Uncle Sam Shuts Down: The State Is Out Of Date

State out of dateTiming doesn’t get much more appropriate than this. On Oct 1st, the very day the US government grinds to a standstill, my book, The State Is Out of Date – We Can Do It Better, is released in its Kindle edition by Disinformation Books (special shutdown price: $2.99!).

Could the US be experiencing a dress rehearsal for its own eventual failure as a sovereign state? This slight taste of what would happen if Washington’s credit line ran out is the reason banks receive ransoms to prop up, for a little longer, a clearly unsustainable financial system. It is well to remember that throughout history states have failed, every one of them, eventually.  The Romans never thought their might would crumble; Hitler expected 1000 years; the Brits trickled away their greatness; the sprawling Soviet Union imploded almost overnight. The US…?

Is there an alternative – something more real and effective than changing faces and tweaking the knobs and levers of power? Today’s so-called democratic system enables us to do little more than pick between different flavors of ice cream. Democracy and majority rule are incompatible concepts, and under the latter many are forced to eat flavors they don’t like and didn’t vote for. And if you don’t want any ice cream, well then, you must be some kind of a pervert.

In fact, we are living much of the alternative already. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of everything that we use, enjoy and rely upon in this world originated outside of the state’s sphere of activities. These life components include air travel, bicycles, literature, phones, computers, clothes, bread, art, milk, music, beer, shoes, screws, axes, houses, hemp, light bulbs, cars, insurance, charity, electricity, houses, and a list of many pages.

We are community animals with all the skills needed to co-exist peacefully in this world and look after each other in a co-operative community. We have many examples from history of well-developed cultures, trading goods between cities, without the need of an armed and coercive hierarchy.  The 600 year Tiwanaku empire of South America was non-coercive, combining beer, festivals, hallucinogenic snuff, nature worship and Sun worship with a co-operative community social order. Their empire spread, leaving no evidence of a ruling class, or weapons and warfare. We had enjoyed a few thousand years of civilization and trade before the first sign of a coercive state appeared around 2600 BCE in Mesopotamia. The concept spread slowly, usually carried by armed men or the fear of them.

The coercive states that today run every nation of the world are there, fundamentally, to protect us from other versions of themselves. It is for this alone that they hold power, a power also used to maintain order in the land, protecting us from each other. Fear is the fuel that gives them a reason to exist, and a motivation to keep us scared of all those hazards of life from which they promise to protect us, at great expense. State involvement in the food chain is portrayed as safeguarding the quality of our food supply. In the US that has led to a giant agribusiness industry, spawning factory farms dependent upon intensive chemical use and government subsidies. Oh yeah, and scary food that has led to unprecedented obesity levels and countless other diet-related afflictions.

Coercion is fine when you’re dealing with Napoleon, Hitler, and murderous or thieving sorts. But the “do (or don’t do) this or we will punish you” approach is not what we need when dealing with our food supply, our medical and healing options, how we make commitments to each other, what is a legal working week, or wage, or dwelling. We don’t need coercively-backed legislation covering cucumber shapes and the size of a pasta pack.

We can work this stuff out with industry guilds and trade bodies and consumer groups, connected today as has never before been possible. We have the Fairtrade mark, as well as organic and cruelty-free certifications. In the new online market, traders like eBay and Amazon have developed non-coercive methods of detecting and ejecting dubious vendors and dishonorable buyers. They do it without police, fines, judges or jails. Amazing? No, it’s how we do things naturally.

When contemplating the initial horror of the state’s multiple services being abandoned, we should keep in mind how many of their services produce consequences other than those intended.  Consider also that the total tax take is near to or above half of the wealth we produce, the value we add to the world. Just how much less hardship and economic crisis would there be if that half of the money was still in natural circulation, rather than feeding the insatiable state and underwriting it’s wars and overheads, its schemes and subsidies.

The State Is Out of Date, We Can Do It Better, is based on a simple premise, which is that bottom up organization beats top down control.  Support for this comes with the recognition by chaos theory that self-organization brings about structures such as rainforests, weather systems, the music industry, and the Occupy movement. In fact, wherever we look in the Universe we see the fruits of this phenomenon. It’s all about feedback loops, as everything that happens affects everything else in the system.  When these are replaced with fixed regulation, those mysterious natural organizing skills are disabled.

Yes, we CAN do it better ourselves and this book makes that abundantly clear. First, we must stop hoping that the state will one day get it right, sorting out the problems for which they are largely responsible. We are already building community-based alternatives to the state across the globe.  LETS (local exchange trading schemes), Bitcoins, PayPal and other innovative means of exchange are working. The World Wide Web has provided powerful connectivity that enables a truly democratic governing system to develop at minimal expense.

Though the state cries for more funds to fix society’s ills, it is the wealth they suck from our economy through myriad taxes and fines that is a primary cause of hunger, poverty, bankruptcy, homelessness and unemployment. It’s not a question of whether they are taking orders from corporations, bankers, the military industrial complex, a pope or ayatollah, organized crime, or a private dynasty. Somebody will always be pulling the strings of a body that can demand money from every member of society without needing to show a knife or gun; making laws and regulations governing how we live and interact with each other.  It is every gangster’s dream

Sure, we are in a hugely challenging position, with the state’s tentacles pervading ever-more aspects of our lives, private and public. It is almost impossible to imagine life without the coercive state, but even more difficult to see a sustainable future with it.  This is our future in the balance, and nobody can take responsibility for it more effectively than our selves. As George Orwell put it: “We shall get nowhere until we start by recognizing that political behavior is largely non-rational, that the world is suffering from some kind of mental disease which must be diagnosed before it can be cured.”

Graham Hancock has this to say about The State Is Out of Date: We Can Do It Better: “The State is Out of Date is a book of immense importance that also happens to be immensely readable. Get it now, read it now. The State IS out of date. We all know it. Now here’s the proof and the route map that gets us out of this mess.”
Author’s blog with chapter summaries and related links: http://thestateisoutofdate.com. The book is available NOW for Kindle exclusively at Amazon.com. Print edition coming spring 2014.
About the Author: From 1967, Gregory Sams was pioneering natural foods in the UK, in partnership with his brother Craig. He opened Seed macrobiotic restaurant in Paddington at the age of 19, Ceres grain store in the Portobello Road soon after, then Harmony Foods (now Whole Earth Foods) in 1970, as well as being closely involved with Harmony Magazine and Seed, the Journal of Organic Living. He conceived and launched the original VegeBurger in 1982, adding a word to the language as he opened up the market for vegetarian foods. In 1990 Greg moved out of food and into fractals, founding Strange Attractions – the world’s only shop ever dedicated to chaos theory. Trading as chaOs worKs, he went on to produce and license fractal images worldwide on everything from posters to book covers to fashion fabrics. His interest in chaos theory, however, was not just for the sexy images, but for the social lessons inherent in the discovery of self-organizing systems throughout the world. This led him to write and publish, in 1998, his first book, Uncommon Sense – the state is out of date. It was well received and, enjoying his role as an author, Gregory spent the first seven years of the next millennium writing Sun of gOd, in which, as he puts it, the biggest elephant-in-the-room that you could ever imagine is unveiled. In 2012/13 Gregory refreshed and upgraded much of his first book, now republished asThe State Is Out Of Date – we can do it better. The timing is now right.

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  • BuzzCoastin

    “Is a democracy, such as we know it, the last improvement possible in government? Is it not possible to take a step further towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man? There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.”

    Thoreau

    • DeepCough

      Incidentally, that is a very, very aristocratic philosophy.

      • BuzzCoastin

        the ultimate “aristocratic” philosophy
        is realize the illusion of government & its power
        and to therefore live within the illusion
        but not be touched by it

        • DeepCough

          How right you are.

        • http://pneumerology.com/ pneumerology

          I think that’s only true up to a point. We are social creatures after all, and we will have social structures of some kind, and we will want to participate in them.

          • BuzzCoastin

            society is not government
            government is always a group of armed elites
            subjugating others for personal benefit
            society is a collection of free people
            working together for the betterment of all
            government is a small group of bandits
            exploiting the people & their shared resources
            for the exclusive benefit of the elites

            rarely in the history of governments
            has it been otherwise

          • marshall

            Which, incedentally, takes us back to your quote of Thoreau and how true that statement is, especially if we truly want to be free. Public servants should be the hardest workers in the history of ever, and ask nothing in return except for the pride in making our world a better, free-er (haha) place. I lament the fact that we are so far from the point of our leaders, and future leaders from ever realizing this. Capital Hill just has a way of turning them into vampires…

    • gregory sams

      “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”
      Winston Churchill

      “What luck it is for governments that the people they rule do not think.”
      Adolf Hitler

      • BuzzCoastin

        Hitler & Churchill
        the yin & yang of Fascism
        both egoistic puppets used to generate war profits
        for elite war machine industrailists

  • DeepCough

    Rousseau pointed out that it’s the hybrid government that work the best because they have the dynamics to maintain themselves. He also pointed out that all governments start as autocracies and they end that way as well.

  • Andrew

    The problem is how to keep individuals with power from abusing individuals with less power. I don’t believe a peaceful, non-coercive society is possible without a psychological/spiritual revolution, and no such psychological/spiritual revolution is possible until parents stop “raising” their children through coercion and abuse, thus training them to relate to others through coercion and abuse. How you stop parents from passing on the mental illness Orwell wrote about to the next generation without a power of some sort to control how they treat their children is beyond me. Placing individual property rights above all else ain’t gonna come close to doing it.

    • DeepCough

      You can’t have a “peaceful, non-coercive society” that is always at war with
      other nations for resources. And after all, a “peaceful, non-coercive society”
      is Communist, and we just can’t have that.

      • Jin The Ninja

        anarchist, but yes. marxists always seem to need a ‘transitional dictatorship’ first.

        • Andrew

          > How you stop parents from passing on the mental illness Orwell wrote about to the next generation without a power of some sort to control how they treat their children is beyond me.

          > a ‘transitional dictatorship’

          • DeepCough

            I believe the term you are looking for is “election.”

    • http://pneumerology.com/ pneumerology

      I’m gonna get that book. I’ve been thinking along those lines myself. This fake democracy and squabbling mobs of “sovereign” “centralized” governments sure ain’t getting us anywhere. In my youth, I thought of the necessary change as a spiritual awakening kind of thing. I’ve come full circle about it. Now I think of it as continuing evolution, because I have more or less resolved (for myself, at least) the science/spirit issue.

      One of the things I imagine is a return to more localized communities.

  • Haystack

    I disagree that the business would regulate themselves in the absence of state coercion. On the contrary, they form monopolies, cabals, or enact industry-wide standards that deprive consumers of the option to enact change by taking their dollar elsewhere.

    In many ways, business is more coercive than government, and, in fact, much of the government’s coercion is really at the behest of business (e.g., suppressing the Occupy protests). In my mind, the quickest road to tyranny is to give corporations all the freedom they want.

    I do agree with the idea that we should look for bottom-up solutions to our problems rather than to a central authority. I just think we need to recognize that the coercion takes many forms, not all of which involve laws and police.

    • Anarchy Pony

      NO! CORPORATIONS CAN’T HAVE MONOPOLIES WITHOUT GOVERNMENT BECAUSE ASSUMPTION WITH NO CORROBORATING EVIDENCE!

      • http://pneumerology.com/ pneumerology

        Yeah. As TPP indicates, the corporations are in the process of eliminating this middle man of government.

    • Thomas Mrak

      A corporation is just a piece of paper. The easiest way to defuse a corporation isn’t to work for someone who is not alignment with your values or not buy from a company that is not in alignment with your values.

      This is not always easy, and humans tend to take the path of least resistance, even though it may cost them more in the long run.

      • Haystack

        It’s not just difficult. In many cases, you simply don’t have the option. You need to buy an essential product, but every company who sells that product engaged in the same unethical behaviors.

        This also skews the system toward the corporation. The corporation can make an executive decision to, say, pollute a river. Consumers must discover this, publicize it, mobilize support for a boycott, etc., each time this happens. Consumers have the burden of solving a collective action problem, whereas corporations simply decide an issue in a board room.

        • http://pneumerology.com/ pneumerology

          I think you’re both right… but there is wiggle room that doesn’t get used. If somebody works for a corporation, and feels they must — to put food on the table for themselves and those they care about — they don’t have to take that promotion that involves them more deeply in evil-doing, they don’t have to buy a new car or a big screen TV or stock in Colt Armaments or CocaCola. and a bigger house, or send their kids to some bullshit university.

          Our choices are always limited, but we always have some.

      • gregory sams

        A corporation is just a piece of paper, yes, and until the mid 19th century companies were subject to the same natural laws of the land as people, which expected obligations to be honored. Then the state made “limited liability” a legal format for companies, allowing them to go bankrupt without the owners or directors losing their shirts, or swimming pools. Corporate responsibility was inevitably reduced by this new creation.

      • jnana

        no, the easiest way is to revoke corporate charter, which is in the power and authority of the people via precedent.
        “revoking corporate charter” by Richard grossman

    • gregory sams

      Must ask, Haystack, how does business coerce us into using their product without state support? Pharmaceuticals have three lobbyists for each senator and congressman at the House. They have no other way to force vaccinations on our children, or jail us for smoking pot. Poor old IBM couldn’t do a thing when two California geeks changed the face of computing. Freeing up free enterprise is the best counter to big corporations. Oppressive regulation makes small enterprise difficult, and big states favour the big corporations that enable them to tax a thousand people with no hassle before they even see their earnings.

      • Andrew

        Simple. Buy up all the arable and livable land.

        • gregory sams

          Not so easy. That’s why the state needs the power of compulsory purchase to force through their programs. Many people will not sell their land or house, regardless of price. One idea to save the rainforests is for millions of people to buy square meter plots that would make compulsory purchase too unwieldy to effect.
          In Britain, the right to common land had been sacrosanct for centuries, until Parliament passed the Enclosures Acts in the 19th century, which forcibly stole common land from the people, legally.

          • Andrew

            Who protected the common land in the first place?

          • gregory sams

            It did not need protecting. It had always been common until the state enclosed it and took ownership by force.

          • Andrew

            I don’t believe it didn’t need protecting. Nor do I believe trust in the common person or private ownership is enough to protect the environment.

          • marshall

            Therefore, you don’t believe you can help protect the environment, so whats the point?

          • Andrew

            No, that doesn’t follow from what I wrote.

          • marshall

            The common people, of course.

          • Andrew

            You consider feudal lords common people?

          • marshall

            Well, ultimately, if you can’t sprout wings and fly, or shoot laser beams out of your eyes, then yes, feudal lords are quite common people who are like everyone else. They leave a shit too, right?

          • Andrew

            I disagree.

          • jnana

            tradition can be a mighty force.
            ask the native American…

          • Andrew

            Yes, but their traditions didn’t include private ownership of massive tracts by corporations and billionaires. Nor did they have technologies by which small groups can quickly decimate large areas.

          • jnana

            im talking about how common land was protected in societies.
            I think you were trying to claim only the State can have the power, whereas I believe tradition can be a stronger force. that’s why the state must get rid of traditions and why its so important for us to go back to Tradition before its too late, if its not already. (with the awareness that some traditions need to be sloughed)

      • Haystack

        By limiting our choices. Many industries are dominated by a limited number of corporations who all engage in similarly reprehensible practices. Is Sunoco more ethical than BP? Does Verizon respect your privacy more than Apple? If the economics of an *industry* are such that it makes sense to engage in a particular malfeasance, it’s likely that all the players within that industry will do so; this leaves the consumer with no ability to punish that behavior by favoring one corporation above another.

        If corporations really don’t want people to smoke pot, then can do a lot more drug testing. If they want you to vaccinate your kids, then they can make that a prerequisite for admission into their private charter schools. If they don’t want you to have free speech, they can monitor your internet activity and make public loyalty to their belief system a condition of employment.

        It can always be said that you don’t HAVE to work there. You don’t HAVE to buy gas, or internet or phone service. You can live in a yurt on a subsistence farm. But, if you want to live a relatively normal life in this society, you have to “opt-in,” and that, in itself, is a powerful form of coercion that isn’t well-recognized by libertarians.

        Government provides a check on the excesses of corporations by limiting what it is possible to do (e.g., pollute too much, infringe upon the liberties of your employees, etc.)

        New and small businesses are poorly equipped to act as a check upon these excesses because, left to their own devices, big corporations will engage in anti-competitive practices that block access to the markets in which they operate. They can sell at a loss, they can purchase companies which control infrastructure or raw material for their industry, and so on. Government, acting through anti-trust laws and the like, maintains the playing field.

        A free market isn’t self-sustaining–it requires some grounds keeping.

    • marshall

      Haystack, it’s already like this now, and its only getting worse because big businesses have literally set up shop on capitol hill, and the public servants who work there relish it. I say, outlaw lobbying and set a limit on the amount of assets Federal public servants can own. Additionally, force them to live in the district they represent, so when they fuck up in D.C., they might have to actually answer to the people they just fucked who voted for them. I don’t know, just some ideas, what do you think?

  • http://pneumerology.com/ pneumerology

    I just checked out the website. There are summaries for each chapter there. It sounds awesome. I don’t own a kindle, so I’ll have to wait for the print edition. I do wish he would publish through Smashwords as well as Amazon.

    • Andrew

      I also checked out the summaries, and much of it sounded rather simplistic and utopian to me.

      • gregory sams

        Yes, the message is essentially simple, while aiming for a world that is well governed with police engaged to keep the peace and not to disturb it. Utopian perhaps, but people are working towards it already, and it’s more fun and less frustrating than thinking this setup will ever sort it out.

        Those short chapter summaries are hard-pressed to explain novel ideas that, by the time readers finish that chapter, often feel like something they already knew.

        • Andrew

          Let’s just say my idea of “well governed” is different than Sams’s. I suspect we have differences in basic values.

  • marshall

    The FedGov should only be concerned about protecting the rights of it’s citizens, defending it’s sovereignty from other countries and settling disputes between states, and let the states govern everything else. Thats why it is failing, it wasn’t designed to be this fucking huge.

    • Andrew

      I definitely agree with you on that last point. U.S. Presidents age twice as fast in office because of stress and lack of sleep. Nobody should have that much power.

      • marshall

        I completely agree with you on YOUR last point. Furthermore, the concept of power shouldn’t even be a talking point in a constitutional republic. Technically, everyone has equal power on the legal playing field. Economically, well thats a different story unfortunately.

        • Andrew

          In my opinion power should always be prominent in discussions of human relations.

          • marshall

            Hmmmm, I don’t think so. The concept of power is like the sun; it shines everywhere, and if you want to feel it, get out of the shade. And, its free…at least for now.

          • Andrew

            Again, I disagree.

          • marshall

            Well, most that disagree follow with their take on the subject, so I’m eager to read it.

          • Calypso_1

            I disagree.

          • marshall
    • BuzzCoastin

      Uncle Homeland has a sham economy based upon war
      which why Uncle Homeland has been at war ever since colonial times
      The US is the world’s biggest arms dealer
      and the best armed arms dealer on the planet
      even the internet is now a part of Uncle Homey’s war machine

      personally, I’d hate to be a Homelander
      when the karmic debt comes due

      • marshall

        That karmic debt will go to those who propagated this paradigm. Americans are mostly good people Buzz.

        • BuzzCoastin

          goodness has nothing to do
          with the karmic debt of political responsibility
          every aMerkin that continues to support this corrupt system
          with their tacit cooperation and
          indolent indifference to the abuse of power
          just so they can waddle upon to the trough of consumption
          is guilty as charged
          & yeah, they’re good people on the whole
          but so are everyone else in the world
          once you get to know them

          • jnana

            we all accumulate massive karmic debt, especially towards the Mother Earth.
            But At-one-ment is a possibility for one and all

          • BuzzCoastin

            “If you can accord with true practice for a moment,
            you annihilate the defilement of countless wrongs.”

            Understanding Reality, T. Cleary translation

          • jnana

            The Holy Instant, available to one and all, always.

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