|An Unnecessary Evil
The State. Mankind’s greatest sin. The organization under which all of civilization rests. The bedrock of the establishment, the vehicle of the plutocrats, and the lawgiver to all society. Within it lies all the visions, dreams, plans, motivations, and the will of the Nation. There is nothing outside of it’s gaze, nothing beyond it’s line of sight. All legality, all civic affairs, all public issues… all are under the watchful eyes of the State. But what is the State? Can one define what separates it from every other organization in society?
The dictionary defines it as; the power or authority represented by a body of the people politically organized under one government, esp. and independent government, within a territory or territories having definite boundaries b) such a body of people ; body politic.
Now what does all this mean in plainer English? Very simply, a group of people given (in one form or another) power over a given territory, and the people within that territory. They are the sole authority over all affairs within the “Nation” (which is constituted by the advent of boundaries the State is confined to). All those with power over the State, and all the dealings concerning the State, is part of the body Politic. Politics, then, is defined as the actions taken by the State and it’s apparatus. As Mark Twain defined it: “Politics derives from two words… Poly: meaning ‘many’, and Tics: meaning ‘blood-sucking parasites’.”
Why is it that, in modern society, this invention has been so accepted, not only as legitimate, but as absolutely necessary, for life to function properly? The answer to that question later, but first, let me address what exactly the State is, and what separates it from every other organization in society.
Let us first imagine two separate companies. We will call one company ‘Stuff-Mart’ and the other ‘Things-R-Us’. Stuff-Mart, is in the business of providing their customers (those who wish to trade with them) with multiple, diverse products varying from cereal, to picture frames, to videos, to books, and even tube-socks. Things-R-Us is also in the line of supplying a range of different products, which closely resemble that of Stuff-Mart. And so, the two companies compete for customers, and their money, by attempting to service them better than their counterpart. They will lower prices, they will widen their territory, they will make better products, they will attain more diversity, they will speed up service, they will offer insurance, they will spiff up the look of their store, and on and on. They will each do anything to please their customer.
However, let’s assume Stuff-Mart is behind in funds. Things-R-Us is beating them in every way imaginable. They are getting more customers, opening more stores, offering more products, lowering prices, raising wages, and becoming ever more popular. Stuff-Mart is not very happy about it’s circumstance. Then let us say, for the sake of the analogy, that rather than lower their prices, offer more products, and reach out to customers, Stuff-Mart takes a different approach. If they cannot have what they want in a voluntary manner, they will take it by force.
Stuff-Mart then begins to take their funds through coercion. They hire men with guns who come to the customers door and demand payment. In return, the customer is forced to take the products they need and want. They cannot give their money, or support, to Things-R-Us… to do so would be considered treasonous. Stuff-Mart manages, then, to ensure their security and continued income by maintaining this violent method inside a given territory. The people living within that territory must accept the services and products of Stuff-Mart, or suffer the consequences of being put inside a cage, or being shot in the head. They must also continue payments, or suffer similar reactions.
Can you imagine the public outrage? There would be protests, there would be people tearing down Stuff-Mart buildings, their executives would be dragged through the streets (and likely hanged) for this sort of behavior. Never, in a million years, would people accept this form of criminal activity. Or would they?
Sure, when it comes to the service of providing products like food, clothing, and necessary tools of up-keep (along with objects of happiness and leisure), this type of activity is condemned, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But what of the service of defense?
Indeed, the service of defense (from aggression), is quite necessary in society. Unfortunately, unlike the real-life incarnations of “Stuff-Mart” and “Things-R-Us”, the service of defense is anything but competitive and voluntary. By the monopoly over the service of defense, all areas of society are easily controlled by one central authority. Who is this authority? What organization has so easily monopolized the service of defense in society, and used that power to lord it over the whole of a given territory?
Let me introduce you, dear reader, to the State.
What is the State? It is the organization of people that has monopolized the service of defense over a given territory, and extracts it’s funds through force. Every other organization in society receives it’s funds voluntarily. If I want a steak, I run to the market and buy it with my money. If I want a video, I go to the store and purchase it. The act of exchange and trade is an automatic interaction taken in a state of pure liberty. It is only natural that some people in society will have certain skills that others do not, or certain products that others do not. The act of trade and exchange is the inevitable reaction to this natural inequality. It is done on a purely voluntary, and mutually beneficial, basis. I want a steak far more than I want my money, which I received in exchange for my labor. The man selling the steak obviously valued my hard-earned money more than the steak he was offering to me. And so the market, in freedom, works to the advantage of everyone. No one is forced to accept a product or service against their will, their choice is central to their freedom in all areas of life. No one has their wealth and property taken by the threat of violence, in order to fund such debacles.
If a product, or service, is necessary in society, it will be provided by the market. As all of us learned in economics, the law of supply and demand will ensure everything needed, and wanted, will be made available. (It should be made clear at this point that economics is as much a science as any other, studying and calculating the behaviors of human beings in the same way physicists study and calculate the behavior of objects in motion. In other words, the law of supply and demand is as iron-clad as is the law of gravity) If a service necessitates force, and violence, to provide and gain funding for… it is neither necessary nor desired (except of course by those who use force to gain their living).
The act of gaining one’s wealth by force and coercion, is quite parasitic. The action of exchanging one’s labor, property, or money for something else is instead mutually beneficial. (The act of gift and charity could also be calculated into the mix) The State, then, thrives as a parasite on society and the wealth it creates. Every other organization and individual gains it’s funds by mutual exchange or charity. Here we see another contrast of the State to every other social function.
The State must take by force, the State must monopolize it’s service over a given territory (and other services soon after). Sure, you have thieves and robbers in the private sector, but only the State, by it’s very existence, necessitates these actions.
I can already hear the arguments by Statists and Minarchists alike decrying this stance. I will address each of these individually, and attempt to completely debunk the myth that the State is a necessary evil and that Anarchy is unworkable.
Defense is too necessary to society to be left to the free market:
Now I’m sure it can be agreed upon that Defense is a necessary and desirable service in society. However, there is hardly a service or product that is not necessary to human survival. Those that exist and are not necessary are certainly wanted by the public. If there is a scientific way to decide whether or not a certain service or product is necessary, the truly mind-boggling thing here is the statement that something necessary must be left to the State.
In fact the very logic that something “necessary” should be left to the State should follow that all services should be left to the State. To say the indispensable should be “protected” by the security of the State, while the unnecessary can be allowed on the insecure and unsafe free market, is to reason that the State is superior to the market at providing the best services. If we are to accept this reasoning, then why not leave all services and products to the State? Why leave anything to the market if the State has the most secure and efficient means to provide it?
However, that the State maintains the best method at providing services, is a false assumption. Many Statists, even Communists, have come to admire the efficiency, quantity, and quality produced by the free market. The fact of the matter is, that any service can be provided cheaper, more proficiently, and in the best manner, in a state of lasseiz-faire Capitalism.
Yet it is reasoned, even by many Libertarians, that the necessary services should be left to the State. This sort of logic fails on every level. If you are one to argue that the State is best at providing services, then it would logically follow that the State should provide everything, as a matter of pragmatism. Yet, if you are one to argue that free markets are best at providing services and products to people, then it should follow that all services and products be left in to the market. To say only necessary services should be provided by the State is to give the State a masquerade of security and proficiency, and it is logically inconsistent to allow any services to be left on the market.
In fact, as one who believes the market is best at providing services and products (and most importantly is the only moral system of production and distribution), it only makes sense that all services should be market provided. If any services or products should be left to the State, it should be the unnecessary ones. Let the State provide paper, or picture frames, or remote controls. Even if they screw it up, and they will, at least it wont be so destructive. It’s the vital things that should be left to the free market. Let the market provide defense, education, food, clothing, and shelter… keep the State as far away from these absolutely crucial services.
Of course, it is illogical to leave any service to the State. In fact, it’s foolish to have a State at all.
But I think the real purpose here is a far more sinister one. The egalitarian ideal of ‘equality of circumstance’ and ‘equity in property’ (which is both anti-nature and unworkable in any society) has now become accepted in some areas of the Libertarian philosophy. It would be unfair if everyone’s rights weren’t defended equally. It would be unjust if everyone didn’t have the same opportunity to be secured against aggression. This is an utterly false assumption. For to ensure equality of circumstance, liberty must be sacrificed, and true injustice must be enacted against property owners. We must reject the entire doctrine of the Egalitarians if we are to be true Libertarians, and advocates of human freedom.
A State needs to exist so there can be Law and Civil Order:
What is wrong with this supposition is the very concept of law and order. First, let’s define order. Order exists in nature. The natural order of things is controlled by laws, such as the law of gravity, the law of motion, and the law of reaction. Nothing can break these laws, it is impossible. Order and Chaos are often put at odds with one another. And from a subjective viewpoint, they may. But in nature, the two live side by side in harmony. For example… birds. Birds manage to fly in an orderly fashion, yet there is no objectivity to it’s order. The birds do not communicate to one another, there is no leader in the flock. There is an instinctual behavior in these avians that instills order into the chaos.
But what is law? We have come to accept law as a dictate, a mandatory rule set from the top down to control our lives, tell us what we can do, what we cannot do, and what we have to do. In reality, there are two types of laws. There is natural law (or Reactionary Law) or fiat law (or Arbitrary Law). The latter is what we have come to accept as legal and legitimate.
Arbitrary Law is the type of law that is written by some (the lawmakers) and given to be followed by others (the citizenry). This is the type of law set down by Moses in the Ten Commandments. However, when an order and set of rules is mandated by God, it tends to be fair (as God would know better for us than ourselves). However, fiat law set down by man towards other men tends to be corrupted… and should properly be defined as a form of Slavery.
Natural Reactionary Law, on the other hand, is much more like the laws of gravity, and motion, and time. They cannot be broken, thus they are organic and permanent. Unlike the arbitrary laws of man, which is artificial and easily shattered, the natural law of reaction is based in human behavior. If X steals from Y, Y will react in defense and remuneration. If any action violates the rights of another, that action will naturally be followed by a reaction. Just as in physics, it can be applied to human associations.
So, the declaration that without the State, there would be lawlessness, is as silly as saying that without the Government, rivers would not run, rain would not fall, and the Earth would cease to revolve around the Sun. In fact, a Stateless society would entail more order and a much better legal system. Rather than have a certain organization receive the special right to control the others, setting different classes within society at odds, reactionary law would apply to everyone. There would be no legal form of aggression against person and property. Order would be natural rather than artificial, authentic instead of fiat, and truly founded in justice.
All societies have systems of Hierarchies and Elites:
This is true. However, these hierarchies form themselves naturally in society. Businessmen who provide best for the common good are rewarded the publics trust and money. Celebrities are favored for their talent. Intellectual elites are respected for their wisdom and knowledge.
The State, on the other hand, creates an entrenched elite of criminals and parasites. Rather than receive their support voluntarily, based on their actions, the politicians and beauracrats within the State take what they need by force, whether they serve the public interest well or not. They live parasitically off of society, and provide nothing in return (with the exception of services that would have been offered better, and more ethically, on the free market).
The intellectuals and plutocrats (rich) who become intertwined with the
State’s purpose, receive their wealth and recognition through the false legitimacy the State places upon them. Intellectuals (and in the past, religious clerics) lie for the State, and trick the all too trusting public to support it’s violence and various evils. This process is known as Mystification. Plutocrats usually run the show. The politicians, motivated by power-lust and greed in the first place, (seeking an easier way to make money without actually having to work for it), will quickly accept the money of the Plutocrats in order to enact the policies favored by the special interests.
A State can be limited to certain functions by a written constitution:
Probably the most noble aspiration of the Classical Liberals, and the founders of this country, is the attempt to limit the State. While all of these limitations (such as the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution) attempted to constrain Leviathan, none succeeded.
Words on paper are meaningless, except they be supported by the public. Tradition might ensure liberty for a while, and the motives that brought about the limitations in the first place might last for a period in the hearts and minds of the people… but eventually the nature of the State prevails.
“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, as Lord Action correctly stated. When given the power to control, monopolize, and use force to enforce it’s policies, those with authority will abuse it. And a paper will not constrain the politicians and rulers if it is not enforced. This is a conundrum, as the only enforcers are also within the State apparatus. Can the pitcher also be the referee? If so, there will always be strikes.
Those who argue that there are separate branches, I retort: All branches come back to the same stem, the same root, the same plant. They all serve the purpose of the same entity.
Of course there is the advent of Federalism (the separation of powers between local and federal authority). As gallant an attempt as this is, when power is centralized at all, the magnet is switched into the on position. Power will consolidate itself, as it has, even in the very country founded on Libertarian principles.
Real checks and balances exist only on the free market, where separate entities vie for the support of the public. The radical decentralization of power to the individual, the family, the voluntary community of humanity… only then is there the absence of continual force and aggression.
Democracy can be a check on the powers of the State:
First of all, it’s important to refute the very concept of majoritarianism. That the majority is somehow all knowing and all wise, and always right, is a ridiculous idea. And that equally ridiculous cliché: “We are the Government” is easily seen to be fallacious. If this is so, then the Jews in Germany (a nation who elected the Nazi’s democratically) must have not been murdered, but instead committed suicide.
Men do no think collectively, they do not feel collectively, and they do not act collectively. They think, feel, and act as individuals only. Though interaction is necessary, and associations beneficial, that we are ultimately free individuals is of utmost importance to understand.
Democracy is not a cure for social ills, the fix for all that ails the world, instead it is merely one disease replacing another. The rule of the dictator vs. the rule of the mob may be a debate to be had, but I have a much better preference… Freedom.
Secondly, we must understand how silly it is to think democracy, in any fashion, can long exist in that structure. Once representatives are elected, they automatically constitute an Oligarchy (the rule of a few). The notion that they represent “us” (again a misconstruction of terms) is simply a fictitious supposition. They represent themselves.
Of course, the argument will follow that if they do not represent us properly, we can simply vote them out. And how has that worked out for us lately? The truth of the matter is that the lawmakers, those we vote into power, also make the laws concerning elections. As Vladimir Lenin said: “Those who cast the votes matter nothing, those who count the votes matter everything.”
Eventually, if any freedom is left at all, the Plutocrats will buy off the State and it‘s actions. If there is no freedom left (Totalitarianism), then the political elite will alone rule as the Oligarchy over the rest of us.
The State has to protect our rights in order for us to be free:
Certainly our rights must be protected in order for us to be truly free. But by a monopoly? Much less a monopoly that aggresses against rights as a necessity (taxation)? As the single most notorious organization in human history, the organization that has killed the most people, plundered the most cities, stolen the most wealth, started the most wars, caused the most poverty and starvation, and continually aggressed against the natural rights we all hold dear… the State is the last organization I would trust with the protection (much less the sole protection) of my Rights.
As Mises said: “The State is, essentially, the negation of Liberty.”
Anarchy is unworkable and cannot be sustained:
I have never quite understood this argument. Why is it so impossible to imagine a Stateless society. Even without all the theorizing of what society might look like… it seems simple enough to me. Dissolve the State, end of story.
It is also quite illogical to say that by not having a State, we risk a State. Should we kill ourselves for fear of dying?
In fact, as a radical abolitionist, the least of my worries is the pragmatism of Anarchy (though I believe firmly it is practical and will be the most beneficial system for everyone). My main position, my ultimate stance, is that the State and it’s actions are immoral and a threat to Human Freedom. It is a purely principled standpoint.
Much like the advent of Slavery, which was rightfully put asunder (at least from it’s legal status and protection), the abolitionists of the nineteenth century did not worry about what the world would look like without Slavery. They did not concern themselves with the utilitarianism of the issue. They took the moral and principled stance of absolute opposition.
I do not think, as a matter of practicality, that the State will be eliminated tomorrow (though I will work towards that goal every day until it is achieved)… but that it ought to be, I contend unequivocally.
Anarchy is antithetical to liberty:
This absurd statement has no backing whatsoever. In fact, I doubt there has been a proclamation further from the truth. Anarchy, by definition, is the negation of rule. While government will still exist in voluntary organizations, communities, and families. And the government of the individual by the individual (self-government) will remain. But the rule of man by other men (slavery) is the opposite of liberty. Anarchy, the negation of rule, is the logical ends to which all Libertarians must eventually come to. The absence of the State is freedom.
What about roads?:
This is one of the most common arguments against Anarchy. And it’s not just roads… but education, postal service, social security, health care, borders, etc. Without the State, they contend, they would not exist.
Some Libertarians try to respond by theorizing about how an Anarchist road system, or postal system, or educational system would work. I do not bother myself with such postulations. I simply rebut their complaint with one statement: If something is necessary to society, it will be provided by the free market. If it is not necessary, it will not be.
If something is not provided by the free market, it is not necessary. If something necessitates force, theft, and every other aspect of the State, then it is not necessary in the first place.
The State is a necessary evil:
The definitive Minarchist assertion. I agree partially… the State is evil. But why, might I ask, is it necessary? All the services it provides are given on the free market in a more efficient and cheaper manner. The method it uses to provide these services are force, coercion, and theft (the only organization to legally do so). By monopolizing the services it provides, mainly that of defense, it maintains the special right to commit crime and aggression against person and property. It thrives parasitically off of society, where other organizations and individuals must strive for public support and voluntary exchange/charity.
I fail to see it’s necessity. The type of law and order it creates is an artificial, divisive, and violent one. It ignores the natural reactionary law by continually infringing upon the rights of innocent people. Of what benefit is the State?
I will not be one to sing the praises of an Anarchist society, as the cure all for every ill (it is not), as the end to all aggression and violence (it isn’t), or a Utopia everyone will love and embrace (it won’t be). Anarchy is merely the absence of the State, not some ideal society that must be “created” in order to shape humanity to my own vision (as the Communists, Socialists, and Fascists do).What I can do is tell you about the evils of the State, and the need to abolish the one entity that commits the most violence and aggression against humanity. I will decry the enemy of liberty and human freedom until I have no more breathe to give.
The State is an entirely unnecessary evil. It should, and must be abolished. Immediately if possible, as soon as can be accomplished. To my Minarchist allies against tyranny, I advise you to embrace the full philosophy of freedom, and to not stop short at the concept of a “necessary” evil.
There are many evils in this world, most of them inevitable, but none of them are necessary.
- Justin T. Buell