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  • Love and Liberty

Do Violence To No Man

“The State indeed performs many important and necessary functions: from provision of law to the supply of police and fire fighters, to building and maintaining the streets, to delivery of the mail. But this in no way demonstrates that only the State can perform such functions, or, indeed, that it performs them even passably well.” (Myth of National Defense - Hoppe, Bassani and Lottieri, pg. 52, citing Rothbard, Ethics of Liberty, pg. 16)

When it is said that free market anarchism is to be preferred over statism, many uninformed (or perhaps informed but contrary) voices will accuse those who say it of wanting to do away with all rules, order, security, and collective safety measures, etc. This simply isn’t true. The argument is not that these societal functions should disappear, but that they would be carried out in an effective, efficient, and moral fashion under free market anarchism.

Though I rarely watch videos of any kind anymore, and haven’t watched television or movies in years, I came across some videos that showed police officers dealing with difficult and deadly situations. I watched the videos with my family, and I thought it was good that they were getting to see some of the challenges that police officers face. Some of it reminded me of what it is like to work in the prison system, and I could understand the mindset of the police officers in these confrontations. In most of the encounters, police officers were shot at, and the officers used lethal force to stop the shooter. Though I have seen videos in the past where it seemed egregiously wrong that a police officer used lethal force, in all of these videos at least, officers used lethal force in self-defense. Looking at these incidents just from the onset of aggression, any sensible person would side with the police officers as being morally justified in their use of force.

But there is more to consider.

We must consider the impetus for these conflicts. Did these police officers roll up on someone that was holding a gun to an innocent person’s head? Was a child being harmed? Was someone being robbed? No, one started because a person was driving without a driver’s license. I will focus on this as it seems to be a representative case. It is a common scenario in which a confrontation was initiated, and people have died, whether it was a “perpetrator” or a police officer, because a policy of a micromanaging State was not being followed.

I felt conflicted when watching some of these videos; I understood why the police officers discharged their firearms, again, only taking into consideration the onset of the threat of violence, but some of these deadly encounters were completely avoidable. They were avoidable in that some of these interactions started, not because someone was aggressing against another person or his property, but again, because someone was not following a State policy. Think about it. A man was driving, not causing anyone on the road any trouble, but he was driving without a license. The reason was not disclosed, but the end result was that he fled, was finally brought to a halt, he brandished a shotgun (which I could not see, but I will assume the report was correct) and he was killed. It is true that he should not have made the choice to run and to point a shotgun at someone else, I am not denying that. Remember that I said above that no one can fault officers for using force once their lives are in danger, but that is because it is right and just for anyone to use force in self-defense, it is not a special right for those wearing a badge and a State uniform. But don’t neglect to take into account what this loss of life (and what could have been the loss of life for one or more of the police officers) stemmed from. He lacked a Government permission slip to drive a vehicle (I bet they still robbed him of his wages to pay for their roads!).

Who cares if the man had a State issued driver’s license? Yes, we can come up with many reasons and “what ifs” that pertain to this individual case, but the point remains. Think of the vast number of harmless actions that people have been stopped, frisked, and hounded about, because police officers see it as their job to enforce these societal controls, and the result was someone being seriously injured or killed. Is enforcing a rule, any rule, when the rule-breaker is harming absolutely no one, worth any level of conflict? Why did this man need a State license to operate a motor vehicle, and why did this situation (perhaps a minor traffic violation) escalate because he didn’t? The man remained silent and did not want to answer the questions of the officers, but the officers prodded him and behaved as if he were a criminal until he drove away and made his chain of stupid decisions. None of this is meant to take away from the fact that he chose poorly. But I want to emphasize the point that a driver’s license is nothing more than a control tool for a police-state. There is nothing moral about a driver's license, nor does it serve anyone’s interest but the State’s. There is no reason why anyone should have to identify himself to anyone else at any time unless he chooses to do so. The State has no overriding right to make everyone identify themselves to police officers just because they ask. The State has no moral authority to intervene into the lives of people like this. This is the result of people depending on the Government to provide “services”: the State, having control of a territory, the people in it, and the activities within it, becomes tyrannical.

One cannot simply say that because of this man’s poor decision to run that it was obvious he was guilty of something, or that he deserved what he got. Nonsense. Nobody knows what this man was going through. He could have been going through a divorce. His wife or child could have recently died. Knowing the heavy hand of the State about something as insignificant as a driver’s license, maybe he was at his wit’s end and decided he was through. Maybe he just wasn’t thinking at all. Who knows.

Nobody will know because he is dead.

Security forces provide a legitimate service, but when they become arms of the micromanaging State, they have left the realm of legitimacy. Security forces have no right to go beyond protecting people and their property from immediate violence, or to apprehend those who are guilty of the same. Of course, a person or group of people can form a community and put into place whatever rules they want to, and they can hire a security force to enforce those rules, and the people can stay in or leave, whatever they choose. That brings us to one of the problems with State rule. We don’t get to decide if we want to go along with the rules or not; we have our money stolen through taxation, it is used to “pay” politicians so they don’t actually have to work – they merely pass stupid laws, and it is used to pay the salaries of officers that hound us about not following the stupid rules we never agreed to.

Let me reiterate. A security force that protects people from violence and brings to justice those who are guilty of violence, is a good thing. How much death could be avoided, including deaths of police officers, if law enforcement was used to protect natural rights only? A legitimate security force in our current context would be laboring to protect people from violence, including Government violence, not violating the natural rights of people as agents of the Government. Police officers today are the hired arms of one of the four greatest evils on the face of the earth, the State. Understand that even though some State police officers have intervened into situations and helped someone in need, in principle they are not deployed for the protection of the people, they are agents of State rule. They protect the State and its interests. How do we know? Because people die every day in conflicts with State agents that got started for reasons other than violence against someone else. No, the State policy did not kill this man. But it resulted in an unnecessary confrontation between a man and the Guns of the State. Life can be extremely stressful and there can be a thin line between holding up under the load and making a terrible decision. Prodding police officers that hound a man over something like a State issued driver’s license can lead to someone crossing this thin line, and it is not worth it for anyone involved.

Under State rule, the people have no recourse when it comes to unwanted policies. We can support security forces when those who provide the services are hired by the people for the people, and when they follow natural law principles. In our current context, neither of these are true.

I am for security services; I am against State policing that violates natural law (at all levels). I am for defense; I am against a State controlled professional military. I am for collective services that benefit many; I am against taxation (theft) to pay for services I don’t want or need. I am for justice; I am against meddlesome tyranny.

"And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages."

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