An astonishing acceleration
Even though the downhill trajectory we saw over the last decades in terms of property rights was bad enough, nothing could have ever prepared us for what the covid crisis would bring. Even those of us who have read enough history to know that there’s really no line that the State will not cross in its fervent pursuit of absolute power were sincerely surprised; how could it be that the ruling elite can deny us our birth given right to own our own body and mind, how was it possible that we forgot the principles of the enlightenment and what it means to live in an society based on personal freedom? If we are not allowed to own our own body and mind, then the concept of private property does not exist any longer.
It’s one thing persuading millions of hardworking citizens to fork over a large part of their salaries to the State every single month or to pay exorbitant fees simply to take ownership of their family home their parents left them after they passed away or to pay a toll every time they wish to drive on a road that they already paid to build and to maintain. It’s quite another thing to be able to convince them that closing their businesses and being forbidden from going to work to put bread on the table is “for their own good”.
During the last two years, we witnesses an extraordinary shift, the likes of which haven’t appeared in history books in times of peace. The State, in most of the Western world, abused all the power and the leverage over the governed that is had accumulated over the past decades and the results were truly shocking. Much like that frog in the simmering pot, we found ourselves at the boiling point, seemingly overnight. And the most striking thing about this entire pandemic ordeal, is that governments, the world over, have come out of it looking like Robin Hood instead of the Sheriff of Nottingham.
With substantial assistance from mainstream and social media, the vast majority of the population remembers all the “covid relief” payments and all the handouts, once again erroneously classifying them as “free”. As for the revenue losses, the jobs that evaporated during the lockdowns, the extreme distress and the uncertainty faced by countless households, all that was chalked up as the virus’ fault, as though it was covid-19 itself that forced millions of business closures.
The lessons that we learned during the pandemic must never be forgotten. For one thing, with autumn just around the corner, we could very well have a repeat of all the restrictions and enter “season 3” of the covid saga. In Europe, I recently saw mainstream news stories about the threat posed by the “Omicron 5” covid variant (and since I tend to avoid these news sources in general, I suppose I missed the omicrons 2,3 and 4, or perhaps they were not as civilization-ending as the “5”). Come September, and once the tourist high season is over, there is little doubt another variant will emerge. Maybe omicron 6, or perhaps this one will be menacing enough to merit its very own Greek letter. Either way, by this point, nobody should be surprised if we see another massive wave when it comes to the restriction of our individual liberties, travel bans, social distancing and business restrictions.
What lies ahead
Regardless of what happens next with the covid situation, however, the primary reason why we should all remember the trespasses and the overreach we saw during the last couple of years is that slippery slope we talked about at the beginning. The ride is nowhere near over. Given that the vast majority of the population happily and eagerly made that Faustian deal of trading their freedom for the illusion of safety, there is no telling how far the State will go tomorrow, exploiting that very same weakness.
As the covid ordeal clearly demonstrated, property rights really do represent that first domino when it comes to defending all the rest of our liberties. And too many of our fellow citizens demonstrated, the “wise majority” is all too keen to allow the expropriation of their neighbors, and even of themselves, if they believe this sacrifice will protect them from all the evils and the dangers of life. Of course, this is nothing more than wishful thinking, but it is so widespread, so heavily encouraged and so normalized that all governments have come to rely on it to garner public support, and justifiably so.
And thus, we find ourselves today in the unenviable position of having to ask what threat, what “danger”, what “crisis” might be used next by the State in its protection deal with the citizenry. And what will be the price for this protection? For the “war on terror” and the “war on drugs” we gave up our communications privacy, our banking secrecy and a large part of our property rights, at least the freedom to transact. For the “war on covid” we gave up whatever remained, including the right to work, the right of assembly, the right to bodily integrity and a good portion of our freedom of speech – what was left of it anyway.
And now there is another engineered new “old” war again on European soil, West against East, Europe against Asia. What belongs together must not come together, as per NATO doctrine. And this war involves real armies with real guns, real casualties and real devastation and destruction. The horrific images that are on a loop on most mainstream TV stations clearly point to a tangible threat, to actual, direct danger that one can see, unlike the invisible covid bug or some Mexican drug cartel far, far away. The kind of fear that the Russian army can inspire has the potential to affect the judgment of far more citizens and short-circuit their critical thinking. After all, what else can protect you from the threat posed by another State other than your own?
It remains to be seen to what lengths governments will go to this time, but if there’s one thing we know for sure is that property rights will be the first of our liberties to come under fire once again. As we already saw with all the sanctions, it was bank accounts, assets and gold holdings that were primarily targeted, and not just of Russian government entities, but also of individuals that were perceived to have links with it.
“Whoever wishes peace among peoples must fight statism” – Ludwig von Mises
What comes next is anyone’s guess, but for all rational investors, savers and ordinary citizens, planning ahead is most likely going to prove essential. And much like every other time of crisis, physical precious metals remain the safest bet, especially when stored in a jurisdiction like Switzerland which has proven again that it is still a special country and that the decentralization of power and the principle of subsidiarity still works, and that private property is still respected, especially when it comes to hard assets kept outside the banking system.
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