What’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri is a sign of things to come

Note: I have made several revisions due to additional information that has been brought to light in the days following. Needless to say, some pertinent facts are being withheld.

What disturbs me is the way in which the suburb has become what America may resemble in the not-so distant future: A perpetual battleground and occupied territory.

I understand that the looting has nothing to do with police abuse. Looting and rioting are the actions of uncivilized brutes.

Nevertheless, looting is a fleeting, impetuous act that quickly subside. When the looting ends, however, the militarization of the police force will remain long after, and people who had nothing to do with the looting and mob action will suffer.

When I watch videos like the one below, I don’t see just Ferguson, Missouri as it is now. The cops, armed to the teeth, look like U.S. Marines out of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 when the Russians invade Virginia – and perhaps that is how many officers regard the situation. They certainly don’t think highly of the people they’re supposed to protect and serve.

Gone are the days of Walt Disney’s Main Street, USA. Welcome to Orwell’s Main Street, USSA.

A lot of libertarian anarchists, including myself, like to discuss the hypothetical. We like to describe the way things should be. Unfortunately, what’s happening is not hypothetical or the ideal. The situation in Ferguson is not atypical. All the elements to create civil unrest are present in communities and neighborhoods all across the country.

It seems, at this point, superfluous to describe how things should be. We all know how it should be. Cops shouldn’t be quasi-militarized forces that treat citizens like suspected insurgents in a war zone and have qualified immunity to protect them from violating the rights of people coerced into funding their paycheck.

In a libertarian anarchist society, laws would be limited to property crimes and police forces would be privatized. They would have an incentive to deescalate conflict rather than actively promote it. Many of the socio-economic elements that create these circumstances would also not exist.

The sad reality is that such a society doesn’t exist at the moment.

When it comes to actual solutions to immediate problems, the answer is not how to solve them but how to not be destroyed by the consequences.

The reaction in Ferguson to this incident and the police response indicates what will occur at some point on a national scale. The ingredients for a nation-wide upheaval are there.

It doesn’t matter what ignites the powder keg. A terrorist attack. Another mundane street encounter gone wrong. An economic collapse.

Whatever it may be, when it happens America will at long last discover first-hand what it is like to be a country occupied by agents of the U.S. government. We saw a small taste of it following the Boston Marathon Bombing.

It will be carried out under the auspices of “maintaining law and order.” The worst part will be the ordinary fools who make it possible. Looters and rioters carrying out random violence against innocent people will provide the authorities with the cover of legitimacy to do so, and citizens terrified of social chaos will support them.

But make no mistake about it. These agents may wear police badges, but everything about them, from their body armor to their attitudes, will declare them to be soldiers participating in an armed military campaign against an unseen enemy. Even now, officers frequently treat citizens as suspected criminals, possible threats to their physical safety. As an act of defiance against the First Amendment, journalists in Ferguson are being arrested or driven off with smoke grenades.

It may be difficult to see how this is the result of the U.S. foreign policy, but consider where the police obtained their equipment, where they learned the tactics they use, and the precedent set for the use of such methods against civilians. Police increasingly behave less like your local law enforcement, subject to the wrath and ire of their community, and more as an occupying force acting on behalf of a foreign authority.

As Tim Shoemaker at Campaign for Liberty puts it:

Ferguson is the price we pay for turning America’s police into paramilitary units armed with the Pentagon’s surplus military gear leftover from decades of American militarism overseas.

The era of your friendly neighborhood lawman only out to “protect and serve” the community is over — if it ever existed at all.

What we are seeing is a variation of the concept of blowback. A long-standing tradition of U.S. government intervention in other nations, whether overtly or covertly, has given them areas to practice the tactics they will use here. Americans will experience themselves the very same abuses and meddling the federal government has inflicted on other people around the world.

The consequences for the current political situation will play themselves out before any changes occur. Changes were made to safety practices on ships due to the Titanic disaster, but only after it was at the bottom of the ocean.

I wish I could be more optimistic, but I’m afraid that this ship has already struck the iceberg.

In the meantime, put on a life preserver and get on a life boat. The water maybe treacherous down below, but it’s better than staying on a ship doomed to sink.

Before, it was Boston. Today, it is Ferguson, Missouri. What city will it be next?

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6 Responses to What’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri is a sign of things to come

  1. shirley says:

    Looting is barbaric and look it up–looters can be shot on sight. Ignorant people.

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  2. shirley says:

    What about the people who owned the businesses that were looted and destroyed. Don’t they count? Where are the voices for them–mean liberal media with a selfish and very dangerous agenda.

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  3. Carroll says:

    Your quote: “In a libertarian anarchist society, laws would be limited to property crimes and police forces would be privatized. They would have an incentive to deescalate conflict rather than actively promote it. Many of the socio-economic elements that create these circumstances would also not exist.”

    You assume that the libertarians in charge of the local, private, police forces would act with less force than the current police and government at all levels do. Since we are all human, and suffer from the same malady of “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” we delude ourselves that peaceful deescalation of conflict would occur. Whether anarchy exists or not, criminals only understand overwhelming strength and force. Did the framers of the constitution suffer from the same erroneous belief that those in power would be magnanimous? What about the local “tribes” of anarchists? Could their leadership be corrupted? What if a group of criminals decided that property crime is their ticket to wealth? No courts, no jails, no accountability except whatever the local authority decides. Could the death penalty be handed down for property crimes? What if one marijuana dealer steals the stash of another? Would it be lawful for the victim to kill the thief? Isn’t that a property crime, and what would be his incentive not to kill the thief since there is no accountability? How many people have already died in connection with drug dealing? Do you actually believe that legalizing drugs would cause the murder rate to decrease among drug dealers and users who cross them? The only difference would be the local, private police would have no authority to deal the murder, and the thief has already paid the supreme penalty at the hands of the dealer. What if the dealer lied, and the “thief” didn’t commit the theft at all? What if the “theif” was a rival dealer, and the killer decided to eliminate him from the competitive market?

    Officer Wilson acted lawfully, and in self defense. If he were a privately hired police officer for an anarchist community, would he have been justified under the rule of “no law”? Could the local, private officers be justified in killing the looters for their property crimes? If so, then what would happen if a groups of looters from around Missouri banded together under a system of anarchy to attack other communities in force against small, private police forces? Would the free citizens be justified in engaging in urban warfare? Yes, because it is the only way to protect themselves. But, the citizens have that right already. So why have a police agency at all? Where would the armed citizens get their weapons and equipment? Would they be better armed than the gangs that are attacking them? They’d better be, and no less so than our current police forces. Police are necessary, and the first line of defense against anarchists of the criminal bent.

    I’m all for reducing the power of the federal government, the disbanding of the federal reserve, and other overreach of the government, but anarchy is not the way. Muslims in Africa are currently practicing anarchy. ISIS is doing the same thing. What is happening to others who refuse to convert? What is happening to their women and children? Where is the local, private, police force that might be able to protect them? Anarchy provides a vehicle for despotism just as sure as any other form of government, and make no mistake, anarchy is a form of government, even if hidden behind a veil of theocracy.

    Anarchy is coming. We all know it, and pretty soon we’ll be begging for the protection of superior forces to deal with the criminals that would take advantage of no trained, well equipped force. Pray that it doesn’t happen in your neighborhood.

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    • The Question says:

      I think I may be misunderstood. The anarchy you’re referring to is a secondary definition most commonly employed by people, but I use the primary definition, which is a system of rules without rulers. This is the ideal situation and the long-term solution. ISIS stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, i.e. they are a self-proclaimed government and thus not anarchic in nature. The violence in Africa is the consequence of failed governments and/or actions taken by European states going back to the 1800s that carved up African regions into colonies which later disintegrated into chaos. I’m arguing that libertarians like myself can discuss the theoretical all we want but at the end of the day we have to deal with things as they are and address immediate problems. The sad truth is that we are experiencing the consequences of political decisions made in this country for the last 60 years, and these consequences will play themselves out before any positive changes occur. People should make decisions with this in mind. There are long term and short term problems involved, and there is a tendency to present long term solutions for the short term problem. There are many ways to look at what happened in Ferguson, what is happening, and what will happen, and this is one of them.

      I need to write a column on this topic, but I’m not advocating we become a libertarian anarchist society tomorrow via a revolution or upheaval.

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      • Carroll says:

        Thanks for your response. I don’t get the impression that you advocate a revolution. What I think I see is a forecast of what is coming, and a way to survive it during and afterwards.

        I’ve been doing a little research on this subject, and I am learning a few things. The German philosopher Immanuel Kant treated “Anarchy” in his Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View as consisting of “Law and Freedom without Force”. As summary Kant named four kinds of government:

        A. Law and freedom without force (anarchy).
        B. Law and force without freedom (despotism).
        C. Force without freedom and law (barbarism).
        D. Force with freedom and law (republic).

        I found it interesting that Kant said Anarchy is a form of government. I felt somewhat vindicated since I have argued this with my libertarian-anarchist friend. I also found his simplistic definition of a republic very interesting, since our republic began as a very functional form of government. What has happened is even more simplistic: greed and power.

        I won’t bother you any more. I just noticed that this thread is quite old. Thanks for helping me get my mind working.

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