Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Government is us?

I just happened upon a long essay on the difficulty hard-core libertarians have conversing with non-libertarians. The essential claim?
"We cannot speak to them in their language because what we have to say cannot be said in their language."
I agree. Non-libertarians are fundamentally not speaking the same language. When they use words like "society" and "government", these have entirely different meanings. An example from my own collection:
"The government is us."
I can't count how many times I've heard variants of this. How can anybody hate the government when the government is us?

Answer: to people who disapprove of it, the government is not an "us". Government is a "they". Somebody who thinks "us" when they hear the word government is so different from somebody who thinks "they" that it's hard to imagine the two could have a productive discussion on any political issue, much less on the topic of government itself.