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What it Means to be Anti-State

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Clayton Posted: Sat, Oct 27 2012 10:22 PM

 

Argh, this is the second time I've submitted an article pro bono to lewrockwell.com and not even received a "no thank you." Anyway, since they apparently round-filed it, here it is:

I am anti-state. I hate the State in the way that Murray Rothbard explained in his essay, Do You Hate the State?: I have “… a deep and pervasive hatred of the State and all of its works, based on the conviction that the State is the enemy of mankind”. Of course, people hate lots of things. They hate corporations. They hate guns. They hate drugs. They hate communism. But I hate the State in an entirely different way. I hate the State like I hate someone who hurts a child or someone who is a serial killer. For the State, there is a space reserved in the jaws of Satan in the ninth circle of Hell right beside Judas, Cassius and Brutus.

Allow me to describe to you a species of black wasp native to South America that lays its eggs inside the body of a caterpillar. It injects its eggs into its hapless victim through a series of powerful abdominal thrusts that penetrate the caterpillar’s thick skin. These eggs mature inside the warm caterpillar into larvae that then proceed to feed on the caterpillar’s insides, carefully avoiding its vital organs. When the larvae have matured, they cut their way out of the caterpillar’s body with their purpose-built teeth. But this is not the end of the poor caterpillar’s misery. In the final act of this tragedy, the injured caterpillar uses its own silk to spin a protective blanket over the wasp’s larvae and will aggressively fend off others seeking to harm the larvae. A virus from the wasp has invaded and perverted the caterpillar’s brain, coercing it into this final act of self-treachery.

The wasp and its larvae are a lot like the State. I think it goes without saying which character in this allegory represents the taxpaying public. But the State is not merely a parasite; it is a dangerous, vicious parasite that tragically perverts the very fabric of human society in its maniacal pursuit of self-perpetuation. The State is possible because of human weakness but it is not just an expression of it.

The State is not merely a group of sluggards, it is an agent that actively works to upend the natural incentives so that productivity, industry and frugality are punished while waste, idleness and dissipation are rewarded.

The State is not merely violent. It is the systematic use of every dark impulse within man’s psyche to subjugate the non-compliant and prod the pliable to exhaust their entire productive energies and even their own offspring in service to the ends of the State.

The State does not only commit theft and other property crimes to enrich itself; it seeks to excise – at any price to humanity – all concept of property from the mind of man. Just witness the history of communism over the course of the last century.

The State is not just jealous of wealth and achievements that exceed its own. The State hobbles the achievers, bludgeons the beautiful, mangles the exceptional, lobotomizes the unique, squelches the geniuses, counterfeits the creative, dispirits the hopeful and deflates the wondrous.

The State is not merely dishonest; it systematically fabricates alternative histories and destroys the genuine records of history. It mars monuments of human achievement, topples and explodes great works of architecture, shatters priceless works of art, chisels out ancient inscriptions and sets fire to our invaluable libraries and museums.

The State is not merely a hypocrite; it wraps mass murder, mass expropriation and mass destruction of valuable property and natural resources in the vestments of moral righteousness and the robes of upright lawfulness.

The State is not solely a control freak and a nosy nanny; it seeks to deprive you of control of your own life, to so absorb your every waking minute with filling out its forms and standing in its queues that you are emptied of yourself and become consumed by the needs and ends of the State. It would have you by its bedside, nursing its every wound, fretting over its every whim like a loved one who has been injured or fallen sick. No less care is sufficient to prove your love to the State.

The State is not just self-righteous; the State strips you of your dignity and then stands you – naked, shivering, starving, bound and ashamed – next to its jackbooted goons with their brass buttons, shiny boots, freshly shaved faces and smartly fitting, starched uniforms. You are the picture of worthlessness, the gnawed core of an eaten apple, fit for nothing but to be tossed on the landfill. The State, by contrast, can do no wrong. For everything it does, it has an excuse, a justification or – if it comes to it – a statute.

The State is so much more than bullying, intimidation, imposed authority, politics, activism, lobbying, elections or popularity contests. It is more than its zoning laws and its petty, small-minded regulations. It is more than its kept courts, its kept journalists and its kept academics. It is more than the police, more than the army. It is more than sloppy philosophy and common fallacies of reasoning. It is more than pompous, obsolete legal privileges and hereditary titles to unjustly acquired property.

Those who hate the State must be clear that we are not intolerant of human weakness – the very weaknesses that we ourselves carry in one way or another. That man has not formed a perfect social order only proves the obvious fact that man is not perfect.

I don’t hate those who pursue their interests, sometimes uncharitably and unheeding of the needs of others around them. I don’t hate people who are looking for a handout. This is, after all, human nature. Mooches have always been with us and always will be. I don’t hate people who would rather not work for a living. There have always been sloths, drunkards and layabouts.

I don’t hate people who commit acts of violence out of passion or machismo. They merely exhibit the foibles of youth or petulance. I don’t hate people who commit petty thefts or vandalism and other minor property crimes. I don’t hate people who are jealous of the achievements and natural endowments of others.

I don’t hate liars – or even lawyers and dishonest car salesmen. I don’t hate hypocrites. I don’t hate people who are not self-reflective. I don’t hate people who don’t hate the State. I don’t hate control freaks and busy-bodies or those intolerably sanctimonious people who genuinely suspect that their excrement emits no odors.

I don’t hate my fellow man for having weaknesses just as I have.

The lowest circle of Hell, as Dante organized it, is reserved for traitors. Brutus, Cassius and Judas were all traitors, eternally gnawed alive by the teeth of Satan himself. The State is the ultimate traitor to humanity. The State is not a person or a group of persons, though there are those that benefit from the State more than all others. It is not an organization or a building. The State is the virus that hijacks the caterpillar’s brain. It is a self-perpetuating code of self-treachery. The State is an alien idea, a meme, that has infected billions of human minds and is inducing them to act against their own, peaceful interests and against their own, harmonious dispositions. It is an unnatural and self-defeating morality. The State is a bad idea.

It is this zealous self-treachery that makes the evils of the State so indescribably evil. The foibles of humanity are largely benign and self-limiting. The drunkard fritters away his savings, loses the ability to earn an income and ends up on the street, unable to raise enough money to buy his next bottle. A tragedy, to be sure, but also a lesson. The drunkard is only a one-man epidemic.

The State, on the other hand, is an active agent that works tirelessly to pervert the natural order and to maximize, systematize and perpetuate man’s weaknesses. Not content to sink to the lowest rung of hell on its own, the State must drag down all of humanity with it. The State is not a self-limiting problem. It is a malignant and contagious virus of the mind. It is an ideological epidemic.

The State is waging nothing more or less than a war on our humanity – it is misanthropy incarnate. I do not even hate the cranky misanthrope! But I hate the self-perpetuating system of misanthropy that spreads itself through the art of tyranny, paid for on the backs of its victims, the very serfs which the State has stripped of their human dignity and yoked to its own, depraved ends.

That is what it means to be anti-State.

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Gero replied on Sat, Oct 27 2012 11:46 PM

I suspected that Lew Rockwell gets so many emails that he reads the ones from people he knows first and tries to get to the rest.

“The State is not merely a group of sluggards,”

The problem with using “The State” abstractly is that you can say almost anything about it without giving a citation. Is there an instance of government laziness? Sure. How about government hyperactivity in trying to monitor communications, ramp up drone strikes, expand healthcare regulation, and otherwise busily expand its activities? So, is the state staffed by laggards or busy bees? I understand the sluggards idea (a bunch of tax-consumers lounging around while tax payers work), but the state is staffed by many people: malevolent and well-intentioned, lazy and active, greedy and generous, and so forth.

“it is an agent that actively works to upend the natural incentives so that productivity, industry and frugality are punished while waste, idleness and dissipation are rewarded.”

The state is not a singular agent with one personality that seeks goals. It is, in the U.S. for example, composed of congresspersons, judges, and executive branch enforcers, all of whom are influenced by lobbying groups.

The effect of a state policy may be to punish productivity, but that may not be the goal. Tariffs may help that local industry, but harm consumers. The congressperson may not even know that. Glenn Greenwald wrote an article that pointed out the Democratic congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz had no idea about a presidential kill list. She supports a president without understanding his policies. This is one example of a government agent not fully understanding what the consequences of their actions.

I would continue this critique, but I currently have other matters to attend to.

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Clayton,

I'm not sure why you would send this article to LRC or Mises when you have actually written fine articles that actually engage a thought and an idea.

This is more like a manifesto - which I would think would only be allowed by regular Mises type writers and not unknowns.

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

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Clayton replied on Sun, Oct 28 2012 2:20 AM

But it's not a manifesto - the point is that anti-state people get carried away railing on human weakness at times, as if the State is just the ultimate expression of human weaknesses; it is not and what sets it apart is the intensive self-treachery that it lures people into. I'm merely saying "hate the State but don't hate humanity".

And I'm fine with rejection... I just would like to be informed one way or the other.

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Clayton replied on Sun, Oct 28 2012 2:23 AM

@Gero: OK, I think you've misinterpreted and it's likely my fault as I'm 0-2 so far. I was trying to set up a contrast between the things that anti-Statists rail on the State for (e.g. lazy welfare bums living at the expense of productive taxpayers) and the component human weaknesses that go into creating those aspects of the State. The article is not meant to be a critique of politics, government or anything as specific as the behavior of a particular Congresswoman.

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It's simple. Are you published in any scholarly sources or media sites? Then you are not going to get published on LR. It's harsh but they are not going to put up articles written by somebody no one knows about. It's like me trying to get published in the American Historical Review, which is basically the top journal for historians, while I am a graduate student. They are not going to accept it because I'm a nobody in the world of academia. Be a somebody then send your stuff to get published there. Not saying this to be mean or squash your work. Just giving out the truth. 

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

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Clayton replied on Sun, Oct 28 2012 2:52 AM

Laurence Vance is a published scholar?? Anyway, I'm not sore at being rejected... I would be happier if I had been rejected! That's my complaint! At least reject me!

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Powerful, emotionally moving.

Though, as I am feeling pedantic today - are you sure caterpillars use silk to protect their progeny? I would imagine, they use it to protect themselves (well, and by extension, their progeny, of course). Details like this may undermine credibility. I know this sounds silly, but they really may.

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Here are his works

Here are the sites he writes for

 

short answer: Laurence Vance is published. 

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

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Clayton replied on Sun, Oct 28 2012 3:00 AM

Look, Laurence Vance is a hack in my book and I have no idea why he's on LRC... well, he's on the blog so I figure it's because he's a personal friend of Lew. 

I'm not arguing with Lew's criteria, whatever they are... just would like to get a response... "no thanks" would work just fine.

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Getting a response, whether yes or no, goes back to being a somebody in the world of publishing. The people at LR can get away with not addressing your email or articles. Again, not trying to be cruel, but who are you? What influence do you have? You are in a sea of others like you. Gotta be a somebody, then you will be acknowledged. 

'Men do not change, they unmask themselves' - Germaine de Stael

 

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Clayton replied on Sun, Oct 28 2012 3:36 AM

are you sure caterpillars use silk to protect their progeny?

You're right, that's a mistake. Argh.

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Clayton replied on Sun, Oct 28 2012 3:39 AM

@Andrew Cain: What's your point? I have no right to complain because I'm a "nobody"?? If I'll feel like bitching about something, I'll bitch about it. 

And, believe me, making it onto LRC is not one of my goals in life. So I have right around zero intention of "becoming a somebody" in LRC's eyes in order to get it up there. I merely submitted it because I thought it would be a good fit and if they didn't like it or just generally didn't know who the hell I am, fine, I understand that but it wouldn't kill them to respond to an email.

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Groucho replied on Sun, Oct 28 2012 4:47 AM

How do you know it was even read? Who knows what kind of settings Lew (or whoever you emailed it to) have on ther spam filters?

I once emailed Lew a snapshot that I thought he'd like for a blog entry, but as far as I know he never posted it. I assume that, for whatever reason, he didn't see it or if he did see it he simply didn't use it.

But I have to factor in the likelihood that: I got blocked by the spam filter - after all, Lew Rockwell doesn't know me and I am only acquanited with him through his public works. And even if it did get through the filter, I can imagine him being leary of unknown people sending him emails with attachments. I also think it's a little unreasonable to expect that he would invest the time to read and respond to unsolicited  essays sent to him by unknown authors.

Now as far as getting more exposure...enlightened have you considered the Mises Community Blog Project?  If the project gets off the ground, it might be the start of something big (who knows?) - and you've obviously got writing talent. Something to consider?

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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Clayton replied on Sun, Oct 28 2012 12:06 PM

The only point-of-contact they give is lew@lewrockwell.com. I understand they probably get a thousand emails a day, even after spam filtering. But everyone else in the world can manage at least a form letter "thank you for your inquiry" kind of thing. Anyway, that's how I feel about it. Nuff said.

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My inner statistician tells me, that if we model your (one-way) exchange with LR as a binomial experiment, the result 0:2 still leaves you with a 95% confidence interval from 0 to 84.2% - in other words, their acceptance rate of the material of the kind you've sent them can well be above 50% - just keep trying :)

I suggest stopping after the 6th test.

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Clayton replied on Sun, Oct 28 2012 1:22 PM

@Andris: I really have no strong desire to get material on LRC. I have other projects that I care about a lot more. I only submitted the article because I had written it and then thought "Hmm, this might be a good fit on LRC... let's see if they'll take it." I'm just griping about their email habits.

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Clayton replied on Sun, Oct 28 2012 1:25 PM

I fixed the caterpillar mistake. Thanks for the free editing, Andris. ;-)

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It was not exactly free, I consumed a portion of your IP by reading :D

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Clayton replied on Sun, Oct 28 2012 2:06 PM

I consumed a portion of your IP

Yes, I felt the loss as you were reading. LOL

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