No More Excuses

Once upon a time, I was a statist. This is not astonishing because most people are statists. Sometimes this term is used pejoratively to describe fascists, nationalists, and totalitarians like Benito Mussolini or Francisco Franco. While it is true that they were statists, that truth isn't usually important because George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr., and Gandhi were also statists.

Liberals and Conservatives both tend to be statist. Even minarchists (like I was) and objectivists are statist. Oligarchies, plutocracies, most theocracies, and all modern democracies are forms of statism. Statism is so ingrained in our political and legal perspectives that it is hard to understand what it really is and even harder to comprehend what life would be without it.

Table of Contents

1 The State Defined

A state is a corporation (that is a formalized organization of people) that makes a claim to land ownership by fiat. That is to say that a state is a group of people who will exercise all powers of ownership of a geographic area and uphold their claim exclusively by force or threats thereof.

Some consider this claim to ownership indistinguishable from any other. However, if we consider the Classical Liberal thinker, John Locke, he wrote of a different basis for assessing ownership.

The Lockean principle is one that grants title of ownership to an individual or group who are the first users and cultivators of land (these are the homesteaders). These owners may then transfer the title of ownership by consent to any other person. All titled owners are able to trace their ownership back to the productive labor of cultivation.

Locke was articulating a concept of ownership that emerged in the English common law. Law students are taught in their first year at school this concept of ownership: First in time, first in right. The use or cultivation of a frontier resource establishes ownership.

The distinction between a state's claim to ownership and any other is measured in productivity. Where the title of ownership is derived from labors and cultivation, the goods that result from that work then enter society as tradable commodities – thus benefiting everyone the cultivator trades with.

If a person were simply to sit with a rifle atop a tower and announce "trespassers will be shot," that person is doing some of the same things any other owner might but no usable goods are produced. His claim to ownership is not based on productive labors but upon the reach of his weapon and his ability to notice trespassers.

All property rights – indeed, all rights – are upheld by force. Statism is characterized not by its application of force but by the lack of any criteria other than force to demonstrate the claim of ownership.

Productive owners labor first before exercising the force of ownership. A state exercises force of ownership first and will only labor if it is convenient or inescapable thereafter.

A statist is a person who believes in the legitimacy of a state's fiat claim to land ownership.

2 Powers of Ownership

All owners of property exercise control over the resorces they own according to their pleasure. One might say that an owner will govern his own property. Because one vests labor in the cultivation of property, that person may seek to protect it against fire with prohibitions on smoking. Because owners are tied by their labors to property, they may seek to make the environment more pleasant for themselves by imposing rules against the use of foul language. It may be the case that a land owner makes it a habit of shooting rabbits found on the grounds to protect crops from being eaten. These are natural consequences of any claim to ownership.

States too seek to exercise the powers entitled to owners. The world of politics puts great emphasis on the kinds of controls that a state exercises over its land; with many divergent opinions as to which controls represent abuse of power and which are within the "proper role of government."

Constitutions, democratic systems, and trials by jury are imposed to help prevent the state from naturally doing what all land owners are inclined to do: impose their will upon their property for the protection of its productive resources and the convenience of the owner who cultivates it.

In order to preserve public support for their fiat claims to land ownership, states purport themselves to offer people the service of law at low or ideal costs. People want the protections of law to make their lives and enterprise safer and more efficient.

Because states, like all corporations, are predisposed to cartelize and secure monopolies, it is common for people to conflate law and states. States often encourage people to believe that Statism is the only means by-which the benefits of law can be delivered to society.

This is the principle source of confusion for people trying to understand criticism of the state: If one cannot distinguish a state from law, they may construe arguments against Statism as arguments against governance all together. Law can and has existed without requiring a fiat claim to land ownership.

3 Democratic statism

States throughout history have had varying amounts benevolence and cruelty. Enough cruelty provokes insurgency and bloodshed. The contemporary trend among states is to protect against public retaliation by conceding some control through democratic mechanisms.

The contemporary infatuation with democracy runs deep enough that a people who are generally pacifist are willing to drop bombs on others in Democracy's name. Democracy is purported to be the ideal form of statism (which may or may not be true) as it supposedly diffuses the powers of the state's magistrates with a buffer of populism.

Democracy supposes that the people at large are compassionate, decent and not inclined to profound acts of brutality. They can therefore be trusted with the reins of government. Thus all people are granted the power to nominate from among themselves those who are to rule over them.

People at large are scarcely represented in American democracy. Less than a quarter of the population voted for the current president. When slightly more than half of the population participates in the polls, it is "record turnout." If the people at large are supposed to be the safeguards against oligarchy but are not attending the polls, where is the protection of democracy?

Barring compulsory voting, democracy will not be a representation of the majority of all people but the majority of people who care to vote. Because most people are rationally uninterested in politics, this leaves only the few with acute interest in the affairs of the state to choose from among themselves the rulers that all people must answer to.

The assertion of qui tacet consentit, or "silence implies consent," is only considered just within the statist context. Absences of signature can not bind one to a contract. Refusal to speak does not mean a woman is consenting to sex. If one does not protest against the acts of his murderer does that make it an assisted suicide? Why is refusal to vote construed as approval of the elected official or his deeds?

Some claim that applying arbitrary restrictions to democracy in establishing a republic can protect against tyranny from the political elites. Such a notion tends to acknowledge that if 51% of voters were for the legalization of rape, it would still be wrong.

Republicanism, too, has some quandaries: If popularity cannot justify a policy, what can? While everyone would like their own values to be reflected in policy, American values have always been in a state of flux and that's especially true today.

Is there a set of values that can be said to be the One True Ethical System? Would people be just in constitutionally imposing that system of values if they were in the minority? Or if they were a two thirds majority? Is there a moral way to force those who dissent to live by the prescribed values?

Every politician considers himself to be a bastion of reason and decency amid a raging sea of corruption, greed and ineptitude. Each one of them has an opponent who claims the same thing. Whose claims to rational, moral capability do we believe when we attend the polls or when drafting a constitutional charter?

At very best, democracy is problematic. People are quick to criticize the dictatorship's tendency to force all people to live with the consequences of one person's poor judgment but are totally content to force all people to live with the poor judgment of a committee. In both cases, the mistakes of either ruling body are limitless in their ability to harm uninterested parties.

A monarch will claim to own an arbitrary region of land and will treat all people who live within that area as tenants: Requiring rent and setting down rules of conduct designed to either protect his claim to the property or to satisfy his prejudices. Democracies behave the same way; arbitrarily defining an area where their will is imposed like that of an owner and requiring all tenants on their land to satisfy their whims.

If the monarch's claim or the democracy's claim to ownership over the land was legitimate, they would be well within their rights to do with the land as they pleased. Both the monarchy and the democracy claim their titles out of vacuum rather than demonstrating it through productive labor. While the decision-making process in one may be more convoluted and unpredictable than the other, the nature of both claims to power is the same.

3.1 Inevitable political strife

Statists continue to hope against all reason that it is possible to have their ideal form of government (that is behavioral normalization) while also permitting all other people to participate in the shaping of policy.

Democratic statists will argue that democracy affords the ability to replace politicians who've gone horribly awry according to the vague sentiments of the electorate – and yet somehow 80% of Congress gets reelected every term (even during the heyday of the Tea Party) while 89% of Americans disapprove of the work Congress does.

Many complain that American politics have become sadly divisive. Partisans from both of the major camps are ravenous in their zeal to compel others to subsidize infanticide either by clinical or martial means and the electorate is content to live with their false dichotomies. Both factions claim that their ideals reflect that of the majority (as majoritarianism is the only morality in democracy) and that dissent is evidence of stupidity, malice, or both (because theory of mind risks losing votes).

The source of contention is found in the fiat nature of Statism: Constitutions notwithstanding, Statism claims full ownership of a region and therefore full power over the people who reside within it. Because this claim was always rooted in force and no other criteria, the state is perfectly within its element when exercising force against any people for any reason and only hesitates in the use of force when it fears the retaliation could be greater than its ability to withstand.

People intuitively, but not always consciously, understand this aspect of the state. This is why political partisans will always feel threatened by each other: They both seek to control the destructive power of the state and to apply it toward their own satisfaction. In the face of the state's tremendous might and its arbitrary nature, is it any wonder why campaign rhetoric gets so hysterical? Every politician ultimately seeks to use force to compel others to agree with himself. That carries with it the implicit threat against any who might disagree.

Confronted with these quandaries, it is strangely rare for anybody to ask if democracy in the American republic is actually serving its declared or even implied purposes. Many assert that the statist-democratic premise is sound and that all that needs to happen is for the people who operate the machine to change their nature, opinions, values, or maybe just their hair styles. This sentiment has been good for cable news channels and satirists.

4 A Fantasy Crushed

When I was a statist, I don't know if anybody could have been more in love with the Constitution than I was. I was so certain that it had all the trappings necessary to secure liberty for the people who lived under it.

Time and again, history and current events combined to crush this fantastic notion. Much like the Kremlin who argued that the failures of the Soviet Union were a result of insufficient devotion to socialism, I argued that the failures of the American political process were a result of insufficient respect for the Constitution.

The mantra eventually broke down and I was forced to confront the logical hurdles that my cognitive dissonance had so routinely circumvented. I was being every bit as irrational as gun control advocates who pretend that the scribblings found on a piece of paper can somehow incapacitate a thug bent on doing you harm.

I had to accept that Republicans and Democrats hold just as much contempt for Constitutional protections against their actions as the Bloods and the Crips hold for statutes against murder and drug trade. No paper, even when given the social significance that COTUS has, will emit a magical aura of protection from injustice.

Once I'd accepted this, I came to the more important realization: That the Constitution is an inherently lawless document.

4.1 Statism vs. Law

Law is a procedure of dispute resolution and is especially suited for resolving conflicts of property. When any two people lay claim to the same piece of property, they will appeal to a court of law to measure the evidence of which party is the rightful owner.

Courts made up of reasonably disinterested third parties with allowances for appeals to additional parties when necessary have worked to resolve disputes for centuries. They constitute the very makeup of law.

Statism is lawless because a state will never appeal to an impartial third party to judge in disputes over the state's claim to land ownership. Whenever the matter is raised, the state will appeal to courts staffed entirely by the state's own employees to settle the dispute.

While the state's own courts have ruled against their employers from time to time, these measured concessions are usually attempts to prevent public unrest or the political biases of the judge or judges superseding their interest in protecting their employer.

It's curious that people can assume there is no conflict of interests when a judge is asked to rule in a case concerning the very source of his paycheck. One would not ask an employee of Walmart to arbitrate in a suit against Walmart. Why do we ask employees of the state to rule in suits against the state?

Even when the state is not a party to the suit, because each person in its borders constitute a source of revenue, there is financial interest in benefiting the party that pays the most in taxes.

This is not to say that any judge can be totally free of bias. It is simply the case that states are systemically antagonistic to law and that times when law is executed are in spite of rather than because of the nature of statism.

4.2 Separation of Powers is a Myth

Some argue that the Constitution made judges separate and therefore impartial parties by defining them as part of a separate branch of the federal government.

This is like arguing that the Human Resources department is a totally separate entity from the corporation it falls under. Departments within a corporation may be separate function but that is not the same as being separate in interests.

The "Separation of Powers" therefore does not address the conflict of interests inherent in statism. That the branches work in separate buildings does nothing to guarantee that they will check and balance each others' powers.

Internal rivalries may take place, some differences in opinion may color the work-day but at the end of the day, each of the divisions of a corporation draws paychecks from the same source and they will cooperate as a single body for the protection of that interest.

4.3 Law & Order vs. Statist Chaos

Courts are inclined to avoid novelty and fads. They exist to peacefully resolve disputes, not dramatically change society. They therefore tend to prefer to appeal to precedents that are known to serve as peaceful avenues to conflict resolution.

Aspects of society that do not involve dispute resolution are not obligated to favor stability and prudence the way courts are. Technological development, philanthropy, and community service are all disruptive behavior: They seek to upset the status quo and elevate the standards of living for all people.

Disruptive creativity is healthy but the lack of clairvoyance among people means that one can never know if their attempts at improving life may harm others. When harm is done, the law exists to help correct the problem.

States, too, try to improve their situation through disruptive action. Politicians are always proud of their records to dramatically reform any given policy. Unlike private acts, the consequences of a state's action can never be confined to only the people interested in pursuing that act. All persons will enjoy the benefits and suffer the harm that results from such actions.

When a state does cause harm, there is no law to correct the error because the state will never allow an impartial third party to handle the dispute. The state is free to rule on the justifiability of its own actions.

Why should anybody be surprised when the Supreme Court rules that Social Security is not fraud? If Bernie Madoff's own staff were to rule in the court against him, it is certain he would be as free as Michael J. Astrue.

Politicians admit to the illegitimacy of the things they do. If not, they would not campaign so vehemently on promises to reform the work they had been doing – be that work related to entitlements like Social Security or otherwise. What is curious about this situation is that voters continue to believe that there is inherent legitimacy in the state while believing that the state's actions must always be reformed.

In a world where political tides constantly fight one another on matters of policy and that policy is not checked by the recourse of law, the potential for stability or "law" and "order" is quite low.

5 Statesmen of Yore

Sometimes people believe that this precedent is a novel one and that it would shame America's "founding fathers." But there was never any ambiguity regarding the literal nor intended meaning of the First Amendment when President John Adams decided to corral Americans into concentration camps for the crime of criticizing him.

Politicians past were as wont to ignore the unambiguous provisions of the Constitution as George W. Bush ever was. Contrary to the romanticizing, the United States Government was never wholly rooted in a respect for human rights.

Many are eager to defame a contemporary president who suspends the writ of habeus corpus and incarcerates and brutalizes those who are critical of the expensive war he wages while simultaneously praising a predecessor who did precisely the same thing.

None are willing to consider the possibility that it is not the man who works in the state but the very nature of the state itself which is at fault.

An institution which obtains its wealth by monopolizing force and substituting law with occasional, begrudging placation, which lays down rules that it has no intention on obeying itself seems entirely at home when reneging on its agreements, when forcing people from their homes and then nuking the place just to see what would happen, or when shooting college students on their way to class

No amount of verbosity added to the statute or charters is likely to change the fact that states, like all corporations, are run by people who are no more virtuous than any others. Indeed working for corporation which has total dominion over others seems like a career that is most attractive to the sociopathic. This has been true since 1787 so it doesn't seem likely that a return to those good ol' days is going to improve America's situation.

Some may imagine fiat land owners of the 18th century to be better because they chose to do different things with the land they claimed to own. At no point do those who make this appeal to antiquity bother to address how one can legally quantify what things an owner may or may not do with his titled property.

6 Division of Rights of Ownership

The divisibility of rights of ownership is a complex matter that requires the tools of law to navigate. When two or more persons claim to own a thing, there's a chance that they will disagree as to how much control either party is entitled to. Attorneys readily admit that understanding what constitutes ownership and what rights owners are entitled to is not a trivial matter.

It is reasonable to argue that a landlord, however he assumes ownership of his land, is not entitled to send tenants of his land to the guillotine for his own amusement. Some may look to this as evidence that they should be cautious of the powers that all land owners claim – especially when those owners are a state.

Societies, individuals, and each plot of land is unique. Disputes involving each warrant individual scrutiny. Law is disposed to give each dispute careful consideration to the unique factors of the case unless courts in an area are monopolized by a lawless institution.

Law has shown its ability to define and limit the rights claimed by owners based on the unique factors of each claim to ownership. Tools such as easements have been used to find resolutions fitting each individual case.

With as many mutual claimants as modern states tend to have, disputes over what rights are entitled to owners are inevitable. Some believe they are entitled to torture suspected terrorists found on their land, others do not. Some believe they are entitled to grant the legal status of families to same-sex couples, others do not. Partisans on either side of each debate argue that their ownership entitles them to permit or forbid all sorts of behaviors based on their claim to ownership of the area.

No matter which way a political issue gets resolved, it will be the abridging of one joint owner's rights in favor of another's because all owners are naturally inclined to control their property in whatever way pleases themselves.

In light of this, it seems evident that it is impossible for all people to share equal rights of ownership over the same piece of land unless they all share the same values. This was easier to accomplish in days when cultures and values were less diverse than they are in the modern industrialized society. Statists even admit that diversity of thought and values can be an element of instability in a democratic society.

7 Conclusion

Because society shows no sign of getting simpler, it may be time to consider that the monopoly of law found in states is not serving our intricate legal needs. Because the population at large is growing more accustomed to exercising full right of ownership over all property, it may be necessary now to adopt a more internally consistent notion of property claims which embraces the reality observed in economics.

When faced with such a proposition, people naturally fear things that the state has taught them to fear such as warlords. Such an argument disregards that states themselves behave like warlords and all such warlords subsist on the submission of productive laborers.

It may be time to consider that the nature of the state is rather conducive to some of the horrific things that people fear in politics and it is therefore unlikely to protect them from such horrors.

It may be time for us to recognize that we have no legal obligation to endorse the existence of the state and that arguments to the contrary are not rooted in law but in the baseless claims of partisans of the state.

When I was a statist, I struggled to reconcile all the fallacies inherent in the state. Even today, I hold on to the hope that one day, somebody can help me through the logical steps used to justify the existence of the state. Until that happens, I have come to accept that I was wrong, that I have no more excuses, that I can not continue to believe in the legitimacy of states.

Date: 2011-12-29 11:05

Author: Anthony "Ishpeck" Tedjamulia

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