The State is “nothing but men acting in concert”. The grounds for justification of State action can only be “the same principles which differentiate the proper from the improper actions of the individual. […] Despite the lofty pretensions of most governments, the fact remains that they, like any other group of men, are nothing more than a collection of individuals. The ‘rights of a government’, like the rights of any other association of men, can be morally no different than the rights of the men who comprise it. All that which is immoral for men acting individually is equally immoral for men acting in association. There is nothing a government can morally do, which individuals by themselves cannot morally do. The group is ethically no different from the individual. It is irrelevant whether a man steals by his own authority or with the sanction of a million others, whether he takes money for himself or for ‘the poor’ or for any other group which did not earn it. Theft consists of taking a man’s property against his will, regardless of the beneficiary. If the individual has an inalienable right to his own life, liberty, and property, then morally his life and property are his own to do with as he pleases. It is just as immoral for a government to attempt to tax A’s earnings, regulate his business, or draft his sons [to go to war] as it would be for some isolated individual acting on his own authority to do so. The association of men into a group called ‘government’ does not free them from morality or sanction actions otherwise immoral,” and neither does the size of such a group or its support (Wollenstein, 1969).
- Christophe Cieters.
This is the opening graph of a compelling piece that boils certain words, concepts, narratives and beliefs down to bite-size basics. For a better, clearer understanding of many of today's issue and their parlance, read the entire article here.