Whenever all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.
– Thomas Jefferson letter to C.Hammond, 1821
The first three parts of this series focused on the obvious reality that imperial America is not just increasingly being seen as a rogue state around the world, but that it’s also become harmful and parasitic to its own people. It’s become abundantly clear that empire is not compatible with Constitutional government.
As power and resources have become increasingly centralized in Washington D.C., the American people have suffered. We’ve suffered from an increasingly rigged economic and financial system, continued security-state encroachment in the form of mass surveillance and a militarization of police, and a war industry which relentlessly funnels more and more wealth toward protecting imperial dominance overseas.
As anyone who’s read the U.S. Constitution knows, this is not the way the union was supposed to function. Indeed, the founders were obsessed with avoiding the pitfalls of European empires since they knew how that story ends. At the federal level, a separation of powers between the three branches of government: the legislative, the executive and the judicial was a key component of the Constitution. The specific purpose here was to prevent an accumulation of excessive centralized power within a specific area of government.
While this separation of powers still exists on paper, it’s been eroded to a very dangerous degree. When it comes to war, which the legislative branch is supposed to declare, Congress has chosen to abdicate its responsibility and simply allows the executive to do whatever it wants. We saw this with Obama and we see it with Trump. The separation of powers is being ignored completely when it comes to state-sanctioned murder and this is no small thing. Equally concerning, a fourth branch of government has also emerged. Completely lawless and unaccountable, the extraordinarily dangerous power wielded by U.S. intelligence agencies provides another example of how far we’ve strayed as a people.
Beyond a separation of powers at the federal level, the founding founders made sure that the various states had tremendous independent governance authority in their own right in order to further their objective of decentralized political power This was enshrined in the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which reads as follows:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
The reason I’m pointing all of this out is because the founding fathers intended the U.S. to be a project in political decentralization. Not only was regional (state) power supposed to be extensive by design, but they also made sure to separate powers at the the federal level. It seems clear that the primary intent behind the Constitution was to prevent an accumulation of excessive power (centralization) in any one person or group of people. This was revolutionary for its time.
If you take an honest look at the U.S. today, you won’t see Constitutional government. Politicians don’t care about it, intelligence agencies don’t care about it, and the average person doesn’t really care either. Our national evolution into the world’s dominant imperial force has transformed the Republic into a centralized superstate.
Most of you already understand all this. Where things get interesting is that this centralized superstate, aka the U.S. empire, is likely to experience a serious collapse in the years ahead under the weight of excessive corruption, mismanagement and a loss of the consent of the governed. American citizens are rapidly climbing the learning curve as to how things really work and they’re not too happy.
I believe such a collapse is essentially inevitable at this point, which means we should be focusing our energy on what comes next. Many Americans have been living in total denial for decades. A considerable portion of the public either hasn’t admitted the U.S. is a global empire in the first place, or they consider it a good or just thing. Moreover, they accept the current centralized structure of U.S. governance as appropriate and logical. There’s this erroneous belief that the key thing we need to do is “elect good people.” I disagree. What we need are more appropriate political structures.
The more I live and learn, the more I become convinced that the vast majority of decisions should be made at the local level, by people living in the communities directly affected. The idea that we need to argue and bicker endlessly in order to convince a small majority of Congress to vote in a particular manner to pass legislation that will then apply to 325 million people is idiotic. In a country as large and diverse as the U.S., you’re guaranteed to make almost everybody unhappy all the time. While I accept that some issues transcend local governance, these issues are far, far fewer that we’re led to believe. Almost all decisions that affect how people live their everyday lives should be decided at the local level by communities, not by a bureaucratic and easily corruptible behemoth thousands of miles away.
As the U.S. empire weakens in the years ahead, the worst thing we could possibly do is give Washington D.C. more power. It’s an excessive accumulation of wealth and power in that swamp which got us to the point of collapse in the first place. Rather, I hope we think about the original intent of our founding document and rediscover the importance of decentralized political power.
Moreover, we now have access to tools our founding fathers never could have dreamed of. Instant communications and access to the world’s information at our fingertips have made representative democracy obsolete (voting for someone to vote for you), and we’ve never had a better opportunity to restore sovereignty to the individual. This isn’t to say I foresee a world with no governance structures. I think human beings tend to gravitate toward creating rules-based communities and that’s not a bad thing. The key principle is that such collaboration should be voluntary and organic, unlike the political structures which currently dominate our planet.
As things stand, we’re each born into particular nation-states, and most of us must then live the rest of our lives under a governance structure we never agreed to in the first place. The primary factor determining what sort of government you live under is which piece of dirt you happened to be born on. You essentially have no choice to how you’re governed, it’s all determined by the randomness of birth. Does this actually make sense to anyone?
It doesn’t make sense to me because I believe individual human beings should have an opportunity to live how they want to live. Moreover, the paradigm we need to move toward consists of governance structures characterized by rules without rulers. Critically, these rules must be agreed to voluntarily by the various participants in a multitude of decentralized political units I’d like to see emerge someday. You’d also ideally want to have a great deal of fluidity for humans to move from one unit to another. Someone at a particular stage of life might find one type of self-governing community ideal, but become interested in a very different model as they grow.
In 2018, pretty much everyone is born into a particular governance model/nation-state (not of their own choosing) and then stays stuck in it for the rest of their lives. This seems like a very primitive and unfree way of structuring political life for human beings. The future model I’d prefer to see would be rooted in ethical governance systems that value freedom and flexibility over the coercion and rigidity which dominate political life throughout the world today. Governance should be decentralized and political relationships should be voluntary.
Believe it or not, I think the key obstacle we face to making this sort of vision a reality is ourselves. Most of us tend to think too inside the box, anchoring what can be achieved by what’s been achieved thus far. However, the truth of the matter is we can create whatever sort of world we want. If enough of us simply begin to believe our current political structures are too centralized, bureaucratic, corrupt and unfree, then we can and will discard them and evolve toward a new paradigm. Which is why I always like to say, we already have the tools, we just need the will.
When you go to the grocery store your options for toothpaste and shampoo are almost endless, yet when it comes to the really important stuff, such as what sort of rules/governance we live under, or what sort of money we use, we’re given virtually no choice at all. Bitcoin’s emergence on the scene has already challenged this static rigidity when it comes to money. The next area to tackle will be governance.
* * *