Libertarians have found themselves in an impossible position thanks to years of regular anti-police activism, bombastic statements against police, and sloganeering around the Drug War.
I would argue that the leading voice in this strain is Radley Balko, who ran a widely-read blog on police abuses that he eventually turned into a book contract and columnist gigs at the Huffington and Washington Posts.
The main reason why this strain of activism has turned into a dead-end for the libertarians comes down to a several reasons:
- The problems of maintaining a stable legal order.
- Misunderstanding what the Drug War is, due to taking political propaganda at face value.
- Being unable to speak honestly about race, knowing the fates of Murray Rothbard and H.H. Hoppe for doing so.
- An emotional and financial desire to reach the mainstream population through the prestige press and television.
- A misunderstanding of the demographics that are likely to respond to libertarian appeals.
To support the first bullet, let’s get ourselves to Moldbug, who writes:
The problem with Mises as guru is that Misesian classical liberalism (or Rothbardian libertarianism) is like Newtonian physics. It is basically correct within its operating envelope. Under unusual conditions it breaks down, and a more general model is needed. The equation has another term, the ordinary value of which is zero. Without this term, the equation is wrong. Normally this is no problem; but if the term is not zero, the error becomes visible.
The entire idea of a stable libertarian order is predicated on the ‘order’ part of things. When the country is populated by numerous people who have no respect for notions of property and peace, then it’s impossible to maintain the law… and even then, only possible to maintain the law at high expense, with some measure of brutality.
On the second point, contemporary libertarians, for fear of the outer darkness to which anyone who writes about racial differences will be relegated, tend to neglect to discuss the different tendencies of different groups of people and cultures. Ron Paul’s first race in the Republican primaries was damaged badly by the publication of what were really quite mild newsletters in which his ghostwriters discussed race and crime.
Contemporary libertarians tend to over-compensate for this with ostentatious expressions of pro-Civil-Rights rhetoric, contradicting many of their other positions concerning freedom of association.
The libertarian ideology, at least in its most vulgar expressions, tends to float atop a world of pure theory, without reference to its cultural roots or origins.
Finally, it’s the worst possible pose to strike for an ideology supposedly dedicated to the defense of absolute private property rights to support violent rioters who are destroying the property of small merchants.
The libertarian is supposed to be fighting for the rights of the people like the petty merchants whose businesses the rioters are destroying. The rioter who destroys his shop and threatens his life is a more direct threat than the policeman who collects tax and intimidates the more dangerous men away from his territory.
Similarly, it’s nonsensical to simultaneously support an ideology that supposedly fights for the rights of ordinary people to maintain the integrity of their persons and property against all challengers to express sympathy for assassins of police officers.
Regardless of whatever theoretical reasons there might be for grinning ghoulishly at the deaths of cops, to place oneself on the same side as the communist revolutionaries advocating these disruptions of public order is to be on the wrong side, to ally with the left and the associated forces for the forceful dissolution of society.
In this way, libertarians behave like someone else who called herself a ‘libertarian’ on occasion: Emma Goldman, who allied with Lenin, until the Party purged her and exiled her to America.
Contemporary libertarians who support rioters above police adhere to their own theories, which are obscure and alien to the common people, above the facts of actual events happening outside of their windows.
Arguments about the ‘NAP’ and the ‘absolute right to property’ spoken on one day, in private, become irrelevant to the minds of the common people when they see a libertarian spokesperson go on television and say that the police are at fault, and that the mob (invariably a socialist-democratic mob) is correct to be incensed.
I understand the appeal of striking this pose, because I have stricken something like this pose before for the same reasons, and regret my mistakes.
People like Christopher Cantwell, who are evidently invited to speak at libertarian conferences, speak as if they are either on the FBI’s payroll or on the payroll of whatever succeeded the Comintern:
Even these liberal fuckin idiots who want the government to control every aspect of their lives, are starting to realize that police are violent fuckin monsters who cannot be trusted, and while I don’t like the race pimping or the destruction of private property, if these Marxist fuckin animals can produce just a few more Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s, guys who will whack a couple of the king’s men then take themselves out, well, they just might make up for some of the damage they’ve done to society.
Such statements have little appeal to anyone predisposed to civilized life. It wouldn’t go over well with an insurance salesman with three children in Peoria.
The intellectuals are far more dangerous than the police ever have been and ever will be. Libertarians have created a commons under their intellectual brand, and have subsequently debased it, as Rothbard lamented late in his life.
As if “the police” were some vast nationwide conspiracy or a quasi-independent entity somehow separated from the ruling elites. Everywhere you look you see insanity
There are some national organizations, and they are somewhat connected through DHS. It’s just that their conspiracies are not very good.
They are separated from the Elites. The elites just incited their murder to gain control of them. The Police answer locally, the plenary powers are held locally. This is simply a power struggle worth killing over.
If the police and the government actually worked to protect and serve businesses and the community, I’d be more closely aligned with them. However, the police are simply an apparatus of USG, and care more about protecting USG than they do the people. Meanwhile in Europe, the police have become stormtroopers for the Cathedral, eager to police the internet for any possible wrongthink. So for me, a clash between rioters and police is a clash that I have no need to get involved in.
Personally, I think that the police should be phased out in favor of a private security/investigation force that would be more directly beholden to citizens and business owners.
As they are now, the police protect the mobs from the citizens and the militias which they have formed to protect themselves.
I am not really big on police as a concept, for similar reasons as to why I oppose egalitarianism and democracy.
The specific criticism here is that aligning with the mob against the police is a strategic error, especially in terms of managing public perceptions.
The police are also caught in a dangerous position for them, in which USG supports the mob, and is partly indifferent to police casualties suffered at the hands of that mob.
A better future would be some combination of militias drawn from the better part of the people and high-end Pinkertons. Ideally, the police should be encouraged to resign and defect.
But there is not much for them to defect to, as of yet. Solution presenting itself is to give them something to defect to.
Complaining that the enemy is fighting harder and more effectively than you is not a great position to hold in any conflict, even if the enemy is wicked.
Of course. The only winning move in this political game is simply not to take a side.
Screeds of Scaevola (@ScaevolaScreeds) says
Longtime lurker, first time speaker.
I agree with commentator trvdante. Choosing sides in a complex debate such as this makes me wonder how many people understand basic strategies such as ‘divide and conquer’, the Hegelian dialectic, or the ‘Left vs Right’ paradigm. Neither side of the manufactured mob vs cops battle benefits us, however, both sides against each other does benefit us in our own ‘divide and conquer’ manner. Therefore, we should be preparing (ie reacting by proacting in the reactionary sense) ourselves and loved ones for possible conclusions of both sides winning, while simultaneously pointing out hypocrisies on both sides and offering our own better and more practical solutions.
ps I greatly appreciated the Peoria reference as my screams to the world were first heard from a hallway in a hospital there and I was raised a short distance up the Illinois River. Growing up we all knew in the vaudeville days shows would test acts to audiences there to see if it would “play in Peoria”, an accurate Middle America demographic slice at the time. I am curious from what knowledge your reference to Peoria came.
It’s a saying often used by New Yorkers also, especially in the media and advertising… usually to reject something for ignoring middle-American sensibilities.
This is a Power Struggle to Federalize the Police. Being Anti-Cop with local cops is the height of absurdity for Libertarians, although they seem to enjoy absurdity they won’t enjoy an actual National/Federal Police Force. Think TSA with guns. They’ll be quite untouchable, that’s been proven since Waco.
Bob Wallace says
My opinion is to fire 90% of the police, arm every citizen – and expel everyone with an IQ of 100 and less.
The traditional perspective was that simpler people could be made useful, happy, and secure through slavery.
Bob Wallace says
Aristotle did write that some people are natural slaves.
He also wrote, at least in the translation I read, that technology could obsolete slavery.
Left wing libertarians, such as Reason, are human filth that no honest person should ever wish to be associated with. On the other hand, the Mises crowd, especially Hoppe’s circle, seem to still hold a very cultural, pro-civilization view of the world. I believe they still have a lot to offer – they still remind us that the left is the State, the State is the left, and paper money helps them nicely to succeed further.
An anecdote: president of one Croatian libertarian group personally told me that the state should force the Red Cross into accepting gay blood donors. That guy is also a member of a party that is supposed to be conservative, and is also a devout Christian. That’s conservative libertarianism nowadays.
TRS has written a couple articles in this vein recently:
if you can’t imagine how not liking cops could make sense, there are two thing you could do: read about it, or post about it.
The primary question is “How do we maintain order?”
The libertarians have terrible answers to this as most arguments are predicated on Anarcho Capitalism being enforced. You cant use utopian style arguments in order to propose anything that needs a pragmatic answer.
Most of these ‘libertarians have a confusion around :
Law Generation and Law Enforcement
and end up blaming men who have no control over the laws content because they enforced it.
We have a system of legislative law in which laws are produced ex nihlo and agents of the state are assigned to enforce these edicts. Thats the formal legal concept that the supreme court has enforced.
The assumption by those arguing against libertarian anti-cop rhetoric is that legislative law enforced by state agents is the only way to maintain order. I can see why you would want order but arguing that The State is responsible for applying Justice really seems like a terrible idea.
I notice that everyone seems to be arguing propositions as a result which drift quite far from pragmatic or realistic solutions.
Virtue. Order. Justice.
The anti-cop groups and the police/courts as an institution do very little to deal with these 3 concepts. They all want their own special brands of chaos.
The only answer I have to the cop debate is:
“There should be much more effort spent on helping moral men be able to commit acts of violence when it is Just and only when necessary. To not be afraid of the act but to have it in context with virtue and objective morality.”
Now a polycentric legal structure maintained by organized gangs and local power structures seems, historically, to be quite capable of doing this as long as the population can defend morality.
The benefit of this observation is that you dont need a revolution to apply it. All you need is the counter-revolution of local groups of men banding together and protecting their communities and sustaining courts who are actually about Justice rather than ‘The Law’
Violence, Power, and Morality are the founts of politics. This debate can quickly escalate to the very heads of state and the power structures of the whole planet. Do not fall into the trap of planning the global counter revolution. Just try to figure out how to make orderly communities anti-fragile.
That’s correct, protect yourselves by protecting your community. You can’t save the world, you can save your town.
Along the way of course a few thousand towns with a squad or two of men each might just Meta their way into the desired National outcome, or a more desirable one than rule by the insane and evil.
Mind you Jeffersonian Democracy quite provides you with a working Constitutional government, with legitimacy at the local city Hall.
Observation—as opposed to wishful thinking—shows Libertarians are a mask for Leftism. The words and deeds of Libertarians are the meaning of Libertarianism, which in its hatreds, is indistinguishable from Leftist totalitarians.