Disproving the State Four arguments against government

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Two objections
constantly recur whenever the subject of dissolving the State arises.
The first is that a free society is only possible if people are
perfectly good or rational. In other words, citizens need a centralized
State because there are evil people in the world.

The first and
most obvious problem with this position is that if evil people exist
in society, they will also exist within the State — and be far more
dangerous thereby. Citizens are able to protect themselves against
evil individuals, but stand no chance against an aggressive State
armed to the teeth with police and military might. Thus the argument
that we need the State because evil people exist is false. If evil
people exist, the State must be dismantled, since evil people
will be drawn to use its power for their own ends — and, unlike
private thugs, evil people in government have the police and military
to inflict their whims on a helpless (and usually disarmed!) population.

Logically,
there are four possibilities as to the mixture of good and evil
people in the world:

  1. all men
    are moral
  2. all men
    are immoral
  3. the majority
    of men are moral, and a minority immoral
  4. the majority
    of men are immoral, and a minority moral

(A perfect
balance of good and evil is statistically impossible!)

In the first
case (all men are moral), the State is obviously not needed, since
evil cannot exist.

In the second
case (all men are immoral), the State cannot be permitted to exist
for one simple reason. The State, it is generally argued, must exist
because there are evil people in the world who desire to inflict
harm, and who can only be restrained through fear of State retribution
(police, prisons, etc.). A corollary of this argument is
that the less retribution these people fear, the more evil they
will do. However, the State itself is not subject to any force,
but is a law unto itself. Even in Western democracies, how many
policemen and politicians go to jail? Thus if evil people wish to
do harm but are only restrained by force, then society can never
permit a State to exist, because evil people will immediately take
control of that State, in order to do evil and avoid retribution.
In a society of pure evil, then, the only hope for stability would
be a state of nature, where a general arming and fear of retribution
would blunt the evil intents of disparate groups.

The third possibility
is that most people are evil, and only a few are good. If that is
the case, then the State also cannot be permitted to exist,
since the majority of those in control of the State will be evil,
and will rule over the good minority. Democracy in particular cannot
be permitted to exist, since the minority of good people would be
subjugated to the democratic will of the evil majority. Evil people,
who wish to do harm without fear of retribution, would inevitably
take control of the State, and use its power to do their evil free
of that fear. Good people do not act morally because they fear retribution,
but because they love goodness and peace of mind — and thus, unlike
evil people, have little to gain by controlling the State. And so
it is certain that the State will be controlled by a majority of
evil people, and will rule over all, to the detriment of all moral
people.

The fourth
option is that most people are good, and only a few are evil. This
possibility is subject to the same problems outlined above, notably
that evil people will always want to gain control over the State,
in order to shield themselves from retaliation. This option changes
the appearance of democracy, however: because the majority of people
are good, evil power-seekers must lie to them in order to gain power,
and then, after achieving public office, will immediately break
faith and pursue their own corrupt agendas, enforcing their wills
with the police and military. (This is the current situation in
democracies, of course.) Thus the State remains the greatest prize
to the most evil men, who will quickly gain control over its awesome
power — and so the State cannot be permitted to exist in this scenario
either.

It is clear,
then, that there is no situation under which a State can logically
be allowed to exist. The only possible justification for the existence
of a State would be if the majority of men are evil, but all the
power of the State is always and forever controlled by a minority
of good men. This situation, while interesting theoretically, breaks
down logically because:

  1. the evil
    majority would quickly outvote the minority or overpower them
    through a coup;
  2. there is
    no way to ensure that only good people would always run the State;
    and,
  3. there is
    absolutely no example of this having ever occurred in any of the
    dark annals of the brutal history of the State.

The logical
error always made in the defense of the State is to imagine that
any collective moral judgments being applied to citizens is not
also being applied to the group which rules over them. If 50%
of people are evil, then at least 50% of people ruling over them
are evil (and probably more, since evil people are always drawn
to power). Thus the existence of evil can never justify the existence
of the State. If there is no evil, the State is unnecessary. If
evil exists, the State is far too dangerous to be allowed existence.

Why is this
error always made? There are a number of reasons, which can only
be touched on here. The first is that the State introduces itself
to children in the form of public school teachers who are considered
moral authorities. Thus is the association of morality and authority
with the State first made — which is reinforced through years of
repetition. The second is that the State never teaches children
about the root of its power — force — but instead pretends that
it is just another social institution, like a business or a church
or a charity. The third is that the prevalence of religion has always
blinded men to the evils of the State — which is why the State has
always been so interested in furthering the interests of churches.
In the religious world-view, absolute power is synonymous with perfect
goodness, in the form of a deity. In the real political world of
men, however, increasing power always means increasing evil. With
religion, also, all that happens must be for the good — thus, fighting
encroaching political power is fighting the will of the deity. There
are many more reasons, of course, but these are among the deepest.

It was mentioned
at the beginning of this article that people generally make two
errors when confronted with the idea of dissolving the State. The
first is believing that the State is necessary because evil people
exist. The second is the belief that, in the absence of a State,
any social institutions which arise will inevitably take the place
of the State. Thus, dispute resolution organizations (DRO's), insurance
companies and private security forces are all considered potential
cancers which will swell and overwhelm the body politic.

This view arises
from the same error outlined above. If all social institutions are
constantly trying to grow in power and enforce their wills on others,
then by that very argument a centralized State cannot be allowed
to exist. If it is an iron law that groups always try to gain
power over other groups and individuals, then that power-lust will
not end if one of them wins, but will spread across society until
slavery is the norm. In other words, the only hope for individual
freedom is for a proliferation of groups to exist, each with the
power to harm each other, and so all afraid of each other, and more
or less peaceable thereby.

It is very
hard to understand the logic and intelligence of the argument that,
in order to protect us from a group that might overpower us, we
should support a group that has already overpowered us. It is similar
to the statist argument regarding private monopolies — that citizens
should create a State monopoly because they are afraid of monopolies.
It does not take a keen vision to see through such nonsense.

What is the
evidence for the view that decentralized and competing powers promote
peace? In other words, are there any facts that we can draw on to
support the idea that a balance of power is the only chance that
the individual has for freedom?

Organized crime
does not provide many good examples, since gangs so regularly corrupt,
manipulate and use the power of the State police to enforce their
rule, and so cannot be said to be operating in a state of nature.
A more useful example is the fact that no leader has ever declared
war on another leader who possesses nuclear weapons. In the past,
when leaders felt themselves immune from retaliation, they were
more than willing to kill off their own populations by waging war.
Now that they are themselves subject to annihilation, they are only
willing to attack countries that cannot fight back.

This
is an instructive lesson on why political leaders require disarmed
and dependent populations — and a good example of how the fear of
reprisal inherent in a balanced system of decentralized and competing
powers is the only proven method of securing and maintaining personal
liberty. Fleeing from imaginary phantoms into the protective prison
of the State will only ensure the destruction of the very liberties
that make life worth living.

November
11, 2005

Stefan
Molyneux [send him mail]
has been an actor, comedian, gold-panner, graduate student, and
software entrepreneur. His first novel, Revolutions
was published in 2004, and he maintains a
blog
.

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