In Murray Rothbard’s “Anatomy of the State“, he describes how the State came into being and how it maintains its control over its citizens. The State does a great head job on its subjects. For an example of how effective the State is at garnering loyalty, all one need do is look in their Facebook timeline and see how often the word “we’ is used during a political crisis; from a potential military conflict with North Korea to getting rid of Obamacare, citizens express the belief that they have skin in the political game.
According to Rothbard, the notion of “we” is fallacious. We are not the State. If so, “we” would be on the hook, for example, for the death of every young black male killed by police fire. “We” would be on the hook for burdensome taxes and unfair civil asset forfeiture carried out by government. “We” would also be on the hook for collateral damage from drone attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Iraq, even though almost no Americans had a personal relationship or gripe with any of the civilian victims.
Why do the masses fall into the “we” box? The short answer is fear. Fear drives the need for people to follow the State, no matter what form the State takes. Whether it is tyranny by the masses (democracy) or tyranny by a monarch or autocrat, it simply boils down to how the State manipulates fear in order to carry out predatory activity. People follow the State for a number of reasons.
People may be swayed by a need for belonging. Where the State can create a “national consciousness” narrative, people will follow it. People may also assume that the State has their best interest at heart. “We are here to save and protect you from the dangers that lurk out there, just like your parents protected you.” Thing is, for most of us, our parents weren’t the cause of the dangers that are lurking to destroy us. For example, stupid assumptions about communism sweeping through Asia and the impact that it would have on the West is what caused the rift between North Korea and the United States. Policy makers, however, take no account for this and rather hold themselves out as protecting Americans from “Rocket Man.”
People may be swayed by the “muscularity” of the State. Who would not want to pay allegiance to a nation-state with the world’s biggest consumer market or strongest military or persuasive narrative on freedom?
Rothbard points out that the State’s expertise in science is used to hold the allegiance of its citizens. For citizens already predisposed to admiration of this attribute, they may fear being excluded from the benefits of the State’s expertise.
I think anarchists underestimate the emotional place that sources the allegiance most people have for the State. I believe the emotional yearning for something bigger than themselves that plays savior in their lives is a barrier that anarchists will not crack with mere rants about how bad the State is.
A better approach is to persuade individuals to take a self-actualization approach to their fears; asking individuals to address the emotional filter that creates that delusion that the State has a monopoly on curing their fears. This will take a persistent education initiative in order to create and environment of real freedom from State tyranny. Fear as the battery of tyranny has to be squelched.
Anarchists are so far doing a poor job of shaking the veneer of fear that has been thrown on us. We have poor public relations.