Simple Liberty  



Statists Steal

Written by Darrell Anderson.

Excluding the possibility of obtaining title to property by first possession, there are only two meaningful ways people can sustain energy flows. They can:

  1. Productively and voluntarily exchange their title to property in exchange for the title to property of other people.
  2. Steal.[1]

Stealing is trespass and is a forced transfer of property without the titleholder’s explicit consent. People can steal in several ways. The most obvious way of capturing the labor of others is to steal directly from others. The direct method is predatory violence.

The German sociologist Franz Oppenheimer called voluntary exchange the economic means of satisfying needs and wants, and forced exchange as the political means.[2] The former method implies persuasion and cooperation to obtain title to resources, the latter implies force and coercion — and often violence or the threat of violence. The former method implies moral power, the latter political power.[3]

The French Liberals of the early nineteenth century also recognized the distinction between voluntary and involuntary exchange, articulating that difference as a class struggle between warriors (bandits) and the industrious class (producers).[4] This struggle can be expressed in many ways: power vs. liberty, takers vs. producers, administrators vs. producers, force and coercion vs. persuasion and cooperation, idlers vs. laborers, predators vs. creators, moneyed elite vs. workers, exploiters vs. creators, status vs. contract, or rulers vs. the ruled. The political means is merely a way to sustain energy flows with minimal effort — the desire of getting something for nothing.

The economic means regulates human interactions using knowable boundaries. The political means creates the illusion of a boundary system and predatory violence uses no boundaries at all.[5]

Like the word “society,” “the state“ is merely a phrase describing a complex social system. Like all concepts, “the state” does not exist in the unconditional physical realm of matter and energy, but only in the conditional realm between our ears. As a social system the concept of “the state” represents a specific collection of people defined by its own elements and system relational rules. “The state” is not a mystical thing, or a science-fiction blob, but a collection of people.

Understanding that “the state” is only a descriptive collection of certain people is critical to understanding the defects of statism — the political means of sustaining energy flows. Specifically, “the state” today describes a collection of people who use the political means to satisfy self-interests.[6]

Because the concepts of government (fundamental societal order) and society coexist and because humans prefer to satisfy their happiness with as little effort as possible, the seeds for statism always exist. Yet, statism is a philosophy of attempting to artificially create a privileged social system, a unique subsystem of society attempting to create virtual perpetual motion through the captured labor of other people. All artificially created privileges deny the concept of justice, because handfuls of people are allowed to trespass against others under the color of law. Statism is a philosophy of creating a social system of classes, an attempt to create superior and inferior social groups based upon distinctions of rank or property titles.[7] The desire for government is a natural outgrowth of human interaction and is a natural result of wanting to protect self-interests. The philosophical and political process of statism is an outgrowth of wanting to promote self-interests at the expense of others. Statists are people who embrace the philosophy of statism, people who prefer the political means of sustaining energy flows rather than the economic means. Statism is a philosophy promoting class struggles and conflict, and of sanctioning trespass under the color of law.

Statists are a collection of people who, with respect to a given arbitrary geographical territory, by fiat “claim” a power to:

  1. Enact authoritarian laws, even when those laws are contrary to ordinary customs.
  2. Ultimately resolve all disputes and conflicts within that territory, and do so with impunity.
  3. Forcibly expropriate revenues under the color of law to finance operations.
  4. Use force and coercion and the threat of violence to maintain their alleged jurisdiction.

Statists are people who proclaim their own fiat authoritative law as the supreme law of the land. Statists obtain their sustenance (revenues) through force and coercion rather than voluntary exchange of goods and services. Statists survive by demanding payment through the threat of incarceration, loss of property, or even loss of life.

Statists are a collection of people who use the political means to obtain that which they have no lawful property title. Although many people who “serve” in “the state” mean well, they are nonetheless participating in theft because their sustenance depends upon the involuntary expropriation of property.

Because statists use force and coercion to obtain property title to property not lawfully owned, and do not participate in the voluntary exchange of goods and services, by definition these people steal.


Terms of Use


[1] Charity can sustain energy flows, but that process is limited.

[2] Oppenheimer, The State, Chapter 1, Theories of the State.

[3] Ballou, Adin, “The Superiority of Moral Power Over Political Power,” Dissenting Electorate, pp. 7–10.

[4] Weinburg, Mark, “The Social Analysis of Three Early 19th Century French Liberals: Say, Comte, and Dunoyer,” The Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 50–56.

[5] Davidson, James and Rees-Mogg, William, The Great Reckoning, Second edition, 1993, Simon and Schuster, p. 54.

[6] Oppenheimer, The State, p. 9.

[7] Oppenheimer, The State, p. 4.