Anti-statists and the current regime

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Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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41 Responses

  1. Avatar JosephFM
    Ignored
    says:

    I would sure be happy if our country cared more about local elections than national ones.

    Absolutely. Local government still has way more effect on your life than national government, unless you’re in the military.Report

  2. Avatar Rufus
    Ignored
    says:

    …and about the local community more generally.Report

  3. Avatar Bob Cheeks
    Ignored
    says:

    Well, E.D. you may not like the term “statist” and that’s find. You are free to chose those symbols that you believe more accurately define your thinking..I’ll work with you. But, what we both know is that if we’re going to have a gummint that will consider everyone from the poor slob working to support his wife and kids, and provide the opportunity to lead a moral life to the rich dude than we’re going to have to de-centralize because those slave-holding white guys that founded the country were a whole lot brighter and knew a whole lot more about human nature than the current para-Marxist regime. We’re going to have to think about what we need to do as freemen, as people who understand the advantages attached to the republican virtues, to re-establish those principles of the olde republic that existed for the first eighty years or so.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Bob Cheeks
      Ignored
      says:

      We’re freemen and need to practice the virtues that lasted until 1860 or so? Clearly, we’ll need some slaves. Blacks had their turn — I suggest white paranoid libertarians. (Not that we’ll get much useful work out of them.)Report

      • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        I know freemen, Mike, and you’re no freeman. Your a subject.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling
        Ignored
        says:

        There are people who identify with the people telling others how to live and there are people who identify with the people being told.

        Which are you?Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          I’m with Ringo — I’m a mocker.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling
            Ignored
            says:

            That’s fine and even all and well and good.

            I just always notice how tall the people who yell “cut down the tall poppies!” tend to be and wonder whether they’ve noticed.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              I’ve always noticed how the people who admire the virtues of the Confederacy happen not to object to slavery, so long as it’s people who deserve to be slaves.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling
                Ignored
                says:

                Only one person has suggested slavery in this thread, Mike.

                Yes, I know. You were kidding.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t think it was me who said

                those slave-holding white guys that founded the country were a whole lot brighter and knew a whole lot more about human nature than the current para-Marxist regime.

                But, I know, the graduated income tax is much eviler than slavery.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Schilling
                Ignored
                says:

                But, I know, the graduated income tax is much eviler than slavery.

                Without getting into whether Mr. Cheeks was endorsing slavery in that sentence of his, I’ll instead point out that the Kulaks might argue that, after a point, they’re co-extensive.

                For the record, I’d rather live in a country founded by folks from a pre-Marx Enlightenment Tradition than a post-Marx Enlightenment Tradition.

                But I’d rather live in either than in a post-Enlightenment Tradition country.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I’ll instead point out that the Kulaks might argue that, after a point, they’re co-extensive.

                Because if you’re not a libertarian, you’re just a Stalinist who’s haggling over the price.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                It does seem to come down to haggling, doesn’t it?

                If someone refuses to pay income tax because they do not consent to their money going to pay for abortion, ought they be imprisoned and, presumably, raped?

                How about people who withhold because they don’t consent to their money being used to pay for bombs to blow up brown people? Should they be imprisoned and, presumably, raped?

                How about people who refuse to pay because they want to spend their money on weed? Or waiters who claim no more of their tips than will get them to minimum wage for their hourly pay and keep the rest in their pocket?

                At what point would you think it appropriate for the government to send someone to their home and point a gun at them?

                I suspect that your tolerance for this is greater than my own.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Prison rape is a horror. It’s a hideous scandal that’s it been allowed to become commonplace. It makes me wonder, even when someone is convicted of a serious, violent crime, whether imprisonment isn’t an unjust sentence.

                Having said that, though, yes. not paying taxes is a crime, and there’s no way for the legal system to determine whether it was done from noble motives or not. If you don’t pay your taxes, you’ll be fined or imprisoned, and enforcing that requires the threat of violence. That’s life.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                “That’s life.”

                Your price is lower than mine.Report

              • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to Mike Schilling
                Ignored
                says:

                …more evil…Report

              • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to Mike Schilling
                Ignored
                says:

                Mike S., if God gave you the opportunity and the ‘power’ to “go back in time” and right the wrong of African Chattel Slavery would you do it? I’m just curious!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Bob Cheeks
                Ignored
                says:

                “Unintended Consequences” are a spectacular topic of discussion.

                When a freakin’ huge bill passes, people can use unintended consequences as a way to point out that things won’t be as peachy as everybody thinks they will be… or, at least, the unintended consequences of things that happened in the past as examples of the sorts of things that will likely happen.

                And, of course, sometimes unintended consequences are good.

                I have friends who were adopted, for example. I don’t know much about their biological parents (neither do they, they tell me) but I think it’s safe to assume that the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy are not happy ones.

                To ask “would you go back in time and make sure that so-and-so wore a rubber?” or “would you go back in time and make sure that such-and-such was not raped?” is a rough question because one can always point out the (wonderful!) unintended consequence of my friend.

                All that to say:
                Yes. Prevent Slavery.
                Heck, prevent the massacres of Native Americans.
                Prevent Lenin. Prevent Stalin. Prevent Hitler.

                And, of course, “Thanks God. Thanks for the opportunity to make things the way you told us they should have been in the first place.”Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Bob Cheeks
                Ignored
                says:

                Save the millions of lives lost in the Middle Passage as well as save those who survived from being enslaved and oppressed? Of course. It’s barely a question.Report

              • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to Mike Schilling
                Ignored
                says:

                And, now because you gentlemen are properly diverse, politically correct, and multicultural America has no African/American population to speak of?
                As JB says “unintended consequences.”Report

              • Avatar Rufus in reply to Bob Cheeks
                Ignored
                says:

                Certainly there have been Africans who immigrated right?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Bob Cheeks
                Ignored
                says:

                Lots of people immigrated here from Europe and Asia to improve their lives without having to be kidnapped. Why, racism aside, wouldn’t that have been as true of Africa?Report

            • Avatar SumGi in reply to Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              I’m surprised your not shaking his hand, usually your the mocker and bomb thrower around here.

              Just afraid of letting someone else in on your turf? Or is it only acceptable to mock beliefs other than yours?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to SumGi
                Ignored
                says:

                Given the internet thing going on, shaking hands is, as I understand it, replaced by prolonged interaction.

                But if I gave any indication that I was anything but tickled pink to have him here, let me now clear up any confusion:

                I am tickled pink that Mike Schilling is here and I hope he stays here for a good long while. Viewpoints are a positive good and we do nothing but benefit from additional ones.

                This turf ain’t mine. It belongs to the gents and I am merely one of the loud(est?) patrons in their bar.

                All beliefs ought be mocked. The ones that cannot withstand mockery probably will shatter when they encounter the real world.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          and there are many people who can’t tell the difference between things they don’t agree with and tyranny.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak
            Ignored
            says:

            Things I don’t agree with that involve speech are things that I merely don’t agree with.

            Things I don’t agree with that involve the cops coming to my house, kicking down my door, and hauling me off to jail (or, I suppose, shooting me if I decline to go along with them) is debatable whether we’re talking about tyranny or not… are they coming to the house to prevent me from killing someone? Or are they coming to my house to prevent me from marrying someone? From smoking a plant? From selling a product? From speaking my mind?

            There is a difference between merely disagreeing and tyranny, yes… but if you start throwing cops at folks when they start disagreeing, you might be a tyrant.

            Now, feel free to explain how easy it is to distinguish between tax evasion and traffic lights.Report

        • Avatar SumGi in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          Who’s who in this example?

          I mean Bob is telling us how to live in the comments. But under your paradigm he’s also being told how to live by the government.

          Is one morally superior to the other?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to SumGi
            Ignored
            says:

            There are two kinds of “telling you how to live”, by my lights.

            I’ll give an example of the first (which, may I point out, I do not mind):

            You should quit smoking. Jeez, guy. You’re killing yourself. You should also exercise more. Find your life partner after dinner and say “hey, let’s go for a walk” and walk down the block and around, maybe go to the park, and talk about the day. Hold hands.

            You’ll benefit.

            Here’s an example of the second kind (this is the bad kind):

            If we catch you having certain kinds of sex with people who share your biological sex, we will arrest you and throw you in jail. If you resist arrest, we will shoot you.

            I am a fan of the former. I am an adversary of the latter.

            The former is spectacularly superior to the latter.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Bob Cheeks
      Ignored
      says:

      De-centralization is a better way, I’ve no doubt. In that sense, our ancestors maybe have had a leg up on us. In terms of slavery – which I know wasn’t really your point – obviously they had a thing or two to learn about liberty, let alone human decency.Report

      • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to E.D. Kain
        Ignored
        says:

        ED,
        1. I use “statist” as a prejorative, a term indicating perhaps a totalitarian regime, not that gumint that constructs roads, bridges, etc.
        2. All human endeavors, particularly the political, are inherently flawed. Its the nature of the being (original sin, libido dominandi, etc) however, I do believe in terms of liberty, republicanism offers the best opportunity for peace, properity, etc.
        Do you know of any political system you consider superior to classical republicanism? And, yes I do believe we are best served by a de-centralized federal gummint, a healthy state gummint, and a working and functional local gummint.Report

  4. Avatar Jivatman
    Ignored
    says:

    I am anti-state, I think states and politicians should be treated with constant, vigilant, suspicion and never trust, being that trust will almost inevitably lead to tyranny.

    I certainly see the necessity of the state, and view it as a “necessary evil” .

    And I don’t see how they could be treated any other way – being that the most basic definition of a state is an entity that holds a monopoly on violence over a certain geographic area. Violence being the institution of courts, police, and military. The first two existing for where an individual violates the liberty of another, the latter being for defense of the state itself.

    The military, of course, is the state’s single most dangerous institution. Where voluntary, it is a sort of lifelong slavery to the state. Where there is a draft, slavery plain and simple. There are ways to ameliorate it, though, such as the tactic of Switzerland’s army actually being a militia of normal citizens, only to be activated upon necessity.

    The main, perhaps the only, way to ameliorate the danger of the state is the existence of competing states and the ability of people to immigrate. People wonder why Europe became the world’s dominant power despite the fact that empires such as China were far more ancient, and if you had had circled earth from mars you would have expect they become the world’s dominant power.

    Well, the geography of Europe is unique. It contains a variety of areas: The British Isles, Scandinavia, the Iberian Peninsula, the Italian Peninsula, the Anatolian peninsula, that creates a large number of highly defensible/isolated areas within a very small region. Thus a huge number of different cultures/nations developed and competed against each other. Sometimes in war, but always through a pride in their culture’s achievements.

    Modern times has caused the horror and cost of war to outweigh it’s benefits. I believe this will eventually lead to greater liberty across the globe. War is the greatest of all collectivist horrors, it destroys the individual and uses him as a pawn for the ambitions of the rulers of the state. It brings out all forms of nativism, including hatred of all but the state-sponsored religion/philosophy and the state’s dominant race, the non-handicapped. And in the case of the Nazis, systematic extermination of them.

    Anyways, competition, when it does not include the use of physical/legal force against another, really is a form of cooperation. A trade between two actors is voluntary, and would not occur if both actors did not benefit. Look at all the different companies involved in designing/manufacturing an iPod, in different countries, to see a very large and complex instance of cooperation.

    Thus, the benefits of free trade are obvious. One of the things that has made the United States great is that the freedom to move goods between the states. That’s why we have the interstate commerce clause. Moreover, the term “regulate” originally meant “to keep regular”, basically, to make it more free.

    The competition betweens states has ensured that a great deal of freedom prevailed in the United States, being that it is incredibly easy to vote with your feet, much easier than emigrating to a different country. The common language of English is also a sort of free trade.

    Sometimes when somebody speaks of disappointed with U.S. policy, a snide person will retort that they should leave. The snide person actually has a point – but the barriers of language, immigration, and visitation of loved ones makes this choice a too difficult one in most cases, when moving between individual countries.

    As I said earlier, the government is the only thing that has a monopoly on force. In the U.S., only the federal government has such a monopoly over ALL citizens regardless of state.

    The best solution would be to have a more confederation form of government. That is, the national government as a sort of council, a meeting between the heads (a representative) of the heads of each individual state, and laws being essentially treaties. A limited court system would exist only to settle disputes between states.

    Cooperation always results in more happiness, and less bitterness, than coercion. We’re evolving as a species. Unilateral coercion is not necessary to solve every problem. Slavery is not going to return to the united states if we weaken the federal government.Report

  5. Avatar Jivatman
    Ignored
    says:

    I am anti-state, I think states and politicians should be treated with constant, vigilant, suspicion and never trust, being that trust will almost inevitably lead to tyranny.

    I certainly see the necessity of the state, and view it as a “necessary evil” .

    And I don’t see how they could be treated any other way – being that the most basic definition of a state is an entity that holds a monopoly on violence over a certain geographic area. Violence being the institution of courts, police, and military. The first two existing for where an individual violates the liberty of another, the latter being for defense of the state itself.

    The military, of course, is the state’s single most dangerous institution. Where voluntary, it is a sort of lifelong slavery to the state. Where there is a draft, slavery plain and simple. There are ways to ameliorate it, though, such as the tactic of Switzerland’s army actually being a militia of normal citizens, only to be activated upon necessity.

    The main, perhaps the only, way to ameliorate the danger of the state is the existence of competing states and the ability of people to immigrate. People wonder why Europe became the world’s dominant power despite the fact that empires such as China were far more ancient, and if you had had circled earth from mars you would have expect they become the world’s dominant power.

    Well, the geography of Europe is unique. It contains a variety of areas: The British Isles, Scandinavia, the Iberian Peninsula, the Italian Peninsula, the Anatolian peninsula, that creates a large number of highly defensible/isolated areas within a very small region. Thus a huge number of different cultures/nations developed and competed against each other. Sometimes in war, but always through a pride in their culture’s achievements.

    Modern times has caused the horror and cost of war to outweigh it’s benefits. I believe this will eventually lead to greater liberty across the globe. War is the greatest of all collectivist horrors, it destroys the individual and uses him as a pawn for the ambitions of the rulers of the state. It brings out all forms of nativism, including hatred of all but the state-sponsored religion/philosophy and the state’s dominant race, the non-handicapped. And in the case of the Nazis, systematic extermination of them.

    Anyways, competition, when it does not include the use of physical/legal force against another, really is a form of cooperation. A trade between two actors is voluntary, and would not occur if both actors did not benefit. Look at all the different companies involved in designing/manufacturing an iPod, in different countries, to see a very large and complex instance of cooperation.

    Thus, the benefits of free trade are obvious. One of the things that has made the United States great is that the freedom to move goods between the states. That’s why we have the interstate commerce clause. Moreover, the term “regulate” originally meant “to keep regular”, basically, to make it more free.

    The competition betweens states has ensured that a great deal of freedom prevailed in the United States, being that it is incredibly easy to vote with your feet, much easier than emigrating to a different country. The common language of English is also a sort of free trade.

    Sometimes when somebody speaks of disappointed with U.S. policy, a snide person will retort that they should leave. The snide person actually has a point – but the barriers of language, immigration, and visitation of loved ones makes this choice a too difficult one in most cases, when moving between individual countries.

    As I said earlier, the government is the only thing that has a monopoly on force. In the U.S., only the federal government has such a monopoly over ALL citizens regardless of state.

    The best solution would be to have a more confederation form of government. That is, the national government as a sort of council, a meeting between the heads (a representative) of the heads of each individual state, and laws being essentially treaties. A limited court system would exist only to settle disputes between states.

    Cooperation always results in more happiness, and less bitterness, than coercion. We’re evolving as a species. Unilateral coercion is not necessary to solve every problem. Slavery will not return to the united states if we weaken the federal government.Report

  6. Avatar Francis
    Ignored
    says:

    hmm, how to respond w/out being a total a**hole. let’s try the following.

    There’s a very small slice of the public that believes the following: I can’t get my way at the federal level, so I’ll try to get the federal government out of the issue and win at the state/county/city level. Of the people who hold this belief (let’s call them libertarians), the number of people who are actually willing to act on this belief and move to New Hampshire as part of the Free State movement is even smaller, much much less than 1% of our population.

    Now, I recognize that any number of political movements started with tiny numbers before they grew to majorities, but the very point of a political movement is to persuade other people to see the world the same way as you do. And the only measure we have of that, at this point, is the national Libertarian Party. Which is a joke. And has been for some time. And doesn’t show any signs of being captured by the rational contingent.

    So, I continue to believe that the rational libertarians on the internet — ED, Balko, Volokh — tend to be nice interesting people who nevertheless hold this delusional belief. That’s not the end of the word; I have friends who are Christians, after all.

    But reading post after post about the Free State Movement, or seasteading, or a return to some sort of agrarian localism still hasn’t changed my mind that what really bothers libertarians is that more people aren’t like them. Guys, people suck. That’s why we have government in the first place. And the more interconnected and industrial the world becomes, the more possible it is that someone who sucks in, say, Vietnam, can have an adverse impact on my life as opposed to the “good old” days when the only person who could adversely affect me was my next door neighbor.

    (For grins, compare English common law on property to modern environmental law.)

    Absent the complete destruction of our capitalistic society (which, given climate change, may happen in about 50 years from now), localism just isn’t possible any more.

    (That said, just how much impact does the federal government have on your life, ED? Which federal agency is interfering in how you want to live — OSHA, SEC, USFWS, NOAA, ACOE, etc.?)Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Francis
      Ignored
      says:

      Why do we have to change marriage to allow gay marriage?

      It’s not like that many people will really be affected by it.

      If there is a principle behind your beliefs, it’s hard to not say “hey, that ain’t right” when someone says “gay people shouldn’t be able to get married”.

      Here’s the really tricky part: It’s possible for a straight guy to hold this opinion *EVEN IF HE IS ALREADY MARRIED TO A WOMAN*.

      If you accept the whole idea that a straight guy can be upset that gay people aren’t allowed by the government to get married, entire universes of possibilities of crazy ideas open to you.

      And, for the record, I wish that more people were like me in that they saw many, many more things as none of their business and, by extension, none of anybody else’s.Report

      • Avatar Bob Cheeks in reply to Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        …a honest gnostic existentialism, much appreciated in these quarters, alas an analysis of the spiritual dimensions of political order, communitas, and limnality corrects the derailment.Report

    • Avatar Dave in reply to Francis
      Ignored
      says:

      Francis,

      But reading post after post about the Free State Movement, or seasteading, or a return to some sort of agrarian localism still hasn’t changed my mind that what really bothers libertarians is that more people aren’t like them. Guys, people suck.

      Yes. Guilty as charged, and if you’d like to know why I wish more people thought a little more like me, it is for the very reason that people suck. Furthermore, the concept that one’s suckiness gets checked at the door if that individual is a politician with a (D) next to his/her name and a darling amongst liberals is laughable to me.

      I spent three years on Wall Street and met many egotistical pricks, but at least I can respect the fact that those greedy pricks, unlike the greedy pricks in Washington, don’t pretend to give a shit about you. At least you know what you’re getting. You may not like it but you know where you stand.

      That’s why we have government in the first place.

      Hence the term “necessary evil”.

      And the more interconnected and industrial the world becomes, the more possible it is that someone who sucks in, say, Vietnam, can have an adverse impact on my life as opposed to the “good old” days when the only person who could adversely affect me was my next door neighbor.

      You put your faith in people who suck to fix it. I don’t. There’s our difference and I don’t think I’m delusional. I’m simply agreeing with you and taking it to its logical conclusion.

      That said, just how much impact does the federal government have on your life, ED? Which federal agency is interfering in how you want to live — OSHA, SEC, USFWS, NOAA, ACOE, etc.?)

      Ask any investor in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme or Lehman investors who were under the impression that the SEC was going to root out any potential issues but failed to do so in spectacular fashion whether or not the federal government’s gross negligence has had negative consequences fall on them.

      People suck.Report

  7. Avatar Lyle
    Ignored
    says:

    A goodly number of the federal regulations are made at the request of industry to provide a common standard for the US (take the carbon emmison for cars or the low flow toilet). The conflict is is the US one common market where standards are imposed at the federal level just like in Europe many are imposed by Brussels to provide a larger market, or should they be made at a local level with the necessarily smaller market. This is one of the unresolved issues caused by the railroads which by 1890 made the US one market not a lot of little ones.Report

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