Defects of empirical knowledge have less to do with the ways we go wrong in philosophy than defects of character do: such things as the simple inability to shut up; determination to be thought deep; hunger for power; fear, especially the fear of an indifferent universe. These are among the obvious emotional sources of bad philosophy.
~ David Stove, "What Is Wrong With Our Thoughts?"
You are living under a cartelising, monopolising and racketeering gang of thieves. Your parents have been and their parents have been. Don't believe me? What would make you? What would convince or even begin to convince you that you live under the aegis of a protection racket? What would you regard as being some evidence of it?
If you figured out that this criminal band is (and has been) using force or the threat of force to take money from you, in order to protect you from others doing the same, would that be enough? If you found out that this group called themselves "government" and their pillage "tax," would you believe it then? If this government took special interest in making sure that what it wants students to learn is taught, and that it is taught right, or else the children are confiscated from their parents, how about then?
Serious answers to these questions would be instructive, but I do not really expect to receive such answers. The evidence that government is a protection racket is so obvious and overwhelming that anyone who can lightly set it aside must be defective in their attitude to evidence. Statists are religious rather than rational in their attitude to evidence.
I would love a Statist to speculate what living under a cartelising, monopolising and racketeering gang of thieves might entail. Would this gang claim to do things for its subject's benefit? Would they ensure that they had control of the most important aspects of society: things like money, education, transport, defence and the judiciary? Would there be countless logical inconsistencies in the protection racket's actions and policies, which the professoriate they fund and the syllabus they enforce ignore? That'd make sense to me.
Why then, if that is exactly the situation now, do people not think that they are living under a protection racket? Surely these people can't be that dumb. The reasoning is not all that sophisticated. I mean it takes a lot more effort to try and defend the protection racket than to say what it actually is. How can it be that so many otherwise-intelligent people, who often perform much more complex reasoning on non-political topics, support the protection racket? Does almost everyone really lack the alertness necessary to question everyday occurrences? What kind of a sick society is this?
The answer is that we are living in a society where the religion of Statolatry is rampant. Almost everyone has total faith in the State. They cannot even imagine living in a society without it. This would be okay if Statolatry was not a forcefully proselytising religion. But this is, in fact, its central tenet. "The worship of the state is the worship of force," said Ludwig von Mises. And Erich Fromm observed that Statolatry or "Sadism has essentially no practical aim; it is not u2018trivial' but u2018devotional.' It is [the] transformation of impotence into the existence of omnipotence; it is the religion of psychical cripples."
The prayer of Statists is lobbying, and as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "prayer as a means to effect a private end is meanness and theft." After all, if God is everywhere, why pray (in this sense)? Or, rather, if government is merely a group of men, why does it exist?
The rationalism of libertarianism has invalidated the defence of the State, but obviously that is not enough. What the libertarian is forever striving to do is to overturn a religion. This is a daunting task. Nonetheless, there is fun in the chase, and besides, what are the alternatives?
The approach of this article was inspired by parts of David Stove's wonderful essay, "The Intellectual Capacity of Women." I recommend that you read it, but please don't send me any hate mail. (It begins: "I believe that the intellectual capacity of women is on the whole inferior to that of men." Controversy? What controversy?)
January 10, 2005