The Psychology of Forcing Others

What drives a person to be a Big Government statist?

Many motives are possible. One of them is to quiet their internal noise.

What’s “internal noise”? This refers to the self-talk a person wants to stop. For example, let’s say a person feels guilty for what he has. “I’m a terrible person for having all these nice things when others, through no fault of their own, don’t have these things.” Now, he could give most of his things away. But clearly he doesn’t want to do that. Instead, he pressures his legislators to pass laws requiring higher taxes, government subsidies, social welfare programs, and the like. This helps him quiet his internal noise. He can now say, “I’m a good person. I voted for that wonderful politician who cares, and who will make sure the needy are protected. That makes me a good person.”

The same applies to the government interventionist on the religious right. “I have sexual impulses and I’m ashamed of them. I don’t know how to stop them. Something has got to be done!” So she goes out in the world and preaches against other people’s sexual impulses which she finds offensive, or against the right of women to have abortions or even practice birth control. This helps quiet her own internal noise. “There, now I’ve done something,” she says to herself with great satisfaction.

Quieting one’s internal noise doesn’t only apply to guilt over being well off, or having sexual desires. Those are only two of the more common examples. Also, the attempt to quiet one’s internal noise is not only limited to government intervention. Instead of government intervention, some people opt for interfering in the lives of their family, friends and even coworkers. This can take the form of being bossy, nosy, imposing one’s personal opinions where they’re not needed or welcome, or even outright manipulating events the way one thinks they should turn out, failing to get the consent of affected parties.

Psychological problems are a part of human nature. Not all humans have them, and those who have them don’t posses them to the same degree. But inner emotional conflict always has been, and no doubt always will be, part of the human condition, when humans are considered as a whole. This is just one more reason to have a limited government. It keeps people who have these psychological problems from taking them out on others.

You don’t like my sexual practices? They arouse concern about your own sexual impulses or desires? Tough. That’s for you and your psychotherapist to resolve. Keep your embarrassment and fear about your own sexual psychology out of my bedroom!

You don’t feel good about the fact that you’re rich? Or you feel guilty over the fact that you have more than others? Tough. That’s for you and your local charities to work out. You’re free to have less, if you feel like you have too much. But you have no right to prevent others from having as much as they can honestly and legally attain through their own efforts. Keep off our property!

The false belief that government must interfere where it does not belong is not always indicative of a psychological problem. But if you ask me, it’s the first thing to consider. People who are truly happy and serene have no need to impose anything on anybody else. They might possess good will towards others, but they have no desire to force others to do things as they would do them. Anyone who’s genuinely happy most likely came by this happiness honestly and productively. Anyone who did so will probably grasp that happiness cannot be forced externally, neither by all powerful government agents nor infallibly wise religious elites. A happy person knows he or she got that way through his or her own efforts, and that others must do the same.

A free society is full of opportunity to persuade and educate people who want to learn more about your point-of-view. Resorting to government force is just plain irrational and wrong. The great majority in today’s society do not seem to grasp this fact. When and if human beings ever do, their survival and eternal progress as a species is assured.