Low-Trust America and the State

It’s easy to blame the state. After all, it was state enforcers that shut down the girls’ egg operation. But let’s not forget…

American society, even in a supposed “red state” is now a low-trust society, but it’s a very odd version of such a society, quite unlike third-world countries. In America, the state itself has replaced the social fabric and trust is concentrated, at least in the corporate/imperial side of society, in the state rather than in other people. Somebody saw the egg business and decided they would sick the state on them, meaning they had no sense of shared fates with the little girls but somehow did have shared fates with state. They thought the state was more important than their neighbor.

Or, to play the devil’s advocate, perhaps they didn’t love the state and merely saw it as a useful tool, like in a third-world country.

Consider that a standard business has to pay gratuitous sums of money to the state in order to be allowed to do business – to not be shut down by the cops – in the form of business licenses, taxes of various kinds, insurance, etc. etc. They also have to do business with other businesses who do the same. A grocer can’t really buy the eggs from the girls and sell them at his store, because the backyard chicken farm isn’t a facility approved by the USDA. The eggs aren’t washed, disinfected, and sterilized for consumer safety.™ It’s easy to think that someone in the grocery business would see the injustice of being sqeezed by the state-corporate alliance while kids and families get a free pass.

Then, that person in the grocery business might feel inclined to tattle – to use the force of the state against their neighbor, since they have no real love of their neighbor, and no sense of shared identity and fate. Either way, its an indicator of low trust.

In general, though I see the interference of the state in personal affairs to be a widespread phenomenon quite outside of kids selling lemonade and fresh eggs. The reality is that as America has become more “diverse” it has lost a great deal of interpersonal trust.

Having the state interfere is actually natural, and even appropriate, considering no person can expect to be able to resolve a grievance with another person outside the state, since you cannot expect that other person to care at all about you. I can remember a time when you could go talk to a neighbor if they were having a loud party, and they would turn the music down. Now, the person who tells you to turn it down is a cop. If you are afraid your neighbor will attack you, or if you just can’t speak his language, you aren’t going to bother with interpersonal relationships. The state must step in to keep order.

The illusion of social cohesion is maintained, on some level, through the mediation of the state in otherwise personal affairs. There is a reason why the bugman is obsessed with the state – it keeps him comfortable separate from the people who share his walls.

Solutions are difficult in this situation. How can you create unity out of such extreme diversity? It’s like looking at a house collapsing into the mud and wondering how to fix it. The truth is, you need to knock it down and build a new house.

I’m lucky enough to live in a community where at least some of my neighbors share my values and religion. In other towns, people are still cowering in apartments while the gyms have been open in my town for almost a year.

In the world of remote corporate work, more people can make active choices about where they live – and who they live by – to avoid having the cops bust up your kids’ lemonade stand. This avoidance can happen in two directions, by the way: the neighbors refuse to call the police and the police (being part of the community) refuse to bother with enforcing pithy legalities. Culture is also easier to build on the small scale.

The only other alternative is to attempt to make the state as just as possible, because all laws will be enforced against you, and to accept the reality of a state that is totalitarian in its nature. Living in a city in particular means living the corporate-imperial lifestyle. Make the best of it, or find a new place to build.

I am an independent writer and musician. You can find my music here, and a few of my books below.

6 Comments

  1. The only real way for unity is Christ, since it is Christ and the word of God which leads people away from a sinful way of living, which is what I think is the real underlying problem in America, it’s a country which is in love with self and pleasure. There will be no escape from these problems as long as America supports values which go against God.

  2. You know, I was thinking of asking you about this exact topic this evening. I went an hour away from our suburb hoping that if I went to a more rural area would have more sense. When I got there, at a small farm market, everyone was still wearing masks, with zero exceptions. Perhaps the community is more resistant to the various cults in other respects but all I saw was a signal that there would be few friends there and many enemies.

    How exactly did you find an oasis in California of all places? Or was it just something akin to providence.

    • There are still tons of masks in my town as a whole, but my little rural neighborhood, specifically, is just, by providence maybe, completely cowboy right-wing. Add to that the fact that all the cops and firemen (including the chief) live within the same area, and you get a force that just chooses not to focus on pandemic mandates with no repercussions.
      FYI I still wore an n95 mask most of last year because I was still shopping for old folks. I got sick from my son, not the supermarket. Everyone in town gave the “shelter in place” order a solid 6 weeks before saying f-it because of how stupid most of it is. Basic preventative measures can be effective, but closing the 24-hour gym or the hair salons was just stupid and everyone knew it.

      • I’ll admit the facemask is a poor metric for judging a community because there are legitimate risk/reward reasons for wearing one. That said I also don’t want my kids to grow up in a community where literally everyone covers their face whenever we leave our house. I was hoping to enroll my daughter in gymnastics or ballet to give her something fun to do with other kids, but every gym in my area proudly has masked dancers plastered on their website.

        • Part of the problem is that if a community is ignoring a mask mandate, it isn’t going to advertise it. State governments like nothing more than harshly cracking down on small communities that ignore their edicts.

          But you never know. Most members of my extended family are true mask believers, with conversations generally starting with a bit of gossip of who wasn’t wearing a mask or asking when everyone was vaccinated. But recently the family came together for the first time since the start of the pandemic (for a funeral unfortunately) and in the gathering afterwards no one was wearing a mask outdoors, even in semi-indoor places like the garage or patio.

          On the other hand there was a planned gathering on the other side of my family that was just cancelled for fear that not every single person would be vaccinated and that people might not wear masks, despite the whole thing always being outdoors in a very spacious and open area. Sad to say but there are relatives on that side of the family that I expect never to see again in my life due to their perpetual panic.

          • I wonder what, if anything, will replace the current pandemic. Already there are media outlets trying to hype up the idea of permanent mask-wearing, which will require adherents to adopt a certain immunity to the evidence of their senses.

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