The Essence of the Ruling Class

If you have government, you have a ruling class, by definition. No, I’m not talking about governance, the sort we see in managing property, a business, a charity, or any other private organization. A ruling class are those who calls themselves “government” or “the state“, or in some times and places “the church”, the organization(s) in society whose sole purpose of existing is to make and enforce rules, the first of which involve the generation of “revenue”. While that’s what the ruling class does, that’s not what the ruling class is. Here is the essence of what the ruling class is:

The ruling class is the only group of people in society allowed to make and enforce claims without supporting evidence.

Take a member of the non-ruling class (everyone else). Let’s call him John. John approaches me and tells me that I owe him money. Naturally, I inquire is to why he believes this. He tells me that because I’m wearing a blue shirt, I must pay him a fee.

I inquire further, “Why must I pay you a fee just because I’m wearing a blue shirt?”

He answers, “You’re in this area, and anyone wearing a blue shirt in this area must pay me a fee.” Then he lifts his own shirt to show me his gun. The decision is mine to either pay him his so-called “fee”, or risk getting hurt.

We’ve all either been there, seen it, or heard about it. What’s actually occurring here is a mugging, or in more formal terms, an act of extortion. Typically there’s no pretense of justification (clothing), but just, “Give me your wallet!” John has no evidence that I owe him a fee just because I’m wearing a blue shirt. His claim is completely arbitrary and only supported by his supposed willingness to hurt me if I don’t pay him. To any observer, John is a criminal engaging in a criminal act.

Let’s take another member of the non-ruling class. Let’s call him Dave. Dave approaches me and tells me that I owe him money. Once again, I inquire is to why he believes this. He opens his briefcase and shows me a loan agreement I made with his employer 12 months ago, which has come due. As I am always one to pay my debts, I hand him my debit card, which he swipes on his cell phone. He then prepares and signs documents declaring the loan paid in full, and we each go on our merry way. Dave is not a criminal, but rather, a businessman.

Although both John and Dave initially claimed that I owed them money, John’s claim was made without any supporting evidence, while Dave’s was not. Dave had factual evidence to support his claim that I owed him money. John only had a gun.

Now take a member of the ruling class. Let’s call him Officer Smaldiq. As I’m driving along the freeway minding my own business, a police cruiser gets behind me and turns on his red and blues, which equates to a demand to pull over. So I do.

Officer Smaldiq approaches my vehicle and informs me that I was “speeding” and that he is going to write me a ticket. I inquire is to the purpose of the ticket, and he informs me that the ticket means I have to pay his organization a fine.

I follow up, “I don’t understand, Officer Smaldiq, but why should I pay you anything. To my knowledge, I’ve done nothing wrong and owe you nothing.”

He sighs, and responds, “You were traveling 85mph in a 70mph zone. The law calls that speeding, and since you were speeding, you’ll have to pay us a fine.”

Then me, “Is it your claim that your law applies to me?”

Him, “Yes, of course it applies to you. It applies to everyone in this area.”

I scratch my chin, “Do you have personal, first-hand knowledge that the law applies to me just because I’m in this area?”

Getting annoyed, he responds, “Yes, I do! Do you see this badge? That badge means I have authority to enforce the law in this area.”

Me again, “I’m not asking what authority you have. Since you are claiming personal, first-hand knowledge, what evidence can you give me to support your claim that the law applies to me just because I’m in this area?”

Getting triggered due to my asking him uncomfortable questions, he responds, “The law applies to everyone in this area, sir!”

Me, “Aren’t you just repeating your claim without offering any supporting evidence?”

At this point he puts his right hand on top of his gun holster and unbuttons it. He then demands that I exit the vehicle. Since it’s obvious that I risk getting shot if I don’t comply, I exit the vehicle.

The preceding could unfold in any number of ways. I could have taken the ticket and then proceeded to question the prosecutor in like fashion. Or after the prosecutor chooses to proceed charging me without any evidence supporting his claim that his laws apply to me, question him and/or the officer on the stand, agitating all of them, and their colleague, the judge.

Or, such questions can be directed at “city councils” or any number of bureaucrats or politicians or law professors or clergy who are claiming people must behave in certain ways, or pay them. In every case, their final resort to prove their claim that their laws apply will not be to provide any factual evidence, rather, it will be to pull their gun out and threaten me with it.

So ask yourself, which of the two individuals above is more like members of the ruling class, John the mugger or Dave the businessman? There is no denying, without commiting grievous intellectual sin, that what sets the ruling class apart from the rest of society is their willingness and success to make and enforce claims without supporting evidence. Which begs the question, why are they so successful?

Because people like you and I allow them to get away with it due to our ignorance, cowardice, and/or complacency.

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Written by 

Founder and editor of and, Skyler is a husband and unschooling father of three beautiful children. His writings include the column series “One Voluntaryist’s Perspective” and “One Improved Unit,” and blog series “Two Cents“. Skyler also wrote the books No Hitting! and Toward a Free Society, and edited the books Everything Voluntary and Unschooling Dads. You can hear Skyler chatting away on his podcasts, Everything Voluntary and Thinking & Doing.

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4 years ago

Well-stated, Skylar