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March 22, 2012

Narcissism and Statism

Spiked editor Brendan O’Neill takes to task Syria bombing advocates who don’t care about the consequences.

O’Neill quotes blogger Norman Geras. “It is urgent that we respond out of solidarity (and) our ‘common human heritage’ with the victims; action must be taken even if it means meeting chaos with chaos and [even if] the chaos we cause turns out to be worse than the chaos we’re trying to… end.”

This sums up the arrogance and narcissism of Statists.

Government, to them, isn’t a limited agency of law and defense. It is the alpha and omega of “society” — the most enlightened expression of the moral values and priorities of a people. According to Statists, if the State doesn’t mold the values and priorities of the people, society will fall apart. Whether or not the people will actually be better off is not the point; the State must take action out of principle.

Take, for example, Statist logic concerning poverty…

1. Helping the poor is moral.
2. It is theoretically possible that no one will voluntarily help the poor.
3. Therefore, taxes must fund anti-poverty programs.

To Statists, it doesn’t matter that their anti-poverty programs actually create incentives that perpetuate poverty. They also don’t care that without the taxes and State bureaucracy, there would be more resources from which people could voluntarily help the poor. Success of failure in the War on Poverty doesn’t matter to them, just as it doesn’t matter whether bombing Syria will only create more chaos. To the Statists, their own good intentions are all that count. Anyone who disagrees with them is heartless.

Another example is Drug Prohibition. The Statist logic goes like this…

1. The recreational use of some drugs is unhealthy and/or immoral.
2. Without bans on these drugs, it is theoretically possible that EVERYONE would abuse them to unhealthy degrees.
3. Therefore, the State must prohibit these drugs.

It doesn’t matter that Drug Prohibition fails to deter people from experimenting with drugs. Nor does it matter that waging the War on Drugs has actually created more chaos and expense. What is important is that Prohibitionists don’t want to live in a country where such drug use is tolerated, because legal toleration sends a “message” that drug use is morally permissible. To them, the costs of the War on Drugs are “worth it” to maintain a moral principle against drug use — even if drug use doesn’t diminish.

Go down the line of issues: tax hike A, compulsory item B, subsidized institution C, mandate D, or prohibition of substance E. If you criticize these attacks on liberty as unworkable, as actually being counter-productive to the problem to be solved, you will likely be labeled as selfish or an ideologue. Of course, to the Statist, an ideologue is anyone who ISN’T a Statist.

In the end, however, it is the anti-Statist who recognizes the death, destruction, oppression, and the lost opportunities that accompany the State’s coercive “solutions” to social problems. The anti-Statist agrees with Lord Acton that liberty is the highest political end of man. Any higher end – moral, mental, spiritual, physical, or other – REQUIRES liberty for its attainment.

Statist programs don’t work because they reject liberty. In doing so…

  • They disrespect the very individuals they’re trying to help.
  • And they disrespect the taxpayers coerced into paying for the “help.”

That is why it is MORE moral, MORE compassionate, to advocate LESS Statism and MORE liberty. To speak out against the State is the REAL demonstration of “solidarity and our ‘common human heritage.'”

That heritage is liberty.

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