The Most Dangerous Addiction

Column by R. K. Blacksher.

Exclusive to STR

One can often learn a lot about a person’s weaknesses by the qualities that he most loudly denounces in others. We are all familiar with the cases of “familyvaluesRepublicanscheating on their wives and leaders of MADD being arrested on DUI charges. Examples from the world of politics are, of course, too numerous to count. Consider this recent exchange between Bill O’Reilly and Newt Gingrich:
O’Reilly: “Now, they have no drug problem in Singapore at all, number one, because they hang drug dealers -- they execute them. And number two, the market is very thin, because when they catch you using, you go away with a mandatory rehab. You go to some rehab center, which they have, which the government has built. The United States does not have the stomach for that. We don't have the stomach for that, Mr. Speaker.”
Gingrich: “Well, I think it's time we get the stomach for that, Bill. And I think we need a program -- I would dramatically expand testing. I think we have -- and I agree with you. I would try to use rehabilitation, I'd make it mandatory. And I think we have every right as a country to demand of our citizens that they quit doing illegal things which are funding, both in Afghanistan and in Mexico and in Colombia, people who are destroying civilization.”
While Newt Gingrich is not, as far as I know, a drug addict, he does have a much more dangerous addiction. He, along with every other politician in world, has an addiction to state violence. Specifically, he is addicted to the feelings of power and control that he experiences when he exercises or advocates the use of state violence against others.
The ill effects that ardent drug warriors ascribe to drug usage have a great deal in common with the ill effects of an addiction to state violence. The following are statements about the dangers of drugs taken from the D.A.R.E. website:
“Cocaine, at first, makes people feel energetic and powerful. As these feelings wear off, however, they quickly become depressed and edgy—and they start really craving more to get their high back.”
“Smoking crack cocaine can produce a particularly aggressive paranoid behavior in users.”
“Users feel slightly stimulated and uninhibited…”
“…people, who are high on heroin, or craving the next fix, don't use good judgment…”
These descriptions are even more applicable to the purveyors and advocates of state violence than they are to drug addicts. Considering the human tendency to conceal and rationalize one’s own vices by loudly and incessantly denouncing the vices of others, perhaps it is not a coincidence that statists of all stripes spend an inordinate amount of time decrying the dangers of addiction.
There are, of course, very noticeable differences between an addiction to drugs and an addiction to state violence. The most important difference is that drug addiction is far less dangerous. The people who smoke marijuana in their basements are far less dangerous than the statists, like Newt Gingrich, who support the due process free detention of innocent people. The people who drop acid in the privacy of their own homes are far less dangerous than the statists, like Newt Gingrich, who advocate using the coercive power of the state to violate the property rights of others.
As can be seen in the preceding examples, an addiction to state violence produces “a particularly aggressive paranoid behavior” in statists, causes statists to feel “stimulated and uninhibited,” and renders statists incapable of using “good judgment.” And, as the example of Newt Gingrich shows, once the sadistically euphoric feelings produced by wielding power over others begin to wear off, statists start “craving more to get their high back.”
Newt Gingrich is, of course, only an example. But he is a very representative example. The observations made above apply equally to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Boehner, George Bush, every other politician in the world, and all of their starry-eyed devotees. The world would be a much freer and much more peaceful place if all of these megalomaniacal tyrants were dropping acid in a basement somewhere.
In voluntary dealings with others, people use certain moral and ethical rules to govern their behavior. When people’s actions are cloaked in the sanctified garb of the state, however, they throw these moral and ethical rules completely out of the window. Actions that seem utterly repulsive in the voluntary sector become acceptable, even necessary, when performed by functionaries of the state.
This is perhaps the most pernicious effect of the state. State propaganda causes people to view violence as a virtue, theft as a civic duty, and slavery as freedom. If we want to build a free society, we have to first break people’s addiction to state violence.
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R. K. Blacksher's picture
Columns on STR: 9

R. K. Blacksher is a writer and musician. He maintains a blog at


rita's picture

I can't help but notice that, unlike most illegal drug addicts I know, violence and power addicts seem completely unable to speak in complete sentences. Prolonged non-use of illegal drugs also interferes with the non-users' ability to tell the truth, and in severe cases, non-users develop a bizarre compulsion to make asses of themselves in public.

Glen Allport's picture

Hear, hear! Great column, Mr. Blacksher. I'm always stunned and appalled (and maybe even kinda terrified) when I reflect on how much of the public is willing, even eager, to see seriously disturbed people as "special" and to follow them as leaders. Watch video of the VAST crowds cheering Hitler -- and watch Hitler's mannerisms, listen to both the words and often-insane tone of his speeches. My god, how could anyone be fooled into thinking that psycho was anything other than a hugely-damaged, hate-filled psychopath? But even many in the US thought he was just fine, at least until we entered the war.

You are right as rain: serious emotional damage remains a near-universal constant among the power elite and certainly among those who run governments, from Libya to the US. Point this out over and over again; it can't be described too often.