James Leroy Wilson's blog

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Separation of Soul and State

Logan Ferree gets to the heart of the problem:
Imagine a society in which there was no state. Even in this society there would be some relationship between humans, either individually or in groups, and the land. Groups would form that would exclude certain individuals from territorial ranges. Even one person with a single plot of land could be viewed as a state. They may lack domestic politics, but in their interactions with the rest of the world their claim to being the sole monopolist of force for that territory may entitle them to state status.
If everyone had their own plot of land they would be given the choice to be free from coercion. As long as there are more people than plots there will be coercion. The state becomes an unavoidable evil and our goal becomes reducing the evil as much as possible and making life bearable. We may also have a secondary goal of trying to find ways to improve the ratio between people and plots. But I think we must grapple with how best to deal with the state.

I agree that monopoly and coercion seem inevitable, and it makes one cautious about "smashing the state" in its present form, with full faith that whatever comes next will be better.

What is inspiring about a film like V for Vendetta, however, is the liberation of the soul from state. Acknowledging that the State in some form is unavoidable, is not the same as professing any particular love for it. Thus, something like the triumphal ending of the movie may not be seen in our lifetime, and a similar event may not be seen in our own country, but we can start a revolution in our hearts and minds by abandoning our old allegiances.

We recognize that the State's guns and billy clubs attract bullies and psychopaths. That its financial resources lure the greedy and advantage-seekers. And the mediocre looking for comfortable and secure jobs. There is, indeed, nothing about it that makes it better, or less susceptible to corruption and violence, than any other human organization. The evidence is that it is much worse.

So there is nothing about it to "love." Not the flags, uniforms, buildings, monuments, portraits of "heroes" and "statesmen," holidays, or laws. Yes, we may prefer one set of laws to another. But behind them all is a history of massive criminality and naked violence. Loyalty to the present government should exist only as obedience and compliance, and only to the extent we are convinced it is better than any available alternative, but should not exist as an end in itself. By divorcing the soul from the State, we would become more resistant to the State's ridiculous claims and recognize its blatant hypocrisies and injustices. We would see that our country in no way resembles what it says it is, let alone what we would wish it to be. We would then see more clearly when it is time to secede, shoot the bastards, support a coup, or take some other "illegal" action.


  1. As you and Logan alluded to, economically it depends on whether there's more plots than people or not.
    But what does that depend on?

    This question will lead into some interesting, good ground.

    But in all other respects, yes, you've hit the nail on the head. It's all about changing the state of mind of people. If people need to work out a forceful solution, they might see it as a necessary evil, but should realize it's an evil nonetheless.

  2. What an insightful post! As I've done to Adem in the past, I've extrapolated from the original points you made to make my own arguments. I'm hoping we can continue to inspire one another as we move towards a more comprehensive understanding of the human condition vis a vis libertarianism / anarchism.