We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The meta-context of state-is-society

A meta-context is not a philosophy or a political belief, but rather the lens through which someone sees the world. It is a tradition of thought, a vibe, set of ‘givens’, the frames of reference within which questions are posed and answers found.

A person’s prevailing meta-context has an enormous impact on the way they make decisions and evaluate evidence. Imagine a series of laws has been enacted to create programmes for alleviating poverty in London or Warsaw or Accra or Miami. Imagine also that year after year poverty remains in those places much as before, regardless of the well intentioned programmes. Many would say, most in fact, that clearly better laws are needed and better programmes. This is not a matter of ‘left versus right’. The socialist (or ‘liberal’ in the USA) might argue that the reason the worthy programmes have not succeeded is that the root causes remain, and more needs to be spent on state education/racial sensitivity training/murals on playground walls. Laws must be adjusted to serve the objectives of ‘social’ need. The conservative however might argue that what is needed is less dependency on state handouts and demand that people take whatever jobs can be found or lose all state benefits… and maybe a partnership between state and faith-based organisations to do something or other would be good. Laws must be adjusted within the bounds of some form of ‘constitution’. The state does much the same sort of thing, just a bit less of it and favouring different ‘social’ objectives (discouraging single mothers/pornography/extroverted sexuality etc.).

Both left and right see themselves as opposed, and on some levels indeed they are. Yet both are arguing with each other within a profoundly statist meta-context: if only the unitary state was organised this way with our safe pair of hands on the political tiller, things would get so much better.

An example of this mindset on the right can be found in the United States when people cannot have a discussion about economics, philosophy or even morality on the Internet, addressing a global audience, without bringing up constitutionality, in every case meaning the US Constitution, and not the constitution of Uzbekistan or Australia or Senegal. Not only is this amusingly provincial, it presupposes that all matters of morality and interaction revolve around boundaries defined by the state and its legal documents.

A leftist example however is something I heard on the BBC News just today, reporting that disgruntled university students in England are ‘forced to work part-time due to the fact they now receive student loans rather than student grants from the state’. The news reader put emphasis on the word ‘forced’. Clearly it is implicit, a meta-contextual ‘given’, that the fact a person is having to earn the means to support a service they are receiving (education) for their own benefit, is regarded as an imposition, a questionable compulsion. I wonder if the BBC feels students are ‘forced’ to pay for the food they eat, the beer they drink and the clothes they wear? Perhaps they do.

To view the world within a statist meta-context is to view the world as being entirely politicised and politics is just a euphemism for the application of force-by-proxy. No interaction between people can therefore be truly free of the state. Unregulated interaction becomes interaction not yet regulated. Most people would not care to have their neighbours provide unsolicited and mandatory input on their conduct as parents. Yet the democratically mandated state does that all the time, politicizing the act of raising your own children. Only a pervasive statist meta-context allows this to happen at the same time as people bizarrely think they live in a ‘free society’. In fact they hardly live in a ‘society’ at all, but rather a state which has nationalised private life itself.

Tom Paine would not have approved.

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