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Statist reasoning: Not me, but everybody else

by Per Bylund

Most of us have tried discussing issues considered somewhat radical with a number of average Joes. Such an endeavour usually ends with frustration and a total failure of communication; the statist retreats from reason and logic to feeling when his views are challenged. It seems impossible to break through to these people.

But I claim people are in general libertarians and most of them are in effect radicals. It is just that they don't reason any more than they absolutely need to, and they suffer from a strange form of self-centrism. In these collectivist times, with income redistribution through taxation and popular support for a force-based common system for equal "welfare," people tend to be very egotistical — at least in one sense: They are themselves the rational model of man.

The problem is, most of them totally distrust everybody else. Thinking rationally, they choose a society with a large amount of force limiting the damages caused by the average Joe before a free society. Why? Because the average Joe (that is, everybody else) cannot be trusted: Everybody else is power-hungry, trouble-seeking, violent, dishonest, and potential murderers.

Perhaps the best example of this is the drug issue, since State prohibition of substances that make you feel good is such an infected issue — you simply cannot allow it. There is no good reason to continue the "war on drugs," it costs billions every year and it only makes things worse (crime, disease, deaths, and so on). All good arguments are really for "legalising"1, but no one seems to be able to use enough a quantity of reason to see the clear logic for non-prohibition.

Even reasonably rational people seem unable to see the legalises' arguments. A common first response to legalisation is "You want people to do drugs?" So you simply ask the person if he would do drugs and become a drug addict as soon as the State ends prohibition. The automatic response is "Not me — but everybody else!" Right.

This "banning backer" isn't really arguing for prohibition of drugs because he could not help himself if there wasn't anyone forcing him not to do drugs. No, he can obviously take care of himself. The problem is "everybody else" — they would all start doing drugs and quickly degenerate into tough criminals engaging in shoot-outs, rape, and murder. From this perspective, it is rational to advocate prohibition — it seems to be in your own personal interest.

People do what they have an incentive to do, and seeing the world as a place full of irrational and violent people makes for an incentive to hold them at a leash. The price you have to pay is that the State will have you too at a leash — but that is a small price to pay for not being beaten up, raped, and murdered, wouldn't you think?

The problem here is of course that people aren't much different; they aren't irrational, aggressive, and violent. Rather, they are all very much the same — and they all believe "everybody else" would do something horrible if there is no one forcing them in the right direction. If there were no laws against rape, they would still not rape anyone. But all of them do claim "everybody else" would instantly become rapists.

What we have here is actually a majority of the population being wannabe libertarians, and that is quite uplifting and promising. But they all advocate the State rather than freedom, because it "isn't possible" that statelessness would ever work — the reason being simply that "everybody else" would turn into live monsters.

The same reasoning goes with any issue of the State. Take public welfare, for instance. People are generally not in favour of paying taxes for a mammoth welfare spending program in case they are laid off. No, they are in favour of the welfare state because "everybody else" cannot take care of themselves and therefore "we" need to provide a system that helps them all. And "everybody else" (especially the really wealthy) would never give money to the poor if they weren't forced.

The same goes for environmental protection. The average Joe talking to you is totally aware of the fact that you cannot use the environment without thinking of the consequences — but "everybody else" simply doesn't understand. The conclusion: You need a system forcing people not to go berserk on nature.

This logic is applicable on all statists, be they welfarists, fascists, or minarchists. They all suffer from a "Messiah complex" causing them to advocate force and coercion for the sake of maximising their freedom. They simply know better, and "everybody else" doesn't understand. At all.

It is kind of a Prisoners' Dilemma in logic caused by State propaganda. The State makes sure to communicate this illusion of how "everybody else" really is, and this enormous supply of disinformation has made people unable to see they are the same and reason the same way. Just like in the Prisoners' Dilemma example, both convicts choose to squeal on each other creating a worse situation simply because they don't know what the other convict is doing. (The State, obviously, is the detective making the convicts believe they are better off squealing.)

The logic and reasoning of statists is perfectly right, considering the information they have at hand. The problem is they do what they have an incentive to do — based on disinformation. If they didn't believe the lie of "everybody else" being inhuman, they would probably be some kind of libertarians.

The conclusion is, of course, that statists for some reason cannot allow themselves to trust other people. They are stuck in a Hobbesian world view where life would be "nasty, brutish, and short" — because "everybody else" would make it so. This is an obviously faulty identification of man and society. What they need is to open their eyes.


  1. To "legalise" means but to oppose aggression. But the term, to legalise, sounds like you wish to make things worse. In order to legalise, you — from a statist's perspective — change the status quo (which is "natural" to statists) and thereby take a position for something (rather than against prohibition). And since "everybody knows" drugs are bad for you and that people die from using drugs, "legalisers" automatically are considered advocates of all these bad things that are really caused by the prohibition. (That's how statist logic generally works.)

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