Human history is replete with the disgusting hubris of tyrants. They are only able to carry out their criminally psychopathic fantasies through the mechanisms of government, central banking, and militarized police. While most political dissidents may assert that the reason for our current situation lies in the motivations of several despotic special interests, some other dissidents think that it is the entity of the State itself that is the problem, since is the fundamental lynchpin that enables tyrants of all stripes and colors to impose their programs of death and destruction upon the populace at the barrel of a gun.
Austrian economist Murray Rothbard begins his political treatise by defining the State (also known as government):
“[T]he State is that organization in society which attempts to maintain a monopoly of the use of force and violence in a given territorial area; in particular, it is the only organization in society that obtains its revenue not by voluntary contribution or payment for services render but by coercion.”
In other words, it is a fairly clinical predation upon private property within a given geographical region. If this definition is accurate, then the State is little other than an organized crime syndicate (albeit the most successful local one). Despite coercion being its modus operandi, its long-term problem is ideological loyalty from the hapless citizenry. It is the role of the intelligentsia to provide such a convincing rationale for why the captive population should emotionally adhere themselves to the arbitrary dictates of the State. They do this because their fate would be less secure in the free market, given that the market rewards concrete, not abstract, accomplishments more consistently.
Statism requires legitimacy, even if it’s half-hearted. By identifying itself with the physical land area it has jurisdiction over, it perverts the natural tendency of men to love their homeland and their folk into unmitigated reverence for the State. Distorting natural patriotism into an artificial nationalism is required if the State is to convince the population that a war effort is between peoples, instead of actually being between warring factions of the nobility who equally oppress us all. Psychological warfare techniques have been waged upon the minds of the tax cattle, such as ridicule, tradition, guilt, and scientific jargon; all of these have been utilized to reinforce the unquestionable authority of the State, lest it be confused as being thought of as morally equivalent to a street gang.
Limiting the coercive power of the State has been easier said than done. The statist intelligentsia have successfully rationalized away certain limitations on State power by selling people on the notion that what were supposed to be chains upon the neck of the State were instead rubber stamps of virtuous approval regarding its actions, ex post facto. As Rothbard puts it:
“Thus, the State has invariably shown a striking talent for the expansion of its powers beyond any limits that might be imposed upon it. Since the State necessarily lives by the compulsory confiscation of private capital, and since its expansion necessarily involves ever greater incursions on private individuals and private enterprise, we must assert that the State is profoundly and inherently anticapitalist.”
Of course, Rothbard does not think that a return to constitutional government (that is, stronger chains upon the neck of this rabid dog) is going to cut it (with regards to securing our Liberties).
Given that the State (like oligarchies the world over) is only concerned with perpetuating itself for its own sake, it only fears serious threats to its own monopoly; this comes about either through war (that is, conquest by another nation-state) or revolution (which is an overthrow by the tax serfs). By tricking the body politic to self-identify with it, the State can turn potential revolutionary fervor into its most dedicated worship. Observable also is how the State will prosecute (or persecute?) those who violate administrative or statutory regulations instead of the Law vis-a-vis “victimless crimes.” Even when the matter at hand does deal with physical violence, notice particularly the nonchalant reactions given whenever the average prole is assaulted versus the outrage whenever a thug in a blue costume has merely been touched!
In the political arena, the two basic forces who oppose each other are producers and parasites; that is, the contradictory mechanisms of voluntary exchange and coercive exploitation. Albert Nock’s conception of social power versus State power highlights this dichotomy (the power over nature versus the power over man, respectively) as well, albeit using different verbiage. Rothbard’s notion in his other works about how the economy (the market) directly opposes the government (the power) is yet another way of describing the exact same phenomenon; hopefully, Nock’s typology won’t confuse with Rothbard’s categories too badly.
Murray Rothbard’s Anatomy of the State is a crucially pivotal examination about the nature of government itself. As he concludes in his treatise:
“In this century, the human race faces, once again, the virulent reign of the State – of the State now armed with the fruits of man’s creative powers, confiscated and perverted to its own aims. The last few centuries were times when men tried to place constitutional and other limits on the State, only to find that such limits, as with all other attempts, have failed. Of all the numerous forms that governments have taken over the centuries, of all the concepts and institutions that have been tried, none has succeeded in keeping the State in check. The problem of the State is evidently as far from solution as ever. Perhaps new paths of inquiry must be explored, if the successful, final solution of the State question is ever to be attained.”
Although I am more hopeful that something might in fact work to shrink the power of the State (perhaps naively), I can appreciate that the State, even a nightwatchman State in the form of a Republic, is, as George Washington described it, “a dangerous servant,” not to say anything of statism run amok that would constitute the attributes of “a fearful master.” It is not an entity that, even in the best of times, should be cuddled up to and thought of as warm and fuzzy, but instead as a rabid dog whose inherent nature is to bite people. At this point, either better written constitutions can effectively serve as a reliable chain around the neck of the State, or perhaps the dog just simply needs to be put down once and for all.