A peaceful state is an impossibility. Even a state that refrains from fighting foreigners goes on fighting its own subjects continuously, to keep them under its control and to suppress competitors who might try to break into the domain of its protection racket. The people cry out for security, yet they will not take responsibility for their own protection, and like the mariners of Greek mythology, they leap overboard immediately in response to the state’s siren song.
[Robert Higgs’s Schlarbaum Award Acceptance Speech, delivered on October 12, 2007, at theMises Institute’s 25th Anniversary Celebration.]
Margaret Atwood’s poem “Siren Song” begins:
This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:
the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see the beached skulls.
Our rulers know how to sing that song, and they sing…
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