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The Police State Is Personal
The Ludwig Von MIses Insitiute ^ | May 25, 2011 | Wendy McElroy

Posted on 05/25/2011 7:43:26 PM PDT by danielmryan

Does America now qualify as a police state? And, if so, where do you — or will you — personally draw a hard line and say, "No! That is a law or a police order I refuse to obey"?

As an anarchist, I view all states as police states, because every law is ultimately backed by police force against the body or property of a scofflaw, however peaceful he may be. I see only a difference of degree, not of kind. But even small differences in the degree of repression can be matters of life or death, and so they should not be trivialized.

A police state is more commonly described as a totalitarian government that exerts extreme social, political, and economic control. It maintains this control by a pervasive surveillance of its own citizenry, by draconian law enforcement, and by granting or withholding "privileges" such the ability to travel. Typically, there is a special police force, such as a Stasi, that operates with no transparency and few restraints. Unlike traditional policemen, who respond to crime, the purpose of such state police is to monitor and control society.

Let me restate my opening question: does America now embody this common description of a police state?

Clearly it does. The American government exerts extreme control over society, down to dictating which foods you may eat. Its economic control borders on the absolute. It politicizes and presides over even the traditional bastion of privacy — the family. Camera and other surveillance of daily life has soared, with the Supreme Court recently expanding the "right" of police to perform warrantless searches. Enforcement is so draconian that the United States has more prisoners per capita than any other nation; and over the last few years, the police have been self-consciously militarizing their procedures and attitudes. Travel, formerly a right, is now a privilege granted by government agents at their whim. Several huge and tyrannical law-enforcement agencies monitor peaceful behavior rather than respond to crime. These agencies operate largely outside the restrictions of the Constitution; for example, the TSA conducts arbitrary searches in violation of Fourth Amendment guarantees.

The Internet would run out of electrons before I could complete a list of the specifics that constitute an emerging Police America. The extent to which you are personally oppressed by the state, however, can be estimated by answering several more abstract questions:

Few people aside from the state apparatchiks can answer in a way that makes them feel anything but economically enslaved and physically trapped.

No one should have to chose between family and the state, nor their wealth and the law. When confronted by such choices, there is no easy or correct answer. An increasing number of Americans are becoming expatriates for their own safety and that of their families. But the great majority of people are rooted in place by extended family, friends, work, inertia, emotional attachments, or other compelling reasons.

Those who recognize the emergence of Police America and yet feel a need to stay should ask themselves a question: where is the limit at which you withdraw your cooperation and say "no!" to a state law or a state agent's order? Would you inform on a neighbor, as the authorities already urge you to do? Would you assist a friend or family member even if it made you criminally an accessory; if so, whom? Would you steal from or harm an innocent person on command? If ordered, would you assist a police officer to do so, or would you interfere and, so, become vulnerable to a charge of "obstructing justice"?

There are several reasons for asking yourself such questions now. They include:

  1. The consequences of your act may depend not merely on where you draw a line but also on how you do so. Planning can help you draw your line in a prudent way.

  2. You may be reluctant to draw the lines you wish because you fear endangering your loved ones, your wealth, or something else valuable to you. If possible, secure these in advance. Prepare.

  3. If you don't know where the lines are, then you are far more likely to act against your own principles or interests when suddenly confronted by a distressing, demanding situation like an officer barking commands.

  4. Knowing where your limits are makes it more possible to avoid situations that trigger them.

  5. Harry Browne advised people to pay a price as soon as possible because it costs less overall; this applies to psychological prices as well as to financial ones. It will never be easier for you to consider this question than right now, in privacy and comfort.

There are no correct answers. The purpose of the exercise is merely to become more aware of how you, personally, could live under a police state while retaining your safety and your self-respect.

The author of several books, Wendy McElroy maintains two active websites: and Send her mail.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption
KEYWORDS: fourthamendment; groping; policestate; tsa
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Instead of a comment, a gratuitous joke:

You know things are wrong when...the village anarchist starts making sense.

You know things are really wrong when...the village anarchist sounds common-sensical.

And you know the screws have really hit the fan when...

the common-sensical sound like the village anarchist.

1 posted on 05/25/2011 7:43:33 PM PDT by danielmryan
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To: danielmryan
Wendy McElroy: "As an anarchist, I view all states as police states, because every law is ultimately backed by police force against the body or property of a scofflaw, however peaceful he may be. I see only a difference of degree, not of kind."

This is what happens when philosophy and logic are dropped from the curriculum.

2 posted on 05/25/2011 7:56:02 PM PDT by Talisker (When you find a turtle on top of a fence post, you can be damn sure it didn't get there on its own.)
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To: danielmryan

She’s not a real anarchist, or she doesn’t know what real anarchy means - rule of the thug, little different from a police state where the thugs have uniforms.

That’s why I’m not an anarchist, although I’d probably fare better than most in anarchy.

Sadly, we really have become a police state in the worst sense of the term.

3 posted on 05/25/2011 7:56:38 PM PDT by piytar (Obama opposed every tool used to get Osama. So of course he gets the credit. /hurl)
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To: danielmryan
We, that means YOU, are coming to a decision point. It has been a long time since I have seen this type of stuff on FR. The last time was when Clinton, Waco, and Ruby Ridge were in the news. Those days seemed sort of innocent compared to what is happening now. Now is real. Back then there was a semblance of rule of law. Now, there isn't. Its coming apart folks. Get ready.
4 posted on 05/25/2011 8:01:49 PM PDT by labusiness
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To: danielmryan

Sadly, I have to put an LOL on your comements.

5 posted on 05/25/2011 8:02:31 PM PDT by RatRipper (I'll ride a turtle to work every day before I buy anything from Government Motors.)
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To: Talisker

The problem with anarchy is that you don’t get a peaceful society where everybody gets along.

You get hell on earth, where strong men rule the weak.

6 posted on 05/25/2011 8:11:57 PM PDT by Jonty30
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To: danielmryan

7 posted on 05/25/2011 8:17:05 PM PDT by Bean Counter (Your what hurts??)
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To: danielmryan

In my relatively short lifetime I have witnessed that every German citizen who WAS NOT AN ANARCHIST was according to those who think like you, A WAR CRIMINAL, and their children are still paying real, hard earned money for their forebearers because they were not AN ANARCHIST.

8 posted on 05/25/2011 8:22:28 PM PDT by nkycincinnatikid
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To: El Sordo

Hmmm... Need to think on this.

9 posted on 05/25/2011 8:38:14 PM PDT by El Sordo (The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.)
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To: Jonty30; piytar

Sir, you have that exactly right. The idea of anarchy appeals to the not-very-bright 12-year-old (”Wow, cool, everyone can do whatever they want!”), but in the real world, anarchy lasts just exactly as long as it takes for people to form a gang, which then can force others to do as the gang wants. Really successful gangs eventually are known as “states”, and have armies and police forces.

10 posted on 05/25/2011 8:51:17 PM PDT by HartleyMBaldwin
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To: danielmryan
I don't obey stupid or unconstitutional laws. I don't kill, steal, lie, or hurt anyone unless attacked. I've drawn my line.

All they can take is my life. I own nothing to speak of, divorces and the econcomy took care of that. My kids are grown and gone. I like my catz, but if they are hostages, they die.

What are they going to do? Kill me? Sure, they have that power.

But between leaving me alone, or killing me, there's not much they can do.

I raised a pig here in defiance of ordinances. (It's now in the freezer). It didn't bother the neighbors (none knew it was here).

Gonna kill me for breaking the 'law'? That will get great coverage locally.

Nope, the gooberment is like any bully. All you have to do is quietly and purposefully defy them while trying to expose them for what they are.

I'm willing to take my lumps if it comes to it. You can't rule a free man.


11 posted on 05/25/2011 9:01:41 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: danielmryan
The author appears to be at most an individual anarchist which borders on a sort of left wing illogical form of libertarianism. They are not promoting actual anarchy but freedom of the individual. Where they take a strong left is in generally their attitudes toward personal property and capitalism. Anarchism is pretty varied in form and meaning but is often associated with the far left labor uprisings and socialist movements. They while being used by such movements in their early stages, individual anarchists are often the first to go since they oppose political power structures. There is the old saying that if you go far to the left and far enough to the right eventually you will meet up.
12 posted on 05/25/2011 9:37:55 PM PDT by dog breath
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To: dog breath

I suggest you read David Friedman’s “The Machinery of Freedom”. She is not a leftist. In fact, Wendy debated a lefty ivory tower feminist at CU Boulder some years ago, and utterly destroyed her. They agreed on nothing that I can remember. Almost nothing, at the absolute most.

13 posted on 05/25/2011 9:43:38 PM PDT by coloradan (The US has become a banana republic, except without the bananas - or the republic.)
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To: danielmryan
I actually went to her sites and she makes sense on a lot of subjects.

How Does He Get His Reputation Back? by Wendy McElroy, May 20, 2011 Originally published by the Future of Freedom Foundation. Please visit the link provided to access the embedded links in the original article. On January 12, 2010, a 12-year-old sixth-grader did an unremarkable thing that almost destroyed a good man and his family. She lied about being touched “inappropriately.” Under a reasonable legal system, the transparent lie of an angry child would have caused little damage, but the current legal system does not resemble anything reasonable. Among the preposterous maxims it now embraces are “women don’t lie about rape” and “children don’t lie about molestation.” Justice requires the active recognition of lies. That is to say, a just legal system must recognize that the average person occasionally lies and some people do so pathologically. People lie from fear or for revenge; they lie for profit or other advantage, such as child custody; they lie from a sense of entitlement, loyalty, or a need to assert power. Sometimes they lie from a stubborn need to stand by an initial statement that was a “mistake.” When few to no penalties are imposed for lying, it becomes more frequent. At every turn, the tradition of Western jurisprudence acknowledges the human proclivity to lie; justice itself is deeply rooted in this acknowledgment. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the burden of proof is placed on the accuser, not the defendant. The right to face an accuser means he or she must stare a defendant in the eyes while repeating an accusation; the anonymity that encourages false reports is stripped away. Trial by jury means 12 representative people must agree on the facts and the veracity of an accuser before guilt is adjudicated. In criminal cases, the standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt” is applied in order to preclude other possible explanations for the crime charged, such as a desire for revenge by an accuser, before a defendant is judged guilty. The need for hard evidence and a presumption of innocence become all the more important in cases that devolve to “he said, she said.” In short, preventing a lie from passing as truth is an intrinsic aspect of true justice, around which many due-process protections have been sculpted. If this were not the case, if an accuser never lies, then why would we even go to the trouble of a trial? Why not imprison the accused the instant an accusation is uttered?

This is from her.

14 posted on 05/25/2011 9:47:37 PM PDT by BBell
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To: coloradan

I suppose she would be a capitalistic anarchist who would say that every legitimate function that is now performed by government could be performed by the private sector.

If you want protection, then you purchase it or provide for it yourself; if you want to travel on a road, then you pay a fee to the owner, etc.

15 posted on 05/25/2011 10:03:54 PM PDT by seowulf ("If you write a whole line of zeroes, it's still---nothing"...Kira Alexandrovna Argounova)
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To: danielmryan
Government is necessarily coercion. The difficulty is that its absence does not make one free from coercion, it merely changes the identity of the coercive thugs.

I will have to agree, however, that it is a significant thing when the anarchist, the libertarian, and the conservative within me all agree that hanging a few politicians might be a healthy thing pour encourager les autres. Ruling classes aren't a healthy thing. IMHO.

16 posted on 05/25/2011 10:13:33 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Bean Counter

I think I will do what the cop says and take them to task later. I don’t think my body would look so good with 60 holes in it.

Swat declares US citizens a Free Fire zone.

17 posted on 05/25/2011 10:18:01 PM PDT by Venturer
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To: Jonty30

You get hell on earth, where strong men rule the weak.

As opposed to today where the politically connected rule the non-politically connected. Face it we live in a one-party mobocracy.

18 posted on 05/25/2011 10:20:59 PM PDT by JohnKinAK
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To: piytar

We are living in a soft tyranny as I write this. The police state is in the background right now, but it is very close to busting out.

19 posted on 05/25/2011 10:24:39 PM PDT by runninglips (Republicans = 99 lb weaklings of politics.)
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To: JohnKinAK

As hopeless as it seems, it is not.

At some point, the American people will tire of their situation in large enough numbers and will turf out the crap. That is already happening, with many retirements.

However, it is up to the American people to act. I thought Canada was hopeless, because everything seemed to be against the Conservative Right up here and we won.

You guys aren’t even close to being finished, but it takes every American wanting change and that will happen. You just need to keep beating that drum.

20 posted on 05/25/2011 10:30:26 PM PDT by Jonty30
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