I’ve been having a lot of “What’s the use?” days lately. For the reasons, start with the Glenn Beck video below, add a few issues of a personal character, and stir briskly. And then, every so often someone adds an olive:
Augustin Garcia, 63, was arrested thrice last week for stealing a 12-pack Coors Light beer from a Bronx bodega, robbing two Manhattan straphangers–wielding a knife at one of them, Your Content reported.
The alleged crime spree started around Nov. 21 around 7:30 p.m. when he swiped a dozen cans of beer from a bodega in the Bronx. He was charged with petty larceny and released without bail. On Nov. 22 at around 3:00 a.m., Garcia was back at it–he allegedly robbed a woman at knifepoint at the Canal Street station and asked her to “stay back” when she pursued him, Latin Times reported.
Manhattan prosecutors demanded Garcia be held without bail for his crimes but the judge denied it. Following this, he again snatched another woman’s iPhone at the Lenox Street station. All three arrests occurred in a span of 36 hours, the report stated.
Garcia allegedly boasted to NYPD (New York Police Department) officials that he would be released again because he didn’t have any prior convictions. However, he was charged with felony robbery this time.
The accused was sent to Bellevue Hospital for a psych evaluation following his third arrest. Prosecutors spoke in favor of Garcia being held $20,000 cash bail or a $60,000 bail bond but their plea was again turned down by Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Valentina Morales.
This supposedly mentally ill man called the turn accurately: he was released again. Why?
There are several potential explanations. All of them might be parts of the answer. But the part of this episode that strikes me most powerfully is the hand-wringing over our inability to check the recent crime wave. It made me throw my hands up and scream “What the hell did you expect?” at 4:25 AM Eastern Standard Time.
It is not possible to thwart crime when criminals are aware that the “forces of order” won’t act against them. Even the ones who are arrested and charged are usually released to ply their trades afresh. But this is now the sotto voce policy of American law enforcement. All too frequently, the excuse is “mental illness.”
I could go into a long ramble about the utter insanity of using “mental illness” as a shield against incarceration. I could tell you about insane triple murderer Robert Irwin, or the equally insane “Boston Strangler” Albert DeSalvo, or other killers who were spared prosecution on mental illness grounds. At least those two were eventually confined for the rest of their lives. Many others have walked free, “compassionately” released to prey on us again.
Today, of course, you don’t even need to be “mentally ill” to get away with any crime on the books. Just be part of a “mostly peaceful protest.” Indictment? Bail? Excuse me while I get control of my laughter.
Ralph Waldo Emerson is whispering in my ear again:
If the government is cruel, the governor’s life is not safe. If you tax too high, the revenue will yield nothing. If you make the criminal code sanguinary, juries will fail to convict. If the law is too mild, private vengeance comes in.
Indeed. But soft! What news is this?
The Senate Thursday evening passed the stopgap funding bill to avert a government shutdown.
The Senate voted 69-28 to pass the interim bill that will fund the government until February 18.
Is “averting a government shutdown” one of your imperative priorities, Gentle Reader?
I thought not.
The following essay first appeared at Liberty’s Torch V1.0, on October 2, 2013:
“Gentlemen, you see that in the anarchy in which we live, society manages much as before. Take care, if our disputes last too long, that the people do not come to think that they can very easily do without us.” – Benjamin Franklin, to the Constitutional Convention of 1787
The so called “government shutdown,” which the Obamunists and their hangers-on claim will “blow up the economy,” along with miscellaneous other horrors to be inflicted on the poor, Negroes, children, women, homosexuals, grandmothers, the snail darter, the Delta smelt, and the spotted owl, has now been in effect for a little more than a full day. My neighborhood is just as it was before. New York State is lumbering along in its usual quadriplegic fashion. The stock markets appear to be taking it calmly. No one has invaded us. So why all the fuss?
Because of the Benjamin Franklin quote above, of course.
The Ruling Elite is far more threatened by the shutdown than any other sector of society. Granted, some of us, myself among them, might need new jobs if it were to go on indefinitely, assuming private enterprise doesn’t pick up where the Pentagon leaves off. But we have skills…well, most of us, anyway…that can easily be transferred to other applications than killing people and breaking things. But what about politicians and bureaucrats? Except for the ones that hold credentials of other kinds, what would they do to stay in coffee and cakes?
Bureaucrats are persons who read and write memoranda. That’s a skill made valuable solely by government; therefore, once government is gone, there will be no niche for them. Except for the ones that pack guns, of course, but I’m sure the private sector can deal with them…one way or another. However, I can’t think of any portion of the private economy that has a grinding need for officious, self-important bastards consumed by a lust for power but are incapable of anything but vilifying one another. Can you, Gentle Reader?
Franklin’s caution to the Constitutional Conventioners might yet be realized in this year of Our Lord 2013. Whether he would look upon today’s developments with alarm or satisfaction, I cannot say.
The late Samuel Francis is probably best known for his conception of anarcho-tyranny:
What we have in this country today, then, is both anarchy (the failure of the state to enforce the laws) and, at the same time, tyranny – the enforcement of laws by the state for oppressive purposes; the criminalization of the law-abiding and innocent through exorbitant taxation, bureaucratic regulation, the invasion of privacy, and the engineering of social institutions, such as the family and local schools; the imposition of thought control through “sensitivity training” and multiculturalist curricula, “hate crime” laws, gun-control laws that punish or disarm otherwise law-abiding citizens but have no impact on violent criminals who get guns illegally, and a vast labyrinth of other measures. In a word, anarcho-tyranny….
The laws that are enforced are either those that extend or entrench the power of the state and its allies and internal elites … or else they are the laws that directly punish those recalcitrant and “pathological” elements in society who insist on behaving according to traditional norms – people who do not like to pay taxes, wear seat belts, or deliver their children to the mind-bending therapists who run the public schools; or the people who own and keep firearms, display or even wear the Confederate flag, put up Christmas trees, spank their children, and quote the Constitution or the Bible – not to mention dissident political figures who actually run for office and try to do something about mass immigration by Third World populations.
This crossbreed between the tyranny made possible by an overweening political power and the chaos too many persons have associated mentally with “anarchy” strikes the superficial as impossible. Governments exist, they argue, to enforce order; therefore, while they can tyrannize, to attribute chaos to them, simultaneously at least, is misconceived. What the superficial manage to miss is that while a government can “enforce order,” it need not do so for everyone. Indeed, the history of governments is without any examples of a government that enforced a truly uniform order, in which the same laws have applied to everyone regardless of his identity, his occupation, his wealth, or his station in society.
Go ahead. Check me on it. Then come back and read the rest.
“Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us.” — Leo Tolstoy
“I was never molested by any person but those who represented the State.” — Henry David Thoreau
I have come to agree with the late Mr. Francis on nearly everything he thought, said, or wrote. Moreover, the “red thread” that runs through every significant malady of American society, both the ones he cited in the quotes above and any others you might care to name, is that of government. Governments at all levels are the creators and perpetuators of the disorder, the poverty, the social tensions, the suppression of enterprise, and the seemingly irremediable failures of core institutions that plague these United States.
Note that any government in operation is solely an instrument of violence. Governments are distinguished from other organizations in that within the zone of their sovereignty, they are indemnified, de jure or de facto, against penalty for doing what a private individual or organization would be prosecuted for. This privilege frees governments from having to do anything but coerce the rest of us.
Sometimes, such coercions have no imaginable purpose but the assertion of the privilege of coercion itself:
Fifty-seven year old Texas homeowner William Keith Hall shot “a career criminal” who broke into his home on September 26 and was subsequently shot by police after refusing to drop his gun once they arrived.
In fact, Police say he pointed his gun at them when they reached the scene.
According Fox News, 30-year old Jerry Wayne Hale broke into Hall’s home and was shot. Thereafter Hall allegedly pointed his gun at the man who called 911 and then allegedly pointed at witnesses who were near Hale.
The 911 caller said Hall actually tried to “fire at the witnesses but his gun apparently jammed.”
Fox News carried a report from The Dallas Morning News saying the police did not realize Hall had shot Hale in defense of his home when they arrived. Therefore, when Hall refused to drop his gun–and even “pointed the pistol at police officers,” according to Maj. Jeff Cotner–police opened fire.
Hall died with Hale at the scene.
Decide for yourself whether to believe the self-exculpating claims of the police who gunned down a homeowner in his own home.
“The State represents violence in a concentrated and organized form. The individual has a soul, but as the State is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from the violence to which it owes its very existence.” — Mohandas K. Gandhi
We may have happened upon a stroke of good fortune. Owing to the most recent developments in Congress, we have an opportunity to observe, while the federal government is (partially) closed down, whether conditions will deteriorate or improve.
Even if nothing were to change except for the removal of government — if “society manages much as before” — I would count it as a massive improvement. We would have shed the dead load of government, which coerces, mulcts, and hobbles us in so many ways. That alone would open possibilities governments have repeatedly obstructed.
In writing the above, I am mindful that no change so sweeping would come without cost. In particular, we are not our colonial ancestors, accustomed to looking after ourselves and one another without the “help” of the State. There would be a period during which many addicted to government payments would be at the mercy of their neighbors. There would be a period during which criminals — “private-sector” criminals, that is — would perceive increased opportunities for plunder. And there would be a period during which the other nations of the world would have to defend their own borders…hopefully, a period never to end.
But human beings adapt. At least, we do so once we’ve been convinced that it’s adapt-or-die, and that there’s no way back to the swaddling comforts of the past. And really, what did our colonial forebears have that we don’t, except for Tyrant George across the Atlantic to rebel against?
Give it some thought.
I maintain that the highest priority of our political class is keeping private-citizen Americans from realizing that we do not need them. And I maintain further that given their utter uselessness in checking the riots, the vandalism, the mass looting, the organized smash-and-grabs, or any other current ill, no more need be said.
Nothing lasts forever. Everything is unstable. Protons are unstable, for Pete’s sake! Why should we have expected that our Republic would last forever? Where was the evidence for such a notion?
It was pure wishful thinking, just as was the conceit that given its Constitutional foundation, the federal government was “a machine that would go of itself.”
We have reached the terminus of the American Republic. The corpse may shamble along for a while, but its animating essence has departed. What remains is to determine what comes next.
Some years ago, I wrote a novel about an experiment in anarchism. It was tested by an ecological crisis. I contrived a temporary salvation for it…but even after that magnificent sacrifice, Hope’s anarchism could not last forever. Its people had become too used to their world “going of itself.” They grew fat. Some became envious of others – destructively so. And so the very family which produced the indispensable hero who saved Hope’s ecological benevolence also produced its very first government, as I chronicled in the second and third books of the trilogy.
Nevertheless, Hope’s people had twelve centuries of freedom. Granted, they had to start from scratch on a world with none of the supports of a modern civilization…but that was one of the reasons why they remained free for so long! They were too busy scratching a living from the soil to bother about robbing and oppressing one another.
The state as we know it was born in exactly that fashion. Read Franz Oppenheimer. Read Albert Jay Nock. Consider the many points of comparison between the state and a criminal band, as the late Murray Rothbard exhorted us to do. Then ask yourself what should come next.
The inalienable rights of man recognized in America’s Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights are the best modern example of a political system based on natural law. The rights to individual “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” come from the Judeo-Christian beliefs that under God all men are created equal, that we have free will to choose between good and evil, and that human beings have the freedom and responsibility to govern our own lives and society. The Constitution guaranteed the rights of free speech, free press, freedom of religion, and the right to personal property. These rights must constantly be reinforced and supported by the notion that government actions should not impinge on them, because they are sacred.
The article’s author contends that the Republican Party could and should adopt that philosophy as its party ideology. We’re kindred souls, he and I, but what was viable two and a half centuries ago won’t fly as a political banner today.
Reasons? You want reasons? Haven’t you read what came before this point? Oh well. Try these reasons:
First, politicians love power far too much to embrace an ideology that explicitly denies them all but a tiny amount of power. Also, a politician with so little power has nothing to sell to favor-seekers with fat wallets. How, then, would our $200,000-a-year Congressmen ever become multimillionaires, as they believe is their right?
Second, “Natural Law Liberalism” comes up against an important facet of human nature: As Thomas Szasz put it, freedom is that which you demand for yourself but would deny to others. Under an NLL regime, everyone would have the maximum degree of freedom possible in a human society! How, then, would my neighbor punish me for letting my dogs out at 4:00 AM? And how would I punish him for not mowing his lawn for six weeks straight?
So this freedom under natural law stuff will never play in Canarsie. Not as long as we insist upon empowering a government, electing power-seekers to it, and allowing them to legislate and regulate…and not as long as we are as lazy, as quarrelsome, as envious, and as grasping as we have become.
The verdict is in: the Republic is dead and cannot be resuscitated. We the People are too fat, too divided, and too envious to construct a new one on wholesome principles that accord with natural law. Perhaps we should test old Ben Franklin’s fear that “we” can manage without “them.”
There are alternatives. In Franklin’s day, the most plausible one was simply for the thirteen colonies to remain “free and independent states.” There was also the beckoning Western frontier, and there were some who pushed on in that direction, whether to separate themselves from the burgeoning of politics or merely for the adventure of it. There was also Franklin’s own Albany Plan, though that notion, which explicitly kept the colonies united to the British Crown, received very short shrift from the other Framers.
There are always alternatives. Perhaps we’ll choose several, in competition with one another as the states of Europe did for centuries before their recent attack of political psychosis. One way another, we will go…one way or another.
I could go on. Be grateful that I’m stopping here. And do have a nice day.