The Fall of Civilization?

Libertarian Commentary, 08JAN2015, #16-01G By Nathan Barton

Has Western (Euro-American) Civilization fallen? There are many elements that together make up what we fondly think of as “civilization” and especially Euro-American civilization: technology, science, urbanization, respect for life, rule of law, and, yes, liberty. Today, we see changes and challenges to all of these.

For example, Paul Craig Roberts tells us that “The Rule of Law no longer exists in Western Civilization.” When DID it exist? Certainly not in THIS century or much of the last. Not in much (if not ALL) of Euro-American Civilization. So we could argue that this means that Euro-American Civilization HAS fallen, and we just don’t realize that it collapsed. Kind of like that planet in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy that was so excited about being able to say “Belgium” in public that they didn’t realize their civilization was dead. Seriously, I agree with much of what Roberts writes, including this: “I can attest with full confidence that the United States no longer has a rule of law. The USA is a lawless country…. What I mean is that only the mega-banks and the One Percent have legal protection, and that is because these people control the government. For everyone else law is a weapon in the hands of the government to be used against the American people.”

But Stockman and Roberts provide no alternative, no solution. Is there one? A return to basics: liberty and responsibility with no coercive government (as little government as possible), and rejecting the idea that one person has a right to control the lives of others.

Mama’s Note: First, the “little government as possible” only makes sense if you are talking about self-government and voluntary associations. Any form or level of involuntary government, even if it were possible to start with some sort of minimum (who decides that?) would inevitably grow as people discovered that they could join in and benefit from the coercion to control others.

Second, the “rule of law” is a myth based on the idea that any kind of law can be divorced from (or binding on) the people who make and enforce it. Only people make “law,” other than natural and physical laws like non-aggression and gravity. No man made law can be enforced generally without the consent and compliance of most people. And that compliance requires that the people accept and support at least some sort of “legitimate authority” to make those laws, and enforce them.

Here is an excellent analysis, The Myth of “The Rule of Law”:

“In a republic, the law is supposed to restrain the lay public from creating tyranny of the majority (I.E. a democracy) and simultaneously restrain the institutional agents of the state from functioning as an elite of rulers imposing their will on the lay public (I.E. an oligarchy). But a basic understanding of how human beings work and a rational analysis of how the state functions as an institution, including so-called republics, renders this theory of government as a rather blatant absurdity. How can a law be self-enforcing?”  Read the rest here.

Respect for life? Setting aside the evil of abortion, consider this, and also think about urban life:

Shades of Vietnam (“We had to destroy the village to save it.”) David Stockman accurately describes the much-publicized “liberation” of Ramadi by “Iraqi” forces from the Caliphate as a flat lie. 80% of the city has been destroyed and 30% is still under control of the Caliphate (ISIS). Islamic wars are as bad as ever and again, this is an example of Muslim-on-Muslim violence. Only a few hundred civilians out of a pre-ISIS population of a half-million remain. This would be the equivalent of having the entire Colorado Springs urban area almost totally abandoned. Or a urban complex twice the size of Sioux Falls wiped out.

Mama’s Note: And it WILL happen, sooner or later. Most people, especially city people, are no longer capable of surviving without the support of government money and privilege, and without the constant influx of food and medicine, electricity and so forth from other places. Most are pretty much incapable of cooking with common simple ingredients, and would be helpless without all of the modern conveniences and technology. My goodness… what if they could no longer send a “tweet” or talk on their little phones? What will happen when the checks AND the supply trucks/trains/boats stop coming? Those who do not flee at once will likely join the piles of corpses in the streets, with none to mourn or bury them. They will kill each other…

Hmm. What about science and technology? Look at this next story.

I am not sure if this is intended to be a parody or not. Personal Liberty shares and provides comments about an article in Green Med Info claiming that “another study rattles the foundation of the germ theory of disease.”

The idea that “germs” (that is defined as “microorganisms, especially microorganisms that cause disease”) DO cause many human and animal diseases is deeply embedded in culture and (now fallen?) Western Civilization. It replaced theories that diseases were caused by demons or evil spirits, magical spells, or “bad air” or “ether.” And it seems to have been fairly well-proven by research and experimentation. Now, it is being claimed by various researchers (after doing studies and experimentation) that it is just as much a mistaken theory as the demon or magic ones? We know that germs are not the ONLY cause of disease or illness (defined as “a disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific signs or symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury.”). Literally “bad air” can cause disease (try breathing too much carbon monoxide or hydrogen sulfide); so can radiation (not a “microorganism), and bad (contaminated) water (water contaminated by more than just microorganisms). But the article seems to question not just “childhood” diseases as being “diseases” caused by microorganisms, but all such diseases. We know that there are serious problems with vaccines and antibiotics, but is this going too far?

Mama’s Note: Lots of red herring in that article. Germs (bacteria/virus/fungi) are the focus of most infectious disease, but the actual development of the infection in the body has to do with far more complex things. A strong immune system, mental and spiritual health, and the avoidance of many serious toxins that damage all those things is vital.

Sadly, too many people concentrate their efforts on some real and some imagined “toxins,” instead of working to build their overall health of body and mind. The world was always full of plant and mineral toxins, and human health depends on being able to deal with them if they can’t be avoided. Just research all of the toxins present in smoke from the typical open fire. Humans have been exposed to that, and so many more, from the beginning.  Yet the human population continues to increase. The idea that all toxins come from modern pharmacology and technological progress is foolish, at best.

Other things? For centuries, killing civilians in wartime, not believing in germs causing disease, and tyrannical rule were considered “barbaric” – that is, uncivilized. The same was true of tattooing your body: savages, barbarians, NOT civilized people, did that.

Once upon a time, in (now fallen?) Western Civilization, tattoos were limited to sailors, Marines, and bikers: the fringes of society. Indeed, some religions even considered tattoos to be sinful because of the connotations associated with them. Now, any major town or city has many tattoo parlors, and tattoos seen very commonly on people of all social and economic classes. Some types of tattoos are marginally accepted: facial tattoos or “tramp stamps” are examples. But more and more ARE accepted. The WaPo discusses a do-it-yourself tattoo trend, common in prisons (few if any tattoo parlors in prisons, of course) which seems to be getting popular outside prisons and outside the criminal classes: poking yourself and putting dye into the skin (or having a friend do it).

Mama’s Note: I personally dislike seeing anyone with visible tattoos, or the little rings and things stuck into their lips, tongue and eyebrows, but my reaction has zero to do with their right to do it to themselves. Same as with anything else. On the other hand, their choices might well influence my evaluation if I’m considering hiring them, or inviting them into my home, or patronizing their business. Their choice can’t be imposed on me that way, any more than I can impose my choices on them.

WHY this social trend (if indeed it is one) featured in the WaPo? Tattoo parlors, like barber shops and beauty parlors, are for the most part heavily regulated by government (although the legal basis for this action is dubious at best: barber shops in particular are difficult to claim a “health concern” is justified). But it is not illegal for someone to cut or dress their own hair or cut or dress the hair of a friend or family member without a government license. (That I am aware of, in most places, for now.) Is this an attempt to get governments to regulate self-tattooing, or tattooing of family members, by raising fears of disease? Or is there some other motive? Any thoughts of readers are appreciated.

Mama’s Note: Risk and potential for harm attends each and every choice and action, and each individual is ultimately responsible for accepting and managing those risks. If people want to take the increased risk of harm by doing their own tattoos, it’s nobody else’s business or responsibility. As for “laws” attempting to limit or criminalize such self treatment, they are scare tactics at best. First, there is no way to actually enforce such things, and second there is always the risk of serious unintended consequences in the attempt. The “war on drugs” being a prime example.

Not everyone is giving up on civilization and the rule of law, of course, but if civilization has already fallen, are they just wasting their time? Consider this:

AOL is actually reporting that NM governor Gary Johnson has again announced he is seeking the Libertarian nod for President in 2016. AOL’s definition of a “successful third-party presidential campaign” when describing Gary’s 2012 campaign must be an odd one. Still as far as political libertarians go, just making AOL’s front page is an achievement. But I expect little different from 2012.

Mama’s Note: Johnson is no more a “libertarian” than any other politician, just has a bag full of libertarian buzz words and gullible supporters. No matter how much he talks about “freedom,” or elimination of the IRS, he has no problem at all with continued control of everyone by a non-voluntary government. The “consumption tax,” for example, is simply theft by another name. He’s a statist, with a wonderful plan for other people’s lives and property… just like all the rest of them.

Especially not if Western Civilization is indeed as dead as the American republic. And maybe it is!

Mama’s Note: Depends a lot on how you define “Western Civilization” or “American republic.”


About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (christian), Pahasapan, Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer.
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2 Responses to The Fall of Civilization?

  1. LarryArnold says:

    [Now, any major town or city has many tattoo parlors, and tattoos seen very commonly on people of all social and economic classes.]
    My Texas (red state, rural) town has a population of 23,000, hardly “major.” For the past several years one of our local tattoo/piercing establishments has been accepted enough to have a float in the local holiday parade.


    • MamaLiberty says:

      It must be a regional thing. I saw lots of tattoos when I lived in California, but very seldom see one here. The population of the entire county here is not even 5,000. And it will probably shrink more as long as the “bust” period lasts. We gain population when the economy “booms,” but they don’t stay long when the energy sector jobs shut down.

      I don’t happen to think tattoos improve the looks of anyone, but it’s none of my business, of course. I actually have a much more negative reaction to people who put rings and other hardware all over their face and on their tongues. I simply can’t imagine why anyone would mutilate themselves like that, especially the young girls. But, again, it’s none of my business to stop them or even voice disapproval.


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