Damning the State in 3 easy lessons

Mr. Rockwell writes an excellent explanation of the State and its inherent characteristics, using the new anti-spam law to demonstrate the foundational principles. The entire article, entitled Why the State is Different is at the Mises Institute.

“Lesson One in the uniqueness of the state: the state has one tool, and one tool only, at its disposal: force. Now, imagine if a private enterprise tried that same approach. Let’s say that Acme Anti-Spam puts out a product that would tag spammers, loot their bank accounts, and hold them in captivity for a period of time, and shoot spammers dead should they attempt to evade or escape. What’s more, the company doesn’t propose to test this approach on the market and seek subscribers, but rather force every last email user to subscribe. How will Acme Anti-Spam make money at its operation? It won’t. It will fund its activities by taking money from your bank account whether you like it or not. They say that they can do this simply because they can, and if you try to stop it, you too will be fined, imprisoned, or shot. The company further claims that it is serving society.Such a company would be immediately decried as heartless, antisocial, and essentially deranged. At the very least it would be considered uncreative and dangerous, if not outright criminal. Its very existence would be a scandal, and the people who dreamed up such a company and tried to manage it would be seen as psychopaths or just evil. Everyone would see through the motivation: they are using a real problem that exists in society as a means to get money without our permission, and to exercise authority that should belong to no one.

Lesson Two presents itself: the state is the only institution in society that can impose itself on all of society without asking the permission of anyone in particular. You can’t opt out. A seemingly peculiar aspect of the anti-spam law is that the government exempts itself from having to adhere to its own law. Politicians routinely buy up email addresses from commercial companies and send out unsolicited email. They defend this practice on grounds that they are not pushing a commercial service and that doing so is cheaper than sending regular mail, and hence saves taxpayer money. It is not spam, they say, but constituent service. We all laugh at the political class for its hypocrisy in this, and yet the exemption draws attention to:

Lesson Three: the state is exempt from the laws it claims to enforce, and manages this exemption by redefining its criminality as public service. What is considered theft in the private sector is “taxation” when done by the state. What is kidnapping in the private sector is “selective service” in the public sector. What is counterfeiting when done it he private sector is “monetary policy” when done by the public sector. What is mass murder in the private sector is “foreign policy” in the public sector. This tendency to break laws and redefine that infraction is a universal feature of the state. When cops zoom by we don’t think of them as speeding but merely being on the chase. Killing innocents is dismissed as inevitable civilian casualties. So it should hardly surprise us that the state rarely or even never catches itself in the webs it weaves. Of course it exempts itself from its anti-spam law. The state is above the law.”