3.3 Government: The Unofficial Justification

From our study of them, it appears that all the justifications of the State ultimately boil down to this: religious worship of the State as an almighty supernatural authority. The State is the idol of a self-denying pagan cult. Belief in such nonsense would be considered a mental disease, if it were not so common. And hopefully, in a not so far away future, it will indeed be considered as a mental pandemic, an infantile disease that swept away the world at a time when mankind is still very young. However, for the time being, it is still up to us to devise a cure — and to be able to do so, we must first understand the disease, how it survives, how it propagates. We must investigate the psychological mechanisms underlying such a belief system, identify the weaknesses of the mind through which this parasite belief enters people's mind.

Governments are assuming undue authority. Thus, in as much as the structure of human feelings is a common genetic heritage, any strong and coherent tendency in a lot of people to believe in government has an explanation in terms of the usurpation of some natural sentiment of submission to authority. Natural sources of authority are not many: parents have some authority on their children, in as much as they provide for them; friends give their opinions to be taken into account in as much as their alliance is to be preserved; chiefs lead people in short times of emergency (war, fire, natural disaster, etc.); elders or great achievers have authority on laymen, in as much as their wisdom is acknowledged. In evolutionary time scales, these are probably as much complexity as could make way into the innate structure of the human mind 34.

The first kind of natural authority in human life is parenting. And the fallacies used as justification for government are fallacies of parenting indeed — they ride on the primitive mental mechanisms by which young infants relate to their parents. To a young child, the parents appear as external superior entities that give one goods for free, if only one moans and cries, without one having to think about the ins and outs of the production of the goods thus bestowed. Parents are understood as well-meaning, having with their children a relationship of mutual love; young infants have an absolute trust in their parents 35. Finally, it is almost universally accepted that parents have an authority to decide for their children, and even to punish them in certain cases — though the precise limits of parental authority are debatable 36.

There is no doubt that governments pretend to assume the role of parents. In autocracies of all times, the personal tyrant has always posed as Father of the Nation 37, Big Brother, or something similar 38. In countries where power is more diluted, no single statesman might dare claim such a pompous title — though it is not uncommon that powerful and lasting politicians be given by journalists both flattering and joking a surname of the same vein 39; but even in these countries, government as a whole nonetheless claims the role and powers devolved to parental care: the mythology of government as a parent, or of the Nation as a parent of which government is the spokesman is still very present in the public discourse about government. This is revealed by the ease with which are generated and accepted such common symbols as Uncle Sam or the motherly personification of various nations. And it is not uncommon, when discussing with statists, that they will explicitly appeal to the notion that government fulfills the role of parent with respect to citizens, who are maintained within the role of irresponsible children.

Now, the statist disease doesn't just substitute government for parents: it attempts to confer government authority from all possible sources. Democracy, the concept of Nation, and the notion of ``Social Contract´´, are tricks for the State to assume the authority of a voluntary alliance of friends, although there lacks the basic premise that would give validity and a friendly nature to such an alliance, namely its voluntary nature, — in other words, the liberty to enter it or refrain from entering it, and even exit it. Governments assume the role of a chief in times of emergency. They begin by excluding any competition; then they reinforce their power by creating a permanent climate of emergency. The failings of governments are thus instrumental to their self-preservation. Finally, governments, through the heavy subsidy of whichever alleged ``scientists´´, ``artists´´ and ``experts´´ support their authority, thereby claim the endorsement of human wisdom for their edicts.

Even if all these roles were legitimately assumed, they wouldn't endow governments with any of the political rights they claim: to enslave citizens and non-citizens part-time, to rob and imprison those who won't cooperate, to kill and torture those who resist — and most importantly, to make laws. Law-making is the godly power to unilaterally define and redefine the rules that relate governments to people under their dominion, and that relate these people to each other. Parents, friends, wise men, and even chiefs, have none of these prerogatives upon those who voluntarily accept their authorities, not to talk about those who decline their authorities. Through all these tricks of emotional fraud, governments are really trying to impersonate God — the supreme authority 40.

So as to achieve its emotional and intellectual fraud, the statist meme 41 does much more than just divert existing emotions from their rightful targets: it severely distorts the way infected people view the world, to begin with. It must bypass the natural defense system of the human mind, its immunity system: reason, the bullshit detector. And it must take constantly renewed measures to keep this defense system disabled 42. Yet at the same time, it cannot simply destroy all human understanding, otherwise infected humans would not survive long enough to be infected and propagate the meme 43. The successful parasite must selectively destroy understanding; it must condition the application of its fallacious content so it doesn't prevent basic surviving skills; it must leave enough of the mind alive and well so as to nurture and transmit the illness 44.

This circumvention and selective destruction of the immunity system is the essence of the statist disease, as of all diseases. It is the fundamental point about the statist disease, the source that enables all errors. It is the flaw through which the disease can invade the whole of a human's understanding of society and the universe. It is the cause that fatally leads to terrible consequences. It is the cornerstone to all intellectual and emotional frauds; it is the key that justifies all massive criminal behavior. Only by identifying this flaw can we build new defenses and find a cure. Therefore, we must study more deeply the immunity-altering mechanism of this mental disease; we must fully analyze the ur-Evil of this statist meme that infects human minds. And to begin with, we must give this Evil its name: Black Magic.

4 Black Magic vs White Magic

4.1 Two Opposite Attitudes

Like all diseases, Black Magic can be characterized by its symptoms. We find a fine, precise and concise summary of these symptoms in an entry of The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce:

Pray, v.: To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.

Black Magic is best evidenced by contrasting it with the opposite attitude of White Magic, that is adopted by sane minds 45.

Everyone seeks happiness, success or redemption; but we can distinguish two radically opposite path to follow while striving for them. A follower of Black Magic begs for grants, he humiliates himself, submits to superior forces. An observer of White Magic earns rewards, he develops self-pride and mastership (in a non-hierarchical sense). A follower of Black Magic tries to obtain favors from superior forces by making sacrifices, by destroying things or people, by making a show of one's friendly intents, or even by humiliating himself in groveling submission. An observer of White Magic tries to obtain satisfactions from earthly things and people (in a non-hierarchical relation 46), by enhancing himself and his property, by creating goods and services, by doing actual work, by proudly developing his skills. Followers of Black Magic are ignorant of nature and how it works, and they rebel against it when it doesn't satisfy their whims. Practitioners of White Magic try to understand nature and its mechanisms, they accept it as it is, and use their knowledge of it to achieve satisfactions. To followers of Black Magic, Gods are supernatural beings above us; their nature is Holy and suffers no questioning. To practitioners of White Magic, in as much as things can be explained in terms of Gods, Gods are but aspects of Nature itself. To followers of Black Magic, the ultimate goal is the fulfillment of all wild desires, with impossibility being vanquished in a surreal paradise to be granted to worshippers in some far future or after death. To practitioners of White Magic, the ultimate goal is to achieve appreciated satisfactions before death, with the wisdom to reevaluate one's desires so as to fit the realm of the possible.

This is what I call Black Magic — the belief and practice of seeking good things as miracles bestowed by a certain kind of jealous and venal Gods: Gods who require you to humiliate yourself before them; Gods who reward sacrifices that prove subservience; Gods who relish the abjection of their believers, and the reduction of unbelievers into subjects; Gods who rejoice from the destruction or debasement of oneself and other people; Gods with unlimited powers and arbitrary whims, that are not bound by any law knowable by reason, but are meant to be influenced by a display of compliant intentions from their humiliated followers. Of course, awful gods who could be corrupted by such an attitude would not deserve being worshipped at all. They are monstruosities against which any self-respecting human being can but revolt. Those that grovel at the feet of such gods are slaves, swine; they are creatures lacking the dignity of their own free will, and they are prompt to forsake their free will indeed.

On the contrary, White Magic is a wholly different set of beliefs, involving a wholly different kind of incorruptible but well-meaning Gods: Gods who require people to improve themselves; Gods who reward the creations that proves one's mastership with the creations themselves; Gods who relish from the self-esteem of believers, and the raise of unbelievers into partners; Gods who rejoice at their observers' self-reliance and pride; Gods who have limited power, whose behavior is circumscribed by knowable laws of nature, who are only moved by appropriate engineering by proud observers. These Gods are not to be worshipped, but understood. They are facts of nature that humans must learn to know and accept. Those who master these Gods become better humans; they are moral beings exerting their morality by making choices, and who indeed seek liberty and its dual face, responsibility, as the mother of all virtues.

4.2 The Magic Color Of Life

Black Magic and White Magic are two opposite poles in the universe of attitudes that humans can have toward Life. In actual human behavior, in actual human beliefs, religions and discourses, within the complexity of any single person's mind, the two opposite attitudes may be simultaneously present, and their many instances interwoven, combined, and blended. The reality of human behavior oscillates between these two extremes, and more often than not yield shades of gray. But this gray doesn't mean that black and white do not exist: the very notion of shades of gray presupposes that black and white exist, that they can be separated and that you can be closer to one than to the other.

Separating white from black is not easy. Indeed, both aspects are simultaneously present in traditional cultures and religions; the very same words will contain several meanings with radically different colors; and most people will conflate these meanings into a vague confuse concept that prevents them from distinguishing the opposition between those meanings. Thus, confused or deceiving people will often resort to patterns of thoughts that jump from one meaning to the other without most listeners noticing the mistake or fraud. And this permanent confusion is no sheer bad luck: Black Magic systematically develops deceitful appearances: it will impersonate white magic so as to claim its creations, so as to gain power and legitimacy. Black magicians, the great destructors who dominate society, will dress in white, and claim to be great creators, whereas they will dress in black the enslaved white magicians who actually create.

Thus, people who believe what they are taught by schools and mass media will often have an inverted idea of what is white magic and what is black magic, of who is being exploited and who is exploiting, of what are the principles of creation, and what are the principles of destruction. The more gullible people will indeed invert black and white on a wide area of issues, wherever the propaganda is efficient. Less gullible people will be confused into seeing gray everywhere. Of course, it is people find it usually obvious to distinguish what is constructive and what is destructive when it concerns themselves directly, so that the black magic propaganda can seldom deceive people regarding their immediate self-interest; but it can deceive them regarding their long-term self-interest, and regarding the self-interest of those people they don't know well. It inverts the long-range moral vision of gullible people, and induces moral myopia in less gullible people. This inversion causes a lot of confusion; it creates for each believer an intermediate area where everything is blurry or self-contradictory, between their short-range understanding and their inverted long-range understanding; this in turn induces a feeling of absurdity about life. In the end, this leads to a form of schizophrenia among to those who accept theories too far from everyday practice 47, to self-destruction by those who will not adopt practices opposite to their theories; and to atrophy of the minds of those who seek to avoid mental conflict by rejecting theory altogether.

So as to understand the world, we must learn thus to untangle the tree of white magic from the parasite lianes of black magic that surround it. So as to assess the effects of various attitudes and deeds, we must examine the respective influences of Black Magic and White Magic in human behavior. Black magic always wins in appearance; you will always see it dominate the established institutions, glorified by formal rites and astonishing shows. But it is white magic that actually makes the world go round, even if it requires discernment to see that. Black magicians are expert in wishful thinking, idle imprecation, and deception of themselves and other people; but only through the dedicated work of white magicians does the world actually progress. All creation stems from the principles of white magic. White magic serves as the basis for civilization itself. And Black Magic itself can survive but as a parasite to White Magic, — for if there is no creation, there soon remains nothing left to destroy.

4.3 A Comparative Table

Murray Rothbard, in the conclusion of his book Power and Market, made a small comparative table between the consequences of what he called ``The Market Principle´´ and ``The Hegemonic Principle´´. We may very well extend his table to summarize the opposition between the broader underlying principles that are White Magic and Black Magic. Actually, considering this table, we may equally name these principles respectively the Libertarian Principle and the Authoritarian Principle.

Some Consequences of

The Market Principle

The Hegemonic Principle

individual freedom


general mutual benefit (maximized social utility)

exploitation — benefit of one group at expense of another

mutual harmony

caste conflict: war of all against all



power of man over nature

power of man over man

most efficient satisfaction of consumer wants

disruption of want-satisfaction

economic calculation

calculational chaos

incentives for production and advance in living standards

destruction of incentives: capital consumption and regression in living standards



White Magic

Black Magic

Praxeology — rational thinking on dynamic choices

Magic Thinking — wishful thinking on static parameters

Science as a process of free inquiry

Superstition under the authority of official science

Simple universal rules

Complex ad hoc statements

Logical demonstrations


Internal consistency — reason as an unescapable filter for beliefs

Double think — withholding reason to preserve beliefs

Understanding Nature

Worshipping ignorance

Accepting Facts

Revolt against nature

Realizing Actual Potentials

Running after whimsical ghosts

Economics is a point of view on all human action

Economics is about monetary payments, to be taxed by the State

Those who can actually make useful predictions reap rewards on the market

Those who make useless statistics are paid by the State to justify its plunder

Earning one's life

Being granted one's life

Production: mutual exploitation for mutual benefit

Predation: unilateral exploitation to one's benefit and the other's loss

Harmonic interests, positive-sum win-win games

Conflicting interests, negative-sum win-lose games

Convincing with persuasion

Coercing with force





Internal discipline of self-help and exercise

External rituals of helpless begging prayers

Rational Arguments

Emotional arguments





Right to dissent

Obligation to comply



Liberty, Mother of Order

Order, Pretense for Oppression

Emerging Order

Imposed Chaos

Morality based on good actions, intents behind actions being irrelevant

Morality based on good intentions, any outcome of actions being irrelevant

Justice based on respecting and restoring the individual property rights of everyone

Justice based on coercing individuals into the collective utopia

Dynamic choices

Static wishes

4.4 Magic Formulas

White Magic and Black Magic attitudes are pervasive. Indeed, it is by structuring the way people think that they influence the way people act. Like all self-reproducing memes, they spread and survive in as much as the act they entail will in turn contribute to spread the meme. A major target for the memes is thus the center of language, the mechanisms with which individuals associate meaning to words and relate words to each other and to emotions, the way people understand the world.

George Orwell, in his famous novel 1984, described how totalitarian regimes try to limit the way people can think, express and exchange ideas that may be subversive to their established order, by reshaping the language into what he dubs novlang: the vocabulary is reduced; the terms are redefined to mean only what the party wants; and to have the connotations in line to the party ideology; the subversive words and meanings are eliminated, etc. 48 When the enemies of liberty do not hold totalitarian power, they cannot manipulate the language at will; however, they can still spread their connotations into words, and add enough secondary meanings to existing words so as to render them useless (or at least much less useful) at conveying opposing ideas, or precise ideas at all. Indeed, Friedrich Hayek has observed how the adjective ``social´´, when a prefix to such terms as ``justice´´, ``contract´´, ``responsibility´´, etc., was actually used to have justice, contract, responsibility, etc., mean the opposite to what libertarians would use these words for. Philosophers like Henry Hazlitt or Ayn Rand have also observed how the words ``egoism´´ and ``altruism´´ were being used by enemies of liberty with grossly incoherent meanings, promoting them as incompatible and opposite to one another, with egoism being evil and altruism being good, thus justifying the sacrifice of individuals to the collectivity, as incarnate in its government 49.

We may pinpoint a case where Black Magicians have strongly biased a word in our preceding comparative table: the word ``exploitation´´. Exploitation means fulfilling some potential of usefulness; bringing the good out of something or someone. So mutual exploitation is something quite good, that allows everyone to be better off, with a net result of creation of wealth for everyone — mutual exploitation is the root of everything good in society 50. But the black magicians have loaded the word ``exploitation´´ to specifically means unilateral exploitation of one to the benefit of the other, with a net result of destruction of wealth. Once again, they want everyone to implicitly admit that society is not based upon relationships of production, but only upon relationships of predation. Black magicians think in terms of predation; then they reproach exploitation as evil when other people do it, and they claim it as good when they do it (though they won't utter the unholy word ``exploitation´´ in this case). Actually, since a society based exclusively on predation is impossible, in the end, Black Magic will be based on a fraud wherein most followers of Black Magic will themselves be enslaved producers, victims of predation, but who are completely delusioned about what is production and what is predation. The belief in Black Magic will thus be a parasite infesting people who actually live thanks to the creative rules of White Magic; it may allow few real Black Magicians to live at the expense of these people; but it may even survive without benefitting much anyone.

Sometimes, White Magic wins in the battle over vocabulary. My favorite witness is the word ``to earn´´, — a typically English and American word, that has no real equivalent in French. It implies a dynamic relationship between a result and the means to achieve it: through hard work, you get something valuable that you deserve. A whole morality of creation, productivity, honesty, individual property, personal responsibility, and liberty lies behind this word. Yet, even as I try to describe the meaning of this libertarian word, I have to use words that can cause confusion, and that the authoritarian will happily hijack: hard work, productivity. Black Magicians, who are unaware of causation relationships, will disconnect work from its result, and will either blame all work as bad in itself 51, or otherwise praise the virtues of work as good in itself 52. White Magicians value ``hard work´´, not in proportion to the intensity of the efforts, but in proportion to the intensity in results 53. It is understood as a law of nature that easy gains will be quickly reaped and considered as acquired without particular care (any required care means the gain is not so easy). Thus, any fruitful work that predictably yields a valuable result will probably imply some intense efforts rare insight. And it is precisely the propensity to sacrifice obvious immediate pleasures to a remote unobvious result that deserves praise — in as much as the remote result is indeed a net gain. Still, what is praised is the readiness to see and act beyond immediate gains — the ultimately greater good made possible by the immediate sacrifice; it isn't the immediate evil of the sacrifice itself 54! The praise or lack thereof deserved by hard work can be related with the praise or lack thereof deserved by intense reflection: what matters is not the effort spent in thinking per se, it is the result in terms of depth of the thought reached. And even this depth is to be valued only through the improvement in behavior that it allows; in turn, this improvement is to be measured in terms of enhancement in satisfactions in one's life (including the indirect satisfactions achieved through cooperation with other people who can be more directly satisfied thanks to this understanding). The goal is ``less thought, more results´´, and not the other way round 55; deep thought is good only if on the overall it enables new strategies of behavior that save the need for future thinking while achieving a same or better result — it's a capital investment.

Black Magic, the Authoritarian Principle, is a meme that profoundly distorts its victims' view of the world, as opposed to the correct view that is achieved with White Magic, the Libertarian Principle. If we libertarians want to cure people from the Black Magic meme, we must take the full consequence of the way Black Magic distorts the understanding of its victims. For we can cure them but by convincing them, and while communicating with them, we will have to cross the semantic gap between the words as we understand them, and the same words as these victims understand them — with each victim having his or her own subtly different set of distortions 56.