I just finished a brilliant piece of writing by Tanner Cook called The Case Against the State. His new book refreshingly goes on the offensive against the ideas of statism, the state’s monopoly on violence, and the various political theories that support/explain the existence of a state at all. Rather than just being a collection of anti-state or pro-liberty philosophy being rehashed, Cook was able to add some original and positive arguments throughout the three parts of the work.
In the first part, we see a fully detailed exploration behind the origins and definition of a state. Cook works us through how the state has been defined vs. the reality of its existence, then begins to examine the origin theories. He then breaks down Divine Right Theory, Evolutionary Theory, Force Theory, and the often-quoted Social Contract Theory to help see the justifications for states forming, and the ills associated therein. Lastly, in this part, he showcases exactly why statism is practically a religion unto itself, from the fanatical support it receives to the cognitive dissonance required to support it at all times.
Part two, however, was far more applicable and my preferred part of this reading. In this part, he goes through nearly a dozen different, common pro-state arguments and tears each one down. From ideas like “The State helps poor people” to “What would you do with all the criminals?” Cook offers up some great and sound arguments to counter these key mentalities and arguments often proposed by statists or general pro-state groups.
The last part delves into some positive moral and logical arguments that can be used against the state. I personally have said for a while that libertarians spend far too much time of the defensive trying to counter the positive claims and arguments put forth by statists and even non-libertarians. This section offers up some arguments that can be used to shift that balance in a debate and help really showcase the issues with having a state at all.
Overall, The Case Against the State was a great and concise book on the topic of the state. I did dislike the America-centric examples that were occasionally used, however, that I can forgive as Cook explained his reasoning for doing so early on. The book is available on Amazon now for those interested in reading through Cook’s arguments which I would definitely recommend.