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The Story of the
First Government

By Punkerslut

Image from WikiMedia
Image: From WikiCommons, Edited by Punkerslut

Start Date: Saturday, August 8, 2009
Finish Date: Saturday, August 8, 2009

"Before the invention of signs to represent riches, wealth could hardly consist in anything but lands and cattle, the only real possessions men can have. But, when inheritances so increased in number and extent as to occupy the whole of the land, and to border on one another, one man could aggrandise himself only at the expense of another; at the same time the supernumeraries, who had been too weak or too indolent to make such acquisitions, and had grown poor without sustaining any loss, because, while they saw everything change around them, they remained still the same, were obliged to receive their subsistence, or steal it, from the rich; and this soon bred, according to their different characters, dominion and slavery, or violence and rapine. The wealthy, on their part, had no sooner begun to taste the pleasure of command, than they disdained all others, and, using their old slaves to acquire new, thought of nothing but subduing and enslaving their neighbours; like ravenous wolves, which, having once tasted human flesh, despise every other food and thenceforth seek only men to devour."
          --Jean Jacques Rousseau
          "On the Origin of the Inequality Among Men," 1754, Part 2

     Tiktuk had just crossed Appalachian Mountains into Quebec, but he was still in very cold territory for the winter. Huddling with his animal skins, clutching to his stone and wood spear, he kept on going south. All he could think about were the icicles on his clothing and the bitter sting of freezing cold in his feet, worsening with each step.

     With the sun setting, he found an area sheltered by some trees and bushes to make camp. As he lay down to sleep, he heard a voice.

     "This is my property, and you have to leave."

     "What are you talking about?"

     "You're in my field. I've been farming this area for sustenance since this past summer."

     "This is my land," Tiktuk responded to the stranger, "I have passed through here every winter, sleeping wherever I like. Who are you to tell me that it is now yours?"

     "Because I have labored upon it, and I have made it mine," the alleged landowner said.

     "It is both mine and yours," Tiktuk said, "I am not planning to stay here throughout the year, but just this one night. You can have it when you need to farm it, and I'll take it when I am passing through. The land is ours."

     "But I have given up the right to other lands, and I have taken this small patch as my own," the strange replied, "It is my individual property, and you have the right to find and make any land your individual property. But you do not have the right to the land that I have claimed."

     "And what if you claimed the sky, the air, the mountains, and the forests as your own? Could you even imagine trying to defend these things on your own?" Tiktuk said firmly.

     "I'm not trying to defend the sky, I'm trying to defend my property," the man replied.

     "It is not your property," Tiktuk said, "It is our property. My ancestors, for generations and generations, have passed through all of these areas -- they have taken fruit from the trees and have slept undisturbed in every region. How do you expect me to give up rights that are essential to my way of living? Rights that are essential to the way all humanity has lived for hundreds of thousands of years?"

     "I don't have to reason about my right to this property," the landowner said, "I only have to claim that it is mine. You need to leave!"

     "I'm staying right here," Tiktuk responded.

     The stranger clenched his fists and left. Tiktuk went back to sleep, wondering what sort of foul creature he had just encountered.

     The stranger's name was Konala, and he indeed was a farmer, with abundant harvests stored up. He contemplated his dilemma for some time, and then arrived at a conclusion. There were many in Tiktuk's position surrounding the area, many who were sleeping on the land here and there, as well as taking the farmer's produce. But at this time of year, they were all very cold and hungry; they each longed for the warm days, where the sweet scent of fruit vaporized into the air.

     Konala then thought he had a solution to his problem. He went to some of the others, and offered them part of his produce. In exchange, they would become the guardians of his property. They were offered bread and vegetables, with a hut that protected from some of the elements. Compared with the frozen ground and the barren trees, it was an attractive offer. The first soldiers were hired.

"The existence of one sovereign, exclusionary State necessarily supposes the existence and, if need be, provokes the formation of other such States, since it is quite natural that individuals who find themselves outside it and are threatened by it in their existence and in their liberty, should, in their turn, associate themselves against it."
          --Mikhail Bakunin, ~1800's
          "Rousseau's Theory of the State"

     The new army went and disturbed Tiktuk from his sleep -- it was the first time the police would wake up the homeless from sleeping in public, and certainly not the last time. Konala had selected the most brazen, brutish, and cheap of the guard candidates. Their numbers and viciousness inspired fear in Tiktuk; even though he had a shabby spear, they too were making use of stone weapons and spears.

     They convinced Tiktuk to leave. Several more hours of searching, and Tiktuk had found a new spot. The few huts and tilled land of Konala were a small dot in the distance. But it had become much colder, and Tiktuk's sweat had turned to ice. He had found an area that was decently sheltered, but this did not fight off the sub-zero temperatures. Holding tightly every garment at his disposal, he finally caught sleep.

     In the morning, Tiktuk had awoken to seeing Konala and his soldiers.

     "You're on my land," Konala said, "And this is the second time you have trespassed."

     "How is this your land?" Tiktuk asked.

     "I claimed it as my own during the night," Konala spoke from behind his mercenaries, "There is no other individual claiming this land as their own. And we are living in a world of individual property rights."

     "How did you decide that we are living in a world of individual property rights? Up to now we have been living in the world as though it were our collective property."

     "I have decided it, without consulting the majority, and against you," Konala said, "This is a world of individuals, not of collectives."

     "Fine, I'll leave. I'm heading south anyway," Tiktuk responded.

     "Actually, this is your second violation, and we're holding you here to do labor as a fine, since you obviously have no property to pay as a fine," Konala responded.

     "You're going to make me work for you? How?" Tiktuk asked.

     "We'll give you a sustenance, and my armed friends over here will make sure that you toil as much as is necessary," Konala said, "Then your produce will largely go to me and those who watch over you. But, you'll get some of it back, as a wage."

"He who first said, 'I will appropriate this field: I will leave it to my heirs;' did not perceive, that he was laying the foundation of civil laws and political establishments. He who first ranged himself under a leader, did not perceive, that he was setting the example of a permanent subordination, under the pretence of which, the rapacious were to seize his possessions, and the arrogant to lay claim to his service."
          --Adam Ferguson, 1767
          "Essay on the History of Civil Society," Part 3, Section II

     "But, I don't want to work the land," Tiktuk said, "I want to live free and poor, bound to no property, as I have always lived."

     "If you take fruit from land, you're stealing someone's individual property. Or, you're stealing what will become someone's property. You have no right to go out into a propertied world, and to harvest food from the land. Only individuals on their property can do that."

     "You're going to make me work for a wage, and I can't supply myself with my own labor?" Tiktuk asked.

     "Yes, and you don't have much control in the matter anyway," Konala responded. Tiktuk became the first wage-slave.

     Slowly, more and more land was claimed by Konala, but others observed this, and copied his tactics. They each improved or added their own nuance to how their government mastered its subjects. But in each case, they placed themselves on top and used hired troops to defend their claims. The landed proprietors could hire armies and take any land that was left to nature. Those who lived as hunters and gatherers had no way of organizing an effective resistance. They were quickly the victims of conquest -- the wage-slaves of new empires.

     Throughout history, this pattern has been repeated. It had gone on until there was no space on the earth left to common -- there was no free territory, which accepted all and allowed all to the land. Every spot of land is now the deeply cherished property of this or that government, of these or those privileged. The monopoly of property is regarded as intrinsic and inherent to the strength and the nobility of a culture, a religion, or a government. These regimes convince their troops to defend the borders, as though they were fighting for the property and liberty of their families and ancestors. With the pacifying effect of religion and mass media, every government can draw out as many troops as they need from their people.

     Whenever the masters of society would talk about tradition, they always meant Konala's heritage. They didn't mean the million-years old tradition of Tiktuk. His conceptions of property, rights, and justice would have destroyed the power structures of society's privileged classes.

     And so the state goes on like that. There is always the use of force and violence to defend the masters of wealth. As there would be no government without it being supplied weapons by some landowner. And there is always the moralizing about the value of the state. There is a constant use of every channel to reach the people, from every pulpit to every news stand, from every political party to every school. The purpose has always been to ingrain the common people with the idea that government is helpful, necessary, just, righteous, and virtuous. These are the two methods of every government's control: force and violence in collusion with the privileged class, and a culture that respects authority and exclusion.

"Men are like handsome race horses who first bite the bit and later like it, and rearing under the saddle a while soon learn to enjoy displaying their harness and prance proudly beneath their trappings. Similarly men will grow accustomed to the idea that they have always been in subjection, that their fathers lived in the same way; they will think they are obliged to suffer this evil, and will persuade themselves by example and imitation of others, finally investing those who order them around with proprietary rights, based on the idea that it has always been that way."
          --Étienne de La Boétie, 1548
          "Discourse on Voluntary Servitude"


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