Arguing with Statists: How Statism Obfuscates Good Intent with Political Objectives
Obfuscation of intent in political objectives is a hallmark of statism and one of the primary methods by which statist politicians will push forward their own careers or the statist agenda, cogently or not. This occurs on both the left and the right of the statist political spectrum. These misunderstandings in intent also happen to be easily assailable and an essential tool by which an antistatist can lay the foundations for voluntarist modes of thought in others.
All this requires on the part of the antistatist is to clearly and demonstrably separate statist political objective from the actual intent. When an antistatist is confronted with ostensibly virulent or repugnant political opinions, it is important to take a moment and clarify the good intent and identify the values inherent. By doing this, an antistatist is capable of so much more in conversation. Instead of directly conflicting with the person, you are able to clearly state that good intent to the person, agree with it, show the inherent problems of utilization of the state toward this end, and then identify and assert methods of achieving these goals from without the state. You become less an enemy and more of a cooperative strategist.
For example, one of the most contentious issues of our modern society is the legal status of abortion. No matter the personal feelings an antistatist may hold toward the practice of abortion, there is one thing which is undeniable once considered, there are good intentions held by individual proponents on both sides of the debate. When confronted with this topic, an antistatist should consider intent of both sides and need not come down on either. Intent and goal will never change so we must identify which side argues for state intervention and then proceed to develop methods of achieving their goal which do not involve state action.
In the case of abortion, the side arguing for state intervention is the "pro-life" movement. Though their statist political objective is to ban the practice of abortion outright, the underlying good intent is to stop abortions. They view their cause as the protection of life and defense of helpless infants. From the outset, it is important to point out that, even with the most effective state actions, abortion will never be entirely wiped out, a black market will develop with the codification of prohibition. This should not be stated as an argument against state action but, rather, as a statement of fact. Then one must effectively communicate that their real goal is in preventing as many abortions as possible and it would be impossible to prevent all abortions. Research has shown that the most commonly given reasons for having an abortion are economic, they do not have enough money as they are often in college, single, and/or impoverished (1). A prominent ancillary reason for seeking an abortion is relationship problems and the most common relationship problem is economic as well (2).
Explain to the person that with current regulation practices, monetary inflation, and corporation law, government encourages the development of monopolies in markets, discourages savings, devalues labor, and increases the cost of market entry, limiting effective competition in the market. This has very real consequences for families and opportunity. The very structure of a family and how strong it is is directly impacted by its economic status. Too often two parent families are forced into having both parents working just to cover basic expenses and education for their family.
The most common cause for divorce is economic (2). Single and split parent family homes tend to have more difficulty in saving money for their children's education and even more of an issue giving their children proper attention and maintaining lines of communication. Families with both parents working have very similar problems (no gender bias; it is perfectly viable for either a man or a woman to be the primary caretaker). A young woman from a free market middle class two parent family who feels they can communicate and share in decisions with her family should be able to comfortably afford childcare while going to school or working and would have fewer reasons to convince herself to have an abortion. They might also feel less compelled to seek attention in the form of one-night stands as they are able to attain fulfillment in their family life, they will wait until they are in a more committed relationship with a man who is emotionally and financially capable of taking on the responsibility of parenthood.
A "pro-life" proponent should have a difficult time arguing that state enforcement could prevent even fifty percent of abortions, let alone upwards of seventy. It is also much less invasive and solves other social woes. It could also be argued that many "pro-choice" advocates could be won as powerful allies in the pursuit of this alternative strategy since their primary concern is the woman's right to choose, they should have no moral objection to alleviating economic realities facing women which contribute to the total number of abortions.
Another example of a contentious debate is that of the "war on drugs." Those who are convinced by the argument for prohibition of substances are encouraged by politicians to conflate it with fighting drug use. When the 18th Amendment was passed in the United States, prohibiting alcohol nationwide, there was seen an initial decrease in alcohol consumption of some thirty percent but this was soon followed by a dramatic increase by as much as sixty percent as compared to pre-prohibition levels (3). Not only this but the prohibition encouraged the development of massive black market infrastructures which fed alcohol profits directly into the pockets of criminal organizations instead of peaceful businesses. It is fairly simple to extrapolate from this the source of the current drug proliferation when comparing pre-prohibition levels of drug consumption with that of today. The drug trade has not suffered but, in fact, thrived under prohibition. It inflates the price of the substance, increases profits, encourages purposeful "drug pushing," and empowers criminal enterprises, making us all that much less safe. The good intent here of people who are for prohibition is in decreasing drug use and addiction.
Again, a lot could be said here for economic arguments against regulation and corporation law and families, like abortion, considering those at highest risk for addiction to powerful drugs are those already impoverished and from single family homes. The real problem is drug use and addiction. People do not quit drugs because they are illegal or for fear of imprisonment, if this were a reason we would expect to find low rates of recidivism for people exiting prisons who had served time for a drug conviction. The opposite is true.
People do not quit drugs because they are prohibitively expensive, they instead turn to a life of crime or play on the emotions of those closest to them. People quit drugs when they wish to and they only do this when they have a good reason. Often they can only do this with treatment and help, though by the time they are ready to stop, they have already expended the wealth of those most willing to help them due to the excessive cost of the drugs.
When economic disparity is not such a problem and labor is not devalued by a monopolist controlled market, people are a lot less likely to turn to drugs in the first place. They are also given more compelling reasons to quit. Life is a lot more fulfilling when there are more opportunities for success.
Private individuals do exist who want an action to be performed by the state for evil or selfish purposes though these are far and few between. Even when this is the case, few only hold selfish political opinions and, oftener still, they may wish for personally beneficent state action to alleviate harm done to them in other ways of which they may not even be aware. Even these may be approached with patience, understanding, and clarification.
Any argument with a person convinced of a statist ideology may quickly devolve into name-calling and aggravation on both sides. Though it may be personally fulfilling in a way to obliterate the person, it is far more functional and fulfilling to make a connection with them, endear yourself with the person, and sow a seed of liberty and voluntarist thought. Your goal should not be to "win points" but to benefit the other person and help them to see the true nature of their intent and how much more efficiently and ethically this goal can be accomplished. Whenever entering into a conversation with a person deluded by statist myths, it should be your singular goal to spark the light of antistatism through elucidation of intent.
2. http://www.psychology.uiowa.edu/faculty/harvey/People's Reasons for Divorcing.pdf
3. The American Economic Review, Vol. 81, No. 2, pp. 242-247, (May 1991).
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