Joel Bowman: G’day, Doug. Where in the world do we find the original international man today?
Doug Casey: Sitting in his library on a farm in the middle of nowhere. And quite pleased to be there at the moment, thank you.
JB: Today we continue our REAL State of the Union project, whereby we measure the United States of 2018 up against the ideals enumerated by the founding fathers in the first ten amendments to the constitution, otherwise known as the Bill of Rights.
What might they think of the present state of affairs in their beloved republic?
We’ve already covered the three opening provisions of the First Amendment; Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. [Ed. Note: Dear readers who missed out on these conversations can catch up here, here and here, respectively.]
We’ll pick up the conversation with the fourth provision, Freedom to Assemble and to Petition for Redress, in a moment but, before we do, it’s perhaps important to acknowledge that the Constitution itself – including its subsequent amendments – was by no means a perfect document. It was, after all, authored by fallible men who long debated what should or should not be included in it.
As Natural Law advocate and staunch anarchist, Lysander Spooner (1808-1887), astutely pointed out, “[W]hether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain - that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.”
Would you care to add anything to Mr. Spooner’s observation?
DC: Like you Joel, I’m opposed the very existence of the State. I’m opposed to it on moral grounds, because its essence is coercion. I’m opposed to it on economic grounds, because it’s more a threat to everyone’s property than a guardian of it. On practical grounds, since it’s necessarily inefficient in doing what it’s supposed to do, and does everything it’s not supposed to do. On aesthetic grounds, since it inevitably draws the worst kind of people to its employment. On evidential grounds, since its main products are wars, taxes, regulations, inflation, pogroms, and the like.
But that’s just scratching the surface. We could write a book about why the State is the worst idea anybody has ever had.
I’ll just say that it speaks poorly of the average person, that he not only thinks the State is necessary, but enthusiastically supports it. And a constitution—whatever its positive aspects—enshrines and legitimizes the idea of the State.
I favor individuals cooperating as individuals, not as cogs in the State’s machine.
JB: Right. Now we’ve established that individuals, not pieces of paper, are responsible for their own actions, let’s get back to our project.
You've mentioned many times before that we're in the “eye of the hurricane,” a kind of calm before the “Greater Depression” really kicks in. That is, if it hasn't already…
During and following the 2008 economic crisis, we saw a few scattered protests and half-hearted outcries. The Occupy Wall Street movement, a sort of grievance swap meet for the dazed and confused, was perhaps the most notable of these public reactions.
Assuming that more and more people will take to the streets as the crisis deepens, how do you think the State will react to the perceived right to Assemble and Petition for Redress, keeping in mind that it was the State, itself, that caused the distortions in the economy in the first place?
DC: Well, how has it been reacting so far? The prime justification for the State is to maintain order. It seems like in Charlottesville, Ferguson, and other cities, the police don't like to get involved in these politically based riots-- or, perhaps more accurately, racially based riots. Maybe they question who the good guys and the bad guys are and want to stand aside. It’s not doing a great job preventing fights.
In the future, if the economy gets as bad as I expect, there will be serious riots—which are always a danger when the hoi polloi assemble. There are now means of crowd control much more effective than tear gas. There are beam weapons that, when directed at you, make your skin feel it’s on fire, and will absolutely make you run away and hide. Directional sonic weapons that will make you cover your ears, and run away. Ultra-slippery chemicals that make it impossible to walk. And of course they have means of identifying people in crowds, both with facial recognition and gait recognition.
It may not be against the law to assemble, but the “authorities”—if they choose to-- can certainly make it unpleasant.
JB: Your point about leveraging technology as an effective means of crowd control makes me think of China’s “Social Credit” system, whereby citizens are scored based on certain behavioral patterns; the kind of media to which they subscribe, their online purchasing patterns, the sites they visit, their known associates, etcetera.
With the advent of facial recognition software, it isn’t difficult to imagine that this score might be extended to include the kind of public rallies one attends and the placards one is wont to wave. Anything with an anti-government message could severely impact one’s “score.” And that affects all kinds of things…
DC: The Chinese Social Credit system—which is going to be adopted just about everywhere—will have a giant indirect effect on Freedom to Assemble. If you’re part of a non-PC gathering, it will undoubtedly ding your score. And a low score will affect your ability to get a job, get credit, get into a school, and a hundred other things.
There doesn’t have to be an actual law against something if people don’t to do it because of other consequences.
There's no question that the Chinese Social credit system will be adopted in the U.S. You can tell by the way people cherish their Experian and credit scores, even now. Although you’ll theoretically have a right to protest and gather, you could put yourself at risk by doing so. Freedom of Assembly is on its way to becoming a dead letter, if only because of technology.
In addition, I'm not sure people are going to hit the streets for practical reasons. They're fat and out of shape; something like a third of the population are clinically obese. They're indoctrinated; that means they’re likely to do as they’re told. A third of the population is on psychiatric drugs; that means they’re functional zombies. Although they may also be ticking time bombs for the same reason. And anyway, they're much more interested in playing video games, watching cat videos on the internet, and playing with their cell phones than they are in becoming a Street Fighting Man—to use the Rolling Stones’ phrase.
JB: I think that’s an excellent point. We’ve spoken in this series about the concepts of Orwellian and Huxleyan dystopias. In the former, everything is either mandatory or prohibited, leaving almost no room for choice or personal responsibility. In the latter, the impulse for inquiry has been flatly ironed out, so that the epsilons effectively govern themselves, asking no questions and expecting no lies.
You can see it at airports and bus stops and shopping malls everywhere, people just staring blankly into their phones, almost oblivious to the world around them.
DC: That's right. Who needs to think when the talking heads will interpret reality for you?
JB: The zombie apocalypse is upon us…and nobody even noticed.
DC: The country has degraded quite a bit from the days of Paul Revere calling citizens to assemble on the Concord green to fight the British Army.
JB: So how do you grade the State and the people it claims to govern on the Freedom to Assemble and to Petition for Redress? To what extent does the State observe these rights… and to what extent does the greater populace even care?
DC: Of course in places like China and most of the Third World, Freedom to Assemble doesn’t exist. They get an F. The US Government gets a B… you can assemble. But as a practical matter the point is becoming academic for the reasons we covered. The population gets a C or maybe a D—because they’re too apathetic to care.
JB: Thanks for taking the time, Doug. Next week we’ll move onto the Second Amendment, the “right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
I can’t imagine anything controversial will come of that conversation, but readers might enjoy it nonetheless…
DC: Yes—it’s where the rubber actually meets the road.
--- END ---
Editor's note: Clearly, there are many strange things afoot in the world. Distortions of markets, distortions of culture. It’s wise to wonder what’s going to happen, and to take advantage of growth while also being prepared for crisis. How will you protect yourself in the next crisis? See our PDF guide that will show you exactly how. Click here to download it now.