Friday, May 3, 2013

A Tulgey Mischmasch

It's always amusing when someone makes a ridiculous statement and then quickly backpedals to a more sensible position. In person, a few glances follow such statements and then everyone begins to chuckle. A good time is had by all and no one thinks the offender a lunatic or even a churl. He just got a little heated up. Occasionally, though, everyone begins to chuckle except the offender, and then all laughter ceases. It really is quite a sight when someone launches into a spirited defense of the patently absurd.

Before we look at a specimen, though, two thanks to Tom Woods. First, I wouldn't have come across the article if he hadn't mentioned the piece. Second, if he hadn't excerpted an interesting portion, I most certainly would not have found it amidst the disjunct prose of an author who finds the wrong word and wrong construction at nearly every turn. In fact, the piece is such a turbid kludge of vapid words clacking together in a mass of syntactical bramble that it's almost unreadable. On the bright side, the style is a perfect complement to the ideas.

All of these events are the slow stripping away of the vestiges of the state, deriving step by step the hell that waits at the logical end of the libertarian impulse, a counterpoint to every argument against state power. From a certain perspective, the state is our greatest invention, for all the horrors it has wrought when wielded darkly. It is the sine qua non of everything else we normally consider to be the triumphs of civilization. Writing, electricity, science, art. None of it is more than dust in the wind without the state to jealously guard it, without a hand shielding the guttering flame from the maelstrom. [Link]
Notice how "the state" is not defined. He employs not a single concept to delimit his encomium for state power, not government or legalism or common law or constitutionalism, not balanced power or natural rights, nor monarchy, republicanism, democracy, or bureaucracy. There is no mention of principles like justice or equity by which one might judge the efficacy of a state. But never mind all that. Never mind too how all such principles would by necessity predate the state which rests on them. Never mind his lack of formal argumentation or empiricism. And never mind that without recourse to the aforementioned principles, processes, and evidence, his essay is but a paean to monopolized authority.

Recall instead, how this author thought so little of us, and so much of himself, that he bothered neither to say something intelligent nor to say it well. What an insult.

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