The State as Criminal

Defenders of the State are quick to contend that society would be plunged into crime and violence without the State to hold back the floodtides of depravity. But it is not merely the case that the State does a poor job of protecting us from criminals (as opposed to private security agencies), but The State is the Greatest Criminal.

Most capitalists and all anarcho-capitalists are quick to point out that it is the State, rather than private criminals, that has caused most of the violence in the world. In fact, more bombs are thrown by “archists” than “an-archists,” and more crimes against property are committed by “archists” than common “private sector” criminals.

The bureaucratic violence of the State depersonalizes all of our lives. Lord Acton said “power corrupts.” While he spoke primarily of those who wield that power, it also corrupts those who are subject to the power. The State legitimizes vengeance, theft and a “might makes right” philosophy in the eyes of its citizens, especially in a democracy, where “we the people” are said to be “taxing ourselves” and protecting our rights through violence. Forgiveness and other distinctively Christian traits are "privatized" and die the death of a thousand political and other more "realistic," or "practical" qualifications. Christian living becomes diluted in the face of "the banality of evil" which the State engenders.

Would the complete abolition of the State result in an outbreak of widespread crime and lawlessness? Not if the State abolishes itself. Sure, if criminals overthrew the State and gave themselves free reign to compete with the State (whereas before the State had a protected monopoly in certain criminal endeavors), crime would increase. But if those criminals who currently hold political office were to publicly repudiate their acts of theft and murder, the message that would be sent to everyone is "Thou shalt not steal -- even by majority vote." As long as the State is in business, a mixed message is sent to society: some crime -- some theft, some murder -- is OK, if you're among the "in" crowd.