For more than nine months, Spain has existed without a traditional national government. In the face of this lack of central authority and planning, Spaniards have done the impossible: they have thrived without a federal government.
The New York Times recently reported on this phenomenon: “After two grueling national elections in six months, and with a third vote possible in December, no party has won enough seats or forged the coalition needed to form a government. For the first time in Spain’s four decades as a modern democracy, this country of 47 million people has a caretaker government.”
Spanish politicians warned the people that allowing the national government to fade away could have disastrous effects. However, as the New York Times notes, “the crisis seems to have offered a glimpse of life if politicians simply stepped out of the way. For many here, it has not been all that bad.”
“No government, no thieves,” Félix Pastor, a language teacher, told the Times. Pastor said the people of Spain were better without a government because the politicians were unable to cause any more harm. Rafael Navarro, a 71-year old pharmacy owner in Madrid, told the Times that “Spain would be just fine if we got rid of most of the politicians and three-fourths of government employees.”
Despite the lack of government at the moment, life goes on without interruption. Welfare recipients in Spain are still receiving their benefits, and basic government employees are still paid. The streets are not littered with trash, and public trains and buses continue to operate.
However, there are some major differences from life with a national government. Spain has been unable to pass national legislation, handle foreign affairs, or fund new government projects. This means no new invasive, authoritarian laws can be passed by corrupt government officials.
Of course, local governments are still capable of creating projects that will benefit their local communities. Santiago Lago Peñas, an economics professor in the Galicia region of northwest Spain, told the Times that “[f]or a Spanish citizen, the most relevant government is the regional one.” While it is always possible for corruption to exist, even within a local “government” or council, communities are more able to combat dangerous behavior from smaller, local institutions.
No government? No problem
The beauty of the situation in Spain is that most of the public seems perfectly content to continue on without a national government. “Only 2.3 percent of respondents in a July poll by Spain’s Center for Sociological Investigations considered the lack of government the country’s major problem,” Vox recently reported.
Vox continued: “Even more surprising, that number has been getting smaller as people get more accustomed to life in political limbo, the survey found. ‘We’ve done very well without a government, or better put, with an interim, decaffeinated government,’ economist Gabriel Calzada wrote in a column in the business daily Expansion not long after the second inconclusive election. Indeed, noted Calzada, 2016 started with ‘perhaps the best half year of Spanish politics in at least the last decade.‘”
What does the situation in Spain mean for the rest of the world?
Perhaps all the stories we have heard about humans tearing each other apart in the absence of government institutions have been propaganda designed to instill doubt in the minds of the masses.
Although Spain can hardly be called a stateless society as it is now, it is certainly providing an example of what people will do when the State cannot — or will not — help the people. The government is not only often ill-equipped to help the people, but it is also literally a gang of thieves who have come together and declared themselves the legitimate owners of various geographical land masses known as the United States, Spain, Israel, Colombia, Australia, Britain, and so on. They literally cannot survive without selling the people the idea that government is necessary. Not only is it necessary, they say, but its operators must also steal from the people (aka taxation) in order to create and maintain the government and keep us safe.
Obviously, these are lies.
One need look no further than Spain for an example of how people can come together and thrive in the absence — and failure — of government. It is up to each of us to stand together and focus on solutions that can move us forward as a species. If we are to truly take on this task, we must ask hard questions about the nature of government and what role, if any, the institution will play in our future.