Statist rhetoric and how to deconstruct it

“Class”, “bourgeoisie” and “proletariat”, “the rich” and “the poor” :

When explaining social dynamics (that is, trying to fit them to their ideology), statists divide the population in various segments. They then claim that libertarian systems – and minarchist systems in general – perpetuate these divisions, while statist systems do not.

The problem is that, for such divisions to exist, there would need to be stable states for people to exist in. These states would then represent different “classes” that people could meaningfully be classified in.

In a libertarian system, there are no such stable states, since everyone is equal under the law – that is to say, everyone’s rights are equally protected. We therefore have the notion of vertical mobility, which is the improvement or deterioration of condition following successful or unsuccessful contributions to society.

In statism, we do not have equality under the law : rulers and friends of the state are in a privileged control position. This, coupled with the absence of better conditions of life to move into, lessens or nullifies vertical mobility. There are a number of stable states that a person can be in for large periods of time – ruling class, friend of the state, prole.

As applied to a libertarian system, the notion of “class” is akin to that of “race”. Both designate concepts which can be applied in a static system, but are completely irrelevant in reality. The notion of “class” is irrelevant because of equality under the law and vertical mobility. The notion of “race” is irrelevant because of racial intermingling and the irrelevancy of facial features to the genome.

Both “class” and “race” are code-words used to divide society. With his rhetoric, the statist is trying to get you to agree with the Marxist theory of “class struggle”, thus trying to deny the harmony of interests in a free society. Harmony of interest exists in a libertarian society because everyone’s rights are protected, and thus everyone is free to act in his best interest, both individually and in cooperation with others.
Statists, on the other hand, preach government intervention in people’s actions, and thus cannot claim such harmony of interests. This rhetoric also ties in the notion of enemies (see point 8 of “Ten Signs of Political Quackery”).

“equality”, public systems :

The notion of equality is brandied about in many ways, but especially in support of public systems.

There is nothing wrong about equality itself. Indeed, libertarian systems are particularly justified in claiming it, since they are the only systems which promote equality under the law.

This is not what statists mean, of course. What they want is material equality, not legal equality. The only means to achieve this is by using coercion (either by taxes, eminent domain, public monopolies, or other means). This is a philosophy of “might makes right”.

In practice, the only equality this achieves is equal poverty for all, and ironically, inequality for all (due to the fundamental inequalities between rulers and the governed). Why poverty and inequality for all ? Because statist systems themselves are dramatically inefficient and unequal.

They are inefficient because of economical factors such as monopolistic inefficiencies (all monopolies are inefficient, including public ones), Tragedy of the Commons situations (public goods tend to be exploited, because no one takes responsibility for them), and Friedman’s Law (which states that public systems cost twice as much as private ones, a result confirmed by numerous comparisons).
They are unequal because of public motivations (politicians have their own interests to defend, which are not congruent with other people’s) and the imposition of individual decisions on the collectivity (which is a chief attribute of statism).

“common good”, “public good” :

These expressions are used to support collectivism – the belief in an abstract entity or ideal which transcends human beings, and that human beings must serve. The “common good” which they talk about is not the good of any single individual, but rather the good of this abstract entity. If you ask them what this entity is, some would answer the State, some others would answer the race, some others the society, some others the religion they fanatically support. Whatever the answer, the constant that links all these beliefs together is dehumanization.

The proper and just answer to claims of common or public good is to point out that only individuals can receive benefits, not an abstract entity. Only individuals free to cooperate with each other and reap the rewards of that cooperation can work to their own benefit. Sacrifice to an abstract entity serves no other purpose apart from lining the pockets of its proponents.

“democracy” :

Democracy is seen by statists as a very positive thing, since it gives decisional power to “the people”. This is, however, a collectivist way of seeing things – “the people” is not a single monolithic block. From a libertarian perspective, democratic systems do not give decisional power to each individual : democracy give decisional power to the majority against the individual.

This has the consequence of destroying individual rights. The very act of voting reduces our freedom to a mere commodity, to be voted away at one’s convenience. Thus it becomes in every person’s interest to grab as much of that freedom as he can for himself, against others. This causes many societal problems including social warfare, interest group politics (a larger-scale manifestation of social warfare), the imposition of individual decisions on the collectivity, and dehumanization.

“alienation” :

A commonly-used statist “argument”, used especially to berate industrialization. We are worse off in our cruel and dehumanizing industry or office jobs, or so goes the argument. Of course, this begs a number of question, including what percentage of jobs correspond to this definition nowadays, and how alienating today’s jobs are compared to the harsh and perpetual work of farming in the old days ! Most statist debaters have, of course, no idea what farm work implied before technology.

Of course, this brings us the question : what is alienation, objectively ? Alienation can be defined simply as emotional isolation. We must then ask, what political system is most alienating – libertarianism, which recognizes the right of each individual to interact freely with other people, or all forms of statism, which are based on coercion and social warfare ?

“wage slavery” :

Statists often claim that modern work is “wage slavery”. This is supposed to make us support collectivized work. However, the only problem is that it is doublespeak at its finest. No one is forced to work in a libertarian system. It is statist systems, especially Marxism, which force people to work ! If libertarianism is “wage slavery”, then statism is “slavery without wage”, or at least “wage-minus-taxes slavery”. However you cut it, the comparison ends up against the statist side.

“means of production” :

Marxists particularly tend to use this expression. If you ask them what it means, they will usually reply that these are things that “bourgeois” people own, and that they should belong to “the workers” (as if there are people who work who aren’t workers). They are things that “help to produce”. But this is a hopeless confusion. Everything we own helps us in our work ! Every single thing we own directly or indirectly influences our production. The car we use to get to work, the computer we use in the office, the material context of our work, our house and income – all these things are “means of production”. To attempt to differentiate between them is as misguided as to differentiate “classes”. It is a meaningless excuse to support the arbitrary theft of some goods while keeping property of other goods.

“stealing our job”, “buy american/canadian” :

Two expressions particularly adopted by right-wingers, which manifest nationalism and hatred of foreigners.

“Stealing a job” means absolutely nothing. There is no way to steal someone else’s job. It is purely an exaggeration used to hate successful people who happen to come from another country.

“Buy american/canadian” is an expression of the desire to buy only products manufactured in one’s country. However, the rise of demand for manufactured products from one’s own country results in a rise in cheap manufacturing jobs and a drop of more rewarding jobs… thus bringing about the exact opposite of what “buy local” Neanderthals preach.

This is only a short overview of code-words and expressions used by statists. I hope it will be of some help in understanding their rationalizations.