January 3, 2018
Statists hate being called statists. This had me confused for a while. Statist simply means non-libertarian. Why do statists seem to get bent out of shape about that simple, honest, straightforward term?
The simplest answer is that statists are ignorant, that is, unfamiliar with the term. They do not know it means “not libertarian.” But that is the meaning that I, and most libertarians, ascribe to the term. We basically use the political science definition, that statism is "the belief that the state should control either economic or social policy, or both, to some degree." Here’s the Oxford dictionary definition:
statism - A political system in which the state has substantial centralized control over social and economic affairs.
That’s about the same. A political system with little centralized control would be libertarian. So here, too, statism is the opposite of libertarianism.
Interestingly, the US based Merriam-Webster goes a little Orwellian, and embellishes the definition to (perhaps) exclude support for the current State.
statism - concentration of economic controls and planning in the hands of a highly centralized government often extending to government ownership of industry
The long and short of it is: If you vote for candidates, if you are a member of a political party, if you favor any tax over zero or any government regulation of people or firms, then you are a statist. Face it!
But that is the nub. Most statists do not know what “statist” means. They don’t know it means “non-libertarian,” so they think they are being called a name, a derogatory term. Maybe they vaguely feel that you are accusing them of supporting States as such - all States everywhere. So the first part of the statist aversion for the term “statist” is ignorance. This is good, because ignorance can be cured by education.
But there is a deeper explanation. People have several core values, which include a freedom/liberty value and a respect for authority value. (Cf: Jonathan Haidt’s socio-biological theory of morality.) The second part of the statist aversion to “statism” has to do with this freedom proto-value. Everyone loves freedom! Just ask them. But statists pay taxes, and lobby for gun control, or pot control, or price controls, and regulations and taxes. They participate in, argue about, and support the legitimized predation of the State. In behavior they are objectively statist, but they cannot admit this to themselves because it conflicts with their self-image of being pro-freedom.
In short, there is a conflict between their freedom value and their authority-statism value. Most statists “solve” this by denying their statism, the same way gays might deny their homosexuality. Most statists are “in the closet.”
The question of outing a gay person is complicated by time and cultural acceptance. For a statist, there are no such moral ambiguities. I urge libertarians to expose them for what they are. Out the statists!
Free them from their ignorance. Tell them what libertarianism is and what statism is. Make them choose between liberty and power. Help them see themselves as who they really are, and to face down their demons of cognitive dissonance. Out the statists!
I recommend that we use the term “statist” as much as possible, instead of terms like liberal, conservative, democrat, republican, fascist, antifa, tankie, alt-right, and so on. You can add it as a specifier, e.g. statist socialist or statist capitalist (corporatist.) When someone gives a statist opinion, be sure to include the word “statist” in your reply. E.g. “What a statist position to take! All drugs should be legal.” Or “You favor a tax? How statist of you!” “You favor minimum productivity laws? You statists sure like your price controls.”
We need to make statists confront their hypocrisy and resolve the dissonance between liberty and authority in their minds. This is good for liberty because, once people confront the conflict, many will opt for liberty. The logic of the non-aggression principle is inescapable and intuitive. People unblinded by the aura of legitimacy will generally choose freedom, once they think about it and understand the concepts. Fight for liberty. Out the statists!
I don’t have a Twitter account. Can someone please start #OutTheStatists?