For decades I have been decrying the increasingly brutal militarization of the police at all levels in the United States. The latest atrocity to catch the public’s eye is the public murder of an unarmed young black man named Michael Brown in Freguson. Missouri on August 9th, 2014 by uniformed goons of the state.
If the brutal killing of Michael Brown in cold blood was not enough, the police then started harassing all sorts of other people going about their jobs and lives in innocence. Consider the Washington Post reporter who was arrested in a McDonald’s resturant for being a reporter.
The Huffington Post reported:
The Washington Post uploaded video of its reporter Wesley Lowery being arrested by police in Ferguson, MO on Wednesday night.
Lowery and The Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly were working at a McDonald’s when they were violently assaulted and detained by a SWAT unit before being released.
In the video, a police officer can be heard saying, “Get your stuff, let’s go,” and, “Stop videotaping, let’s grab our stuff and go.”
It is legal to film police activity. Lowery and Reilly were given no concrete reason for their arrest.
Police abuses of power have been common place in this country for ages. The first one I remember in my life was the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago where the police beat people in the streets outside the convention. The police in those days were restrained and professional compared to today’s militarized sociopaths in blue preying on the innocent in all parts of America. As bad as the Chicago police acted, we can all wish for those days of no SWAT teams and no army gear in domestic policing.
Have the police always abused their power? Yes, history teaches that the police have always been prone to abusing the general public. Of course they often pick on the poor and powerless the most as you would expect from sociopath bullies. The main issue to me is the fact that the police are to the state as the edge of the blade is to the knife. The police are the violence that the state intimidates you with.
Some libertarians and “small government” conservatives believe in “minarchism” and claim that the police are needed to “keep the peace” in society. These people have drunk the poison that is the state and let the demon in the door by supporting the violent arm of the state. There is no reason to expect that the police and the “justice” system will ultimately be anything other than a police state. We can find no historical examples of any state that did not ultimately abuse its citizens: at least those seen as “undesirable”. The Germans called them untermensch. Every society has their “subhumans” who are brutalized, and the brutality will spread over time to more and more of the population.
What to do? Murray Rothbard believed that ultimately the answer was no state and no state enforcers. The society would govern itself via mutual, voluntary cooperation. But what about protection you ask? I could point out that you are getting precious little “protection” now. You are just lucky that one of the brutal goons has not noticed you yet.
If all property were really privately owned, then all of the problems of the state police become easily managed. The one who controls the property decides on who to hire to keep the peace on his property. For most it might be the agents of their insurance company and for commercial business it might be “rent-a-cops” hired on contract to provide a safe environment for the customers of the firm. These examples are just fast generalizations and entire books have been written on privatization of protection and law enforcement.
Police in a truly free-market would have a strong incentive to be courteous. They would have a strong incentive to refrain from the force and brutality that is an everyday part of the policing by minions of the state. The private police hired by owners of private property would have a strong incentive to please their clients, friends of their clients, and customers of their clients. A real free-market would reward the most efficient and courteous firms that provide safety and protection.
As I have written before, the police of the state are never your friend. Any “service” they provide you is just happenstance. (or you pay them extra for it) But the real message in all this is that it is the state itself that must go so that mankind can learn to live in peace and to prosper by mutual, voluntary cooperation.