Confession; back in the dim and distant days of my youth, when politics was something I first became aware of, I was a socialist. I quite happily believed that the state should organise society ‘fairly’ and coercive taxation was absolutely fine to that end.
To be fair, I was just finishing my time in a state comprehensive gulag where obedience to the state and authority was inculcated with North Korean vigour. We were taught straight lies such as how FDR’s wise statist policies helped bring about an end to the depression and any independent thinking or action was beaten out of you by a sadistic deputy head. Combine that with the ever-admirable BBC being the only easily available news source pre-internet and satellite TV days and my youthful stupidity and it’s not too surprising perhaps.
Francois Guisot is attributed with the original version of “If you are not a socialist when you are twenty you have no heart, but if you are still one at thirty you have no brain”
Anyway, by the time I had arrived at my early twenties, I was beginning to notice that despite all the flowery prose, I couldn’t quite seem to find a society which was successful and a shining example of what socialism could deliver. The East Europeans were just vile and even the Swedes seemed to have taxes at such a level as to make any kind of independent life tricky. So being confronted by evidence, I concluded that if I wasn’t a socialist I must be a conservative right? Certainly the low-tax rhetoric and limited intervention seemed to make more sense if we wanted to get rich as a nation and by the mid to late 1980’s despite the Beeb doing it’s best to ignore or obfuscate matters, it was clear that the Thatcher experiment was economically more successful than anything in Eastern Europe.
It was kind of uncomfortable, realising I was something that I had been taught to hate, but the rationalist inside me was not suppressed despite all the propaganda. As I looked at the economics more and more I began to think I was a really right wing conservative believing in lower and lower taxation and fewer and fewer rules. Even under Thatcher and later Major I thought taxes were way too high and the petty meddlesome nonsense was simply government by personal preference (which of course it was).
On discovering Ayn Rand I began to see conventional politics as the violent, coercive lie that it really is, viz pick your slave master and I’ve gone from the libertarian position of minarchist watchman-state to more or less the full-on anarcho*-capitalist view of Murray Rothbard and others. If you’ve never seen him on Youtube, kick out the TV for an evening and watch a few lectures.
So to the question. In what (if any areas) do you think the state is justified? Please explain your thinking. Some things like foreign aid seem obvious candidates to close the book on, others perhaps trickier. So tell me where you accept the state gun and where you prefer the heady atmosphere of freedom.
(*this is obviously not the ‘smash-up McDonalds’ position of a few arsehole socialist worker types, but actual voluntaryism).