Thursday, November 10, 2011

Quotes on Statist Hypocrisy and Doublethink

How is it possible to sanction, under the law of equal liberty, the confiscation of a man's earnings to pay for protection which he has not sought and does not desire? And, if this is an outrage, what name shall we give to such confiscation when the victim is given, instead of bread, a stone, instead of protection, oppression? To force a man to pay for the violation of his own liberty is indeed an addition of insult to injury.
- Benjamin Tucker, "Address to Unitarian Ministers"

A man who would consider himself a bandit if, pistol in hand, he prevented me from carrying out a transaction that was in conformity with my interests has no scruples in working and voting for a law that replaces his private force with the public force and subjects me, at my own expense, to the same unjust restrictions.
- Frederic Bastiat, "Economic Harmonies"

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.
- Frederic Bastiat, "Economic Sophisms"

They'll all be roving the land looking for chances to make the rich poor, to remedy the irremediable, to succor the unsuccorable, to unscramble the unscrambleable, to dephlogisticate the undephlogisticable. They will all be curing warts by saying words over them, and paying off the national debt with money that no one will have to earn. (...) The winner will be whoever promises the most with the least probability of delivering anything.
- H. L. Mencken, "A Mencken Chrestomathy"

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
- H. L. Mencken, "In Defense of Women"

The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. (...) He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a "protector," and that he takes men's money against their will, merely to enable him to "protect" those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. (...) Furthermore, having taken your money, (...) he does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful "sovereign," on account of the "protection" he affords you. He does not keep "protecting" you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. (...) In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.
- Lysander Spooner, "No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority"

If "we are the government," then anything a government does to an individual is not only just and untyrannical but also "voluntary" on the part of the individual concerned. If the government has incurred a huge public debt which must be paid by taxing one group for the benefit of another, this reality of burden is obscured by saying that "we owe it to ourselves"; if the government conscripts a man, or throws him into jail for dissident opinion, then he is "doing it to himself" and, therefore, nothing untoward has occurred. Under this reasoning, any Jews murdered by the Nazi government were not murdered; instead, they must have "committed suicide," since they were the government (which was democratically chosen), and, therefore, anything the government did to them was voluntary on their part.
- Murray Rothbard, "Anatomy of the State"

In brief, the [statist] ideologists must explain that, while theft by one or more persons or groups is bad and criminal, that when the State engages in such acts, it is not theft but the legitimate and even sanctified act called "taxation." The ideologists must explain that murder by one or more persons or groups is bad and must be punished, but that when the State kills it is not murder but an exalted act known as "war" or "repression of internal subversion." They must explain that while kidnapping or slavery is bad and must be outlawed when done by private individuals or groups, that when the State commits such acts it is not kidnapping or slavery but "conscription" – an act necessary to the public weal and even to the requirements of morality itself. The function of the statist ideologists is to weave the false set of Emperor's clothes, to convince the public of a massive double standard: that when the State commits the gravest of high crimes it is really not doing so, but doing something else that is necessary, proper, vital, and even – in former ages – by divine command.
- Murray Rothbard, "The Ethics of Liberty"

We live in a world of curious moral thresholds, where gathering a sufficiently large clientele turns robbery into "provision of social welfare", Ponzi scheming into "provision of social security", and counterfeiting into "provision of financial stability".
- Myself, "Fixing an Upside-Down World"

When the king asked the man what he thought he was doing infesting the sea, the man replied with free-spoken insolence, The same as you infesting the earth. But because I do it with a little ship, I am called a robber; and because you do it with a big fleet, you are called an emperor.
- St. Augustine, "City of God"

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