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Fallacy:

“The state existed before I did and built this society I live in. The state has legitimacy. You do not.” 

Other forms include just generally referencing “government” when “society” is meant, e.g., “The government creates a place we can all live and work together in.”

Response:

  • “The great non-sequitur committed by defenders of the State, including classical Aristotelian and Thomist philosophers, is to leap from the necessity of society to the necessity of the State.” —Murray Rothbard

    “All rational action is in the first place individual action. Only the individual thinks. Only the individual reasons. Only the individual acts.” —Ludwig von Mises

    “Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher. Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.” —Thomas Paine

Ah, “legitimacy”. The state has legitimacy because it says it does. So do I. Stalemate. It is question-begging to say that the state determines its own legitimacy. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? You eventually run smack into infinite regression: since the laws of a state are insufficient to legitimize the set of laws (and thus the state), you need a state (S2) outside that first state (S1) to pronounce those laws valid; except it is not valid, so we need S3, etc.; to Sinfinity.

You falsely confuse “society” with the state. They are different; the state does not build society, but people do, of their own initiative. The state frequently interferes, by coercing people on their own land, and extorting them, but it is not “society”; it is the disease that infects society. Society and government cannot be merged; one is voluntary, the other force.

  • “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” —Adam Smith

Voluntaryist “reliance on society” goes no further than voluntary trades (or gifts) and other voluntary interaction, creates no obligation, and does not justify violence against peaceful individuals.

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