Thucydides' Law

Thucydides' Law

by Duane Colyar

Exclusive to STR

July 21, 2009

… it is a general and necessary law of nature to rule whatever one can. ~ Thucydides

The growth of the state with its government apparatus has resulted in the growth of coercion, the growth of force. When all of the layers of government are peeled back to reveal its inner core, its essence, that essence is force. This fact is hardly a secret. A college text in political science will define government as that entity which has a monopoly on the use of coercion within a given geographic area. This growth of governmental force acts as a heavy saddle on your back as you are coerced to comply with statues, mandates, regulations, tax codes, military drafts, government service, labor laws, licenses – indeed, the whole range of government trespass into your private and personal life. It is a heavy burden and will only get heavier until some intervention takes place.

This essay will briefly explore three of the mechanisms the state uses to expand its force over civil society and individual liberty. The mechanisms will be presented as models in the form of flow charts, i.e., simplified representations of reality. We will begin with an overview examining civil society and its greatest threat, political society.

Transforming Civil Society into Political Society

Over two thousand years ago the Greek philosopher and historian Thucydides wrote in the History of the Peloponnesian War that power always expands to control what it can. Nowhere is this observation more apparent than in the growing power of the state. State power always expands at the expense of civil society. A civil society is characterized by voluntary exchange and associations operating within those markets, organizations, movements and networks that live and work in the social space outside the control of the state. Civil society encompasses much of our social contact. In its pure form it is social arrangements voluntarily arrived at and agreed to, unimpeded by state mandate. Civil society means going to work at a place of your choice, at wages and hours mutually agreed to. It means forming and belonging to associations limited to like-minded people with the same interests or beliefs. It means purchasing goods and services of one’s choice at prices determined by the laws of economics and not by the laws of the state. Civil society is the social space, as Adam Smith explained so many years ago, where we serve each other by first serving ourselves. We serve each other by striving to make a living by providing the goods and services needed by others.
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