Liberty, Can You Make a Little Room For Reality?Submitted by Menckens Ghost on Mon, 04/08/2013 - 23:20
In America today some half of the population is dependent on direct assistance from the state. The great majority are those receiving social security and medicare in old age. The rest are on unemployment, whether by need or choice, and EBT, housing assistance, disability, etc.
If we count those who receive outsized tax credits in excess of what they paid, the number is greater.
Millions of others skate along the edge of poverty, working for a low wage, saving nothing, and foregoing assistance to which they could legally receive, out of principle, pride or habit.
Millions work directly for the state and depend on that employment for pensions and generous non monetary benefits.
Millions depend on public statute for matching contributions to medical and retirement benefits from private employers, and contribute to these benefits through payroll taxes.
Millions more work for corporations with direct ties and privileges from the state, foremost among them the gigantic financial sector.
Nearly all Americans have federally insured bank accounts, and save in US dollars with banks whose solvency and liquidity often depend on the policies of state.
Millions own treasury securities and mortgages the value of which are guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the government. If not directly, then through pension funds, mutual funds, 401ks, etc.
The middle class have their children schooled at public expense in public schools, and by and large do not wish to take on that extra expense. This middle class likewise has no desire to take in and support their aged parents.
These are not the poor, condemned wastrels of the public dole, oft cited in the anti state rhetoric. They are the self reliant, active, tax paying base of our political advances and appeals.
The state, to grow its power, to make itself the indispensable provider to every dependent, has worked to break down and replace every non state institution that in the past provided the supports and structures for the economic and political independence of families, communities, and individuals.
A father works 12 hour days for 20 years to support his children; he never once accepts a dime in public aid. He neglects costly medical care to put food on the table, and dies. The widowed mother gladly accepts social security, to which she feels justly entitled. The extended family breathes a sigh of relief and is grateful to avoid the burden.
The state has just weakened the family.
A family is struggling to get by, to save a little, ever conscious of its comparative status. More than mere desire to keep up with the Jones'es, they work to skirt the edge of a neighborhood with a half decent school district. It leverages itself happily to the hilt to pay for a house. The state offers public aid for tuition. The family, mindful of the ruthless social sorting process of the climb toward a decent paying job, happily accepts the aid.
The disabled or inept cannot make ends meet. They turn to the state for public housing assistance and a monthly food or cash stipend. The local Church, its pews half empty, congregations of mostly grey heads, is closing parish schools every year.
A hearty thanks to the state and God's blessing upon it! The church is unburdened of the expense of public charity for these individuals.
The state has just weakened the Church and the community.
A working man, lacking the capacity to make more than 10 or 11 dollars an hour, accepts assistance from the state to provide for his people. His fellows do likewise.
The corporation rejoices! it is freed from the political pressure of the laborers. The labor movement breathes its last, unions dissolve, and the new order of the Global corporation has a free hand to find the most degraded, desperate pool of labor anywhere in the world to work for a subsistence wage.
The labor movement and the middle class is weakened.
The middle class father of two works and saves; his wife works and saves; they purchase the most expensive house they can afford, not out of vanity, but to give their children access to a school without metal detectors.
They save every dime for tuition to get the kids into a good school. They know that in the highly competitive sorting process a degree from a good university seems to count for everything.
The grandparents have soaring medical costs. This good middle class, Republican family doesn't for a minute consider paying those bills or taking the grandparents in, and foregoing the aid.
The state is strengthened, the family weakened.
An aging activist for Libertarian principles, after decades of unpaid, selfless service to his political cause, is at the end of his financial rope. He cannot work, has no medical insurance. He is faced with the unimaginably painful moral dilemma of taking state assistance, or facing abject misery.
Where are all the Libertarian comrades in arms who preach their gospel of dismantling the state? Where is the community of voluntarists to contribute to providing a minimum of dignity to this brother in arms?
What have they offered to ANY of the above individuals, besides pretty words that mean nothing?
Amidst all the polemicizing, rhetoric, electioneering, pamphleteering, and fruitless academic scribbling; the endless disagreements over every nuance, who has even taken the FIRST STEP toward providing any, let alone all, of the basic, fundamental structures and supports of social order and stability, in lieu of the state? Who has even suggested doing so?
Do any of you consider for a moment the absurdness and futility of trying to eliminate the state without first building a social structure outside of the state to provide these basic needs? Law and order, financial security, education, a functioning credit system, a stable payments system for commerce?
Do you just criticize, and build nothing, secretly knowing you will never achieve your goals?
Is it all just a game, a futile exercise in ideological wordplay, logical hairsplitting, and an intellectual diversion?
Or is it the sublimated expression of alienation from the present order, carried on with pens rather than arms, for the timid and weary?
Or a complex spinning of conceptual webs for addled brains?
None of it has even the slightest relation to the real world and the interests, needs and motivations of real people.
I am shocked at the complete immersion in ideology, the total disregard for the real nature of the social organism, of human behavior and motivations, and the total ineptness of the means chosen to effect even the least ambitious of stated ends.
Setting aside the purely fantastical notions and utopian dreams regularly disseminated here, ideas divorced from all history, sound logic and observed experience -- putting these aside -- even the narrowest range of possible goals of the voluntarists and minarchists almost never refer to real political conditions and practical realities, or how they could be realistically achieved.
No heed to the actual nature of human behavior, interests, motivations, social forces of power and influence, or how ideas are actually spread in society and institutions captured.
Instead they are set upon the wobbly legs of moral assertion, the clay feet of dogmatic ideology, and the eternal, impotent "ought" of what people "should" do rather than what they actually do; the "If..." that relies on a fundamentally different human nature than actually exists, and these, combined to form the axiomtic refrain "if everyone behaved as they ought, all would be well."
A Humble Plea For Realism
If you want to eliminate the state, you have to supplant the state, and replace the functions that legitimize it.
If you want to dislodge the present elite, you have to form an elite of your own and engage it in its own arena.
It did not argue its way into power; whatever absurdities belong to its ideology, and they are legion, it is not their ideology that brought them to their high place.
They got there by occupying the actual bases of social power, and by understanding the actual nature of the social organism. They did not convince anyone of anything by argument. How could you imagine you could win by argument what was won and is held by the exercise of power and the political acumen of propaganda?
The last refuge of the disappointed ideologue is the morbid indulgence in Apocalyptic wishful thinking. The belief that your Truth will prevail because the existing order, being False, cannot sustain, and must inevitably collapse in ruins. But friends, you fool yourselves there as well!
When the present deranged elite is done destroying the entire fabric of society, and a collapse does come, whether hastened by its opponents or not, the result will not be a flowering of Liberty, the holding of hands and the echo of a thousand voices raised in the praise of individual Liberty and non aggression.
No. Rather, a new, worse tyranny will arise, borne not of evil but of necessity, to restore basic order and security for hungry, disillusioned millions, morally and socially bankrupt, and turning to whatever primitive bonds of group cohesion that promise to allow at least survival and basic security, liberty be damned.
If you have not done your work to serve those functions when that time comes, you will be scattered to the winds, and remembered, if at all, as a fleeting, intellectual aberration, borne of the luxurious freedom of folly in a world secure and well fed.
But don't despair, the world will keep on turning, whether you're right or not. It does not care. And that is its most cruel insult.