Statism, like Ebola, is a threat we must stop from spreading

Ebola

In our perpetual battle against the state, it’s helpful to have durable metaphors to frame the contest in which we are engaged. I think Ebola offers us one such metaphor.

Scientists are undecided about whether viruses are living things. Viruses use the machinery of living things to replicate; they hijack our cells, but are they, themselves, alive? It’s a difficult call. Several things are certain. Viruses do not act purposefully. They have no will. They have no mind. They are dumb, inanimate, strands of RNA wrapped in protein.

This fact presents a problem when we want to talk about viruses. Words fail us. Someone might say “Ebola infects” or “Ebola hijacks” or “Ebola replicates.” But these words seem to ascribe agency to the virus. They could be interpreted to mean “Ebola is a living thing that does something.” But a virus is dead, not living. It is only a thing. It doesn’t DO anything itself. Instead, it gets living things to do things “for” it, primarily: to replicate the virus and spread it around.

The state acts the same way. Or to be more precise, the IDEA of the state acts the same way. The state does not exist as a living being. It is an idea; an idea that “resides” in our minds. But when people talk about the state, they use words properly reserved for living things. A person might say “America has interest in” or “America needs” or “America wants,” but these words are not accurate. America is an idea. An idea cannot “have an interest” in anything. An idea cannot “need” anything. An idea cannot “want” something. Only a living being possessing a mind can do those things. We can have an interest, we can want, we can need, our ideas cannot. WE are the agents. WE are the “hosts” of the idea of the state.

Just as Ebola, a non-living, non-animate object is often inaccurately personified as having one purpose: to replicate, so the idea of the state could be inaccurately personified as having one purpose: to enslave us. This mental virus “tries” to get each of us to surrender our self-ownership. It “tries” to convince us that we need rulers. The more successful it is, the more an “infected” person relaxes his or her vigilance vis-a-vis state. If the idea overwhelms the “mental immune system” of a majority of a particular population, it becomes a runaway “outbreak.” History is replete with such outbreaks. All the wars of history, all the great massacres, all the injustice and tyranny, and totalitarian regimes, can be attributed to this mental virus, taking hold of a population, making its people passively submit to bondage.

To repeat: A virus does not think. Neither does an idea. We must be careful not to personify them. What they “do” is not done by them. Neither a virus nor an idea live in the literal sense. Only the host of the virus or the idea lives. Recognize this fact. Our enemy is not a person. A virus is not a person. The state is not a person. It is an idea. An idea that infects its host’s mind.

To win against Ebola, we must first understand it. We must understand how it spreads. How it replicates. How it works in the body to destroy cells. We need to understand why some people are more susceptible to infection. We need to study how the body’s immune system fails or succeeds in the contest.

Similarly, to ultimately win our battle against statism, we must first understand it. We must understand the idea of the state. We must seek to learn how it infects minds and how it distorts those minds. We need to understand why some minds are more susceptible. Why the mental immune system of some minds cannot beat it. We need to try to comprehend what makes those of us who believe in liberty different. How did our minds fight off this infection? How have we developed mental immunity to this ubiquitous, deadly mental pathogen?

It is not easy for an individual to fight and win against the Ebola virus. An infected individual’s chances for survival are less than 50%. But a mind exposed to the idea of the state faces even longer odds. In fact, most minds are debilitated by this “sickness.” In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, many people still maintain that the state is not only necessary, but should be even bigger and more powerful.

Most people still think that it is ok for the state to forcibly aggress against another person. Look inward! Ask yourself if the idea of the state, that deadly mental plague, can be found hiding in some reservoir in your mind. If so, beware! For one day, your mental immune system may be stressed, or compromised, and that idea, now in remission, may come back to overwhelm you. It may “convince” you that you do not own yourself, that your life belongs to someone else. And once enough people capitulate, our destruction at the hand of a tyrant will soon follow.


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