Montreal, July 19, 2003  /  No 126  
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François-René Rideau is a cybernetician who lives in France. He is the webmaster of, a site devoted to the works of French classical liberal economist Frédéric Bastiat, as well as Liberty, as it is.
Part One • July 19
Part Two • August 16
Part Three • September 13
(Part One)
by  François-René Rideau
          Unless you visited my website recently and consequently see what I mean(1) you are probably befuddled by the title of this article. You're wondering: "Is this guy some kind of looney? Is he going to tell us that government is not our real enemy, but only the visible manifestation of hidden forces of Evil that dominate our world through black magic?" Well, yes I'm a looney, and yes this will be more or less my conclusion. But my bet is that before you finish reading this, you will also be the very same kind of looney, and you will agree with this conclusion. Actually, since you are reading this, you probably already agree with me and just don't know it yet. To convince you, I will only have to cast a new light on this Evil the manifestations of which are all too familiar to you(2).
1. The Question of Government 
          But first things first. If I am to tell you the intellectual trip that led me to this grim conclusion, I might as well start from my point of departure. The question that bugged me is a question that must bug most rationally inclined libertarians at one point or another. And most libertarians are probably the same kind of rational cerebral libertarian that I am (i.e. NT in the Myers-Briggs typology(3)). That question is: are there any rational justifications to the existence of government? What can we say of existing explanations that serve as official justifications? In other words: is government the answer to the problems it claims to solve?  
          Of course, the answer that we libertarians have reached is that no, there are no rational justifications for government(4), its official explanations are bogus, and not only does it not solve the problems it claims to solve, but it creates these problems to begin with. This answer even defines us as libertarians. But this answer is not enough. It is a mistake to close the debate there and think that we've solved the problem – just our knowing that government is wrong in itself won't make government go away. We must ask: if these explanations are fake, then what is the real reason for people to believe in government? What is the rational explanation for these irrational explanations(5)? In other words: if government is the answer for some people, then what was the question?  
          That's how I'll uncover the dark secret of government. Then, in Part Two, I'll develop the theme of black magic: its principles; the principles of white magic, its opposite; how black magic manifests itself, etc. I will conclude in Part Three with the task that lies ahead for us.  
2. Government: The Official Justifications 
2.1 Public Goods 
          The most popular tentative justification of government in rational terms is Public Goods theory and its variants, whether presented from a utilitarian point of view (often with the help of its econometric toolbox), or from a moral point of view: some activity is of a special nature or has a special importance, and therefore must be managed by a central agency "in the interest of the public." Without analyzing the details for the moment, suffice it to say that all other justifications of government somehow boil down to a more particular or more general case of the Public Goods argument. The "public good" considered may be some form of service related to security (police, justice, army), infrastructure (transportation, telecommunications, education, health), "harmonization" in some matter (information, education, language, industry standards), certification (identity, land registry, verification of conformity to standards), etc.  
          Unhappily, many libertarians concede some "public goods" to the statists, but then they are on a slippery slope, for there is no reason to stop the public goods argument to any particular service. To paraphrase Emile Faguet: minarchists are libertarians who do not have the courage to accept the full consequences of their ideas; anarchists are uncompromising libertarians(6). Indeed, using arguments of the "public goods" type, government can intervene in just any domain – and once it does, it will make sure that the domain is so messed up that, by the same argument, it will have to extend its grasp over it until the domain is both completely under its control and completely messed up. But of course, intervention is based on the premise that government intervention is useful, to begin with – and this is precisely the point that statists posit as a petition of principle; it is precisely the point that needs to be disputed.  
2.2 The Ad Hoc Fallacy in Any Collectivism  
          The arguments for the collectivization of some service into a state-managed "public good" contains an intrinsic ad hoc fallacy: Why pick any particular form of collectivization?  
          Indeed, why collectivize or not collectivize, say, "toilet paper?" Isn't there but a more specific need to collectivize "green soft toilet paper in 5-inch-wide rolls sold under a brand the name of which ends with an S?" (After all, some company may very well have a dangerous monopoly on these!) Or why isn't there instead a need to collectivize production of all paper? Why collectivize at the scale of Great Britain? Why not collectivize at a smaller scale, say Westminster or the block next door? Or at a larger scale, say Northern Eurasia, or our quadrant of the Milky Way? And why collectivize it on a geographical scale at all? Why not collectivize for people whose name begin with an "R," or for people who wear black socks?  
          As for arbitrarily choosing the scale, we could as well argue that the considered services are of such a particular nature or importance for an individual that he shouldn't be deprived from the ability of choosing how these services should be provided to him without being coerced. Or if we are to take the opposite view, why stop? If collectivization of the considered service is of such an importance that the necessity for everyone to obey the same orders is an absolute priority that justifies coercion and violence until everyone agrees, then we should stop all other activity, withhold all human rights and wage world war until there is a world government so at last everyone will be under the same rule. And why stop there even? it is also urgent to send space ships to conquer the universe and compel space aliens into accepting the same social laws as we have.  
          Collectivists implicitly accept that their argument is not universal: their claim verily supposes the existence of an important counter-effect that becomes preponderant and limits the applicability of their argument. What are these counter-effects, their relevance, their limits? Only by identifying and studying these counter-effects can the applicability of their argument be established. In other words, their claim contains its very own contradiction, which they dismiss by voluntary ignorance. Their call for governmental coercion is based on a one-sided view of government. This is the case of all statist justifications.  
2.3 A Brief Review of Statist Justifications  
          Here is a brief review of the justifications given by statists to argue for the necessity or utility of government. Other arguments for "public goods" can be found to be fallacies as well(7). For details, see footnotes.  
  • The Externalities Theory of "public goods" states that some activities intrinsically imply externalities(8), and that government is a magic solution to managing these externalities – whereas it is but a way to coercively concentrate externalities, from lots of small, manageable ones, into the huge and overwhelming externality of choosing a "good" government, which turns out to be completely unmanageable(9)
  • The Game Theory version of "public goods" similarly considers government as an external all-knowing benevolent God, that will help people choose the average best scenario in interactions modelled after simple mathematical "games," – whereas the government is actually made of people with their own self-interest, so that if we are to correctly use Game Theory, we must consider government officials as self-interested players among others; the only particular characteristic of political action is that government agents have the power of legal coercion, which in Game Theory translates into their playing negative-sum games of their choice(10).
  • With the Impossibility To Exclude theories, many economists define "public goods" as goods from which the exclusion of third parties is allegedly impossible. They then introduce the notion that government is a magic solution to manage these goods and has a "natural monopoly" on those goods. This "natural monopoly" of course is nothing else than the allegedly impossible exclusion of people who will not fit government-established rules, and the allocation of shares of the allegedly "indivisible" common good(11).
  • The Catastrophe-Prevention version of "public good" agitates the straw man of a simultaneous failure of all suppliers of some service to justify government intervention in the market of said service. Now, the only way that there could be a catastrophic simultaneous failure of all suppliers of said service is that there be a single simultaneous management of all supplies by a de jure monopoly – which is precisely what government introduces(12)
  • Collective will theories, whether the democratic version of "Will of the People," the nationalist version about "Identity of the Nation," or the socialist version about the "Good of Society," go on to suppose that individuals must be coerced into joining a particular utopia. The utopia is assumed to be good in theory, because people willingly adhere to it; yet at the same time, it is admitted in practice that people do not willingly adhere to said utopia, since they must be coerced into adhering to it(13)
  • The Broken Window Fallacy supposes that there are some goods, "public goods," that government can create out of the blue by its own sacred power of coercion. Of course, when individuals not blessed by this sacred power dare to do the same thing as government does to "create" those goods, they are immediately spotted as criminals and treated as such – and rightly so(14)
  • The Moral Fallacy supposes that man is too evil (or too "something") to govern himself and must be confided to the government – but the government itself is made of men who are no less evil (or less "something") than the rest of mankind. Government is not determined by an external superior force, but by men among others. Actually, its coercive power is of a corrupting nature that will make government officials evil rather than good, whether by changing them or by selecting them(15)
  • The Altruist Fallacy is a particular misconception often used together with the Moral Fallacy, to justify the necessity of government: it affirms that people are naturally egoistic, and that there needs be an external force to make them behave in altruistic ways in spite of themselves, so that they may survive. This fallacy once again supposes that government is moved by an external force outside of the public, whereby statesmen and their henchmen would be more altruistic and less egoistic than the citizens. But it also supposes that altruism is in opposition with egoism – which is false. And which is also obviously false, that it is by appeal to people's egoist interest that the self-proclaimed altruists try to convince people to follow them in their statist schemes(16)
  • The "Long-Term Interest" Fallacy combines the Moral Fallacy with the Catastrophe-Prevention Fallacy: it supposes that only government can take into account the long-term interests of people. Indeed, only people with property rights truly secured on the long term can and will commit to coherent long-term investments. Now governments are never secure in their remaining in power, unless they may use extreme oppression, which both makes obvious their lack of benevolence and spends the resources necessary for long-term investment(17)
  • The Uniformity Fallacy assumes that uniformity in some matters is good in itself, and is a "public good" such that common government regulations over as large a territory as possible is the only or best way to achieve the desired uniformity in these matters. However, uniformity is not always good in itself; coercion by governments is neither the only way nor the best way to enforce standards; moreover the domains that standards will optimally regulate are seldom either large or territorial; and most importantly, a system of coercion hampers the very discovery of which better standards should be commonly adopted and enforced, because it destroys the points of comparison, neglects most opinions save that of the authority and its lobbyists, and prevents dynamic adjustment to varying and evolving individual circumstances(18)
3. Explaining Irrationality Rationally  
3.1 Opinions And Interests  
          It is one thing to know that statist arguments are logical fallacies, but it is quite another thing to understand why and how these fallacies arise. What are the mechanisms of thought that lead to developing this kind of beliefs and this kind of justifications? How come so many people take it for granted that government can magically solve any and all problems that they fear or encounter? 
          A common way to answer these questions is to analyze the popularity of these fallacious opinions in terms of the interests of the people who spread them and who accept them(19). From this perspective, these people will better prosper who spread or accept opinions from the respective popularity or displayed acceptance of which they derive higher marginal benefits and lower marginal costs(20). This point of view has been successfully used to develop Public Choice Theory, that explains the underlying mechanisms of political decision in democracies. It is a very important tool to understand the strength of the forces that underlie oppression and plunder throughout the world. 
     « The battle for freedom is not a battle between people, it is a battle between ideas. Inasmuch as the ideas that currently allow for exploitation to exist are in widespread acceptance, the actual potential for oppression remains just as strong. It is the voluntary servitude, as La Boétie called it, the acceptance of power, that must be fought. »
          These forces are such that any time there is a potential for exploitation, someone will come and use this potential to his profit. And the potential in this case is the acceptance by people of their being exploited(21): any time people have beliefs that make them willing to be exploited, then political entrepreneurs will rush to turn this opportunity into actual exploitation. Note that this is another reason why government subsidies are never useful and can always be counted as almost pure consumption: because any promise of potential exploitation generates lobbying toward collecting (and keeping) the subsidies, up to the amount when the marginal gain (subsidy minus lobbying cost) equals the normal return on investment in other industries(22). People specializing in "political entrepreneurship" will discover or create new untapped resources that they will exploit, all the while preserving and intensifying the existing exploitation(23) 
          The conclusion of this analysis is that the battle for freedom is not a battle between people, it is a battle between ideas. Inasmuch as the ideas that currently allow for exploitation to exist are in widespread acceptance, the actual potential for oppression remains just as strong, and fighting current oppressors and abolishing current forms of oppression will only lead to different oppressors taking control and instituting new forms of oppression. It is the voluntary servitude, as La Boétie called it, the acceptance of power, that must be fought.  
          Now, as far as suggesting ways to fight fallacies, this approach does not offer very encouraging answers; it certainly gives general recipes for how to lobby or not to lobby, but such advice is worthy whether you're lobbying for or against liberty, and it seems that the enemies of liberty already have a headlong advance at levying such techniques(24). If we are to go further and actually fight these fallacies, if we are to choose actions that will better the statist propaganda, then we have to take an approach that is qualitative rather than merely quantitative. Why are these fallacies surviving, rather than other fallacies? If these fallacies were successfully dispelled, would exploitation be vanquished, or would the interests at stake just spawn different fallacies to replace them, with exploitation remaining just as intensive? Is there something in these fallacies that can be traced as the Evil to be struck, rather than the superficial shapes that it can replace at will when they are defeated? To find out, we must analyze the common patterns of thought behind the fallacies used to justify government.  
3.2 Patterns In Irrationality  
          A first obvious common point in all the justifications for government: they all suppose that government somehow provides some kind of goods for free, without any costly counterpart. The existence of this pattern among statists is not anything new; we libertarians even have a mantra to dispel this pattern: TANSTAAFL(25). However, what is remarkable is that all statist justifications include this pattern, albeit sometimes in a less than obvious way. The pattern is most visible in the trivial cases, where the goods to be provided for free are the subsidies that are not counted as taxes. In more subtle cases, the pattern is hidden behind the increased complexity of the situation, but it's still there: for instance, government is supposed to bring the coordination of people toward some common good for free. Ultimately, what government is supposed to bring is some kind of a warranty that evil won't happen, some special sense of security. But in all cases, government is supposed to conjure something out of thin air(26): The only thing supposedly required for government to grant us its blessings is to demand them by petitioning it with enough faith.  
          A second pattern that can be found to accompany the first pattern is that government is seen as an external entity, something outside of society and above it. And this divine nature is precisely what allows it to create and dispense goods, services, trust or whatever, at no cost. This divine nature can be put clearly in evidence through the awe of people before the visible power of the State: "How could mere individuals do it?" will they wonder, when it is suggested that this or that government monopoly should be abolished. Yet, government monopoly or no government monopoly, it is always "mere" individuals doing things! Of course it is, and it cannot be otherwise. Politicians and government officers are nothing more than other individuals; actually, experience as well as theory shows that they are usually less than other individuals – because they are irresponsible. Government doesn't pour any pixie dust on its masters and servants, it doesn't endow them with any magic power. Actually, government does grant them a special ability that normal individuals don't have – and this ability is indeed what characterizes it: it is the ability to recourse to legal coercion against those who refuse to obey. The God that statists worship is Brute Force. So, translated in real terms, without the veil of magic, the question that those awed people wonder about really is: "How could this be achieved without coercion?" And the answer is then obviously: "With less suffering."(27) 
          As we progress toward the dark secret behind statism, we find a third common pattern among justifications for government: they all introduce a false tradeoff between liberty and some good, where government is supposed to be the divine entity with which trade happens. Divine, because it is clear to everyone, including the statists, that no human force could propose such a deal(28). But statists either ignore human behavior, or classify the State out of it – to them, Government is a God, a superior collectivist entity with which to trade (where's my invoice?(29)). The way they evade the crucial question: "Who warranties the warrant?"(30) is by pushing it back behind a veil of ignorance and blind faith. Once again, some supernatural force is meant to create trust out of nowhere, for free. Magic mantras, sacred texts with magic power, such as constitutions(31), the complex rituals and formal apparatus of the State and its administration, all contribute to lure people into attributing a divine aura to the State.  
          Finally, a common point between all of these fallacies is that all their arguments contain dynamically self-destructing notions. That is, they imply the dynamic opposite of the axioms used to justify them. They rely on premises the effects of which lead to the quick disappearance of the premises. This particular kind of contradiction shows that underlying these fallacies is a way of thinking that ignores the dynamics of human action through causation and focuses on static assessments about society using correlations. Such dynamic contradictions are based on some kind of static reasoning that ignores the very basics of dynamic human behavior – that ignores the very nature of man. This makes it paradoxical that statists often accuse libertarians of being utopian and unrealistic and ignorant of human nature, whereas it is precisely the statists who deserve such comments! But this kind of paradox is frequent with statists.  
          All in all, the justifications for statism are not a collection of isolated mistakes; they stem from a systematic line of flawed reasoning, from a strong paradigm, from a view of the world.  
3.3 Government: The Unofficial Justification  
          From our study of them, it appears that all the justifications of the State ultimately boil down to this: religious worship of the State as an almighty supernatural authority. The State is the idol of a self-denying pagan cult. Belief in such nonsense would be considered a mental disease, if it were not so common. And hopefully, in a not so far away future, it will indeed be considered as a mental pandemic, an infantile disease that swept away the world at a time when mankind was still very young. However, for the time being, it is still up to us to devise a cure – and to be able to do so, we must first understand the disease, how it survives, how it propagates. We must investigate the psychological mechanisms underlying such a belief system, identify the weaknesses of the mind through which this parasite belief enters people's mind.  
          Governments are assuming undue authority. Thus, inasmuch as the structure of human feelings is a common genetic heritage, any strong and coherent tendency in a lot of people to believe in government has an explanation in terms of the usurpation of some natural sentiment of submission to authority. Natural sources of authority are not many: parents have some authority on their children, inasmuch  as they provide for them; friends give their opinions to be taken into account inasmuch as their alliance is to be preserved; chiefs lead people in short times of emergency (war, fire, natural disaster, etc.); elders or great achievers have authority on laymen, inasmuch as their wisdom is acknowledged. In evolutionary time scales, these probably constitute as much complexity as could make way into the innate structure of the human mind(32) 
          The first kind of natural authority in human life is parenting. And the fallacies used as justification for government are fallacies of parenting indeed – they ride on the primitive mental mechanisms by which young infants relate to their parents. To a young child, the parents appear as external superior entities that give one goods for free, if only one moans and cries, without one having to think about the ins and outs of the production of the goods thus bestowed. Parents are understood as well-meaning, having with their children a relationship of mutual love; young infants have an absolute trust in their parents(33). Finally, it is almost universally accepted that parents have an authority to decide for their children, and even to punish them in certain cases – though the precise limits of parental authority are debatable(34) 
          There is no doubt that governments pretend to assume the role of parents. In autocracies at all times, the personal tyrant has always posed as Father of the Nation(35), Big Brother, or something similar(36). In countries where power is more diluted, no single statesman might dare claim such a pompous title – though it is not uncommon that powerful and lasting politicians be given by journalists both flattering and joking a surname in the same vein(37); but even in these countries, government as a whole nonetheless claims the role and powers devolved to parental care: the mythology of government as a parent, or of the Nation as a parent of which government is the spokesman is still very present in the public discourse about government. This is revealed by the ease with which are generated and accepted such common symbols as Uncle Sam or the motherly personification of various nations. And it is not uncommon, when discussing with statists, that they will explicitly appeal to the notion that government fulfills the role of parent with respect to citizens, who are maintained within the role of irresponsible children.  
          Now, the statist disease doesn't just substitute government for parents: it attempts to confer government authority from all possible sources. Democracy, the concept of Nation, and the notion of "Social Contract," are tricks for the State to assume the authority of a voluntary alliance of friends, although there lacks the basic premise that would give validity and a friendly nature to such an alliance, namely its voluntary nature – in other words, the liberty to enter it or refrain from entering it, and even exit it. Governments assume the role of a chief in times of emergency. They begin by excluding any competition; then they reinforce their power by creating a permanent climate of emergency. The failings of governments are thus instrumental to their self-preservation. Finally, governments, through the heavy subsidy of whichever alleged "scientists," "artists" and "experts" support their authority, thereby claim the endorsement of human wisdom for their edicts.  
          Even if all these roles were legitimately assumed, they wouldn't endow governments with any of the political rights they claim: to enslave citizens and non-citizens part-time, to rob and imprison those who won't cooperate, to kill and torture those who resist – and most importantly, to make laws. Law-making is the godly power to unilaterally define and redefine the rules that relate governments to people under their dominion, and that relate these people to each other. Parents, friends, wise men, and even chiefs, have none of these prerogatives upon those who voluntarily accept their authorities, not to talk about those who decline their authorities. Through all these tricks of emotional fraud, governments are really trying to impersonate God – the supreme authority(38) 
          So as to achieve its emotional and intellectual fraud, the statist meme(39) does much more than just divert existing emotions from their rightful targets: it severely distorts the way infected people view the world, to begin with. It must bypass the natural defense system of the human mind, its immunity system: reason, the bullshit detector. And it must take constantly renewed measures to keep this defense system disabled(40). Yet at the same time, it cannot simply destroy all human understanding, otherwise infected humans would not survive long enough to be infected and propagate the meme(41). The successful parasite must selectively destroy understanding; it must condition the application of its fallacious content so it doesn't prevent basic surviving skills; it must leave enough of the mind alive and well so as to nurture and transmit the illness(42) 
          This circumvention and selective destruction of the immunity system is the essence of the statist disease, as of all diseases. It is the fundamental point about the statist disease, the source that enables all errors. It is the flaw through which the disease can invade the whole of a human's understanding of society and the universe. It is the cause that fatally leads to terrible consequences. It is the cornerstone to all intellectual and emotional frauds; it is the key that justifies all massive criminal behavior. Only by identifying this flaw can we build new defenses and find a cure. Therefore, we must study more deeply the immunity-altering mechanism of this mental disease; we must fully analyze the ur-Evil of this statist meme that infects human minds. And to begin with, we must give this Evil its name: Black Magic. 
Part Two / Part Three
1. This article is based upon articles previously published in French: L'étatisme, forme moderne de la magie noire (in QL no 108), and Magie blanche contre magie noire (the latter now also available in English as White Magic vs Black Magic).  >1>
2. Actually, I realized after writing this that this light is not that new. Indeed, Karl Hess briefly mentions magic thinking as the force behind politics in the conclusion of his 1969 article The Death of Politics:  "... politics is just another form of residual magic in our culture – a belief that somehow things come from nothing; that things may be given to some without first taking them from others; that all the tools of man's survival are his by accident or divine right and not by pure and simple inventiveness and work."
Bastiat himself in the first chapter of his Economic Harmonies, reckons that artificial organization is based on deceptions that falsely appeal to the religious instinct of man. Ludwig von Mises also discusses Statolatry – state-worship – in his works about socialism.
A good article about Magic Thinking in general is Magic, by Bill Whittle.  >2>
3. About libertarianism and psychological characters, see my previous speech at the April 2002 Libertarian International Conference: Reason And Passion: How To Be A Convincing Libertarian>3>
4. A common confusion at this point is to fail to distinguish "government" as a monopoly of force from "government" as an organization of force. In this article, we are using the word "government" in the first meaning, that of a monopoly of force. "Government" in the second meaning, that is, organization of force, always exists, just like "the market" always exists; it may be simple or complex, it may be structured in a variety of ways, but there is no question of being "for" or "against" it; the question is about individuals being free or subjected, about there being monopolies and privileges, or there being a free market. Libertarians support freedom, in the way that force is organized just like in all other matters. On this topic, read for instance Revisiting Anarchism and Government by Tibor R. Machan.  >4>
5. As Claude Bernard wrote, "Il ne suffit pas de dire: 'je me suis trompé'; il faut dire comment on s'est trompé." – It isn't enough to say: "I was mistaken"; one must say how one was mistaken.  >5>
6. The original quote in French is from his intellectual biography of Benjamin Constant: "Un libéral systématique est un anarchiste qui n'a pas tout le courage de son opinion; un anarchiste est un libéral intransigeant."  >6>
7. See also Fallacies in the Theories of the Emergence of the State by Bertrand Lemennicier.  >7>
8. In economics, an externality is the side-effect of an action that concerns third parties not involved in the action. The externality is said to be negative if the effect is detrimental to the third parties, and positive if the effect is beneficial to the third parties.  >8>
9. The idea that externalities were not solved by government but concentrated, I found first explicitly stated in Bryan Caplan's Anarchism Theory FAQ. Actually, governments create new externalities. Indeed, an externality always corresponds to either the lack of definition of a formal property right, or to the lack of enforcement of an existing property right, or to the contradictory enforcement of overlapping property rights. In as much as governments coercively impose their monopoly on the definition and enforcement of new and old property rights, they are the cause of any lasting externality. Governments prevent the use of natural mechanisms by which property rights emerge and externalities disappear: homesteading and the common law. Whenever government defines a rights protection policy or lack thereof, it makes the protection services stray away from what market forces would lead to, overprotecting some properties, and underprotecting other properties. It thus creates monopolies and hidden protectionist subsidies to the overprotected privileged ones, and at the same time creates the Tragedy of the Commons and a hidden taxation to the underprotected victims of its policies – in both cases, it generates a dynamics of plunder, whereby people are incited to lobby for ever more protection, all the while being discouraged from respecting underprotected properties, so that these underprotected properties will be more and more overexploited.
As for the way externalities are treated by governments, it is remarkable that in democracies, protectionist laws against political competition from emerging parties is welcomed as a way to secure that the will of the people will prevail, and to guarantee the power of the people against the power of money and lobbying. Actually, political protectionism increases the power of the established parties over the people, and replaces public campaigning based on the interest of the people with private lobbying based on the interests of the established politicians and of those who can have them vote protectionist laws in their interest (or have to pay racket protection to the politicians for the politicians not to vote laws against their interest). What the collectivists are actually doing is to replace private people responsibly launching public advertisement campaigns with shadow agencies lobbying political powers that be, and with irresponsible political parties directing propaganda at the public. Now, private advertisers can be sued for fraud if they breach their promises; they must fund their campaign on the expected marginal increase in the revenues of their own legitimate activity. On the contrary, the political advertisers constantly lie; they fund their campaign with taxes levied on the population and with the sale of protectionist favors to various political lobbyists. Thus once again, politics does not remove the "problems" of a free society, but actually concentrates them and amplifies them.  >9>
10. In Game Theory, simple mathematical "games" such as the prisoner's dilemma or the "chicken" race, model situations where there is a potential benefit for players in finding a way to coordinate their action. All the "theorems" about such games merely restate in formal terms the informal hypotheses that were put in the model. It certainly does not follow that government is the right way to achieve this coordination – though such is precisely the non sequitur claim of statists. Actually, it is possible to apply Game Theory to compare coordination through government coercion with coordination through market competition; and this exercise in Game Theory will easily show how dreadful the effects of government intervention are.
Coordination is not something that magically happens, without cost, by divine intervention, just because the playing parties agree that coordination would be a good thing if it happened. And if it did, no coordinator would be required to begin with. Coordination is thus a service, and this service is worth whatever benefit the coordinated players get that they would not get if left uncoordinated. There remains to determine the most cost-effective way to achieve this coordination – assuming there exists such a cost-effective way.
In a free market, the playing parties are free to choose a coordinator. Their interest will thus be to find a coordinator that will provide the best value for his cost. If there exists a service provider that can indeed bring coordination at a cost less than what coordination is worth, then the interests of all concerned will converge toward this coordination happening. If the costs of enforcing coordination actually overwhelm the benefits of this coordination, then the interests of all concerned will converge toward this coordination not happening. All in all, the free market, i.e. the freedom for the players to choose who will coordinate if anyone, ensures that coordination will happen if it is good, at the best cost.
Let us now consider the case of government as a coordinator. Just like any private service provider – for government is made of private individuals, just like any institution – government is a player that will maximize its interests. The only thing that distinguishes government from a free market coordinator is that government detains the means of coercion, with which it can exclude or discourage any competing service providers. Thus, in equilibrium, a government will monopolize the coordination of a game; it will then reap most benefits of the game, leaving the players with just what it takes for them to make the game profitable. In an opt-in situation, where people have the choice to either call for government coordination or relinquish coordination, the government will leave to the players barely more profits than the ambient marginal interest rate (with respect to stakes invested in the game) – and that only if this cooperation proves profitable to all concerned despite the monopoly cost of government. Things are much worse, in an opt-out situation, where a government can coerce people into accepting its protection services for some pattern of services. In such situation, government will not only reap all the benefits of coordination, but will also go further and impose a surcharge that makes players worse off than if they had not played. This surcharge will indeed increase until it reaches the normal interest rate for the transaction costs of opting out of government intervention (by emigrating, going into civil disobedience, hiding into clandestinity, lobbying the established powers to promote one's interest, seizing political power democratically, making a revolution, or whatever). And the more powerful the government, the higher both this cost and the interest rate.
In the end, what Game Theory proves – if that was needed at all – is that coercive power benefits whoever holds it to the detriment of whoever endures it – which isn't exactly big news. Actually, game theory is but a way to formalize things in mathematical terms, but can say nothing less and nothing more than could be said without it. The same common sense reasoning that is required to see how the qualitative mathematical formalism does or does not map to reality can be used directly to reason about reality, without the intermediate mathematical jargon. As usual, mathematics is used in a pseudo-scientific way to inspire awe to people who are presented with complex-looking models. This awe is used to hide the fact that the very same old fallacies are being presented but with a different vocabulary. Oh, and by the way, as far as argument by authority goes, I am a mathematician born and raised in a family of mathematicians.  >10>
11. Now, the very notion of the government allocating splits of the common good, and excluding people from it are contradictory to the premises that were meant to justify government intervention to begin with. The allocation of quotas, the rationing, the toll booths, etc., set up by the government prove that the "common good" was not indivisible after all. The exclusion measures taken by the government, such as immigration control or compulsory birth control, or the surveillance of land by armed forces, prove that exclusion from the goods is possible. All the alleged impossibilities about exclusion are but bad excuses to justify conferring on the government a monopoly on the actually possible power of exclusion.
It may be that exclusion is indeed impossible without the use of armed force, but the only reason why using it seems impossible without government is because the premise that government should have a monopoly on the use of armed force was silently posited, from the outset, in a hugely circular reasoning: government should have a monopoly on some goods, because it has the monopoly of force – an original monopoly admitted as necessary without justification. Once again, the government is supposed to be made of superior people, or to have some magic pixie dust, that enables it to do what is admitted to be impossible to mere mortals. And once again, we find that in the end, the magic pixie dust is nothing but the power of legal coercion.
Now, as nicely remarked by Pascal Salin, having the monopoly to decide who to accept or to exclude with regard to the use of some good is by definition a property right on said good; what governments actually claim under false pretense is thus the expropriation of property from its legitimate owners, to confer it to an illegitimate political body. The claims of impossibility are just a trick of prestidigitation, and it is not externalities that have been shifted and concentrated: it is actually property rights that have been stolen and concentrated into the hands of the politically strong of the moment.  >11>
12. The fallacious argument goes that when there is an extraordinary catastrophe in a particular field, then government intervention is necessary to save that field, at least until the issue clears up, and then to intervene permanently to prevent further catastrophes. But how does legal coercion actually help with saving people and helping them recovering their situation? If government already exists and has special powers of clairvoyance, why didn't it prevent the previous catastrophe, to begin with? If it couldn't prevent it, why would it be able to better avoid the next one? Finally, if some occasional catastrophes in the private sector justify taking management out of the hands of private people, don't the permanent catastrophes in the public sector justify taking management out of the hands of government? And in whose hands should things then be? The hands of a super-government? The hands of God?
A variant of the argument says that it is their special importance to the collectivity (national independence, national self-sustenance and some such), that make it necessary to manage some goods collectively by fear of mismanagement. But by considering any good or service collectively, rather than individually, just everything can be of "national importance." Rothbard showed in Power and Market, that this was a fallacy of average collective choice vs marginal individual choice: If there were suddenly no more light bulbs, no more toilet paper, no more wheat, or no more hairdressers, no more bridge operators, no more toilet cleansers, then the nation would be in a sorry state indeed. But that doesn't mean we have to collectivize any of these operations. Indeed, the sudden disappearance of these goods or services doesn't correspond to any imaginable real-life event in the free market. As long as each patron of each of these activities is ready to pay a marginally profitable price for a marginal increment of the activity – i.e. as long as the activity is worth it at all –, then there will be people ready to provide the service for a profit. On the contrary, the only way that such operations could be put collectively in danger is precisely by their being collectively managed, so that bad decisions by the central administrator can ruin the whole industry.  >12>
13. For instance, in democracies, "the people" is to be coerced to do what it is alleged to want to do but is blatantly admitted to not want at all, to begin with (or else, it wouldn't need to be coerced). Indeed, if, say, 50.1% of the population wanted to fund this or that insurance, charity, research project, army, etc. then there's no doubt that said insurance, charity, research project, army, etc., will be abundantly funded, without the need for coercion. In a free society, each of the "public" goods that a majority of the people want to fund, and even those goods that only a minority wants to fund, will be funded, by people who care, confiding their money to people that they – caring people – deem able to best provide these goods. That is, each "public good," charity, or whatever, will be controlled by those responsible people who are interested in it. In contrast, in a democracy, these goods are actually controlled by a class of politicians and public administrators, who are not checked by people who do care, but by a vast mass of people who don't care; most people are disinterested in any particular "public good" or charity, and won't vote for one of the two main parties (those who have a chance of forming a government) on the basis of any particular issue. Finally, the knowledge that they will have to pay for something on which they have little control anyway makes them cease to care: they are made irresponsible, deprived from any will, by the very system that claims legitimacy from their responsibility and their will.
Similarly, a nation or collective can be good only in as much as people gladly identify with it, and coercing them into some policies will only make them less prone to do so: though they may submit to the compulsory public role-play of abstract patriotism, they will actually retreat to their personal interest, and narrow down their ties to the actual people of nearby or larger neighborhood. Compulsory forms of nationalism and collectivism only replace genuine concrete love of one's neighbor by hypocritical appearance of love of an abstract entity, that only hides fear of the Power, and indifference or hatred toward other people.  >13>
14. Some example of deeds which make this double standard obvious: stopping people at arbitrary points along roads, forcing them to humiliate themselves, and levying a "fee" on riches they carry; forging currency that claims to be backed on riches one owns but isn't really; compelling people into using such currency; threatening to rob, detain or kill people who do things that displease one, and enforcing one's threats if they do not abide by one's wishes; offering people "offers they cannot refuse" to sell them service they don't want, with a non-satisfying quality, at a price they can't negociate; forcing people to spend their money, their lives, etc., in a war they don't want, waged in a way of which they disapprove. The only difference between these criminals and government agents is the official seal, this magic pixie dust that creates legitimacy when it is sprinkled over the worst crimes, including mass killings. Ambrose Bierce, in his The Devil's Dictionary, once characterized this superstition in the case of democracy: Majority, n.: That quality that distinguishes a crime from a law. 
Behind this double-standard is the fallacy of What Is Seen And What Is Not Seen: the statists will count only the "positive effects" of intervention on people who benefit from it and conspicuously forget to count the negative effects on people who suffer from it – because the benefits are concentrated, whereas the cost is spread. Although the fallacy is most often used in this crude form, when confronted to its substance, statists will go a long way toward sweeping their fallacy behind the veil of complexity.
For instance, if faced with the absurdity of their broken window argument, they will quickly retreat toward a "differential" version of it. In this differential version, they acknowledge that a price has to be paid for a service, but then promptly assert that irresponsible government officials endowed with coercive power can somehow take better decisions than responsible citizens. (probably thanks to some magic moral purification that is brought by their coercive power). The underlying argument is still the very same magic creation of riches through coercive destruction – but it has been pushed back behind a thickening veil of complexity. And of course, when complexity makes arguments either way inconclusive, they will victoriously claim that their case was established, by petition of principle.
Keynesians take the fallacy one step further: when faced with sufficient evidence (which they will never be honest enough to be the first to bring forward), they will not deny that their equations are utter nonsense when applied to meaningful, understandable, quantities. They will just evade it by claiming that their equations should only be applied to special "aggregate" measurements blessed as such by keynesian economists. In a word, they claim to be high-priests of a religion the tenets of which are obviously absurd when inspected, but they claim a monopoly on interpreting their magical equations, and evade criticism by complexifying the question.  >14>
15. Indeed, the very corrupting nature of power will attract to it people who do not have the scruples to refrain from using it, and drive even the honest leaders into being self-righteous aristocratic tyrants. This process was remarkably described by Friedrich A. Hayek in his excellent book The Road to Serfdom. Meanwhile, coercion will spread not only suffering, but also physical and mental apathy, moral and psychological retreat, among those who are deprived from the choice of their life, plus hypocrisy and servility when they are in contact with their masters and their master's enforcement administration.
Libertarians are often unduly reproached to worship a myth of the good savage – quite on the contrary, it is statists who worship the myth of the good statesman. To quote Edward Abbey: "Anarchism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others." Actually, it is a common pattern that statists will reproach to libertarians what is actually a blatant failure of their own way of thinking.  >15>
16. Egoism, self-care, is not opposite to altruism, care for others. Indeed, care for others can mean nothing but support for these other people's own self-care; altruism thus verily presupposes, respects and supports egoism in other people. Moreover, the foundational basis for altruist behavior can be but the egoist self-satisfaction derived from cooperating with others. Some forms of cooperation may appear as "self-less" to external observers who neglect to take psychology into account; but to a consistent utilitarian, even the most "self-less" attitudes are really egoistic once non-material gratifications are taken into account (and ultimately, all gratifications are psychological, not material).
Thus, this fallacy is based on a deep misunderstanding of utilitarianism. This misunderstanding tries to separate the altruism in people from their "self-interest," and pretends that only government can take advantage of this altruism and limit the "evilness" of self-interest. But in a proper utilitarian setting (as opposed to the caricatures of it used by statist economists and philosophers), "self-interest" will already account for the interactions with other people. For a given personal "utility," one doesn't want either other people's utility or disutility in addition to it; possible love and hate are already included in personal utility functions; utility already includes the physical and psychological benefits from cooperation with others and other "altruist" behavior. The correct utilitarian stance is one of mutualism, where people can, will, actually did, do, and will continue to adopt rules of cooperative conducts out of their own self-interest. Such fallacies and their debunking have all been well treated by Henry Hazlitt in his book: The Foundations of Morality, that extracts the quintessence of the achievements of classical anglo-saxon moralists, and corrects their mistakes.
Thus, altruism, in its mutualistic form, is already included in personal self-interest. Not only cannot government increase total utility by magically unleashing a secret source of altruism in people; but government can and will only act in an altruist way if it is actually controlled by the altruist tendency in people, which must preexist any altruism by government. Government is not a superhuman source of altruism, but can only give back the human altruism that was successfully put into it. And then again, nothing warranties that this altruism rather than antagonism will dominate the coercitive apparatus of the state. On the contrary, by concentrating coercive power, government is a great incentive for people without scruples to strive toward seizing power, whereas really altruistic people won't partake in the struggle for power.  >16>
17. Thus, contrary to the implicit prejudice behind this fallacy, governments only ever manage things in the short run. Indeed, the horizon of foresight of any political party is the next elective mandate. If ever one politician wanted to see further than the rest, his party would soon remind him of his duties toward it; political parties that do not force politicians to think in the short run get quickly wiped out of significance by parties that do; politicians without a political party simply don't get elected. And since even "good" political parties can't remain in power very long, even if their policies are oriented toward the long term, these policies will be changed by the next government. In conclusion, politics mean that whatever is politically managed will be led by short-term demagoguery.
Technocratic administrations, inasmuch as they last longer than governments, may act on the long term – but then, unchecked by any "democratic control," and moved around by governmental directives as far as their official role is concerned, the only consistent direction in which they act is the interest of the administration members themselves: excessive wages and outrageous "work conditions," protectionist measures against change or competition either internal or external, political power given to official labor unions, continuous extension of the "duties" (i.e. powers) of the administration, etc. All that to the detriment of the citizens being "served" what they don't want, of the taxpayers having to fund an administration they don't like, of the potential competitors and innovators, forced to bankruptcy or prevented from existing (if external) or compelled into following the hierarchically-imposed way (if internal) – and even of most members of the administration, who have to bear with a rigid hierarchy that makes them as hapless as useless.
The real force toward positive long-term planning has always been private interest of foresighted people. Private pension funds typically consider interests over decades (and it is typical that collectivists will be angry at pension funds, because they are precisely the way by which freedom turns the salarymen into the greatest capitalist force in the world, instead of the slaves that they collectivists want workers to remain). Banks, despite their being made largely irresponsible by the statist central banking system, also typically invest with decades of foresight, and used to invest with one hundred years of planning. Established families typically invested several centuries in advance, before the governments completely destroyed the incentives: the estate tax destroyed long-term family planning for physical property, and the state education destroyed it for intellectual tradition.  >17>
18. For instance, let us consider the limits to the jurisdiction of a government. Statists will argue that it is the number of persons to which laws apply that makes the effectiveness of laws and limits their utility; they then deduce that uniformity is good, that governments are the only good way to achieve uniformity, and that governments must be as large as possible.
Firstly, they suppose that laws are forcibly good – whereas laws may be bad. But, let us suppose that for some reason, some given laws are to be considered as good. Now, they are not such an absolute good that everything must be sacrificed to them, including the life of every single man, woman and child on earth. This good is comparable to other goods, and the costs involved in achieving this good are comparable to the costs involved in achieving other goods. Therefore, this good is not sacred, and choosing whether to pursue it or not, and in which way, is but one of the moral choices that are part of every man's life. Whether it is more or less urgent than other goals is a question to be examined. And another question worthy of simultaneous examination is the means to achieving this good.
A special mention must be made of the notion of uniformity that is often invoked by statists at this point. Uniformity is not good per se. A bad law uniformly enforced on the whole wide world is extremely bad. A change toward uniformity can be bad, if it comes from worsening the law at some place to make it conform to widely accepted bad law. A change toward disuniformity can be good, if it means better law somewhere freeing some people from universal slavery. Uniformity doesn't directly matter; it is not a goal worthy of pursuit, and not even a proxy for a goal worthy of pursuit. Similarly, a change toward equality by the dissemination of poverty is bad, whereas a change toward inequality by the creation of riches is good.
Secondly, even though some laws may be good, this does not justify the use of coercion to impose them upon other people. Indeed, the use of governmental coercion supposes that an evil much larger than the good being spread is at work behind the coercion – and this unleashed evil is prone to enforcing evil laws and corrupting even good laws, rather than to promoting good laws. The extension of the jurisdiction of good laws and good institutions is good; but in theory as well as in practice, the only laws and institutions the jurisdiction of which coercion can extend are those that are so bad that people won't voluntarily support them.
All in all, even though sometimes, widely accepted good laws may be good, statists still fail to make any point considering either the goodness of the particular laws they wish to promote, or the relative desirability of extending the acceptance of these laws, or the means of extending this acceptance, or the process by which governmental coercion can be confined into contributing positively rather than negatively to all these problems. In short, there is no problem, and government is not the solution; statists are but basing their claim on a double petition of principle.
Liberty and Responsibility are the only possible warranty that people will choose to obey good laws rather than bad laws. Peaceful persuasion through rhetorics filtered by critical reasoning and demonstrable benefits is the only way that good habits, good laws, and good institutions can be durably spread among the population, while at the same time discarding bad habits, bad laws and bad institutions.  >18>
19. At this point, some vocabulary and concepts of Memetics can help us. Memetics, introduced by Richard Dawkins in his book The selfish gene, and extensively developed afterwards by many people (see the Principia Cybernetica Project), is the study of memes, patterns of thought that can be spread from people to other people.
Memes evolve by natural selection, for they survive inasmuch as people voluntarily embrace them, according to their (well- or ill-) understood self-interest. Of course, people embracing them may be wrong about their self-interest, and indeed, memes can survive and spread by systematically deceiving people about their self-interest.
Knowing that, one must beware of using the following justification as an explanation of the success of some ideas: "these ideas have success because they are in their believers' perceived self-interest." Indeed, such an argument would be a circular reasoning. Though it may be true in the particular case considered, it would be but a post hoc tautology, an affirmation that is generic to all memes and cannot explain and distinguish the dynamics of specific memes.
In other words, it is sometimes good to repeat general statements, whenever there is general ignorance and confusion about them, but they cannot replace a specific study of the topic at hand.  >19>
20. Thus, according to this theory, people who have interest in some government intervention will profitably lobby for this intervention; and they won't even have to lie for that, for their interest will make them the first to believe their own arguments.
Now, so that a meme of exploitation may survive, it must also ensure the cooperation of the victims of the exploitation. Therefore, interventions that will be successful are interventions that even victims won't have marginal interest in leaving; and they won't, because the cost of individual secession will be too high. There will then be an apparent paradox about victims having the marginal interest in not to do anything against oppression, despite oppression being very detrimental to them on the average. This paradox can be exemplified as follows, with the principle of "take five (unconditionally) and give back four (conditionally)." Government might make it certain that (unless it is overthrown) 5 units of goods will be taxed away from normal (exploited) citizens, whereas citizens will conditionally receive 2 units back if they don't resist, and maybe even 4 if they are active accomplices of government. Thus, even though on the average, government is always detrimental to all their citizens, costing them 1 unit of riches in the best case of their actively defending the system, the marginal case for a citizen to support the government will be a gain of 2 for those who simply don't resist, and a gain of 4 for those who become active accomplices.
Of course, to maintain such a discrepancy between marginal interest and average interest, government must ensure that taxation remains certain, whereas its subsidies will remain conditional. (As Benjamin Franklin said: "In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.") The ultimate danger to a government is civil disobedience: people massively refusing to cooperate, and the government not being able to enforce its political decisions anymore with its own agents refusing to enforce its edicts against people, and people being ready to fight back against anyone trying to enforce them. That's why governments will actively campaign to prevent their opponents from coordinating an overthrow: constant propaganda through media and education control, harassment of potential high-profile dissenters, denial of working conditions, hefty fines and imprisonment for those who do not cooperate with the system (which begins with paying taxes), etc. Measures of this kind are necessary to keep the government exploitation going; these measures may end up eating most of what governments manage to plunder away from people.
When quasi-certainty is acquired in the mind of some people, they will have no marginal interest in learning about alternative high-cost low-probability possibilities; they will be "rationally ignorant" of any dissenting idea. When in addition, these people somehow get benefits from being the displayed accomplice of government intervention (social advancement, avoided or reduced harassment, psychological relief from the feeling of being a victim, etc.) then they will be "rationally irrational" and they will actively believe in the very propaganda that maintains them under an oppressive regime.
Note that in these two expressions, "rationally" refers to the concept of rationality used by economists: the fact that the preferences revealed by people's actual behavior are congruent with each one's idea of his own interests, and remain so as one's ideas evolve. In contrast, in the second expression, "irrational" refers to a more casual use of the word, denoting the attitude of having beliefs that do not pass the soundness filter of simple logic.  >20>
21. The idea that psychological potential is a resource that is spent as it is tapped was notably developed by Raymond Ruyer in his book, les nuisances idéologiques>21>
22. The realization that lobbying will waste in advance exactly the benefits of any putative form of government subsidy was made (at least for me) by François Guillaumat, in a personal communication.
Of course, this equality is asymptotic. In as much as the means to lobby are specific, they can't be converted from existing industries, and they can't be reinvested in other industries – they are a sunk capital investment. A corollary is that the existence of political power creates converging interests for people having invested in such capital, to maximize the profitability of this capital, and thus to continuously extend power in place.  >22>
23. Some Public Choice theorists distinguish in political entrepreneurship the two activities of milking existing potential and lobbying toward the public opinion to create new potential. But these two activities are not separable in practice, because as far as self-interested behavior is concerned, political exploiters do not have exploitation in general as their goal, so much as exploitation to their own benefit.
Actually, people who feel deeply attached to political ideologies may lobby for more governmental intervention in general – but as far as the dynamics of political entrepreneurship is concerned, these people as such are part of the potential to be tapped, rather than of the entrepreneurs tapping the potential. Of course, people who are (or think they are) in the beneficial side of the exploitation have interest in spreading such ideologies, and the best way for them to do it is to genuinely believe in such ideologies, to begin with (feeling righteous is also essential for them to sleep well at night).
As for the remark on people who "think they are" on one side of exploitation, political lobbying, just like all scams, will of course consist at least partly in making people think they benefit from oppression, even though most of them actually suffer from it. Indeed, as scam artists put it: "if you don't know who's the sucker, how he will be fooled, and how much money will get from whose hands to whose hands, then you're probably the sucker yourself."  >23>
24. This certainly does not mean that we should ignore these techniques – we must learn to use them. Indeed, it is only through such techniques that exploitation can be vanquished. See for instance Why Sophisms Die Hard: The Power Of Ideas Over Interest, by Bertrand Lemennicier.
There is no reason to believe that current exploiters are particularly efficient at using lobbying techniques; thus, since we are to enter the market of ideological entrepreneurship, we may use a better, systematic knowledge of the techniques to overtake the political entrepreneurs with our anti-political enterprise. However, since their very existence will then be at stake, we must expect political entrepreneurs to keep up with whatever better technique we use, and compete using all the resources of plunder that they can use and that we cannot use.  >24>
25. "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch." – a famous quote from Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress>25>
26. This is why What Is Seen And What Is Not Seen is truly the model of all political fallacies.  >26>
27. Once again, the Ad Hoc Fallacy behind collectivism shows that there is no reason to consider that their collectivity is the right one to take any specific decision. Why not a bigger or smaller or different collectivity? There obviously isn't a universe-wide government, yet humans manage to coordinate mostly without wars and conflicts. People peacefully engage in international commerce and tourism without the need of a common international government to coordinate them. If anything, political behavior causes wars and conflicts where economical behavior entails peace and cooperation. The right solution to the problem of determining the shape and size of collectivities is that the right collectivities are those that people freely adhere to – and such collectivities have no particular reason to be territorial (although physical proximity between people might play a role in helping people coordinate, which role gets smaller and smaller as means of telecommunication develop).
In the line of statists reproaching libertarians both something and its opposite, we can see how the collectivists who lament the impossibility of doing anything big without government intervention denounce the "intolerable power of multinationals" whenever anything big is actually done without government intervention (which disproves their point). Then, they claim they want this "power" checked by governmental intervention, or completely replaced by governmental intervention. It's really a religious war that collectivists are waging: the real thing they reproach deep down in their heart is that something dare exist outside of their values; from then on, your mere existence is an insult to them, and they will reproach just any sign reminding them of it.  >27>
28. If anyone not blessed with the divine power of government would ever propose to you that you should surrender their liberty to one in exchange for any kind of good whatsoever, that someone would immediately be spotted as a crook. Your liberty is the very guarantee that the people with whom you deal will respect you: if that commerce isn't satisfying, you will switch to another dealer. Free communication will help spot the bad ones and take them out of business; a justice system will chase the fraudulent ones.
There is nothing anyone can do out of your liberty but to oppress you into extracting from you the payment of further favors. So if someone asks for your liberty under the pretense that it will save you expenses for the services he renders, it's an obvious lie: not only will you still have to pay for everything he'll do for you – because he just cannot physically provide any service without acquiring the means to provide them first, which will ultimately come from the payments of his customers – but you'll now have to pay at his conditions, without recourse. It sure saves him expenses, but to your detriment, not to your benefit.
The very idea of trading liberty for security is a contradiction. It is a "sign error" in a basic equation of human behavior. To give a dealer the unlimited right to decide for his customers under the pretense that he will then be able to serve them more easily is a negation of the very basic premise that ensures that the agent remains at the service of the principals. "Yeah, it'd be great if the agent would still serve us after we agreed to stop watching him" – except we'd be fools to believe that he will.
The only thing our refraint from watching can bring is the "government" stopping to serve us. And collectivizing the way we may control government is such a refraint.
Note about the above word "refraint": Hazlitt regretted that the word "refraint" (self-imposed constraint) didn't exist just like the word "restraint" (constraint imposed by other people) did, the word self-restraint being kind of an oxymoron with misleading connotations. Well, he was wrong: all the words exist and have the meaning(s) we agree to give to them. He didn't hesitate to create the word "utilism," after all (to cut through the accumulation of ending syllables in "utilitarianism." He could have made it even shorter: usism). We thus see that even with neutral technical terms, words can already be misleading. How much more misleading can ideologically laden words be! Using words in such a way as to imply a lot of its ideology, having its words, its problematics, and its paradigms implicitly accepted in all discussions – that is the way the collectivist meme is extending its control over people's minds.  >28>
29. This godly trade is one of the underlying justifications of government, used by those promoting the polymorphous myth of the "social contract": this institution of violence would be a magic contractor under the orders of a collective entity named "the people." Yet none of us ever received a detailed contract or invoice saying what is paid for what service. We are kept out of the knowledge to judge and out of the right to judge whether we pay too much for too little, for services we need or need not. As opposed to what happens in a legitimate trade, citizens cannot refuse the monopolistic dealer. They are kept from even thinking about refusing it.  >29>
30. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who shall watch the watchmen themselves?) – Juvenal, Satires, VI, 347.  >30>
31. Constitutions solve no problem. Politicians learn to bypass the spirit by slowly changing the meaning of the letter. And they will also change the letter of the text itself whenever there is a clear corporate interest for politicians to do so. Constitutions are a but way to induce into citizens religious consideration for government; just as in the cabal, they uses the psychological impact of (written) words as magic anchors that fascinate the mind, until the hypnotized minds discuss the words without questioning the text.  >31>
32. This above list is not meant as a definitive coverage of psychological patterns of natural authority, but as a first attempt at such a coverage. Our purpose is not to establish an authoritative classification, but to open the path to more comprehensive and detailed studies of the statist phenomenon from the point of view of human psychology. And of course when we say "innate," we include all genetically programmed acquisitions.  >32>
33. This general relationship between parents and children evolved into its current pattern by natural selection because it indeed is mutually beneficial to parents and young children; such a relationship allows to provide for individuals and to invest capital in them before they are able to productively provide for themselves. So the pattern has some good use. But it also leads to some bad abuse. And indeed, this blind trust in parents dissolves as children mature and become responsible adults. The problem is conspicuously not in the blind trust of young infants, but in this trust lingering among adults and being diverted into a faith in the power of a supernatural entity incarnate in the decisions of political leaders. A saying goes: "Politicians are like diapers: they must be changed often. And for the same reasons." – To this saying, we may add that adults don't need either of them>33>
34. The common consensus nowadays is that parents cannot go so far as killing their children, or even hitting them. Now, as to establishing precise limits to the authority of parents, legislation doesn't promote liberty of action for either children or candidate foster parents, but rather substitutes government authority to parent authority – government behaving as a super-parent. On the contrary, many libertarians argue that parental authority is largely unnecessary and unjustified; parents are not entitled to coerce their children into complying to their whims. According to this view, governments, even if they were some kind of parents, would not deserve any special authority for that. See the Taking Children Seriously movement, that develops ways of parenting without coercion. In any case, it is clear that together with progress of society will go a de facto diminution of the violence and frequency of coercive acts by parents.  >34>
35. Stalin, more ambitious, was the Little Father of the Peoples – which he demonstrated by killing millions, deporting entire populations, and exterminating whole nations when he felt he was being resisted.  >35>
36. Hô Chi Minh was "Elder Uncle," which he also demonstrated by killing anyone who resisted him.  >36>
37. For instance, the french president François Mitterand, was surnamed "Tonton" (Uncle) and in the end of his 14 years of presidency, the outrageously deferential "Dieu" (God) even stuck to him.  >37>
38. Thus, the most secular governments, and even overtly atheistic ones, are no less blasphemously superstitious than the most blatantly religious theocracy: their fundamental claim is to incarnate Authority itself, whether by personal identification, by godly delegation, by mysterious transubstantiation, or by a combination of the above. A case in point is how democracy transubstantiates the result of ballots into the holy "Will of the People," conferring godly powers on the elected politicians.  >38>
39. See the footnote above in the section on Opinions and Interests for a short introduction to Memetics.  >39>
40. The measures taken to prevent people from using reason are to build a wall of strong emotions around the issue to avoid. A primary set of measure is to use FUD tactics to instill fear of any change. Governmental coercion is thus offered as a guarantee, the Ultimate Guarantee against Evil. But the only things that the right to coercion guarantees are injustice and evil themselves, whereas the only possible guarantee of good is the harmony of self-interests in a society of freely cooperating individuals. These tactics are the emotional equivalent of the Catastrophe-Prevention Fallacy and the Moral Fallacy discussed above. Yet they are effective: people are willing to escape the risk of some bad outcome by embracing the certainty of the worst possible outcome. What it takes is making the risk obvious while hiding the nature of the certainty; people are risk averse, and they seldom understand that with liberty, their only risk is to get better.
The other main set of tactics is to isolate people from each other and prevent them from cooperating, so as to appeal to the marginal interest of individuals versus their average interest, in a big prisoner's dilemma. (Once again, it is striking that statists use game theory arguments based on government intervention being meant to solve the prisoner's dilemma, whereas it is precisely governments creating the problem of a huge nation-wide prisoner's dilemma, to begin with.) Any emerging competition is to be subjected by force, or made ineffective by fraud, or to be subverted by corrupting its leaders into becoming part of the establishment. By some legal mean or some other (which might require enacting new legislation), any coordination of the oppressed into an anti-political movement is systematically suppressed. Actually, constant political propaganda, tax-funded religious fervor for political reform, and even tax-funded "political opposition," try to constantly canalize any potential energy among the public into debates that accept the basic premises of political power.  >40>
41. Bastiat, in his Economic Sophisms, noted that it is impossible to fully follow a false theory: even the most ardent proponents of collectivist systems in theory live by the principles of life in their individual practice; they may apply their false theories more or less, but they cannot be coherent in applying them, lest they die. The principles of Life and Truth are coherent, whereas the principles of Death and Falsity are not – actually, it is precisely this coherence that ultimately characterizes Truth, and this is the reason why, despite superficial symmetries, you cannot exchange Life and Death, Truth and Falsity, Good and Evil. Emotional judgments are in terms of two categories like Friend or Foe; they are related by symmetrical links of alliance and opposition. Rational judgments, on the other hand, though they may look superficially as being in terms of two symmetrical emotional categories like Truth and Falsity, are actually based on logical structures of infinitely many categories, related by intrinsically dissymmetrical links of logical implication.  >41>
42. Evil can only parasite good. The forces of Death can only feed upon Life. Parasites and predators can never "win" over their victims and preys, or they would extinguish themselves too. This is why even the most oppressive regime cannot sustain itself unless there are more creative forces active in the body of oppressed people than there are destructive forces used by the oppressors – and if these oppressors don't fall before, these creative forces will ultimately win over them, though it may take quite a long time for them to win, during which the destructive forces will cause suffering and destroy not just material capital, but even part of the basic psychological capital that allows for human cooperation. Libertarians must thus be confident in the far future; what we are to be concerned about is how to make progress nearer rather than farther – what part we can take in making progress happen.  >42>
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