Fuck the State... But Not Like That

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login date: 2022-05-13

A state? What is that? Well! ... A state, is called the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly lieth it also; and this lie creepeth from its mouth: “I, the state, am the people.” ... Where there is still a people, there the state is not understood, but hated as the evil eye, and as sin against laws and customs. ... The state lieth in all languages of good and evil; and whatever it saith it lieth; and whatever it hath it hath stolen. False is everything in it; with stolen teeth it biteth... — Thus Sake Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche

1. The Coldest of All Cold Monsters

Murder, kidnapping, robbery, bigotry, oppression, poverty, destitution, slavery, exploitation, surveillance, restriction - politicians proclaim on TV, pundits write in the newspaper, and on the lips of every indoctrinated member of the masses, every Last Man, the same logic is blurted out: the state! the state will protect us from these things!" - yet it is the state itself which is the worst perpetrator of all of them, the most efficient murderer, kidnapper, robber, bigot, oppressor...

The state is the institution that holds the monopoly on the 'legitimate' use of violence in society: it is the sole authority in society which is granted the power to decide who should and who should not use force, for what purposes, and what the punishments are should those dictates be violated. The state then uses this monopoly on violence to invade the lives of those that fall within its territorial claims - to control what they can and cannot do via laws, and steal their labor product away by taxes. Thus, the two properties of a state: violence, and domination. Already, the problem with the state must be clear to anyone who is interested in individual self-determination and autonomy, and a society founded fundamentally on consent. The state reaches its tendrils out through its servants - cops, soldiers, and bureaucrats - to compel and limit everyone. As Proudhon said, to be governed is to be ""watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so.

2. Lieth In All Languages of Good and Evil

The first problem with the state as an organization is that it represents an inherent danger to autonomy (even beyond the limits it purports to respect). By centralizing power so extremely, almost nothing remains to counterbalance the power of the state. No one can stand against it, and all are cowed by it. Our only shield against its domination of our lives is its self-imposed limits, but since these limits are only 'enforced' by components of the state, they only hold sway insofar as members of the state care to obey them - in other words, it is a promise with no teeth, because there is no consequence for violating it. It's like a crocodile promising not to snap its jaws shut when you put your head in its mouth. All that prevents the state from seizing as much power as it wants is the general wish of some portion of the population, and tradition. But the wishes of the population are fickle, and changeable, and as we shall see, tend towards increasing state power, not restricting it; and tradition, while powerful, is malleable and manipulable, and ultimately can be discarded even while the appearance of it remains. This ensures that the autonomy of all the individuals within the state's purview depends wholly on the whims of the people around them and the pleasures of politicians and bureaucrats - not safe hands.

The result of this is that the state's laws already reach into nearly every part of life, from what we can and cannot do with our bodies, to what we can or cannot do in our homes, to what arrangements we can make with others, and what we can produce or sell. Immune from resistance or retaliation, the state, nominally on behalf of the majority, but usually on behalf of the rich elites, strips away so much of our autonomy it is nearly unthinkable, disallowing us from making choices for ourselves about how we wish to live. This is its second sin: the egregious violation of our autonomy far beyond what is necessary to reconcile the conflicts between the autonomy of individuals - and indeed the robbery of conflicting individuals from the autonomy to decide how to resolve their own conflicts!

Consider that in a decentralized anarchist society the only time force would be used would be in self-defense, or in the resolution of some conflict where the personal interests and autonomy of certain individuals came into conflict, because one person's power could be countered by another, so in matters that truly do not concern one, the possibility of encountering resisting force would not be worth it, whereas in matters where one's own interests are in conflict with another the possibility of equal forces coming into conflict must ensure equal consideration and a mutually agreeable resolution; moreover, norms focused on protecting autonomy and personal choices would be favored because they are mutually beneficial, and so benefit all to preserve, whereas invasive norms benefit one person at the cost of another, and are not beneficial to all. Thus, the maximum autonomy would be preserved, as violence and invasion would not be used beyond the places where one person's autonomy was already threatening to subordinate another's, and here, maximum autonomy would be preserved by the equal consideration of both interests, and allowing both parties to decide for themselves what the resolution might be. Compare this with a statist society, wherein there are no countervailing forces. Whoever possesses the Ring of Power - the state - can do whatever they please, even if it involves deciding which hole someone can put their dick in another! There is no reason beyond the self-promises of the state, and the general mood of the citizenry, to restrict where and what one decides concerning others.

This naturally and inevitably creates the domination of some by others, but this domination rarely happens unidirectionally, across clean and comprehensible divisions. Instead, a whole web of interconnecting partial dominations and oppressions by everyone against everyone else ensues, as different people at different times claim control of the omnipotent edifice of the state and turn its baleful glare on their enemies or those they wish to exploit. The very existence of the state, as an immensely powerful, nigh-irresistible weapon, turns society into an immense circular firing squad, with everyone exploiting everyone else to some degree. Yes, some are by far more the winners, and some much more than losers than others, but the core point is that it could be used against anyone by anyone. This creates a never-ending desperate scramble for power, as the conflicting interests of all the groups that would seek to dominate each other, or avoid domination, force them to battle for control.

Moreover, as each side successively gains power, they extend the state's powers for their own purposes, and then when the next side gains power, they usually neglect to restrict the powers of the state once more, at most simply turning the new apparatuses of control their opponents created in new directions. Additionally, with each new crisis, whether the crisis was originally created by a previous state action or power or not, leads to new calls for state action, state involvement, and new state powers thereby. Inevitably, these, too, are not retracted when the crisis evaporates, and in many cases the crisis doesn't even evaporate, instead it just goes on, and on, and on, often extended by state actions, often aided by a shift on goalposts. Thus, state power always grows, and rarely shrinks - two steps forward, one step back.

Thus we see, as Tucker said, that any violation of the maximum equal liberty of all in society, and the mutuality and reciprocal benefit of relations therein, is inherently a threat to society itself:

The history of humanity has been largely one long and gradual discovery of the fact that the individual is the gainer by society exactly in proportion as society is free, and of the law that the condition of a permanent and harmonious society is the greatest amount of individual liberty compatible with equality of liberty. The average man of each new generation has said to himself more clearly and consciously than his predecessor: My neighbor is not my enemy, but my friend, and I am his, if we would but mutually recognize the fact. We help each other to a better, fuller, happier living; and this service might be greatly increased if we would cease to restrict, hamper, and oppress each other. Why can we not agree to let each live his own life, neither of us transgressing the limit that separates our individualities? It is by this reasoning that mankind is approaching the real social contract, which is not, as Rousseau thought, the origin of society, but rather the outcome of a long social experience, the fruit of its follies and disasters. It is obvious that this contract, this social law, developed to its perfection, excludes all aggression, all violation of equality of liberty, all invasion of every kind. Considering this contract in connection with the Anarchistic definition of the State as the embodiment of the principle of invasion, we see that the State is antagonistic to society; and, society being essential to individual life and development, the conclusion leaps to the eyes that the relation of the State to the individual and of the individual to the State must be one of hostility, enduring till the State shall perish."1

3. Whatever It Hath It Hath Stolen

The state has many more sins, however. Next highest among them, but perhaps the one felt most painfully by those outside communities whose bodies and mutual pastimes are not as specifically targeted (such as us queer people), is the way the state enforces a rigid, cold law against all people, protecting those it deems innocent and crushing those it does not. Instead of a set of norms and resolutions to conflicts that is responsive to the social context and needs of the people involved, which weighs their interests and focuses on restitution and a resolution of the root causes that led to the conflict in the first place, the state's justice is the justice of Procrustes' bed - content to enforce an outcome, no matter how grotesque, no matter how destructive, and no matter how blind, and call it a day, satisfying the crowded onlookers drunk on its claims of fairness and objectivity, who will then go home thinking the problem is solved. This justice is merely a band-aid, however, a thin coat of plaster over a wider crack. It eliminates the symptoms wherever they pop up, often with brutal relish, but has no concern for the underlying sickness - and through its myths, it encourages the populace to be satisfied with this.

Moreover, the laws that it chooses to enforce are often clearly designed to serve the rich and powerful - the richer or more influential they are, the better they serve you. The fullest extent of the claims to property of the rich man is enforced against even the smallest claim of the mother who cannot afford baby formula to feed her child, because the rules are sacred. The Law presents a grotesque appearance of impartiality - equality under the law - but its relevance and protectiveness clearly, in effect, scales unequally. Property laws grant little autonomy, and little meaningful protection, to a homeless person, and in fact hurt them grievously more often than not; but to a rich person, they are the very life blood that flows through their veins, elevating them to a godlike status. In an anarchist society, few would have an interest in supporting such laws, and would resist them, along with their mutual defense associations, and without the state's power at their back, the would-be rich, the would-be powerful would quickly find it far too costly to enforce their will at risk of life, limb, and ongoing resource drainage; thus, the only norms that would prevail would be ones that are truly mutually beneficial to all, which truly grant equal autonomy for everyone. Of what benefit is it to me to support norms that protect absentee property? I do not have any - nor does anyone I know, nor would it be possible for that to change. On the contrary, absentee property is a norm which only hurts me and all those I care about, subjecting us to the whims of landlords and capitalists, draining us with rent and stealing the product of our labor. In contrast, everyone has possessions, and wishes to protect them - thus, possessions, but not property, might arise as valid mutual norms. Only the state can so efficiently, with its unilateral power, protect absentee property, that it becomes possible, and even profitable, for some to hold it, and use it to dominate others.

And this brings me to the final sin of the state: taxation. Although "I have great sympathy for certain kinds of theft (such as shoplifting), which is performed by stealth and cunning, taxation is committed by outright armed robbery: render unto Caesar, or die. The muzzle of a gun, as always, is the state's ultimate threat should you not consent: first it will send letters; then it will send lawyers; finally, it will send men to kidnap you, and, if you should resist that, a beating and the muzzle of a gun await you. Moreover, while shoplifting is something that merely happens, and the conflict of it is resolved after the fact, if it is even noticed at all, taxation is institutionalized and legitimized, enforced as the right of the state, not merely something that happened, which must be frankly confronted and may be let slide after the fact. This gives it an entirely different character: instead of it being merely a natural risk, something which people recognize people may do, it becomes an imposed threat. In that, further properties of taxation lie as well: as an imposed threat, it does not represent the free and autonomous assertion of certain marginalized interests against the interests of those whose interests are already well-represented; instead, taxation represents the will of those who are already privileged, an exercise of power and caprice, to loot what they please from the population. They decide what to take, and how much, and what to use it for - they hold the ultimate decisions, so even if they deign to direct some of their tribute toward 'humane' causes such as welfare, it is still an exercise of privilege, noblesse oblige at best, not the actual assertion of the interests of the marginalized. No matter what, it remains the assertion of the interests of the powerful. Moreover, because it is a threat, taxation is levied not only against those who barely notice it, who have more than enough, but against those who will certainly notice it with great pain. Even progressive taxation does not overcome this fact - the state steals the labor of the common worker, often a large portion of it. Thus, while theft itself is not always wrong, the state's theft is the theft of the robber and highwayman, not the poor shoplifter.

4. Coldly It Lieth Also

In the face of these accusations - the strident egoist asking for a justification, a reason that she knows cannot be given - asking by what right the state dictates our lives to us, the state's worshippers will claim that we agreed to let it do this to us. What an absurdity! Appealing to democracy or the 'social contract' is merely misdirection, an appeal for the validity of one fixed idea to another fixed idea.

What is democracy, but the rule of the majority over the minority? What does it matter to me, if more people proclaim an interest contrary to mine, and wish to subjugate me? By what mystical transmutation does the multitude lay claim to "ought" - to a requirement in others to obey it, a right to be obeyed - when none of the individuals that compose it could lay claim to it? Their interest must be weighed equally to mine. An assembly of individuals does not give birth to a wholly new entity with entirely new metaphysical properties that are beyond what any philosophical construct has been able to lay claim to - an "ought" that cannot be dismissed as a phantom. I will not accept, celebrate, or sanctify my own servitude to the collectivity. Why should I celebrate a system that requires the subordination of my interests, instead of their equal consideration and therein the preservation of my autonomy? Perhaps, as now, their force will be greater, and then I will acquiesce to subjugation out of necessity, but that to celebrate it would be to give in, to die.

Neither is my vote in such a democracy "consent" to it. If I am notified that, without my asking for such a system to be put in place, whether I like it or not, a ruler (or a law, in a direct democracy) will be placed over me based on the votes of the majority of the people in this arbitrary territorial area, it is only self-defense for me to vote. As Lysander Spooner says in The Constitution of No Authority,

In truth, in the case of individuals, their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent, even for the time being. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having even been asked a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a government that forces him to pay money, render service, and forego the exercise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other men practise this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further, that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, he finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he use the ballot, he may become a master; if he does not use it, he must become a slave. And he has no other alternative than these two. In self-defence, he attempts the former. His case is analogous to that of a man who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill others, or be killed himself. Because, to save his own life in battle, a man attempts to take the lives of his opponents, it is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing. Neither in contests with the ballot—which is a mere substitute for a bullet—because, as his only chance of self-preservation, a man uses a ballot, is it to be inferred that the contest is one into which he voluntarily entered...2

A democracy, in other words, is no less subjugation of the individual than slavery3, nor is participation in it a mechanism by which the consent of the governed can be achieved.

The social contract is no more convincing. What relevance does a contract that I had no hand in drawing up have to me? It does not, and cannot, represent my beliefs or interests, and so therefore fails at the primary purpose of a contract: mutual consideration. Leaving aside that being forced to uphold any contract by violence is inimical to autonomy - ""specific performance" is a form of slavery - even within the bourgeois capitalist logic of the contract, what possible reason could be found for me to be subjugated to a contract I never signed? The only reason that I can imagine to follow such a contract is the blunt one of violence: obey, or we will hurt you. But I already know and admit that the state lays this choice before me; this does not provide a reason that I should accept it, treat it with the sacred reverence that others do!

In any case, if I had ever had a hand in drawing up the contract, and consented to it, wouldn't its protections have been reciprocal - the benefits equally distributed? What possible interest could I have in choosing to protect and legitimize property over possession, when all of us possess things, but only a few own them, and those that do use them to lord it over the rest of us? What interest could I have in maintaining such social relations - not just acquiescing to the violence that protects them, but praising them? To quote Proudhon,

But I wish that this consent, of which so much is made, had been given, either tacitly or formally. What would have been the result? Evidently, the surrenders would have been reciprocal; no right would have been abandoned without the receipt of an equivalent in exchange. We thus come back to equality again, — the sine qua non of appropriation; so that, after having justified property by universal consent, that is, by equality, we are obliged to justify the inequality of conditions by property. Never shall we extricate ourselves from this dilemma. Indeed, if, in the terms of the social compact, property has equality for its condition, at the moment when equality ceases to exist, the compact is broken and all property becomes usurpation. We gain nothing, then, by this pretended consent of mankind.4

A clever philosopher may object that while I may not have explicitly signed my consent onto the so-called "social contract," I provided my tacit consent by using government services. Of course, again, the voting objection applies - had I been given a choice, I would have gone elsewhere for such services, or gone without them. (I would gladly do without the tender care of the police force!) But the government has stolen money that would have gone to the services of my choice to provide these services to me whether I asked for them or not, and, further, it has used its violence to shut out anyone else from providing alternative services, either similar or vastly different. The very laws it enforces against us prevent alternative norms and social bonds from forming that would make participating in the capitalist economy it protects obsolete. It has done all this to force me to use the services it provides, and then turned around and used that forced acquiescence as proof of my consent.

What about hypothetical consent - truly, we are drifting farther and farther into unreality, into speculative metaphysics, indeed, into sophistry, to justify the state! - would, if we were all unbiased actors, possessed of perfect reason, and no value but pure self-interest, would we have agreed to this or another social order? Well, perhaps, and perhaps not - such a human being is psychologically impossible, an absurdity: a person having no values, desires, except self-interest? Self-interest in what? How, in what way? A person knowing nothing but the laws of sociology and economics, but nothing of themselves? Ha! Even if such a person would choose a state, however, the point is moot. I am not unconscious, or a vegetable, or a newborn baby, that only hypothetical consent matters to - it is a pale shadow in comparison to my real, vital, strident, and informed non-consent! It would be a sick joke to treat anyone how one believes they would hypothetically consent, in spite of them begging you to stop. This is no exception. I will not accept being bound by what one philosopher believes a psychologically impossible absurdity would consent to.

5. With Stolen Teeth It Biteth

If the state is so transparently evil, so destructive of the highest and mightiest of the things that humanity has yet owned - autonomy! - how can it possibly endure? Not by pure repression, that much is certain. Instead, the state endures by virtue of two key advantages: indoctrination, and temporal primacy. Without these two crucial weapons, the state could not endure, and without the first, the state could never arise.

Indoctrination is the cornerstone of the state's foundation, the crucial conduit through which all its power runs. If we, the people subjugated by it, did not cooperate, by following its laws, by calling its servants when others violated them, by filing our paperwork so that it could monitor us, and allowing its "police" to walk through our streets, if we were every day and every hour violating its commands, it could not long endure - it would have to have a cop for every person, maybe two or three, and that is clearly not the case. The state cannot survive and ensure obedience by pure repression; instead, it convinces people that following the law is always good, and violating it always bad; that the state is the ultimate arbiter of right and wrong, that being a good citizen is a moral duty, and that it serves the people, and the cops protect them. Moreover, the state requires a great amount of labor for its support. If all at once we refused to sell resources to it, refused to work for it, the proclamations of politicians would mean little more than those of the man in the psych ward who claims to be Napoleon, and is laughed off by the nurses. As Etienne de la Boetie eloquently cried in Discourse of Voluntary Servitude,

All this havoc, this misfortune, this ruin, descends upon you not from alien foes, but from the one enemy whom you yourselves render as powerful as he is, for whom you go bravely to war, for whose greatness you do not refuse to offer your own bodies unto death. He who thus domineers over you has only two eyes, only two hands, only one body, no more than is possessed by the least man among the infinite numbers dwelling in your cities; he has indeed nothing more than the power that you confer upon him to destroy you. Where has he acquired enough eyes to spy upon you, if you do not provide them yourselves? How can he have so many arms to beat you with, if he does not borrow them from you? The feet that trample down your cities, where does he get them if they are not your own? How does he have any power over you except through you? How would he dare assail you if he had no cooperation from you? What could he do to you if you yourselves did not connive with the thief who plunders you, if you were not accomplices of the murderer who kills you, if you were not traitors to yourselves?5

If we could but countermand the propaganda of the state, an insurrection would begin which no state could survive - all across the world, people would realize within themselves their Unique, and stand up, refusing to bow to the whims of others:

...The egoist has always affirmed himself with crime and, with sacrilegious hand, has pulled the sacred idols down from their pedestals. It is necessary to put an end to the sacred; or better still: the need to violate the sacred must become general..."6

Admittedly it's not just indoctrination that causes people to submit to the state. For some, the rich and powerful, the state actively works for their benefit, but crucially, for many others, there is a subtler motivation: the status quo is comfortable. It may not be better for them than the alternative vision of the future I propose, but it is good enough that there aren't isn't a sharp ache in their hearts pushing them forward, driving them to rage against the system, to raise their fists to the powers that be. Their bellies are full, their minds occupied with whatever flight of fancy pleases them, and they see no reason to push beyond that. They have left their will to power behind. They willingly choose the life of the comfortable caged pet over the free animal. This is not to say that these people are inherently slothful, or evil, or anything like that; far be it from me to make such accusations, when I too feel this pull, as the comfortably well-taken-care-of daughter of a rich father. No, it's merely a matter of incentives and awareness. There is nothing that hits close to home, for them, about the struggles the state causes, because it does not personally effect them enough to really hurt. Because of that, they are not by themselves motivated enough in the first place to become aware of the state's oppression, and thus to become outraged by it. This is why education is so important: by making people aware, we can make them rebel.

What of primacy? Well, in a society that was not already indoctrinated into the legitimacy of some ruler - maybe not exactly a state, but a village elder, or a priest, or a god - it would be very difficult to obtain the power of a state. It would, in effect, be a chicken and egg problem: without already-existing control over society through which to enforce obedience and obtain resources, how can one obtain enough resources to enforce obedience? If I can't defend my absentee property or stockpiled riches, I can't pay anyone to defend them, and I can't amass power either. Moreover, even if I do begin to gather power, forces in society can arise to counterbalance me, since I do not yet have the absolute hegemonic power of the state to suppress rivals. The state as it already exists, however, arose because people expected to be led and were willing to acquiesce to it. By that means, it gained power and wealth and resources, so that now, for any rival just starting out, it represents a gigantic, unbeatable Goliath.

6. False Is Everything In It

In conclusion, then, we see how true Zarathustra's words were! The state is the ultimate social predator, a super-organism which forms a parasitic relationship with the host body of society itself. I urge all those who understand my words to resist it by any means available to them; I have contributed in what small way I can by trying to undermine the indoctrination which the state has so far managed to spread very wide.


https://oll.libertyfund.org/title/spooner-no-treason-no-vi-the-constitution-of-no-authority-1870#lf1485_head_004 3: https://fee.org/articles/the-tale-of-the-slave/ 4: https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/economics/proudhon/property/ch03.htm 1: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/benjamin-tucker-instead-of-a-book#toc5 5: https://oll.libertyfund.org/title/kurz-the-discourse-of-voluntary-servitude#lf0000_label_010 6: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/renzo-novatore-cry-of-rebellion