Many of my fellow CopBlock colleagues and other associated anarchists are ones to claim that privatizing policing will solve most of the issues. We have all seen these arguments many times and they tend to center around two key points: competition and accountability. Neither of which really make any sense.
When a private company competes, it does so in order to expand its services and thus the size of its organization. Which is exactly what policing does already, as I have previously presented through the Living Systems model. For an organization to be successful and thrive it must insure its own safety and growth first and foremost. Whether or not the organization is ran by the state or private interests makes absolutely no difference. The interest of the organization is always going to come first. Competition does nothing to dissuade a power structures reliance on force to ultimately advance itself.
Which is why accountability is futile. The problem with policing is not who is in charge of it, it is in the nature of the activity itself. Using force to place the will of an individual or group over another individual or group is always going to have the same results. And asking the institutions that monopolize force to be less aggressive is akin to asking a fox in a henhouse to intentionally starve itself. Admissions of aggression threaten the belief systems that give their monopolies consent, so neither are they likely to send in satiated foxes with better self control to take care of the hungry one in the henhouse. Accountability is not a possibility. It is not the source of funding that prevents it, it is the nature of institutionalized force.
You cannot have policing without force. You can have private security, but if you have reasons to need that, you are probably doing some wrong with your life.*** But policing is not about security or protection, it is about enforcing laws. Being subjected to laws that are upheld by the threat of violence against the individual is wrong whether cronyist oligarchal interests use the lobbying system to write laws indirectly, or whether they just do it directly with their blackened hearts right on their sleeves. Their interest will not change just because the apparatus they use does.
***What I meant when I wrote this is that most individuals who currently employee personal security tend to be the ruling class tyrants who do create reason enough to be paranoid through their destructive agendas and actions. They are also employed by many corporations, which are entities created by the state who have far more power in our system than actual human individuals. But I will concede there are some small business interests that might reasonably have need of some security services in light of humanities current climate.
Policing will always tend towards the interests of wealth and power because that is what is in its own best interest. And the laws that they enforce will always be in the interests of those who have wealth and power. Nothing about policing lends itself to the interests of individuals. Policing is intrinsically anti-individual.
And besides this, private policing has already illustrated a clear history of doing exactly what I have described. Its propensity for abuse and oppression are already known factors. Take for example the Pinkerton Detective Agency that began its march towards abusive monopoly of force when a syCOPhant snitched, got himself deputized and then went on to become one of the most wealthy individuals in history through institutionalized aggression and bloodshed. Even vigilante justice where individuals head out into the streets to ‘police’ them often turns out badly. Those who go looking for trouble never have any problem finding it.
Private policing is not a solution. It is a pipe dream. It is the hangover of minarchist babble that still exists in those who found their way clear of statism via libertarianism. I once found myself believing the very same thing. Yet I am also a living system, and thus my tendency towards growth has caused me to spiral around and from a new perspective see the flaws in carrying minarchist ideologies over into anarchist thought. The ‘ancaps’ are just as guilty of carrying their monopolist economic dogmas into anarchism as the ‘ancoms’ are of trying to drag their liberal utopia statism into it.
When it comes to monolithic entities, a power structure will eventually emerge, and from that the will of the individuals will come to be dominated by the power structures. Institutionalized force cannot exist without becoming and giving rise to other power structures and monolithic entities. For humanity to emerge from the nightmare of authoritarian rule we must stop letting our fears guide our thoughts and decisions. An argument for any kind of policing just fuels the delusion that policing is necessary. Sometimes you swallow a fly. Grab a glass of water and try not to think about it too much or soon you may find yourself dead of horse consumption.
Why Independence Is A Necessary Precondition of Abolition, Asa!
There are few people I know of as dedicated, prolific and consistent as CopBlock.org contributor Asa J. I respect and admire him and his work greatly. So when earlier this week he took some time to address his concerns involving some of my recent statements, I was thrilled. It is that kind of friendly challenge between friends and colleagues that helps to clarify thinking and push individuals and ideas continuously forward. In his piece ‘Why Privatization of Police Is A Necessary Precondition of Abolition‘, he responded not only to the culmination of my recent abolition work, but to an article I wrote a few days earlier entitled ‘Why Private Policing Is No Any Solution At All‘. Below I will address what I see as our key points of contention, but before I do I would like to define some terms to clarify my position.
Police: In charge of enforcing laws in a given geographic area. Work in patrols and by responding to distress calls.
Security: In charge of protecting an individual, group or a piece/collection of property. Works directly alongside person(s) and/or possession(s) being secured.
I am going to rest most of my argument right there. How do patrols and responders protect and secure anything? Unless they happen to stumble on some very stupid criminals, most crime takes place out of the eyes of those who would prevent it. So what exactly are private police going to do? In fact, what have they done? The private policing agency in Detroit mentioned by Asa leaves me absolutely unclear about what, if anything, they have done to help their clients and community. Have they managed to do what public police cannot manage to do, and nab criminals in the act? Are their investigation skills any more effective?
None of these answers are ever given. I am led mostly to believe that private police services act mostly the same way that public police ones do, which is to provide a false sense of security to the suckers shelling out to them. An armed safety blanket may be a comfort to the neurotically fearful, but until private policing services involve accurate psychics to address crimes before they happen, I don’t really see the point.
Not only do I find it to be unhelpful, I find it to be detrimental. When people surrender their self-sufficiency and abdicate self-responsibility to others, it creates a cycle of dependency that is dangerous to the individual. This kind of thinking is what always snowballs into more and more intrusive institutions. It erodes individual freedoms and liberties by imposing collective solutions that disempower people from taking responsibility for their own most valuable asset, their lives. You do you.
Asa mentions that the failure of private policing like Pinkerton was that it existed within the confines of the state. This just so happens to be true of every single private policing agency today. During a transition there would still be a state to influence private police and uphold the monopolies whose interest they work towards. Despite the red button, I don’t see us getting rid of the state before we get rid of policing. The state is the core of the problem. To get to the core we must shed the layers, which means getting rid of agencies like public law enforcement. This is the order that it must be done in. So there will never be a stateless transition period from which to go from public to private policing and then finally abolition.
No middlemen are going to solve the problems of policing or crime. Again, that should be the duty of the individual. Getting to a stateless civilization is not accomplished by shifting more responsibilities from the self. In order to achieve freedom and liberty we must learn to take direct responsibility and control over our own lives, not inventing new ways of passing the buck to others. That is how we got where we are at now.
Asa argues that laws are a naturally occurring phenomena that are essential to any group of individuals. He then claims that religious and moral doctrine is equivalent to law. I fully disagree. Before they are co-opted by the state, religions tend to be a specific response against such structures of earthly authority. Morals, values and ethics mean that the individual does right for the sake of doing right, not because some external code demands it. Morals, values and ethics provide meaningful structures for harmonious interactions between individuals, and that meaning comes from the fact that the goodness is an extension of the individual, not the product of fear of consequences. Goodness out of fear is like a possession unearned, it has far less value than that which is merited by the individuals willpower.
This is how policing causes crime. It disincentivizes rightful behavior by repackaging it as a public commodity. When people come to rely more on the laws and their enforcers than their own morals, values and ethics then criminality is sure to grow. We do not need laws. They are not some eternal truth that we can observe or measure or experience in any way. We totally made that shit up!
What we should focus on is restoring the value of the individual, so that individuals can restore their own agency and will and do right as an extension of those. This is why it is more important to replace police and ultimately the state with new ideas than with copycat solutions. And those new ideas should be entire philosophies from which self-sufficiency replaces dependency. The first place we begin to do so is by correcting a flaw that comes up often in Asa’s piece.
“There will always…”
“We must always…”
The ideological crystal ball of absolute certainty is more limiting than even police or the state. It is what allows consent for their continuation. Nobody can make absolute statements about the future. Considering the exponential rate at which technology is changing the face of humanity, any projection from the past or present into the future is a highly flawed premise from which to begin a pretense of prescience.
Absolute statements about human nature are equally absurd. Our ‘nature’ is not some fixed cosmic law. We evolve. We also can only directly observe human nature from the pithy time speck of our short lives. Unless we can summon up a Nosferatu that has been around since the dawn of humanity to tell us what changes and constants have occurred, we have no idea what human nature is outside the time span of our lives. And even with the vampires observations, we would not have directly experienced it ourselves, and thus could not be certain of any outside narrative.
Policing and the state rely on magical thinking. They rely on certainty in the unknown and willful ignorance of the known. Fear of the unknown breeds a false certainty that bad things will happen to us in the future if we don’t plan for them with some systematic response. Yet we remain willfully ignorant that all such systematic responses eventually become far greater causes of the problems they were intended to solve. The horrors of police and the state are a known quantity. The bogeymen that haunt our future and create consent for the known sources of horror are not.
At present it is unlikely that a stateless civilization is even possible, at least not given our reliance on complex structures to manage resources in a complex technological environment. At the same time, it is highly likely that in a short time it will be. All that is required are technologies that supercede the limitations in nature and the scarcity our current civilization and economic structures are built upon. When technologically predicated self sufficiency means that no human is left behind, there will be no fighting over scraps. There will be no generations of poverty creating cultures of crime. Ingenuity and invention are what will make us prosperous and safe. And self sufficiency will gives us our freedom and liberty. It is better that we work towards that than concocting new forms of dependency to enslave us from within.
Take that, Asa! I look forward to reading your response.
UPDATE 1/18/17: Over the past several months private police contractors at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in Standing Rock, North Dakota have committed merciless acts of violence against the movement led by Native Americans to protect their land rights and its resources. Do you understand now?
Just recently I had switched gears from Accountability to Abolition. My articles were putting me increasingly at ideological odds with the more conservative CopBlock.org contributors, Asa chief among them. And it was from there that Asa began heading into racist and alt-right ideologies, along with other contributors, which eventually led to my dismissal by Kelly while Ademo was in jail. This for me was where the crack in the liberty movement which I had been warning of, and continued to warn of, began. And since then it has become increasingly clear that much of the liberty movement was drawn into the alt-right by a misguided perception that it was other oppressed peoples on the left, rather the people in power, who were in power. The fervently anti-left soon vacated much of their liberty stance in favor of radical conservativism, while the rest of us wandered off to find ourselves again, which I am still in the process of. Always.