The Self-Service State

I must be getting old. I remember “full service” gas stations. Actually, I worked at one in high school. When I car passed over the rubber hose across the driveway and the bell rang, I’d come running out to “filler’up, regular or unleaded,” wash the windshield and check the oil. Those days are gone — now it’s all “self service,” pump the gas yourself after shoveling money through the slot in the bulletproof window.

Progressives and other naifs once dreamed of the “full service” state: Cradle-to-grave health benefits, guaranteed job security and a complimentary mint on your pillow from Uncle Sugar. What we got instead, and what we’re always going to get, is the “self service” state: You help yourself if you can, while the state helps itself to anything and everything it wants.

The purpose of the state is to serve the state. To protect the state. To perpetuate the state. To grow the state’s power.

I’m not arguing the metaphysics of identity or the epistemology of individualism versus collectivism here. It’s simply an observable fact that the state, regardless of the putative reasons underlying its formation, acts like an organism in and of itself, with its own interests and its own survival imperative.

That’s why Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid get together behind closed doors, unvexed by trivialities like public debate, to ram an extension of the USA PATRIOT Act through the US Senate. It’s certainly not something they did for their constituents. It benefits only the state.

It’s why Congress is giving President Barack Obama a pass on his illegal war in Libya, entered into without congressional declaration. That war has now continued past even the unconstitutional “War Powers Resolution” deadline without the requisite congressional approval — but hey, he sent a polite note informing Congress he doesn’t give a damn about the law and appreciates their support in violating it. And they’ll blink — beacuse once the state has acted, its actions must always be supported and never, ever questioned.

It’s why it never seems to have crossed Obama’s mind that the “legitimate” job of White House staff might not involve actively propagandizing America on the Inherent Goodness of Dear Leader. Whatever justification we’re offered for creating the position of “Director of Progressive Media & Online Response,” the position’s purpose is to … gently assist … the serfs in learning to love their master.

“To secure these rights …?” If you’re still buying that one, let’s talk real estate. I’ve got some for you. Oceanfront. In Arizona. Priced to sell.

“To serve and protect?” Yeah, right. Ask Jose Guerena about that one. Wait, you can’t. He’s dead. After diligent service to the state himself, he fell inadvertently ran afoul of one of his own employer’s death squads earlier this month.

The state serves only itself — and demands that you serve it too. Like any parasite, it will happily kill its host to further engorge itself. Your only possible escape from that fate is to pry its teeth out of your skin, throw it to the ground, and stomp on it, hard.

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