Page:Rise and Fall of Society.djvu/121

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A State Is Born

Rehoboam. There it is told that "all Israel" pleaded with the new king thus: "Thy father made our yoke grievous; now therefore ease thou the grievous servitude of thy father, and the heavy yoke that he put on us, and we will serve thee."

It was, then, by heavy taxes that the State of Israel attained the apex of its glory under Solomon. Its opulence reflected the poverty of the people. And so it must be. Society, it should be kept in mind, is a group of people who cooperate with one another in order that they may severally and individually improve their circumstances, and the techniques by which Society achieves its purpose are production and exchange. There is no other way by which Society can thrive. Whatever deprives the members of Society of the fruits of their labors is a deterrent of the human purpose that brought them together; it is a desocializing force. And among the devices that men have invented to defeat the ends of Society none is more devastating than compulsory taxation, because it is a constant drain on their property, tending to increase as they show more and more enterprise. The State, on the other hand, thrives on what it can exact of Society; its temples are built with taxes, its bureaucracy or enforcement agency grows in size and arrogance by the same means, and it is with taxes that the State buys the support of those who might otherwise turn against it. The more taxes the richer the State, the poorer the people; the more taxes the stronger the State, the weaker the people; the interests of the two institutions are diametrically in opposition. Resistance to the State diminishes in the degree of its confiscations, and ultimately, when the tax load becomes a yoke, subservience to the State becomes the necessary condition of living.

The designation of taxation as a yoke is a nice piece of biblical directness. A yoke is worn by an ox, a beast of bur-