the hills. And he'll hurt you
worse! So you had better take it from
me because I'm a nice fellow. This argument is called the lesser of two evils.
Next you are told that your ancestors approved of
government. You weren't around. But your ancestors did it and
because your ancestors did it, you are
stuck with it. You leave no recourse but to do as your ancestors wanted you
to do. That's a very interesting point of view.
And then, of course, this one is often heard. No matter
how bad the government is, it's better than not having one.
Because if you didn't have a government,
you would have chaos. Now we are back to a point I have already tried to
remove. The government doesn't provide law and order. It never did. It simply
provides frustrations leading to disorder, legislation and so on.
And then we have this approach; the supposition that once
you have a government your neighbors will be able to support you above and
beyond your ability or willingness to support yourself. Government is endorsed
for that reason.
And finally it is believed that the government will not
do to you what you confidently want it to do to your neighbor.
are the reasons that you justify government and ask it to exist.
Now, when we got started with our noble experiments here
in this country a number of years ago, we had been following the example of Great Britain to a large degree. And Great Britain, of course,
had produced a government that was originally an unlimited monarchy. The king
was at the top of the structure. And everybody else was down below. The king
had total, unbridled power.
Now, of course, all government is pyramidal in shape.
There will be somebody at the top and everybody else will be less high in the
Let me put this down. The first prerequisite, if you are
going to have a government de facto, (That's the only kind
that interests me; one that works. I'm not interested in
governmental theories or all the various niceties frequently discussed.) is a ruler—someone at the top. Absolutely essential.
And I don't know of anyone who said
it better than Harry Truman. He said, "The buck stops here."
There has to be somebody at that desk where the buck stops. That's the way governments work. This is the rule when it comes
to making decisions. Somebody has to make the ultimate decision. And the fellow sitting at the top in a government, and I
mean at the top, well, the buck can't go past him. He's at the apex. You
have to have somebody in that position.
There has always been a certain belief fostered in this
country that the way we arranged our government prevented having a
man at the top as a ruler. I am going to deal with that so hang in
there. I'll be at that point in a few minutes.
What happened, of course, back in the early days when we
first began to have monarchs, the king was usually a nice
young fellow. So we put him at the apex
of the triangle and gave him power. We cheered him and the energy of our support revved up and became power in use. Once that
topmost position was occupied by the ruler, then he began to
crack the whip and power flowed from
the top down. We put the king in an exalted position, but he was a nice fellow when we put him there. Then he began to rule. And
he said, "I want her arrested. I want
him eaten." And various other orders were given. And we carried out his
wishes. Presently, we begin to say, "What happened to our king? You know, when we put him up there he was a nice
guy. But now, he's hurting us." And we begin to conspire
against him. And pretty soon we do one of
two things. We either endured it until he died or we got rid of him one way or another. Sometimes we chased him off his throne and
sometimes we killed him before he could get out the door. But we
got rid of him. In the meantime we
placed another fellow in the wings because he has already assured us by saying, "I'm going to be a good king." We
believed it. So we crowned him and relaxed and we said,
"Now we have a good king."
Then the new king gets this power, you see. And he begins
saying, "Pass this law...Arrest this fellow... Do this." And we
finally say, "What happened to him?" So we get
rid of him and get another king.
Age after age we did this with monarchs. When the monarch
first was crowned we loved him. Then he began acting
as a person would act if his mother barked.
And finally we said, "Ah, the problem is not the man, the problem is the
structure. We built it wrong. We shouldn't put anybody at the top. No one man has enough brains or wisdom to handle
that accumulation of power." So we built an oligarchy.
An oligarchy means rule by a few. We would elect or
appoint or shake dice for oligarchs. You get a bunch of anywhere
from 3 to 60, you know, depending on the population you are
trying to placate.
Then you put the bunch up there. And you say the beauty
of this is that no one man will have all power. Everybody at that level has the
same power as every other person. The first thing that
happens when you get an oligarchy is that when they meet, one
of them is chosen as chairman.
You have to have order. It's a necessity. The chairman
picks up the gavel. The minute he picks up the gavel a little
pimple of power forms over him. And as he uses the gavel, the power intensifies
and the pimple becomes a boil. And he
keeps on using it and the boil enlarges and becomes a carbuncle. And then you're
back where you started, with one man as a ruler.
As a matter of fact, this has happened with every
oligarchy we ever had. Every oligarchy has converted into one-man rule sooner
or later, most of them into direct dictatorship. This is not because of the nature
of man. It's because of the nature of the political method in structures of the
type I am talking about. We have played
around with this and the result was exactly the same as when we had a monarch—the accumulation of power in the hands of
the man on the top, with power
rolling down to oppress, intimidate, terrify and kill. Finally we say, "Oligarchy is no good. Let's get rid of
that. Let's get something closer to
the base." And we invented democracies and republics. And those are theoretically awfully cute things.
Because the idea is that the people
at the base are going to elect people at the next line and so on up the ladder; each stratum gets together and elects
people at the next level and so on
up, until you ascend into heaven. And then, of course, when you arrive at the
top, you have a man who does the same thing again.
THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE
Now when we came to the American experience, we said we
wanted to avoid the errors of other democracies and
republics. We were inspired by the British experience. Britain, as I mentioned earlier, had had an unlimited monarchy.
And prior to the landings at Plymouth and Jamestown and so on, they had
created a parliament. And the parliament, in effect, provided a second branch of government. They had the
parliament, but they also had the king.
The British thought they were on the right track because
when they went into the throne room and said, "Your
majesty, how would you like to have a parliament
over here that can check your actions?" And he said, "I don't like it at all." And they said, "We're on the right
track." And then they went over and
talked to parliament and said. "How would you like it if every time you do
something you still would have to get the king's approval?"
They said, "That's terrible. We know
enough to run the show." So they said, "Well, at last we are doing the right thing. Because now
these two areas will check each other.
And that will prevent the growth of this colossal structure with somebody
When we got started in this country, we were inspired by
the British experience. And we said, "If two points
at the top are good, three would be better."
So we decided to have an oligarchy of branches—executive, legislative and judicial. And each one, theoretically, would
have the same power, and in consequence, we would have a limited government.
And of course, whenever you ask these people, you say to the
President, "What do you think of
having Congress pass laws and the Supreme Court ruling on constitutionality?"
The President would say, "That's terrible. I cannot run the country with my hands tied." Then you go to the
legislative branch and ask them and they
are always upset about the President and the Supreme Court. And you go to the Supreme Court, and you experience their
dissatisfaction. So Americans rejoiced and said, "We've got a
triple deal here, where each branch checks the other."
Do you know what has happened? I know you do.
picks up a book.)
I showed this down at USC a month ago, and I thought
maybe you people would like to see it, too. This is the
current issue of the "U.S. Government Organizational
Manual." Government gets this out every year, and this is the latest
In this single volume the federal government lists all of
its functions. I want you to see what's in the volume. This is your government.
That's what it says. The Constitution of the United States is here in the first
part, together with the Amendments to date and a chart. See, they have a chart.
Then we go over here to what is called the
"legislative branch," starting on page
25. Here is a listing of the officers of the Senate and the House, and a very well
written description of how these two bodies function. Here are the charts. They always have charts. Then we have the
"standing committees." See, they have the chairman of the standing
committees. The chairman sits and the standing committee stands. Then we
have the various standing committees explained.
we have the names of the Senators identified by name, state and party
affiliation. They're all here; by name, state and party affiliation. They're all here; this is current. Next we have
the Representatives, byname, state, party
and election district...all listed. And, of course, there are a lot of these.
You have no idea how many salaries you pay. But here they are. Several pages of
we come to the architect of the Capitol. I know you are relieved to know that we have one. The architect of the
Capitol, by the way his name is George
M. White, is a bureau under the legislative branch. The architect reports
directly to the legislature. And his job is to act as the agent of Congress in looking at the government buildings in
Washington. That is what he docs; he looks at the buildings.
Here's the United States Botanic Garden. That is another
bureau under the legislature and the fellow heading that is George M. White. He's
not a botanist, but he's an awfully nice
fellow. This is called consolidation. We're reducing the size of government. And his function is to look at the
gardens. So the same man does both
now: he looks at the buildings and he looks at the gardens, and it's all
Next we have the General Accounting Office. Listed are
the chief accountants and a description of how the office
works, and the charts and the descriptions continue. This is also a
legislative function, as you can see.
And here we have the Government Printing Office. This is
under the legislature. The names of the printers and how
they work and a chart—the whole bit.
Then comes the Library of Congress, obviously
Congressional, under the legislative branch, the names of the librarians; and here's the
chart. It's all spelled out. Very carefully written.
Costs Accounting Standards Board. This is a new one.
They just got it, and they are now accounting for the standards.
Here it is. (LeFevre points to that section
in the book.) And here is the index. It's so new it hasn't grown much. Just
a few inches.
And here is the Office of Technology Assessment, which
was born big! It's new, but it's quite big to start with.
And here's the Congressional Budget Office. And that's
brand new. And that does it.
Ladies and Gentlemen, to list all of the people in the
legislative branch and to describe all they do, including every Senator and Congressman
in the United States, it takes from page 25 to page 63, including the
charts. This much of the book is devoted to the legislative branch.
Now we come to the judicial branch: the Supreme Court of
the United States, with the names of the members and
officers and a description of what they do. The lower courts
are described. The judicial circuits are listed. (LeFevre pointing to a part of the book...) This is the Federal
Appellate Court with the names of
the judges and even their addresses. They haven't got their phone
numbers, but they're all listed here so you can find them. Special courts are
described, as is the United States Customs Court. This is described. And here's the Administrative Office of
the United States Courts and the Federal Judicial Center, which is brand new. That terminates the judicial section. It takes from page 67 to page 79 to list all of the people and describe all of the
functions of the judicial branch.
(LeFevre fans hundreds of pages of the book in front of
the audience.) As you see, this is called a "limited government of checks
and balances." What happened? The Executive Branch runs from page
83 to page 662. What happened is exactly what happened before.
We built this kind of structure, and we put three of
these things on it. (LeFevre draws three closely fitted pyramids together on a
blackboard and draws the middle pyramid larger and larger until it engulfs the
two small pyramids.) And we said they will
check each other. The result was that one of them got bigger and bigger and bigger, and you're back where you
started. Why? Because, ladies and
gentlemen, there is no such thing as "limited government," anymore than there is such a
thing as "good government." That's impossible.
Now I doubt if anybody in his right mind would favor
unlimited government. But when you favor government, that's
what you're doing. Because government, by
its very nature, is unlimited. You favor tyranny when you favor government; though you don't know it. This is why I am
constantly staggered by those who say they are libertarian and are trying to set up
their own particular way of providing a
"good government." It is a contradiction in terms. To say "unlimited
government" is a redundancy and to say "limited government" is a contradiction. All you have
to say is "government." And that takes care of the whole
Ladies and gentlemen, with the passing of time, as
historians begin writing what has transpired in our own time, we'll
perhaps begin to learn that the entire
Watergate episode that we are still on the fringes of, was probably little
more than a power struggle in Washington—a
struggle between the executive branch,
the legislative, and the judicial branches. Certainly, you people unsophisticated enough to know that this is not the
first time that someone in high office has been caught with his hand in
the cookie jar.
We have had corruption in government since government
started. In fact, I have often felt that the best administration we had was
George Washington's. That, too, was corrupted, and it has been downhill since.
But I wanted you to grasp the point that you can't have a
government without a ruler. However you
try to design the government, it's going to end up with a man at the top. Now he may not be the chief executive; he could be the
chief justice. He could be the prime minister. He could be the
chairman of the central committee. You
can call him anything you wish. But if you are going to have a government
de facto, you have to have a ruler.
SANCTION OF THE VICTIM
ladies and gentlemen, let's take the next point. To have a government de facto,
there must be more than a ruler. In addition, you have to obtain a very special
reaction which I am going to give by its exact name. It is called “sanction."
But it is a particular type of sanction. I am indebted to Ayn Rand for the
phrase. She didn't use it quite as I am going to, but she said it better than I
could have. She said it is "the sanction of the victim." And I want
to make that point.
before dealing with the sanction of the victim, let me sketch out a few of the
characteristics that accompany all rulers sooner or later.
a person decides that he wishes to be a ruler, he develops certain
psychological trails. In a few cases in history, ladies and gentlemen, we have
had a man suddenly thrust into a position of rulership to which he did not
aspire. When it happens, the same thing occurs, but there is a little lapse of
time before you can detect it. But all rulers and would-be rulers have the same
traits sooner or later.
they develop, first of all, is an enormous self-confidence. They believe they are right. They believe that
their opinions are objectively right. Their view is "The View." If
you differ, you are in error. I might say, many of us have this characteristic
to some degree. Most of us, by the time we get past the age of twelve or
thirteen, are pretty sure we know what's what. So we all have that characteristic,
but there is a very peculiar thing that happens to the psychology of the
would-be ruler. Whereas most of us might feel very confident about the validity
of our opinions, we also have a mediating feeling of weakness. Most of us find
ourselves to consist of a bundle of good points and bad points, but we do
detect failings in certain places. And if we are thinking as ordinary people,
we usually find that, while we think that we are right, we also feel that
somehow we don't have the ability of
convincing others of just how right we are. And that we feel inadequate while
also feeling confident. This keeps us in balance.
if you are a ruler or a would-be ruler, when you should have the feeling of
inadequacy, you don't. What you have is a feeling that the reason you can't
convince the other party is his fault, not yours. You're right, and he's wrong.
He's not only wrong, but he's stupid. Because your position is absolutely right
and he should see it. It's not your fault that you cannot explain it. It's his
fault because he doesn't grasp it.
leads to a very interesting phenomenon called sublimation. The ruler buries his
feelings of inadequacy. He can't admit it, even to himself. This leads the
ruler into a position where he attains what could be called "self-righteousness."
If you don't agree with him, then he is justified in doing whatever is
necessary to bring you into line. If
he has to tax you, that's all right. If he has to fine you, that's all right. If he has to put you on
the rack and torture you or whatever, it's quite all right.
ruler is self-righteous. He has to be. The consequence is that he can order a
country into war, plunge it into a
series of atrocities, command assassinations, mayhem and destruction. Then he
can go to bed and sleep like a baby with a clear conscience. Because he's
right. And in the end the evil he does will all add up to good. So this is the
characteristic that you find in rulers, sooner or later.
We had a case here in the United States, where a fellow
became our top man and he had never planned on it. You know, the
mantle was dropped on him. He never quite
recovered. And you could see for the first few months that he (President Ford) was a little stunned by what had happened. But then the gleam began to appear in the eye. You have
witnessed it. Anyway, that's the characteristic of the ruler: self-righteousness.
Let's return to the point I left in mid-air. You have to
have sanction of the victim, as well as a ruler. And the sanction
of the victim, ladies and gentlemen,
is this: the government must have the approval of an enormous section of the entire population. I don't care what kind of
government it is—democracy, dictatorship, anything at all—it
doesn't matter. Obviously, any ruler or
would-be ruler can get a following by promising goodies to people. He can say,
"If you back me, I'll let you eat at my table, and there will always be
crumbs that I can provide for my loyal followers." So people will line up behind him, and you have that type of sanction—the
sanction or approval of those who are joyfully following this particular
But that won't give you a government. All that provides
is a faction. Government is a very peculiar hybrid that not only has to have
the approval of those who favor it, but also it has to win the approval of those who
know the government is going to
injure them. And they have to approve even their own injury. That's what
is meant by "sanction of the victim."
You know you're going to be victimized, but you approve
anyway. That's the hat trick. Until a government is able to win sanction of the
victim, it cannot stand; because a
government is more than just power alone. Power alone is the military
and the military can always conquer, but conquering isn't the same as ruling. The government has to be able to win the
sanction of the very people the government proposes to shaft.
THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS
There are two tried and true methods which are employed
to obtain sanction of the victim. I won't have to go into
one of them in depth because I know you're
familiar with it. It is the most widely used in this country. It is called "The Lesser of Two Evils." I have already
mentioned it as one of the ways in which
a government is established. In this country we have two major political parties, and we always have champions from both. Then
each candidate will tell you that the other fellow is worse than he is. And you
weigh the relative damage that is going to come from
each, and you vote for the lesser of
the evils. This is the way it is done, and I am sure you're aware of it. You've
This last time, this last presidential election, was
probably not as good an illustration as we sometimes have had, by
reason of the fact that Mr. Ford was
not too well known, really, except you knew he was there. You couldn't get angry with him. I mean, we had a man who couldn't go
down the stairs without difficulty. I mean, he was a nice
fellow. Opposing him was a fellow from
a peanut farm that you don't know anything about. And you can't really get angry with him either. So actually the race was
close. And it just happened that the people who looked at Ford
versus Carter (more of them, and only
under, I think, two million was the differential) said, "Well, we pretty well
know what Ford is going to do, but we aren't quite sure what Carter is going to
do. After all, what could a guy from Georgia do?" And so they voted for
Carter a little bit more than they did for Ford.
you want a good example of the very thing I am talking about, go back to the
prior election when Nixon went in by a landslide. Now, you know, the American
public has never been enthusiastic about Mr. Nixon, but they voted for him
overwhelmingly. Why did they do that? Well, you know why — a fellow named
McGovern. In fact, Nixon didn't campaign; he didn't have to. He stayed in Washington. McGovern did the campaigning. Every time McGovern opened his mouth, he got
votes for Nixon. Greatest ploy that Nixon could have had. In fact, Nixon was
putting money into the McGovern campaign to keep McGovern from going down the
tubes. It wasn't that people liked Nixon, but... "McGovern"...
"Oh, not McGovern"... "Anybody but McGovern." This is how
Nixon got the votes. This is the lesser of two evils, as we see it
don't know if this has occurred to you. We employ the same technique
internationally. You may not have thought of that. But, ladies and gentlemen,
the greatest asset that the American government has had for years has been the
Russian government. Oh, yes. If, at
any time, the American public stood up and acted a little bit independent, you
know what happened? An American politician would say. "Now wait just a
minute. If it weren't for us, the Russians would come in and they would impose
communism on you. And do you know what would happen? When they imposed
communism, you would be forced to work where they told you to, at a wage that
they would decide, and you'd be drafted into their armies. And if you
disobeyed, you'd be tried and sent lo their
prisons. Anything could happen. So, support us and we'll tell you where to work
and what you are going to earn and draft you into our armies. And if you
disobey, we'll try you or we'll send you to jail or whatever, but it is better
to be shafted by an American than a Russian."
while we are doing that, the same thing is happening over in Russia. Brezhnev
or Kosygin or whomever stands up and says. "Ah, do you hear those
warmongering capitalists in America? You better not get fresh with us. We are
Mother Russia. You support us because if it weren't for us, the American
imperialists would be over here and they would impose capitalism on you. And
you know what would happen? The big corporations would tell you where to work,
and they would tell you how much you could earn, and they would compel you to
do as they said. And they would draft you into their armies, and they would arrest you if you disobeyed, and
punish you, and might even shoot you, so do as we say and we'll protect you
from these capitalists." And the Russians say "Da, da. Don't let the
Americans come in. That would be terrible. If we gel shafted, let it be a
the two leaders put in a telephone system and talk to each other about the
weather because they are in the same club.
back in history. It takes a powerful foe to build a powerful nation. Rome might never have attained its greatness had
it not been for Carthage. Carthage posed a threat, the Romans were told.
England might not have attained its greatness had it not been for Spain and,
later, France. You have to have the opposition scare your people. Show them
that, "If you don't take me, there's a guy nine-feet high coming over the
hill, and he's going to do it to you worse than I will. So I'm going to do it
to you, but I am your friend." That is the lesser of two evils.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
there is "divide and conquer." And if you don't quite see the application
here, let us just briefly show it to you. The man who explained it better than
anyone else, if you want to look it up, is a guy named Julius Caesar. You can
read about it if you want to, but let me explain it briefly.
the government uses "divide and conquer," it sows suspicion so that
the people who would naturally tend to affiliate will distrust each other.
Thus, they don't affiliate. The consequence is that everyone distrusts his
neighbor. But everyone trusts the government. Let me just act it out for a
moment to tell you what 1 mean.
set up a government, and we elect somebody who now says, "I am your
representative." I don't care what level of government he is from. He goes
before a group of people such as this, and he says, "I represent everybody
in this district. Do you people in this district have any problems? I'm in Washington (or wherever) to help. What problems do you have?"
that he gets in front of some people who have a water shortage. They will
immediately say to him. "We've got to do something; we have a water
shortage." And he will listen to everything they say, and he will respond.
"You know, you're right. I can see your point. It's a good thing I
represent you. I'm going to go back to Washington and see what I can do to get
some legislation passed in your favor to make it rain or whatever has to be
done." Now this same man or another and, people, it doesn't really matter
— "Republican," "Democrat,"... whatever—it doesn't matter,
the face of a politician has no features. It's like an ad for Dristan."
Nothing is there. (The advertisement for Dristan on television shows a human
face without features.)
this fellow stands in front of a group of people who happen to have a supply of
water. And he says, "Do you people have any problems?" They say.
"Do we ever. We're drowning." He says. "It's a good thing I came
because I can see your problem, and I am going to go to Washington to see if I
can enact some legislation to save your lives." They relax and say,
"It's a good thing we have someone to represent us because we don't trust
those people who want our water." And the people who want the water don't
trust the people who have the water. And what happens? Now you have a schism.
But both sides trust the government to solve the problem.
a quick look at what has happened to American society. In this country the
workers do not trust the businessman; managers don't trust workers; and workers
don't trust managers. There is a rift between them as wide as the Grand Canyon, which is absurd in itself, since both are on the same side serving customers.
But there is a rift.
sides look to Washington to solve the problem. Each faction believes Washington is going to pass legislation in its favor. Washington is its friend. The rich
don't trust the poor, the poor don't trust the rich. But both look to Washington to solve the problem. The South doesn't trust the North.North doesn't trust the South. But
they both look to Washington to solve the problem.
The Blacks don't trust the Whites. The Whites don't trust the Blacks. But both look to Washington to solve the
problem. The Chicanos don't trust
the Blacks. The Blacks don't trust the Chicanos. The Chicanos don't trust
the Whites. The Whites don't trust the Chicanos. But they all look to Washington
to solve the problem. The people who wear long hair don't trust those with short hair, and those with short hair
don't trust those with long hair. But Washington will take care of
We've even gotten to the place where the men don't trust
the women. The women don't trust the men. But Washington is going to take care
of that one, too. The kids don't trust their parents. The
parents don't trust their kids. We have
a nation that has been smashed into a thousand shards of what were once a
single great people. And this is the method called "divide
and conquer." We are suspicious of everybody in our block, but "Big Daddy"
will look after us. He has a Band-Aid to fit. And will take care of any of your problems and whatever you need. That's all that is needed to
destroy a people... to conquer…to make them abject and subservient.
That's "divide and conquer."
We have used both of these methods in this country. So
we have a ruler and the sanction of the victim. These are the two most important
Let me point out one enormously important factor. This
particular area is the government's Achilles' heel because, my dear friends,
government cannot take sanction from you by force. That is
impossible. The government can take your money:
the government can take your property: it could even take your life—all
of those are actions of force. But the government cannot take your sanction. That you have to give. But please
realize, the government cannot stand
without your sanction. You have a handle on the problem, if you care to use it.
You can withdraw your sanction. And you can do it peacefully. You can do it effectively. That doesn't mean
running for Congress, as I did once.
I had that idea once. The reason I am speaking as positively as I am here is because I had all the characteristics that I've described. I was going
to get into government and straighten
you all out. I was going to do it for your own good...if I had to kill you to do it. Certainly, I know. I've been there.
of the victim gives you the whip hand.
POINT OF CONTACT
me offer one other idea.
There must be a "point of contact" between ruler
and ruled, if you're going to have a
government de facto. That is, a point where physical imposition is exerted by the government upon the governed. One of the
great myths that we have is the belief that you and I are the
government. Now, you and I are not the
government. You and I are the "governed." The government is up here.
(LeFevre points to the top of the pyramid drawn on the blackboard directly behind him.) And you and I are down here. (LeFevre points
to the base of the pyramid.)
What has happened in this case is that by virtue of the
democratic process, you have been conned into believing that
voting means you're running the show.
You're not. If you doubt that, you can prove it to yourself tonight. Go out of here to the nearest phone and call Mr. Carter and tell
him you don't want any government benefits this year and you are not going to pay any
taxes. You have decided not to patronize the
goods and services of the government. And you would like him to take his sticky
fingers out of your pocket. Then let me
know what cell you're in so I can send you a postcard. You are not running anything,
though you may have been told you are.
The system we have is essentially analogous to this.
Imagine a penitentiary in which quadrennially the inmates elect their warden. That
doesn't mean they're running the jail. They never get out of their cells.
Now, for a contact point to exist, the government has to
perform a public act that is recognized by the people as
being a kingly act. It ties back to this. The
government has to establish publicly that it can obtain obedience. Let me see
if I can make it clearer.
Today, the government concentrates in the field of
taxation. Taking your money isn't absolutely essential. But, making you obey
is. The government today has a monopoly in the field of money
and credit. I know many people imagine that they could control the government
if they didn't pay their taxes. My
dear people, the government could declare all the money presently in circulation to be null and void and issue a new
currency. You need your money, but the government needs your sanction; they are not the
same. Because you and I need our money we
often think that by refusing to pay taxes
we could get the stranglehold on government. I think we are deluding ourselves if we think so. The government doesn't
need your money; it needs your sanction.
RULING THE RULED
Let me describe what I mean this way. If any of you are
familiar with the writings of Lewis Baudin,
who is viewed as the authoritative author concerning the Incas of Peru, you may be familiar with
his study in which he shows that the
chief of the Incas faced a real problem when it came to getting a tax from one village. This village was so poor that it
had absolutely zero surpluses. And
that meant that if the chief of the Incas taxes them at all, someone in the
village would die. And that is no way to keep a flock of sheep. If you start killing
off the flock, you know you're a bad shepherd.
So the Incan chief had to figure out a way in which he
could tax, or the people in that village would forget that he
ruled them. That's the real point. Not
the money, the obedience. And believe it or not, he finally figured out just such a tax. He ordered all of the villagers to sit down
annually and search their persons for a flea. Fleas comprised the
only surplus the village had. One flea
was collected from each individual, shoved into the hollow stem of a quetzal feather and a fast runner took that feather down
to Cusco, the capital city, and paid the tax for the village. By that process
the people in the village were kept subservient. A public act had occurred in
which the people bowed and did as they were told. Thus, the mythology was
maintained, and government rule was maintained.
Knowledgeable individuals are rarely in a position to
confront the government when a show of force is present. But each of us can withdraw
his sanction by voluntary, peaceful and
even legal means. There is nothing in the Constitution or in law that says you have to approve of it. All that is
said is that you must obey.
Nonetheless, the government is counting on your approval, for without it, they will be unable to rule. Thus,
sanction is in your own hands. You can withdraw it any time you choose.
Robert LeFevre is one of the most powerful lecturers and
authors in the United States. His lecture “Good Government: Hope or Illusion?”
at Santa Ana College is a classic in wit and common sense which has made
LeFevre almost a legend in his own time.
Never before has anyone defined the role of government
so brutally precise. “Government is,” LeFevre repeated twice to the audience,
“a group of people who sell retributive justice to the inhabitants of a limited
geographic area at monopolistic prices.” LeFevre continued, “Politics is the
method employed in the power structures by means of which a monopoly of
coercion can be obtained and maintained…This is what we can do without in the
interest of law and order.”
Founder and former president of Rampart College, LeFevre
constantly reminded his listeners that he is an “autarchist,” and not an
anarchist because he strongly supports law and order. And since government is
usually unlawful and disorderly, LeFevre pointed out, the need for government
has few merits if any.
As for good government, LeFevre contended that there is
no such thing as good government. “That is a contradiction in terms as
ridiculous as ‘constructive rape.’”
LeFevre’s “Good Government: Hope or Illusion?” is a must
for any libertarian library.
This booklet was
re-published by Freeland Press, P.O. Box 22231, Carmel, CA 93922. Many of the
ideas expressed in this booklet can be found in Robert LeFevre's magnum opus
book, Fundamentals of Liberty, which is available at www.lksamuels.com. Considered the
definitive work on the nature of liberty, The Fundamentals of Liberty is
a combination of over 25 years of work as a lecturer, author and president of
Rampart College. The book took five years to complete and was finished only a
few weeks before LeFevre’s death in 1986.
worked closely with Robert LeFevre, becoming the primary founder and later
president of Rampart Institute under its 501(c)(3) tax-deductible status. His
book In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action
was published in 2013 (available at www.lksamuels.com).
A lecture by Robert
LeFevre at Rampart College in the mountains
“Government is a
disease masquerading as its own cure.”