"It [government] covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting: such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd." ~ Alexis de Tocqueville
Column by Alex R. Knight III.
Exclusive to STR
Linda Waite-Simpson, an ultra-left, pro-government “state representative” here in Vermont, recently lamented to local press that her rejected bid to impose sweeping gun control measures upon the residents of the most gun-friendly tax farm out of the 50 was shot down (pun intended) because of the “strong libertarian bent in this state.”
As implied by the quotation marks above, there exists no “state” – the idea is entirely fictitious – nor, it would seem, are Waite-Simpson’s views very “representative” here in Vermont, at the very least when it comes to ownership and carrying of firearms. Of course, the fundamental idea of any individual “representing” any one other individual, much less hundreds or thousands of them, is absurd on its very face.
That said, there are any number of persons milling around out there of her particular stripe: There is no limit to the good government can do, it’s the solution to 99% or more of the world’s problems, and anyone who just can’t see that is a racist, paranoid, hateful, greedy, black-helicopter conspiracy nut just salivating to shoot up a school – or more recently, goes the accusation – bomb a marathon.
I had an experience of late that I think utterly crystallizes this kind of Government is God mentality: Until a very brief time ago, I was a participant in a Facebook discussion group, “Libertarians and Liberal Bridge Building,” the ostensible purpose of which, I would think, is pretty clear – to find common ground between the former and the (misnamed) latter.
In the interest of making a short story even shorter, the “moderator” of that page (who, incidentally, was not the page’s creator), a Leftist who goes by the monicker of “LIB,” contended adamantly that taxes are indeed voluntary. His alleged evidence and rationale for this preposterous position is that since one is born into a certain set of circumstances, that one must forever accept such as a “given,” and arrange to avoid paying by conducting one’s self only within the context of that statist framework. Thus, if one does not wish to pay taxes on earnings, one can deliberately earn under any taxable amount, or not work at all. If one does not wish to pay property tax, one can opt to not own a house. And so on. And, failing all else, there’s always the old statist remedy of simply moving – if you don’t like (or even love!) the state-system, then why don’t you leave?
In other words, “LIB,” and those like him, are rigidly convinced that the arbitrary human actions of applying coercive, violent force to anyone who wishes to remain rooted where they are geographically, yet do not desire or even refuse to abide by such aggressive dictums – and still want to eat food and have protection from the elements -- are, in effect, the aggressors. And that the various machinations of government are an inherent, immovable condition of life on earth – like the wind, or rain, or mountains. They simply exist, can never be changed in favor of any other methods, and you must either accept them, or be quite correctly brutalized by those assigned to make you comply.
It is worth noting that “LIB” also expressed to me, at various points in our repartee’, his belief that ethics are entirely subjective – that “right” and “wrong,” even as such concepts apply to human affairs, can be equated to quantum physics, and therefore have no meaning. That his vision of the way things are is justified in light of the “fact” that the earth is merely a random quirk in an equally random universe (even though this flies sharply in the face of the latest scientific data), and in truest Orwellian fashion, that aggression is really non-aggression -- I’m just incapable of seeing things otherwise, since I’m not a grateful and appreciative Marxist.
Do I really need to point out that I “Unliked” this Facebook group forthwith and have no plans of ever returning?
In an earlier essay, I pointed out where I think the philosophical debate here in America – and in other parts of the world – is headed. It is rapidly coming down to those who wish government to be everything and those who wish it to be nothing.
Meanwhile and therefore, not to be negative, but I see little prospect for building bridges between the two – not when those like “LIB” want them built by monopolized force they obstinately see as an unshakable part of the planet’s landscape, and the rest of us who are intellectually expansive enough to allow for other solutions.