Distrust as the Basis for Supporting the State

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