I have a confession to make.
I wanted to rule others even after I had claimed to eschew such a notion. This may come as a surprise to many or perhaps as no surprise at all but in any case, earlier in my life I had expressed a want to rule others. Upon becoming a minimal government proponent, I still secretly wanted to rule others and drink of the nectar that was uncontested power over individuals.
I had all sorts of ways to justify this. First I told myself that I would use the power I lusted after for good and good alone. I would use the power of monopoly rule only to increase the quality of those around me and mete out justice to evildoers. I ignored the voice in my head that incessantly told me that I couldn’t possibly objectively decide what was just and what was not, that I would be using force and coercion to meet my ends and worse, that I truly did indeed desire the prestige and public admiration that came with being a ruler of individuals.
Struggling to come to grips with what I knew to be true, I turned to the necessity of my desires as some sort of justification for them. “So what if I desired prestige” I thought to myself. Could it really be so terrible if these desires aligned with the need for the public to be defended and served by people who were intelligent? If I were an intelligent and diligent servant of the public, maybe I would be deserving of that prestige. People should be allowed to be appreciative of competent leadership after all…right?
After some time, it became clear that what I was trying to justify was nothing more than the use of a monopoly on force and my own position within the priestly class of those who claimed the moral right to rule over others. If I wished to do good by my fellow human beings, why would I not turn to trade, commerce and advocacy rather than using the power of the state to force my agenda? Were it such a good agenda, why would I seek to impose it on people rather than sell it to them in pursuit of their voluntary endorsement of my ideals? If my ideas were so great, should I not then be able to convince people to adopt them of their own accord?
As for appreciation, is this not what the market does already? Is the endorsement of one’s views by way of voluntary adoption not an appreciation of one’s activity in the community? It is said after all that imitation is one of the highest forms of flattery and so, should I not then have my want for being appreciated satiated by people expressing an affinity for my ideas and my views? Further, if such an appreciation is gained simply by having a monopoly on power, where would that appreciation truly be coming from if not from a people’s collective desire to ensure that the monopoly power structure is functional? That is to wonder, if the people appreciate a functional organizational structure, why must it be provided by me through force rather than by voluntary association?
In short, I believe that at one time I may have been a sociopath to some degree. I lusted after power and prestige and sought to justify it by telling myself that I was doing something good, all the while fully aware within myself that I truly desired a completely self serving end. Thankfully, I have completely abandoned these desires and they are no longer a part of me. Prestige and admiration would be great of course but to gain these things through force would be unconscionable.
In considering other political activists, I’m not about to say that libertarians who advocate for a limited government suffer from the same disorder that I did but I do believe that they should look within themselves and consider whether or not this may be the case.
I’ve often parroted the joke that politics is nothing more than show business for ugly people and as with many comedic pieces, I reference it because I believe there is some element of truth in it. I unabashedly call elections popularity contests of course but in more reserved tones, I also wonder about the aims of minimal government proponents that seek elected office. Again, let me be clear that I am not attempting to cast aspersion on those with truly honourable intentions. There are many ethically sound individuals that truly believe government to be a source of solutions and that I disagree with them should not in any way mean that I consider them to be morally lacking. I am instead, through the relation of my own personal experience, hoping that some who are in such a position may reflect deeply upon their motivations for becoming an elected official to serve we the people. If you can indeed be honest with yourself and determine that you are of a greater will than I (hardly impossible) then I ask you to further reflect on what it is you hope to achieve by using a structure of monopolized force over commerce and embracing voluntary association over forced collectivism.
In the end, the market will ensure that we’re either good people or that we’re held to account for being bad and as I always say, the market will always win whether we want it to or not. I know that so many of you who may read this are indeed wonderful people and again, I don’t wish to cast aspersions on your own goals and aspirations. I seek only consistency of principle and a world that functions without the use of institutionalized force.
Won’t you walk a path of peace and reject coercion in any circumstance? If the answer is yes, then surely government can not be the source of the peace and prosperity we all seek for ourselves and others.