So asks Unhappy Conservative (2.0), in a comment thread begun at September 3, 2017 at 1:43 PM. Like a couple of other replies, I must admit I do not grasp the meaning fully of where UC is headed in his comments that began the dialogue. In order to bring focus to the discussion, UC then asked the question that appears as the title of this post. It is through this question that I intend to work here.
I believe it is clear that UC is not looking for an abstract reason for hating the state; in fact, he basically says so:
“…you cannot really hate an abstraction unless you are on levels of autism that shouldn't be possible.”
His use of the word “autism” is no accident. He uses this term to describe libertarians who are unable to reason beyond the chanting of “NAP, NAP, NAP.” In other words, autistic libertarians. I have come to both understand and accept his view – there are some libertarians, very prominent, that cannot think beyond this when it comes to applying this political theory to real humans. So, they chant.
“What you should hate is the actual state, not the idea of a state.”
So, I will give this a go.
Hate: to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest.
As Hans Herman Hoppe would say, the state is a producer of bads. It is easy to say I hate everything that the state does because it does it all via coercion: I must pay whatever the state demands and only it decides the services (for lack of a better term) it will provide and the quality of those services.
But this isn’t quite right, at least not for me. Detest? Allow me to stumble through an explanation.
I can place state actions into three buckets: first, those which I would never pay for voluntarily no matter the level of or quality of service; second, those I would pay for voluntarily, but not for the type of service that is provided by the state; third, those that I would pay for voluntarily in any case.
Remember, we don’t get utopia in a world of humans. If I expected utopia, I would pretty much spend every waking moment hating everything about everyone.
The services in the first category, I hate. The services in the second category, I hate – but a little less because they at least are in the neighborhood of a product I would voluntarily pay for. The services in the third category, I can live with – even if performed by an entity that can force me to pay.
Not pure NAP, I know. But not all violations by the state are created equal.
Forgive me now, as the gray between these categories may be as wide as each category. I will only offer simple examples.
The third category is easiest: protect my life and property. If a state does this well, I would not only not hate the state, I would welcome the state (I can see Walter cringing now). I would pay for this protection and not complain that some new Grace Commission found that $2.73 could be saved if such services were privatized.
(As we know, in too many ways the state does precisely the opposite of protecting my life and property – but more on that later.)
Streets and libraries. I would pay for both of these; I do not “hate” the state for being the monopoly provider of these. While I believe each can be done more efficiently if left fully to the market…let’s just say, I have overpaid for bad quality and poor service more than once in my life. I can live without “hate” in such circumstances.
The second category: how about police? I would pay voluntarily for some form of security and investigative service. For example, I would pay for the monopoly provider Andy Griffith of Mayberry; in no way shape or form would I pay for the militarized police state of today.
Education? It is a dastardly reality: “the state will educate your children,” which really means that the state will “indoctrinate” your children. Yet, at least in the United States (and several other countries), one is free to pursue alternative means of education for their children (private schools, homeschools). So, if I have any hate here, perhaps it should be aimed at the parents who allow their children to be indoctrinated by the state such that they become my future enemies.
How about money and credit? I certainly hate that the state control of money and credit gives it almost unlimited means to pursue items in the next (being first) category, but it is the items in the next category that I hate the most.
Why do I not totally hate this monopoly? Having a common medium of exchange is valuable – of course, I would prefer the market to determine this, but this doesn’t eliminate the value of a common medium of exchange.
The first category? I will tell you what I hate, unequivocally: I hate that the state leaves me no privacy; every aspect of my life is known to the state or can be known if desired, every single one. I hate that the state goes overseas and destroys the lives of millions of people annually.
I hate that the state has the ability to destroy life on the planet before the time it takes you to read this post. I hate that the state, instead of protecting my life and property, considers my life and property its own. I hate that the state plays both prosecutor and judge.
Now, as a reminder, these lists should not be considered exhaustive; I merely use these to give some concrete form to the question “why do I hate the state?”
And with this, I look forward to UC’s response and further clarification.
UC goes on, with a statement that I would have considered blasphemous ten years ago…maybe even five years ago:
My question for these people [he means libertarians of a certain type, I believe] is what specifically do you oppose about the empire? You say you are antiwar but you affirm the ideological premises on which the empire is built!
True opposition to the empire must strike at the root and this empire is built on the premises of liberalism.
Many libertarians would cringe at this statement; I used to, but not anymore.
If I were to pick the one sentence that best describes liberalism, it would be: “all men are created equal.” There was a time that these words would move me emotionally to tears. There is a utopian idea in this phrase that is very attractive. No more.
If one wants to discuss this idea of men being created equal in Christian, Biblical terms, have at it. But these words were written in a political document, and these words certainly aren’t interpreted today with the Bible as the underlying foundation to the political order.
In other words, liberalism – just like libertarianism, its more complete extension – must be grounded in something; there must be some underlying foundation. I have argued that it is pointless and even dangerous to advocate for such things absent a strong cultural foundation. The traditional, patriarchal, western, Christian foundation is a good place to start.
So…absent such a foundation… “All men created equal,” in the political world, inherently must result in democracy with universal suffrage – if you disagree, please explain why. Democracy with universal suffrage results in my life and property being left to the whims of everyone else’s vote. In other words, precisely what the United States is today – and today’s United States is the best case.
Take a look at this list of countries with the word “democratic” in the name: authoritarian, almost to the last. For example, North Korea, Laos, and Congo. No longer on the list, but how about the German Democratic Republic?
There was a time, one hundred years ago, when serious political philosophers understood that democracy equals communism; two hundred years ago, the word democracy – certainly among America’s founding generation – was associated with tyranny. Democracy in France in 1789 certainly was tyrannical.
In the political arena, I have come to learn how “all men are created equal” is the doorway to international, one-world government; destruction of property and life. In other words, the doorway to communism and tyranny. Nice political sentiments are one thing; putting nice political sentiments into human action rarely results in utopia.
But, those are my words. I have done my part. I would like to read UC’s expansion of his statements.