There’s a certain assumption that is lurking within all forms of statism. It is the notion that society would be wonderful if everyone just did things the way a particular person thinks they should be done. Pick your poison. It doesn’t matter if we’re discussing Communism, Fascism, or Constitutional Republicanism. They have different ideas of how society should be run, to be sure, but all of them are championed by vocal persons who believe that they and their particular group of supporters should be given the authority to dictate how others should behave.
Most of us have thoughts like this every single day without realizing it. Perhaps it’s a liberal who hears a news story about yet another school shooting and says to herself, “This country would be so much of a better place if we just outlawed guns.” Perhaps it’s a conservative who hears about a teenage gang that was arrested for property damage and says to himself, “Those kids wouldn’t be behaving that way if they’d just been forced to go to church on Sunday.” While the thoughts we have are radically different, everyone has their own opinions about what kinds of behaviors or lack thereof would make society a better place.
However, while each of us may think society would be a better place if certain behaviors were outlawed, each of us also engages in behaviors that someone else thinks ought to be outlawed. Are you religious. There are people who think society would be better if religion was done away with. Do you smoke tobacco? There are people actively pushing for the banning of tobacco products. Do you play video games? At least 15 countries already put partial or complete bans on video games.
This exposes the hypocritical nature of all forms of statism. Statists support the use of government intervention when they are the benefactors of such interventions, but they speak vehemently about freedom and the unjust nature of government actions when they are the targets of such interventions. As I’ve said many times before, the same government that has the power to give you everything you want is a government that has the power to take everything that you have. The question no statist ever wants to answer is why the government inherently has the authority to do the things they want it to do, but not the things they don’t want it to do.
The beauty of libertarianism is that even if lack of government intervention means that people will engage in undesirable behaviors, they’ll also be forced to face the consequences of those behaviors. If you think people ought not engage in a certain behavior, presumably it’s because you think it will have negative consequences on them or on the people they associate with. However, if that’s true, then when those negative consequences come to fruition, they won’t be able to depend on government handouts to compensate for their bad decisions, and the people they associate with will be free to dissociate from them.
This is a short article, but one that I don’t believe requires much more explanation. Even if you think society would be better if you had the power to control other people’s behavior, it’s important to realize that the sword cuts both ways. The moment government intervention is used to quell a perceived bad behavior, it opens the door to more government intervention towards a different behavior that you have no problem with, but that someone else opposes just as passionately.
I don’t pretend to have tackled every point of discussion when it comes to the issues of freedom and government in such a short article, but this is a point of discussion that I don’t believe receives enough attention. If you support the initiation of force by government under the presumption that it will make society a better place, how do you justify why you and your supporters reserve the right to do this, but supporters of other forms of government do not?
And that is my 2 cents. Take it for what it’s worth.
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