Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Living in the World of Statist Quo Bias

Possibly the worst aspect of any form of statism is not that individuals are treated instrumentally and their property rights are regularly violated, but that the vast majority of both the victims and the perpetrators of these happenings consider them as "normal" and "uncontroversial", as if propelled by some form of anthropological necessity. They do not normally think that siding with such a system requires asking oneself very seriously some fundamental economic (do I believe that institutionalized, regularized violence and coercion can generate or safeguard prosperity?) and moral questions (do I condone institutionalized, regularized violence and coercion, especially if perpetrated by myself?), nor do they normally conceive that such a system can be fundamentally contested on the basis of answering such questions in the negative (here is my take on why this is the case).

In other words, the problem is not that the vast majority of statists answer certain fundamental questions in the way that, for various reasons, might be thought of as misguided or wrong. The problem is that they grow into a world view that removes such questions from the ambit of questions worth asking or even thinking in the first place. To put it differently, the intellectual isolation of a libertarian consists not in the fact that he or she is in the minority, but in the fact that, at least as of now, the majority does not even think of the relevant issues in terms of majority and minority positions. This does not make the task of the libertarian hopeless, but it certainly makes it all the more formidable.

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