The Confiscatory Nature of the State

With the passing of our recent midterm election, we lived through the banter of the Repubs claiming the Demos were socialist while the Demos warned of the “extreme” politics of the Republican Party. While the differences between the two parties are not entirely non existant, all in all they resemble each other more than not. Is there grounds for referring to one as socialist and not the other? Can we truthfully call either party socialist and is either or both “extreme”?

Under the classic definition of socialism as “ownership of the means”, we would have a difficult time classifying either the platforms or the actual legislation of either major American political party as even faintly socialist. With few exceptions, both support the ownership of the means of production by monopoly corporations. Corporatism is much more closely associated with fascism, than state socialism. Much of the New Deal, the most prominent example the right would offer, was unapologetically corporatist and that which even tipped its hat to social welfare can be justified more as a last ditch effort to revive and supplement the industrial monopoly rather than create a legitimate social welfare system. No matter the program, welfare or warfare, the pork eventually makes its way to corporate caches.

However, one of the principles of coercive socialism is the redistribution of wealth. Both parties hold this principle in equally high regard. It is no accident that both parties almost unanimously supported the bank bailout, the largest transfer of wealth from the productive sector to the parasitical sector in history.

The correlation with coercive socialism is a correlation of the “means” and not the ends. The goal of coercive socialism is a more equal distribution of concentrated wealth, while the goal of the mainstream politicos is to further concentrate wealth within the state apparatus itself and the elite {and not so elite} wards of the state. In this light, the New Deal can be honestly viewed as “allowing” super profit taking to continue without the impediment of the “marketplace” having to provide for the social welfare of monopoly industry’s workers. Better the cost of worker welfare be undertaken within the legal framework of the state than the confines of the corporate bottom line.

Both systems however, share the forceful collection of value produced by others and redistribution by “authorities” who know best how value produced should be distributed. We shudder to think what would happen if the value of the product found its natural level and destination within the economy!

The American welfare/warfare state is defined by redistribution. The respective parties take their sides on who should receive the bounty, but both strongly support the coercive method of redistribution. What socioeconomic sector the wealth should come from is at times disputed and adjusted, but both agree forced redistribution should occur.

But this political conundrum isn’t really that odd. The political process itself is based on coercive confiscation. In fact, all non consensual government requires confiscation and redistribution from the productive sector to the parasitical sector. And, throughout political history, we have witnessed little non consensual governing {governing with full consent} of any appreciable scale. The coercive state is defined by force and productive redistribution.

Weber defined the state as a “monopoly of legitimate violence within a region”. This definition is for the most part accepted and is rarely even debated, although it has been extrapolated and expounded upon.

The confiscation of labor product to fund the state is an obvious violation of our freedom to own that which we produce. This falls nicely into Weber’s simple but precise definition, as what most would call theft, the state legitimizes as “income tax”, “sales tax” or other confiscatory taxes.

Can there be a “limited state”, as some propose?

While the monopoly of the state cannot be eliminated without eliminating the state, the question rests on whether the “legitimate violence” can be limited, while still retaining the monopoly. Can the violent intrusion into the lives of the population be limited? The catch 22 is the presence of the “monopoly of violence” or force by the same entity by which the population is attempting to limit the degree and amount of violence. By what method does one use to limit force other than force?

Social contract theory, often used to legitimize the illegitimate violence of the state, is based on two faulty assumptions. The first is the assumption that a stateless society is doomed to chaos and destruction, pitting humans in a violent struggle to survive one against another. The second is that it is actually a binding contract.

While most of human history has been spent in the state of anarchy, we will find scant evidence of that in history books. In fact, history books are a rose colored version of the genesis and history of the “state”, rather than actual human history.

Wars initiated by states against one another are made out to be great peace seeking missions initiated by whatever nation the book happens to be published in. Starvation is pinned to natural disasters, not state land confiscation or large scale destruction or theft of agricultural products. In fact, according to historical lore, we are making great strides against starvation due to the accomplishments of the state in the realm of agriculture. Yet, not only poor nations have starving masses, but nations with incredible wealth fail to feed the entirety of their population.

We know from our own experience that it is the state who is present when violence, suffering and strife are most prevalent, yet the overwhelming investment in “word confusion” has substituted the word chaos when defining anarchy in common usage. While word confusion and substitution cannot erase reality, if repeated endlessly, it can cause the public to question what they have just witnessed. .

The notion of the “social contract” as an actual contract is even more bewildering. What valid contract is allowed to be “imposed” upon those who have never consented to its terms?

Getting back to coercive redistribution and income taxes, is there any truth to the spin that one party is for “big” government and one for “small”?

Both parties are obviously for “big” government, but they vary in how to confiscate the funds to create and sustain expansion of the state. The elephant party believes more in the magical powers of money creation through the Federal Reserve, while the Demos have more faith in direct taxation. Both believe in the former methods along with high deficits; the promise of future laborers to pay back the debt of the state. Both parties are fiscally extremely “liberal”, in the sense that they believe the state and its Siamese twin the financial sector, should grow liberally on the backs of the workers. They are both conservative in that they both believe in “conserving” the hallowed and failing financial wards of the state at all costs.

This growth in the state and its corresponding confiscatory powers is correlated to the growth of the “region” of the state. As the American empire has grown from a backwater rogue nation to a world empire, the powers of confiscation have grown right along with the nation. Any notion of the “inefficiency” of the American state and the “waste” of taxpayer dollars can be dismissed by a simple glance at a world map and study of US military installations. The American empire is an example of extremely “efficient” use of confiscated funds.

The corporate state is and has always been a part of this growth. You cannot separate the growth of the corporate monopoly from the growth of the monopoly state. It is entirely symbiotic. One thrives with the other and would not thrive without the other.

The simultaneous growth of the multinational corporate behemoth and the move to organize governments into ever greater and larger groups of collected states is no accident. There cannot be a greater organization of small states into larger states without the greater economic organization of small industry into large. The large state needs the large economy much like the large monopoly corporation needs the large state.

Believing that certain forms of the state are coercive socialist and certain forms are “free” is erroneous and ridiculous. All states are confiscatory by nature; one type is no less “confiscatory” than another, although degree can vary. The state by definition derives its control and power to enforce its monopoly by confiscating and redistributing the resources of its populace. It cannot survive without acting in this manner. While it may not directly control the “means of production”, to ensure its survival and growth it will control the necessary proportion of the product of those same productive means.

All politics that exist within the state monopoly are only variations on the question of what sector the wealth will come from and where the surplus that doesn’t go directly to the state apparatus will end up. This has always been the nature of the state. The state must and will continue to confiscate in order to survive.

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory