Culture Wars/Current Controversies

“Defund the Police?”

Tom Woods raises some important questions about “defunding the police” that left, right, and center libertarians (along with honest socialists and dissident rightists) should consider. The “progressives” aren’t going to give up on their beloved managerial state and social engineering this easily. And the now-hated suburbanite “Karens” are certainly not going to do so. Nor are the “liberal” champions of the federal police state (yeah, Nancy Pelosi is really going to defund the FBI, DEA, and BATF). Nor will the ruling class proper give up the private police that surrounds their gated communities. As Vince points out, the progressives/liberals are going to try to co-opt the defund the police movement and bend it toward expanding the welfare state, and while ignoring the actual anti-policing part.

By Tom Woods

Defund the police?

Sure, and everything else the state does.

And there’s the problem.

If you want to defund the police, but still expect 64,722 victimless crimes to be punished, well, violent enforcement is going to have to be reintroduced somewhere.

I pointed this out to a libertarian academic who is enthusiastic about the “defund the police” phenomenon. He replied that the citizen patrols that some are recommending in place of traditional police don’t seem to be concerned about victimless crimes.

He evidently thought I was talking about prostitution and drugs.

No, I’m wondering who enforces — for example — the (literal) 39 new regulations on restaurants in Georgia (you remember Georgia, the state that was supposed to have opened so irresponsibly).

For that matter, who will enforce minimum-wage laws, FDA regulations, coronavirus “shelter-in-place” orders — all the things the left is absolutely convinced are necessary for our health and well-being despite mountains of evidence to the contrary?

We can call them the bolice, I guess, if that makes people feel better, but when so many peaceful activities are prohibited there has to be a violent enforcement agency somewhere.

Most of the activists advocating this approach, remember, are the same people who just got done telling us that we could bury our family members only with 10 or fewer people present — no exceptions.

Your mother doesn’t matter, you see.

Only George Floyd and their political cause matter.

And suddenly it’s quite all right for thousands of people to be packed together, even though we’ve been told for months that this would have catastrophic health results and kill everyone’s grandmothers. I guess the message is: old people matter, just not when protecting their lives interferes with our important plans.


So it’s quite all right to be a grandma killer — on a massive scale even — as long as it’s for a politically approved reason. At that point, watch out, Grandma: it’s open season on you.

(Disclaimer: I’m not even slightly worried about the spread of the virus via these protests; I’m just demonstrating their inconsistency.)

Are we to believe that people who won’t let you properly honor your own deceased family members — remember, not observing social distancing became “racist” soon enough — are going to leave you in peace once the police are “defunded”?

Some libertarians think I’m unnecessarily throwing cold water on a positive development. I just prefer to know what precisely they have in store for me once they get their way.

So far they haven’t exactly been known for their live-and-let live philosophy.

For that matter, have they changed their minds on gun control, or will I have to rely for my safety on the bolice or whatever ad hoc replacement they cook up?

If you favor a Jacobin-style revolutionary transformation of society you’ll need some kind of enforcement mechanism.

Can we at least find out what it will look like?

If this turns out to be a great libertarian victory I’ll apologize for my skepticism.

For now, I persist in my crazy notion that when it comes to securing life and property we ought to have serious answers, not airy-fairy ones.

If you want to defund the police, defund it already, and let’s see about its private-sector replacement.

Anything short of that, we need the details.

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