It has been said repeatedly that we, as individuals, have a debt to society. While I have addressed this idea in a limited way via video, I want to criticize the idea itself this time, because this is a song we’ve heard before, and a dance we’ve jigged before.
Lazily pulling from Wikipedia, the social contract is basically this:
We can discard most of that, because most of it is irrelevant. We know the origin of society, and we recognize that an agreement between individuals to work together for the betterment of everyone involved in no way, shape, or form necessitates a state. In other words, “the nature and origin of society” is wholly and completely unrelated to the state’s authority over the individual. Society is a product of people coming together and agreeing to work together. Under no circumstances does this mean anyone needs authority over anyone else.
For example, my wife and I have decided to work together. It is quite obviously not necessary that one of us have authority over the other. Hierarchies will rise and fall, of course, but we do have to remember here that the key feature of the state is that it is compulsory, and that if someone does not wish to take part in one hierarchy, the state does not allow it. Think about it.
If you don’t like the hierarchy at your job, you are perfectly free to quit and go to a different company. If, however, you are unhappy with the state, you don’t have the option of being subservient to a different state (short of moving to another country, but since that isn’t necessary when we were dealing with companies, it shouldn’t be necessary now).
Plus, if we look further beyond the confines of our own nation, we will see that every acre of land on the planet has been parceled out to one state or another, and that if you reject the hierarchy of the state you have no options for doing so. It is why I fervently campaign for the institution of an anarchy somewhere in the world, so that the state does have to compete with the social guidance methods of someone else. As it is, the state absolutely controls the planet; the entire planet is firmly beneath the iron boots of the state.
I’m not trying to be overly crass here, but… Yeah.
That’s the nature of our relationship to the state, and it has been the nature of our relationship for a very long time. It is precisely the confusion of “society” with “the state” that has allowed this travesty to happen, as people have become so accustomed to the state that they are incapable of even imagining that there might be some other mechanism–besides beating people into compliance (which, obviously, is what the state does, with its military, police, and prisons)–of getting people to work together.
In reality, the “social contract” is not about what debt one individual may have to “society,” but we can get into that–just not right now. In actuality, the social contract is merely about why it’s okay for the state to beat us. Is further elaboration necessary? That’s its own definition, after all–it is a method of justifying state authority over individuals, and we know how the state exercises that authority.
You can’t argue that the state exercises its authority in less brutal means, because millennia of evidence show us exactly how the state does what it does: force, violence, and coercion. The state will rob you, taking the fruit of your labors for itself. If you don’t obey the state, it kidnaps you and imprisons you. If you resist, it kills you. While it has you kidnapped and imprisoned, it may very well rape you. It will torture you. Is further elaboration necessary?
We would have no difficulty seeing the unbridled moral atrocity of the man above doing this horrendous stuff to the cowering slave. “You will work on my plantation, or I will lock you in the dungeon! While you’re in the torture, I’ll have people rape you, and I will torture you! If you still don’t comply, then I will simply kill you.”
But when the state does it, we’re like…
The whole thing is simply a euphemism for slavery, especially when taxes become involved and we have unapportioned taxes as I mentioned above. Because yes, in case people weren’t paying attention, the state has first dibs on your paycheck, in case you haven’t noticed. By the time you get your paycheck, the state has already taken its share, and you have no say-so in what the state gets. The state simply takes what it wants, and lets you keep the rest.
The result of this is that we have something that is identical either to slavery or feudalism–take your pick.
The amazing thing here is how quickly people lose sight of the fact that if they want to submit themselves to their feudal lord, or to their slavemaster, then that is their prerogative*. However, the fact that the woman on the left is telling the woman on the right, “Master gave you that dress, didn’t he? Well, then you owe him! So get to working! I don’t mind working for Master!” doesn’t… really mean that the woman on the right has to consent. The woman on the left has no authority to tell Master, “She does submit, Master. I’ve explained to her that she owes you for that fine dress you gave her and for the roof you put over her head.”
How shall I explain to you that a circle is round?
Does the point need to be labored any longer? Is it not ridiculously and glaringly obvious that all of this shit is simply a euphemism for slavery?
“You owe Master because he put a roof over your head, he gave you the hoe you’re using to work, and he gave you the dress you’re wearing!”
Be that as it may, did the woman on the right have any choice? Did she have the option of walking away from Master and finding somewhere that she could be free?
No. She didn’t–as I pointed out, every single inch of land on the planet is controlled by one slave owner or another. What would be the point of fleeing one plantation to go to another plantation? That is what people are suggesting we do, when they say, “If you don’t like it, then you can get out!” Get out where? There are literally only plantations in every direction, as far as the eye can see, and all the way around the world. There is no place where the woman on the right could go to not have a master.
So instead you’ll tell her to be thankful that her master is allowing her to work in peace, and isn’t in the process of cutting off her toes and raping her?
AND YOU DON’T SEE A PROBLEM WITH ANY OF THIS?!
* Possibly. I’d have to do some more thought about this, because I find it really hard to imagine that anyone would voluntarily submit to slavery or feudalism if there wasn’t coercion involved.