In the real world, failure is a signal that something is wrong. Some condition, either in our control or outside of it, failed to obtain in a desirable way. Something must be re-examined in our methods or our premises- it may be a superficial problem, it may be a systemic problem, but either way an rational examination can reveal the answer.
The reverse is true in the collectivist fantasy world. In that world, failure means success and confirmation of one’s beliefs. Failure means that your methods need to be applied on an even wider scale. This implies success- after all, why else expand a method that does not work in the first place?
I find this fallacy to be so often applied as to be virtually axiomatic in statist thought. It applies, for example, to any failure of the state in its self-appointed tasks or missions. The most recent example is the “war on terrorism”. The American state has a long string of utter failure as regards to foreign policies which led it to the place it is today, and now it steals even more money from its victims in order to take an even more pro-active role in the mess it has created.
In short, and once again this is a fallacy that statists will always inevitably make, if not directly: whatever problem the state has created, the state must solve by expanding even more.
This is the very definition of insanity, of course. But while I don’t want to address the state exclusively, I must add that a reasonable person’s reaction to a problem of the state should be to examine what caused the failure. And in virtually all cases, the failure is not due to specific people or laws but to a systemic feature, i.e. it is the notion of the state itself that is to blame. In the case of foreign policy, the blame must be put largely on the arbitrary construct of nationalism and its corollary, “national interests”. And nations themselves are a construct of the state used in order to delimit its parasitic domain.
In my next entry, I will analyze some “Net Neutrality” propaganda, which is another example of the “state failure means we need more state” fallacy. But any example you can get of state failure in the news will do: democracy, the war on drugs, the debt, “crime”, the environment, anti-trust legislation, poverty, every state failure is a cycle of intervention and propaganda. Even in scandals, only people are blamed, not the power they hold.
This fallacy holds true far beyond the state. In religion (especially cults), this is also widespread. Does your health fail despite constant prayer? You must not have been a strong enough believer. Natural disasters happen? It’s a failure of our society to be religious enough (as seen in the first propaganda item). “God” doesn’t seem interested, but keep doing it anyway. You are experiencing doubt about the validity of this or that dogma? Obviously your problem is best solved by praying and going to church more often. Only more conditioning will solve the problems brought about by the conditioning in the first place.
In the most blatant demonstration of the fallacy, the endemic moral and psychological failure of religion, as demonstrated by “countries” where religion is dominant (including the “United States”), can only be solved by enforcing religion even more. Indeed, according to the Christian concept of victimhood, it is the lack of religion which is causing it! So the victimhood complex (which points to individual desires as the enemy) also serves to cloak the origin of dysfunction. If you are having trouble living a “pure” life, it must be because of your evil natural desires getting in the way. It cannot be the fault of the religion- how could “God” lead us astray?
This fallacy also applies to more minor beliefs. Your homeopathic “remedies” aren’t curing your cancer? You need to keep going and take more. Your diets have you rebounding and taking more weight? You need to get on a “better” one. You are having trouble staying sober on AA’s submission machine? You need to attend to more meetings and believe harder (it’s okay because you are a sinner and cannot change- but just work at it harder anyway). You try to be nice to your abusive family but they just make life harder for you? Obviously, more love is the solution. Failure is not failure, it’s just a signal to try harder.
Whatever the belief, another constant that always applies is that the system itself must never be questioned. Never must statism, democracy, religion, theism themselves be questioned. That is the cardinal sin. For individual religious agents and political agents derive their legitimacy almost solely from the general legitimacy of their domain. This is also why legitimized states always seek to support other legitimized states (which nowadays means almost solely “democratic states”).
But the reverse is also virtually always true. If free individuals fail at something, or are exposed as fraudulent, then we must question the system they operated in. This double standard is part of the projection mechanisms of collectivist belief. For example, the Enron scandal is said to have shaken the core of the corporate system. But the numerous financial scandals which take place in our states are never said to put into question the existence of the state.
Failure is expected. Error and fraud will always exist. That is not the issue here. The issue is whether a given system has the proper incentives to minimize error and fraud. Markets do, while the state and religions do not. But any rational criticism of these systems is always projected back to the critic. This is how the religio-political believers escape inquiry, and why we are plunged into such a situation of ignorance.