How the State Exploits Ignorance and Complacency


“Libertarianism: The radical notion that other people are not your property.”

We don’t know who first said those words. But we’ve seen the bitty meme circulating the social media sites recently. Could people finally be catching on? Probably only the “radicals”…

But it sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? A kind of “do unto others…but not without their permission.” Of course, there are other ways to express this basic idea too: live and let live…to each his own and his own to each…and our personal favorite, mind your own [insert expletive of choice here] business…

Alas, some people can’t just leave well enough alone. They feel the need, the compulsion, the “hand of history,” as Tony Blair once called it, to “do something.” Whether or not that something is the right thing is, to their mind, beside the point. Just so long as it’s not nothing…

That’s the real problem with statism, Fellow Reckoner. All its various machinations are, in one way or another, inherently prescriptive. You try to mind your own business. You try to live a quiet and decent life…but there’s always someone telling you there’s a better way: their way. Oh, and they’ll be needing your money and/or person to make it happen.

But how can anyone possibly claim the right to tell you how to live your life… and to force you to do it?! Seems a tough point to win, no? What about self-ownership? What about the non-aggression principle? What about “live and let live” and all that?

Jean-Jacques Rousseau thought he found a workaround: The “Social Contract” he called it in his waffling 18th century treatise of the same name. In a nutshell, the social contract holds that, because we are considered part of “society,” we must therefore accept the terms – whatever they may be – of that “society.” In other words, it posits an implicit consent on the part of the individual to be governed by the state…simply because the state exists, and because the majority have so willed it.

Call it “tyranny of the mob-jority.”

But what kind of contract is this, Fellow Reckoner? A “contract” that makes up for lack of consent by simply presupposing it, is no contract at all. What kind of court would uphold such a flimsy non-agreement…besides one owned and operated by the beneficiaries of such an absurd ruling?

Not that the enthusiastic Genevan is solely to blame. He was simply building on the misguided works of previous meddlers. Hobbes gave mens’ rights to the government. Locke gifted them to God (But which God? Interpreted by whom? And what for the agnostics?) Few left them in the hands of free men themselves.

But what about man vs. nature, some may be wondering? What about…gulp!…anarchy! Hobbes argued that, without the state, men would descend into a tyranny all of their own making and that they need the state to “maintain order.” But is this really true? Are we simply to take Hobbes’ word for it, to give away our most precious freedoms because of an arrogant supposition?

Is there any hope, in other words, for self-governing men and women? The state – along with its favored class of crony banksters, faux economists, prattling politicians, warmongers, tax attorneys, social parasites and the rest of their rotten ilk – has long feasted on the wealth and toil of the “free” and productive class.

So long have they feasted, in fact, that they now control all the guns, all the courts and all the cages. But we needn’t “rage against the machine,” the preferred strategy for the young and the reckless. We simply need to actively withdraw the consent they claim. Writes Kevin Carson, contributing editor to the Center for a Stateless Society:

The plutocracy depends on the state for its wealth. We don’t. All we have to do to destroy them is walk away. So they’d like nothing better than to distract us from building the kind of society and economy we want for ourselves and abandoning theirs to rot, and instead waste our effort and money fighting for control of their system on their terms.

And how do we do that? With peer-to-peer technology – already flourishing in the areas of money lending, property rental, competing currencies, startup fundraising, employment opportunities, micro-donations, court systems and entertainment to name just a few. We do this instead of supporting existing and entrenched corporations currently hiring the gun of the state to protect, by force, their own fattened interests in each of the aforementioned sectors.

We do it, in other words, with cooperation instead of coercion. With ideas instead of edicts. With voluntarism instead of statism. Continues Carson:

As they find it harder and harder to compete with progressively cheaper and more efficient technologies in the hands of ordinary people, they lean increasingly on a state that’s bankrupting itself trying to prop them up. So we can beat them simply by withdrawing from their system and building our own.

Peel back the layers of any statist argument and you will quickly discover, at its cold dark heart, the notion that you do not own your self. You are, to some degree, the property of another. As such, you are to be ruled, governed and taxed in whichever way the owner deems to be “in the interest of society.”

It’s enough to make the questioning individual cry… or laugh… or both. Either way, their message is clear: Free men are not to be trusted with their own lives.

It’s time to tell these people to mind their own [insert expletive of choice here] business.


Joel Bowman
for The Daily Reckoning Australia

From the Archives…

The US Deficit of Deceit
2012-06-22 – Greg Canavan

How Nice to Have Friends At the Fed
2012-06-21 – Bill Bonner

Deep in the Stock Market Trenches
2012-06-20 – Murray Dawes

In Praise of the Eureka Rebellion
2012-06-19 – Dan Denning

What Could Possibly Go Wrong With Infrastructure Investment Bonds?
2012-06-18 – Dan Denning

Joel Bowman
Joel Bowman is managing editor of The Daily Reckoning. After completing his degree in media communications and journalism in his home country of Australia, Joel moved to Baltimore to join the Agora Financial team. His keen interest in travel and macroeconomics first took him to New York where he regularly reported from Wall Street, and he now writes from and lives all over the world.

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George Doddington
George Doddington
4 years 3 months ago

“do unto others…but not without their permission.”

Long ago I started sharing with my friends the “platinum rule”, insisting that the “golden rule” has sinister undertones. What is the “platinum rule” you ask? It is:

Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.

(if it pleases you)

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