If you’ve ever tried to line up a pool shot, you know that at the end of all your mental calculations, it comes down to a guess. Even the greatest minds can’t create all the angles down to the tiniest fraction in order for the shot to be dead perfect. It comes down to trust at the end of it all unless you want to break out the electron microscope just to win that bar bet of a draught Schlitz. It’s the same with politics in that you never truly know if your line is spot on.
After every Presidential election, I find myself tuning out of politics for a couple months. There is only so much a gaijin can take of your shitshow that you call politics. Whether it’s 2004, ’08 or even 2016, I need to bail for a while and recalibrate my shot and so I go to the people I trust to give me theory. I realize it was dirty pool to call this “The Nature of the State” and then not answer the question, but I’d rather lose the bet if it means you are more willing to answer the question yourself. My goal is solely to have people put down the distraction of the daily news cycle for a little bit and ask themselves:
- What do you believe the state is?
- Why do you believe that?
- Does your particular circumstance influence your objectivity?
- What is your weak point and what have you done to take that into account?
- Why were you drawn to that particular belief in the first place?
- Are the people you currently believe to be your enemies the real enemies?
Personally, I have an irrational hatred of the state which is constantly reaffirmed by a rational assessment of what the state is doing. After the elections, I go to Rothbard (https://mises.org/library/anatomy-state), Bastiat (http://bastiat.org/en/government.html) and even Ayn Rand (https://courses.aynrand.org/works/the-nature-of-government/) to align my next shot. If I’m really feeling tolerant, I’ll go to Jonathan Haidt (https://onbeing.org/programs/jonathan-haidt-the-psychology-of-self-righteousness-oct2017/) to be extra careful that I’m not becoming a zealot.
None of us knows enough to know exactly what we should do in this world with the limited time we have. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have a grand piano fall on your head, but many of us will come to the end of this ride with tubes shoved up our noses as we take our dying breaths. Contemplating theory before that Steinway slips from the mover’s hands and crushes you outside a brownstone is vital. Minutiae matters, but understanding why it matters is the real question that needs to be answered. So, I ask again, what is the nature of the state?