Lies of Authority
Authorities tell us so many obvious lies that is seems amazing that we do not simply laugh outright at them. Here are a few, followed by some observations as to why our laughter is less common than it should be.
For the State to gain our allegiance, it must first create an imaginary enemy, and second reassure us that we are not in that camp. This is the trinity of power: the benevolent State, the terrible enemy, and the helpless dependent. First, the benevolence of the State is trumpeted, always by inculcating the young. Second, the power of the State is hidden, by a consistent refusal to point out the guns that are the source of that power. As the child grows, however, sooner or later he will understand the State’s dependent on the police, prisons and military. At this point, the enemy is introduced, in order to justify State violence. The child is reassured that State violence is only used against the enemy, and this seems believable at the time, since children do not pay taxes, and are not subject to regulations. As the child grows into adulthood, however, it becomes increasingly clear that State power is not primarily used against the enemies, but against the allies. The vast majority of State violence is designed not to punish the malevolent, but to rob the productive. The State does not tax citizens in order to protect them from enemies, but rather protects enemies in order to tax citizens. A large part of the State is dedicated to increasing the number of enemies, which is why laws and regulations continually expand. Every additional law adds to the number of enemies – and those enemies are commonly thought to be those who were formerly acting malevolently, but are in fact those who will in the future transgress the law, and so be subjected to threats, thievery or imprisonment. Laws, in other words, are not created by the State to protect citizens from thieving enemies, but rather to protect State revenue by inventing enemies and robbing citizens.
By far the best enemies the State can create are people whose ‘bad’ actions are increased by State violence. There are four major categories here: poverty, health care, education and drug use. The State has always used the existence of poverty as a threat with which to rob its citizens. Modern capitalism gravely threatened this threat by systematically eliminating all poverty but the most pathological. It was no accident that the Great Society was created in the 1960s; if the State had waited even another decade or two before stepping in, there would have been too few poor left to make it even remotely believable. Using violence to subsidize poverty has always resulted in an increase of poverty, and so the State was able to save one of its primary weapons against its citizens by creating the welfare state just in the nick of time.
The same is true of health care. In the 1960s, many governments took over health care – and again, just in time, since people were becoming so healthy that the costs of health care were becoming ludicrously low. Just as subsidizing poverty increases it – as well as decreasing wealth – so the subsidizing of illness increases it, and decreases health. It is no accident that the first generation of children to grow up in families with no direct memories of unsubsidized health care are so desperately unhealthy and overweight. Thus, along with poverty, health care is the perfect tool of State power, since the exercise of that power leads to an increase of demand for that power. Government-run health systems make people sicker, and so require additional coercion for funding.
Education is another prime example. State schools do not exist to serve the needs of either parents or children, but rather the greed of the State and its parasites. Citizens are not taxed for the sake of improving education; rather, education is forced to deteriorate so that citizens can be further taxed. Logically, this is not hard to spot. If a man claims that X is his goal, and Y his means, and he never achieves X, but continually achieves Y, it is obvious that Y is in fact his goal, and X his means. The State does not rob its citizens in order to improve education, but rather forces education to deteriorate in order to rob from its citizens. That much is clear, insofar as for the past half-century, education has continued to decline while taxes have continued to climb. Thus the goal must be the taxes, and education is the means. The State forces education to deteriorate by shooting anyone who wants to opt out, or anyone who wants to teach without paying a union, or wants a more personalized curriculum, or the introduction of objective standards or values and so on. Note that the State does not threaten to shoot people who wish such things – if all the State did was threaten, it would scare none but the most jumpy. It does in fact shoot people who disobey it. That much is clear to anyone who wants to follow the logical path from letters to calls to the ‘break, enter and kidnap’ tactics of people wearing particular clothing.
Drug use is also fertile ground for the creation of enemies. Making drugs illegal, of course, increases their value, and so increases the value of creating addicts. Again, there is no conceivable logic by which the State can be said to be dedicated to decreasing the amount of illicit drug use. Such drug use was far less before our current prohibitions, and has only been increasing since these laws went into effect. What has continued to increase, of course, are State drug-enforcement budgets, along with all the arbitrary powers of search and seizure that go along with them. Thus drug laws are not designed to protect citizens from drugs; they are designed to protect State income from a decline in drug use.
This is all perfectly obvious – the question is: why do so few people see this nonsense for what it is?
The main reason is two-fold. The first part is that there is little point having passionate opinions about things we cannot change. I may hate gravity, or dying, but getting all riled up about them won’t do me much good. It looks rather insane to get mad at things we cannot change. And the fact of the matter is that the average citizen can do absolutely nothing to limit the power of the State. We cannot resist well-armed State thugs. We cannot enter the system and change it, since the system has raised impervious barriers to anyone with integrity. No one with integrity will promise State loot to backers, and so will get no backing. Media will not publicize any substantial State criticism, since the State controls access to the airways through licensing and fines, and criticism of the State will result in a cut-off from the largest news source. Media may criticize this team or that team, but not the sport itself.
The second reason is pure – and rational – terror. Morally condemning the State is a dangerous hobby, since State power is so extensive. Imagine a student in government-run school exposing the violence at the root of the public education system. Imagine the reaction of a teacher being informed that she is being paid in blood-money robbed from the innocent at gun-point. What teacher would be able to respond to such simple and accurate moral condemnation? Pure rage would result. Through one mechanism or another, the child would either be severely disciplined, medicated, expelled or failed. Hate crime legislation would probably be invoked, and the child’s parents would also be culpable. The child and his parents would be subject to the most brutal and public kind of character assassination. He would be cut off from State education, and forced into home schooling. The child’s life would be ruined – and for what? Angering an inconsequential government teacher? Bewildering and alienating his classmates? He would not emerge victorious, since there are only two effective ways to oppose evil: moral condemnation and physical force. The first is not materially effective in isolation, and he is incapable of the second, and so his life would be destroyed for no purpose.
A third reason is that the spread of State violence utterly corrupts human relations – especially the bond of the family. Parental authority is undermined by student and adult welfare, while State schools implicitly teach children that violence is the most moral way to resolve differences of opinions. State schools, both by example and instruction, cannot teach children about win-win solutions, or the supremacy of peaceful rationality in dispute resolution. Their very existence proves the axiom that force is more moral than reason.
Thus children are taught that differences of opinion can only be resolved through violence and utter subjugation. This breeds the most stifling, claustrophobic and conformist types of relationships, where no values, fundamental ideas or important discussions can be allowed. Empty conversation displaces deep commonality of experience, and trivia, boredom, irritation and resentment take the place of stimulation, love, loyalty and integrity.
Such ‘relationships’ are brittle houses of cards, utterly opposed to any rational discussion of values, morals, ideas or deep experiences. Morals, if they exist, are imposed as mere absolutist and threatening prejudices. Families in particular, due to their relative longevity, become obsessed with ‘keeping the peace’ and defusing conflicts which cannot be resolved except through subtle emotional – or overt physical – dominance. Families, which should be the deepest relationships, become landmines of conflict carpeted over with silly stories, empty gossip, annoying advice and petty criticism.
It is for this reason that people also fear morally criticizing the State. The most abstract is also the deepest, and so for a child to criticize the violence of the State is to criticize the parents who placed him in a State school, or a brother who works for the State, or a grandmother on a State pension plan, or a cousin still in school, or a sister-in-law who is a teacher and so on. The State is now so powerful that a man cannot condemn the State without also condemning his family. State corruption has corrupted his family, as it has all his relationships.
Thus if a man criticizes the State, he must either retract his criticisms and destroy his own moral integrity, or face the inevitable unraveling of all his personal relationships. And those in the proximity of someone criticizing the State face the same choice. They must either condemn him, or stand with him in isolation.
Who among us is brave enough to stand for the universal morality of our common humanity and insist, over and over, that violence destroys all that makes life worth living? That violence corrupts our capacity for rationality, love and empathy. That we are ruled by petty dictators and threatened by brutal men in particular clothing. That what we call the State is nothing more than a club of criminals whose mad addiction to violence and power is eating away the very heart of morality, integrity and everything that brings a golden light to our lives.
Almost none of us choose to take this thorny, uphill, lonely and lovely path. We gain nothing but hostility, indifference, defensiveness, condemnation, attempted humiliation – and the truth. The truth, which makes it all, all worthwhile. For while violence rules, we are outcasts. But we must ready our trumpets for that glorious day when the State finally collapses from the weight of its own brutality, and we shall be free to speak with one another openly once more.
Stefan Molynuex, is the host of Freedomain Radio (www.freedomainradio.com), the most popular philosophy site on the Internet, and a “Top 10” Finalist in the 2007-2010 Podcast Awards.