Thursday, August 07, 2008

If Only There was a Pill to Cure Legitimacy

The concept of "legitimacy" is intriguing to me and troubling. I suspect that it will be one of the primary tasks of the revolutionary intelligentsia to unravel the concept and problematize it. Meanwhile, it's bleeding me dry. For example, my neighbors within the Carmel Central School District, the smallest political subdivision to which I am subject, extort from my household about $10,000 per year to pay for the coercively organized school system. I pay it because, if I do not, I will be evicted from my home. If I resist eviction, I will be kidnapped or even killed. And the vast majority of my neighbors will regard these consequences as fitting and proper. They will not consider the employees of the school system parasites, the school board as extortionists, or the sheriff as a murdering thug. Yet, that's how I see them. That's what they really are at the core without the legitimizing fiction of the school district. My neighbors will view me as a tax dodging criminal rather than a defender of freedom.

It's not that the denizens of the CCSD are especially stupid or evil; it's just that they are deluded. It is not possible for them to see things from my point of view because my point of view defies "common sense" and all the propaganda and apparent social structural relaity that they have experienced all their lives. Of course, we must have schools. They must be paid for. What do you mean coercively and violently organized? Where's your tin foil hat? Don't you see that you benefit from the schools as much as anyone else? That's legitimacy.

Or take the Town of East Fishkill to which I am also subject. The Town extorts much less than the school district, for which I am thankful, but it extorts money for many downright frivolous purposes. Of course, we must have a full time official town historian on the payroll for whose salary we will compel you to contribute under pain of forfeiture of property or loss of life or freedom. Of course, we must put flags on every telephone poll in summer and wreaths in winter at your expense whether you like it or not. And thanks for your involuntary contribution to our gnarly Independence Day fireworks display. To question the propriety of these things is unheard of. They are not problematic in any way. Rather, I am a nutter for raising these non-issues. This is what towns are for, isn't it?

I am permitted to question the level of taxation, within reasonable limits, and to argue whether this expenditure or that is appropriate, but I may not question the propriety of taxation in the first instance. I may not characterize public expenditures as involving threats and extortion. I may not ask my neighbor whether flags on telephone polls are so important to him that he would threaten his neighbors with a baseball bat to get money for it.

"Legitimacy" means accepting as virtue that which is clealry vice.

1 comment:

Ineffabelle said...

The myth of "Legitimacy" is exactly what anarchists need to destroy if we're going to get anywhere.

There's no such thing as "The Government", but there are some mean dudes in blue uniforms with guns who will get angry if you don't pretend there is.