The Government’s Unending War On Society
Updated: May 27
The last few years have seen riots multiple and cities burn as people rendered impotent by the violence of the state have begun to vent their rage at their oppression. This rage, like all rage, has grown and grown until like all rage it has hurt the innocent as much as it has targeted the guilty. Those in power are even using the military directly against the people. You might expect those of us here to write a scathing denunciation of such violence given our support of nonviolent civil disobedience. And it is true that none of us here celebrate such destruction, but to focus on the destruction itself and ignore the context in which that violence has occurred, why it has occurred, is to ignore the real lesson here and what has to be done to not just end the violence but take meaningful steps to keep it from happening again. As Dr. King put it:
“Now I wanted to say something about the fact that we have lived over these last two or three summers with agony and we have seen our cities going up in flames. And I would be the first to say that I am still committed to militant, powerful, massive, non-violence as the most potent weapon in grappling with the problem from a direct action point of view. I’m absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt. And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results. But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention.”
The George Floyd Riots of 2020 shocked many people with how widespread and violent they were, but in reality they were but another instance of riots being tied to race based violence in the long history of the United States, where it seems like such riots happen at least once a decade. And these are, in turn, but a small subsection of the overall history of rioting in the US. Trying to focus on each specific riot itself and their individual sparks, the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back triggering the violent outburst of the riot, is impossible in anything short of a long history book.
Instead, I want to talk about the “intolerable conditions that exist in our society” which have given rise to them, that make people all over the nation feel that the only way they can have their voice heard is by application of the torch and the rod to break, burn, and destroy. I want to talk about the example every rioter is following when breaking, burning, and destroying those people and things which he or she deems an enemy or threat.
I want to talk about the State.
The War of All Against All
The State is often lauded as the only means by which peace can be obtained. The argument goes something like this: People are not angels, therefore they must be controlled. The organ of control is the government. The government issues edicts (“laws”) that are designed to restrain the people and force them to observe good behavior. In order to make sure that people obey these edicts the government needs the power to punish the disobedient and needs officers -police- to hunt down the disobedient to punish them and scare everyone else into general compliance. The general outcome of this system is supposed to be the creation of a general peace that allows people to live successful, happy lives.
What nonsense. Here is what really happens.
In the name of securing the “general welfare” a system of control is organized that uses blunt force violence to control the populace through outright force and terror. The levers of power, always exercised by the social and aristocratical elites, are used to secure and increase the wealth and power of those elites through “legalized” theft and extortion (taxes and fines). In order to ensure their power and wealth extraction is maintained, the elites in power use their stolen money to hire domestic and foreign military forces (the police and the armed forces) to force people at home and abroad to comply with the dictates of those in power. Those who do not are brutalized until they do. They are kidnapped, assaulted, robbed, and imprisoned until they comply. If they refuse to comply with this program of terror and dare defend their lives, their liberties, and their properties, then they, are killed. That is why the State has given its policing agents -the police, the cops- near carte blanche to do as they please and face little to no legal consequences.
The State can be summed up simply: “Comply or Die. “
It is also no accident that this same organization controls the educational system. Those in power well understand the wisdom of Solomon, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
What better way to indoctrinate the masses, ensure compliance, and convince them of your necessity than to train them from childhood to love and obey the state itself? If you can control how they conceive of the world and how if functions then you do not need to constantly exercise the overt means of political oppression, you will have constructed a prison of the mind where people will mostly obey because they assume the system is simply a fact of reality and their obedience is automatically assumed as a general moral good.
In this system of coercion and violence, it is inevitable that the people will be set at war with one another. That is rather the point, actually. To paraphrase Jeffrey Tucker, the more we have violence as the underpinnings of our society, the more we are in conflict with one another. The more we have laws governing how we live and go about our day to day lives, the more we will inevitably be in conflict with one another. The law in a statist society is nothing more than one group trying to force its will upon another and those people will inevitably resist. For the frustrated minority, their inability to assert their individual wills or to take control of the levers of power themselves – their permanent status as victims and never the victimizers – will always lead to rage and violence.
The system of taxation alone ensures this as it extorts money from the unwilling and spends it on projects or organizations the individual taxpayer would not support. People naturally resist being forced to fund things they oppose and the power of the state to rob one group to fund the utopian plans of another means the two groups will always see each others as enemies, fighting each other over the taxing and funding powers.
The more we can use the law to compel others to live in a manner that we believe they should live but they oppose, the more we fear that the law will in turn be used against us to force us to do the same. This in turn makes us suspect of others, causing us to see everyone as a potential or actual enemy, which in turn generates within us a hatred for them.
Being subject to such violence and compulsion breeds within those subject to it hatred for those who they feel are the ones imposing their ideals through the violence of the government. The statist (state-ist) system itself is never the target, after all it merely represents “the people.” It has indoctrinated so many into assuming its existence is a vital necessity that they are incapable of conceiving of a world without it. So, people end up hating not the system which allows authoritarianism, totalitarianism, racism, sexism, nationalism, and all other forms of oppression to exist and function; instead their hatred is re-directed against some other target group -a Them– and the goal becomes assuming the reins of power to punish Them.
Therefore, the actual system of oppression, the cause of the hatred and anger, escapes being held accountable. Instead its existence is strengthened as it becomes the goal of all groups to seize control of it so that they can escape its oppression and use its tools to oppress others. The result of this is that the State, through its very function, creates an unending war between the parts of society over the power and plunder to be gained by controlling the reins of power, all justified by the ideology of the State. The result is social chaos where hatred is increased as political limits narrow and everyone who isn’t aligned with you is your enemy trying to destroy you- an Endless War of All Against All where the only victors are the politicians in power and their politically connected friends.
Methods of The State Applied Privately
So, how are riots an outcome of this system? It is rather straightforward. Riots are merely the methods of the State applied by private persons. The robbery, death, and destruction wrought by a mob is merely the small scale private enacting of the methods and ideas that people have been taught to exercise through political methods. Looters are merely taxing the stores for the good of the public- themselves. The beating and killing of people by the mob is merely a repetition of the State’s willingness to hunt down and kill any and all who threaten it under the guise of “treason” or “crime.” From childhood we as a people have been taught that “the People” have the right to enact violence and brutality through mass action. There is no difference between the right or wrong of that violence whether it first goes through the convoluted rituals of the state or the masses merely act for themselves directly. Truly, the children have not departed from the ways they’ve been raised to adore, merely the forms most commonly followed.
That the police are the targets of such violence is unsurprising, as well. As the main occupying forces of the State, they’re the ones with boots on the ground, enforcing the edicts of the State, including the corresponding theft and extortion involved, with brutal efficiency. They, as opposed to the Presidents, Governors, and Mayors, become the symbol of the State and end up being the targets of the rage of the populace, and not unjustly so. The issue is that this is all a shell game because when the riots have ended, the protests are over, and the people in the streets go home, they will go right back to being cows on the tax farm.
Why? Because the police will be the scapegoats that will be sacrificed for the continued preservation of the system of statist oppression. Indeed, its power will likely grow without abatement as the latest rounds of violence are co-opted by it to justify its continued growth as an example of why it needs to exist. To paraphrase Dr. King, a riot merely intensifies the fears of the community while relieving its guilt at having engaged in such oppression to start with. Though a result of oppression -of the War of All Against All created by the State’s unending war and robbery that pits society against itself- the riots will only be used to justify even more oppression. And, most likely, the majority of people will celebrate such oppression as a sign that things are being “set right.” Thus the cycle that justifies the State’s apparatus of robbery and oppression, continues.
Breaking The Cycle
Famed French theorist Frédéric Bastiat once observed:
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”
The State continues because it is an ideological and moral system that people have not only been taught to embrace since childhood but a system which they are incentivized to embrace because they hope to be the ones to benefit most from the wealth it has plundered through legal violence. Knowing this helps us to recognize why riots, though they be outgrowths of the Unending Warfare engendered by the State, only end up empowering the State in the long run. Knowing this also helps us to see the way to break the cycle and move forward towards a truly better future.
We must end the State. This means rejecting the legal system that justifies the State in all its forms -Progressivism, Conservatism, Tribalism, Nationalism, Minarchism, Constitutionalism, et al.– as well as the moral system that justifies the State- the belief that violence can be used as a tool to force people to be good and make society better. We must embrace decentralization, nonviolence, and voluntaryism. All interactions between people should be based on love, service, mercy, nonviolence, noncompliance with evil, and even the willingness to suffer evil instead of seeking vengeance. This path is possible for all people, no matter what religious belief or lack thereof. All people can come out of the State and embrace voluntaryism, human dignity, and liberty. These are the foundation stones for a moral and free society. By living them is the better tomorrow made real and tangible today.