Government Denial

in

Column by Alex R. Knight III.

Exclusive to STR

During my years as a practicing alcoholic, I employed any number of tactics to avoid the ultimately invariable conclusion that in order to solve my numerous problems, I needed to stop drinking altogether.

Even long after I had made the inner admission that I was, in all likelihood, suffering from the disease – and I knew or understood very little about alcoholism at that time – I concocted any number of schemes that I thought would allow me to continue drinking indefinitely: I changed the time slots every day during which I drank. I drank only when I was at home -- never if out and about, or with friends. I tried to change brands frequently, and limit quantities (rarely with any success). I swore off hard liquor in favor of only beer. I drank wine, then switched back to beer. I stopped going to bars. I went to bars only if I was going to have something to eat as well. And so on.

In the end, none of these things worked, of course. All of them led to the same end results: Total inebriation, followed by deep depression, and an inability to continue to manage my own life. And then, the next drink. There was only one way out, and that was sobriety – the cessation of all drinking, period. I wasn’t and am not alone in this. Millions and millions of other alcoholics around the world have arrived at this identical conclusion. And there will be millions, no doubt, to come in the future.

Government apologists are not at all dissimilar to alcoholics (or other addicts) who have not yet admitted the nature of their affliction. They too, are in a state of denial. No matter how many times the institution of government fails to achieve its alleged goals, no matter how much abuse or fraud or lying takes place, no matter how heavily it taxes or tramples upon liberty, it can yet be reined in, reformed, and set to rights. Or so claim these chimerical statist dreamers. We need only elect the “right” candidates next time around, make our voices heard, be vigilant, and demand that the Constitution be followed. Let’s not confuse the issue by pointing out that no such transformation in America has occurred yet in 235 years – to do so is only for malcontented cynics. No, government can work, these deniers insist, if we’ll only just give it one more chance.

Getting sober has not been easy for me. In fact, it has been and will continue to be an ongoing process – one that will last for however much time I have left in this world. It has not been a gateway into any kind of utopia or paradise. Sobriety does not bring with it perfection. It has brought, however, substantial improvement: Better physical health, mental clarity, greater emotional stability, and the opportunity to leave the past behind and grow. It has brought with it hope, renewal, and a chance for a better life. It guarantees nothing, however. It only proposes that life does not have to be a dark, angry, and hopeless experience. And the daily act of staying sober depends entirely on me. I am responsible for staying straight. If I fail to do this, no one else is at fault or can be blamed. The origin of my personal demons may not have been any direct doing of my own, but my reaction to these things, however, is up to me and only me. I cannot, nor should I wish to, alter the past. There is only today, and the prospect of tomorrow. I must, and can, live with that.

The alternative is drunkenness. And I can tell you from over a quarter of a century’s worth of experience, that’s no place to be.

I’ve come out of denial. I accept full responsibility for my past actions and how they have negatively affected my life. I no longer blame anyone but myself for this.

Those in government denial could benefit from a similar unflinching look inward. To admit the failure and rank hypocrisy of a coercive State is to begin the healing process, and the path towards correction, reason, and peace. For over 70 centuries now on a global scale, the idea called government has wrought untold destruction and mayhem.

And it’s time for society to begin the recovery process. That, or, not unlike drunks in denial, die.

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Alex R. Knight III's picture
Columns on STR: 113

Alex R. Knight III is the author of numerous horror, science-fiction, and fantasy tales, including Tales from Dark 7.  He has also written and published poetry; non-fiction articles, reviews, and essays for a variety of venues; and is former Communications Director for the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire.  In 1998, he was awarded Activist of the Year for that organization.  He now lives and writes in rural southern Vermont where he holds a B.A. in Literature & Writing from Union Institute & University, and looks forward to living in a governmentless society of liberty.

Comments

Samarami's picture

This was your best, Alex!

At least for me it was, because in all these over 50 years of recovery (finally got my 30 year medallion from my sponsor of 35 years -- I was a chronic "slipper" for 20+ years) I had never seen the equation "sobriety = libertarianism" -- let alone expected it to be phrased as succinctly as you've presented it. Yet I've often felt that the analogy you've set forth above fit perfectly: stopping the insanity of delusional drinking and getting drunk (then curing the hangover with another drink) is not dissimilar to stopping the insanity of voting and hoping for cures from the very psychopaths who create all the problems in the first place.

Mine was but a subconscious feeling. You put it into a well-written essay.

As my grandkids used to say, "Duh!"

This may account for my inclination to go gently with the guy or gal who is still stumbling around with and grumbling over governmentalism. You and I know that arguing sobriety to a drunk is a fruitless game. We have to live the good life of liberty (sobriety) ourselves as an example to our friends, family and colleagues. When the governmentalist gets sick enough s/he will come to us. Only then will s/he be receptive.

Is statism an illness?

Sam

Glock27's picture

Sam: Thank you for going gently with those of us still stumbling around with and grumbling over governmentalism. If it were not for you I may have been gone a long time back. You have become the wind in my sail.

Glock27's picture

Alex: I do not believe what you have said could be said anymore perfectly. This essay I believe has to be the epitome of a classic essay. I am still looking for answers in getting away from the drunks in the District of Criminals, synthetic politicians and putty heads.

This was an extra fine piece and should be placed in with the classics.

Good luck Alex. I extend to you my heart felt support that you will master the brew and achieve deeper insights to the problem our future generations will be faced with.

Alex R. Knight III's picture

Sam and Glock:  Thanks so much to both of you for your compliments and praise.  It means much to me to hear that from such stalwart defenders of liberty!  :-)  And Sam, congratulations on your 30 years!  That's quite an accomplishment!
 
Best,
 
Alex

jd-in-georgia's picture

All week long I have been wrestling with the notion that the most accurate metaphor for government is actually some sort of substance abuse. Then I pay one of my frequent visits to Strike the Root and come across this gem by you, Alex. The sad part of this message is that we are saturated with people addicted to the idea that government is absolutely necessary. I think of myself as a motorist on a freeway packed with people under the influence. Admitting that a problem exists is the first step. Convincing the masses that government is the bane of our existence so that they can admit that they have a problem is the real challenge. In the meantime we must fasten our seatbelts and drive on this freeway with our heads on a swivel.

Thanks again for your story of personal challenge, Alex. You are an inspiration.

Glock27's picture

jd-in-Georgia: I understand how the addiction comes about, just like out on the streets. Get the kids first. Dope them up with crack government, cocaine politicians, and pump them full of the fake history they re-write to meet their needs. I only wish I could have hope, but it just doesn't seem to want to stick to me.

Suverans2's picture

Great article, Alex R. Knight III.

"You and I know that arguing sobriety [individual secession] to a drunk [citizen/subject] is a fruitless game."

Statists, (which I shall define as, members of the state), believe that a man needs the “state's” permission to withdraw from membership in the state: “My master doesn't 'recognize' your secession.”

That is, perhaps, the most valuable lesson I learned here at Strike the Root. Thank you, "root-strikers"!

Alex R. Knight III's picture

JD and Suverans, thank you.  :-) 

Jim Davies's picture

Excellent analogy, Alex! Binary choice: a society with absolute government as in Brave New World, or one with zero government. No such thing as a stable part way.
 
Like all analogies, I wonder if you'd agree that this one can't be stretched. This source says that there are 17.6 million alcoholics in the US (more than I guessed) whereas this one estimates that over 130 million drink booze regularly. I am one. I think it one of life's pleasures, and notice that seven times more people enjoy it than are enslaved by it.
 
From that it might be argued that limited government is the ideal; that taken in moderation, it's good for you. Something we here reject absolutely - but for other, good reasons.