We Americans live in a violent society, one in which there are lots of homicides, family abuse, mass murders of people, and other acts of violence.
We also live in a drug-ridden society. The war on drugs has been an absolute failure when it comes to dissuading Americans from using drugs. The number of people taking illicit drugs has to be inordinately high. Otherwise there would be no reason to continue the drug war. Add to that the countless Americans suffering from alcoholism. And now the feds are cracking down on prescription drug abuse, given the large numbers of Americans moving in that direction.
Statists say that the reason for all the violence is the ease by which Americans can acquire guns. But there is a problem with that reasoning. The Swiss are among the most armed people in the world. If widespread gun ownership is the cause of America’s culture of violence, why wouldn’t the same thing happen in Switzerland?
On the drug problem, statists think that if they can just show people that drugs are bad, they’ll be dissuaded from taking them. Yet, for decades the state has had control over the vast majority of Americans from the time they reach six years of age. I’m referring, of course, to public schools, government-controlled private schools, and government-supervised home schooling. Students, especially those in public schools, have it drilled into their heads, year after year, how bad drugs are. It hasn’t done any good. The number of people taking drugs is still large enough to justify a full-scale war on drugs, notwithstanding the fact that the state had plenty of time to convince them not to take drugs.
I’ve got my own theory as to why America is such a violent and drug-ridden society. It’s one that is anathema to statists. My theory is this: The primary reason for the violence and drug addiction is the particular type of system under which we live, the welfare-warfare state.
Let’s face it: The U.S. government is a killing machine, one of the most brutal in history. For the past several decades, it’s killed millions of people, most of whom live in foreign countries.
World War I. World War II. Korea. Vietnam. Iran. Iraq. Panama. Chile. Grenada. Nicaragua. Afghanistan. Yemen. Pakistan. Somalia. The list just goes on and on. The number of people killed is in the millions.
The killing has become a regular and ordinary part of American life. In fact, the killing has become such an ingrained part of daily American life that hardly anyone pays much mind to it. The mainstream press certainly doesn’t publish photographs of the dead or news articles that detail exactly how they were killed. It just doesn’t matter. Americans go about their daily business, working and enjoying life, while the killing machine goes around the world doing its business.
The massive killing is viewed as necessary to protect “national security,” even though no one really knows that that term means, or “to keep us safe.” Whenever we encounter uniformed troops in the airports, in sports arenas, or anywhere else, we’re expected to “thank them for their service,” which means thanking them for killing people around the world.
Hardly anyone questions whether all this killing is necessary. We’re not supposed to question it. We’re supposed to simply accept it. We’re supposed to defer to the authority of the national-security state. We’re supposed to just keep bearing in mind that the reason we are “free” is because the troops are killing all those people.
But what if this policy of killing is the root cause of the violence in America? What if the denigration of the value of human life reflected by America’s killing machine ultimately triggers something in certain people that motivates them to kill people over here?
That’s what I think is going on here. America’s killing machine encourages, nurtures, and produces a similar mindset of violence in society. It inevitably causes a certain segment of society to go off the cliff.
Meanwhile, the government does its best to keep people pacified with welfare. The dole is like a medication, one that is designed to keep people mollified, encouraging them to defer to the authority of the killing machine. Who wants to object to the killing machine when the killing machine is providing them with their Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, food stamps, community grants, and employment? If people rebel against the killing, the machine might cut off their dole. Then how will people survive? Better to remain quiet and submissive and simply accept the killing or, even better, embrace and support it.
So, Americans go to their baseball games and football games and tearfully praise the troops, expressing thanks for their service, and convincing themselves that if it weren’t for the killing, they wouldn’t be a game to enjoy.
Worst of all, Americans have convinced themselves that all this welfarism and warfarism is “freedom.” When they sing, “Thank God I’m an American because at least I know I’m free,” they really do believe it. They have no doubts it’s true. For them freedom is measured by the fact that the welfare state is taking care of them with a dole and serving them, protecting their national security, and keeping them safe by killing people around the world.
Thus, it certainly comes as no surprise to libertarians why America is a drug-ridden society. When people don’t have a firm grip on reality and are instead living a life of delusion and are refusing to confront reality, that’s when they start escaping their plight. What better way to escape reality than through mind-altering drugs or even through suicide?
Think about it: A person thinks he’s free when he’s not. He looks around and sees nothing but crises, chaos, violence, killing, and welfare and thinks to himself, “Wow! So this is what freedom is all about.” He decides that freedom is not all that it’s cracked up to be and so he checks out with drugs or suicide.
Consider the role of the government school system in all this. That’s where the indoctrination starts. By the time the student graduates, the state has done its job well. It has ingrained in the students that America is a free country, which means that America’s welfare-warfare state is a necessary and important part of that freedom. It has caused multitudes of people to start out in life with an inner lie—that America’s welfare-warfare way of life constitutes a free society.
In fact, while public schooling is viewed by statists as the means by which the state can inculcate children with healthy and peaceful views, the statist never stops to consider that public schooling itself — including the implicit violence that comes with forcing parents to send their children into this institution — is the reason why so many healthy and independent-minded children end up getting all screwed up in the head and ultimately decide to go the drugs-violence route.
If I’m right, then there is obviously only one solution to their morass: build a free society by repealing the welfare-state programs and dismantling the warfare-state programs, thereby bringing an end to both the dole and the killing machine. Arriving at that solution, however, requires one to confront reality— that the welfare-warfare state way of life is not freedom and that it might well be the root cause of America’s massive dysfunctional drug-violence culture.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.
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