Farce

I have been reading Radley Balko’s (Cato Institute) paper Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America, and nothing in it should surprise anyone. The US legal system is shot; so are those of many other “democracies”. The system that is meant to protect the people has consistently been used against them – drug raids, encounter killings, blatant violation of laws that protect civil liberties; the list is endless. If there is one thing people need to understand, it is this – governments have no business using the military (or similar outfits) against their own citizens. The military is meant for war; the police for peace; the mentality is different, and military style-policing is a slippery slope that has serious consequences – present and future. As a police chief says (in Balko’s paper) – “If cops have a mind-set that the goal is to take out a citizen, it will happen.” And that is what SWAT is all about; and using SWAT in the “War on Drugs” and “to handle suicides and domestic disputes” (a practice that has been stopped) is insane. Further, police officers who “just like to play war” should stick to video games and paintball tournaments, and stay far away from law enforcement which is serious business – not child’s play.

What we need is someone who will police the police – a citizen’s tribunal with powers to send policemen, judges and politicians including prime ministers, presidents and members of parliament to prison or even sentence them to death. Every person who is part of the legal system and who is involved directly or indirectly in a case of wrongful death or passage of laws curtailing civil liberties should be hauled before such a tribunal – mandatory sentencing, no outs. A body that will sit on top of the judiciary, executive and legislature watching over them – striking down laws and rulings that go against the principles of natural justice. Nothing else will put the fear of God into the crooks that run democracies. But the powers-that-be are hardly going to let that happen; keeping people frightened is what government is all about – you don’t argue with people who literally have the license to kill. Karl Popper says, “You can choose whatever name you like for the two types of government. I personally call the type of government which can be removed without 
violence ‘democracy’, and the other ‘tyranny’.” Modern day nation states with constitutions that don’t protect people from the government, and governments that are more interested in controlling people than protecting them are tyrannies.

In this context, I wonder what will happen if caffeine is included in the “War on Drugs”. Raiding newspaper offices and people’s homes would be more fun than simply going after “criminals”. Getting shot by a SWAT team for having committed the “crime” of drinking coffee – even better!

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Comments

  • Ramesh Srivats  On November 3, 2008 at 7:57 am

    Agree with you in principle but not on the solution.

    The moment there is a concept of a “citizen’s tribunal”, the question arises as to who it will comprise. After all, even our legislature is technically a citizen’s tribunal. The next question will be who will police the police who police the police. Milton Friedman once said (in another context) that there aren’t any angels in politics. Only people who have the political will to get elected. The tribunal will soon be filled by the same kind of trash.

    What we need is a strong objective constitution which clearly limits the government’s powers to make laws. Of course, that leads to the question – who will frame that constitution? Sometimes I wish we could just ctrl-alt-del society and reinvent it with objective laws

    Agree with you on the caffeine business. All our politicians place a high value on the symbolic – changing city names, designating languages as classical, introducing paternalistic laws and so on. They do it because the symbolic is much easier to achieve than the real. The achievement starts and ends with the announcement. And the government can feel that it has been a kind, firm champion (or father) of the masses. Easier than building roads, isn’t it.

    The love for the symbolic is the most charitable view that I can take of our politicians. The reality could be more grim. To keep the public in control by imposing an eternal sense of guilt created due to the fact that an infinite number of laws will make everybody a lawbreaker. Remember what Dr. Floyd Ferris tells Hank Rearden in Atlas Shrugged – Of what use are our laws if nobody breaks them?

    I see India going more and more in this path. The latest RTE bill which makes it illegal for teachers to take tuition is yet another of these measures.

  • Aristotle The Geek  On November 3, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    “The tribunal will soon be filled by the same kind of trash.”
    Yes it will. This post is my frustration speaking.

    “What we need is a strong objective constitution which clearly limits the government’s powers to make laws. Of course, that leads to the question – who will frame that constitution? Sometimes I wish we could just ctrl-alt-del society and reinvent it with objective laws.”
    Have had (and continue to have) similar thoughts. But as K.M. said to me, “It is irrational to have desires that are impossible to achieve.” If you listen to Hummel, he says something that is and should be apparent to all those who talk and write about freedom – “making the transition from a statist society to a free society is often a difficult problem which I think libertarians have not spent sufficient time exploring.”

    “The love for the symbolic is the most charitable view that I can take of our politicians.”
    I would apply my world view to them as well, and lay more emphasis on pure malice.

    “Remember what Dr. Floyd Ferris tells Hank Rearden in Atlas Shrugged – Of what use are our laws if nobody breaks them?”
    Absolutely. The book that changed my life, and the one that started my love-hate relationship with Rand’s ideas.

    “I see India going more and more in this path. The latest RTE bill which makes it illegal for teachers to take tuition is yet another of these measures.”
    In my opinion, the only thing “good” about India is the incompetency of its government. Just imagine the Indian government implementing socialism as efficiently as the US government implements its own policies – life would be living hell (not that it isn’t already) for everyone concerned.
    As for the “illegal tuitions”, its already illegal for government teachers, doctors etc to engage in moonlighting; the law isn’t going to change the situation on the ground very much.

  • Pramod Biligiri  On November 4, 2008 at 12:39 am

    Whatever I’ve heard of the US govt’s War on Drugs is via Lew Rockwell’s blog, and it’s scary to say the least. Also, their impact on Mexican police has been sad :|

    “In my opinion, the only thing “good” about India is the incompetency of its government”

    Even Abhishek had quoted this Arundhati Roy statement that I just love: India’s redemption lies in the inherent anarchy and factiousness of its people, and in the legendary inefficiency of the Indian state

  • Aristotle The Geek  On November 4, 2008 at 1:37 am

    About the War on Drugs, the US politicians and their brethren worldwide are prize idiots – they don’t understand that only those products that are banned or controlled from time to time – alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, gold etc become big business for the mafia types, and not biscuits, toothpaste etc. The Prison-Industrial Complex is involved here. Once the money goes out of the business of killing and imprisoning people, the business will go kaput.

    Mexico, the police is involved with the cartels. The only reason people are dying and cartels are making money is because drugs are illegal.

    Arundhati Roy – she is crazy as hell, but her statement is so true. India is proof that government is a bad idea.

  • you12  On November 4, 2008 at 10:16 am

    If you are frustrated by the police, Then read this:

    http://hrw.org/backgrounder/2008/india0808/

    I don’t know why we call this country a democracy!

  • Aristotle The Geek  On November 4, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    I would differentiate between normal circumstances and a breakdown of constitutional machinery.

    Murder, theft, bank robberies etc are things that are “normal” in any society, and the police need to deal with that; its a function of government. But cases like Punjab, Assam and J&K are such that the writ of the government is (or was) no longer applicable there – laws can no longer be enforced in a civilian framework because of an armed rebellion; its a de facto war zone. In such cases the police are useless; the situation has to be dealt with like war and the military or paramilitary are the only ones who have the training and capability to hunt down AK-47 rifle totting militants in combat fatigues.

    I don’t condone human rights violations (I would call them “violation of individual rights”; “human rights” has become a farce), but you cannot fight a war in a peaceful manner – you can try to limit collateral damage (get citizens behind a safe line, for example). Its this difference that the people behind the “War on Drugs” and “War on Terror” exploit.

    We can have a political philosophy that governs the relationship between the state and the individual, but within such a philosophy, we have to include two more – the philosophy of war and the philosophy of law. Its a very thin line which separates war and peace, and the rules applicable to the two; unfortunately when countries don’t bother to follow a coherent political philosophy, how can we expect them to follow its subsets?

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