"Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain." ~ Frederic Bastiat
Thank You for the Honor!
I was quite proud to be nominated for Root Striker of the Year, and joyfully surprised to win the honor.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! You like me, you really like me! Or, at least a number of you like some of what I have to say.
This honor is more flattering than some of you might imagine. I am especially grateful to have been chosen when the other superbly qualified candidates ' Jim Davies, Fred Reed, and, for that matter, None of the Above ' were such attractive ones for any anarchist to choose. The honor strikes me profoundly and intimately, considering how much the ideas carried on Strike The Root mean to me.
In the time since I became a libertarian, about a decade ago ' not too long compared to many out there, I know ' I have become increasingly convinced that the ultimate path to human happiness, progress, and security ' indeed, the long-term path of humanity itself, it is to be hoped ' is liberty. Coercion is a bane on civilization, its very opposite in fact. To the degree that society and individuals rely on violence against each other, thus far do they regress backward and downward, to the depths of humanity's most depraved and savage condition. To the extent that people embrace liberty, voluntary cooperation, consensual mutual assistance and individual choice, thus far do we see the blossoming of civilization, the constructive and righteous quest for the truth, prosperity for the masses, and wholesome spiritual and scientific discoveries that elevate our species to greatness.
The greatest barrier to liberty, its most vicious and ubiquitous adversary, is, of course, the state ' the falsely legalized cartel of plunder and violence ' the government.
The state cannot live, thrive, and grow on its own, however. It ultimately relies on ideas in the minds of those who serve it, from top to bottom. It depends on the belief of nearly everyone that a monopoly of coercion is necessary, dependable, useful, venerable or even godly. The state is, in its essence and intellectual origins, only a logical error, a bad dream, a mistaken thought.
The only way then to smash the state, and keep it away, is to defeat statism.
Individual presidents, secretaries of defense, attorneys general, congresscreatures, governors, mayors, bureaucrats, cops and soldiers can be vile, shameless, malicious or even genocidal. But these people are not the root of the problem; they are only a symptom of the disease called statism.
Statism destroys families and jobs, and encourages the belief that the solution to unemployment, poor working conditions, or broken families is more statism.
Statism erodes peaceful cooperation, reducing the standard of living, wrecking the natural earth, and pitting people against each other in a conflict fabricated by the belief that the answer to intercultural strife, economic stagnation and poverty is more statism.
Statism sends people in uniforms thousands of miles away to fight other people, some in uniforms and some not, and occupy distant lands and destroy countries; and it encourages the belief that the answer to the death, violence and terrorism that inevitably result is yet more statism.
Statism encourages people to believe more in statism than they believe in private businesses, foreigners with alien cultures and languages, or any other subset of the 'other' people. Statism attacks the individual spirit, demands of everyone more loyalty to itself than to their own lives, cherished customs, families and communities. In the place of love for one's neighbor and tolerance for the 'other' ' and instead of faith in oneself ' statism grows and develops in the minds and habits of good people, making them think the answer to all the problems it causes in our world is just more statism.
Statism is the seed of poverty, social degradation, totalitarianism, genocide, torture and war.
So long as we have a statist culture, we cannot have a stateless world. To the extent that the people are statist and determined or at least accustomed to allow themselves or others to impose their will by force, we are not politically free.
Statism is the root of the state, and thus the most reliable and fundamental opponent of the state is the philosophy of liberty. The state, being a faulty philosophical construct forcefully applied to reality by a mistaken and confused collective of individuals, can only be halted ' or even reduced in its scope of destruction ' by ideas.
This is why Strike The Root is so important.
Every day I look at STR, whether in the morning when I awake, or at night, if the new one has been put up before my bedtime.
Every day there is a wealth of external links to commentary and news, and most days there is a good handful of original columns by the Root Strikers. Every day STR gets right to the bottom of the quintessential and eternal dilemma for humanity: how to combat the coercive state.
It's a wonderful site, and I'm proud to be part of it. I'm proud to be a Root Striker and an STR Guest Editor, and especially of being appreciated for my modest contributions to the battle of ideas that we all must face, every day, every one of us.
Thanks to Rob for maintaining such an excellent outlet for the ideas that have such importance for me and, I am inclined to think, the future of civilization itself.
And thanks again to everyone in the STR community. Peace and liberty to all of you, and may the New Year bring hope and blessings for us and our posterity.