01 December 2005

The French Riots: The Fruits of Nihlism and the Welfare State

Critics of the French Riots and the government response have sought explanations for the events by assuming that there is necessarily a specific motivation for the violence. Some postulated that it was because of the initial deaths by accidental electrocution, others believed it was simply a result of long-brewing discontent with the segregation and lack of economic opportunities.

While these factors may have played some minor role, I believe the fundamental cause is much deeper and pervasive. The primary cause is the amorality of permissive pragmatism which has for generations increasingly permeated our society. This is not to say that the problem lies in a decline in religion, but rather a decline in principles more generally.

Up until the late 19th century, there were generally held beliefs in most western countries that man has certain natural rights, including his right to life, liberty and property. These rights were not rights to the production of others, but rather to retain one's own freedom of action and the right to keep one's own production. People were believed to ultimately be responsible for themselves, and the role of the state was largely to defend those natural rights. While it is true that not all western countries followed this principle equally consistently, each country generally thrived to the degree to which it adhered to this simple principle.

People understood that by working and trading together, everybody's life improved. To abuse a shopkeeper or be generally disrespectful was a recipe to not only social issolation, but self-induced economic autarky from the benefits of exchange. In short, disrespect of others led to misery by the refusal of others to trade un such terms.

As the role of the state grew to include provisions for the material well-being of its people and to arbitrarily legislate arbitrary morality, the concepts of individual responsibility and respect began to fade. The state increasingly started taking wealth from those who had earned it and gave it to those who hadn't. Increasingly arbitrary laws were passed, like rules requiring mandatory schooling, minimum working ages, minimum wages, political correctness, affirmative action and conscription. Social programs like unemployment insurance, the dole and pensions further deteriorated the general principle of self-reliance.

Whereas in earlier times, people learned responsability and respect for others and property by virtue of having to provide for themselves, we now have created a "give me!" culture where people consider the fulfillment of all of their basic needs to be a right.

It should not surprise us when such wards of the welfare state shoot at rescue helicopters during natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina or indescriminately burn vehicles and properites in riots in France. It is not because such people have valid values or even particular grievences and are simply protesting injustice. It is because they have been raised with no concept of values to the point where they are biting, burning and shooting the hand of the state that feeds them. Curiously, the response of the state is not to give such ingrates a chance to achieve a sense of self-worth by withdrawing all social programs, but rather to further accentuate the entitlements and resulting decline into amorality.

The solution to modern amorality is simple. Dismantle every aspect of the welfare state and return our government to its limited role of protecting rather than abusing the life, liberty and property of its citizens.