The chief representative of the NZ state is continuing her PR charm offensive in the US, baby in hand, along with many equally self-important bigwigs from other states.
Amongst all the cringe-worthy posturing was this article that contained a wonderful little gem by Ardern:
Through it all, she says, she’s still focusing on making sure the country she leads is governed by kindness.
“Yes, you need a robust government, but you can be strong and you can be kind.”
Let’s be absolutely clear here. The state, whatever else it may be, is not – and cannot – be ‘kind’. The sole reason for the existence of the state is to coerce those over whom it claims authority, under threat of violence. It is the only institution that pretends to a supposed ‘legitimate’ right to initiate aggression against others, to violate the consent of those it preys upon. Indeed, it not only claims such a right, but claims that right for itself alone by attacking anyone else that attempts to do the same thing within it’s area of claimed dominion. It creates for itself a genuine monopoly on the use of violence.
It does not matter whether one agrees with what the state is attempting to do, nor whether one believes that the state is the ‘best’ or even the only way to achieve one’s preferred outcomes. There is a well-known phrase “the ends do not justify the means”, the essential point of which being that ethical ends cannot arise from unethical means. Using violence (or the credible threat thereof) as the means to an end is not ethical.
The common view of the state as a benevolent protector is insidious. A common thief is generally recognised as such and rejected by society. However the state uses various propaganda techniques to carefully inculcate the idea the not only is its own theft somehow not theft, but that it’s actually a good thing – the epitome of ethical civilised communal behaviour. Should any of its victims dare to complain they are pilloried as selfish antisocial ingrates as a warning to anyone else who might have something to say on the subject. The thief may pretend that his actions aren’t theft because he makes you believe you are making a ‘donation’ to his preferred cause, paying your ‘fair share’ he might suggest. Whether he uses the proceeds on something you may approve of or not does not determine whether theft occurred. It remains theft even if you are happy with the cause he chooses since he was going to take the money regardless. One cannot give consent where there is no option to withhold it.
As long as we choose to indulge the state in activity that would be considered unethical when committed by any other actor then we are the authors of our own evil. When we place a gun at the very centre of our society and squabble over who gets to threaten everyone else with it while virtue-signalling our compassion and ‘kindness’, we cannot seriously claim to be a civilised society. We have forgotten our basic pre-school lessons: “don’t hit people and don’t take their stuff”.
Once we can admit to, and accept, the pain (and hopefully shame) of recognising that we are using unethical means to achieve our ends, we can look for new ways to realise our goals, now within an ethical framework. A framework of mutual respect and consent; one that recognises the fact that other people are not tools to be forced to do our bidding just because it’s easier and more convenient to coerce them than going to the effort of convincing them to voluntarily help us.
Everything the state currently does *could* be achieved through voluntary ethical means if we choose to respect one another enough to do so. But the first step is to recognise that the current means of using coercive violence to satisfy our preferences at the expense of others is not ethical, and it is most certainly not ‘kind’.