• 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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