Guest Post by ALR
"Liberty, finally, is not a box into which people are forced. Liberty is a space in which people may live. It does not tell you how they will live. It says, eternally, only that we can."
-Karl Hess, "Anarchism Without Hyphens"
The system is designed to give law enforcement officials complete license to assault, maim, and kill - "qualified immunity" - without the ability of the public to hold them accountable. If state police were to be held to a higher standard of say, market forces and market regulations, then there would be far more peace officers and far less rogue cops. Instead of answering to us as customers, they answer to the politicians that assign them their budgets. And who pays for their budgets?
You and I. Or else. Fines. Tickets. Cages. House raids. And they will kill you if you resist their aggression if you fall under the mistaken assumption that you are free. We can't withdraw our consent or our dollars. We can't take our business elsewhere.
There is no justice for victims of state violence. Even under the rare circumstances that a cop is held accountable, he is usually given a paid suspension and the victim's family is awarded money that is stolen from their tax hostages. One might think that the individual who aggresses should be responsible for damages like the rest of society and not offloaded coercively onto others.
It's hard to think of a better system - state monopoly - to incentivize authoritarian structures and institutions like the militarized police forces that prey on city after city in America.
Not all police officers are corrupt and bad, of course, but to me you are definitely guilty until proven innocent if you choose to join a heavily armed group that can kill, maim, cage and torture with virtually no accountability.
There is absolutely no justice for victims of police violence.
There can be silver linings, however. Although there have been similar military assaults on American cities in the past, thanks to the people of Ferguson actually protesting, this one is getting much more coverage. Cameras and social media platforms are allowing millions and millions of people see the state show its fangs and the iron fist that lies behind even the prettiest of velvet gloves. These will be the tools of peaceful revolutions. It's only a matter of time.
Every tear-gassed journalist, every automatic rifle pointed at innocent protesters with their hands up, every shooting, beating and SWAT raid - combined with thousands of private Little Brothers undercutting Big Brother - peels layers off of the state's propaganda that claims without this "thin blue line" of organized violence we'd be at each other's throats.
Every liberal, conservative or any other old authoritarian will see this and maybe, just maybe, will think twice about advocating whatever pet government program they love to force on the rest of so much. Virtually every department agency is armed to the teeth now, which means that by supporting state programs - or God help us even more state power - they are essentially saying that the best way to solve social problems is through a good dose of SWAT raids.
Until their political opponents, of course, eventually acquire these new powers and precedents and turn the guns in a different direction. Libertarians want no part of how we redistribute state violence in society; we're too busy building free communities, free currencies, and free markets. As Scott Thomas Outlar puts it:
It is best to live in reality, not in a fantasy. We are not in Kansas anymore, but living on the verge of great upheavals. It is best to understand the problems we face in their totality so that real solutions can be achieved. We can break away from the Beast by boycotting its fascist merchants. We can plant our own food in personal and community gardens. We can filter out the chemical additives in the water. We can trade locally with people we know and trust. We can reject the filthy federal reserve notes and use tangible commodities in our exchanges instead. We can exodus from the banking institutions into the age of crypto-currencies. We can ditch the public indoctrination camps and teach our children real knowledge in homeschools. We can speak to our neighbors and in public forums about the problems we face. We can stop paying their criminal taxes. We can stop taking the prescription drugs that the Medical Industrial Complex pushes. We can begin taking personal responsibility for our health.Agorism works. Circumvention is revolution and sustainability at the same time. Politics really only works at the local level, in places like Vermont and New Hampshire. But real democracy comes from the expression of liberty. Which has more democracy (in the best sense of the word): a record store or a presidential election?
The more the state brings out the MRAPs, the more debate changes in our direction. Who knows how many anarchists of all stripes have been created by this? And how many more will continue to question the excessess, and then ultimately the necessity, of giving a coercive, armed gang the right to kill, steal and loot us to supposedly protect us from...private killers and thieves and looters.
Surely we can do better than this. And indeed, we can.
Peacekeeper comes to mind. In the words of Nick Grant:
Thanks to the capital investment by individuals and businesses for the last 2000 years (and longer), humanity now has the tools (like the internet, and tiny super computers in everyone’s pocket) that people can use to innovate systems of immediate emergency response, arbitrating justice, money creation, and other world altering, decentralized, market based technologies outside of the cronyistic central plans of politicians and bureaucrats.Open-carry activists are spreading and slowly but surely will hopefully take back their communities from their foreign occupiers. The Threat Management Center in Detroit is a great example of how private policing keeps just the right amount of order for a free society.
As Peacekeeper is adopted en masse, saves lives, prevents disasters, and erodes the mind share of state monopolies by doing what it does best: Emergency response, the world will be changed in such profound ways our posterity will never recognize the fascist, authoritarian political system that bog down today’s society.
Who knows what kind of peaceful arrangements we can design to deal with crime? That's the beauty of the market. It allows us to respond to changes and adapt in a decentralized role, learning from others and correcting mistakes.
The more the state shows its fangs, the more this can become a reality.
What this also does, unfortunately, is reveal the colors of the rest of us too. One of the most basic libertarian litmus tests is what the initial and instinctual response to state violence is. Are we innocent until proven guility, always siding with the victim, or did they simply have it coming, that the state must be right when it dispenses violence?
Whether it's Ferguson or Gaza, do you side with the bully or the defenseless? Power or those without it? It doesn't take a libertarian to denounce Israeli aggression or US government imperialism or cops hunting blacks for sport. It takes a libertarian analysis, however, to really strike at the root of this power disparity.
But on the other side of the political sceptrum from liberty - authoritanism - the instincts are opposite. Or backwards. Take your pick. Twitter posts and photos from these war zones work the other way too. There are those that intuitively side with state power when it is deployed in its most lethal and destructive form, believing that order (but order for whom?), as Mao said, comes from the barrel of a government gun.
Many talk-radio personalities foam at the mouth over an obscure regulation or two (and I can sympathize!) but cheer on the officially licensed purveyors of state plunder - those that enforce this regimentation. As an instinctive libertarian, with an inherent distrust for arbitary authority and centralization, this boggles the mind.
But it's out there. Those that see Gazans in their prison as aggressors, and tax victims exercising their natural rights to protest as "anarchy," are exposed for all to see. Disassociate with them, and shame them in their love of political power if you can. Whenever I see some right-wing slogan pop up on my Twitter feed, almost always kissing-up and kicking-down, I know where the unfollow button is.
We have no excuse not be anti-authoritarians. And thanks to the bravery of protesters, journalists and private individuals asserting their rights publicly and loudly, nobody else does either.