Friday, August 05, 2005

10 reasons why people can't let go of their government

10 reasons why people can't let go of their government

Article written by Michael S. Rozeff.
The full article, Reflections on the State can be found at

1. Error of identification. People long to be identified as something, an American or a Frenchman or a Russian. These are matters of nation, country, society, custom, language, group, religion, culture, not State. Yet in many people’s minds, they merge. The State comes to represent what a person is. The State gains loyalty by blurring the lines between itself, country and society. Patriotism, a love of country, overlaps with love of State.

2. Error of attribution. People make the logical error of attributing progress achieved by the country to the State: Cum hoc, ergo propter hoc. If a horse wins a race despite a 5-pound handicap, it wins despite the extra weight not because of it.

3. Illusion of order. People fear anarchy. They think that the power of the State to suppress and keep order is better than exposure to unnamed and unseen anarchic forces. Fear of one’s fellow man sows the seeds of support of the State. This solution to the problem of order is an illusion that is based on contradiction, however. If one fears men, and the rulers are men, then the rulers are also to be feared. In fact, the State to whom one gives such great power is even more to be feared. There is no security of life when one turns one’s life over to one’s jailer.

4. Illusion of security. People want security, insurance against the trials of life, a father that is there to feed and house them when they have troubles. It is illusion to think that the State can provide comfort. The State has no resources of its own, so it must draw them from the citizens themselves. In the process, much waste occurs, insecurity of rights is fostered, and the overall productivity of the people is reduced. In its external relations, which are frequently aggressive, the State wastes still more resources. Hence, the State makes people less secure.

5. Vicarious pleasure. Many identify with the State’s power. They feel good when the State uses its power. Death and destruction do not bother them. They like the idea of wars and armies marching, big tanks, missiles and rockets, and space ships flying to the moon. If the State is a superpower, all the better.

6. Hunger for power and wealth. Many people benefit from the State. Perhaps they rule, or gain subsidies or laws that favor them.

7. Philosophy. There are those like Hegel who justify the State and replace God with the State.

8. Miscalculation. Many people think the State is a good deal. These people can’t count or calculate. They give up $1 and get back $0.80 and do not know it. Sometimes they underestimate the costs they bear now and in the future. Sometimes they overestimate the benefits. Of course, the State does what it can to help them miscalculate.

9. Hope. This is a kind of misplaced faith. People irrationally hope and believe that the State’s power will ameliorate various evils, usually in a social context. When the State’s programs fail, these people are incapable of analyzing the reason for the failure because of the complexity of social situations and because of their biased hopes.

10. Gullibility and propaganda. The State encourages illusions about its powers and abilities.