I’ve often commented that the state is good at nothing except destruction–stealing, killing, breaking things. But it occurs to me that this may be wrong: that the state may also be good at one other thing. The reason it’s good at destruction–far better than a private criminal, say–is because it is institutionalized (see Rummel; Liberals on Rehnquist: Hypocrite Criminals in our Midst; Spooner’s comments about the highwayman in No Treason No. VI: The Constitution of No Authority, Section III). It is seen as legitimate, and thus is able to get away with far more, on a far more systematic and continuing basis, than mere private criminals. Why is this? Because it is able to deceive the people into believing it is legitimate. I.e., the state is also very good at propaganda. I am not sure why this is so, since the state is bad at everything else (except destruction). Perhaps it is simply the case that if and to the extent criminal gangs are able to persuade people that they have legitimacy, they become states and become able to commit institutionalized crime. In any event, thank goodness the state is not even better at propaganda!
As Mark Thornton notes,
Without efficiency or morality to back it, socialism is then revealed as merely a parasitic state using the carrot of political favors and the stick of violence to live off its host. Ultimately, the state uses propaganda of many forms to sustain an ideology that prevents the host from relieving itself of the parasite, and in class we had a wide-ranging discussion as to propaganda of the US government.
For more on the state’s use of ideological propaganda, see Hans-Hermann Hoppe, “Banking, Nation States and International Politics: A Sociological Reconstruction of the Present Economic Order,” Review of Austrian Economics 4 (1990): 62 et seq. (reprinted in The Economics and Ethics of Private Property, pp. 86-87); idem, “The Economics and Sociology of Taxation,” in idem, The Economics and Ethics of Private Property, pp. 64–65; also my post Swinkels and Hoppe on the Tacit Support of the State.