Saturday, July 29, 2017

Neutralizing Threats to the State

Think the time is right for palace revolution
'Cause where I live the game to play
Is compromise solution
--The Rolling Stones

The state grows larger only by expropriating ever more resources from some for the benefit of others. Those beneficiaries constitute principals contracting with strong armed government agents for their mutual welfare. A larger state means more benefits for the principals and their agents.

Naturally, the principals and agents of the state will be reluctant to surrender their spoils. That reluctance will grow with the size of their take. Because the state has now grown to mammoth proportions, the resolve with which state beneficiaries seek to hold onto their spoils is also very strong.

Anyone who challenges this institutional arrangement or, pray tell, seeks to reduce or eliminate it, will face stiff resistance. Indeed, principals and agents of the state will do everything in their power to neutralize the threat.

All stops are unlikely to be pulled right away, however. Instead, a progression is likely where force is hidden (in pretense that the state does not act aggressively) and becomes more overt only if necessary to neutralize the threat. The progression of force generally unfolds as follows:

Social force. The first phase is to apply social pressure to back off the threat. Public ridicule, belittlement, revelations of personal secrets, etc. The media, which is often a large beneficiary of state power, serves as a primary instrument in this phase. The idea is to create a situation where the target feels so much embarrassment, shame, etc so as to give up and 'voluntarily' walk away.

Legal force. If that doesn't work then the next step is to use the legal system to force the target to stop acting in manners that threaten the state's institutional arrangement. Laws, law suits, arrest, impeachment, et al. are meant to keep the threat at bay.

Physical force. If the legal system is unable to deter the threat, either because the laws cannot be bent enough to ensnare the individual or because the subject refuses to comply, then overt physical force is necessary. If the threat has made it this far, then it is unlikely that low to moderate levels of force will be effective. Principals and agents of the state will probably need to use lethal measures to neutralize the threat.

Because history suggests that running this gauntlet takes what might be viewed as divine commitment, the state's approach to neutralizing threats has been quite successful.

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