Slavery is so intolerable a condition that the slave can hardly escape deluding himself into thinking that he is choosing to obey his master’s commands when, in fact, he is obliged to. – W.H. Auden
I have come to the conclusion that statism rots the brain. In order for a free mind to accept the delusion that someone else as human as himself has the right to tell him what to do, he has to inflict damage on his own psychic organs of self-determination; in order to accept the patent absurdity that such superiority can be conferred by merely putting on a special costume, carrying a little tin amulet or giving oneself an interesting title, that damage has to be severe indeed. And if the subject is to believe that this right of state functionaries to control him extends even to what he does with his own body, the damage has to be both irreversible and so dramatic that it renders the statist incapable of recognizing the truth about nearly anything in which the state is involved. The individual so afflicted not only identifies with the overlords, rationalizing that because they have the divine right to rule him they legitimately represent his interests (“Government is just a word for the things we choose to do together”); he will also obediently line up in front of the slaughterhouse and praise the wisdom and goodness of the butcher (for example, in the recent cacophony of bootlicking which began with and included a federal judge’s declaration that the NSA’s blatantly-unconstitutional universal surveillance is in fact constitutional).
In really advanced cases, the victim’s mind is so warped that he cannot imagine things another way from the status quo; if something is currently illegal, it must have always been that way, and when faced with evidence to the contrary he will misinterpret it to support his lawheaded perception. If he sees an example of government coercion inflicted upon something which was previously free of it, that simply will not compute because holy governmental control is, was and ever will be, forever and ever amen. Think I’m exaggerating? Let’s take a look at how historian William Moss Wilson recently described the imposition of a licensing regime on Nashville whores during the occupation of the city by Union forces in the early 1860s. Remember, prostitution was not illegal in and of itself anywhere in the US prior to 1910; it was often regulated, or restricted to certain areas, or banned from certain areas, and streetwalkers were often harassed by cops using laws against vagrancy and the like. But since a lawhead cannot imagine that something now regarded as “criminal” could ever have been seen otherwise, we get nonsense like this:
…By June 1863, the large numbers of soldiers hospitalized in Nashville for venereal diseases led surgeons and regimental commanders to…[attempt to] rid the city of its prostitutes. Deportation would prove no easy task; nearly every structure along…“Smokey Row”…was a house of prostitution, and other brothels were scattered about town…several hundred women were dragged onto requisitioned steamboats…but [other cities refused them]…and…black prostitutes…filled the void left by their white colleagues…Once deportation proved a failure, [officials instead] released orders that required all of Nashville’s prostitutes to register with the military government, which would in turn issue each woman a license to practice her trade…for a weekly fee of 50 cents…these women would receive a regular medical checkup, and if healthy, issued a certificate. Infected prostitutes would be hospitalized and treated at no additional charge. Failure to register would be penalized with a 30-day sentence in a workhouse…
Wilson’s brain is so warped by statism that he cannot see the imposition of licensing, mandatory health checks and pimping fees for what they are, the intrusion of government into a field with which it had previously been uninvolved; the very idea of an unregulated profession is anathema to him. Accordingly, he misnames the regime “legalization”, ignoring the fact that prostitution wasn’t illegal to begin with and therefore could not be “legalized”. The attempt at deportation was not, as he himself explains, the normal status quo in Nashville, but rather an act of martial law by the military governor of an occupied city. He is “shocked” by the fact that the press and city government viciously attacked the deportation plan but accepted the licensing scheme, and he willfully misinterprets the whores’ acceptance of the regime as a desire to be “protected by regulation” rather than as a welcome respite from the harassment which had preceded it.
This is not an isolated incident; for example, articles about Storyville usually describe it as a “legalized red-light district” when in actuality its establishment represented the restriction to a small area of a business which had previously been allowed everywhere in the city. I’ll bet that before most of y’all started reading this blog, you believed that prostitution had always been illegal in most of the US; most people are surprised to learn that criminalization was a 20th-century notion, enacted in the same general time period as Prohibition and enforced by large, standing municipal police departments which had only existed for a generation. The fact of the matter is that prior to 1913, the US federal government was tiny and the state governments not much bigger; however, the busybody laws which began in the “Progressive Era” gave the swelling numbers of government officials many new excuses to meddle in people’s lives, and the new permanent income tax provided the funds with which to do it. Government began to grow at a pathological rate and has not stopped since, and the minds of most who were born, raised and conditioned to it can no more imagine another way than the members of a lost underground civilization could imagine the sky.