Goliath clubs David with state regulations in battle against craft brewers

People often think I am defending corporations when I make the point that it is usually the state that facilitates their dirty work. There is very little point in railing at corporations when they are using state-sanctioned means to suppress competition. Better to get rid of the unreal tools with which they insulate themselves from market evolution and the public’s glare. I often example those who engage military and police to evict indigenous people from assets they bought rights to from government. Here is a more easily digested example, and one involving something close to my heart.

The growth of small craft breweries in the US has been astounding. I became a beer connoisseur in the mid 1970’s and recall there then being under ten breweries in the entire USA. A decade later there were 110 and today there are 3,500.

So how has Anheuser-Busch, the world’s largest brewer, responded to the growing popularity of quality beers? No amount of advertising can lure somebody back to Bud Light when they have tasted proper beer made by beer-loving brewers. Instead, they are manipulating an outdated and irrelevant Prohibition-era law to block the brewers of craft beers from distributing them to other sellers.

As they say in the coverage of this story by Rare, “…it’s clear that what Anheuser-Busch is doing… could not take place in a truly free market…Imagine what kind of craft creativity could be unleashed for all to enjoy if the government would simply get out of the beer industry’s way altogether!”

Imagine what creativity could emerge from the market if government stopped regulating all those things that we can manage better.

For the full story from Rare, click here

This is a fundamental point of my book The State Is Out Of Date – We Can Do It Better, which looks at the transformative power of freedom and the dangers that arise from its suppression.

My interview on living without a state

 

 

Life Without A State

You may have seen that video in which I was interviewed by an alien named Jaz talking about the Sun and stars. It was very well loved. Now the same producer convinced me to be interviewed by “Delta Mike,” regular reporter on the Onyafone channel. What emerged is a rich 26 minutes concisely covering topics that range from Britain’s Jeremy Corbyn to psychopaths to Syria, winding up with a picture that paints the prospect of global financial collapse in a different and refreshing light. I’m thinking you will enjoy this.

Dive right in, click Life Without a State

Syria – is the end in sight?

Go Russia Go!

At last there may be an end in sight to the disaster that Western foreign policy has landed upon Syria, formerly one of the most stable and secular nations in the Middle East. One also with a strong military force that held stocks of unused chemical weapons primarily to counter the threat of Israel’s nuclear stockpile. It initially seemed clear that Assad had not used Sarin in a fight he was already winning at Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus where his soldiers were stationed.

After the propaganda machines weighed in though, you could be forgiven for thinking Assad would do something so incredibly stupid, soon after Obama declared use of chemical weapons to be America’s “red line.” Assad isn’t stupid. We should follow the money and ask who benefited? The rebel terrorists and the arms industry profited as countless millions of taxpayers’ money was poured into funding the “moderate” opposition, prolonging a conflict that was nearing its end. That opposition, the Free Syrian Army is now little more than a name, but one we hear more of than the hundreds of other militias in the field, predominantly Islamic.

If successful, the so-called revolution that we have been fanning and funding would inevitably lead to the absorption of Syria into the expanding Islamic State, a body that was underwritten by Western money and armaments, now supplemented by oil and taxation revenues from conquered lands. Islamic State are not stupid either, just a new and very upstart state. Should they succeed, it would not be revolution, but conquest. Western efforts to combat IS have been singularly ineffective, with the world’s mightiest war machine unable or unwilling to halt their progress. There is little doubt that if Assad falls Islamic State would rapidly incorporate or eliminate every other faction in the fight, destroy any remaining ancient monuments and be irreversibly en route to one day claiming a seat at the United Nations.

Is this where we want to go?

Is it not a strange turn of affairs that tough-guy Vladimir Putin, the West’s current faputin syriavourite bad guy, should be the only world leader to realize this is not a good place to go? He may be a gangster, but at least he’s his own gangster and not manipulated by the dark shadowy forces of the military industrial complex that American President Eisenhower warned us of and Kennedy strongly condemned. In Sept 2013 Putin narrowly stopped the US from going on a Syrian bombing spree (prompted by allegations of chemical weapons use) through getting Assad’s agreement to clear out and hand over Syria’s entire chemical weapons stock. Clever move, and one hugely frustrating to those who control the US.

So now Russia steps into the arena, openly and at the request of the legitimate Syrian government. They realize that terrorists are terrorists – these are not revolutionaries seeking democracy and would all meld into IS if Assad fell. Why screw around playing one side against the other, unless you are manipulated by those conflict-loving forces of which Kennedy and Eisenhower spoke? That’s the positive side of being a gangster boss politician – you’re in nobody’s pockets but your own and see no benefit in waging war for the sake of war itself. Even in Crimea, the minimal fighting stopped once Russia’s objective was achieved. Conflict for conflict’s sake is not on the Russian agenda. Curious how we rail about Russian jets straying into Turkish airspace while our jets bomb hospitals and our close ally Saudi Arabia kills thousands of civilians in Yemen with the weapons we supply.

Yes it’s strange for me, a passionate advocate of non-violence to be rallying behind military effort by a powerful state. As do most, I long to see the war over so that refugees can return to rebuild their lives, and believe Russian action could achieve this goal. When we watched refugees flooding into Germany they were fleeing the fighting, NOT politics or religious persecution. Most of them would love to go home. Human beings are amazing animals, able to rebuild lives, towns and cities, as did Europe and Asia after the last big war. Hiroshima and Dresden thrive today. We can do it.

The fighting has to stop.
Full power to you Russia.
History will be grateful.

 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Peace is not defined by the absence of conflict.

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Volkswagen Scandal – Another angle

Volkswagen did wrong by falsifying data, crossing the line in a game where it is well know that every car maker uses canny tricks to massage their figures on emissions, fuel consumption and the like. I am glad that they were caught out, that they admitted it and that their chief executive has resigned. I suspect there will be sleepless nights across the car industry for weeks to come.

But what this accidental discovery also reveals is that Uncle Sam has not been checking acHippie-VW-Vantual emissions against laboratory emissions figures from Volkswagen vehicles, or any others. This has apparently been overlooked throughout some 40 years of emissions standards, with the same approach likely to have been true within the EU. I am reminded that in all my years in the food business many of my products were tested by state agencies, but never for the veracity of the ingredient listing or nutritional content.

It is ironic that the Uncle Sam Corporation, which is making a huge haul out of this ($18 Billion, possibly much more), is the same ”corporation” that hands out billions in subsidies to fossil fuel producers, the root source of the emissions in question. This same “corporation” encourages fracking, underwrites nuclear power, and uses depleted uranium in munitions that will pollute the land on which they explode for thousands of years. This collector of fines destroys entire nations overseas in pursuit of its own interests, or the interests of those pulling its strings. It doesn’t really give a damn about emissions, but has suddenly discovered a nice little earner.

It was two guys seeking to show the cleanliness of diesel that turned up this surprise, having expected Volkswagens’ performance to demonstrate their case. At the very least, the US government should be rewarding these two with a good share of their harvest in fines. Uncle Sam didn’t spend money finding this out and hasn’t personally lost anything, though many Volkswagen owners will be unable to drive vehicles made illegal overnight. Could those drivers and asthma sufferers also be calling the state to account for not doing its job over decades?

Those two guys got a surprise, as would we if our foodstuffs, body care products and many other goods were adequately vetted for damaging features.

– – – – –

Here is a related extract from my book The State Is Out Of Date, We Can Do It Better, that discusses the alternatives to trusting the state to keep our foodstuffs safe, one that could be extended to motor vehicles and other consumer products. From the chapter “Way and Means”
“…And we want to be sure that our food is not contaminated with heavy metals, toxic bacteria, rat droppings, radioactive particles, pesticides, unexpected forms of flesh, hormone residues, or other noxious contaminants.

Though the state would have us believe that it looks after all the above and more, today’s increasingly conscious consumers are becoming ever more aware of the flimsiness of the state’s protection—a state whose own involvement in the food chain has led to dangers far more endemic and frightening than rat droppings or even a touch of heavy metal. Typically the state will try to deny or cover up its own dangerous mistakes, assuring us that there has been no risk to human health. Occasionally, when scientists speak out about the dangers, they will suggest that consumers, if they want to be absolutely sure, should consume fewer farmed salmon, or be sure to peel their potatoes and apples, while not suggesting they be overly concerned. Then, one suspects, they will take steps to ensure that such information does not unexpectedly leak out again in the future, and wait for things to get back to abnormal.

Where consumers are unconcerned about their food quality, no amount of regulations will make much difference to the quality of their diet—a diet that has often been downgraded by government interference in the food chain. Today, as consumers increasingly appreciate the connection between their health and the foods with which they make and power themselves, a vacuum exists for a company whose remit is to provide genuine certification to food producers, incorporating regular testing of their products and verification of claims made for products. This can be done with bonded personnel able to review, among many other factors, a company’s working recipes, relative to ingredient listing. It will be in the long-term interests of the food industry to have a standard of integrity that can be trusted by the public.

If such a standard is developed and maintained by a private organization, its very existence would be threatened were integrity lost by colluding with a food company over false data. Today there is always the chance of such activity being exposed online or on Twitter, TV, or by the press. Such a certification mark adds value to the product and would be paid for by a modest charge to the company based on volume or value. There can be alternative validation schemes available so, for instance…”

 

The OTHER Drug Problem

The real drug problems rarely make headlines – those caused by pharmaceuticals designed to be addictive. We recently discovered that opioid painkillers claim the lives of 312 Americans every week, compared to 285 lost to murder. Since 2000 these drugs have killed three times as many Americans as were killed in Vietnam. A further 160 die each week from overdosing on heroin, most having become addicted via prescribed opioids. Yet nobody is fighting a war against them, while Big Pharma pockets big profits and markets them freely. Competition to Big Pharma is suppressed by law enforcement agencies spending vast sums of taxpayers’ money in the War on Drugs. Sometimes major drug enforcement agencies work with drug cartels, enforcing monopolies and suppressing free enterprise in the unlicensed drugs trade. For more on opioid painkiller killers, here’s the Forbes coverage.

FOR insight on the drugs problem, here’s a paragraph from “The Drugs Problem,” a chapter in The State Is Out of Date, We Can Do It Better

Society does have a problem with drug use. It is a serious problem that is getting worse. For some reason, though, the perception of this problem is focused entirely on the very small range of drugs that are being used illegally. We cannot ignore the very real problems faced by those who are using drugs prescribed by doctors. Their lives can be damaged and sometimes destroyed as a result of diagnostic error, their own abuse of the prescribed stocks (few recreational drug users have a month’s supply in a bottle), or just years of being dependent on pharmaceuticals with known side effects. These legal drugs must be obtained through controlled channels, but these channels translate into a multi-billion dollar industry throughout the world—the real drugs trade. While we condemn it when drug barons bribe and seduce judges, police, and politicians, we think nothing of the lobbyists employed by the pharmaceutical industry in Washington DC, who number more than three for every single Congressman or Senator.

The most successful, and profitable, pharmaceutical drugs are those which do not cure, but instead create a lifelong habit for the user…”

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Is wealth inequality the primary problem?

It is not a case of who is paying their “fair share” of taxation but a case of taxation itself not being fair. That massive extraction, by the state, of wealth produced by human activity is at the root of our civilization’s troubles, and underwrites all its wars. Why do we think it okay that we cannot choose how to deploy half of the wealth we create? The answer simply lays in finding another way of doing things we are already doing.

Outrage has been prompted by Oxfam’s estimate that the richest 1% will soon own 51% of the world’s wealth. A predictable “steal from the rich and give to the poor” response rallies public support and thereby diverts blame from the state for its inability to deliver the services for which we pay them well. The problem is inherent waste and inefficiency, not who pays how much tax. Politicians won’t actually squeeze much out of their super-rich masters but we’ll  support taxes implemented in the name of wealth redistribution and call if fair play. Taxation is the taking of money against the threat of damage for non-compliance – always has been. It’s rather like mugging, and not a lot gets sprinkled back. Over 70% of taxation is not upon our earnings anyway, but in every pound we spend; each cup of coffee, pair of shoes, drop of petrol or alcohol, massage, rent payment and watt of electricity bears the burden of a heavy state. Wealthy consumers already pay a lot more taxes on that account. If we doubled income taxes on the super-rich the extra revenue would not even cover the interest owed to bankers by our state for creating the money that prevented other bankers from going bankrupt as a result of immoral dealings. Don’t expect it to dent the deficit, and know that many of the wealthiest 1% have fingers, hands, and heads in governments across the world and would be less assured of their wealth without that leverage and control.

Were the answer to every problem “more taxation” then we would soon have 0.0% control over how we deploy our wealth, instead of just 50%.  Only 10 of those 50% in taxes is eventually spent within the category of “redistribution of wealth,” which is neither an underlying purpose of taxation, nor a priority. Are we truly incapable of re-distributing our own wealth, voluntarily, to organizations with genuine charitable credentials and goals in tune with our own?

The combination of all levied taxes sees half or more of the total wealth created by people and companies sucked into the state to fund its spending. The state overspends and borrows the excess from banks, to be repaid by our future wealth creation (which must constantly increase for the scheme to work). It works for the central banks who create that money, literally, out of thin air. It’s smoke and mirrors.

“The bank hath benefit of interest on all moneys which it creates out of nothing.” William Paterson, founder in 1694 of the Bank of England,

The state is not a necessary evil and society will not collapse into dog-eat-dog savagery without them sucking out its lifeblood to preserve order. 98% of us are caring human beings who cherish the idea of living in peace and harmony with each other. We are good at doing that. Then some 2% of us are sociopaths who see the rest as a resource to be used and exploited, having no compassion for starving babies or tortured grandmothers of their own or any other race. Unsurprisingly, politics is a common career choice for sociopaths.

In our system sociopaths sometimes get to the very top. Historical examples abound, with our own era witnessing pre-planned wars waged on false pretenses destroying the lives of countless millions. That 98% cannot imagine a human being behaving so badly is the greatest strength of the 2%, and underpins the “Big Lie.” Adolf Hitler described this in Mein Kampf as a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” Even after seeing “facts which prove” they “doubt and waver,” assuming there is “some other explanation.”

Politics is not even the main game in town, though it often appears to be the only one. Examples abound of civilization self-organizing without the need of top-down control by force. In our current system, democratic or otherwise, we too often find scum rising to the top and calling the shots. In a free system we develop means to eject the scum and let cream rise to the top. The feedback loop of customer reviews does just this at Tripadvisor, Amazon, Airbnb, Uber, and other new age businesses. We can do it. We have the technology, and I’m off on a tangent here which could stretch into an entire book but will not since it is already written.

TAXATION EXPLAINED, by Jean Baptiste Colbert, 17th century finance minister to Louis XIV :
“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.”

Talk of social engineering, climate management, and wealth redistribution is all about reducing the hissing.

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Strangled for selling single cigarettes, allegedly

Eric Garner was killed by NY police who suspected him of selling “loosies” on the street – cigarettes sold singly, not in packs. The policeman who choked him to death was acquitted of any wrongdoing, triggering mass protests across America.

In “The State Is Out Of Date – We Can Do It Better” I recall a cigarette-related event witnessed in Morocco many years ago that opened my eyes to the obstacles to free enterprise imposed by the state.

From Chapter 20, The State of Business:    An early insight into this restrictive climate came to me some years ago at a cafe in Marrakesh, where I noticed a young man standing on the corner each evening with a pack of twenty cigarettes, selling them singly to passersby. The customers were able to better manage their habit by buying the cigarettes singly. The young man was able to set up his own business as a retailer for the cost of a pack of cigarettes—an almost inconceivable concept in our developed “free” democracy. The bridge is great between the skills we need to manage our own enterprise, and those needed to do so according to the requirements of the state. Many are unable to cross this bridge, despite having all the skills that nature demands to interact in this way with society. 

Police accused Eric Garner of practicing the “free” part of “free enterprise” and killed him while enforcing regulations imposed to keep us safe. He had proclaimed his innocence of that victimless crime. Michael Brown was confronted in Ferguson Missouri for jaywalking and shot dead – for ignoring street-crossing rules. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against regulation or the policing of it – it is an essential part of community. What we need is connected regulation generated from the bottom up and voluntarily adhered to by those who want to enjoy the social facilities, connections, and benefits that accompany respect for that regulation. Such self-government would evolve along with society without creating volumes of victimless crimes and monsters like the War on Drugs or the Common Agricultural Policy.

Earlier in the book we look at coercion, the basic tool of every sovereign power, and see that refusal to pay a parking ticket could ultimately lead to one’s death.  As it happens, suspicion of unlawful cigarette selling was enough for Eric Garner.

From Chapter 8 of The State Is Out Of Date, titled Legitimizing Coercion:   “How does the state use coercion on us? Using a simple example like a parking fine, let us say that you absolutely refuse to pay this ticket or spend time in the court process trying to prove, say, that the police had blocked you from returning to your car in time due to a security scare. Anyway, no way are you going to pay a hundred dollars, pounds, or whatever to this uncaring and unresponsive state-sanctioned collection agency. Neither will you run and hide, accept losing your freedom and going to jail, nor will you let anyone impound your car or in any way take your money from you. So what does the state do? They will get your money, and they will coerce you into paying it; assuming that you are a relatively sane person, you will abandon your righteous determination and pay them.

Why? Because coercion ultimately means that if you are not willing to pay the fine or go to jail or run away, you can be killed. Shocking, isn’t it? Of course the state has bailiffs and ways of seizing your hundred whatevers before it comes to this. But if you really did not want them to collect their fine and either had no assets or had made them inaccessible, then the state would come to put you in prison for non-payment. If you did not go into hiding or sought to successfully resist this, actively defending yourself from being seized or stunned or gassed, then they would by some means eventually overcome and incarcerate you, or you would avoid going to prison on account of being dead. They will never say, “Well played, mate, we acknowledge your determination as righteous and will no longer press you to pay the fine imposed by our courts.”

Coercion may have been the only means to deal with threats such as Napoleon and Hitler who were, in essence, fighting other rulers for dominion over territory and the people within it. Horrifying to think, but had they won we might be looking back at them as great  historic figures; a likely outcome when victors write the history. William the Conqueror got away with it, they did not. No visceral hatred of the English ever sent hoards of French or German people streaming onto cross-channel ferries armed with muskets and pickaxes. You need armies and governments to do that, or to protect us from governments and armies that do that. The more we spend on defense and security the more war and insecurity we will experience.

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Shot by police for threatening suicide

In the chapter of my book entitled Victimless Crimes I write of an imaginary situation where the police might shoot somebody for threatening suicide. Seeing it as an amusing concept, I never imagined it actually happening.

It happened in Utah when Jose Calzada, 35, called a suicide prevention hotline last Tuesday at 4am and threatened to kill himself. Seven hours later he was shot and killed by police, according to law enforcement. They shot him four or five times, just to be sure.

Quick-thinking detective Matt Gwynn explains: “Often police go into these situations with an ingrained mentality of looking at citizens as threats to the safety of the officers and thus feel empowered and justified to use lethal force as the suicidal person has already threatened to kill someone, themselves.”

It is not the first time police have shot those who admitted to thoughts of suicide. Earlier accounts in the original story here, at The Free Thought Project 

From The State Is Out Of Date, chapter 17

The state has various ways to protect us from doing things that it thinks are not good for us. It can take our money away in fines, confiscate our property, put us in jail, get us fired or liquidate our business. Hell . . . there are even situations where it can kill you to protect you from yourself. Even the right to take your own life is an offense in most parts of the world. I have this mad image in my mind of a crouching policeman shouting “Don’t jump or I’ll shoot!” to a would-be suicidée about to leap from the window ledge of a high-rise.

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Protecting a child or defending their authority?

At issue in the sad case of young Ashya King is NOT concern over the life and well-being of a young child but a response to his parents’ defiance of the state’s authority over them and their child. This story has eclipsed that of the 1400 children in Rotherham who were abducted, abused, raped, and sex trafficked for 15 years or more WITH the knowledge of the police and social services. In that case, too, parents who intervened to try and help these children were ignored by social services and/or arrested by the police.

Nature has instilled in our genes the paramount need to protect our young – to secure the next generation’s survival. We hear of parents sacrificing their own lives to save that of their children. How on earth can employees of the faceless state assume greater authority over a child than that child’s own parents? In this case Ashya’s parents were willing to defy the authority of the NHS and sacrifice their holiday home in Spain to try a promising treatment in another land. Of course, they discovered this treatment after exhaustively trawling the Internet and, of course, the NHS doctors dismissed the world’s largest and most extensive database of information as not worthy of trust. What world do they inhabit, these official guardians of our health, who still find it difficult to accept that our diet has much to do with our health, let alone any treatments neither in their university training nor promoted by pharmaceutical companies? These are the health guardians who held so little hope for the future of Ashya King and wanted nobody to prove them wrong.Ashya‘s parents defied the authority of the state, triggering an international response, major headlines, and their immediate tracking down, arrest and rough handling by Spanish police. Their very ill child was forcibly taken into care and deprived of contact with his loving parents, who now face extradition to the UK, with them accused of kidnap. How can you kidnap your own kid? Who is the victim of their crime? The state simply asserts that its care of young Ashya will be superior to the care of his parents, with no track record suggesting this would be the case.. It is worth noting the Barnardo’s report citing the care system as putting two thirds of its young girls at risk of sexual exploitation, with half of those only coming into risk after going into care. That state care costs us some £200,00 a year, about six times the cost of an elite private school. How can we be naive enough to believe that the state has our best interests at heart when it criminalizes caring parents whilst ignoring widespread paedophile activities?1400 children were horribly abused in Rotherham, triggering no extraditions nor even a resignation by those who let this happen with eyes wide open. Girls of 11 were violently raped in front of other children, some were doused in petrol, and many trafficked for repeated abuse over a period of 15 years leading up to 2013. The majority of victims had been in the protective care of the state at the time. Hundreds must have been involved in the purveying and abuse of these children, yet just five Pakistani men were convicted, with three of them receiving lighter sentences than did the highly publicized Rolf Harris for offences committed over 30 years ago.Barnado’s Homes and others qualified to comment assert that Rotherham is only the “tip of the iceberg” with systematic abuse of children taking place across the UK. This is happening here and now! Why are police and politicians not rallying in response? Why has the recent enquiry into Westminster’s organized paedophile ring fizzled out? Have we forgotten the appalling Kincora Boys Home scandal in Belfast? All this is now overshadowed by two parents whose love for their child was greater than their fear of the state.Gregory Sams,  author of The State Is Out of Date – We Can Do It Better
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Beheadings – they’re just so yesterday

Whilst beheadings are undoubtedly savage and brutal the fundamental problem is that they are terribly old-fashioned. Today, civilized nations blow people up, obliterate them with drones, riddle them with bullets, and execute them with chemicals cocktails. Many of those killed with hi-tech weapons die slowly in excruciating pain, their bodies ripped to pieces. But this is somehow okay since it is the modern way and done from a distance – however savage, brutal and indiscriminate the results. Most of the weaponry involved comes from the guardians of peace and democracy in America and Britain, with average cost-per-kill running into tens of thousands of dollars per “insurgent,” millions by some estimates.

The drums of full-spectrum war are beating once again, stimulated by outrage and hysteria over this single video. Bearing in mind the fallacy of WMD it would behove us to see this war-worthy video but no, we are banned from doing so, with the mere viewing of it in the UK declared a potential terrorist act. Let me tell you right now that no execution takes place in the video, which is 4 minutes 32 seconds of propaganda. The other eight seconds of the video show a small knife being pressed against James Foley’s throat without drawing blood or cries of pain, then shifts to a prone headless corpse (or mannequin) with a severed head sitting on its chest looking almost as realistic as those in movies and TV series. James Foley may well have been killed, but it certainly did not happen on camera. Many who have viewed the video comment on the absence of copious blood, the green screen look, the omission of a neck on decapitated “body” or head, and even differences between the face of  this James Foley and the one we see in previous television interviews.

If journalist Foley is reading from an Islamic State script, then he does so without notes and appears to have spent considerable time rehearsing IS’s message to the world. He doesn’t falter or show any sign of fear and included messages to his family and his brother, a serving air force pilot. It is a crude but effective piece of propaganda and with the “execution” edited out is far less gruesome than the killing of innocents we see in other Islamic State actions, the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, the Syrian civil war, and even the cold-blooded shootings by US police in Ferguson and elsewhere. It may sway the minds of young Muslim men looking for purpose and excitement, with its twisted message being no more distorted than some of the blatant mendacity fed to us by our media – mendacity that led to phony wars killing over a hundred thousand innocents. Though difficult for a Westerner to find online (check LiveLeak), it must be easy for those searching in the Arab-language web.

The banned video is, of course, the propaganda of an evil and despicable group who have beheaded thousands of men and children, putting their heads on sticks, and abducting their wives and mothers. I despair at the appearance of this gruesome new player on the world stage; a player armed with the latest US hardware and rich with billions of US dollars seized in Iraq. For those who make the arms, of course, this is all good for business, as they effectively supply both sides in the conflicts of the Middle East. They will be rubbing their hands all the way to their bankster backers.

Responding to the beheading, Obama tells us emphatically that “no faith teaches people to massacre innocents.” Correction Mr President, your faith does. Let us briefly dip into the Bible, believed by fundamentalists of Judaism and Christianity to contain the indisputable word of God. Muslims credit this too, except for those bits that differ from the Quran. Perhaps this selection from Deuteronomy will help us better understand both the mentality of the Islamic State and that of fundamentalist Christians in the US who see themselves as players in  catastrophic events visited upon the Holy Land and predicted by the Bible.

Deuteronomy 13:12-16 New International Version (NIV)
If you hear it said about one of the towns the Lord your God is giving you to live in that troublemakers have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods you have not known), then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you, you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. You must destroy it completely, both its people and its livestock. You are to gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. That town is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt.

If we seriously want to neutralize the threat posed by Islamic State then let us join with the well-organized forces of President Assad of Syria, a secular leader. It was Western efforts to bring down his government through aiding its Islamist enemies that gave new wings to Islamic State, originally born out of the turmoil in Iraq. Their brutal slaughter of innocents appalls me, whatever means they employ, as does the slaughter of innocents in Gaza, Ukraine, Syria, and wherever factions fight for ownership of the right to take money from a nation’s people and tell them how to think and what to do. It’s the same old stuff that has been playing out on the world’s stage since Sargon of Akkad started the ball rolling around 2250 BCE.

Is there anything we really cannot manage without a top-down coercive state running it, other than protecting us from other varieties of themselves? Many are rightly concerned about corporations running the state, though one could argue that it might be preferable to being ruled by fundamentalist Muslims of the Islamic State, or a military junta, or the sort of Christians who burn heretics. But as long as we accept the state as some kind of a “necessary evil” then somebody will always be calling the shots and we will always be arguing over whether we prefer cat shit to dog shit to chicken shit.

There is another way and we already self-govern the majority of our social structures. Civilization preceded, by a few thousand years, the top-down state that Sargon initiated, and has often survived its collapse. Humans are good at self-governing when they are well-connected, doing it with feedback loops instead of threats and sticks.

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