The last couple of weeks have been kind of amazing. In between getting my new home and studio set up, I have taken some time to study some older episodes of libertarian infighting. I find myself, as I often do, sympathizing with Murray Rothbard, who was no stranger to controversy himself. Like me, Rothbard found himself at odds with other libertarians because of a very principled view of libertarianism rooted in Austrian economics, the deviance from which, seems to almost defeat the purpose.
He battled with David Friedman, Sam Konkin, The Koch Brothers, and others. Reading about these conflicts has been enlightening, and helped further my own understanding of the philosophy, as well as the nature of the conflicts I find myself in. I plan to write in more detail on some other ideological and tactical differences involved in those conflicts in the future, but one in particular strikes me with immediate inspiration.
For reasons I’ll detail another time, I became curious if Murray had ever engaged in debate with David Friedman. I found that he had, as I stumbled across “Do You Hate The State?” on LewRockwell.com.
To this question, I enthusiastically answer “Yes! Of course I do! How could I not?” before even reading the piece. As I read the article, which itself was a critique of Friedman’s “The Machinery of Freedom“, I am reminded that not everyone feels this way. Rothbard categorized this separation as radicals vs. conservatives. I proudly find myself standing with the radicals, and finding it difficult to overcome my contempt for the conservatives.
Now, certainly, whatever one’s reasons for desiring freedom, we should hope to be able to work together towards achieving it. Without question, one who hates the State, and one who just thinks it does a poor job of accomplishing its stated goals, will find themselves with a great deal of common ground from which to build upon.
Simultaneously, I see it as one of the most important and defining distinctions between certain factions of libertarians. I hate the State. I would hate it even if it actually accomplished all its noble sounding purported purposes. If tomorrow the welfare State actually managed to lift the poor out of poverty (after centuries of claiming to try and failing) I would still hate it. If the day after that, a military intervention into a foreign land really did liberate some distant culture somewhere, I would still hate it. If the day after that, a law removed all racial and gender inequality, I would still hate it. If by some magic, some group of noble politicians won a popularity contest, and used their violence to alleviate all my own problems and discomforts, I would still hate the State.
Now, of course, there’s no risk that any of this will happen. So perhaps the point seems moot to some, but I do not see the State as a failure. Our study of economics should have taught us that failure does not long persist. When one fails, even the most inept among us realize that it is time to try something else. Those who do not hate the State would tell us the State is somehow excluded from this economic law. They would pretend, that somehow the State is able to fail and repeat ad infinitum. But while it may be comforting for us to brand the State and its agents as inept, as misled fools making poor decisions, some bumbling stooges to be pitied and mocked, the reality of it is far more terrifying.
The State is a remarkable success. It has done an amazing job of convincing the masses that it is a just and noble institution. It has made its victims dependent upon their oppressors. It has killed, destroyed, and sabotaged, with amazing efficiency. It is not malfunctioning, this is its design. The misery, death, and deception of the State are not bugs, they are features.
This is the only rational explanation for such a long and sordid history of carnage. No rational thought process could lead one to believe that a group of people built mass stockpiles of weapons, hired mercenaries, and sent them off to murder innocent people, by accident. When every real or perceived action of a foreign entity is deemed a threat to the national interest, the only conclusion one can reach is that war is the goal. There is no logical analysis of the tax code that could lead one to believe it became impossible to understand through some series of mistakes. When laws are so numerous, frivolous, and complicated, that an average, honest person is committing three felonies a day, the only conclusion one can reach is that the State wants everyone to be subject to their victimization. When a “war on poverty” starts, and a gradual lessening of poverty ends, and the course does not change, the only logical deduction is that a decrease in poverty was undesirable.
The fact that those who rob, kidnap, and murder, tell the people they rob, kidnap, and kill, that their intentions are noble, has no bearing. That people believe this obvious falsehood, is equally irrelevant. Those in the organized crime business rarely tell the truth about their intentions, and calling it “the public sector” does nothing to change this. We all know that politicians lie. We all know that the more efficient liar wins the election, and that when said election is won, he will use this advantage to do ill to human society. That this would go on for thousands of years resulting in hundreds of millions of violent deaths, and immeasurable economic calamity, all without any meaningful improvement, demonstrates not ineptitude, but malice.
I would not attempt to reason with chainsaw wielding men in hockey masks. I would not attempt to love a rapist into giving up his need to victimize women. I would not join the mafia in hopes of lessening their theft and murder rates. In none of these cases would I accept their assurances of noble intentions as valid excuses for their violence. I would treat them as that which they are, malicious threats to my safety and the safety of those I care about. The State is no different.
So I hate the State, root and branch, and I question the sanity of those who do not.
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