Do You Hate the State?
by Adam Alcorn
the Humane Condition
think we have all heard tell of the above mentioned libertarian
litmus test, and while I may not agree with the terminology,
I have always felt it usefully applicable in conversation. This
question comes from an article written by Murray Rothbard, published
in The Libertarian Forum in July of 1977, entitled Do
You Hate the State?. Rothbards article elegantly
explains the importance of such a question, but here I will only
discuss that nature of the State that so many of us have come to
hate. Let us investigate into what the State actually and truly
is before we render judgment, shall we?
We will start
with the most basic definitions of the broadest sense of government
and who better to start with than Websters himself? According
to Websters online dictionary, the relevant definition of
a State is:
A. a politically organized body of people usually occupying a
definite territory; especially: one that is sovereign.1
straightforward and innocuous introduction followed by the emphasis
on sovereignty is very indicative of this lack of a fulfilling definition.
What is state sovereignty? A famous professor of geo-politics
once defined State sovereignty to me as the ability to murder your
own citizens without international interference. This is a fact,
and our meddling in Pakistan and Yemen (et. al
) are only highlighting
the US-led global police force violating the sovereignty of every
two prior assertions it is necessary that in order to be in favor
of the State and Statism one must meet the following conditions.
Firstly, you must have a willful desire to give up a portion of
your own personal sovereignty (self-ownership, dominion). For it
is impossible that a sovereign politically organized
body could be organized without the wealth of its subjects. Secondly,
you must also demand of each and every human being within the territory
occupied by your preferred political body that they
too live according to the desires of others. Therefore one must
be insistent upon others to give up their own personal sovereignty
support the State one must be willing to shoot and kill any of his
countrymen that refuse your claim of ownership over
their own bodies. This might seem like a philosophical abstract,
but every day Americans put Americans into cages for victimless
crimes all in the name of the State. What would happen if someone
unjustly incarcerated attempts to escape? That is one example of
the inevitable, and countless breaches of personal sovereignty committed
by the State.
to this hardly sympathetic conclusion about the nature of the State
simply by taking the standard Websters definition to its logical
conclusion. And while even under such a benign definition as Websters
supplied, the State can hardly be considered an institution of virtue.
But since we are not usually satiated by standard and benign definitions,
let us look at a more rational view of the State, as expressed in
Murray Rothbards essay Anatomy
of the State.
the State Before even giving his own definition of the State he
decries the practice altogether magnificently,The useful collective
term we has enabled an ideological camouflage to be
thrown over the reality of political life.2
One of the most effective uses of the term we by the
propaganda machine was in regards to the military. Instead of making
posters for Our Boys like was done in the first World
War, it has been simply assumed that each and every American is
at war with terror, or whatever the Great Satan du jour.
I did not invade Iraq, Afghanistan, or any other place on Earth;
it was simply people who threaten physical force to violate my sovereignty,
in order to violate the sovereignty of yet another victim of Statism.
So how did
Rothbard define the state?
the State is the organization in society which attempts to maintain
a monopoly of the use of force and violence in a given territorial
area; in particular, it is the only organization in society that
obtains its revenue not by voluntary contribution or payment for
services rendered but by coercion.3
on to reference a German political philosopher who described what
he saw as two distinctive ways to increase wealth. Franz Oppenheimer
suggests that there is an economic means and a political
means, the difference being in that the former is voluntary
and the latter is coercive. The view of our economy through a similar
lens, one that sees a sector consisting of only coercive interaction
and one made up entirely of voluntary human action, is much clearer.
This lens reveals the beauty of the free market, the human race,
and the potential for prosperity being strangled by the State.
criticism, Rothbard says the State is a provider of a legal,
orderly, systematic channel for the predation of private property;
it renders certain, secure, and peaceful the lifeline
of the parasitic class in society. Furthermore, The
State has never been created by a social contract; it
has always been born in conflict and exploitation.4
the State in the light it belongs. Logic and morality applies to
each and every person no matter the pretty blue uniform.
To add one
more definition of that State we go to twitter, and we have reached
out to an expert on the matter, and this is how @thestatesucks defines
the State: People in costumes and suits, utilizing a monopoly
on force to commit institutional violence on other unsuspecting
in mind the three definitions weve discussed today, Websters,
Rothbards, and @thestatesuckss.
To ask again,
do you hate the State?
was inspired by, and Iím certain ideas were borrowed
Murray N. Chapter 1, Chapter 2. The
Anatomy of the State. 1st ed. Vol. 1. New York, NY: Libertarian-Anarchist
Book Service, 1974. 11-14. Print.
© 2013 Adam Alcorn