The violence in our culture is appalling, heinous, tragic, entirely predictable and yet not uncommon. As an individualist, the use of words such as a “society” or “culture” must not be afforded the status or rights of an individual, but the concepts are necessary and can remain useful in discussing cultural ills. The “culture” referred to in this article is simply the amalgams of human values and tastes across the world. It is important not to focus simply on the blatantly forceful culture of the United States but to focus on the world large. The purpose of this article is to offer a simple thesis as to a contributing cause behind these acts of violence that we have become all too familiar with.
As is the case with many distorted and corrupted issues in our time, we can begin with the real meanings of certain terms as they are used to misconstrue one good idea after another. (See liberalism, capitalism, etc…) The foreign policies of the U.S. and the majority of the Western world have since before WWII, dramatically shifted back towards the Mercantilist ideals of the late middle ages. The populace of any given nation has never been too fond of their overlord’s imperial adventures, and they especially hate footing the bill. Serving to change public opinion the term “Isolationist” was dragged through the mud and defined as a derogatory label that Murray Rothbard referred to as meaning “If not actively pro-Nazi, “isolationists” at the very least were narrow-minded ignoramuses ignorant of the world around them.”1
Rothbard again pointed out that it was not enough to simply make up a word and ruin it, but that a word with positive connotations must be redefined. “Until the smear campaign of the 1930s, opponents of war were considered the true “internationalists”, men who opposed the aggrandizement of the Nation State and favored peace, free trade, free migration and free cultural exchanges…”2.
So here is where we have a shift in lexicon that allows entirely imperialistic exercises of government to be sold to the populace as acts of internationalism, multi-culturalism and all that other crap that doesn’t have any meaning.
When the government acts on our behalf overseas it plays by no rules. They are bullying other kids on the playground of the world, and what happens to bullies? This is an oversimplification of the principle of blowback, but it can’t be overlooked in terms of international/political violence. The same behavior that sparks the blowback we have experienced also sparks terror here at home.
In much of the West, and the United States in particular, the governments are over-the-top paternalistic. They treat the ‘citizenry’ as if they are at best useful idiots, and at worse in the way of “collective progress”. It is naïve to think that people will react differently to governments doing the bullying than they would if it were anyone else. Of course it is not as easy to deal with the Leviathan that is the State as it is the playground bully. To punch Uncle Sam in the nose is a suicide wish. But it is equally naïve to assume that the anguish and discontent created by the policies of the State will simply wash away unnoticed.
I do not have any extra knowledge as to what motivated the murderers in Blacksburg, Aurora, Newtown, Boston, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria. No matter the aggressor, be it the U.S., NATO, Iran, or foreign/domestic terrorists there is one commonality. Everyone alive on Earth today has grown up under the blanket of force that we call the state.
Whether it be through the foreign policy of any number of nation States, or the violent nature of the welfare state, violence is constant in our lives. There can be no effective discussion of cultural ills until the amount of violence and coercion in our lives is recognized. Statism is a kind of slow and painful torture. People react in a million different ways. Some develop a sort of “Stockholm Statism”, and others submit peacefully so to protect their families. Others react violently and irrationally. Does that sound familiar?
A child grows up and imitates the bad habits of their parents. When kids of the paternal state grow up, do they see a problem with violence? Or do they see it as the answer?
Notes 1 and 2: Rothbard, Murray Newton. “War and Foreign Policy.” For A New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto. Rev. ed. San Francisco, Calif.: Fox & Wilkes, 1978. 329-330. e-Book.