Our Lexicon: Special Pleading

I don't think statism could exist without "special pleading." If you can get statists to recognize this then they may become embarrassed and reform their ways. At the very least, they may become less aggressive in their love of violence and monopoly.

What is special pleading?

When you apply high standards to ideas you oppose, but low standards to ideas you support, you are engaged in special pleading.

Special pleading is a violation of the Golden Rule. To honor the Golden Rule you must treat other ideas the way you treat your own ideas.

Special pleading is also a form of contradiction. To apply a measurement to one claim, but not to its competing claim, is contradictory. This is often referred to as having a "double standard."

Cherry-picking is another form of special pleading. This is when you draw attention to facts that support your claims, but ignore those that refute them.

Statism depends on special pleading. Consider these examples . . .

  • Statists apply hyper-strong standards of judgment against voluntary institutions, especially businesses, but they have very low standards for judging The State. For instance, they love to talk about "market failure," but they rarely mention "state failure."
  • Statists accept that it's wrong for people to initiate violence against each other, but they constantly call for The State to do so. In other words, they have a tough set of rules for citizens, but low standards for The State.
  • Statists criticize the free market for supposedly fostering monopolies, but then advocate that more power and resources be given to The Violent Monopoly.
  • Left-statists in particular claim to be defenders of civil liberties, including such crucial items as the presumption of innocence, but they constantly advocate actions against wealthy people that reflect a presumption of guilt. In the mind of the left-statist, wealth is automatically a proof of guilt, and sufficient to justify punishment. They reject the presumption of innocence, and other aspects of due process, when it comes to rich people.
  • Left-statists seem to see greed and stupidity in everyone, except in those agents of the state who carry the correct partisan label. In their warped view of reality, The Voluntary Sector is filled with the lust for money and power, but no such failings meaningfully afflict the statist "public servants" who run The Violent Monopoly.
  • Right-statists are critical of left-statist social engineering projects at home, but then assume that the military can do this same kind of social engineering in foreign countries. Right-statists also seem to believe that The State can re-engineer personal lifestyle choices with regard to sex and the use of substances, though they are quick to disparage attempts by left-statists to remodel other areas of human behavior.

How much statism would survive if statists had to abandon even these few instances of the "special pleading" in which they routinely engage? I think statism would simply vanish from the Earth. To speed the day . . .

Constantly make statists confront their relentless reliance on special pleading.


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Copyright (c) 2011 by Perry Willis. Permission to distribute this blog post for educational purposes is granted, if done with attribution to the author and the Downsize DC Foundation. Permission to use for commercial purposes is denied.