[Editor's Note: The following post is by Menno Troyer, TDV Subscriber and a pioneer of the Free State Project]
One of the most destructive influences of "the State" upon society, is the way it subverts responsibility.
In order to understand the nature of this subversion, one has to understand what "the State" really is, and the irrational paradigm in the minds of its subjects which its agents rely upon to sustain their diabolical power to rule over others without individual consent.
"The State" is in fact a non-entity that exists only in the imaginations of individuals caught in the trance-like collectivist paradigm. When one breaks free of this paradigm, it becomes clear what a farce the notion of "the State" is, along with equally farcical notions such as the idea that "groups" are entities, or that there exists a "greater whole" of mankind, or that there is a greater "We". None of these imagined "realities" hold up under close examination; for the only human entity is the individual. Put another way, the individual comprises the "greatest whole" of humanity. There is no über-entity with an über-mind who is capable of thinking and acting – only individuals, who are by nature separate, and independently functioning, entities.
[Please note: There are two distinct definitions of the term "collectivism", and by default, the term "collectivist". For the purposes of this article, the second definition is applied exclusively. Here are the two definitions, from Merriam-Webster online:
1 : a political or economic theory advocating collective control especially over production and distribution; also : a system marked by such control
2 : emphasis on collective rather than individual action or identity
— col·lec·tiv·ist \-vist\ adjective or noun ]
This irrational, group-oriented collectivist paradigm is what fosters externally guided actions. When orders are received from those individuals commonly accepted as the "authorities" of "the group", and as long as the orders fit nominally within the collective values projected by "the group", it is perfectly "normal" from a collectivist's point of view to follow those orders – even when they are orders to aggress against someone, whether someone inside or outside of the group. Additionally, those who are trapped in the collectivist trance (virtually all human beings presently, with only very few exceptions), are themselves vulnerable to group-sanctioned aggression, for their loyalty is to the group.
By contrast, a rational individualist rejects, in principle, aggression from anyone by any means, and will seek to block aggression out of his life regardless of who "sanctions" it. An individual who has broken out of the collectivist paradigm does not automatically take orders from anyone. A rational individualist's loyalty is to himself, or herself. Such an individual does not toe the collectivist line or chant the collectivist mantra. He or she associates with others not by random interrelation within the confines of a group, but by carefully groomed, value-reciprocating one-on-one relationships with others, while keeping herself at the center of, and in full control of, her own network. (Note that being in control of one's network does not involve controlling the people in one's network.)
The group model of human association subordinates the individual; by contrast, the network model of human association exalts the individual. The group model is supported by the near universal "collectivist" paradigm; the network model is supported by the more evolved and emergent "rational individualist" paradigm.
The network model of human association is virtually impossible to corrupt, or to use to commit aggression – for in a network, no one is bound by any group allegiance. Besides, each action a rational individualist undertakes is inwardly arrived at and inwardly driven. It would be colossally stupid and self-destructive to make a conscious choice to commit aggression against those one has worked hard to build positive, value-reciprocating one-on-one relationships with. Not so within a group: Group administrators set policy and issue orders. Group dynamics demand that the individual reflect the values of the group, and that one-on-one relationships – even those between oneself and other "group members" — be generally treated as secondary to one's fantasy "relationship" with the non-entity of "the group".
To anyone who has completely broken free of the collectivist paradigm, it is clear that the collectivist paradigm – the mindset that relates to others by group association and submits to group dynamics – is the very bedrock of the State. The collectivist paradigm compels the individual to subordinate his mind, his very power to think and to discern, and thus his choices and actions, to the tenets of the collective. Yet, those tenets evolve to reflect the desires of a minority of individuals; namely, the "administrators", a.k.a. central planners, that the mutually held "group" fantasy spawns out of necessity – precisely because there is no actual "group entity", with its own über-mind, capable of administering itself. Thus, the illusory "collective" functions as a disguise for the master-slave relationship between a minority of dominant individuals, and a majority of submissive individuals.
This is why groups, especially political and religious groups, inevitably become dominated by the brightest narcissistic sociopaths participating in "the group": Only a sociopath would have any desire to rule, bully, or dictate to others. The group model of human association, supported by the collectivist paradigm, is what makes it possible for these sociopaths (who are very much a minority) to rise to positions of dominance from which to disingenuously impose their sick fantasies upon their fellow human beings. The bigger the group, the bigger the pool that these sociopaths arise from, ultimately producing more extreme tyrants.
Menno Troyer is a voluntaryist, atheist, and an advocate of free markets. He currently resides in New Hampshire, and is one of the “First 1000” movers of the Free State Project. Forbidden to do so by his Old Order Amish father, he defiantly read the book The Neo-Tech Discovery at the tender age of 16 – and thus began an inexorable odyssey toward objective thinking and personal freedom. At the age of 20, he left his Amish roots to pursue his dreams in the “real world”, and has never looked back. Menno counts among his mentors and kindred spirits Dr. Frank R. Wallace, Ayn Rand, Andrew J. Galambos, Ian Bernard, Doug Casey, Jeff Berwick, and – ironically – his own father, Daniel Troyer, who was a renegade in his own right.
Your editor is heading back into the belly of the imperial beast today. So there has been plenty of opportunity to see the insidious collective at work. People line up smilingly to be processed across borders. Border guards do their jobs with their chins held high as if they're not doing something shameful. Everyone just takes the appropriateness of the nation-state and its restriction on human movement for granted.
Every time I come upon a geopolitical border, I am beset by the inherent absurdities. This arbitrary line where the state claims the right to enforce admission, as if the state had the legitimate claim of an actual property owner. Of course, as Menno pointed out, the state is a figment of the collectivists' imaginations, a figment they enthusiastically lend credence. Collectivist tribal bullshit.
I'll tell you, though. The CTB really hits the fan as you head south into Latin America. The border folks seemed almost embarrassed to be doing their jobs. Not so in the US. There was pride, that being the biggest, baddest collective in the world made regimented paranoia so necessary.
Ugh. At least I'll get to hang out with my cat all day again. And my Minneapolis bungalow really is the most adorable little house in an ideal (and gratifyingly affordable) location. The only other thing that makes being back in the US bearable are the chances still available here to make some money—and then live in surprising comfort while your collectivist neighbors go hungry during the worst of the economic collapse.
Editor, The Dollar Vigilante