The recent NDAA Bill has been decried as an act of governmental tyranny. This is true, but the implications are much more than just a mere overstep. It is, in reality, a further step in the direction of decilivization.
The word “collectivist” is sadly absent from the popular language of politics. Collectivism, in short, composes the political viewpoints that are focused on the collective, or the whole. This is starkly opposed to individualism, which is focused on the individual. Some of the political philosophies that are considered collectivist are Communism (and its various varieties), socialism, modern liberalism, and anarcho-syndicalism.
The reason for the deranged nature of collectivism is due to one important element of it. This is a violation of the non-aggression principle. This principle is of great importance to classical liberalism—“true” Conservatism, Libertarianism, and other schools of thought. The non-aggression can be stated as that any act of aggression initiated on another, when not in the case of self-defense, is wrong. This unjustified use of force on others is characteristic of collectivism—as it is concerned with the “good” of the group. The NDAA Bill is an unjustified use of force.
Humans’ natural state is anarchy. No matter how much order is established—whether through iron fist or constitution—it is natural that societies will tend towards anarchy, if untouched by the works of those who love liberty. Civilization is something that takes this natural state (anarchy) and improves upon it, slightly. In this case, it is very limited government—of the noted classical liberal tradition. The downsides of anarchy all stem from the mass violation of the non-aggression principle. James Madison summed these downsides well:
“If all men were angels, no government would be necessary.”
Yes, there are some benefits to anarchy, but these are outweighed both by limited government and the point made by Madison.
If taken to the extreme opposite of anarchy, overreaching government authority and control, still violates the non-aggression principle. If we are to take Frederic Bastiat’s definition of the law as “collective force,” then actions of a government may also violate the non-aggression principle in this way.
From this, we have determined several things. First, that the definition of “decivilized” is unjustified aggression—as all evils can be traced back to this. Second, anarchy is the natural state of mankind. Third, “civilized” is something that takes on this anarchy and improves it. Limited government (such as the republican ideas of the Founders) is the only system that is the epitome of “civilization.”
I realize that, to the reader, all of this may seem to be restricted the realm of the academic and the thinker, but this is not the case. It is now time to show some examples of policies that are collectivist, with the idea of arming the reader with the knowledge to oppose collectivism in all areas—but not writing a long, complete list of grievances.
Take for example the event cited at the beginning of this essay—the NDAA Bill. In short, this bill allows the government to take private citizens and hold them indefinitely in military detention—without a charge or warrant. As the government uses force in any law established (i.e. the government does not nicely suggest that income taxes are paid), this bill empowers the government to use vast amounts of unjustified force.
There has very recently been a great push of anti-free market sentiments, and these are of the greatest concern, considering the extreme importance of economics. I mentioned that anything the government does is through the use of force. Thus, any action taken against the free market, no matter how “fair” it may sound, is a use of force against parties that did not use force—and is a violation of the non-aggression principle.
Along with anti-free market ideas, the philosophy of wealth redistribution has also gained much force in recent times. Wealth redistribution cannot be called anything besides robbery, except that it is perpetrated by the government. Since robbery involves some use of force or threats, this is also a violation of the non-aggression principle.
Property rights have been under siege for quite some time now, and the destruction of such can be called nothing except collectivist. When examined, any violation of property rights must be collectivist—and thus also a violation of the non-aggression principle.
Man dreams of utopias, but they are either attempted—with bloodbaths being the common outcome—and failed, or they are realized in works of fiction. By taking the philosophies that represent the truest form of the words “just” and “moral” other men created a severely limited government—the greatest personification of “civilized.” In the two hundred and thirty years since our founding, this nation has strayed from the original path of liberty, into Progressivism and collectivism, with the rest of the world doing the same at a faster pace. Each step in this direction is an eroding away of the great pillar of civilization—one that has been nearly a thousand years in the making.