L. Neil Smith's THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 883, July 31, 2016
In Defense of Police,
Anarchocapitalism is not Anarchy,
and other Random Thoughts less compelling than Dr. Sowell's
by Terence James Mason
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
I have watched with some trepidation the tenor of several of the essays presented here over the weeks since the Orlando nightclub terrorism and the Dallas police shooting. Of particular concern has been the series of essays suggesting that, as the visible arm of oppressive government, no concern should be expressed over the shooting of police and other law enforcement.
I certainly don't want to defend police misdeeds and excesses, but I also do not want to provide any support or justification for the rash of police shootings which have occurred since Dallas. Most of the highly publicized incidents were triggered by police actions against crimes that certainly did not warrant the death of the criminal. Several of these appear to be due to the criminal vigorously resisting arrest. In two of the most publicized cases, Freddy Gray and Eric Garner, the crimes involved a history of dealing illegal substances (narcotics and untaxed cigarettes, respectively), and their deaths did not involve either the criminals drawing guns or the police responding with gunfire. We can certainly argue that these laws should not be on the books, and that Gray and Garner did not deserve to die for their crimes, but shooting policemen at random does not make or enhance either argument. Aaron Sterling was apparently shot while trying to draw a pistol to resist an arrest for selling bootlegged unlicensed merchandise. His original crime might or might not be considered worthy of arrest or prosecution depending on your view of copyright laws (or customs, as the case may be), but reaching for a gun under those circumstances was stupid.
It is noteworthy that Michael Brown's case—shot while attempting to wrestle a pistol away from a policeman he had just assaulted, not while standing with his hands in the air as the false "Black Lives Matter" narrative would maintain, is the centerpiece of BLM, and not the egregious shooting of Walter Scott in the back while trying to escape arrest for unpaid child support after being stopped for a minor traffic violation. That's because the former case has not advanced past the initial false narrative, whereas the latter has resulted in a murder charge against the officer who fired the shots.
Now that the random shooting of police and sheriff's deputies has become the response of the "Black Lives Matter" crowd, the problem is only going to get worse. Law enforcement officers want to survive to see their wives and children at home in the evening, and eventually to draw their pensions. More and more, they are going to respond to uncertain situations (the shooting of Philando Castile, the fortunately non-fatal shooting of Charles Kinsey) with force. This is not brutality, it is self-preservation. (In the Kinsey shooting, the officer showed absolutely zero intelligence in his decision to fire, and I will not defend him. However, I will note that a coworker has a photo of his son playing with a toy truck that at first glance looks like a long-barreled pistol; it is very possible that Kinsey's autistic charge was playing with a toy truck that was similarly difficult to identify.)
The important thing to remember here—"follow the money," or at least the power struggle at play: the progressive narrative is that future police shootings will be prevented by nationalization of the police forces, concurrently with the disarmament of the citizenry. (The stupidity of any progressive true believer who believes that either of these will end well is unfathomable.) The calls to abrogate State and National constitutions, to disarm "Constitutional carry" advocates outside last week's Republican National Convention, began the next element of this process. (To his credit, Governor Kasich did not cave to this pressure. Virtually the only progressive pressure he has never caved to, but since he's no longer in the running for the Presidency that is neither here nor there.) It is important to remember that if an order were given to disarm the people, a substantial fraction of sheriffs, deputies, and police in middle America (less so in the progressive enclaves in the big cities), will stand with the people. These law enforcement officers are not our enemies, they are truly, as the saying goes, public servants. (The same is true of the military and National Guard.) I also believe that our communities will resist efforts to nationalize the police force.
I fear that the anti-police narrative recently espoused in these (web) pages plays into the hands of those who would become our progressive (re: feudal) masters. As always, we should consider individuals, good and bad, rather than institutions, which have a pronounced tendency to become bad over time (see Jerry Pournelle's "Iron Law of Bureaucracy"). No good comes from accepting violence against the police as their "due" for supporting the progressive state. Direct your ire (by all means and by preference, at the ballot box and in the town halls) against those who would become our masters, not at those who are as much victims as the rest of us.
As I have noted in private conversation with our esteemed Editor, I am a Constitutional minarchist rather than an anarchocapitalist. As a utopian ideal, anarchocapitalism is far to be preferred to the socialist/tyrannical utopias of Plato and Hobbes, but it is still an ideal.
As a minarchist, I see the role of the state is to provide for the common defense and to assure the minimal essential protections against violence and fraud, and otherwise to get out of the way. Said defense has to consider all threats, including those of expansive statist tyrannies who bring the potential of force at levels far beyond what an individual can command. (Whether the Biblical Gideon and his three hundred—the book of Judges, chapters 6 and 7—are adequate to that purpose, when the opposition can bring millions to the field, remains to be seen.)
That said, anarchocapitalism is not anarchy. It requires each individual to self-govern, by the Zero Aggression Principle, with fraud considered equivalent to other means of aggression, and by other principles consistent with objectivist values and traditional Judeo- Christian morals. Responsible individual behavior is indispensible to anarchocapitalism.
Religious society can believe as it will, but secular society is best principled on the latter five of the Ten Commandments. That said, I would generalize "adultery" to "sexual irresponsibility," "false witness" to "fraud with intent to cause harm," and "covetousness" to "desire to control the life, family, and/or property of others." One day I hope to formulate that expression in terms of information theory, and prove it mathematically. But doesn't "thou shalt not covet" do more to condemn the progressive agenda than "thou shalt not commit adultery"?
I do not understand apologists for Islamic terrorism.
At a meta level, I have to ask which came first: indoctrination in an anti-libertarian ideology which encourages the most extreme prejudice against women and non-believers, and promises an eternity of pleasure for mass murder; or, life problems which go hand-in-hand with those beliefs and which make that promised eternity of pleasure even more appealing. No matter how oppressed the Nice murderer felt, nothing justifies the premeditated (he was planning this for a year, don't forget) murder of 80 people who had absolutely nothing to do with the oppression he allegedly experienced. Attacking his perceived oppressors, no matter how misguided, at least has some justification. (That does not mean I would recommend it, except in immediate response to a threat to a person's life or liberty.) Attacking people at random in the hope his "oppressors" would stop oppressing him? By what logic does that make any sense? Only by the logic that the people he attacked were unbelievers who deserved death as he climbed over their bodies on his way to his 72 perpetual virgins to rape for eternity.
We're all individuals here. We are each responsible for our own circumstances. If we don't like the circumstances, we're always welcome to change them. But as long as nobody is holding a gun on us, we shouldn't turn to the gun to change them. I think that's called the Zero Aggression Principle, or at least is close to it. (And even if we do perceive some authorities "holding a gun on us," shooting the innocent bystanders—similarly oppressed, by this logic—off to the side makes no sense.)
A man with a gun can stand up against a man with a gun.
A man with a gun is frequently useless against a man with a bomb, but depending on circumstances, he might have a chance.
Many men with guns are useless against a man in a different country with a nuclear-tipped missile.
This has a lot to do with why I am a minarchist rather than an anarchocapitalist, no matter how appealing it looks on the other side of the Probability Broach. (And in either case, the North American Confederacy only survived because Lucy Kropotkin and Win Bear stood for what was right, even if not always in accordance with Confederate custom), But it also inspires me to look for solutions which preserve (and hopefully expand) the fundamental liberties.
Modern Christians are taught to live by a few simple principles that bother nobody else, except they are encouraged to proclaim those principles to non-believers in the hopes of saving their souls. Islamists are taught to live by oppression of their women and to kill non-believers if they don't convert quickly enough. Why are Christians, then, more strongly attacked by modern society than Islamists? Why are Christians enslaved to provide services to non-believers they disagree with, while Islamists are ignored for dealing death to those same non-believers?
a) Christians are taught not to fight back against non-believers, while Islamists are taught to kill them. Christians make safer targets for poking with a stick. (And far fewer of them take guns and attack the people poking them; fewer still attack people at random. Go figure.)
b) In the short term, non-believers think that Islamists make good allies against Christian preaching—they ally to shut the Christians up.
Apparently, many non-believers think that Christian charges against Islamists are as flimsy as those against themselves. Nothing seems to shake that faith for long; the best of them can turn that argument back against the Christians, logic be damned.
Apparently, the progressives have forgotten about Krystallnacht, and deals with the devil, and Kipling's "Gods of the Copybook Headings." I guess the progressives left out those portions of the history books in their thrust to produce a generation of airheaded, know-nothing shock troops. Of course, since Social Justice Warriors, crybullies, and snowflakes will make poor serfs, their longevity under true progressive control will be measured in milliseconds. And their safe spaces will be quiet six by three by three boxes, six feet deep, in perpetuity. (Though in the Beck-supported "Agenda 21" based novels, such people are killed and composted; that is probably a less satisfying safe space, although more in keeping with the "green" agenda.)
I watched Matt Damon in "Jason Bourne" this afternoon. Watching this movie, I can somewhat understand Damon's desire to have an end to guns and the ensuing (movie) violence. But I don't sympathize. After all, if the people were disarmed, only the villains of his movie would have guns. I won't otherwise spoil the movie if you're interested in a good thriller, but the body count racked up by the "official" good guys is significant, and includes numerous civilians (for convenience) and members of their own organization (to blame on the "official" bad guy).
The history of the twentieth century was largely composed of Islamists and socialists of various stripes (progressives, Nazis, communists, Chicoms, etc.) disarming their populations "for their own safety," then disposing of their disarmed political and religious opponents—not to mention their true-believer but now-inconvenient allies, or at least the ones not suitable for cannon fodder. It would be foolish to expect Hillary Clinton to stand in the way of history. Donald Trump at least promises to.
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