A False Dilemma


"There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance--that principle is contempt prior to investigation." ~ Herbert Spencer

One of the most egregious fallacies used in the debating arsenal of statists is the false dilemma. The strawman argument and appeals to authority are probably used more often in discussions with statists, but these two types of logical fallacies are easily rebutted. The false dilemma goes to the core of statist thinking in that every issue is political in nature and can only be solved by the political process. All statists can see, or even imagine, is a statist, or more specifically socialist, world. This, I hear all the time, is "reality." In the immortal words of President Richard Nixon, "We are all Keynesians now".

Statists see a two dimensional conflict between corporate (conservative) socialists and labor (liberal) socialists. There can be no other choice in this binary worldview revolving around political struggle. Those preoccupied with who controls the levers of political power will forever miss that it is the state itself that binds us. Instead of fighting over who holds the reins to Leviathan, we should seek to withdraw our support for the beast and expose it for what it is: a method of control by the elite based on the use of force.

The conservative socialists fighting to preserve the status quo evolved in Europe from the old feudal/monarchist system. The state originated when claims on property by an absolute monarch were enforced by a "noble" military caste. Merchants created a rival source of wealth that could be developed other than by land, thus posing a threat to the existing feudal state system. A relative change in the distribution of income and wealth came about. Merchants could challenge the loyalty of the military caste (pay them), forcing the landed elite to cut deals with some of the merchants. Unscrupulous merchants seeking to gain advantages over their competitors made these deals, no doubt feeling they were being "realistic."

The merchant class then reverted to guilds and oligarchy competing for court favors. These merchant/monarchial cabals were the first conservative socialists, who culminated in Bismarck and his mutt offspring Hitler. Conservative socialists use regulations (primarily restricting new competition), price (including wage) controls and behavior controls, with some taxation. The Mercantilist State thus had evolved from the Feudal State. The goal is collective state controls over the individual in an effort to maintain the existing order.

The labor socialists are of two major types: communists and social democrats. They both have the same goal of a redistribution of income and wealth, but have different strategies on how to accomplish this goal. This movement originated from the peasants turned merchants who had seen that redistribution of income and wealth was possible, but learned the lesson that some merchants would always sell out to the state when given the opportunity. Unfortunately, the labor socialists appropriated the idea that political power backed up by force and violence was the only way to overthrow the existing order. Labor socialists' favorite tactics are progressive taxation and some regulations, price controls and behavioral controls. Thus the modern Social-Democratic State evolved from the Mercantilist State. The goal is collective state controls over the individual in an effort to change the existing order.

Today most of the world lives under the rule of varying mixtures of the Mercantilist/Social-Democratic State. Merchant (or Corporate) statists (mercantilists/whigs/fascists/Republicans) still seek to preserve the status quo, while labor (communists/socialists/liberals/Democrats) statists seek to overthrow the status quo. Both assume that those who speak of the free-market and a Natural Order are solidly in the enemy camp. Both appeal to populism and democracy to further their causes with a "you're either with us or against us" mentality. Fortunately, there is another world beyond this two-dimensional "state" of affairs. Reality is not a false dilemma. If statists from both camps could stop waving their battle flags long enough, they may one day see beyond the towering walls that they have erected around reality. Indeed, the truth will set you free if it is freedom you seek.

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Mark Davis is a husband, father and real estate analyst/investor enjoying the freedoms we still have in Longwood, Florida.