Short Take: Politics and Violence, Libertarianism 101
The Violence Inherent in the System
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All Political Power Originates in Violence
A law for which no enforcement mechanism exists is not a law. It is a LARP or a declaration of feeling.
The power of any law comes from the fact that armed men stand ready to commit an escalating series of violence against those who do not comply. And even the lightest touch, subtlest “Nudge” laws gain their power via subtly manipulating the circumstances in which violence by state is already applied. (when you fill out the tax form you must fill out or be dragged to prison, this new law will let you fill in a box to receive $200 back if you have a dog… whom the IRS would shoot before taking you to prison if you had not surrendered the money to them in the first place)
To say someone has political power whether a voter, an activist, or a politician… is to say they can effect political outcomes such that they can make violence more or less likely to be exercised against someone.
If your political activism and activity is not connected to any mechanism to commit violence, whether through the states agents, or through an illegal organization… you are not a political actor. You are a “citizen”, “voter”, “activist”, “politician” in the same way the madman at the asylum is “Napoleon”, you may play-act with the symbols of power… but you do not interact with it.
All Political Discussion Terminates in Violence
All discussions of politics is inevitably, and CAN ONLY BE, a conspiracy to commit violence, whether legally through the state, illegally through some form of direct action or “terrorism”, or Stochastically through some impact on the culture or wider discussion which will make the prior two more likely or effect their nature.
If your supposedly “political” speakings have no connection to state or non-state “policy” Ie. Violence… then they are not political. You are engaged in fantasy at best, grovelling at worst.
This is why so many in the safety brigade and regime are not incorrect when they call the political speech of their opponents “Dangerous” or a form of “Violence”. All political speech is necessarily, by the nature of being political, directed to altering the atmosphere, calculus, mechanisms, and willing committal of state and non-state violence.
None of this should be shocking
Clausewitz observed “War is politics by other means”
Vladimir Lenin observed the inverse: “Politics is warfare by other means”
In both they merely restated Hobbes: The state of nature is a state of war and peace is merely an artifice mutually consented to by all sides under a sovereign... which can be unilaterally terminated at will by any party, and rationally must be terminated in any one of a thousand circumstances.
That Rights and Liberties are "Given by God" is a euphemism for the violence and threat implicit in the claims of free men.
The founders saying their rights were "endowed by God", was no different than Carolus Rex declaring he was "Chosen by Heaven"... It was a euphemism and a flex that their violence and dominance of fate had left them masters of their domain, and that they'd meet any challenge with as much violence as a crusader or Inquisitor would visit upon a heretic challenger.
The oldest moral instinct, utterly ignored by Jonathan Haidt (the hack), is observable in the lowest of mammals. It is Territoriality: the property instinct.
The basis of all political orders until the inhuman horrors of communism.
All Property is a Declared Pre-Commitment to Violence
Whether this be the TomCat hissing and threatening a brawl over his claim to an alley-way, or whether it be a King or President issuing an ultimatum threatening war unless foreign troop are removed from his border…
All property, all territory, is backed by an innate threat and commitment to violence. Whether this be a recently annexed province, a family home, a critter’s hovel, or indeed one’s own body.
a 10 year old girlchild is home alone when she hears a crashing noise coming from upstairs… what does she do? She grabs the kitchen knife and family dog, and goes to investigate.
She most likely would not do so if she were at school or a rec center late and heard a crash come from a darkened corridor, maybe one in 1000 would have such civic feeling.
She certainly wouldn’t do so if she heard it coming from a darkened alley… she’d flee.
But even the youngest and most vulnerable are compelled to investigate and not surrender their home to an unknown threat… they must at least stand long enough to verify if they are under attack, unlike the alleyway which they are happy to flee and never revisit.
This is the basis of all property. And the reason the legal system has so heavily formalized protections of property, even in jurisdictions where property rights are granted no constitutional status.
Nothing is so fatal to regime’s as their inability to safeguard property. Even nominally legal and legislatively passed takings of unique and individual classes of property (a major canal say, or a regions oil reserves) destabilize regimes and set off waves of capital flight, if not war. More general assaults on property invariably start rebellions and insurgencies.
The Taliban won in Afghanistan, against the largest empire in human history… in large part because their parallel tracking and registry of water rights and property, was vastly more accurate than the afghan national government’s, and not nearly as abused by warlords and regional nepotism… By the fall of Kabul large swathes of Afghanistan needed the Taliban to win the war, because they’d lose their homes, businesses and water if the Taliban lost.
Per Hobbes men enter into Civilization to secure their personal safety, and the safety of the things the expend their lifespan to achieve: Their families, property, ambitions, religious faith…
If a man spent 10 years of his life to earn enough to purchase a home… only for a regime to capriciously take it without compensation, then mere rationality dictates he should be willing engage in warfare and risk death to bring down such a regime and regain that property if the risk of death and loss of his 40 remaining years is less than 25%.
And This is if the regime is otherwise good, and he does not expect similar violations in the future… In truth once you have been personally abused in such a manner, your only hope of liberty and regaining the mere possibility of a standard of life at all tolerable is invariably through some horrific conflict and forcing your enemy either to terms, or to the grave.
This logic is the Basis of all western political theory. Hobbes was England’s first and most foundational political scientist. Whether it be John Locke’s liberalism, Burke’s conservatism, Patrick Henry’s firebrand cries of “Liberty or Death”, John Stuart Mill’s Meditations “On Liberty”, or the Libertarians of the 20th and 21st century…
All discussions of liberty begin not with euphemisms about being “endowed” by one’s “creator”, or “God Given Rights”… but in the brutal logic of Hobbes’ Calculus of Terror, Violence, Threat, and Counter-threat.
The uneasy realization that the “social contract” can be unilaterally violated or revoked by anyone at any moment, without announcement but, merely the flash of a dagger in the dark. And indeed must be in any one of a thousand different circumstances, where state mechanism might indeed force someone to lash out from mere rational self-preservation.
In Hobbesian logic there is no difference between the Sovereign king or president, and the rebel fugitive… both stand in the state of nature outside civilization acting with pure violence to maintain what they have or achieve what they might desire, it is the protected civilized people who are exceptional in having achieved a state of non-warfare under a king, or warlord, or republic, in which their disputes and rights might be protected and defended by the superior power they’ve subordinated themselves to…
And any misstep by that Sovereign power or by the subject themselves, could tear that fabric thin shelter they’ve found, and cast them out back into the state of war.
If you are not thinking about violence: the threat of violence; the possibility of violence; the circumstances that might motivate you to commit violence; the methodology by which you could commit violence; the moral justifications by which you could coordinate violence; the rights for which you would defend with violence; the stages by which you would escalate violence; the words by which you would provoke violence; the indignities you suffer under threat of violence; the regulations you obey which are backed with violence; the resources you surrender to stay off the violence; the language your opponents use to subject you to violence; the strategies by which you could gain via violence; the consequences of under-estimating the potential for violence; the ways you might defend a favourable order from violence; and the means by which you might negotiate away from violence…
If you are not thinking of these things CONSTANTLY, such that they are implicit in every thought you have about electoral politics, foreign politics, legal matters, business regulation, economics, the cost of living, economics… You have not only been rendered dangerously naïve by a failure of education, you are divorced from the 400 year long history of English political theory.
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Follow me on Twitter: @FromKulak