When asked to account for the inspiration behind his voluminous output, Murray N Rothbard is supposed to have replied “hatred is my muse”. In other words, he could not bear to let the scores of fallacies etched into some statist screed stand unanswered.
The Western condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has once again served to highlight the exceptionalist attitude of the West, and of the United States in particular. Whichever standards other countries and governments are held to, the West believes that it is permitted to deviate from, or even obliterate those standards, labelling its own interventionist feats with some other, innocuous term, while utilising a half-baked moral justification in order to promote its acceptability.
[This article is excerpted and adapted from an essay published previously on Free Life.]
It can scarcely be denied that the past two years have seen a rapid increase in the centralisation and consolidation of state power. While 2019 was hardly a small-state paradise, the penchant for central planning has gathered pace during the time in which we were all confined to COVID house arrest. Indeed, the whole sorry spectacle of lockdowns, masking, distancing and mass vaccination programmes were themselves uniform, top-down responses to a particular problem. Never matter how disastrous and destructive these policies, governments haven’t wavered from the notion that more of their input is the panacea to every societal ill – most of which, needless to say, are caused by governments themselves. Indeed, there is a pending attempt to harmonise government responses to health “emergencies” under the auspices of the World Health Organisation through a “pandemic treaty”.
However much people may disagree on the how big the state should be, it is almost universally acknowledged that “national defence” – the protection of the citizenry from invasion by foreign states – is regarded not only as the primary function of the state but also its very raison d’être. Indeed, together with domestic security and protection from private criminals, such a function is joined at the hip with the state’s monopolistic use of force. Thus, it is difficult to imagine how, without this function, the state could exist as a distinct institution.
Recently, I posted on Free Life an analysis of the threats that can be posed to liberty by interstate relations and conflicts. Today, I wish to reiterate one particular part of that analysis: that we cannot analyse relationships between states by reference to libertarian principles in exactly the same way in which we discuss relationships between individual people.
Recently, I posted a short article explaining that the essence of the so-called “fake news” phenomenon lies not so much in the relaying of outright falsehoods, but in the selection, ordering and presentation of information in such a way as to lend a wrong impression. In passing, we noted also that the majority of “disinformation” is fostered not by private individuals posting on their Twitter or Facebook accounts, but by the government itself. In this present article, we will attempt to get to the bottom of why it is that the state is committed to disseminating so many officially believed falsehoods. As we shall see, the basic reasons are, at bottom, very simple, and are only tangentially related to the fact that governments are staffed by shameless amoralists.
Britain has spent the long weekend partying in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, the only occasion on which such a milestone has been reached. Ordinarily, our cultural leftist establishment and mainstream media tend to regard Britain’s history, traditions and patriotism as either an embarrassment or an active target for denigration. Her Majesty, however, seems to be spared much of this vitriol; instead, we cling onto her as a vestige of pride in an era struggling to find little else to celebrate.