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As I’m sure you’re aware, I’m a big believer in individual rights and freedoms. I believe that democracy is the best and fairest way to rule a country; I believe that people should have the right to say and believe what they like without state interference; I believe that the state should govern for the people, rather than the other way around.

After all, what is the state? The state is, essentially, a group of people who have access to resources the rest of us lack. Until control of society is ceded to robots, that is what the state will always be. People. The state is not god. The state is not all-knowing. The state is not necessarily fair. The state is human, just like the rest of us.

When seen in this light, it becomes ridiculous to assume that the state deserves complete control of society by virtue of the fact that it’s the state. A state is only a group of people, and as people, they are no better than the rest of us. Everyone has opinions and beliefs, and naturally everyone will think that their own opinions and beliefs are the best ones. That’s just humanity. Opinions held by politicians are not intrinsically better than those held by the rest of us. Their vision of society should not necessarily be made a reality just because they are the state. The vision of society that should be made a reality is the one shared by the greatest number of people. There are processes that should exist to ensure this happens, and this is called “democracy”.

Democracy is the way in which states are held accountable for their actions, and it is of utmost importance that states are held accountable for their actions. States are, as I’ve said, made up of human beings. When left to their own devices, humans have the tendency to do what benefits themselves, and states are no different. One can look at Communism as an example of this. In a Communist society, everyone is ostensibly equal, but what really happened was that members of the Communist Party got all the good stuff and everyone else suffered. People in these countries did not get to vote on whether they wanted this society or not. If they spoke out against it, they got re-educated (or killed!). This is not the way countries should be run.

In a democratic society, it is the people who decide how society should be run. However, democracy alone is not enough — there must be other rights accompanying this, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and so on. Everyone must have the right to voice their opinions. They must have the right to publicise their opinions, and to argue their case. And the people must have the right to go into polling booths on election day, having heard all the arguments and having decided which vision of society they agree with the most.

States have the responsibility to govern for the benefit of the people. All states would agree on this point; the issue is deciding what benefits the people. There is no doubt, at least to someone who is not an anarchist, that the existence of the state does benefit the people. It’s more efficient, for a start — rather than every person spending their individual resources, they can give a certain percentage of their income to the state and the state can pool it together and spend it far more efficiently. In a democracy, they will also be obliged to spend it on things the people want, or else risk losing the next election.

States also make rules for the people to follow, and this is important. There are many rules that should not be made, but there are also many rules that should not be taken away. For example, the fact that murder is a crime is an extremely good thing. Without a state, it wouldn’t be a crime — there would be no such thing as criminal law. People would be able to kill with impunity. On the other hand, if a state is unaccountable to anyone then the state, too, can kill with impunity. This is why democracy — as a way of holding the government accountable — is so important.

The people should have a say in the governance of their own country. Whatever the state does, the people face the consequences. Sometimes the consequences are good, sometimes they are bad, and sometimes it’s a matter of opinion — and it should be the people’s opinions, not politicians’, that decide. One cannot argue that people do not have opinions, and therefore should be forbidden to express any. Not only is this argument nonsensical, but it is offensive to assume that people do not want their rights. People should be given their rights, and it should be their right to work out how they want to use them. If they don’t want to use them, that’s fine. But one cannot justify denying everyone their rights on the grounds that some people don’t want them anyway. In fact, it seems to be a badly-disguised attempt to implement the kind of totalitarian society I am arguing against.

Even as citizens, the people do not owe their state anything. It is the state’s duty to protect the people, not the other way around. The state cannot insist that its people rise to its defence, if that is not what the people want to do. States can be replaced; nations cannot. For this reason, it is wrong to force people to serve the state against their will. “National service”, while it might sound very noble, is really not. If people love their state, they will make sure to serve it anyway. If people are forced into serving their state, and are consequently sent off to war and die… well, the state’s not going to be very popular.

The point I’m trying to make with this entry is, the rights of the people always outweigh the rights of the state. The state is only, and can only ever be, a representation of the people. A group of human beings, as flawed and as opinionated as every other human being. The institution of the state is worthless when it does not represent the people, as it is supposed to do. It is for these reasons that individuals must stand up for their rights, and not be swayed by flimsy arguments such as, “But you can’t defy authority,” or, “But you don’t want to think anyway,” or, “You just haven’t thought it through enough yet.” These arguments are offensive, and wrong. Always, always, always, the rights of the individual must be paramount.


One Comment

  1. …Go rights! *stupid-sounding Emma sounds stupid*

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