by Joshua Scott Hotchkin
I recently wrote a trilogy of articles at CopBlock.org dealing with the moral and ethical problems of police and the state, and some ways that they are already becoming obsolete. I will reprint them here in their entirety.
All of us here at the CopBlock Network have varying opinions about what the overall goal of our activism should be. There are many different ideas on what we hope to be able to, and believe that we can, accomplish. Not everyone wants to see an end to public policing. Some want to transition to that position over time. Others think that the function of police should be replaced with similar private services. There are as many unique ideas and approaches as there are individuals among us. What follows are my own opinions.
Accountability is futile. There really could be nothing so simple to understand yet so difficult to convey. Although it has been illustrated in endless individual cases, people are unwilling to hear the truth about the institution of policing as a whole. Yet what it really boils down to is this- the police, the justice system and the rest of the state has a conflict of interest. Like any other system or set of complex relationships, it is duty bound to protect itself and those within it. A thing divided against itself cannot stand. So no matter what it must support its whole self, even, and especially its weakest parts. Systems are like living things. They desire growth, safety, harmony and most of all- to survive. Yet because the police are made up of fallible human beings with faults, it is inevitable that some members will become criminals themselves. Criminals empowered and protected by their authority. And because the larger organism must protect itself, it must prevent its weaknesses from outside attack. And accountability is that attack. So over time policing becomes a haven for the maliciously criminal and psychotically violent. Since police will protect their own, there is no safer place for social deviants to find a home to commit their atrocities. Because no matter what, a thing divided against itself cannot stand, and the police will do whatever they must to protect their own. Accountability is futile.
Okay, now off the top of your head think of three cops who committed crimes against citizens whose punishments were as harsh they would have been had citizens committed the same crimes against other citizens or the police. I’ll wait…
Okay, now think of as many cops as you can who got off scott-free or with punishments much lesser than you or I would face for the same crimes. You probably had five in your head instantly, but still are not able to answer the first question.
Accountability is futile. It is a distraction. It is an attack that the system can easily counter, which is why they don’t mind it being launched at them. They use it to brainwash their ardent supporters into an even greater stupor of mindless and obsessive worship. And so long as the only politically correct attitude of police criticism is accountability, they are safe from the logical conclusion that they are not necessary. That they are, in fact, amongst the greatest problems and related to the rest. Accountability is not just futile. It is part of the problem, for it is a blindness which is able to fool us into believing we are seeing.
Abolish the police. Accountability is a dangerous lie. The system cannot be reformed. The system is working perfectly as a system just the way it is. Any idealized state of policing is a myth. That system would be untenable and could not meet its own requirements. It will always come back to this.
This includes private policing. It has demonstrated historically that it can do no better. From Pinkerton to endless cases of private authority abuse in modern times, we can see that private policing just does the same as its public counterpart. It protects itself and its greatest benefactors first and foremost. Private policing, like public, would just become another fascist tool of the oligarchs. And besides that, it is unnecessary.
Police do not stop crimes. Criminals have this tendency to commit their crimes out of the way of police. When police do arrive at an active crime scene, things generally just get worse.
Police do not deter crime. If this was true the growth of the police state would have meant the end of crime by now. Yet policing does create crime. Several generations of socially and economically downtrodden people have been filtered through this system long enough to destroy individuals, families and communities. This leads to cycles of crime, as the downtrodden are given narrow choices for survival. It leads to the universities of criminal behavior that our prisons have become.
Police have only one response to crime, which is to take advantage of it and profit from it. Crime is its nourishment, so it has far more to gain by creating it than stopping it. This is true of public policing and it would be true of private policing.
If we were to end the institution of policing today would there be sudden total disorder? Likely not. While there would likely be an immediate spike, it would then decrease over time to levels far below what it is now, as the feedback loop policing creates would stop amplifying the problem. The only reason there might be an initial surge is because the effect policing has had on the populace. Once its effect diminishes, so would the counter response.
Believe it or not, most people are actually not that bad. In so far as natures tendencies to produce deviants who commit violent crimes will always exist, those acts are still statistical anomalies compared to the infinite peaceful interactions that occur between individuals every day. Goodness is the human norm. To bend our entire society to respond to a small percentage of deviants robs good people of opportunities that these responses rob from us. Our freedoms and liberties are more valuable than our mere safety. There are worse things than death. Civilization should build itself around its aspirations, not its fears.
So then what do we do when there are no police? We adapt. That is our greatest strength as a species. We recognize new problems and create new solutions. Communities will find needs that must be met and might do so with rational, compassionate and non-violent means. Assistance, arbitration and counsel are tools we can explore to meet most day to day needs. Most of the time people just need help, not emotionally unstable and low intelligent agents with guns who may imprison or kill you, responding to community issues. Where that fails we might seek investigators to seek out the facts of crimes so that they can be dealt with between the respective parties in peaceful ways.
More importantly, safety should be a Do-It-Yourself issue. Learn to defend yourself. Both mentally and physically. Natural consequences are the strongest deterrent against crime. If criminals fear instant reprisal for their actions, they might think twice. Yet the current system causes potential and actual victims to fear legal consequences for taking matters into their own hands. This empowers criminals and police, but leaves the rest of us at a strong disadvantage. We need not concern ourselves with how to treat the worst among us, but how to best treat one another. Let us not build a world around fear and worst-case scenarios, but around faith in one another and confidence in our ability to respond when things go wrong.
And if you absolutely must rely on others to protect you, hire a bodyguard. If you are that paranoid, or have given others enough just cause to harm you, then protecting yourself should be your own responsibility. Not that of society.
In the end, there is no society. It is a grammatical construct. There are only individuals. Let the world be a place where individuality can be tolerated, explored and praised. Let us not create systemic institutions which ask us to sacrifice individuality, the only truth of the self that can be known, for collective fears we use to create that which we feared out of our response.
Comments, questions or hate mail- GO HERE.
Last week I wrote an article entitled ‘Accountability Is Futile – Abolish the Police‘ in which I laid out the reasons in which ‘accountability’ is a logic impossibility owing to the nature of the self-preservation instinct which exists even in abstract entities like systems and institutions. While that article laid out HOW accountability is not possible, we should also discuss WHY it should not be favored over abolition.
Government, or the state, is a force which supposedly acts to uphold the will of the citizens. Yet I would challenge you to find any citizen who actually believed this relationship to be true between their own self and the state. Because it is not possible for the state to uphold the will of all of it’s citizens, due to us all being unique individuals with different sets of ideologies that often conflict with one another, government develops a will all of its own, shared with no single individual entity but itself. And the edicts of the state themselves are powerless to control individual behavior. Therefore aggressive force is required in order to uphold the laws and proclamations of the state. Domestically, that force is applied by police, which makes police the de facto will of the state. So when we talk about abolishing police, we are in fact talking about abolishing the state itself, beginning with its paid mercenaries.
In fact, government itself is a myth. It is a smokescreen created by economic forces meant to delude the people into thinking that its will is theirs. In an industrialist oligarchy such as ours, it is the corporation that is the true agency of governance. Through campaign finance, lobbying and other economic means, corporations use the delusion of a ‘government of the people’ in order to create and protect monopolies. A corporation is not even a thing that exists in nature. It is a construct. A corporation is an entity that exists only because the protective status granted to it by the state. It exists for the purpose of protecting the minority of its profiteers from natural free market consequences and giving them an unfair advantage against rivals. When people speak of using the government to hold big business accountable, it falls under the same logical problems I discussed in the accountability article I spoke of earlier. The state and the corporation are all part of a single distinct entity, and that which is divided against itself cannot stand, so accountability is merely a myth perpetuated by literalists who refuse to examine the deeper truths of what the government they are petitioning actually is.
We can examine this logic further by concluding that since the police are the enforcement branch of the collective corporate will, and since we are beholden to its economic paradigms like resource distribution and labor, the state is nothing more than a wealthy land owner (property taxes discount the mythical notion of private land ownership) that uses force to keep us productive and obedient. We are all quite literally slaves. And the masters favorite slaves, whom it has granted the whip and immunity from its edicts, are the police.
Without the police we would never have accepted the social, economic and political paradigms that we are powerless to topple alone. It is the fear of reprisal that feeds the entire system. Police and the threat of violence they use to control us are what separates us from freedom and keep us obedient and productive on the masters plantation. A nation is just that, a parcel of land controlled by one economic interest whose goal is to dominate other nations/plantations through competition. Slavery is how that competition is stacked. Freedom is the enemy of the state.
You are not free. There is nothing you can do which would guarantee non-interference from the state and its mercenaries. Anything you do must be found to be acceptable by the state or it will correct your behaviors using the threat of imprisonment and violence which is the first cause of all powers granted police. Just try stepping out of the system and it will quickly remind you who is in charge, who owns you.
The first step to abolishing slavery is abolishing the police. The whip cannot strike on it’s own and the plantation owners dare not do their own dirty work.
In my next article I will discuss those already emerging paradigms that will replace nationalism and the state. The blueprint for them already exists in the world today in the forms of technologies and emerging ideologies. Just as it was not government that freed black slavery in this country, but rather a growing consensus of the moral rejection of slavery among individuals combined with technologies that made it possible to reduce human labor while increasing wealth and efficiency. The police state will not be able to compete with these news ideas and technologies because it will be inferior to them. The functions of society which maintain balance and harmony among individuals can easily be replaced with the far superior products of human creativity, ingenuity and intelligence that require nobody with a magical uniform threatening violence in order to function. Among these ideas are post-scarcity resource management, on-site production of goods, reputation economics and post-materialist science. We stand at the edge of a future far more promising than the barbaric vision we have had to endure under the violent nature of the state and the police who protect it.
In this article I will discuss the emerging paradigms that will replace these institutions while granting the individual more freedoms and liberties than the state while also increasing social harmony among individuals and as a whole for humanity. We can break these down into two categories, ideology and technology.
Rights- Many believe that governments and their enforcement agencies are necessary to protect our ‘rights’. The assumption that we have rights and that they need protected becomes the justification for the existence of these institutions. But we must ask ourselves, what is a right? Do these rights exist external to human ideas about them? If so, where do they come from? How? Why? What is the ontological source of an objective ‘right’?
The idea of rights is merely a human concept with no analogue in nature. Rights do not exist outside of our belief in them. Just as government is not a part of nature, but a human construct. As I recently explained to someone asking me what I thought about a limited government that exists only to uphold rights…
There cannot be a limited government. If you study systems analysis you will find that any entity, even an abstract one like a business or the state, has some intrinsic properties. The desire for growth chief among them. Systems which do not experience growth will eventually stagnate, decline and fail. So every system has an innate drive to create growth by consuming more of the resources than other systems. Limited government is not a possibility. It is a fairy tale. It is the happy dragon who lives in our closet and tells funny stories but never ever does dragon-things like breath fire at us or eat babies.
Now consider that, at best, government was a necessary evolutionary structure meant to get us through the industrial era. We are rapidly leaving that era. The new era will produce information structures that replace it. Government will soon be your mom’s basement and humanity will be working part time at a call center and playing WOW all the time (metaphorically) if we do not take the scary risk and go out as individuals.
Those rights you discussed, those are the house rules you grew up with. But they are not an objective constant of the world at large. There are no rights. Those were boundaries for learning social interactions, like bumper lanes are for learning to bowl without bumper lanes.
Rights exist only as a myth used by the state to justify their existence. And who is the first to deny those rights when it limits its own growth? The state.
It is therefore the case that the concept of rights is not an ideological device intended to grant you freedoms and liberties, but to empower systems and institutions which limit them. Rights necessitate the threat of aggression in order to exist. Yet that aggression negates their existence. Forced behavior is meaningless. Civilization is meaningless if it relies on games of barbaric aggression. Building a meaningful civilization requires that we place expectations not on others, but on ourselves. Only when interactions are voluntary are they meaningful in and of themselves. Rather than adopting disciplines to control others, we should focus more on those which bring us self control. If deviant human behavior (crime) is the disease, then we should treat the disease itself in the individual by replacing it with a healthy worldview and self-discipline. The idea of rights is a misleading ideology that causes us to ignore the disease and stay focused on treating the symptoms.
DO UNTO OTHERS AS THEY WOULD LIKE DONE UNTO THEM. IF YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT THAT IS, ASK. IF YOU DO NOT CARE TO ASK OR HONOR THEIR WISHES, LEAVE THEM ALONE ENTIRELY.
Safety- The next fallacy used to support police and the state is that they keep us safe. This idea is patently absurd. Police do not prevent crimes, they show up after like an ambulance chaser in order to profit from them. The number of crimes prevented by police is a statistical anomaly compared to the number of crimes committed by them. Not only do they not prevent crime, they do not deter it. Worse, they prevent natural consequences for crimes, that help to embolden criminals. As if that were not enough, police (and the state) create crime by inventing new categories of criminality, and also by creating a cycle of criminal behavior in individuals who get caught in their system.
The truth about safety is that it does not exist. You are not safe. You live in a reality in which everything from microscopic phenomena to cosmic events (and everything in between) may injure or kill you at any time. Nothing can ever guarantee your safety. Unfortunately, most people cannot (yet) face our uncertainty with courage and maturity. And so it becomes a source of fear, which itself becomes the source of paranoia and all manner of neurotic thinking and behaviors. They then try to rationalize that, because danger to their physical selves exists, attempts to avoid or stop those dangers are a practical necessity of our existence. However, that is delusional thinking, since danger cannot be prevented. The state and its enforcement agencies do not eradicate the basic fact that we are always in peril, they just add another danger. Only instead of just being a danger to only our quantity of existence (survival), they become a danger to our quality of existence (freedom/liberty). The fact that these systems may prevent some small modicum of crime does not make up for the fact that they create a large portion of oppression.
The cult of survivalism has become an increasing problem. When we reduce our lives to mere physical objects seeking continuity, we sacrifice meaning and purpose for function; and in doing so our lives become meaningless and without purpose. Survival alone has no merit. Existence is given meaning by the content of its being, not the length. Once you accept that you will never be safe, that your life could end at any moment, you can release yourself from the shackles of fear and focus on value to your life. Safety is not just a myth, it is a dangerous one that robs us of truly living. Embrace your death, it is inevitable. Only in doing so will you ever truly be alive.
Non-materialist Science- I suspect that the reason we reduce ourselves to objects has to do with many assumptions and dogmas in our ideologies. Science has taken on some critically erroneous ideas about reality and those ideas have leaked into our cultural consciousness and become the premise for new belief systems sometimes called physicalism or materialism. Those beliefs state that only the physical world really exists and that our conscious and subjective perception of it is false, illusory or meaningless. Yet those assumptions have no rational basis. Those ideas are becoming increasingly under fire by a new generation of scientists who are beginning to demonstrate the falsehood of those beliefs while implying that the nature of our existence/reality is based in consciousness, not physicality. Check out these videos to understand the problems of materialism and to see the brilliant thinking that will soon make physicalism/materialism look like the belief in a flat earth or geocentrism.
You are probably wondering what this has to do with abolishing police, so let me explain. First of all, understanding our reality can be helpful in decloaking ourselves from the existential angst and fear we suffer from, which in turn causes us to seek desperate solutions to problems that may in fact not even be problems at all. Only when you view your physical survival as the whole of your existence do you become willing to accept restrictions to protect it. However, when the doorway of death becomes less frightening, fear has no power over you can instead live with purpose, not just continuity.
Secondly, if reality is a product of consciousness, then it is entirely possible that consciousness can change reality. The assumption that police and the state are necessary is based on an invalid belief that human deviance is an objective constant that will always be with us. Yet if our consciousness is primal to our existence, and not physical constants or laws of nature, then we may be able to eradicate deviancy where it begins- in the human mind. This could be accomplished without invasive acts against individuals. Merely gaining a greater understanding of our existence could eradicate the cognitive dissonance that manifests deviant behaviors. In short, perhaps crime is related to an illness, an illness caused by the nihilism suggested by models of reality predicated on materialist dogmas.
If, as Bernardo Kastrup implies, our physical reality resides in consciousness and not the other way around; then any problems we face should be addressed as issues of consciousness, and not the objects found within it.
What we consider possible is based on limitations imposed by our beliefs. Non-materialist science is advancing our beliefs and will soon show the limitations of humanity to be imposed, not inherent. The future is unwritten.
I suspect that the reason we have come to place so much trust in scientific reasoning, to the point of culturally absorbing its assumptions and dogmas is because we credit it with being the source of the technologies that enhance our lives. While science and technology certainly go hand in hand, we have mistakenly come to believe that technology is a product of science. Technology precedes science by millions of years, and even our own species. Technology is not a scientific outcome, but an adaptive tool of evolution. And modern technology more often than not has its origins in the arts. The device you are reading this article on was first conjured up in literature, film and other mediums. Science merely adapted these inventions from theoretical outcomes to products. Science without art is a laboratory full of equipment and assistants that has nothing to hypothesize, test, theorize, falsify and formulate into practical knowledge.
You might even view this very article as a piece of art from which new technologies could possibly emerge.
Much of our deviant behavior has historically been based on practical issues that arise from limitations in nature and social systems. But what if we were to remove those limitations?
Non-Scarcity & Automation- Scarcity is the recognition that there are natural limits on resources and labor. If not of abundance, then in distribution and control. Because of scarcity we are forced to compete for resources and labor (both as workers and employers) in order to survive and prosper. What would happen, then, if we were to remove those natural limits?
Today if you want an apple you either have to find an apple tree or someone who has a supply chain leading back to an apple tree. There are only so many apple trees so if you are not near one you must hope that somebody has figured out how to get one or more of the limited amount of apples in existence closer to you, without having incurred more expense in doing so than they could recover and profit (experience natural systematic growth) from in distributing them at a price (a correlate value) that apple consumers deem acceptable.
This is the idea that agrarian and then industrial economics were based upon. While the model above resembles ‘capitalism’ in its pure (but certainly not practiced, thanks to the state and its enforcers) form, you only have to change a few words to derive socialism, communism or any other economic political ideology from. The basics remain. Resources and labor are problems to be overcome by centralized systems. Systems like police and the state who must control individuals and their interactions are a consequence. This is often called ‘the greater good’, although it has so far only demonstrated great goodness for the very few in power in some form or another.
If there were an infinite number of possible apples available anywhere at any time, this would not be a problem. This would be simple to accomplish if apple trees did not have a monopoly on apples. It may very soon be the case that they won’t. An apple is more than just an outcome of an apple tree. It is object in reality with the distinctive qualities of apples. Those distinctive qualities have reductive properties in apples and everything else. A coral reef and a chunk of iron can be reduced to these same reductive properties. It is the arrangement of these properties that separates apples, coral reefs and chunks of iron. Yet these properties are present everywhere, all of the time. If we could arrange these infinitely abundant properties into apples at any time or place, then we would not be reliant on apple trees (resources) or limited by their distance/ability to produce (labor). We would have overcome scarcity. And when we overcome scarcity we will overcome the innumerable limitations and hardship it has placed on humanity and its environment. And when we overcome those, those systems that were predicated on those limits and their consequences will become irrelevant. Police and the state are just a product of scarcity, and scarcity is about to disappear from our lexicon of limitations as a species. Soon you will be able to create apples out of thin air using the unlimited free energy all around us.
Clarke’s Three Laws are three “laws” of prediction formulated by the British science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. They are:
When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
As resources become locally available, we will then be able to use them to produce goods where they are needed or desired. The tools by which we will do this have already been in development for quite some time. 3-D printing technology will allow us to create complex objects that once required long supply chains, industrial processes and extensive labor. As we develop even more complex forms of automation and local production, labor itself will become largely a thing of the past, at least in the terms of scarcity in which we know it. Rather than laboring for the objects of necessity, convenience and desire in a competitive manner, we will be able to obtain them cost-free through technological means. And so the structures that supported the old model and were used to redistribute the wealth in ways that created deviant human behaviors that the structures then had to deal with will become irrelevant. Police and the state exist as tools for redistribution of limited wealth, a consequence of scarcity of resources and labor, from the many to the few. A basis which is about to be destroyed.
Reputation Economics- We sometimes think of technology as a collection of objects. But technology also includes things like language, art, social systems, politics and economics. And these intangible technologies are largely predicated on the limitations of, and those exceeded by, technological objects. So as our tangible technologies overcome the limits of scarcity-based economic technologies, new economic paradigms will emerge.
Scarcity has been the basis for value since the first agrarian societies began trading. Even when we conquer the ability to meet our objective needs, we will still have subjective desires. These desires will be based on a new kind of scarcity- uniqueness. So humans will still create and trade unique objects in the pursuit of happiness. Post-scarcity will not end trade and the economic systems necessitated by trade, it will just radically transform it. Since uniqueness is a quality of the individual, the basis for the new economic system will be derived from the value of the individual. The value of the individual is known as reputation.
All value has always stemmed from the individual. Currency was just a way of marking that individuals productive capabilities for means of determining trade potential. Currency is just a highly abstracted version of how that value is derived and represented. Yet the failure of currency is the the production and management of currency has become more valuable than the trade of goods and services it is used to facilitate. Reputation economies will not be based on competitive behaviors seeking markers of wealth. It will strive to create real wealth by directly rewarding the individuals who made it at no cost to others. Because currency is either limited and scarce or meaningless altogether, it means that value must always be transferred from an individual or sets of individuals to others. This creates inequity. A reputation score, on the other hand, will not require a diminishment of the value of others.
A reputation economy will be much like a gift or barter economy. But with the caveat of allowing trade non-locally with strangers who can only determine your value by having a reasonable estimation of your reputation. The reputation economy can already be seen blossoming in areas where open discussion of past trades are allowed. Amazon’s review system or sites like Rate My Professor have already shown us how we will be able to create a reputation score for individuals. The problems to be overcome are just technological, and those too are already under development. While some literalists believe the value of crypto-currency is that it will replace national fiat currencies, they are missing the point. That would be like believing the point of the internet is pornography, rather than seeing pornography as a tool that spurred the development of the internet. In much the same ways, the technologies created by crypto-currencies will allow us to create safe networks of encrypted information regarding the reputation of the individual. A reputation score might take the form of an actual number which has been derived from reviews of your past interactions with others. These reviews will be non-tamper-able and subject to arbitration by third parties consented to by reviewers and reviewee in cases of disagreement. Or it may just be a history of those interactions and of your personal characteristics, accomplishments and talents, which can be interpreted by those wishing to determine your value for trade purposes. The point is, nobody knows what a reputation economy is, yet. But we can forecast possibilities based on current human paradigms.
The effect will also be that reputation economies will create natural consequences and deterrents. Those whose values and actions create negative social consequences will suffer low reputations and become economically nonviable. In short, deviant behavior will make you socially irrelevant. There will be no need for police or the state, because the actions of the individual will be rewarded and punished by the underlying source of value- reputation. As it is you can gain, maintain and monopolize power, control and wealth through deviant behavior. The reputation economy will fundamentally change that aspect of our existence. Deviance will be pointless, and as a result, so too will be the police and the state and other systems and institutions we have perhaps misguidedly erected to address deviant human behaviors.
This future I speak of is not just a distant possibility, it is a near-future likelihood. This is why the state and police have become desperate. They must now be the deviants they are supposed to protect us from in order to validate their own existence and insure their survival. The increasing violence of police and the state can be seen as desperate unconscious attempts to avoid their own extinction. The closer we get to abolishing them, the more pronounced their instinct to fight will become. And that instinct is now so great police are often a greater threat than the deviants they exist to address and the state has become a risk to the existence of humanity through increasing escalations of violence on a global scale. So even though the near-future I have predicted is likely, it is not guaranteed. The police/state could destroy us all in its own death knells. All that is needed to avoided that is for enough of us to remove our consent for those institutions. If they had only force to maintain their existence, they would lose in a numbers game. That is why they require consent, because it gives them the numerical advantage. Remove consent and they are powerless. Remove their power and we can be free in ways that no humans before us could ever have imagined. The choice is clear. Abolish the police/state.
I also wrote a follow up piece entitled: “If You Don’t Believe ‘Rights’ Exist, Why Do You Care What Police Do?”