Friday, May 20, 2011
The State as Family
Stefan Molyneux just made this great short film which shows some interesting and convincing comparisons between statism and family:
Most kids want stuff -- toys, candy, electronics -- and of course they want their parents to pay for it. They have the idea that daddy and mommy just sort of "have money." If you ask most little kids where that money comes from, they will say daddy works, or mommy works, but they don't really get it. They don't really think about the future, or deferring gratification, and they really don't understand what it means in the long run if their parents go into debt.
Most voters want stuff -- pensions, health care, welfare -- and of course they want the "government" to pay for it. They have the idea that politicians just sort of "have money." If you ask most voters where that money comes from, they will say -- er -- my taxes, but they don't really get it. They don't really think about the future, or deferring gratification, and they really don't understand what it means in the long run if their government goes into debt.
Parents often say that their kids should obey them because they pay the bills, and in particular, own the house -- "As long as you live under my roof, you'll live by my rules!" "If you don't like it here, feel free to leave!" Of course, it is very hard for children or teenagers to leave home, so the threat is fairly empty, but it seems to squelch debate anyway.
Patriots often say that citizens should obey the government because it provides services -- and in particular, because it runs the country. "If you live in this country, you obey the rules." "America -- love it or leave it." Of course, it's very hard for people to leave a country -- and go where -- to another tax cage? -- so the threat is fairly empty, but seems to squelch debate anyway.
In general, parents will take feedback from their children, but kids don't get any kind of binding vote. Parents also often bribe children to comply, and punish them if they disobey -- neither of which is any kind of rational argument. Governments will take feedback from their citizens, but citizens don't get any kind of binding vote. Governments also bribe citizens to comply, and punish them if they disobey -- neither of which is any kind of rational argument.
Children who are spoiled with appeasement and unrealistic expectations will throw temper tantrums whenever their bribes are limited in any way. Government dependents who are spoiled with appeasement and unrealistic expectations will throw temper tantrums whenever their bribes are limited in any way.
Patriotic propaganda explicitly references the family, and uses parental metaphors all the time... The Founding Fathers, the Department Of Homeland Security, the Fatherland in Germany, Mother Russia, the Strict Father (Republican) and the Caring Mother (Democrat), Uncle Sam and Homerule. Soldiers are "brothers in arms." Stalin was "Father of the Country." Mao was the "Father of the Chinese Revolution." And what's more American than "Mom and apple pie"? Just look at the parallels -- "My country, right or wrong," and "Blood is thicker than water." The arguments are almost identical...
If you receive government services, you owe obedience to the government -- just as if you take food and shelter from your parents, you owe obedience to your parents. Your parents own the house, so you have to obey them, or leave. The government owns the country, and so you have to obey it, or leave. These "arguments" make no sense, but we all hear them a thousand times from our parents, so when politicians repeat this crap, it's almost impossible to resist, because it's been so deeply ingrained in our brains. This is why people take politics so personally, because they're really talking about their families. Numerous studies show that political biases tend to occur at the unconscious level, in patterns formed during early childhood. Don't you see the pattern? The government is an effect of the family.
People try to change governments all the time, from the top down, using politics and laws and lobbying and voting, and it never really works. If you want to change the government, change the family. If you want a more peaceful society, have more peaceful families. Very, very few people can view politics outside the lens of their own family histories. Children eventually grow up and understand working, salaries, income and debt. Most voters never do. Most voters view government finances the way a five-year-old views his parents' money. And the reason for that is simple. Government schooling starts around the age of five. And that's when the indoctrination begins, and the thinking -- stops.