Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 562, March 21, 2010

"I'd had better hopes for America."

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The Wellspring of Sociopathy
by Rob Sandwell

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

In the absence of the state, I believe that crime would be practically eliminated.

Of course, when I tell people this they bring up drug crime. But in the absence of drug prohibition, and the profits it generates, there would be no drug crime. How many Starbucks employees do you see engaged in gun battles over street corners? How many kids do you see carrying pistols and pushing Camel lights? All the drug crime, and the secondary crime that results from the broken homes, child and spousal abuse, and theft, prostitution, and corruption which occurs as a side effect of the drug trade would be gone. Overnight.

The same is true for any vice crimes. Prostitution would no longer be a crime, but the violence of pimps and johns, homelessness and addiction would also disappear. Etcetera. Etcetera.

We can play this game again and again. No more white collar crime. No more state opposition related crimes like non compliance with taxation or regulation. No more petty crimes like speeding, or minor alcohol possession, or driving without a license. It all goes up in smoke.

And eventually, they pull out the trump card.

What about sociopaths? What about really, really violent evil people who rape, and murder, and assault? What about the monsters? The one's we really need to be worried about? How would a stateless society deal with them?

By not creating them of course.

We know what the strongest statistical indicators of violent crime are. We know that poverty, a poor education, abusive or absentee parenting, parents who spend time in jail, and a lack of economic opportunity are all major influences on whether or not a person ends up a criminal. And we can see that every one of these is a direct result of statism.

Often, when people see a violent crime they ask, "where could that possibly have come from?" as though a perfectly normal person was sitting at home watching tv and suddenly decided to massacre a whole family.

But what if it all began with his great, great, great, great, grandparents?

What if it began with a person who was pulled from the clutches of his loving parents and forced into a state school, where he received a terrible education which did not teach him to think, and did not teach him to make comparisons between short term and long term risks and gains, and did not teach him to view ideas and philosophies objectively and with reference to empirical reality? This person would grow up to be less capable to make decisions which were in his own long term best interest and would be unable to recognize the manipulations and machinations of the state.

But he would still be able to have kids. And those kids would also be subjected to the same government "education," but they would also be raised in poverty because their parents lack of a good education relegated them to menial, mind numbing labor in low skill, low wage, jobs. So the second generation is both poorly educated, and poor in general.

And breeding. So the third generation is born to parents who suffered from living in a home with little intellectual capacity, and little economic capacity, and as a result are themselves incapable of parenting their children in the best possible fashion. They may be loving and well meaning, but they may also be neglectful, or selfish, or unable to empathize with the needs of the children. And so this third generation is now poor, and poorly educated, and suffering from poor parenting.

And still making babies. But because their parents were neglectful or selfish, they themselves had no proper role model for good parenting and so simply react to the stimuli presented by the child without any rational approach whatsoever to what is nurturing and positive. And so when the kid cries, they shut it away, or strike out or scream at it to try to make it stop. And so the fourth generation grows up poor and without any real prospects for financial advancement, uneducated, and abused.

And then they have kids of their own. Kids who are raised by the victims of abuse and may themselves be abused in turn, in abject poverty, without the benefit of rational parenting or even a rational environment in which they can attempt to form ideas of their own. And this becomes the critical generation.

These children did not ask to be born into such circumstances. And the world around them, because it is largely blind to state violence and its very real consequences, can offer them neither answers nor alternatives.

And so they react in what is really a very predictable fashion. With violence.

Maybe these kids turn to a life of crime. Maybe they join the military and become paid killers in order to try to break out of the life they were born into. Maybe they simply lash out blindly at the world around them. Maybe they become cops, or politicians, in the hope that they can somehow grab the violence that was turned against them and their ancestors and if not turn it towards some supposed good, at least turn it away from themselves.

It is in this fashion that I believe the state creates this kind of sociopathic behavior. Can I prove this? Of course not. I'm not even sure it could be proven. But it seems like a rational outcome of the violence our society is mired in. And I have no compunction whatsoever about laying these evils at the feet of the public education system.

This can't account for all violence of course. Psychopathy, as opposed to general sociopathy or antisocial personality disorder, is generally believed to be genetic in nature. Science may advance to the point that we can isolate the genetic triggers for psychopathic behavior, which may give us other options as to how to deal with it, but that may not even be necessary in the long run.

In brief, psychopaths have no conscience or empathy and seek only to control others and satisfy their own needs. In our sick, broken culture, this often results in violence. But in a culture where needs could be met most easily and economically through voluntary exchange, psychopaths may present little or no violence to the group as a whole. There is far more information on psychopathic behavior available on the internet. I highly recommend the Wikipedia entry as a general primer on the topic.

I believe it is important to understand the possible causes of sociopathic behavior in society if we are ever to be able to address it in any positive way. Too often anarchists are labeled utopian dreamers and told that their ideas present no defense against violent criminals. This may have some small shred of validity if the only possible way to deal with them is through incarceration.

But if we can understand the role that statism plays in creating them in the first place, just as it creates all external and internal enemies which are then used as propaganda to generate support for state solutions, then perhaps we can take real strides in addressing the behavior before it even manifests itself.

Perhaps generations before.

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