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The psychological effects of the state upon the individual

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Dylan of Rivia Posted: Mon, Dec 10 2012 4:46 PM

Libertarians are always talking about the economic and moral consequences of government. However, I see no one or almost no one talking about the psychological consequences of this thing called the state. And for me they’re at least as important as its economical consequences.

 

In my knowledge, the only one who has really treated this subject properly and extensively is Thomas Szasz. I saw an interview with him in one of his lasts years, where he said that the end of all psychological abuse wouldn’t come until the state is finished. So, in his later years, he seemed to fully embrace voluntaryism as a means of achievieng a happier and more psychologically stable society.

 

So, what do you think? Does the state leave the individual in a state of fear? Prone to sadness? Alienated? Does it lower his self-esteem? Is taxation not only theft but emotional abuse?

 

Please note that the OP is only a very small sketch about the subject, it doesn’t intend to shrink a big subject such as this to only a set amount of ideas. Feel free to talk about it and anything related as you wish. (:

It is not left versus right, it is social engineering versus spontaneous order.
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Anenome replied on Mon, Dec 10 2012 5:02 PM

I think this is a very important subject for libertarians to dig into. There's meat there, for sure.

I think the state subtly influences both the thinking and the decision-making of the individual, largely without them realizing it.

The state, it seems, also reinforces thought habits that exist in the population as cultural inheritances as well. Many foreign cultures not related to the english culture carried with them into the US a socialistic mindset, a view of society as just a large family that should all take care of each other--the same cultural thought-habits which prevented capitalism and individualism from taking grip throughout the centuries.

Because of this cultural influx, the US has steadily culturally and intellectually retreated from the individualism of the pre-revolutionary and industrial-revolution eras.

As for influencing the decisions of individuals, there is a psychological buy-in that develops in a person, and legitimacy is generally granted to systems one is born into.

I'd be interested in reading more Szaz, what works of his on this topic do you recommend?

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Wheylous replied on Mon, Dec 10 2012 5:25 PM

I don't discuss psychology because I fear that most psychology might just be stuff that sounds nice but fails to explain how humans actually work.

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@ Wheylous

Thomas Szasz wrote an entire book called Psychology: The Science of Lies.

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Clayton replied on Mon, Dec 10 2012 5:34 PM

Great topic. This could make a great VR piece.

a) The State as the ultimate bully. It wields its influence in a manner specifically intended to make people feel too intimidated to challenge it. This is, of course, not even disputed, the Hobbesian Leviathan is intended to work on the principle of overwhelming intimidation. Read Kafka's The Trial.

b) The State as the meddling busy-body.

c) The State as the all-caring nanny.

d) The State hypocrite par excellence.

If there is one effect that I think we can say the State has on the individual it is: demoralization.

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hashem replied on Mon, Dec 10 2012 9:43 PM

This thread deserves way more attention, and I hope to give it exactly that when I'm not utterly intoxicated.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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Stockholm effect.

Even if the state is a bully, it will never be realized as so if people dont become educated about it.

“Since people are concerned that ‘X’ will not be provided, ‘X’ will naturally be provided by those who are concerned by its absence."
"The sweetest of minds can harbor the harshest of men.”

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Blargg replied on Mon, Dec 10 2012 10:56 PM

At times I've been fascinated by the parallels between the free market and government intervention, and the growth of a child and parental intervention. Both involve self-directed processes that can't be understood in simple command-and-control terms, and when such intervention is attempted, the processes break down in ways that don't seem connected and thus aren't properly traced back to the intervention as the cause. It's hard to tell which drives the other, or if they're both self-sustaining: family environment indoctrinates/breaks person, so they perpetuate it as adults in the state, or the state beats parents down so that they perpetuate it in their children.

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That's because psychology is the last resort of a scoudrel, it's for "Barnes and Noble scholars" who read a "splendid little book" and then blab on and on about nothing.  Just watch Stephan Molyneaux.

"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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Neodoxy replied on Mon, Dec 10 2012 11:08 PM

^

That post made me lol.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on the "right reactionaries" thread vive. One of your specialties seems to be thought history surrounding things vaguely like what we're talking about.

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The state is soul-destroying.

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Bert replied on Tue, Dec 11 2012 10:09 AM

Already had a VR piece in mind on this topic, but not so much of me writing about it as I'd be just quoting Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell.  Jung had written a few things about the state vs the individual on individual development of the psyche.  When I dig up some info I'll make a small post about it (busy as hell lately, so...)

I had always been impressed by the fact that there are a surprising number of individuals who never use their minds if they can avoid it, and an equal number who do use their minds, but in an amazingly stupid way. - Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols
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Clayton replied on Tue, Dec 11 2012 1:41 PM

I'll make a small post about it (busy as hell lately, so...)

That would be awesome. This could be a good recurring topic on VR.

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Neodoxy replied on Tue, Dec 11 2012 2:26 PM

I probably have opinions on this matter that differ from most others here. I think that:

1. Any unhappiness and negative psychological effects which the presence of the state cause PALE in comparison to what society does to people and what people do to each other and themselves in a healthy society. This is part of why I see RD's apparent exaltation of traditional cultural institutions in the right wing thread as disturbing. Although some traditional institutions and establishments are inevitable, all social practices need to be as flexible and individualized as possible.

2. I think that most psychological effects of the state are caused indirectly by the effects of what the state does, rather than the inherent knowledge of what it's doing.

3. The largest psychological effects which the state has upon people can be found in the public school system, which helps to entrench thought and subservience as destroying any semblance of original thought and flexible thought patterns. What we learn in high school isn't even compatible with what we learn in college

4. The state indirectly helps to enforce traditional modes of thought and institutions through its monopoly on law and since it represents the most inherently conservative institution of all

5. The effects of the welfare state upon a person are well known around here.

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