What's Your Anti-Gov?

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Perhaps you have seen the distressingly bad commercials for "my anti-drug."

For some of the fictional persons depicted in the ads, the anti-drug is tongue piercing, skating, or other such activities.

The drug czar’s propaganda campaign brings two issues to the fore. First, unsurprisingly, it gets human nature completely backwards. (This is unsurprising because it is, after all, paid propaganda of the state).

The error concerning human nature is this: human beings generally do not engage in pleasant practices merely to avoid another practice.

In other words, you do not drink Coke merely to avoid drinking Pepsi. Given options, people tend to choose what they like.

In the lingo of Austrian economics, this is known as "demonstrated preference theory." The idea is that you demonstrate your preferences by your human actions. You drink Coke, therefore one may conclude that, at the time you chose to drink Coke, you did so because you actually preferred to drink Coke to drinking something else or to doing something else besides drinking.

This is true no matter what you might tell Phil Donohue, George Bush, or any other irritating, yapping faux celebrity.

Second, the drug czar’s propaganda campaign is silly because, even if you choose to drink Coke rather than snort coke, this does not make Coke an "anti-drug." Although the cola is not a drug, it is not an "anti-drug."

In what sense does Coca-Cola negate cocaine in any logical sense? Of course, it does nothing of the kind.

Again, this is unsurprising. Do not look to fifteen-second snippets of racy images as sources of intelligent thought.

And yet, and yet, there is something about that slogan. Forget an anti-drug: Americans need an antidote for the overgrown Nanny State.

Americans need an anti-gov.

Fortunately, there are many prime contenders. If you choose not to worship the state, try God. Those who do not view Abraham Lincoln as a divinity might inquire into the merits of Catholicism, for example. Amazingly to some, Catholicism is actually older than Lincoln worship, even if it is less well-respected in the American federal government.

Similarly, rather than blindly follow the ridiculous notions that are passed off as "social sciences" these days, you might examine the intellectual heritage of the Austrian School. Firmly grounded in Aristotle, Kant, and logic, the works of the Austrian School are refreshingly sound and enjoyably thorough. (For a sample, see David Gordon, "The Philosophical Origins of Austrian Economics.")

Need a serious dose of anti-gov? Spend some time at Mises.org.

The "anti-drug" campaign was silly, irritating, and a waste of time and money. In contrast, a strong dose of anti-gov can be a very good thing.

Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito.

Mr. Dieteman [send him mail] is an attorney in Erie, Pennsylvania, and a PhD candidate in philosophy at The Catholic University of America.

© 2002 David Dieteman

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