When using the Socratic jackhammer against statists, it’s usually not more than a couple blows of the anvil before we arrive at what the state actually is–a group of individuals exercising the use of force against other individuals. Ultimately, this is the core of the state’s power; the use of force to maintain its order. This is a trait shared by all governments, from republics and liberal democracies, to totalitarian dictatorships and oppressive oligarchies. At their cores, that is, at the foundations of these differing political systems, the use of force is the fundamental premise upon which their theories are built. Only the degree of aggression, intrusion, and violence is varied from the total state to the minimal state; they are identical twins spawned from the same egg. The nurture may differ, but he nature does not.
From the political scientist to the everyday statist, they share more than just the belief in the use of force; they believe in the use of “legitimate” force. And that is where the statist and the anarchist part ways; indeed that is where the true socialist, and the statist part ways. The definition of the state that is generally accepted among anarchists is that entity that claims for itself a monopoly on the use violence to maintain its order. There may be variations of this definition, but what these differing definitions refer to are the same–a monopoly on violence.
You’ll notice I did not include the use of the term “legitimate” in my definition of the state, because I believe that term is used by statists, in academia and beyond, in a completely arbitrary fashion. When pressed on what one means when they use the term “legitimate” in their definition of the state, the conversation usually devolves into one big exercise of begging the question. Here’s what I mean-
How did the state’s use of violence become legitimate?
What is legitimation?
It’s the process of making a thing legitimate.
The violence of the state had to go through the process of legitimation; was the process always legitimate?
Well, it is legitimate now.
You see, the Statist’s use of the term legitimate in their definition is question begging, because the premise relies on the conclusion to make itself true. Sloppy logic such as this also leaves the statist open to a very slippery slope. What about successful revolutions? Are they now the wielders of this legitimate use of force? What if a new regime is successful in overthrowing the current government? What about chattel slavery, wasn’t that also legitimate? This is when legitimation enters back into the conversation. One thing I’ve noticed when debating statists is the term legitimation is used synonymously with the term conquered, because as long as the people accept it, it’s legitimate. The state is, quite simply, a group of terrorists who’s actions are now seen as being legitimate, because the people have just accepted this violence as part of their lives. This is also what the statist sees as “consent”. Choosing not to fight a successful terrorist group should not be considered consent, in the same way as if a woman stops the struggle and finally gives into the rapist’s demands is also not consent.
A slippery slope, indeed.
The rationalizers of political violence would have us believe that this violence is as constant as gravity, or tectonic plate shift, or the laws of thermodynamics, or any other law that could be classified as a “natural law”. The state apologists try to convince the unwashed masses that the state’s power must be taken as a given, and that a value judgement must not be hung on the monopoly of violence. The individual is encouraged to go to the polls and vote for the politician who most accurately reflects their personal values, but they must not apply these same values to the system of violence itself. The developers of this new “science” would see it as irrational to apply ethics to the state’s violence, just as it would be irrational to apply ethics to gravity. They believe they have been so clever as to forever expel ethics from human action by calling their study a science. Well, I’ve got one question for you-
Is gravity legitimate?
In the statist’s own definition they include the use of the term legitimate. Why? If it is the case that the state’s monopoly on the use of violence is as constant as gravity, then why even employ use the term legitimate in the definition? Why not just call it like it is–a monopoly on the use of violence? I’ll tell you why. With all of their ivory tower educations, and elitist thinking, they have been unsuccessful in separating ethics from human interaction, even in the context of government. They must use arbitrary terms like “consent”, and “legitimate” to mask their aggression. They rely on the those they seek to control to be irrational and illogical. And make no mistake, it’s not about the helping the poor, or stopping wars around the world, or the money–it’s about the subjugation of an entire population, and they use the political scientists to rationalize it for them; it’s about control. It’s a morbid dance–political science and the state–because one necessarily relies on the other.
In the context of human interaction, the ethical argument will always reign as king. They will try and convince you that they have risen above such silly things as ethical considerations, but the truth is they haven’t. This is evident in their own language, and their language is meant to confuse, not inform in the way that the hard sciences have been developed. They will try and pull the standards of the hard sciences into their pseudo-science, but it’s not going to fly with me. You’ve got to get up a little bit earlier in the morning to fool this blue-collared boy. They’ve tried to strip you of your rationality, don’t let them strip you of your humanity.