Tuesday, October 17, 2006

People don't want to be free?

The notion that people really do desire to be enslaved is an incredibly absurd, and yet disturbingly common, canard. Defenders of the state claim that it's okay to be enslaved because that's what most people already want. After all, look at how people vote! They want welfare, socialized medicine, more taxes, they always want to be enslaved more and more! Doesn't that prove that statist enslavement is the natural state of man?

Stefan Molyneux has a great analogy that I trot out especially for this kind of fallacy. He says to imagine a sociologist who comes to a zoo to study the apes there. The sociologist notes that the apes don't move around much and don't seem to leave a certain area, and tries to find an explanation for this strange behaviour. He postulates that the monkeys have a strong tribal instinct, that they are sedentary, that new places scare them, and so on. All this time, he fails to notice that the monkeys simply don't move around because they are in cages!

This is the exact same insanity that afflicts anyone who tries to analyze human behaviour without taking into account the debilitating effect of state threats and coercion on the individual.

Why do people choose enslavement? It is not a natural thing for people to desire to be enslaved. People crave freedom, and this is manifested in most aspects of society, but not in politics. The answer is very simple: people believe that the burden of state coercion is a permanent fixture of society, and they adapt to that situation. More specifically, they try to wrestle as much state power as possible in favour of their values and social policies, before other people do the same. So what we have is basically a Tragedy of the Commons situation as regards to individual rights- either you get your way, or someone else will. Social warfare is the inevitable consequence of any democratic system.

The truth of the matter is, if you take away the cage of state coercion, most people desire to be free. And the best proof of this is to ask a rabid statist the following question:

"Would YOU, personally, like to be free to do X?"

Don't listen to their rationalizations as to why OTHER PEOPLE should not be free to do X. Just ignore them and ask them again:

"Would YOU, personally, like to be free to do X?"

Inevitably the answer will be "yes!". Of course people want to be personally free to do things. They simply do not believe that other people can be trusted- either because they believe their beliefs should be enforced over that of others, or because they believe that other people are inherently evil and not to be trusted (another statist belief which ensures that people will submit to the state as a necessary check over their fellows). And no one trusts anyone else, because they have been taught that other people are not to be trusted.

Statists sometimes argue that we anarchists believe that everyone is good and would "do the right thing". This is, of course, complete nonsense, but they are right in the sense that we think that people are generally decent (if not always doing the right thing) when the threat of the state is removed and they are free to adapt to a new, healthier situation. That is our hope, yes. But we do not depend on this hope to have a market anarchist society. Unlike the statist's utopia, market anarchy does not require a high level of intelligent, decency or morality in order to work. It's natural, it's trade, it always works, even little children can figure it out. It doesn't take a fucking degree in politics.

People don't want to be free? That's like saying that a kidnapping victim doesn't want to be free because he obeys his captors. No, he obeys his captors because he doesn't want to get shot. So... give me a break!

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