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Comments like this bother me, and not only because of the dishonest trick of subtly changing the context so as to bring in an entirely unrelated fact as an argument to the issue at hand. That's a practice not unprecedented from that particular author, and perhaps worthy of another discussion, but it is not what really bothers me about it.

What bothers me is the greater fallacy it implies. There's no doubt that the state, any state, even the most benign state - of which group the current United States Federal State is a member - is evil. And there's no doubt that some states, N. Korea and Iran come to mind immediately, though there are all too many others - are unmitigated evils. But these individual and separate - barely so, for now - United States, and the Federal state, are mitigated evils. Billy Beck has recently written about moral distinctions, and this is a distinction that the author of the above comment, and so many others, quite consistently fail to make.

The state, like any other abstract collection of people, is not an independently existent entity, it is an aggregate of the decisions and actions of individuals. As such, it does not have any power, ability, or interests beyond those of the individuals comprising it. The state, and I'm now referring specifically to the Federal State under which I live, is made up of some very bad people, some very good people, and the vast middle of honestly well-intentioned people with no clue about what is really good or how to acheive it.

It's been said, and I agree, that evil has no power of it's own, that it can only acheive by turning the power of good to its ends. So why does our Federal State seem to have achieved a monolithic evil that transcends the good intentions of the greater bulk of its individual members? The road to hell is paved with good intentions. That saying is perhaps far more true than the trite observation on the human condition that it is used for these days.

Good intentions are good, and when combined with the capacity for planning and action inherent to the human mind, have considerable power. But put them in a philosophical vacuum, and that power is open and available to the must ruthless and cunning force with an eye toward using it. Good intentions do indeed pave a road, but good intentions alone cannot plot a course for that road to follow. Hell, in the form of the few truly bad people in government and the influential elite, if allowed to set its course will naturally lead that road to its own home.

To answer every observation of the mitigation of state evil, every instance of a good produced by the state, whether intentional or accidental, with another cry from the mountaintops of "the state is evil" is a failure to make a vitally important moral distinction. That failure leaves one blind to where evil's power comes from, what is controlling that power, and how it is controlled.

If your preferred state of the union is smashed, then you should realilze that you will never acquire a hammer big enough to smash it - not politically, not rhetorically, and not though force of arms. If you want to escape it, then realize that your only possible escape is solitude, and even that is an iffy proposition.

If you want to remove the evil of the state from your society, then you'd better start making distinctions.

Until you break the hold that evil has on the good intentions of your fellow man, you will not break the hold that evil has on your society. You cannot do that until you first realize that they are good intentions, and that they are good. Your cry of "smash the state" in response to every action of the state, good or bad without distinction, is seen, and rightly so, as opposition to good intentions. If you want to smash the state, then start filling the philosophical vacuum that allows evil to turn those good intentions to its own end.

Don't try to convince your well-intentioned fellow man to abandon the state. Instead show him to what ends his good intentions should be put - the ends, not the means. Give him the tools to see that the state is inherently in conflict with his good intentions, and he will remove from evil's grasp the power of his good intentions without your prompting. Then the state will wither on the vine.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach him to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life. This is a concept any good libertarian holds near and dear to his heart. But when it comes to the ideas that drive the world, he wants to give men his ideas rather than teach them to create their own ideas. When it comes to ideas, most Americans don't want handouts - they are repelled quite violently from any suggestion of it. The bad people in our midst have understood this for a long time, they have made the proper distinctions even while teaching the rest of us not to, and it has been their teaching that has allowed so many to create for themselves the evil ideas that have brought us to our current State.


Teach a man to fish and he fishes out your fisheries.

Posted by Walter E Wallis at Sunday, August 07, 2005 04:02 PM


Then the next step is to teach him to build and stock fisheries...

Oh, and teach him property rights while your at it. Or buy a guard dog.

Posted by kylben at Sunday, August 07, 2005 04:13 PM

Good stuff, Kyle!

I was inspired by your thoughts, so I <a href="http://robertopia.blogspot....">added a few</a> of my own (giving you full credit, of course). Thanks.

Posted by Robert at Sunday, August 14, 2005 01:42 PM


I noticed the links in my referral logs a day or two ago. Thanks for the nice writeup.

I had come across your blog on BlogExplosion a couple of months back, and bookmarked it, but never had a chance to check it out again. I'll have to start looking at it, it looks good.

PS, I liked the old look, not original maybe, but classy and easy on the eyes.

Posted by kylben at Sunday, August 14, 2005 02:36 PM

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