Distrust as the Basis for Supporting the State

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I've thought
a lot about why so many people seem to still support the state,
no matter how many evils they identify with the state as the main
cause. And I've talked to hundreds of people about their view of
the state and most of them seem to believe they would do just fine
without it — but they still support it, almost regardless of its
programs and policies.

It seems to
me it doesn't really matter who you ask; the support is almost overwhelming.
But I've come to realize this mentality that often translates support
of the state is in no sense trust in the state.
Some do of course trust the state and see a coercive monopoly as
an ideal principle for society, but most people tend to distrust
the state and its officers.

This means
they should believe the state to be the lesser of two or more evils
and so it is beneficial to them personally or as a collective to
support this evil. Actually, it seems to me this is exactly the
case for very many people. They do not personally need the state
in the welfarist (or any other) sense, but they need it as protection
or leverage in order to stop "the others." People in general
are really anarchists who for some reason distrust most other people.
They cannot figure out how a society would function with so many
"weirdos" and potential enemies out there, so they tend
to favor coercive predictability over uncontrollable freedom.

In a way, this
is an economic choice. As businessmen, most people would probably
choose small but guaranteed annual profits rather than competitive
free market transactions with potentially enormous profits without
guarantees. Most people would like to know they are to live
long and healthy lives even though life would not be free in every
(or any) sense. Therefore, they prefer to choose not to live their
lives as free men and women — freedom offers no guarantees.

This
logic
is applicable on all statists, it seems. Socialists and
liberals distrust entrepreneurs and capitalists as well as anyone
with money or the power to boss people around. This has [probably]
a rather natural basis in their faulty
theory of value
and the analysis it supports regarding wealth
and the wealthy. People aren't to trust — they get wealthy through
using the industrious but uneducated and gullible working men and
women. Since some people "obviously" have no real sense
of morality and therefore use others as a means to simply get wealthy,
socialists cannot take the chance of letting people be free. There
are simply too many people seeking and creating inequalities.

Conservatives
tend to believe in a somewhat free economy, but have a hard time
with the choices people tend to make in their social lives. What
kind of society would there be if people did not believe in God
but instead turn to drugs use and other artificial stimuli? The
family as the strong and natural base unit might be undermined by
sacrilegious living and hedonism.

Greens simply
distrust everything about the economy and anyone taking part in
it — corporations, cooperatives and consumers alike. Abolishing
the state and its regulations and taxes on inefficient and unintelligent
use of the environment would simply make way for short-term profit
seekers and material interests.

It seems abolishing
the state, thereby releasing oneself from the chains of the state,
could cause a lot of problems and a lot of pain. Freeing everybody
means not only freeing oneself — it means also freeing everyone
and everything one dislikes. Therefore, distrust of what people
might do and not do evolves into a support for the state and all
it is about — simply because you cannot trust people. Just like
you cannot trust the state.

Even though
it may seem economic to stick to state society, at least in the
short term, there is more to life than just economic calculations.
The fundamental error these people make when supporting the state
because they do not trust everybody in the world is the identification
of society as an artificial unit: the nation-state. There is nothing
natural or eternal about the nation-state — it is not a point of
departure for any human society, but rather a result of state
society.

It seems to
me statists in general are really anarchists. It is just that they
cannot think out of the box — not regarding the nation-state and
not regarding "everybody else" or humankind. If they could
think of other bases for society than the nation-state they needn't
worry about how "everybody else" would choose to live
their lives. Just choose whatever friends and partners and live
with them according to the rules you support. That should do the
trick, shouldn't it?

The statists
I've talked to are really anarchists — they think they are fully
able to take care of themselves and their loved ones, but they are
afraid of the unknown "others" and how they would
choose to live. The underlying fallacy is of course the belief that
the choices of other people necessarily affect your life
and how you choose to live it. Does it? Necessarily? Of course not.

What is fascinating
is that these statist anarchists are so totally stuck in state thinking.
They cannot think in terms of individuals. What lives other people
choose to live only have a direct effect on your own life if society
is hierarchical and coercion-based and thus a forced unit, i.e.
a state society. So what most statists have against anarchism
is simply: the state.

July
25, 2006

Per Bylund [send him mail]
works as a business consultant in Sweden, in preparation for PhD
studies. He is the founder of Anarchism.net.
Visit his website.

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