Wednesday, July 24, 2019

A Libertarian Take on the Dissing and the Dousing of NYPD Coppers

By Robert Wenzel

The NYPD is taking some pretty serious abuse on the streets and subways of The Big Apple these days.

Over the weekend, in two separate incidents, urban primitives with buckets full of water randomly soaked cops in Harlem and Brownsville. At one point, a copper got hit on the head by an empty plastic bucket. The bystanders cackled and cheered.

Then below, we have this champ on the subway confronting NYPD's finest, apparently mistaking them for cheap hookers.

What is a libertarian to think of this dissing of the coppers?

On the one hand, coppers enforce a lot of laws that have nothing to do with the NAP, such as harassing those who sell untaxed cigarettes, "loosies." The coppers do work for the state and they will enforce any laws the state tells them to enforce.

That said, street coppers do mostly protect the citizenry against government created urban primitives. They are, from this perspective, not unlike city bus drivers. In a PPS, bus drivers would still exist but they would work in the private sector. The coppers would also exist in a PPS. They would be "serving and protecting," be much more efficient and not enforcing non-NAP "laws." They would know they are working for their customers!

This isn't, though, the world we have now. The world we have now is one of roaming urban primitives in the big cities. They have been "created" through government "schooling," housing and minimum wage laws. At times they can be dangerous and I am sure glad coppers are around when they are a threat.

But we must realize the incidents like the ones above are blowback by urban primitives who are held back by oppressive state regulations. They know that the coppers, when all is said and done, are the muscle part of state operations.

In other words, this isn't our fight. It is best we just let them fight it out to a draw. I don't trust either side.

I don't want to come across an urban primitive in a dark alley in the wee hours of the night. But I am certainly not happy about government coppers who are working at a time government regulation is getting more oppressive with each passing day.

Coppers may help us now against the random urban primitive but there may come a time when slipping a few bucks into the palm of an urban primitive will result in him helping us get free of the state at a time when it is important for us to do so. They will know the angles.

This is the status of the non-PPS world. In a PPS world, the coppers would indeed be our friends and urban primitivism would disappear with the end of government oppression.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.comand Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bankand most recently Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. More about Wenzel here.


  1. "...but there may come a time when slipping a few bucks into the palm of an urban primitive will result in him helping us get free of the state..."

    Lol. As soon as they see you have a few bucks they'll steal your wallet and phone.

  2. I live in Oakland. Plenty of UP around. My experience is that most of them are polite if you are polite. The crazy, dangerous ones are easy to spot and easy to avoid. I make a point of handing out cold beers to non-crazy UPs in my neighborhood when the opportunity presents. They are always effusively appeciative, and it's a real cheap way to turn wildcards into friendlies. Who do you want to walk home past at night?

    The only time I was ever assaulted and robbed the perps had badges, and my prosecutor was one of their dads. Never had a problem like that with a bum on the street.

    My lady is a social worker and is on the Contra Costa Human Trafficking Coalition. According to her, all you have to do to sell kids in Oakland is be paid up with the right cops. I do t know if the same is true of UP.

    The UPs are victims of the state. The cops are agents of the state. The libertarian analysis should be obvious.

  3. The Police Officers were responding to reports of bystanders being doused without permission. They deserve our support in this instance because the NAP was violated. They were there to protect others from being doused. It appears that NYPD didn't have adequate force deployed to handle the situation. I believe that the Cops exercised the appropriate restraint as to not cause unnecessary injuries or violence to themselves or others. So far 3 individuals have been apprehended & more are sought.

  4. This is where a libertarian analysis is not enough, and the NAP shows a weakness. Donxon says the libertarian analysis is obvious. I agree, it is obvious: eff the po-lice.

    A Christian analysis of this situation, in the words of RC Sproul: What is wrong with you people!?

    It is morally wrong to douse anyone in water that is not in deperate need of a bath! :)

    The answer is obvious: treat others how you would like to be treated! Cop dousing will lead to further cultural problems; just like when cops go too far in their jobs. Blowback isn't just an international relations thing.

    1. "This is where a libertarian analysis is not enough, and the NAP shows a weakness."

      Your first statement is true, but your second statement is not and does not follow from the first. Libertarianism is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to inter-personal behavior, but only a minimum standard: don't initiate violence. Beyond that, as you note, it is up to religion, ethics, custom, peer pressure, etc. to guide one as to how to treat other people. So there is no "weakness" in the NAP here, it does what it is intended to do. The NAP is necessary, but not sufficient, for polite society to exist.

    2. It may be a category error, as you say. Then isnt this "Libertarian Analysis" article a category error as well? I don't think so. The NAP is a moral statement, and cop dousing is a moral problem.

      Here's the weakness:we need to add to the NAP to define the NAP. In order to define "aggression" one has to pick a philosophical (and ultimately a theological) worldview. But wait! Once that worldview is chosen, the NAP doesn't become necessary. Christianity and most other worldviews already have a Golden Rule (but come with more than just the Golden Rule).

      So the NAP neither necessary nor sufficient for polite society.

    3. Do cops ever "douse" people? With mace perhaps? Or bullets? Every cop in that video would draw his weapon and fire when his buddies call for backup over some non-violent crime. Hiw many non-NAP violaters have those cops locked in cages over the years. The fact that the people they police hold no respect for them should give you a good idea. What kind of toothpaste so you use to get the taste of boot out of your mouth?

    4. While you might believe that there is a theological underpinning to the NAP, there are many who subscribe to the NAP who do not agree, on the basis that it can be reasoned out without reference to a deity.

      I'm not sure what you mean by "Once that worldview is chosen, the NAP doesn't become necessary." Since the NAP is the outward expression and foundation of a libertarian "worldview," how can it not be necessary once you have that worldview? The reasoning is always necessary to its conclusion.

    5. I didn't say the NAP was dependent on a deity, and I am quite aware of atheist libertarians.

      What I said is an addition to the NAP is necessary to get any meaning out of it. How is aggression defined? To answer the question imports a philosophical worldview. I skipped steps above, but all philosophy has a theological position or basis, starting with something like "is there a god?"

      Now, why would the NAP be necessary once you have the foundational worldview? Because it would be redundant; most worldviews already have it's version of NAP. Others refute it entirely. Moreover, those worldviews that do have something NAP-like are likely not even compatible. How can we rally a political movement on an incomplete ethic that requires the importation of disparate worldviews? There is no libertarian movement. You may as well try to herd cats.

    6. Aggression is defined by libertarians as physically invading someone's private property (including their body) without their consent. I'm not sure why that definition requires asking whether there is, or recognition of, a god; libertarianism is a philosophy that prescribes one rule for interaction among human beings, not interaction with a deity.

      In my view, the practical objective of libertarians should be to persuade as many people as possible that the state is inherently illegitimate, so that support for the state and every single state action starts to crumble. It's not necessary to convince the entire world, just sufficient people to create one's own seceded community. That community could tell the rest of the world that it will happily interact on a peaceful basis, otherwise leave us alone.

    7. Yes. To get where I'm coming from, take the definition you gave here and keep reasoning back until you can't anymore. There will be a crossroads where one will irreparably diverge from other libertarians, who may think your "peace" is their "aggression."