Monday, July 22, 2013

The Metastasis

From Gerard Vanderleun's KA-CHING! site comes this pictorial gem:

This illustration is a whole education in political economy in a few thousand pixels.

The annotations are significant, but even more so is the geometry through which they're depicted: an expanding sphere of State control, first over our necessities, then over our discretionary activities, and ultimately over the whole of human existence. At each stage, the State's coercive powers are amplified by the importance and scope of the resources it appropriated in the previous stage, such that individuals and voluntary organizations steadily lose all power to resist its further expansion. The Blob wouldn't have had a chance against the State.

I can add only a single observation to this depiction: As the State swells, it ceases to perform any of its functions even marginally well. Indeed, the first functions it will slough are the ones for which we originally agreed to tolerate a pre-indemnified coercive authority: national defense, police protection, and the administration of impartial justice. In the terminal stage of its expansion, when it lays claim to all things and no one outside its corridors may do anything without first asking its permission and paying its price, the State's sole concern becomes the maintenance of its power and the perquisites of its nomenklatura.

This is likely to be a rather hectic day for me, so I doubt I'll be posting anything further until tomorrow. Therefore I urge you one and all, Gentle Readers, to reflect upon the above, and to ask yourselves:

This "anarchy" the State's boosters are always warning me against: Just how bad would it be?

That might be the most important of all political questions. I've been asking it of myself with increasing frequency. The answer is by no means clear.


vanderleun said...

Hay, thanks. I'd forgotten about that. My brain drain is now in full spate.

Weetabix said...

I appear to be a (Paleo +Minarchist)/2.

I'm OK with roads, but a bit iffy on fire protection. I think fire protection should be a subscription service.

Education seems too explosive. I rather like the ideal of public education, but I don't think the actuality can ever be agreed on, effective, or done correctly, so it's better on a practical level to leave it to the private sphere.

Francis W. Porretto said...

What's particularly interesting about education, Weet, is that public education was a rather small fraction of overall education until the late 19th Century. The argument for its expansion was that it was needed to Americanize the huge waves of immigrants that started arriving at that time...and for a while, let it be candidly said, it fulfilled that need rather well.

Anonymous said...

Great chart. I would replace "modern conservative" with "neoconservative".
Also, this chart seems to be confined to domestic policy.

Where does "endless interventionist warfare" fit? I would say that overlaps with total socialism, modern liberalism, modern conservatism (neoconservatism), and somewhat with paleoconservatism.

Anonymous said...

A wonderful chart. Too bad we will progress toward a full socialist state rather than reduce the size of the government. That is until the entire edifice collapses as did Rome.

We should recognize that we have only big government parties.

Anonymous said...

I believe the tyranny bubble is about to pop.

Conan the Cimmerian said...

Posted and linked

Anonymous said...

What did the Crown provide to the New England colonies in 1750? What did the individual Colony gov. provide internally? What did each county/township provide inside their walking-distance jurisdiction?

They didn't even provide roads. Law & Justice only, at a minimal cost (Few Sheriffs Deputies Police, few courts, few lawyers, few prisons/prisoners). Official interface with foreign governments was minimal and was handled by the Crown in London, or by appointed Governors, at minimal cost. Could the total cost of government (hidden and direct) have exceeded 5% of the output of a farmer or merchant? People really were on their own, but families and churches understood their obligation to do genuine and necessary charity after providing for themselves.

This was good enough, and if we did the functions of the Crown/Governor system at a local level, less costly than the taxes extracted from the Colony by the Crown.

The graphic leads me to what happens outside the red loop of Total Socialism. The State determines who shall continue to live, and begins to actively eliminate by slow pressure of rules and access those not benefitting the State. It might look like war (or one of the modern euphemisms like "kinetic action") when outside the controlled territory, or "business as usual" inside the borders.


Malcolm Kirkpatrick said...

This classification scheme does not include environmental protection. One might support competitive markets in goods and services while also supporting an intrusive State that protects common property (migratory species, aquifers, etc.).