Salvo 05.23.2024 5 minutes

For My Enemies, the Law

2024 National Action Network Convention Ribbon Cutting

Anarcho-tyranny is punishment of the innocent for the benefit of the guilty.

The current condition in the United States has been described as a state of “anarcho-tyranny.” This term, originally coined by paleo-conservative writer Sam Francis, was recently defined by Tucker Carlson as “selective punishment while ignoring the rule of law.”

This condition was exemplified by a recent incident in Oakland, California that was so egregious that it would have been unimaginable until recently. Victor Silva is 102 years old and in a wheelchair. He was notified by the city that he is expected to paint over graffiti on a wall that he owns. Failure to do so would result in an $1,100 fine with an additional charge of $1,277 for each time he failed a reinspection. According to news reports he has been doing this for years.

As if all of this was not bad enough, his family owns a nearby commercial building that has been burglarized three times in the past year. He called 911 after each incident, but this never resulted in any investigation, let alone with anyone actually being arrested and charged. While there has not been any mention of just what the City of Oakland has done to punish the vandals and prevent further occurrences, the news media has shown pictures of him painting the fence while seated in his wheelchair. The Sisyphean image of a centenarian in a wheelchair repeatedly being forced to paint over the scribblings of society’s unpunished miscreants is the perfect illustration of just how bad things have become. 

The primary and most fundamental function of government in a free society is the maintenance of a system in which the citizens are enabled to attain the best possible outcomes for themselves, and by extension for society as a whole. This is an ancient concept that was literally recognized at the very inception of our existence as a nation. Thomas Jefferson began the Declaration of Independence by referring to “certain inalienable rights,” and stated that the purpose of government is “to secure these rights.” The Founding Fathers never believed that the purpose of government was to establish any sort of social utopia. Their real intent was to establish a system which had the purpose of guaranteeing individual rights and to perform the core functions of government.

However, that paradigm has drastically changed, beginning in the sixties, and has accelerated since 2020, resulting in such demands as the “defund the police” movement, criminal justice “reform”, and the idea that society as a whole is responsible for crime and that it is somehow unfair to believe that criminals should be held accountable for their actions. The emphasis on “social justice,” “racial justice,” “climate justice” and “economic justice” means that many jurisdictions have lost interest in actual justice.

Numerous large states have redefined many felonies as misdemeanors and have removed the requirement to post cash bail as a condition of being released prior to trial. Thanks to funding from George Soros and other radicals, many localities have elected prosecutors who see their primary role as protection of the guilty. Likewise, the police in many areas have been told not to be proactive in the pursuit of criminals. Even when such policies are not explicitly stated, members of many law enforcement agencies realize they can expect little support from their own administration and limit themselves to responding to radio calls. In addition to having charges dropped or reduced by leftist prosecutors, police don’t want to get involved in situations which will result in complaints that are likely to result in negative career consequences.

Any reasonable individual should be rightly offended by the sight of a 102-year-old being required to paint over graffiti. But this state of affairs aligns with the mindset that referred to the riots in 2020 as “mostly peaceful protests.” Condoning the burning of a police station in Minneapolis and referring to widespread looting as “retail reparations” are clear examples of this point of view.

It is also worth noting that while the leftists are not especially concerned with enforcing laws which relate to traditional common law crimes (malum in se), they never seem to tire of creating vast numbers of regulatory offenses (malum prohibitum). 

Leftists view crime from a Marxist point of view in which property rights are not considered to be important. But many on the Left do not subscribe to the idea of natural rights and natural law and that the rightful purpose of government is to secure these rights. The leftist viewpoint is that rights derive from the government, which has the power to grant or deny rights based on its view of whose interests are more important and thus worthy of protection. Since many of these blue cities are under the control of cultural Marxists who believe that the redistribution of wealth is a legitimate function of government, there is no reason to doubt that they also think that the redistribution of rights is the logical and obvious next step in their program to create their own version of Utopia. Since they regard crime as being the fault of society at large and not the perpetrator, it is a logical next step to expect that everyone should be willing to accept being victimized in order to atone for the existence of conditions in which some individuals feel the need to express themselves through criminal activity.

But leftists also stand to gain politically from a pervasive sense of fear and insecurity. Rather than holding criminals accountable for their actions, they hope to make everyone so fearful that the public will accept an increasing number of restrictive rules in order to create a false sense of security. A recent example of this was the action by New York Governor Kathy Hochul to send National Guard troops into New York City subway stations to do TSA-style bag checks on passengers. This was nothing but security theater. The problem in the subways is violent mentally unstable people physically attacking passengers on trains and platforms. They don’t need bombs to push people onto the tracks in front of an oncoming train.

This is the same mindset that promotes the idea that it is necessary to expand FISA surveillance to include U.S. citizens, track everyone’s financial transactions, abolish the Second Amendment, collect telephone metadata, and create an endless series of unconstitutional general warrants. Since none of this will do much to stop crime, they will simply use it to try and convince the public that the only way to ensure safety is to sacrifice even more traditional Constitutional freedoms without having the slightest effect on the actual criminals. This will set the conditions for a dystopian society in which the innocent live in a state of constant insecurity while the actual criminals can operate with impunity. The only way to resolve this situation and to restore a stable society is to return to the traditional approach in which criminals are held to account and where the legal system is not used as means to redistribute rights in pursuit of a political and social agenda.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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