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Mental Levers are mini-articles. They answer key questions and present important libertarian and voluntaryist ideas in bite-size chunks that are easy to share. They are grouped in the following Collections:

Do you make excuses for State criminality?

Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm Syndrome describes how many people relate to The State

Captives who sympathize with their captors are said to suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. This is exactly how most people behave towards The State.

  •  People don’t judge criminal actions committed by The State the way they normally would — they apply a double standard
  • They make excuses for State criminality, and even encourage it
  • And they fail to empathize with the victims The State creates
Stockholm Syndrome Merit Badge

Thanks to Larken Rose for this image. He arrived at this idea independently of the Zero Aggression Project.

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Citizens make excuses for State criminality because of Stockholm Syndrome.

Stockholm Syndrome is misplaced empathy. Politicians and other Agents of The State are the perpetrators — they’re the ones using threats of violence to impose their personal preferences on others. The empathy belongs with the victims, not the perpetrators.

So why does Stockholm Syndrome happen? Why does empathy get misplaced?

Politicians, and other kinds of criminals, are people too. They look like us and sound like us. Even worse, politicians use sweet language to hide the true nature of their actions in a cloak of noble sounding good intentions. In addition…

We elected them, and such is the legendary glow of democracy that we assume responsibility for what the politicians do, even though we have no control over them at all. And so…

We make excuses, the same way kidnap victims sometimes do for their kidnappers. We are to the political class as Patty Hearst was to the Symbionese Liberation Army.  And the cure for the syndrome is…

  1. Notice when you may be suffering from it
  2. Stop making excuses for political criminality
  3. Point out the Stockholm Syndrome problem to others

And always remember to ask yourself the crucial questions when evaluating any political claim…

Does a proposed political policy require a threat of aggressive force to make innocent people act against their own conscience or preference, or does the policy merely deal with the defensive use of force, such as with criminal justice?

  • If the proposed policy initiates force against innocent people, then it is aggressive, criminal, and improper. But…
  • If the proposed policy only uses force when people are harming others, then it is a non-aggressive defensive use of force. That makes it a proper governmental function.

Ask yourself  a few more questions…

Bring it all together…

A crime is a crime, no matter who commits the action. If The State commits a criminal act, then call it a crime. Do not employ euphemisms to hide the criminality. Do not suffer from Stockholm Syndrome. 

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Perry Willis

About the Author

Perry Willis

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Perry Willis is the co-founder of the Zero Aggression Project and Downsize DC. He was the National Director of the Libertarian National Committee on two occasions, and ran two Libertarian Party presidential campaigns. He has an extensive background in marketing and fundraising, and has ghost written direct mail appeals for numerous luminaries, including Karl Hess, Ron Paul, Charlton Heston and Harry Browne.

Jim Babka

About the Author

Jim Babka

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Jim Babka is co-founder of the Zero Aggression Project and President of DownsizeDC.org, Inc. He’s an author and former talk show host.
Previously, he was the President of RealCampaignReform.org, Inc., defending free press rights all the way to the Supreme Court. He and Susie are the proud, home-schooling parents of three teenagers. He enjoys theology, UFC, target practice, and Tai Chi.

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