I really didn’t mean to get Aretae all worked up yesterday.
The blame is mine. I should have explained myself better.
I’ve been thinking a lot about two issues that came together in the offending post. The first is modern policing. After much analysis, I’ve decided that modern policing strategies suck. This book was the best (and most entertaining) thing I read on the subject.
The second issue is crime. Most of my focus on crime has been the result of moving to one of DC’s ever-gentrifying neighborhoods (the joys of diversity always seem to surprise). But, my conversion from libertarian to reactionary has generally entailed more interest in crime.
In the offending post, I was trying to unite these two lines of thought. Modern policing has gotten so bad that bright-line, relatively harsh penalties for drug use and drug possession are basically the only way that police manage to catch criminals and prosecutors manage to get them off the street for non-trivial amounts of time. This statement is not meant to endorse the "war on drugs" – it’s merely an observation of fact, based on roughly one year’s worth of casually browsing crime and arrest reports.
However, since the subject has now been raised, I’ll offer some additional comments that will surely offend everyone. After all, if I’m not doing that, I might as well stop blogging.
Libertarians suffer from several delusions about crime, Aretae concisely provides one:
The problems Foseti is worried about are caused by the illegality of drugs, just like the problem [of organized crime in the '20s] was caused by the illegality of alcohol. The drug war creates massive incentives to behave illegally, just as prohibition did in the 20s.
This is obviously false. The link above tells the tale of nice, law-abiding woman walking home from the grocery store on a lovey November day in DC. The unfortunate woman’s route took her past a group of "youths" (interestingly, this phrase is seemingly used in all countries and societies to describe the class of people that commit nearly all the crime, so in the US it refers to young black males) who live in a housing project. (The houses that surround the project sell for $500,000+, creating an interesting dynamic). Anyway, while this woman walked by the "youths" one of them randomly punched her in the face, breaking her jaw in a couple places. The "youths" then fled into the project, where escape from consequences is defining characteristic of life.
This is the sort of activity that I am "worried about." It was no more caused by the illegality of drugs than it was caused by rising level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The war on drugs is for libertarians like original sin is for the Catholic. (If you’d like my – non-religious – opinion, the Catholics have the better of the choices here, by far).
Worse yet, these "youths" will likely not be caught and if they are, they are unlikely to stand trial for their crime. Even if they do, they’ll be back on the street in a matter of days or weeks. If we’re lucky, they’ll get caught holding some drugs in the near future and spend some real time behind bars, however insufficient. Perhaps there is some injustice in the fact that they are in prison for the wrong "crime," but I will lose roughly zero minutes of sleep for this particular injustice. The real injustice is that the modern "justice system" is completely incapable of providing justice for this particular type of crime. Absolutely no one actually expects the "youths" to get caught and punished in any manner that even approximates justice.
If I were in charge, the war on drugs would end immediately, and many drugs would be legalized. I would, however, not expect the result to be a utopia in which there was no more drug-related crime (let alone no crime at all!). Drugs, after all, would still cost money and be addictive. These facts combined with the fact that persistent drug use makes it hard to hold a normal job, mean that many drug addicts will resort to crime (regardless of the legality of drug use).
However, if I were in charge, policing methods (and the justice system) would radically change prior to any changes in the drug laws. I think that libertarians must shoulder a lot of the blame for the decline in the quality of policing and prosecuting. Virtually all responsibility has been taken away from individual police officers. Instead they are required to follow ever-more complex guidelines and procedures, which are designed to protect the guilty and guard against even the possibility that someone, somewhere might say, think or do something racist.
So again, when we analyze the libertarian position carefully, we conclude with Moldbug that, "[j]ust as Newtonian rules only make sense at low speeds, Misesian [i.e. libertarian] rules only make sense in a secure order." You cannot both demand the police strategy that we now have and demand and an end to the war on drugs. Well, you can, but you’re demands are incoherent at best, and deadly at worst.