The proposition that equality and freedom are two sides of the same coin is the shortest and most accurate refutation of politics and economics that one can write.
The entire study of politics, from its inception, has been concerned solely with the State: its justification, its powers, whether it should be limited and, if so, how it should be limited. This idea of limitations on the power of government, which they call democracy, is praised as a form of equality, even though it preserves the concept of government more or less intact: all governments are forms of domination and subjugation.
The power of capitalism is subject to the same general kind of analysis. The entire study of economics is concerned solely with justifying the planned economy we have under corporatism. Sure, we talk about limiting this planned economy through government intervention, and we call this the “welfare state” or somesuch, but the concept of capitalism, or its “development” around the world, is never in question. People who do so are “extremists” and are intellectually marginalized. Capitalism is called individual freedom, when it is in fact exploitation on a worldwide scale.
The concept of a State cannot exist without the power to create and modify laws, as well as the power to enforce those laws (this is not to say that laws cannot co-exist with cooperative rulesets, as long as they are enforced as the ultimate standard). A law is nothing more or less than the will of the State; no law has to conform to the innate principles of justice, and most laws do not. Without the power of laws, its will, a State can no longer exist and perform its “functions,” and becomes merely a country club for sociopaths. The best proof of this fact is that no government has ever been based on the consent and good will of those it claims to govern.
The concept of laws necessarily entails a hierarchical society, where equality is strictly impossible, because it entails a strict separation between law-makers and the subjects of the laws. Through the laws, law-makers’ values are enforced on a population of people with differing value-systems, generating oppression on a social scale. This leads to people being morally and ethically unfree, that is to say, unable to express their values in the way they desire, and unable to help build a community or society which reflects their beliefs about human needs and the goals of social relationships. The individual is forced to position himself as “law-abiding” or “law-breaking,” with the suffocating consequences of the latter, instead of actually being able to think and act on the basis of innate justice. Such an individual is therefore theoretically only free as long as he acts within the margins of acceptability, which is really no freedom at all.
And because these laws define everything political, including democracy itself, the means by which the citizen supposedly influences politics, the law totalizes political power from the point of view of the average citizen, and focuses the energies of “concerned people” on trying to influence law-makers, people who are of a different class than they are and share no interests with them, instead of actually making a difference in their societies.
The argument that Anarchists, civil libertarians, atheists, and other freethinkers wish to erase exterior standards because they want to be free to be evil is therefore only part of the story. What we call “evil” is, most of the time, really a disagreement about values. As an Anarchist, I do not wish to let a murderer get away with killing people, but I also do not wish to “reeducate” him, as I am not arrogant enough to believe that my values are superior to his. So in that regard, certainly I wish people to be free to dabble in all the things I consider errors, as long as they don’t hurt people who don’t wish to participate.
But the larger point which needs to be made about Anarchism, civil liberties, atheism, and freethinking in general, is that we wish to erase exterior standards because they rob the individual of moral responsibility. Conservative Christians hypocritically hail moral responsibility as the cornerstone of freedom, but Christianity is a textbook example of moral irresponsibility, down to its very core doctrines. So is the concept of law. The law not only justifies violence, hatred and self-repression when it is used against “criminals,” it also justifies all the unethical, disgusting actions which hurt and kill other people by not condemning them. The individual’s freedom of thought, as extensive as it might be (and it is rather limited in our society, where we are indoctrinated and categorized from childhood), is absolutely useless to that individual, or his society, without the capacity to express the results of those thoughts.
Looking at the issue of force, we see that there is a whole hierarchy of users of force and people who control these users of force. This system, which relies on an exclusive (therefore elitist) right to use force granted to soldiers, policemen and bureaucrats, entails that the use of this force will benefit those soldiers, policemen and bureaucrats, and the people who control their actions. There is really nothing one can do to protect himself, let alone retaliate, against the State’s apparatus of force. The result is that soldiers, policemen and bureaucrats, on a daily basis, murder, beat up, falsely imprison and ruin the lives of innocents without being upheld to the laws they supposedly enforce. As I pointed out before, the State and its agents are not subject to the laws, or if they happen to be, they easily change those laws to retract themselves from public scrutiny, claim that it is in the national interest for things to remain secret or, as in the case of international laws, simply ignore the laws. Even mere policemen literally get away with murder on a regular basis.
The freedom of the citizen against the soldier, policeman or bureaucrat is therefore something akin to the freedom of a battered woman: we are forced to tell ourselves that innocents getting killed, beaten up, falsely imprisoned or ruined is “for our/their own good,” even though this is childish nonsense. But there is a drumbeat of propaganda designed to make us believe that this or that group within our society is an enemy and that we must be protected from it, coupled with the more ideological propaganda that everyone is evil or corrupt at the core and that we all need protection from each other. So this childish nonsense, this battered wife’s fantasy, becomes accepted fact.
At the intersection of law and force, between the diktat and the gun, from the will to the deed, stand a lot of different mechanisms, processes and systems. It is important not to let all the trappings of democracy, parliaments of dunces, and that constant, annoying mosquito-like media buzz distract you from the fundamental realization that a State is a monopoloid apparatus of force, and that all political speeches, debates and rants basically amount to answering the question of how and against whom force is to be applied; and furthermore, that answer is almost invariably going to be, not the State itself, not the power elite, not corporations, not the privileged, but either you or someone like you. This is not to say that “the common people” never, ever win anything within the democratic system; sometimes some group of concerned citizens gets to weight in on some issue where there is infighting amongst the power elite and manages to snatch a victory, but in general the power imbalance between these groups and their opponents is gigantic.
The center points on which the relation between law and force gravitate are taxation and inflation; these are the translation of the State’s desires into reality. It is therefore vitally important for the State to keep control over monetary policy and to keep its gigantic web of taxation over as many human activities as possible.
I’ve pointed out how the inequalities inherent to statism lead to lack of freedom, but the process is not one way: lack of freedom also means that people are unable to stand in the way of the creation of further inequality. In fact, using one or the other as the starting point is purely arbitrary. One way of seeing it is, inequality is what we see when we look at the structure itself, while lack of freedom is what we see when we look at its consequences in the larger society. Both co-exist at the same time and influence each other simultaneously, forming a dwindling spiral which constricts truth, free will, and general well-being. Groups and movements which are built on equality and freedom work in the same simultaneous, self-reinforcing way, but in the reverse direction.