Mechanisms of Obedience to the State
Promoting future free societies is a real challenge. Huge resources fund pro-state propaganda and buy widespread support for the state. Even if states collapse and their resources dry up, there will still be sheer inertia, or ‘status quo bias’.
This website is intended to make more people aware of the possibility that the way forward, at least for some, is a no-state future. The pro-liberty camp proposes a future where we can live in the communities that we choose to live in. For most of us, these will be remarkably traditional, conservative (with a small c) places where we can devote ourselves to what humans do best, which is cooperating voluntarily to provide as well as possible for our families, friends, colleagues and other members of the community.
We won’t have to put up with the stifling effects of the proliferating rackets and fake narratives that pollute our late-stage big-state societies. Without state theft and coercion, we will be free to give life our best shot.
A great deal of work has been done by scholars in recent generations on all aspects of how human beings might, and in many cases in history actually did, arrange their affairs to provide ‘state services’ privately, efficiently and without the plagues of moral hazard and shirking which inevitably accompany monopoly provision, vote buying and taxation.
This academic work tacks on to the solid body of economic thought produced by the members of the Austrian School of Economics such as Menger, Mises, Rothbard, and Hayek. Their work shows why prices arrived at by people bargaining freely create the combined information and incentives system called ‘the price mechanism’. The price mechanism highlights the best uses of resources and rewards those who act accordingly. ‘Best’ means that which meets human wants and needs as real people subjectively perceive them.
So it is pretty clear that, if free societies came into being, they would be more prosperous, more fulfilling, much less anxious and basically a lot friendlier and calmer than the exhausted, tottering, bossed-about societies we are living in now. All of which is a round-about way of getting to the question:
“What’s not to like about living in a free society?”
And yet liberty is not an easy sell at all. Many people dismiss the idea out of hand. Some may actually become defensive and uncomfortable when it is explained. This post looks at some reasons why this might be the case for many members of Western populations.
An experiment was once conducted in which people were invited to consider various threats to life in England. At the beginning of the experiment, participants were asked to assign probabilities to such dangers. Included in the list was; ‘being eaten by a lion’. In England there are no lions except in zoos. Assuming you don’t climb into a lion enclosure, your chances of ending up as dinner for an oversized feline is really zero. And this risk did indeed receive very low billing when participants submitted their initial ranking of risks. Over the next several days the group participated in a lot of discussions about different kinds of risks to life and limb.
Only, since this experiment was not what it seemed, planted participants persistently referred to the patently improbable risk of lion attack. At the end of the experiment the (genuine) participants submitted revised lists again ranking the risks in perceived order of importance. The lions had moved significantly up the list of threats to life and limb.
This shows the power of propaganda. Propaganda means getting you to believe in things that are not really (or at least not necessarily) true but which others want you to believe for reasons of political or material self-interest. It works by bypassing rational thought to target emotions, especially fear (in this case ‘you might die!’), and by constant, simple repetition.
Here’s the thing. Unless you are pre-disposed not to believe anything the state or its corrupt corporate allies say – i.e. you are in effect a libertarian - you cannot prevent propaganda from getting into your head and changing the way you think. Just as the people in the experiment above could not help giving more weight to the ludicrous lion threat.
We have of course all been treated to a masterclass in propaganda in support of the fake coronavirus pandemic narrative. I remember coming into a room a year ago where the television was on. When I glanced at the screen, I saw it was a livid red. Across it there appeared one of the untruths or part truths used to scare the living daylights out of much of the population. It was ‘we are all in it together’ implying incorrectly that any healthy individual was potentially vulnerable, and ‘it can be spread by asymptomatic people’ (which is either so rare as to be immaterial or is just another lie).
Here, a lot of people have been traumatised by the (accidentally or intentionally) vicious British mainstream media propaganda campaign. They are still trapped in a psychotic delusionist state. Some may never recover. There is a story that the Korean government recognized it had accidentally overdone their alarmist propaganda during the overhyped SARS 1 scare over a decade ago. The kindest thing one can say about the UK government is that it may have also accidentally overdone things in their mistaken zeal to convince us to take seriously what they should quickly have realised merely amounted to the flu.
Misinformation is a constant part of our experience in a politics saturated society. The political system works with private interests embedded in it. For example, ‘official’ bodies such as the CDC, WHO and the FDA get roughly half of their funding from corporate, largely Big Pharma and billionaire, sources. They have huge advertising budgets and political influence, which readily explain mainstream media’s willingness to suppress information unfavourable to the state, or its cronies and donors.
Health advisors like Fauci have been free to drum pro-vaccine and lockdown assertions into people, despite having hundreds of pharma patents, a financial interest in the Moderna DNA therapy, and a major role in shifting ‘Gain of Function’ (i.e. deliberately trying to make viruses more dangerous) research from the USA to Wuhan in China. You really can’t make this stuff up, nor do you need to. It’s so blatant.
Nor should we neglect warmongering propaganda. One only has only to talk to most people about foreign policy, to be treated to endlessly repeated, badly digested, mainstream media talking points about various regimes which the military-industrial complex deep state wishes to confront for its own purposes – which are always more war and preparations for war.
Key to this pervasive propaganda effort is state-mandated and defined compulsory ‘education’, which is an engine of indoctrination for young people. This is clearly seen when the schools actually teach man-made global warming, as they do in Britain. Supposedly an alarming proportion of British youngsters is plagued by nightmares about global warming.
This is an unsubstantiated, indeed already falsified hypothesis (see www.awah.uk post ‘Some Perspective on Climate Change’). It is just like the coronavirus story, the vaccination stories in general and, of course, the benevolent-state story itself. As a pure parasite, the state has neither the wish nor the ability to improve the lot of its human cattle overall. All these false notions are ideas with no empirical support in real ‘science’.
They depend on regular repetition of falsehoods by supposedly authoritative, bought-and-paid-for voices to remain implanted in most people’s heads. Luckily lies are expensive but the truth is cheap.
As an aside, these propaganda memes are all vulnerable to the Tom Woods chart test. Tom Woods is a very effective and not all grouchy libertarian commentator. He does a regular daily podcast which is good listening, for example when driving (on Spotify or www.tomwoods.com). Like most libertarians, he has been energized by the sinister, coordinated ‘pandemic’ narrative and the cavalier attacks on our freedom. He has gained a higher profile because of his coronavirus dissent. And he has been censored by Big Tech as a result. One way that one can spot the people telling the truth is that they are the ones getting shouted down, censored or cancelled.
Tom has a collection of charts (‘Charts CNN forgot’) showing reported coronavirus deaths or cases in various states in the USA. If one removes the dates from the x axis and then asks people when they think mask mandates or lockdown measures were introduced in such and such a state, they cannot tell based on the chart. That’s because all the coronavirus measures, so harmful to human flourishing in every other way, were also medically useless in tackling coronavirus. The charts for no-lockdown and/or no-mask states are indistinguishable from the others (in fact often somewhat better).
One could look in vain, too, for the chart points where increasing ‘man-made’ carbon dioxide emissions had any clear echo in global temperature records, or the point on various disease mortality charts when allegedly game-changing vaccines and drugs were introduced.
Imagine if one could look at (undated) historic charts of economic activity and spot the moments when more state spending and meddling increased prosperity. We libertarians would never hear the end of it from statists. But, of course, it doesn’t happen. The state is a fraud (see www.awah.uk post ‘Twice as Well-off Without the State’). You get growth by cutting the state back. For example, Germany or China famously transformed their economies by freeing them from state planning, in the 1940s and 1990s respectively.
A powerful ally of those who are paid to disseminate profitable (for some) distorted narratives about the world is simple self-interest. Famously, as the saying goes, you can’t explain something to somebody who is paid not to understand it. Closing one’s ears to disruptive information is extremely human and understandable.
It’s one big reason why you need open competitive markets in every area of activity. Monopolistic firms and agencies are nearly always the result of state privilege. They are also the only places where people can get away with not responding to relevant information about what works and what doesn’t. In a competitive non-state society, nobody would be wasting their time, and others’, spouting politically fashionable nonsense – because there would be no state system to reward such behaviour, and the customers certainly won’t be interested.
When one tots up the UK households that get some or all of their income from the state, especially at the moment, plus the insolvent banks, their zombie company customers and the employees of all the big ‘corrupt corporates’ kept in being by state power and custom (for example Big Pharma purveyors of unnecessary vaccines), you see that the block of people with no interest in hearing about the end of the modern state is very big indeed. This is, as Professor Dumbledore in Harry Potter would say, ‘quite understandable’.
One way to look at government spending and ‘waste’ is to assume that they are the unavoidable cost of buying enough support to keep big states politically viable. Unfortunately for everyone’s peace of mind, the cost of buying support for the current status quo is steadily increasing as old and new promises and activities hoover up resources created in societies’ productive sectors. As politically mandated costs go up, available resources are falling. The calculus of self-interest is precarious. Money printing merely delays the inevitable while sapping productive sector wealth and energy.
STATUS QUO BIAS
Probing deeper into the psychological basis of resistance to the allure of pro-liberty ideas, we find deep-rooted habits of the human mind. We are always wary of change and deeply resistant to any and all changes in our societies’ accepted arrangements. Every society is mainly composed of people who think that their customs are right. It is only when you list the strange customs which have been accepted as normal by some group or other that the strangeness of this situation becomes clear. The following arrangements - killing women, children and old men in conquered towns, infanticide, mixed nude bathing, jailing criminals, slavery, drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco or cannabis, killing and burning widows, reading the future by looking at animal entrails, male or female genital mutilation, child or adult human sacrifice, celibate priests, topless sunbathing, and murdering heretics, witches or homosexuals - have all been seen as right in some societies, but reprehensible in others.
Human beings have taken over the world because they are bright enough to learn new techniques for coping with life in different places. Then they use language to pass them on to subsequent generations. A culture is an accumulation of arrangements and ideas that, overall, have worked so far. Members of a surviving culture are still alive (rather than dead from disease, hunger or warfare) so their culture’s notions are likely to be of some use.
It is not necessarily possible to tell which arrangements in a society actually help the group to survive. Did Christendom survive despite or because its priests could not marry? Perhaps it was irrelevant? Who knows? Evolution probably favours clinging to all cultural traditions, however odd they may seem, to avoid the risk of dumping one that actually works. Inevitably some treasured cultural arrangements are in fact counterproductive. The modern big state is Exhibit A in the list of bad ideas in our cultural mix.
Status Quo Bias is a pretty significant barrier to the acceptance of pro-freedom ideas as apparently radical as those proposed by libertarians. For example, the notion of competing justice and protection agencies seems very hard for people to accept. Why would people automatically submit to arbitration and voluntarily abide by judgements which went against them? It seems hard for most state citizens to imagine how that would work. And unnecessary too, because presumably (reflecting your own status quo bias) there is a good reason for our current (frankly bizarre) state-centred model of law enforcement.
PRO-STATE PROPAGANDA, SELF INTEREST AND STATUS QUO BIAS WON’T LAST
Except that our system of justice doesn’t really work very well, and nor do many other current arrangements in society. We are likely on the verge of a general, systemic failure of financial, political and monetary arrangements in the West. Under the pressure of a determined Progressive or Statist opinion, societies have become over-centralised, fragile and ever more clearly rigged in favour of our predatory and incompetent elites.
On the propaganda front, mainstream media, despite its funding advantage, is steadily losing its audience. The American CNN network’s audience is reported to have shrunk to a fraction of its size over the past year or so. Here in Britain the BBC is being fired by increasing numbers of people cancelling their TV tax payments. Increasingly, its only Big-Tech’s woke censorship and search engine manipulation which keeps the establishment’s narratives going on the internet.
Meanwhile, as libertarians and Austrian Economists point out, unfree societies are always relatively impoverished societies. If the productive sector continues to contract in western societies, neither mass indoctrination nor the bought-and-paid-for loyalty of sections of the population will be affordable. As state currencies and promises lose credibility, the resources to fund propaganda mind-control will not be there. As time goes by there will not be enough money to buy support for current the status quo project.
THE WEF GREAT RESET ACCELERATES STATE FAILURE
That may be why the globalist establishment is creating police states in the West under cover of the fake pandemic narrative. Populations are likely to cut up rough when those states default, so they need to be cowed into submission in advance.
Historically elections in a Western country like Britain have been determined by the votes of retired people and those about to retire. This is because older people tend to believe in the myth of the state enough to bother to vote. And they are more numerous than later baby bust generations. Such voters have as a result been promised a great deal by the state to make unproductive retirement agreeable. House prices have been kept high by money-printing and restrictive planning systems (see www.awah.uk post ‘Cheaper Better Housing after the Fall’) - thus making family formation by younger generations very difficult.
Financial markets have also been pumped up by exponentially growing money creation to wholly unsustainable levels to delay state bankruptcy and protect unviable pension promises. Pensioners will get private and public sector pensions - the latter index-linked for privileged employees of the state – and decades of free medical care. The globalists know it cannot last. And why pony up for these people, if you can simply deem them ‘inessential’.
As about to be divorced Melinda Gates commented, ‘we’ didn’t realise how much economic damage would be done by the lockdowns. In the rush to terrify hitherto free populations into total compliance, Big-Tech, Gates/Big-Pharma, and Davos crowd/WEF globalists allies have scored a massive economic own goal. That is why they will fail over the next decade or so (see, in particular, Martin Armstrong’s website www.armstrongeconomics.com).
Technocratic totalitarians tend to think of ‘the economy’ as a kind of massive engineering contraption which they can somehow operate or ‘centrally plan’. They think it can be switched off and on without harm. They seem also to imagine that it will provide them with high living standards whether or not most people prosper, or indeed survive. This is not so. They cannot understand that society is a self-ordering network of productive private arrangements. It somehow keeps going despite their uncomprehending, parasitic meddling. They are the viruses we would be better off without, and not, as they believe, us.
LOCKDOWNS HAVE UNDERMINED THE CREDIBILITY OF STATE ‘EDUCATION’.
A particular feature of the crippling and medically counter-productive measures taken by most western governments, at the behest of Bill Gates funded public health advisers, has been the remarkable damage done to the image of mass state schooling. Around the world, parents have discovered how their children are being indoctrinated and what they are being taught – or are not being taught. School teacher unions have emulated healthcare workers in reducing output and trying to delay a return to normal ‘work’. This is still more the case with UK universities. A combination of academic strikes and then remote learning under house-arrest has greatly undermined the plausibility of mass university education.
THE MSM GOES OVER TO THE DARK SIDE
Similarly, the ‘mainstream’, or legacy (i.e. ‘dying’), media have thrown their lot in with the dark side. Nearly every day, certainly every week, there are huge demonstrations somewhere in the Western world against the lockdowns and the WEF sponsored dying of the light. In any other case these demonstrations would be front-page news, especially as they often involve the citizenry stoving in all too thin police lines. And yet nothing. Neither the Marxists in the BBC nor the ten or fewer globalist-controlled news organisations which dominate the bought-and-paid-for legacy media worldwide report on them. Now, people collectively can be pretty dumb, and for a long time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time, as the great warmonger Lincoln famously opined. Deep down they twig that their hitherto trusted ‘news’ providers have turned against them and indeed against the truth. Painful as that is, the MSM will soon be done as a mechanism of obedience.
CAN ANTI-LIBERTY STATUS QUO BIAS BE OVERCOME?
So much for propaganda and self-interest as pillars of the undeserving state. These mechanisms of state control are likely to be weaker in future. Of course, they may be replaced by straightforward fear of the police state, as in the globalists’ dreams. But fearmongering fails eventually. In failing it merely destroys the ultimate illusory narrative; that of the benign state. The parasites will then simply be left squirming in plain sight.
That just leaves the formidable mechanism of ‘status quo bias’ as a sort of inertia supporting soon to be thoroughly discredited states, and barring the route to the safe haven of radically decentralized non-state societies.
The core of the modern state, of the parasitical criminal association that it really is, is its monopoly on judgement. The state is judge and jury in its own cases, contrary to Natural Justice (see www.awah.uk posts ‘Defending Liberty against Internal Predators’ and ‘Justice or the State’). If it were not so, the state would be immediately dismantled. The state’s monopoly on justice and enforcement exists to prevent you from protecting yourself from it. In a free society a (tax)man demanding money with menaces would be hauled in front of a judgement firm directly, and made to pay restitution, as any common criminal should.
The point is that in earlier societies there was an opposite status quo bias in favour of non-state justice. In such a stateless society it really isn’t hard to imagine that people would automatically submit to judgement by non-state judges. It is just the norm. People really do, or did, these things. They comply naturally. Yes, they also want to avoid losing the benefit of belonging to their group, a loss which could mean destitution or death for the recalcitrant individual. But people simply do what their society expects them to do.
Indeed, what people in private-law societies couldn’t imagine is the point of one person or group (the ‘state’) having a monopoly on justice. Obviously, they would say, members of the monopoly judgement agency would simply exploit it unfairly to extort benefits for themselves, like any sensible monopolist. And they would, as we know, be quite right. Nor would jailing and feeding malefactors at public expense, rather than making them work to compensate their victims, seem at all sensible to them.
A recent example of a surviving private law society has been Somalia. There clan-based adjudication based on restitution, sureties and independent adjudication survived the collapse of a successor state to the pointless Italian colonial setup. The result was a non-state society describing itself engagingly enough as (something like) ‘United Courts of Justice. Statist adore making fun of libertarians; asking why didn’t we all go and live there. Well, stateless or not, it remained poor – but it did in its brief existence achieve quite an improvement in prosperity relative to the rest of Africa. Soon enough however the Americans bombed it into the modern world. Somalia officially has a state again. Great.
A little over a century ago in the English-speaking societies, status quo bias was acting in support of a deeply pro-liberty position. But that was totally turned around by over a century of – as it turned out misguided - socialist agitation. But there is hope. What was once the case can be the case again. All we need is a dedicated pro-liberty minority to chip away at the existing statist status quo bias. It need not take a century.