Anarcho-capitalists often argue that if the state didn’t exist, private entities would be formed to provide essential services. They argue that’s even true of law enforcement. The idea is complicated and not one I actually feel like delving into in great detail. I’m just going to say that I don’t think that’s remotely how things will shakedown.
Instead, you’d end up with the powerful preying on the weak simply because they can.
We’re seeing some evidence of that right now.
Take Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit himself, and the situation he outlined in his most recent column.
“When the dawn patrol’s got to tell you twice, they’re gonna do it with a shotgun.” That’s a lyric from Steely Dan, but it also reflects what seems to be a new trend in two of America’s bluest cities: The replacement of police with civilian militias. (The press prefers to call them “neighborhood patrols” since they’re in Democratic cities).
There are some people who might favor this as a step forward for civil rights and racial justice, but the facts to date don’t support such a reading. In two cities where the police have pulled back from urban areas, they’ve been replaced by armed gangs demanding protection money, increased violence and, yes, prejudice against people who “don’t belong.”Anyone with a brain and a bit of historical knowledge could have seen this coming, which is no doubt why it eluded so much of our political class.
The ugly truth is out
But now the lid is off. The New York Times reported the ugly truth last week. Its story opens with Faizel Khan, one of a number of business owners who are suing the city of Seattle for tolerating and even encouraging lawlessness in their neighborhoods:
“Faizel Khan was being told by the news media and his own mayor that the protests in his hometown were peaceful, with ‘a block party atmosphere.‘ “
The truth of the matter is that when the individuals decide to form up like this, what’s described above is often the result. While people have a right to defend themselves and they most definitely have a right to keep and bear arms, it’s when they appoint themselves “protectors” of the neighborhood that we start to see issues.
This is how street gangs form. People didn’t feel safe, so they banded together to achieve that safety. However, they often go beyond that initial cause–one many of us can sympathize with–and become something dangerous to the population as a whole.
One example of such a gang is MS-13, one of the world’s most notorious gangs. They formed for what appear to be noble intentions, but now they’re a scourge across the very neighborhoods they sought to protect.
While these “neighborhood patrols” may sound nice, they’re not. They represent a real problem, and it’s the inevitable result of police being held back from doing their actual jobs for whatever reason.
Unless officials stop placating the mob by restraining police, you’re going to see more of this kind of thing. Make no mistake.