When I wrote my book about “The No-State Mentality” and had been working on my blog in German for one or two years, I couldn’t have imagined the interest that this would drum up. Although it was always my objective to show how to leave the system, I never arrived at specifically criticizing the idea of the State and everything it encompasses.

However, with Tax Free Today I don’t just intend to show you a practical way out of the system, I also want to make the moral and philosophical reasons behind this clear. So this blog has arisen as a critique of the State and the way it is run.

This article isn’t going to be a working critique in every last detail; these types of critiques rarely reach the majority and already exist in various forms. Rather, this will be an understandable and clearly-laid-out critique.

Of course, you don’t need to share my opinion; in fact I would love it if you share yours in the comments (but I hope you read my arguments before doing so).

As soon as you start to see States as they really are, the easier it will be to escape from their claws and distance yourself from a system that limits your liberty and that of the people around you.

Below, you’ll find the article that is central to my book and its most important part. I hope that it helps you liberate yourself from the illusion of the State, because your life is your own.

The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.

Fréderic Bastiat.

To start escaping from the State’s trap, you have to understand what States really are, because they have a very important role in all of our lives.

You don’t have to do more than glance at a newspaper today to know what I’m talking about. And now, think about your last tax return… Does it, or does it not have a large influence on our lives?

It’s no surprise that when we see our liberties limited, the State is always to blame. This limiting of our freedom makes it so we can’t do many of the things that we would like to.

Along the same lines of freedom and obligation, we have to include the struggles between the different types of politics and ideologies.

On the one hand, taxes, surveillance and laws limit our freedom; on the other hand, many people want to enjoy their right to well-being, free time and the infrastructure to truly let them be free.

We have fallen for the State’s trap, a trap built upon a base of four wrong ideas about the role of the State.

You’ve fallen for their trap if you think that:

  1. States fulfill a social function
  2. You have to obey the laws of the State
  3. You can reform the State to let you do what you want
  4. You fear the all-powerful State that won’t set you free

The government can’t fix the problem. The government is the problem.

Ronald Reagan.

What are States for?

Outside of the philosophical and legal aspects, people usually legitimize the existence of the State using three simple points of view:

  1. States increase common well-being instead of decreasing it.
  2. Living in a State has more advantages than disadvantages.
  3. States are necessary in order to protect our rights, lives and property.

However, this is all based on an error that the French economist Frederic Bastiat referred to:

The State is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.

People see the direct advantages but don’t perceive the indirect disadvantages. They don’t understand that, through the inflation of obscure tributes and taxes, you pay more than you receive.

They don’t realize that the infrastructure that the State offers could be improved using the same money that you already pay with your taxes.

They don’t see the alternatives that exist, the alternatives they’d have without a State behind them. Or, on the other hand, they are happy that the State limits others’ choices because they believe that drugs are dangerous, that stores should be closed on Sundays, or that homosexuality is immoral.

Do you see things this way as well? Then let’s go deeper.

Imagine that organized crime has taken power. The mafia has taken control of society and has crushed the Government. You have lost your State protection. Now, what would happen if you had a business?

  1. You would pay a protection fee to stay in business.
  2. You would need to put up with and submit to daily extortion if you wanted to keep your business.
  3. You would pay money in exchange for the ability to stay in your property or to be able to use your means of production.
  4. The mafia would dictate how you ran your business, what you could or couldn’t offer, and what markets you could sell to.
  5. The mafia would invest money that it took from your business into rival companies to make them solvent.

That doesn’t sound very good, does it? Would you like to live in a place like this? How does it sound to have to pay in order to work or be able to live on your property? Do you want them to dictate what you can and can’t do, that they subsidize your competition and create new businesses that might compete with yours? Ah, and all of this with the money you give them, of course.

Of course you don’t want this! However, as you might have guessed, this is exactly what you’re doing.

It turns out that the State, an entity that supposedly should protect you from the mafia, is in the process of:

  1. Collecting corporate taxes, income taxes, VAT, inheritance tax, implementing licensing fees, and even making you register at the chamber of commerce
  2. Collecting taxes on income in exchange for the privilege of working.
  3. Letting you choose between paying property taxes or losing your private property.
  4. Regulating what you can sell, setting the minimum and maximum prices of your goods and what you can pay your workers. It also makes you account for your fiscal state through a complex system of forms.
  5. It opens businesses that can compete with and ruin you, because even though they do badly they will always have money.

The State does this and much more. So, what makes the people “protecting us” a better option than the Mafia?

Or maybe the movies where the State’s agents are the good guys and the bad guys are dishonest are a little confused? What could happen with the mafia that the State doesn’t already do?

They could kill you. On the other hand, the State can introduce (or keep) mandatory military service in place, taking you as a soldier to fight in wars against other countries.

Of course, neither the mafia nor the State will want to kill you: you give them money. As long as you pay your tributes and obey, you won’t have a problem with one or the other.

It’s true that every four years we choose our president. Hmm…what do you think, would it be hard for the mafia to put on such a show?

Modern States don’t tie you to a cement block and drown you in a lake to get rid of you, but in the end they still make you pay fees or do forced labor, taking everything you have, taking away your freedom or ending your life (depending on what country you live in and how serious of a crime you committed).

Just try committing a victimless crime. Whether it’s taking drugs, driving without a seatbelt or helmet, prostitution or gambling (or course, I’m not referring to sex slavery). A good part of the crimes that the State protects us against are hardly crimes at all. What the prohibition of these activities does in reality is encourage the development of organized crime in these sectors.

Only a few prefer liberty; the majority seek nothing more than fair masters.

Sallust

The State tries to impose the morals of some upon others, so don’t let them! Once you’ve become aware of the situation, the next step is towards freedom.

Like we said before, you have fallen for the State’s trap if you think that:

  1. States fulfill a social function
  2. You have to obey the laws of the State
  3. You can reform the State to let you do what you want
  4. You fear the all-powerful State that won’t set you free

Let’s analyze this point by point.

  1. The belief that States fulfill a social function

To systematically break from this belief, we have to take part in a profound reflection about the way the market functions, something that would distract us from our main theme. So we will try a simpler, more superficial explanation.

Keep in mind that there are only two ways to get what you want: stealing or exchanging. Which of these is better for a society?

If you think that robbing you money, time, energy and freedom is something societal, there isn’t much I can do to help you.

I suppose that you also think that it’s more useful and appropriate for a society to be based upon exchange in place of stealing and taking. In an exchange, both parties benefit.

If we apply this to a large number of people, this still holds. It should be clear that the market has a much more useful social function than the State could ever achieve.

  1. The belief that you have to obey the laws of the State

If you believe that you should obey state laws, you’ve definitely fallen into the State’s trap. In truth, you don’t have to. What’s more, doing so means you are supporting the continuation of the State’s pressure and coercion as they promulgate new laws to limit freedom.

The only thing that should matter to you is the consequences of your actions. What will happen if you break the law? What do you have to lose if they find out?

When you obey state laws, do so out of fear of the consequences or because they coincide with your morals, never because you believe you’re morally obligated to.

  1. The belief that you can reform the State to let you do what you want

This is another exaggerated myth: You think you can use the State to change society. It’s understandable; in fact electoral programs or political initiatives may sound very promising, until they are put in practice. You don’t have to do more than glance at the balance sheet of all this after various decades of promises and programs to see what I am referring to.

One of the great accomplishments of the State is to make us truly believe they’re one of us and that we can use the existing channels to change what doesn’t work.

Instead of looking for paths to political change (something that in reality, even if you really dedicate yourself to politics, you don’t have any control over), focus on something you can control.

  1. The belief that you should fear the all-powerful State that won’t set you free

Something that both the State and individual have in common is that both are subject to the principles of the market. The State’s resources are limited; that is to say, it can’t control everyone on a person-by-person basis.

The State is a huge collective trap with all the problems that characterize this type of trap. You don’t have to fear the State; you simple have to be aware of its inefficiency and use this to your advantage. When you don’t have a State, you’re turning the tables. Instead of letting the State take advantage of you, you can take advantage of it.

You don’t have to fear the State; the State should fear you. It’s not because you’re going to be violent, but rather because if it doesn’t treat you well, you’ll abandon it. The time has come to stop thinking you owe it anything and start freely organizing your life, choosing the State for the advantages it can give you instead of a romanticized reason stemming from tradition or birth.

The consumer has the power, and citizens can choose to consume what States offer, as with any product or service.

The essence of the State

Many people fall for the State’s trap because they will never understand what the State really is.

It is an institution with mandatory participation (no one will ask you if you want to sign up) that has convinced the majority of people that it’s necessary. This is truly the only difference between the State and the mafia; there are few who think the mafia covers an important social need.

For all this to work, from an early age they teach you that the police are good, that they are there to protect good citizens from bad people hiding on every corner, and that the State is responsible for everything good that you see around you (it’s no accident that school is compulsory).

What they surely don’t tell you is that this same State is the cause of many of the problems we have.

A world without States (or borders) would be a better world, but unfortunately, this world isn’t compatible with the reality in which we live.

This doesn’t mean that we can’t take something of value from this better understanding of the world we live in. Once we are aware that States don’t benefit society, we can stop investing our time in helping them prosper, leave the concept of the nation and the homeland behind, and start to live for ourselves and for what is really important to us.

It’s like when you discover that it’s not you who should be scared of big corporations but rather big corporations that should be scared of you. You have the power to choose who you support, be it the State, business, or people.

Usually we hear that the function of the State is to do for the people what the people can’t do for themselves.

Once you understand what a State is and how it works, you’ll also understand this saying doesn’t make sense. You can get practically everything you need in a safer, cheaper, and more effective way without having to depend on what the majority of people want or what got the most votes.

And if you have to turn to some State to get your passport, insure your goods or be able to live within it, keep in mind that you can choose the one that offers you the best, most advantageous services. Of course, the State will collect, either through direct or indirect taxes.

Additional reading:

This “great myth” of the State has interested many other thinkers before me. Many of them legitimized this myth, but there were also some who saw it as a problem. You’ll have to choose your own critique of the State and whether or not you’re in favor of it. Here are a few books that can help you go more in depth on the subject.

Economist Murray Rothbard, one of the most popular anarcho-capitalists, shows how and why a system without States would work in his book For a New Liberty: A Libertarian Manifesto.

The philosopher Michael Huemer also talks about the problem of political authority in his book (only available in English) “The problem of political authority”. In the book, he systematically refutes any intent to legitimize the State and shows convincing arguments in favor of an anarchical society.

There is also Leopold Kohr, an Austrian philosopher who talks about the problem of the States even though, in his case, it’s from another perspective. For him, the fundamental problem is large scale inefficiency and the best solution to avoiding this is to opt for reduced size. In his works, he shows why small is always better than large. He is best known for his book “The breakdown of nations”.

What do you think of what we’ve covered today? How do you see it? Are you still blinded by the myth of the State? Leave your comment and, if you want to continue learning how to free yourself from the weight of the State, subscribe to our content. It’s free!

You may also want to download the free e-book “Break your Chains”.