Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Consent or Coersion?

Excellent read by Christian Sandstrom at Lew Rockwell.
As noted by Rothbard among others, the fundamental difference between the state and the market is spelled coercion. Human interaction on a market is based upon mutual consent: goods and services won’t be exchanged unless both parties think they benefit from it. The state, on the other hand, thrives upon coercion: taxes are collected under the threat of violence and if laws are not followed your only option is jail. Thus, state action is not based upon mutual consent, rather it is based upon the most primitive and uncivilized of human actions: violence. The Chinese mass murderer and dictator, Mao Tse-Tung, once said that all political power comes through the barrel of a gun. Another illustrative example is a poster that the Swedish libertarian association "The freedom front" produced. It contained a picture of a man pointing a rifle at you, followed by the text "I am from the government, I am here to help you."

This not only illustrates the true nature of the state, but also how preposterous the idea that someone who is threatening you would want to cause you anything but harm. If someone wanted to do you good, why then would they have to force you into doing this? The American hard-rock group Guns n’ Roses put this in the following way in their song "Civil war": "you can’t trust freedom when it’s not in your hands." Wouldn't it be strange if someone robbed you and then spent the money on you, in a way you find preferable? Why then, would the criminal have to steal the money in the first place?

To be more precise, the definition of freedom is that your life is in the hands of you, not anyone else. Though the fundamental difference between the state and the market is that one is based upon coercion and the other one on consent, there are everyday examples of coercion (related to state) that can help to illustrate this distinction. By looking at these examples and by drawing parallels to state action, the truly absurd nature of government is revealed.
Read the rest, it's good stuff.

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