I’ve gone to great pains over the years to refine my arguments for voluntaryism, testing myself to the brink of obsessive exhaustion, arguing against my own points and counterpoints in my head, talking to myself walking down the street, skipping sleep to understand something better — more thoroughly — reading, writing, debating, being wrong, being right, being baffled, and then coming back to reason it all out again.
I have nonetheless emerged seeing the recognition of self-ownership as the most practical, ethical, and logical way for humans to live in societies where violent conflict is minimized. It is empirically provable.
On the surface, nearly everyone says they desire such an outcome. Nearly everyone probably thinks they do. But I’m not so sure I believe them anymore. I’m starting to think they value something else much more than peace and goodwill to others, no matter how they may pretend or talk the talk of a sensible person.
I saw a post today from the powerful mind of anarchist thinker, writer, and speaker Robert Higgs, which set me down a new path of questioning.
If the proposition in the passage below is true, it would certainly explain why, so very often, I get nowhere when it comes to logically and painstakingly explaining anarchism/voluntaryism to friends, loved ones, and strangers. To my extreme frustration, no matter how logically the case is made (or even in what tone), it is almost roundly rejected by folks of all cultural backgrounds, intelligence levels, and religious beliefs (or lack thereof). Before going further, here’s the passage:
Higgs, someone I have much respect for, is a Christian. I won’t get into my personal views in the arena of faith, but I mention this because I do not share what I assume is his belief in something like “original sin.” It may be that he thinks similar to me on the matter, or it may not. Suffice it to say I do not believe babies are “born bad,” and could even back this up with scripture for the Christians if I needed to.
However, even if this passage is referencing the common conception of original sin, or somehow alluding to it, that still would not negate the very eye-opening and salient truth that hit me today like a Mack truck.
Or, what seems to me to be very true for now. And to me, is something like a familiar, brand new discovery that I’ve always known, but am just starting to realize, again…again.
Most people want security more than peace!?
When I enter into rational argument or debate with someone about the nature of the state, I assume inside that most likely they value peace, and simply think that having a centralized government like the ones that exist now is the best way to bring about the most peace possible, and mitigate the most violence and suffering.
They also seem to think such systems of governance are logical, so I set about untangling that knot, which is not too hard to do, so when they see it logically pulled apart, they will come to my side with a smile and say “Holy cow! I never thought of it that way before!” I have this likely naive expectation because that is more or less what happened in my own case.
But that’s almost never what happens. And when I read Higgs’ thoughts today it was like seeing reality afresh, with new, clear glasses on after a lot of blurry, rainy days. Maybe…these people don’t want peace. At least, not as much as they say they do. Maybe…they want power.
“Surely my Aunt Barbara doesn’t want power over me! She’s just a naive voter!”
Okay, but she is not so dumb that she cannot see the logic behind the simple argument that taxation is extortion.
“Well, no. But surely they will understand that since human nature is fallible, putting fallible humans into seats of massive state power is a bad idea.”
No. Most likely they are only appalled by this when the power is being used against them. When it’s “their guy” in power, they are perfectly complacent. See the recent Republican outrage over Donald Trump’s house being raided. If the FBI were after their political opponents, they’d be very calm and happy while yelling “sic ’em” to the federal agents.
“Maybe it’s just my tone. I used to be acidic and confrontational because I felt so angry, and that turned people off. Then I toned it down and became empathetic to a fault. But then I was just ignored. I don’t get it. Nothing works.”
It’s not your tone. You just answered your own question.
“So why in the hell don’t people seem to care, let alone listen?”
Because maybe, peace and justice and rights for others are not that important to them, if they themselves feel comfortable. They do not, as Higgs said, have to get any of the blood and guts on themselves, either, with the goons of government doing the dirty work for them.
“That would certainly explain all the bad arguments.”
Logic doesn’t enter the picture, does it? Because it is a tribal instinct of self-preservation they are operating from, and not their mind. They never graduated from the stage as a tiny child where you learn not to hit and pull and scream to get what you want. Their parents failed them. Schools brainwashed them into thinking violence is ALWAYS WRONG… unless a government does it. They know they don’t have the right to cage or kill you, themselves. But they believe they can magically outsource that right to the state.
So while you, weird freak, value peace for all individuals on earth to the maximum possible, it is far down on their list of important things.
I don’t think people are born callous and stupid and evil like this in most cases. Head injuries, unrelenting violent social programming, and abuse from parents can all cause this problem. We know actual, clinical psychopaths are rare. So it is the cult programming that they’ve bought into that is to blame. It is now almost inseparable from their body and brain. You are, quite literally, trying to speak sense to someone in a cult who views your arguments as a literal threat to their life.
I guess we have to prepare accordingly and save the ones that still have ears. Why didn’t the evil dye of statism get all the way into them? I don’t know.