I’m curious about the nature of the relationship between the individual and the state.
So first, what is “the state?” In the Weberian sense, it’s the faction or factions who hold the monopoly of force over a given territory - and by extension, the institutions that sanction their power. The state is also a psychological consensus of “law abiding” citizens who have a stake in the preservation of the current order and give sanction to its power by submission to its authority and enforcement of its laws. This is the “social contract”.
The “law abiding citizen” in the modern era also upholds a dogmatic ideology of some sort - ours could be described as liberalism, progressivism, egalitarianism, secular humanism etc. This is the “ideological state apparatus” and in totality these ideas constitute a dogmatic worldview; a religion. It has heretics and martyrs; saints and sinners; forbidden knowledge; dire prognostications(global warming), seers and prophets; noble warriors(social justice); ritual offerings/sacrifice(paying tax) and ceremonies(voting); fetishism and taboos(political correctness). It has its heretics(racists, sexists, homophobes etc).
It is a metaphysical system no different from religion. It is ideology; a worldview. In fact, it is spiritual - not by virtue of the fact that it is dogmatic or requires faith. It is a religious because it contains a mystical or quasi-mystical element. This mystical element is not perceived by most but it’s what allows the ideology to sustain itself. The mystical element is nihilism. Revolutionary and reactionary forces are transcendental forces: revolution is nihilistic; counterrevolution is “traditionalist” by which I mean it seeks to preserve or recover metaphysical truth. Revolution can also be a traditionalist expression in the Nietzschean sense of “putting one’s shoulder to the plough” - knocking down the ruins to make way for the new or the Phoenix-like rebirth of tradition.
To be a “law abiding” citizen is to engage in a psychological projection with the state and to consider the state as an extension of one’s own authority. If someone steals from you, you are using the authority of the state to recover your property and punish the perpetrator. The state becomes a projection of your authority.
However, when you perceive the state to have overstepped its legitimate authority the psychological projection is abruptly dropped and your “locus of control” is externalised. The state becomes a hostile, foreign entity - the other.
“People with an external locus of control tend to believe that the things which happen in their lives are out of their control, and even that their own actions are a result of external factors, such as fate, luck, the influence of powerful others (such as doctors, the police, or government officials) and/or a belief that the world is too complex for one to predict or successfully control its outcomes. Such people tend to blame others rather than themselves for their lives’ outcomes…”
When the individual believes that the state is aligned with his interests and more broadly with the interests of the civil society or his tribe(ideally they’re one in the same), he feels that he has some level of control over his own destiny and his ancestral destiny. This is of course an illusion in the modern nation state and was only ever realisable in Athens when the state was a projection of the civil society and the citizens voted on every important matter of the state. A small, tight knit, homogenous community with a shared identity and metaphysical system. In a country of tens of millions of people the personal identification with the state is an illusion sustained by an elaborate system that buries the paper trail of authority amidst a bureaucratic and judicial firewall. It’s this disguising and blurring of authority that sustains the charade. It allows us to internalise our “locus of control” and delude ourselves into believing we control the Leviathan and our own destiny.
So the relationship of the individual to the modern nation state is schizophrenic - on the one hand the state is a projection of the self; when its actions are perceived to be legitimate one internalises one’s “locus of control” and the state is benign. On the other hand there is another state; one that is illegitimate, one that is the other. We reserve a separate compartment in our psyche for that state; we externalise our locus of control. The psychological projection of the state as ourselves ends.
Legitimate authority is that which we sanction and identify as our own authority and tyranny is that authority to which we have not given sanction and to which we don’t identify. This is the essence of sovereign individualism to which the Enlightenment gave rise. But the Enlightenment also gave rise to atheism and traditional men; men who believed in divine law were confronted with a million and one plans for organised nihilism of one form or another; all of them attempting to place ultimate authority with “the people” - an abstraction. Piece by piece they deconstructed the traditional social order. Some societies went all the way with the lowest order usurping the state apparatus(Bolsheviks) - others retained a middle class/plutocrat alliance under a liberal/laissez faire ideological framework.
Liberal democracy is a collective delusion whereby we convince ourselves that we have control over our destiny. The illegitimate forces that are arrayed against us should not be credited with being “the state” - they are the antithesis of the state because the state is that we sanction as legitimate. “Statists” are essentially anti-statists in that they do not conform to our definition of “the state” and they build an apparatus that transcends “the state” and becomes a tyrannical entity.
To identify the legitimate functions of the state; to define what the state is, you have to identify the source of ultimate authority from where all legitimate power derives. “The people” is an abstraction beyond the scope of a homogenous, ethnic city state of no more than 60,000 people. So the abstraction has to be hidden behind layers of “checks and balances” and “independent oversight” and “balance of powers.” All of it smoke and mirrors to hide back room deals with vested interests, arbitrary decisions by some oversight group, compromise haggled out between factions etc. To believe that any one person has any measure of control over the Leviathan is a fantasy.
Well, that’s my view of the individual’s relationship to the modern nation state.