The Power of the State vs. the Power of LoveSubmitted by Goldspan on Thu, 10/31/2013 - 14:02
For thousands of years, philosophers have argued that society must invest great power in the rulers because only great power can hold back the forces of evil — violence, plunder, and disorder. They have often conceded, however, that this solution has a down side: powerful rulers may themselves resort to violence and plunder.
Given that wealth destruction undermines social well-being, how did it come to pass that the state — an institution based on violence and plunder — has overridden peaceful cooperation as the dominant factor in social life virtually everywhere on earth?
Individuals may rest their personal lives on love and thereby find the peace that seemingly evades all philosophical and sociological understanding of social affairs. Whatever wise men and women may know and practice in their own lives, however, essentially Hobbesian analysis holds the great thinkers in its iron grip, and those who recommend love are dismissed as muddle-headed and simplistic. Yet, to repeat, here we are, inhabiting a world made no better by our hanging on the words of the greatest political philosophers, statesmen, and international-relations experts. In their view, the state is a given, and their analyses take for granted its nature and conduct. Perhaps this point of departure is their root error: that they readily accept what most needs to be challenged.
So long as the state exists, with its intrinsic violence, plunder, and insolence, and we seek solutions to our pressing social problems through it or in its dark shadow, we are doomed not to second-best or third-best solutions, but to make-believe solutions that are, at best, momentary rest stops on the road to our worsening degradation and ultimate demise. Destruction is what states do (or threaten to do); it is the nature of the beast. As technological changes augment state powers, the culmination of this terrible sequence may be our absolute annihilation.