Contrary to the common conception, society isn’t held together by patriotism, Governmental grace or military force. It’s held together by the tacit understanding – usually subconscious – on the part of its citizens that participation and co-operation is to the economic and moral benefit of most, and that the acquiescence of unadulterated self-agency is mitigated by the presence of certain securities. When the costs of those mitigating benefits overwhelm the self-interest of large swaths of individuals in that society, those individuals historically do two things:
1) They (or a portion therein) get violent in an attempt to restore the prevailing civic order to their favor
2) They withdraw their consent, withdraw their support, withdraw their economic and civic participation from the transgressive society
They become Agorists, without a word of protest against the prevailing tyranny, and no one notices until the economic engine sputters, and the social customs and courtesies evaporate.
This is where we are.
The vaunted “consent of the Governed” isn’t strictly about placing limits on a government that rules you. That’s a symptom of the consent given by a populace that they will participate in a given society, because the benefits of doing so outweigh the costs. The Government instituted to arbitrate this comes later. When the paradigm changes – and it invariably, inevitably changes, every single time – the consent disappears as the economic, moral and civic acts of those participants shift away or disappear altogether from traditional society, heading underground, taking their money and talents with them.
Far from being the Great Libertarian Wrecking Ball of Freedom, such a shift is at best a mixed bag, fraught with numerous, devastating drawbacks. First, black market pricing benefits no one, not even the outlaws. Transacting in the underground economy comes with increased risk for all parties, and the dealers and merchants comprising the underground spend nearly if not all of the markup on protective measures against the State, against competitors and against piracy. Except for the rarest of circumstances, black marketeers operate with a much thinner profit margin than they would have to under a traditional economy.
Another significant issue is that driving ordinarily non-black market segments underground severely diminishes innovation in nearly every possible area, as capital shifts from development and optimization to protection and procurement (theft). This won’t do much damage in a week or a month, but over the course of years the rearward pull of decline subsumes everything else, as fewer and fewer true innovations are developed.
When the social and civic order exists more underground than it does above it, the ethical and moral structures necessary to maintain any form of civilization disappear, both as a matter of expediency and as a result of fewer social and legal checks on individual behavior that would ordinarily be deemed detrimental.
El Borak helpfully notes that the events of the second decade of each of the previous five centuries have essentially dictated the course of those centuries as they unfolded. It’s still early for this century, but I think you’ll see trend lines heading toward more and more ordinary people simply getting up and walking away without uttering a single word, which is fine, but few will dare call it a civilization for much longer.