Fighting to join a state

Here is something to wrap your head around: German barbarians beyond the edge of the Roman Empire, who were living in what were essentially stateless societies, used stealth, pleading, and even warfare in their efforts to try to move across the border and settle inside the Empire.

Now, if the benefits of living under a state where that clear to illiterate barbarians in 200 A.D., why are there very smart people in 2014 who can't see them?

Well, as I was once one of them, I can answer that: ideology. It takes a whole lot of training in an ideological mode of looking before you can render yourself unable to see what those ancient barbarians saw clearly.

14 comments:

  1. This is just the flipped version of "why don't you move to Somalia?" (I'm sure there are Somalians that want to move to America) Murphy, Powell and others have done a good job answering this criticism and I'm sure something along the same lines could be said for the Germans.

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    1. I know they will have a clever way to explain away this fact! Did you read "It takes a whole lot of training in an ideological mode of looking before you can render yourself unable to see what those ancient barbarians saw clearly"?

      In the meantime, enjoy!

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  2. Aren't there many more examples of people fighting to leave a state?

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    1. To make a new state? Sure.

      To become stateless? Nope.

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    2. Clever way to explain away the fact that states routinely oppress people to the point of revolution.

      It takes a lot of indoctrination into statist ideology to render oneself unable to see the distinction between state and society.

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    3. Matt, if you've just arrived to act like a jerk, go away.

      "Routinely" Matt? Really? Revolution is pretty rare. United Kingdom: Three in the last 500 years. Switzerland: none ever. Sweden: none ever. France: two in the last 500 years. US: One in the last two hundred. Canada: none ever. Australia: None ever. New Zealand: none ever.

      I could keep going for pages, but you get the point... no, I forgot, you won't get the point.

      Sometimes states get really bad? Wow, human institutions are imperfect! I never knew.

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    4. My apologies if I was rude; I figured you as someone who would appreciate pithy satire over long-winded argument.

      My point is that you take this fact about barbarians wanting to join Rome and interpret it through the lens of what an-caps would call a statist ideology, ascribing the benefits of living in Roman society to the state, then claim that an-caps are too blinded by their own ideology to see how states are obivously beneficial.

      No reasonable person will dispute that anarchism is a radical ideology. Is there some deeper philosophical point I'm missing? Do you believe that "ideology" is something to be avoided, and that this fact of history can be interpreted without one?

      There aren't many serious ex-ancaps out there, and as someone who always looks for the other side of the argument, I've always been quite curious about your shift. Most of your posts against anarchisim ring surprisingly hollow, but I try to entertain the possibility that they're just going over my head.

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    5. "My apologies if I was rude..."

      It wasn't so much rude as pointless: "No, you are."

      But thanks for apologizing.

      "and interpret it through the lens of what an-caps would call a statist ideology..."

      They would be wrong to so describe it. I am not a statist, in the real (non-anarchist) meaning of the term.

      "ascribing the benefits of living in Roman society to the state..."

      Well, it was! One just has to look at the facts.

      "Do you believe that "ideology" is something to be avoided..."

      Yes, with all one's might.

      "and that this fact of history can be interpreted without one?"

      Of course.

      "There aren't many serious ex-ancaps out there..."

      Well, plenty of serious ex-libertarians: John Gray, Ed Feser, Robert Nozick (albeit dead), Gus DiZerega, Jeff Friedman, Jim Henley, Tyler Cowen.

      It is not that the arguments are going over your head. They are fairly simple. It's that an ideology is a filter that only lets in confirmations.

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  3. In sort-of-Matt's defense (because actually I like Gene & many of his arguments, but kind of agree with Matt on the point that a lot of the arguments like this one ring a bit hollow) this this sort of argument against ideological libertarianism I found to be much less convincing than the other main argument that our thoughts and logical/abstract systems can never quite capture reality. Ergo, all theories, including all political ideologies, are wrong. That doesn't mean they contain no truth at all, it means they they are ever and always incomplete and imperfect descriptions of reality. Taken literally to their logical conclusions, they will eventually lead their practitioners into absurdities. (Christians can maybe understand this in terms of Jesus's teachings against legalism - - attempting to live morally solely in terms of a system of rules.)

    The barbarian thing should probably mainly seen as a sort of evidence - - given the choice, barbarians, at least, seem to vote for states. But, they are after all barbarians, and a great deal separates them from the Romans besides law and order. It's a single data point - - convincing evidence to those already inclined to interpret it through this way of thinking, but probably not so much to others who will say 'look, it's really more complicated than that, you know? You could interpret it a lot of ways. ' They need to internalize the theory first, so they can decide for themselves which theory better captures the essence of such an observation, otherwise this kind of thing can sometimes look obnoxious.

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    1. Ha, ha! Not at all! Just suggesting ways to maybe be more convincing. I agree with this interpretation, but I'm already on your side. If I wasn't, I probably would not find something like this convincing.

      (and you could probably smooth a lot of ruffled feathers by pointing out that you're not really against the idea of human liberty so much as turning it into an ideology. It's okay to be 'basically libertarian' as a matter of opinion and to desire what you see to be as good things for yourself and for others, just not to be an ideologue about it (i.e., pushing it to the point of absurdity, and in cases where it clearly fails and is inappropriate because one refuses to accept reality as it is, 'warts and all', being hypercritical and refusing to see the good and the value in other systems, the importance of the truths that they capture that libertarianism can overlook, etc.). You would, after all, still vote for a Ron or Rand Paul as against any other realistic political candidate, would you not?)

      Also, note to commenters such as Matt -- Gene has dropped the names Voegelin, Collingwood, and Oakeshott so many times that I suspect if he mentions them any more their ghosts will show up on his doorstep and start demanding royalties. Yet I see very few commenters here who seem to have made an even cursory investigation. If you are remotely serious, for crying out loud -- investigate already! HINT HINT! Can he make it any more obvious? Does he have to drop a telephone book on your toe to get your attention? Would an anvil help?

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    2. Ha, ha! Not at all! Just suggesting ways to maybe be more convincing. I agree with this interpretation, but I'm already on your side. If I wasn't, I probably would not find something like this convincing.

      (and you could probably smooth a lot of ruffled feathers by pointing out that you're not really against the idea of human liberty so much as turning it into an ideology. It's okay to be 'basically libertarian' as a matter of opinion and to desire what you see to be as good things for yourself and for others, just not to be an ideologue about it (i.e., pushing it to the point of absurdity, and in cases where it clearly fails and is inappropriate because one refuses to accept reality as it is, 'warts and all', being hypercritical and refusing to see the good and the value in other systems, the importance of the truths that they capture that libertarianism can overlook, etc.). You would, after all, still vote for a Ron or Rand Paul as against any other realistic political candidate, would you not?)

      Also, note to commenters such as Matt -- Gene has dropped the names Voegelin, Collingwood, and Oakeshott so many times that I suspect if he mentions them any more their ghosts will show up on his doorstep and start demanding royalties. Yet I see very few commenters here who seem to have made an even cursory investigation. If you are remotely serious, for crying out loud -- investigate already! HINT HINT! Can he make it any more obvious? Does he have to drop a telephone book on your toe to get your attention? Would an anvil help?

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    3. Yes, "et tu scotte" was just a joke. Your words of wisdom are well appreciated.

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  4. Gene, I hope I don't sound stupid, but what is the real difference between religion and ideology? Is there a difference? I'm just starting to study my own religion, Catholicism, but I'm at odds with trying to remain ideologically neutral.

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