OPINION: William L. Anderson - Abolishing the Police Won't Mean Abolishing State Violence

"Guernica" (1937) Pablo Picasso
"Guernica" (1937) Pablo Picasso

Modern police forces are yet one more creation of progressivism, the view that we should be governed by dispassionate and well-trained “experts” instead of politicians. From dealing with pandemics to investigating crimes, the idea is that the “experts” should have control and that we should always listen to them and do what they tell us. To do otherwise is “taking the law into your own hands,” which always is portrayed as being antisocial.

The police clearly fit within that viewpoint, which has become almost second nature to most Americans. Liberal progressives, who almost always believe that “training” will “solve” almost any difficulty when it comes to government agents exerting authority over others, are adamant that individuals should defer to government at every level, whether it be education (including Harvard University’s recent attack on home schooling, a thoroughly progressive initiative), policing, and the home itself.

For example, the city council of Minneapolis did not call for refunding the tax dollars saved through disbanding the police to the city’s taxpayers, but rather have announced plans to transfer that money to government social programs. In other words, the progressives there plan to help expand what is called the therapeutic state in the belief that government mental health “experts” will counsel people into living better lives.

On the conservative side, support for the police seems to be a more nebulous support for an ordered state. At the risk of seeming trivial, this viewpoint often is explained on the popular CBS cop show Bluebloods. During one of their famous dinner table discussions, someone asks why killing a cop is worse than killing an ordinary person. Frank Reagan, the fictional New York City police commissioner (played by Tom Selleck) replies that the police represent order and that attacking the police is an attack upon the order of society itself.

In the end, we are dealing with similar belief systems that don’t have anything but blind faith in the systems as an authority. On the right, the police protect society, because, well, that is what people believe and even if it is not true, they believe it anyway: the police protect all of us from violent people, and if they are disbanded, society will degenerate into lawless chaos. That police forces have evolved into insular and autonomous entities that have become a law unto themselves does not seem to take root in at least some conservative thinking.

Read more at Mises Wire


Anderson is a professor of economics at Frostburg State University.