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Debating with Statists

July 16, 2012

“I could write out a huge, detailed response to all your points but it would be an enormous waste of time. Until we can come to the agreement that forcefully extracting money (through taxation) is immoral, I won’t be able to change your mind. Unfortunately you’ve been convinced so strongly of the necessity of a government that you’ll hastily brush aside the moral dilemma. You’ll tell yourself there’s nothing wrong with taking someone’s property, or forcing people to conform to the wants and desires of the State. Until you cross that threshold and stand up against these violations of basic, moral principles that you and I both follow in our daily lives, we won’t get anywhere.”

This seems to be the inevitable conclusion to my political debates.

Typically, the debates I have with statists go like this. Before I even get a chance to explain the morality behind anarchism, I’m accused of being impractical, idealistic, and naive. My opponents bring up one misconception after another and remain hopelessly persistent until I realize that even if I do succeed in convincing them of the economic lunacy of the minimum wage, for instance, that’d just be the tip of the iceberg. Then I’d have to deal with everything else, from the supposed failure of the free market during the Industrial Revolution to the supposed legitimacy of laws pertaining to grass length. Upon consideration, I give up. It’s impossible to argue on a thousand different fronts without your adversary even acknowledging the moral superiority of non-aggression. You can probably attest to this: it’s incredibly frustrating.

Any suggestions for achieving more success?

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2 Comments
  1. aalt2012 permalink

    I don’t know if anything I say here will help. These are just ideas.

    Perhaps the people you argue with think “capitalism” means “crony-capitalism”. You have to be clear that the Industrial Revolution was not a true free market. If it were, there would not have been all those powerful cartels.

    You can remind statists that every law is backed by violence or threat of violence. If I don’t mow my lawn, people in uniforms can come and take money from me. If I refuse to hand it over, they can take it by force. Does that sound right?

    Statists are likely to believe in democracy. The US is far from democratic. Less than half the eligible population actually votes. The bizarre voting system of the US allows a candidate to win with less votes than the opposition (eg. Bush). When people vote for candidates who say they will end war very soon, and then it turns out they don’t, there is not much we can do about it. In Congress, bribery is tolerated and encouraged as long as it is called “lobbying”. So at least you should have a good chance of convincing them that our government is very corrupt.

    Also, it seems like people are trained not to question authority. If they don’t believe in arguing with an open mind, I don’t know what you can tell them.

    • I agree. The problem I always encounter is that my opponents aren’t actually willing to seriously consider the proposition at hand – once I clear up one area of concern, they just hop onto the next one. There isn’t a genuine, sincere interest in learning how a stateless society could work. I guess arguing on morality might be a good idea in provoking that interest.

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