The State As God
by Ben Stone
The State is a mystical, nonhuman entity that exists only in the agreed minds of humans. By this I mean to say, you cannot touch the State, you cannot hear the State speak, the State is not an object that you can point to and say, “Look. There’s the State.” People believe in the State therefore people act on behalf of those beliefs and the actions of those people become the actions of the State. Most people don’t think about the State, they simply assume it has always been and will always be. However true believers in the State are fanatical followers willing to do anything, even kill, to perpetuate their cause. In The West, as the power and influence of the clergy diminished, the power and influence of the State stepped in to fill all the services previously provided by the church; that is to say, the scholarly leadership in science, culture, law, and economics. Eventually people began looking to the State to define morals and ethics, allowing the laws and regulations of the State to supersede those of the clergy.
Not long ago the State redefined the public view of such things as alcoholic beverages, prostitution, and gambling. Turning their backs on their morals, people allowed the laws of the State to define acceptable and unacceptable social behavior. Rather than depending on a community’s ability to define itself, people allowed the State to sweep in and force all communities to adopt the State’s definition of acceptable morals. This expansion into society continued as the State began to directly compete with charities in supporting the poor and the disadvantaged. However, the State never competes fairly. As is always the case, the State quietly creates a problem. Private citizens defer to the State to solve the problem rather than facing up to their own responsibility, and as the State remedies the issue it created to begin with, it grabs a little bit more power and authority from the people, but in the end the problem is always worse after the State solves it. Currently there’s a push among some very religious folks in the US, demanding the State step in and define marriage. As their confidence shifts from their traditional theology to the theology of State salvation, they enthusiastically abandon the family and the clergy as the guardians of marriage and look to legislators to decide morals. This should be a terrifying thought to anyone who understands the nature of the State, but most terrifying when one realizes that the actions of the State are simply the acts of fanatical individuals with unblinking devotion to a cause and no fear of repercussion.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that traditional theology is being supplanted with a State centered religion. Although the thought of the deification of the State should be disturbing to both the religious and the non-religious, it should come as no surprise. The State is or seeks to be god-like in every aspect. It is our Protector, our Guardian, and for many people, our Provider. Information about the State is hidden and secret while the State itself makes every effort to know every bit of information about us and all of our dealings. All learning flows from the State (schools and media), and it assumes ultimate ownership of all things by its authority to tax, regulate, confiscate, and control the movements and exchanges of all goods, services, and property, including people. It assures us that rights are given to us by the State and the State can take those rights away as it sees fit. It changes and shifts history to fool us into believing that the State has always been and will always be. The State feigns omniscience, seeks omnipresence and lusts for omnipotence. The State is alas, a jealous god and ultimately will have no other gods before it! The State, in all its disjointed manifestations around the world, will grow and devour everything including its lesser selves until it becomes One State as god on Earth.
When this comes to pass, the atheist will be denied his logical position of skepticism. How will he stand and shout the challenge, “Show me your god!” when the Arm of the State can simply reach out and snatch him away into a reprogramming ward. Then the cry of, “There is no god!” will become, “There is no god but the State.” As Winston Smith admitted in 1984, “Two plus two is five.”
Am I then saying that this is the fate of mankind? Am I prophesying the loss of the individual and the birth of One Assimilated Beast with its many parts denigrated to slavery?
Yes and no.
The State has some design flaws.
Consider Ludwig von Mises and his life’s work exposing the endemic failures of socialism. To date, no one has been able to provide an accurate intellectual refutation of his position. Mises went to great pains to carefully dissect socialism and prove that the seeds of its destruction were part of its design. For example, socialism cannot peaceably coexist with a free market and yet socialism entirely depends on a free market because it has no mechanism to determine prices. Without a price mechanism efficient production is impossible. You end up with dramatic over production and shortages at the same time. But what Mises doesn’t clearly point out, although its not very well hidden either, is that his description of socialism is at the same time a description of the State itself, and that the economic structure that the State possesses is in fact socialism. Therefore the State is economically unstable and is much the same as a cathedral of cards, continually falling apart and only standing at all because its worshipers throw their lives into keeping it propped up.
So the State has an economic flaw and is unsustainable.
The State has another flaw.
Just as Mises proved the lack of a price mechanism causes economic instability, Lysander Spooner proved the State has no rightful method of continuous authority.
A State exists either by brute force or by contract with its subjects. It should be clear that any State that is founded on brute force alone is a dead State waiting to hit the floor. Assuming no secondary contract based State is supporting it, the brute State will quickly revert to revolution and be replaced by a contract State by its subjects, generally within a generation or two of its inception.
As Spooner so thoroughly proved, any contract authorizing the authority of the State can only legally apply to those in agreement with that contract. The moment the State attempts to enforce its will upon some party not in agreement to that contract, it negates the value of having a contract and begins the slide into a brute State. And the State by its very nature will always break that contract. Additionally since a contract has no legal means of binding future generations the contract based State is a temporary arrangement at best, doomed to become a brute State.
So the State has no long-term legal foundation and is therefore legally unstable.
I shall add just one more flaw in the design of the State, however I could go on like this for pages.
The State is entirely lacking a mechanism to determine morality.
I would contend that humans have two mechanisms working hand in hand to produce morality. We have a sense of natural law, a right to property, hard wired into our brains before birth. Some would debate this issue, but at this time in this article I will not. It is a fact almost to obvious to address. In addition to this innate morality in property, we learn moral lessons as we interact on a day-to-day basis with humans through the reward/punishment system.
The State has no natural born appreciation for the right of property because it is not a living being. It can inherit no genetic traits from its parents because it has no biological parents. It is a figment of the imagination. And since its actions are the actions of individual people, when those actions cause harm the State is immune to punishment because only the individuals can be punished or rewarded. The State can feel nothing so it is incapable of learning a single moral lesson.
So the State is an imaginary entity made up in the minds of humans, that strives to be not just a god (it is that already) but it desires to be The God. The State lacks a functional economic structure, a legal basis for its existence, and the ability to determine morality.
It is therefore unstable and doomed to collapse of its own weight as soon as it consumes enough of its host.