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Friday, November 28, 2008

Anthony Gregory on how the democratic state co-opts its victims and opponents

Wester Standard editor, Peter Jaworski, has written about the conflicts between the California gay community and Mormons following the passage of proposition 8, an anti-gay marriage ballot question. Mormons (along with blacks) who voted overwhelmingly in favour of the proposition are being blamed for the success of the ballot initiative and have faced political attacks on their church's tax-exempt status and even violent protests. 

Anthony Gregory, a research analyst at the Independent Institute, cuts through the blame and vitriol being launched from both sides and  cites this conflict as just the latest example of a larger trend, how "no matter how much the people seem to hate the government as it is, that energy all too often ends up to the state’s benefit":

"Some gay activists and Mormons, major victims of the state in this country not that long ago, have recently turned to fighting over state power in California because of the gay marriage issue. Neither side seems to want a truce based on the idea that the state should get out of marriage entirely, leave people to their own consciences and religious and secular arrangements, a position most Americans would probably agree to if it were presented to them. Instead, the two sides of the polarized debate all fight over control of the state.

In all types of systems, the state wishes to co-opt other potential competitors for social authority, but this is perhaps easiest under democracy. The artistic, scientific, journalistic, academic, legal, and religious communities – each at points in history the most reliable opponents and critics of tyranny – become bought off, intimidated or tricked into rallying for more state power. Churches begin lobbying for tax exemptions – a separation of church and state – and sometimes end up pushing for subsidies. Artists go from being against the establishment to being propagandists for it (witness how Obamania has co-opted the counterculture; those who used to wear anti-U.S. Che Guevara shirts now sport the likeness of the next head of the U.S. empire). "

His examples of this pattern are numerous, from the U.S. Founding Fathers, to abolitionists, opponents of U.S. entry into WWI, the civil rights movement, journalists, scientists, lawyers, and perhaps most importantly, both conservatives and liberals alike.

Looking forward, Gregory says:

"So as we see Bush’s term end and Obama’s just around the corner, we can anticipate a new rhetorical dynamic emerging. The failures of the Bush administration will all be misinterpreted as examples of not enough government. Those who have supported Obama as an alternative to excess neocon imperialism and unbridled police statism will become temporarily placated. The election cycle means throwing out the bums, but it is often actually quite good for the state itself. It gives a new image to the same old racket.

Until the true partisans of liberty understand how the enemy co-opts our message, our struggle will seem futile and our gains will be illusory. The key to championing freedom is in staying dedicated to true free-market principles, property rights, individual liberty, free association, and peace – and eschewing all forms of warmongering, socialism and statism, no matter what rhetorical games are being played or whether the conditional friends of liberty have become duped into accepting the state’s aggrandizement in the name of anything, especially freedom."

Gregory's arguments about how democracy enables the state to aggrandize itself with the people's support are similar to those by Austrian Economist and libertarian theorist Hans-Hermann Hoppe, author of Democracy: The God that Failed–but there another work by Hoppe, an understanding of which can enable defenders of liberty to oppose the phenomenon being described: in "Marxism and Austrian Class Analysis" [pdf], Hoppe reclaims classical liberal class analysis from the Marxists, putting forward that there are two classes: a productive class and and exploiting class, or, as John Randolph of Roanoke described them: taxpayers and tax consumers.

A clear understanding of who the enemies of liberty are (i.e. the exploitative tax consumers and the state) and a commitment to private property and the sovereignty of the individual can stop this cycle of cooptation which transforms aggrieved parties and victims of state power into advocates or apologists for the expansion of that very same state.

Read the rest of this fantastic article.

Posted by Kalim Kassam on November 28, 2008 in Libertarianism | Permalink


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Whatever will the gay community do to free itself from the slavery of same sex unions and onto the freedoms of same sex marriage?

We need another Abraham Lincoln with a union army to rescue these idiots. Oh wait ... it can't be the union army, it will have to be the .... what ... rainbow army.

This is all so stupid and petty.

Posted by: John V | 2008-11-28 7:35:11 PM

This is all so stupid and petty.
Posted by: John V | 28-Nov-08 7:35:11 PM

That is precisely the point. Gays and lesbians, like anyone else, have individual rights - rights which are violated by anti-sodomy laws and other laws in which the state pokes their nose into things that doesn't concern them.

But when gay activists start presenting their wishlists as 'rights,' at the expense of others they have gone from being the exploited to the exploiters. The 'right' to be free from discrimination places an obligation on the state to infringe on the private property rights of others.

Have you heard of this recent case?:

"In a settlement with the New Jersey Attorney General's Office, the online dating service eHarmony, until now limited to heterosexuals, has agreed to start matching men with men and women with women. The deal resolves a complaint by a gay man who claimed that eHarmony's failure to accommodate homosexuals violated New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination."

A society of property, consent, and voluntary interaction, wherein people may associate with or exclude whomever they like is a peaceful society. It is the seizure of the coercive apparatus of the state by competing interest groups which sows social discord. This is exactly analogous to the 'harmony of interests' which results from competition under a system of voluntary trade and private property (i.e. capitalism) versus the conflict of interest which results from competition under a system of a state-directed or state-owned economy (i.e. socialism).

Posted by: Kalim Kassam | 2008-11-28 9:33:46 PM

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