As a conservative and former libertarian, I can understand why people don’t see how the state frees us. It does, but it also depends on how you define certain other ideas such as freedom, justice, and oppression. Let me start by using an example with which we can all agree.
Let’s say a person enters your home with the intent to kill you. You manage to hide in a closet somewhere. You call 911, the police arrive, and capture the person. He goes to jail, is convicted, and spends a long time in prison.
The state has freed you, right? How did that work? One of the obligations of the state is to protect the innocent and to render justice. But the potential murderer almost certainly thinks that the state has acted in an oppressive manner to convict him of a crime and throw him into prison.
So it is a matter of perspective. It is a matter of deciding where your ethics originate.
Now, let’s take that concept and apply it in another area: marriage, family, and religion. Marxists, communists, and feminists have argued for decades (if not longer) that these institutions are oppressive and unjust. They’ve made excellent headway using the legal system to suppress those institutions thereby reducing those “injustices.” Even a lot of conservatives and many libertarians are on board with these changes. However, we have seen a corresponding rise in the power of the state. How do we explain this? The state doesn’t give freedom, does it? Well, as we saw with the example above, it sort of does in the sense that it is supposed to render justice. So by suppressing all of the pre-existing social institutions, a lot of people believe that the state is rendering justice and freeing the oppressed. By suppressing those institutions, the state liberates the individual from his familial and religious obligations. It is a very seductive idea, with superficial appeal. I went along with it myself for quite a while.
From a conservative and libertarian perspective, the problem is that the state’s power has gone up rather than down. It is the opposite of what we anticipated when we got on board with “sexual liberation,” which is just another way of saying that the state should free us from familial and religious obligations. The dilemma for conservatives and libertarians who believe in “sexual liberation” is this: those social institutions were founded on the concept of rights coming from “nature and nature’s God.” Those rights have their own obligations, and those institutions served as a buffer between us and the state. But many among us are are endorsing the state suppressing them in order to free us from those obligations. This leaves nothing except the individual and the state, and our rights from “nature and nature’s God” go into the trash can, along with those responsibilities.
That’s how the state frees us.
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