Statism: The Most Dangerous Religion
This is a partial transcript from the well known video “Statism: The Most Dangerous Religion featuring Larken Rose.” Rose is an anarchist, I am not. The primary difference being that while I’m an ideological Ancap, I’m a pragmatic minarchist. I see a legitimate role for small and very limited government in defending and upholding individual natural rights (think Bastiat’s “The Law”). But government should do as little as possible of anything else. In spite of our differences this video featuring Larken Rose has been influential in my thinking. He makes some excellent points which everyone ought to have the opportunity to consider.
Quite simply a statist is somebody who believes in having a state. Basically anybody who wants government.
“Government is the exercise of authority over a people or place and that is basically the right to rule. It’s not just the ability to control other people, because most people have that in one way or another, it’s the right. It’s the idea that for certain people it’s legitimate for them to forcibly control others.
“Belief in government is a purely faith based indoctrinated belief. It doesn’t actually make any sense in practical terms, or in evidence, or in logic. For years I’ve thought it was a really good analogy to compare government to religion. And only a few years ago did I realise it’s not an analogy. It is a religion in every way. It has a superhuman deity – government – that has rights that mortals don’t. It isn’t restricted by the rules that apply to mortals. It issues commands and if you disobey you’re a sinner and you deserve to be punished. The faithful, the true believers, they have great faith in these bizarre rituals, elections, legislation, and appointments, and they dress up and then they say:
“Ta da! Now I represent government. I know I just look like a person but I don’t just have the rights of a person because I represent the magical deity called government. And so I’m allowed to demand your money, and boss you around and hurt you if you disobey me. I’m acting on behalf of government and it has commandments called laws, and these laws aren’t just the threats of humans, they are decrees from something superhuman, and so all you good people out there should bow to this deity. And if you want the world fixed this is what you pray to, and we give you certain rituals of how to pray to it, and when you’re supposed to pray to it, and pray to the god to make the world what you wish it was and save you from all the uncertainties of reality.”
“The doctrine people are taught is just patently absurd. And a bunch of examples of that are like ‘consent of the governed’, there isn’t such a thing, if it’s consent it’s voluntary if it’s being governed it’s not.
“The actual given excuse is “we have the right to rule you because you decided we did, even if you didn’t vote for us, and even if you oppose everything we do to you and, well, they represent us.” OK, they represent us by doing a lot of thing that we don’t have the right to do? And they represent us by bossing us around and taking our money? Like, I bet if I went to my neighbour and boss him around and took his money and say “I’m representing you,” he’d say “what? What a stupid thing to say!”
“To me the most insane is “we are the government,” which you hear everywhere. And I ask somebody “wait! Do you really not notice that there’s a group of people over there, they issue threats, and they call them laws, and they issue demands for money, and they call it taxes, and if you disobey they send men with guns to hurt you? Now are you really incapable of distinguishing between yourself and them?”
“One of the biggest giveaways that the belief in government is a complete blind faith religious belief, is the way people respond. One very easy line of questioning is “can you give somebody else a right that you don’t have?” and everybody says “well no, of course not.” Or, “how about you and your buddy? Can the two of your give someone else a right that neither of you have?” “Well no.” And it only takes a couple of more questions to get to “well how did congress get rights that you don’t have?” They get emotional, and they get angry, or they get defensive, or they run away. They didn’t come to this belief through reasoning and evidence and logic, they came there by having a blind faith belief smashed into their heads starting before they could even talk.
“It’s just something we’re taught to believe, that there is this thing called authority and that it’s allowed to do things that human beings aren’t and that people have an obligation to obey it. To the point that, yes, some people – they weren’t gods or anything – some people wrote down a thing on paper, and then they called it legislation, and they did certain rituals and then people go around saying well this is law. Most people literally feel physical discomfort and fear, at the thought of disobeying anyone in authority. Most people can’t say “no I’m not going to do that,” because it goes against their years and years of, of programming, and indoctrination that trains them to think “if you do as you’re told you’re good if you don’t you’re bad.” And that’s the message of school and that message gets pounded into people’s heads. Students are taught over and over and over and over again, every stinking day they’re in school, that the measure of your virtue is how well you obey authority. The whole approval disapproval thing, the one thing you learn in school, is if you do as you’re told you get approval and reward, and if you don’t do as you’re told you get disdain and condemnation. They’ll make sure everybody knows you’re a bad person because you didn’t do as you’re told.
“The belief in authority leads everybody, good people bad people, everything in between, to advocate and do things they wouldn’t otherwise do. Bad things they wouldn’t otherwise do…
“That is the biggest danger of the belief in authority, it tricks good people into condoning or doing really nasty horrible violent things, because they think “well, this is OK if government and authority does it.” They are raised by their parents, by their school, by the government, by the culture, by all the authoritarian messages built into everything that this obedience is a virtue. And when you raise a culture to think that and you get some nasty psycho at the top who says “hey, go do bad stuff” people say “well, I have to follow orders, I have to obey the law, I have to do as I’m told, because that’s a virtue.” And good people march off and do evil stuff. I’m not scared of the Maos and the Stalins and the Hitlers. I’m scared of the thousands or millions of people that hallucinate them to be authority and so do their bidding, and pay for their empires, and carry out their orders. I don’t care if there’s one loony with a stupid moustache, he’s not a threat if the people do not believe in authority.
“Some people assume that “well, you must trust everybody if you don’t want government.” Well that’s not at all true. I don’t nearly trust everybody, but if don’t trust people to run their own lives why on earth would I trust them to be in a position of power that can forcibly run other people’s lives? Really what it boils down to is saying “I don’t trust people, people are untrustworthy, and unpredictable, so my solution is to take some of those people, some of the most untrustworthy around, give them permission to violently control us all, and that will protect us from the untrustworthiness of mankind.”
“OK, you’re so scared of the average man out there and so thankful for government, let me ask you, who has taken more of your money under threat of force? Private people threatening you? Or agents of authority threatening you? How many murders are committed by private people compared to how many are committed by people acting on behalf of authority? It’s not even close! The number of murders committed in the name of law enforcement and government and authority completely dwarfs private murder. Even governments killing the people of other countries is small compared to them killing their own people. In the last 100 years over 270 million human beings were killed by their own governments, not counting war.
“That first step is always the hardest, to get someone to dare to set aside his blind faith long enough to think about things. To back up enough to say “maybe government isn’t even legitimate at all.” It takes a lot for people indoctrinated into the faith to dare to think of those literally blasphemous ideas that “no those people in Washington don’t have the right to rule, their threats aren’t laws they’re just threats, their demands aren’t taxes it’s just extortion.” And that really feels like heresy because it is! It is heresy against the god called government.
“I now have a huge amount of hope because I see an acceleration of the number of people who dare to think about these things and now the number of people able to have this conversation is just hugely exploding. And they’re still a minority, but that exponential curve – I don’t think it’s stopping. I really think the cult of statism is as good as dead.
“Ultimately I think the belief in government is doomed for the exact same reasons that the belief in a flat earth is doomed. There’s too many people pointing out the utter inherent insanity in the belief, and that’s just not going to go away. Nobody who understands self ownership and understands why authority is inherently bogus, wakes up the next day and says “suddenly I think I should do whatever the politicians say”.
“I think really humanity is just beginning to wake up to what it’s supposed to be. Humanity wasn’t meant to be a domesticated species, owned by a ruling class. Every human being owns himself, is in charge of his own life.
“I’d like to see actual rational moral civilisation in my lifetime, but we are going to get there, sooner or later we are totally going to get there. The lie will never outlive the truth forever.”