Roderick Long

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The violence of the state, to be justified, must be transubstantiated in its essence into peaceful incantation, yet at the same time, to be effective, it must retain the external accidents of violence.

Roderick Tracy Long (born February 4, 1964) is a professor of philosophy at Auburn University. He also serves as a Senior Scholar for the Ludwig von Mises Institute, an editor of the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, director and president of the Molinari Institute, and an advisory panel member for the Center for a Stateless Society.

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"Equality: the Unknown Ideal"[edit]

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  • Socioeconomic equality and legal equality both fall short of the radicalism of Lockean equality. For neither of those forms of equality calls into question the authority of those who administer the legal system. ... Both forms of equality call upon that power structure to do certain things; but in so doing, they both assume, and indeed require, an inequality in authority between those who administer the legal framework and everybody else.
  • As Locke sees, equality in authority entails denying to the legal system's administrators—and thus to the legal system itself—any powers beyond those possessed by private citizens:

    The law of nature is in that state put into every man's hands, whereby every one has a right to punish the transgressors of that law to such a degree as may hinder its violation…. For in that state of perfect equality, where naturally there is no superiority or jurisdiction of one over another, what any may do in prosecution of that law, every one must needs have a right to do.

    Lockean equality involves not merely equality before legislators, judges, and police, but, far more crucially, equality with legislators, judges, and police.
  • Libertarians are often baffled at how those who appear so sensitive to constraints on choice, and to differences in bargaining power, when these derive from market factors, become so amazingly oblivious to the constraint on choice, and differential bargaining power, represented by the armed might of the state, empowered to enforce its demands by legalized violence.
  • Like racism and sexism, statism is the kind of moral vice that tends to enter the soul through self-deception, semi-conscious osmosis, and a kind of Arendtian banality, rather than through a forthright embrace; it is a form of spiritual blindness that can, and does, infect even those who are largely sincere and well-meaning.
  • Statists tend to treat governmental edicts as though they were incantations, passing directly from decree to result, without the inconvenience of means; since in the real world the chief means employed by government is violence, threatened and actual, cloaking state decrees and their violent implementation in the garb of incantation disguises both the immorality and the inefficiency of statism by ignoring the messy path from decree to result.
  • The violence of the state, to be justified, must be transubstantiated in its essence into peaceful incantation, yet at the same time, to be effective, it must retain the external accidents of violence.

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