From the White-PillBox: Part 37
A logical inconsistency of statism: violating consent is never okay; violating consent is okay when government does it.
This installment of the White Pill series offers the first of many examples of the internal inconsistencies of statism. As explained in essay 36, one of statism’s fundamental weaknesses (and thus a major White Pill) is how so many of the arguments used to support it lead to logical inconsistencies.
In this essay we will see that statists are self-contradictory regarding the most basic human question of all: should people interact peacefully by respecting others’ consent, or is it permissible to violate the consent of others to get what we want?
When an individual or group violates a person’s consent by initiating force against their person or property, it is considered wrong. We refer to this as the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP).
It is important to observe that this is not an ethic unique to libertarians. Virtually all people observe this principle, in virtually every action they take across their entire lives.
But for advocates of statism, what they do does not always match what they advocate.
What they do
In their private lives, even statists live according to the NAP. No matter their political views, day to day they respect the consent of their family, friends, associates, and even strangers.
What they advocate
Yet they support the idea of the State, which by definition initiates coercion via taxes and regulations. Whether they are aware of that nature or not, they support the existence of a body of men with a monopoly on the ability to violate the consent of peaceful people.
The inescapable contradiction
Their personal behavior contradicts their political views.
They would hardly dream of privately harming or threatening others, or robbing or damaging their property. Yet simultaneously, their political views seamlessly permit coercive actions by the State against non-consenting others.
Notice their private behavior implies an absoluteness to the respect of consent. They always respect the consent of others, and they expect the same from everyone, always (i.e., no one is given a pass).
Yet they contradict their own absolute standard. They give coercion a pass for the people in State positions.
A feeble attempt to find consent
Some statists exert just enough mental effort to claim they are not contradicting themselves. They use the notion of “consent of the governed” to imagine away political coercion. This idea claims the general public gives an implied consent to be governed.
But just a bit more mental effort demolishes this idea.
Even in situations where consent can be implied, any explicit expression of non-consent outranks implied consentThe implied “consent of the governed” disintegrates.
And then there are the statist bullies
A few among statists are more explicit. They want people to respect consent when they act privately, but acknowledge and approve of coercion by people acting in a State role. These statists are at least conscious they are making a moral exception. But they cannot justify it; it is merely a hypocritical assertion. It quite simply reflects the expediency of a bully.
Statists, in their actions and words, are demolished by simple logic.
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Notice how fundamental the NAP is to our nature. Children easily adopt this basic social rule from their earliest years. Even a thief feels wronged, if money he stole is in turn robbed from him.
This is not to say that statists perform no actions whatsoever that violate consent. Of course politicians do exactly this in their capacity as State agents; judges do it in their roles; law enforcers do so as well.
For example, if a temporarily comatose patient contracts pneumonia, it is reasonable for a doctor to assume the patient would normally consent to treatment, if the patient were conscious. This is an example of implied consent.
The most explicit form of countermanding implied consent is to simply declare “I do not consent”. But implied consent also vanishes when a person acts in defiance of the State, even in the smallest way. Driving one mile over the speed limit; slightly fudging a tax return; receiving cash for a service, and not reporting it to a tax agency. The very taking of such an action proves the act outranks a government imperative, thus no consent to it can possibly be implied.
For a more complete exposition see The Problem of Political Authority.