Politics & Media
Aug 24, 2022, 05:57AM

Rule of Law, Rule of Crime

Every political faction has criminal tendencies.

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I have to remind myself from time to time that there are still people who think government and crime are roughly opposites. More government, less crime, goes the vague idea in most people’s barely-functional brains.

In the real world, amateur video captures two county deputies and a Mulberry, Arkansas police officer beating an immobilized suspect outside a convenience store and suddenly stopping when they realize they’re being recorded, knowing they were doing something wrong. Imagine what they and countless cops in the government’s employ do when you’re not watching. Use common sense and extrapolate.

It won’t be shocking if the murder by bombing of Darya Dugina, 29-year-old daughter of Russian nationalist philosopher Aleksandr Dugin, itself turns out to have been planned or condoned by government, with Ukrainian terrorists the most obvious suspects.

But then, one hates to leap to conclusions. NATO’s critics, too, have had their cars explode from time to time—as was perhaps the case with troublesome journalist Michael Hastings, dead in a car turned fireball several years ago in L.A. after he’d clashed with various parts of the military-industrial complex. His widow initially said she thought it was murder, then changed her tune and said it may indeed have been just a drug-induced car crash.

Maybe. Then again, the establishment prefers to see military-industrial complex defenders crack down on others’ crimes rather than to see the establishment’s own crimes exposed. I predict history will not look kindly on the recent bizarre spectacle of the Cheney dynasty, of all families, lauded by liberals as courageous, principled crime-fighters.

But then, the real crime in Washington, DC, they say, is what’s legal. And what’s legal at this point is a gigantic, inhuman amalgamation of rules spawned by both the liberal tradition and the conservative tradition, both of which perhaps deserve to end now. They’re more like massive, ongoing attacks on the populace than like systems for defending us—which is to say, they’ve become organized crime, albeit crime that imposes far more rules on the victims than the Mob does.

As I’ve asked many times before, can you blame someone like Alex Jones for worrying the government might orchestrate or fake something like the Sandy Hook school shooting? Government can’t abuse us constantly and then act shocked when some of us become paranoid.

Sometimes the government’s pattern of apparent kindness punctuated by sudden acts of baffling cruelty—an oddly effective conditioning tactic favored by cult leaders from Tom Cruise to Donald Trump—backfires and causes even members of the government itself to fight back, as with Trump’s current resistance to investigation by the FBI after its raid of his home, a raid that’s been criticized as a banana republic tactic, interestingly, not just by Trump’s fellow Republicans but by two of his fellow New Yorkers from other parties: Andrews Yang and Cuomo, respectively of the Forward and Democratic Parties.

Do they know things from years of watching the feds operate in New York that make them disinclined to take Attorney General Merrick Garland’s word on everything?

If they’ve felt put upon by the feds, they aren’t all that unusual. Bloomberg reports that about one percent of the U.S. population had its electronic communications searched without a warrant by the FBI in a single year, so contrary to what you’re told, they’re not shy about performing home invasions—whether or not the specific raid on Trump’s was deserved. 

And as the right begins at long last (for the most partisan and self-serving of reasons, of course) to have doubts about that vast, intrusive apparatus, the liberal establishment increasingly learns to rationalize sweeping police powers as necessary to maintain social order and the purported integrity of government itself.

Yet you know those same increasingly uptight liberals have a soft spot for certain types of crime. It’s not just the riots of recent years, either. Look at, say, the whitewashing of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Patty Jenkins’ biopic about her (which earned Jenkins the chance to direct Wonder Woman), complete with the invention of a likable but fictional female lover who embodies resistance to society’s bigotry and makes up about half the story.

I don’t plan to see the newer movie The Menu, about aristocrats eating their dinner guests, since it was co-produced by Adam McKay, and I think I’ve endured enough of his heavy-handed attacks on the right or capitalism for one lifetime, but I’m sure no matter how many layers of irony it’s wrapped in, it’ll be one more piece of evidence Hollywood likes crimes with a mildly Marxist message. Either the cannibals will be eating innocents because the cannibals are aligned with the ruling class, in which case you should hate them, or the cannibals will be subverting the ruling class by eating it, in which case you’re supposed to think the cannibals are naughty but kind of fun. You know these are your only two political options in an Adam McKay depiction of crime.

Meanwhile, government gnaws away at billions of victims through taxation and regulation while actor Ezra Miller, about whom I wrote recently, takes a reluctant break from his crime spree, like countless celebs before him checking into rehab between fistfights, to get counseling and help Warner Bros. salvage the publicity around next year’s Flash movie, which appears to have survived the big recent culling of dubious superhero projects at that studio.

At least its main character is still fighting crime. That makes the Flash better behaved than Ezra Miller. It doesn’t make Flash more like a government. Ezra Miller, like a Reverse-Flash, is a menace, and so is government. The film’s cowriter, Grant Morrison, is essentially an anarchist—and self-proclaimed chaos magician—so he may understand the real moral valences at work here and in the world generally and even convey them onscreen. We’ll find out next year, perhaps just prior to the whole DC Comics/Warner Bros. film universe collapsing amidst its current revamping and cuts.

You need not obey government or attack your fellow humans to be a free person. Be neither a slavemaster nor slave, predator or prey, fascist or street thug, cannibal who eats the poor or cannibal who eats entrepreneurs. The law is so much simpler if we aim merely to leave each other in peace.

—Todd Seavey is the author of Libertarianism for Beginners and is on Twitter at @ToddSeavey


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