“Defund the Police”: beyond the state monopoly of force, the privatization of self-defense

After the death of George Floyd, victim of yet another case of "police brutality" in the United States, millions of people poured into the street, in many western countries, to protest and seek justice – unfortunately not always peacefully – but also to promote ideas and slogans. One of the most interesting is undoubtedly "Defund the Police" . The idea of the activists who support this proposal would be to cut spending on police forces, not to decrease the tax burden on taxpayers or the public debt, but simply to direct these funds towards services deemed more "worthy", possibly schools and social programs dedicated to "educating" privileged whites – even if, apart from the very complicated mental lucubrations, it is not clear what this privilege is – on the terrible oppression suffered by other minorities, despite the fact that western societies have never been so progressive, egalitarian and little racist like today .

Many rightly fear that the aim underlying this battle is to undermine the protection capacities of our communities: a fear even more justified by the fact that many of the same people who want to weaken the police force have become protagonists in the last two weeks of violence, devastation, theft and vandalism against fellow citizens and their properties, up to statues and monuments in recent days. Consequently, the only alternative to the cuts seems to be to invest more in training and more controls. It seems, therefore, that there can be no other solution.

In reality, both in theory and in practice, there is a third way, which could solve problems and, at the same time, satisfy the requests of both parties. According to some libertarian theories (especially anarchist and agorist ones ), in fact, there are no justifications for the state monopoly of violence , indeed, if left free to cooperate the individuals making up a society would form protection agencies, both for profit and not to ensure that anyone who needs the service can use it. There is also enormous practical evidence to support this theory .

The state monopoly of violence, in fact, was imposed no more than 200 or 250 years ago , while the concepts of surveillance, surveillance, protection and control have always existed. Before the establishment of this monopoly, it was civil society that provided for it. For example, in pre-industrial Europe, the law was enforced by local groups of volunteer guardians or professional guards, often hired and paid for by those who needed it most (such as, for example, merchants and traders).

Even today, despite the enormous state prevalence, there are examples of voluntary groups and individuals and specialized companies. Take the current case of the protests in the US: abandoned by the police to the devastation of the demonstrators, many people armed themselves and rushed to defend their own and others' shops. An example, this, that should invite you to reflect not only on the topic of this article, but also on the need to recognize everyone the possibility of being able to defend themselves from aggression with the necessary means (including firearms). Also in the States, there are those who, like Dale Brown in Detroit , have been providing voluntary emergency protection and crisis services for more than twenty years, especially in areas often "forgotten" by the state police. These examples, however, are not only American prerogative, indeed they can be found in any society, from the poorest, in the Third World , to the richest, in the West .

In light of the increasingly widespread police brutality – this too is not an American prerogative, just remember the recent cases of Stefano Cucchi and Giuseppe Uva in Italy – it therefore seems logical to hope that other examples of "bottom up" approaches will emerge and assert themselves, which for reasons ranging from greater transparency, accountability, and economic convenience to less use of violence, they are better than the state monopoly, imposed from the top ( "top down" ). It is certainly not necessary to be an anarchist or agorist to recognize the superiority of localized and decentralized solutions, compared to centralized ones.

Such ideas may certainly seem utopian to most, but many of the objections that may be addressed towards these "libertarian" approaches apply much more clearly to the state "status quo": little attention is paid to this fact, perhaps because when dealing with "radical" ideas – not included in what in the Anglo-Saxon world they call "allowable opinions" – tend to look for defects in the latter, rather than in the status quo. On the other hand, it is clear to many that a monopoly is not an optimal solution if you want to guarantee a just and efficient "administration" of a service, therefore because an economic property recognized in any other case should not apply when the case is that of the protection and law enforcement? To think, in fact, that monopoly privilege can guarantee the best possible results is wishful thinking , idealism: yes, this is utopia. Finally, such an approach could also have desirable consequences from a legislative point of view: having to devote oneself to the most important crimes that most afflict the various communities (such as, for example, murders, thefts and vandalism), it is likely that a this approach leads to decriminalization or even to the elimination of so-called "victimless crimes" (such as, for example, the production, sale, possession and use of narcotic substances) which seem, instead, to be the priority for those who administer justice and protection today.

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This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Atlantico Quotidiano at the URL http://www.atlanticoquotidiano.it/quotidiano/defund-the-police-oltre-il-monopolio-statale-della-forza-la-privatizzazione-dellautodifesa/ on Sat, 13 Jun 2020 04:00:00 +0000.