But that being said, there are four further problems that the statist must contend with.
1. If the belief that “man is innately evil” is the result of indoctrination (whether the believer realizes it or not), why should we believe it? And where does the belief that “man is innately good” come from? When I observe my own self, I observe no desire to kill or steal (at least, not legitimate property). This observation is also available in other people’s own selves, if they have access to it (granted, this is a big “if”) and desire to know the answer. This cannot be conclusive evidence, but it is factual nevertheless and it is enough evidence for me to arrive to a personal conclusion that is something more than an article of faith.
2. If man is innately evil and thus must be controlled in order to put a stop to his animalistic impulses, it leads to reason that the less control there is in a society, the more crime there should be. Often control is the result of a mass movement, and it is true that in the wake of a mass movement crime rates go down due to the displacement of energy. But more oppressive governments, strong religious institutions, and so on, are generally correlated with higher crime rates. So this is something that needs to be explained.
A statist may reply that, as the control needs to be two ways, there isn’t enough control by the people over their authorities in those societies and so corruption is allowed to remain rampant. But most societies have a democratic process similar to ours, and there’s no reason why one shouldn’t work as well as the other. Corruption has more to do with how poor the public officials are, and how much power they have, than it has to do with the efficacy of any given democratic process.
3. I have already discussed the monkey in a cage argument in a previous entry called The Fantastic Cage. The monkey in a cage argument is that, just as one cannot draw conclusions about monkey behaviour from looking at monkeys in captivity, one cannot draw conclusions about human behaviour from looking at humans in captivity. The sort of captivity is different in each case. In the case of monkeys, it is a physical captivity, and in the case of humans it is both a physical and a mental captivity, with the mental side being much more used. With that in mind, the main argument is still valid, in that making assumptions about human nature based on the behaviour of captive humans is just as inane as making assumptions about monkey behaviour based on the behaviour of captive monkeys.
So if the statist points to criminality as a reason to claim that human nature is evil, one may justly reply that in the absence or great reduction of poverty, powerlessness, monogamous jealousies, and so on, crime would be greatly reduced. All behaviour, whether moral or immoral, exists within a socio-economic context, and to ignore it is simply irrational. The same applies to things like greed, stupidity or being overly self-centered. When people are kept greedy, stupid and short-sighted by a system that wants people to run around making money instead of living purposeful lives, to be schooled and uneducated, and to not look at the morality of their actions, you’re gonna get greedy, stupid and self-centered people. It’s as simple as that.
4. If we look at the issue logically, the argument that human nature justifies control is just a different version of the statist argument that human nature justifies government. Because of this, it suffers from the same fundamental flaw: it assumes that a good system can come from evil intentions.
Take the origin problem, for instance. If people are innately evil, then the apparatus of control must be the result of the actions of evil people. Why should we believe that an apparatus made by evil people is morally sane? How can people who are innately evil be trusted to build a system which supposedly enforces sanity?
Now, to look at the present. If people are innately evil, then their actions are evil. If people’s actions are evil, then their control over others will inevitably seek evil ends.
The only model that can get the statist out of this logical quagmire is that of “peace through fear”: that people are so scared of other people’s crimes that they will seek to suppress criminality more than they will pursue their own crimes, and that in our society, which is to them the equivalent of a band of depraved criminals, fear of others will trump greed or ambition. But even this model is not satisfactory, as there is no disharmony between fear and greed. In fact, fear is the prime weapon politicians use to pursue their greed for power and fear of job loss is one of the ways capitalists use to suppress dissent.
So instead of looking at man as an homo economicus, a rational consumer, as economists do, they look at man as a rational tyrant moved by fear.
Democracy is therefore ultimately based on fear, the fear that the fellow in charge will control you, or others, in the wrong way. Of course, this sort of system has to fail, if only because whoever is in control of the rules of the democratic process also controls the choices people have, and can thus marginalize anyone he wants (and we observe that this is what actually happens in reality). As I’ve pointed out before, whoever controls the rules of a game is the real winner of the game.
This is the principle that “you become what you fight against.” People fear exploitation, therefore their solution is to exploit each other. People fear being mistreated, therefore their solution is to mistreat each other and hope that it all evens out. People fear class divisions, therefore their solution is vertical mobility. In their mindset, the evil is mitigated by the fact that everyone has a chance to perpetrate it. This is, by the way, why ending discrimination is so important to the statists, not because it is unjust (in fact, they don’t care at all about the injustice) but because it reinforces the belief that everyone has a chance to become an exploiter.
Capital-democracy fulfills this criterion very well, the theory being that anyone can rise through the ranks of the economic apparatus and the political apparatus, and the people in power are theoretically controlled and made accountable by others (be they shareholders, voters, or what have you). Because, in theory, anyone can become a high-ranking executive or politician, we are led to conclude that we live in a classless society. In fact, the existence of social classes does not depend on people being stuck in them for their whole life or not. Insofar as the system is concerned, it does not matter who is in control, or if it’s always the same people or not, as long as someone is.
I’ve talked about obedience as being a necessary component of the statist mindset. If all you have is the belief that “people are innately evil” without the obedience circuit, all you can do is kill people because you have no other solution. Lynchings, the death penalty and other such eye-for-an-eye penalties are a remnant of this. When we feel that we have no control over someone (if they live in another “country,” for instance), then we try to kill them. This is why tribal societies are sometimes very violent (although not nearly on the same magnitude as our geo-political entities today): not out of any particular evilness, but because they can’t control each other, and they see no authority they can rely on to solve conflicts, to control their opponents.
There’s no middle ground between wanting people to be free and wanting people to be controlled (no matter how much the statists wish for control to be freedom).