"[T]here are, at bottom, basically two ways to order social affairs, Coercively, through the mechanisms of the state -- what we can call political society. And voluntarily, through the private interaction of individuals and associations -- what we can call civil society. ... In a civil society, you make the decision. In a political society, someone else does. ... Civil society is based on reason, eloquence, and persuasion, which is to say voluntarism. Political society, on the other hand, is based on force." ~ Ed Crane
Let's Join Forces for Liberty
Exclusive to STR
August 20, 2007
As a former partyarch and political scientist, I have been following the Ron Paul Revolution campaign closely--as closely as is possible on the Internet without actually participating. Even though I do not at all support party activism or political involvement, the extent of Paul's grassroots support brings hope to the nation and the world. If so many support cutting back on government to a minimalist "core," doing only what the Constitution explicitly allows, then there should be a chance for pushing the state back.
The problem is of course that pushing the state back isn't realistic, at least not in the long term. The state will always find ways to increase its own power and thus to find new ways to oppress the slaves it calls "citizens" or "residents." The latter are not, contrary to popular myth, the privileged majority included in the big family of the state. Rather, they are the ones forced to pay for their own oppression, which makes them true losers.
This means pushing back the state to its 1780s size doesn't really help. Slaves will still be slaves and rulers will still be rulers, even though slaves don't have to work as hard and rulers will be temporarily crippled or held at leash. A constitution offers no control, no matter how much we would like it to. The U.S. Constitution is a great example of this--the document calls for a minimalist government with clearly-formulated limited powers and a responsibility to honor people's god-given rights. But it hasn't stopped the government from expanding into a welfarist police state: imperialist America.
A constitution, after all, is but a piece of paper written by men. The interest to keep the constitution intact--and thereby keep government to a certain level--will always stand back to the special interest to boost power. The reason for this is that the constitution is a general interest, whereas power is always specific. And specific interests will always triumph over general interests, simply because specific interests need to be--and are--fought for, whereas general interests are often victims due to their "tragically common" nature.
This is why a truly market society will "work" in the liberty-preserving sense, but a minimalist statist never can. The latter is always dependent on a certain set of common interest or common rules such as a constitution or a set of rights--a common structure for society. A truly market society, on the other hand, does not rely on common interests and thus never falls victim to the tragedy of commons (which, really, is why government is so dangerous--it exploits the fact that keeping government leashed is a common but not specific interest).
A market society does not at all emphasize abstractions, and therefore common interests cannot exist unless they are based solely in individual action, and thus, in specific interests. It is the mix of each and every individual's specific interests that makes market society so beautiful and stable: the fact that each individual has to rely on no one but himself to "fight" for his interest means there is no fixed structure available from which the costs of specific interests can be levied on other people. Voluntarism is demanded--voluntary agreement is the only way to profit in the truly freed market.
This shows why the Ron Paul Revolution in the long term is rather meaningless, even though a victorious campaign will no doubt create short-term benefits. Abolishing the Fed, restoring the gold standard, abolishing the IRS--these things will all do good, and no doubt push government power back, at least for a while. Restored liberties, even though only temporarily, is of course better than no liberties at all--in this sense I support Ron Paul. I would certainly choose a little liberty now rather than no liberty at all, if those were the only options available.
However, I do not support the use of government to enforce specific interests since I realize this can be done only temporarily (at best). Also, such enforcement--even if it is of liberty--means costs are levied on society, and those costs have to be paid somehow. These costs cause societal tensions and conflicts, which aggravates the struggle of special interests in the states--which further increases the risk of government growth. And since pushing government back to the cage made by the constitution can at best be temporary, President Ron Paul won't make much of a difference in the long term. We need the state to be abolished--not changed.
But seeing the hundreds if not thousands of Ron Paul grassroots all over America in videos on sites like YouTube does occasionally bring tears to my eyes--it is no doubt a beautiful sight. If there are really this many people believing in and willing to fight for liberty, then there must be a real chance for it. But the way to liberty doesn't go via the White House. I have a much better idea than orchestrating a presidential campaign: c'mon guys, let's join forces and go all the way.