Does Destruction Lead To Prosperity?
Authoritarians of all stripes love a good crisis that results from destruction. They see it as an opportunity in which they can garner more power and resources for their god, The State . Whether its War, Natural Disasters, or fabricated stories about Alien Invasions those who worship at the altar of the State see destruction or potential destruction as a net positive to the economy and especially to themselves. They believe the more power the State has the more they will be able to institute their plans for controlling the Life, Liberty and Property of other individuals.
Without the power of legalized force behind them the Central Planners would be no different from self-help gurus peddling their particular prescription for happiness. I don’t think they would be able to institute their plans if it rested upon individuals voluntary accepting to follow them.
Without the threat of death, imprisonment, and financial ruin Central Planners would not be able to force others to act in a certain way. They would have to use persuasion. This is not something that the Utopia Seeking Authoritarians can afford to rest such important work upon. Instead of relying on their ability to convince individuals to buy into their collectivist commandments they enlist the power and force of the State to implement their plans.
The favorite way for those who work for the State to institute their collectivist designs is by rebuilding after a disaster. They sell the idea to individuals if they only give up more of their money and their power to choose after a disaster the State can not only improve the individual’s economic well-being but that of the entire economy as well. But contrary to what they tell people, Destruction never leads to wealth creation. If it did no civilization or Empire on Earth would ever disappear. What Empire throughout history who has squandered their treasure on War or had their lands devastated by natural disasters ever succeeded in becoming prosperous over the long-term? If War and Natural disasters produced wealth we would be filthy rich right now. But instead of Private wealth has been dramatically decreasing in this country after the natural disasters and wars over the past 100 years, while the wealth and power of the State has grown astronomically.
I think one of the unseen reasons why those on the Left and some on the Right believe that destruction, whether it’s war earthquakes or alien invasions is a good thing is because they see it as an oppurtunity to remake the world according to their vision. If the old order is destroyed a new one will be put in its place. With destruction coupled with the growth of the State they believe they will be able to sell their wares and be part of the Central Planning Cabal in charge of the rebuilding effort. In a sense the Authoritarian Professors, Pundits, Politicians and Economists are selling a product and that product is increasing the size and scope of the State at every opportunity.
Natural Disasters or Alien Invasions or War demand that the State become more dominant and like a very smart man said to me over lunch the other day , “Gain market share“. That is exactly what the State and its allies are constantly trying to do in all situations : Increase the State’s market share from the private sector. It does this by stealing money and directing the choices of individuals. The two competing forces in this world are Society (collection of individuals acting peacefully according to their own plans) and the State (which uses force to institute its plans for all individuals).
In the classic “What is Seen and Unseen”, Bastiat explained with the Window Breaking Fallacy that destruction may look to be a net positive at first because the damage needs to be repaired. But in reality reparing destruction is not a net positive because of the unseen loss of the opportunity that those repairs denied.
If destruction is a net positive why do we want to wait for natural disasters? Whey not Nuke one of our own major cities? Why not evacuate everyone out of downtown Portland or Peoria or New York City and raze it to the ground? Wouldn’t that be a huge boon to the economy? Just think of all the money needed to clean up, rebuild the buildings, buy new furniture computers and other consumer goods. That would be awesome right? But the money has to come from somewhere. That somewhere is from individuals who have earned that money. And they had plans for that money besides building a new city. Instead of having the city in which they live intact along with their money, now they only have the city. Repairing Destruction always destroys unforseen opportunites.
But we are doing basically the same thing overseas with all the wars? The State bombs and destroys buidlings in other countries then It steals money from us not only for the bombs but also for the bricks to rebuild what they’ve bombed. The Wars have been an economic boon to the corrupt officials overseas, politicians here at home and the Defense Contractors and other corporations who live off the State’s contracts. But who can look around the country and say its been good for the economy as a whole?
A famous Authoritarian Economist said the following on a talking heads show :
“There was a ‘Twilight Zone episode like this in which scientists fake an alien threat in order to achieve world peace. “Well, this time, we don’t need it, we need it in order to get some fiscal stimulus.” Along with that he is of course for more money printing from the Fed and more stimulus spending without the false alien invasion story.
His basic premise is that any event, even a manufactured one that increases the control of the State over Society ( control over individual’s Life, Liberty and Property) is a good thing. That is because when the State grows the prophets and the priests of the State benefit economically. So it could be said that Natural Disasters and Wars have a net positive economic effect but only for those who serve the State.
To them individuals are always subservient to the State even if they don’t know it yet. Only a small handful of people like themselves know this and must convince everyone else that is the best way to live. They just need to grow the State and reduce the Private Sector sufficiently in order to do that. Once the State is sufficiently large enough and private independent thought and action are reduced they can then bring about their Collectivist Utopia.
Leonard Read in his Elements of Libertarian Leadership explains how the authoritarians are blinded by their own arrogance.
“Now, it is perfectly obvious that many authoritarians are richer in an encyclopedic type of knowledge than are many libertarians. But, does this necessarily mean that they are wiser? Socrates, reputedly wise, said, “This man thinks he knows something when he does not, whereas as I do not know anything, do not think I do either.”
I don’t know everything but unlike the Central Planners I don’t pretend to. In reality of course they never can know it all but that is what they sell to the people. Within the Free Market each individual has a small sliver of knowledge and with that they buy and sell with other individuals who have a small sliver of knowledge. Throughout the Free Market billions of transfers of information take place (buying and selling) and this is what allows individuals when allowed to freely choose how to spend their time and money to adapt to an ever-changing world. This includes rebuilding after a Natural Disaster or an attack by a Foreign Nation.
When Authoritarians Pundits postulate about how the State can turn the economy around only if it consumes more resources from individuals, they are revealing how little they know.
Ludwig von Mises explained beautifully in his opus “Human Action” that each person has a unique scale of value and that it can change not only day-to-day but also moment to moment. And individuals always act to eliminate personal uneasiness, or stated differently to satisfy a desire. Mises wrote that all action to satisfy an individual’s desire is speculative. With this in mind how can anyone plan the actions and anticipate the consequences of the actions of billions of people each day, when the Authoritarian Economist doesn’t even know how his own desires will change from day to day or moment to meometn or what will be the consequences resultant from his actions to satisfy them?
“No one of us gets more than a casual glance of all creation, and each of us experiences a different view. ” Leonard Read
Know-it-allness as Leonard Read once wrote is the perfect way to describe the attitude shared by all the Authoritarian Economists, Professors, Pundits, and Politicians who serve the State. They know they know best. All they have to do is “force” people to believe it too.
“The authoritarian attempts to be the master of others when, obviously, he is not even master of himself. Plato likens the authoritarian to the man who passes his life, not in the building of his inner self, but in fighting and combating other men. Need we do more than look about us to confirm the rightness of Plato’s observations? One cannot be attentive to the inner self while exerting coercion on others.” Leonard Read
The Authoritarian Central Planners hope for destruction. They use every crisis to aggregate more power to the State from which they benefit economically. Their business is to support and implement the plans of the State to violate the Natural Right of Individuals to their Life, Liberty and Property. When Destruction occurs individuals are the most vulnerable to the siren song of the Utopian Collectivist Planners who never let a good crisis go to waste.
And That’s my Take