How liberalism connotes its way into the inmates running the asylum

March 3, 2018 § 97 Comments

The political term “right” (also sometimes “liberty”), used as a noun, refers to some particular discriminating authority: to the legitimate empowerment of some specific claim as superior to competing claims.  Thus a property right elevates particular claims of the owner over the claims of non-owners, discriminating in the owner’s favor when those particular claims come into conflict.  To have a right is to have an authoritative claim superior to competing claims in some controvertible case.

There are many ways to understand political liberalism; this blog contains a veritable catalogue of ways to do so.  That there are many ways to approach an understanding of political liberalism is sometimes criticized by positivists on the grounds that not all liberal critics use precisely the same definition.  This is of course an empty criticism: there are many ways to come at an understanding of rabbits, but it doesn’t follow that people who come at their understanding of rabbits through different approaches are not all referring to the same thing, that is, rabbits.  Some approaches to understanding may be clarifying and others may obscure.  But at the end of the day a definition is just a definition, a way of making reference to a thing: a definition is not itself the thing which it attempts to define.

Another approach to understanding liberalism is through its insistence on using the terms “right” and “liberty” for its own claims (that is, the claims of a particular faction of liberalism), while using “authority” or “authoritarian” for claims which it opposes.  The underlying reason for this is that liberalism uses connotation to subvert and invert the hierarchy of authority.  “Right” or “liberty” simply denotes a particular discriminating authority; but these terms connote the authority of someone lower in the hierarchy of subsidiarity.  A king has sovereign authority; vassals have their rights and liberties.

Under liberalism the term “authority” has a negative connotation; the terms “right” and “liberty” have positive connotations.  So the good kind of authority under liberalism is authority that inferiors have over superiors.

Which is to say that when liberal politics acts, it treats inferior political claims as superior.  And the insanity emanates from there.

 

§ 97 Responses to How liberalism connotes its way into the inmates running the asylum

  • It seems there’s a way to use this view to understand how liberalism is a concentrator of government power. Since inferior political acts are to be viewed as superior, but without the actual power or authority to make it reality, the power and authority of inferiors must be donated to superiors, so that the superiors can enforce the will of the inferiors on their behalf.

  • It’s also important to note the difference between this view and subsidiarity. My initial reaction was to view it as a heresy of absolutizing the claim of subsidiarity, but I think that’s wrong.

    The view described in the OP posits that lower levels of authority are struggling against one another, as if the lower authority when acting is doing so in a way which diminishes the authority of those above it. But subsidiarity views the actions of lower authority as an extension of the higher authority; when a lower authority acts it is a confirmation not a retraction of the authority of those above it.

  • Gabe Ruth says:

    Your reframing of our muddled modern ways of confusing ourselves is always thrilling, thank you.

  • Mike T says:

    But subsidiarity views the actions of lower authority as an extension of the higher authority; when a lower authority acts it is a confirmation not a retraction of the authority of those above it.

    When a father disciplines a child, though, they’re affirming God’s order, not the king’s authority. The father and child are subjects alike, but the fatherhood itself is not an authority that comes from the king whatsoever. It is subject to the king only in matters where the conduct of the father is objectively evil. And there the king is not an authority on what is objectively evil. Thus you must have an outside authority like an established, but independent, church that can tell the king “no, you’re wrong and you will not continue to go around in public pretending you have this authority over fathers.”

  • Mike T:

    My comment does assume that there are multiple hierarchy’s and only makes sense with actions within the same hierarchy.

  • Mike T says:

    ** Much to the chagrin of some relatives of mine who are anti-Catholic, I take a dim view of the motives of many of the “reformers” because I note that the rulers who backed them chaffed at the notion that the Pope was their superior in moral matters and thus they couldn’t rule their holdings like a chess board to treat the pawns however they wished.

  • **hierarchies, not hierarchy’s

  • It is subject to the king only in matters where the conduct of the father is objectively evil.

    I do disagree with this however. Fatherhood is not a license to do whatever you would like within the realm of what’s moral, laws be damned. It is not objectively immoral, for instance, to forbid your 17 year old son from joining the military, though neither is it objectively unjust for the government to draft him into military service should he be needed.

  • T. Morris says:

    Great post, Zippy! I got a big kick out of the second paragraph. (“Tell me about it.” Ha, ha)

  • Mike T says:

    I do disagree with this however. Fatherhood is not a license to do whatever you would like within the realm of what’s moral, laws be damned.

    I never said it was. What I said was that outside of certain specific areas, it does not fall under the authority of the state to review and cancel the acts of the father. That means that the state must prove in court that it had an interest so grave it had to intervene against the natural order of the family. Otherwise the court should be inclined to regard government interference as a form of assault on lawful authority.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    That means that the state must prove in court …

    The state must bow to the authority of the state.

  • It is unclear that all definitions of liberalism point to the same thing.

  • Zippy says:

    winstonscrooge:

    Language is pretty plastic, so I could assert that by the label “liberalism” I mean the set of all things which are orange. Under those deliberately artificial conditions my use of the label “liberalism” does not successfully refer to liberalism.

    So I agree that not all definitions of “liberalism” actually, by necessity, refer to liberalism.

    However most of the time when people refer to liberalism they are in fact making a successful reference, even though their understanding of what they are referencing may be deficient. In fact I would say that about your writing, or at least the portion of it that I have seen: you successfully make reference to liberalism but your understanding of it is deficient.

  • What is the connection you see between positivism and the criticism of the unclear definition of liberalism?

  • T. Morris says:

    …: you successfully make reference to liberalism but your understanding of it is deficient.

    I should imagine that *most* of our understandings of liberalism are, far and away, deficient. But something important to keep in mind *always* is that deficiencies in the various understandings of liberalism are by no means “equal.” It is a fundamental tenet of liberalism to consider all views (and thus all expressions of views, blah, blah) to be “equal,” or to hold equal value. Which is just absolute nonsense, incoherent nonsense.

  • On what authority do you base your “fundamental tenet of liberalism”?

  • Mike T:

    You do realize that the court having the authority to adjudicate that case implies that the state has the authority to review and cancel the actions of the father right? If the state only has the authority to rule one way then why is there even a trial?

  • T. Morris says:

    Winston:

    Are you aware of some authority or the other (liberal or non-liberal – I don’t care which) that directly contradicts my assertion? In any case, please, for goodness sakes, stop all of this 1001 questions nonsense.

  • Well we’re talking about definitions, Terry. I don’t know what definition you are using but it seems to me that if this really is a fundamental tenant it should rest on some easily identifiable authority.

  • LarryDickson says:

    Zippy’s column is thought-provoking, but has a subtle problem – an unexamined assumption.

    When you say liberalism promotes the “authority that inferiors have over superiors,” you are assuming a one-dimensional world, a purely hierarchical world. But territory is a reality. Example: In a traditional neighborhood, a school bus lets off some kids and they run down the sidewalk and into their houses, shouting, “Mommy, I’m home!” The meaning of “Mommy” and “home” is different, in fact mutually exclusive between any two neighbor children. “Mommy” is a different person, and “home” is defined by boundaries that mean where one child’s home starts, the other’s ends.

    The rights of Mommy in her home contrast with those of superior authority, the police force, or CPS. Here, insanity – the removal of all children from their homes and placement in a city-wide creche – comes from the absolute assertion of the superior authority. In a sane polity, in naturally territorial matters like this (which are most of life), the inferior political claims are in fact superior in all non-pathological cases. And superior authority does not get to redefine “pathological” at will. When God said “increase and multiply,” he meant a patchwork quilt, not a formless mass.

  • What Larry said above is an excellent example of how we could keep talk of rights without implying liberal errors. I only wish I’d expressed myself as well in the other post.

    On a side note, I’d like to point out that it’s not incoherent upthread when Mike T said that “the state” must prove such-and-such an abuse of parental authority “in court.” “The state” is not a singular actor. Perhaps we could translate Mike’s statement as “one group of princes must prove to the satisfaction of the princes with discriminating authority over this particular case that parental abuse was committed.” Of course, this becomes easier when we realize that there is no singular entity with absolute sovereignty over a country, but a series of overlapping hierarchies, each with legitimate claims which have to be evaluated individually. The reverse face of the coin of liberalism is the peculiarly modern insistence on believing that political authority is unitary and wielded only by “the state,” or with its suffrage.

  • Zippy says:

    LarryDickson:

    When you say liberalism promotes the “authority that inferiors have over superiors,” you are assuming a one-dimensional world, a purely hierarchical world.

    My assumption, about which I have been quite explicit, is that someone wins and someone loses in every actually controverted case.

    In a sane polity, in naturally territorial matters like this (which are most of life), the inferior political claims are in fact superior in all non-pathological cases.

    You don’t see any problem with saying that inferior claims are superior? Do you have a problem with saying that black is white, or up is down?

  • Zippy says:

    winstonscrooge:

    Well we’re talking about definitions, Terry.

    Mainly about their limitations.

    But it isn’t particularly controversial that liberal polities attempt to set themselves up as “neutral” referees between competing views of the good on the part of equal rights-bearing individual citizens: with separation of Church and State, a neutral public square, freedom of speech and religion, etc. etc. You’ve been referred before to the work of Rawls (who, IIRC, himself invokes many other liberal thinkers).

    It really isn’t a controversial claim.

  • I agree it is a tenant of liberalism that different views should have equal chance to be heard under certain circumstances but not that all views once heard are equally valid.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    And I agree that it is a fundamental tenet of liberalism that unicorns wear jumpsuits on Tuesdays, and that anything that calls itself liberalism that doesn’t recognize unicorn-jumpsuit-Tuesdays is no true liberalism, like those nasty Soviets.

    The idea of a ‘fundamental tenet of liberalism’ is itself absurd when all liberalism really is is a masking of the naked Will under the principle of explosion in order to allow murderers and atheists to sleep at night.

  • Mike T says:

    You do realize that the court having the authority to adjudicate that case implies that the state has the authority to review and cancel the actions of the father right? If the state only has the authority to rule one way then why is there even a trial?

    Others have expanded on the point, but I’ll add that a significant task of the court is to filter out whether a case can actually go to trial. The court is adjudicating the rest of the state’s own authority as much as anything else. In most cases, a good judiciary would respond to CPS by dismissing the case as an usurpation of parental authority and issue an order to the prosecutor to review the state’s actions.

    Because again, outside of obviously criminal conduct, the court should take the view that it and the state simply don’t have the authority to enforce an opinion on the family.

  • Zippy says:

    But again, courts are simply an arm of the sovereign.

  • I wonder if Terry would agree with that.

  • Zippy says:

    Does every critic of (say) North Korea have to agree on every particular for the various criticisms to have validity?

  • I would say that if one person stated liberalism had a basic tenant and another person said that it does not have a basic tenant then they are probably working with incompatible definitions.

  • T. Morris says:

    Rhetocrates:

    The idea of a ‘fundamental tenet of liberalism’ is itself absurd when all liberalism really is is a masking of the naked Will under the principle of explosion in order to allow murderers and atheists to sleep at night.

    Ah ha! Yet more nuance amongst anti-liberals in their understandings of liberalism. Proof positive that liberalism (the good kind) is true and righteous altogether.

  • T. Morris says:

    Winston:

    I agree it is a tenet of liberalism that different views should have equal chance to be heard…

    And that’s the problem. It’s the effect these nonsensical propositions have on the minds of people that concerns me most. If the effect is to make an inferior believe, or at least claim he believes, his opinion is equal to his superior (or vice versa, for that matter), then I say root it up and destroy it. If your next question is “on what authority do you base your claim that the effect is what you say it is,” I simply answer: on the authority of my experiences, letting people around me do most of the talking while I listen closely to what they’re saying.

  • Mike T says:

    But again, courts are simply an arm of the sovereign.

    They are, but in a better functioning system their role would include often telling both the public and the other arms of the sovereign that the state cannot intrude into other areas because those areas rightfully belong to other authorities.

  • Mike T says:

    ** and the other authority cannot be shown to have breached the peace sufficiently to warrant any sort of intervention.

  • I like how you (Terry) omitted part of what I said to better fit your position.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    Mike T, “The sovereign should govern well, and part of governing well is employing good advisors who will tell him not to do something bad that he’s tempted to do.”

    What, if any difference, is there between that and what you are saying regarding the actions of the courts? If there is a difference, why is there a difference, and is it a good or useful difference?

  • T. Morris says:

    Winston:

    I like how you (Terry) omitted part of what I said to better fit your position.

    You amuse me, Winston, because that is typical liberal nonsense and you don’t even know it. I’ve had to point this out to any number of liberals in the past who’ve leveled the exact same complaint, but what’s another thousand times? – Anyone can scroll up the page and read your entire comment if he likes.

  • Mike T:

    The original claim that I objected to was that the only time the state’s authority trumps the father’s in a matter related to his family is when the father’s actions/commands were objectively immoral (in other words, when the father is not actually issuing a valid command):

    It is subject to the king only in matters where the conduct of the father is objectively evil.

    I’m against government intrusion as much as the next guy but this is nonsense. The government authoritatively teaches people how to drive (and when they can drive); it can authoritatively draft people into the military; it says how old you must be in order to be married (even with parental consent); etc., etc. None of these are in and of themselves government overreach, and in the absence of these laws a father making decisions which would contravene these norms are also not objectively immoral.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    …it says how old you must be in order to be married (even with parental consent); etc., etc. None of these are in and of themselves government overreach…

    It’s funny that this is your last example, because this is definitely an example of government over-reach; it has usurped a traditional function of the Church and done it so long ago that no one living remembers anything different.

    Nevertheless, that’s me nitting picks, not disagreeing with your point.

  • So you have omitted pertinent parts of other people’s statements to change the meaning of what they said as well?

  • T. Morris says:

    So you have omitted pertinent parts of other people’s statements to change the meaning of what they said as well?

    LOL! Here ya go, sweetie:

    I agree it is a tenant of liberalism that different views should have equal chance to be heard under certain circumstances but not that all views once heard are equally valid.

    And that’s the problem. It’s the effect these nonsensical propositions have on the minds of people that concerns me most. If the effect is to make an inferior believe, or at least claim he believes, his opinion is equal to his superior (or vice versa, for that matter), then I say root it up and destroy it. If your next question is “on what authority do you base your claim that the effect is what you say it is,” I simply answer: on the authority of my experiences, letting people around me do most of the talking while I listen closely to what they’re saying.

  • I have two questions Terry. (1) Why are you so defensive? And (2) Why are you so sure you are “superior”?

  • Rhetocrases:

    I think the government definitely does need to be quite cautious about it, but I’m not willing to say it is 100% out of bounds in all societies.

  • Bedarz Iliachi says:

    Rhetocrates
    “it says how old you must be in order to be married”
    Such a law may well exist in countries that have no Church. It is a law or custom of a people and I doubt if Church has anything particular to say here.
    So, the idea that such a law is not a valid exercise of State authority is dubious.

  • Professor Q says:

    It may be a little tangential here, but I believe Saint Pius X once warned of the danger of using “rights language” when the actual issues had to do with justice, charity or both. He was certainly on to something.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    It’s a simple historical fact that the marriage laws and definitions of American society and most if not all Western societies are products of governments usurping the traditional functions of the Church, regardless of how marriage laws might come about in some neutral test society.

    On topic, if we wanted to reclaim the words ‘right’ and ‘liberty’ in English, I think the proper path for ‘right’ would be to reconceptualize it as something along the lines of ‘droits du Roi’; i.e. the rights pertaining to the Crown (or any other natual position of authority), meaning ‘that which is rightly, according to tradition and natural law, within the jurisdiction of this authority to decide.’

    ‘Liberty’ meanwhile would mean something along the lines of, ‘that which a just sovereign leaves to the discretion of the faithful subject in following his laws.’ Thus the two would be complimentary and quite different.

    It might well be helpful, in this topsy-turvy world where the possibility of cultural dictation has been given to Zippy’s combox regulars, to intentionally use a different language – I recommend Latin, as least corrupted, especially if we throw out Cicero and his ilk – at first to aid the transition and create a conscious break with the previous Anglo-American disease.

    However, all that’s in the vein of political kvetching at a pub – ‘what I would do if made Dictator of the West’ sort of talk; never relevant and understood by the participants to be so.

  • Mike T says:

    I’m against government intrusion as much as the next guy but this is nonsense. The government authoritatively teaches people how to drive (and when they can drive); it can authoritatively draft people into the military; it says how old you must be in order to be married (even with parental consent); etc., etc. None of these are in and of themselves government overreach, and in the absence of these laws a father making decisions which would contravene these norms are also not objectively immoral.

    Granted, I should have made some allowance for the regulatory state there, but let’s break it down:

    1. The state does no business telling a father when and how to teach his kids how to drive on his land or private land. Farmers often teach their kids earlier than is the norm. It is the intersection between their authority and public roads that becomes slightly problematic.

    2. At 17-18, a boy is already a young man who can go out on his own. A father is within his rights to tell the sovereign to leave his middle school age or younger high school age son alone until he’s older barring a true national crisis.

    3. Marriage is a good flaw in my line, but there are points where it is objectively evil like pulling a Mohammed.

  • T. Morris says:

    Winston:

    (2) Why are you so sure you are “superior”?

    Your question is incomplete. Superior to whom, and in what ways?

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    I’ll pick one of your examples:

    1. The state [has] no business telling a father when and how to teach his kids how to drive on his land or private land.

    Whether authorities other than the father have any business regulating this depends on the circumstances. If minors operating machinery on private property is causing problems which aren’t being resolved by their fathers, it is perfectly natural for the next-most-proximate authorities to get involved. And if this gives rise to irresolvable conflicts between those proximate authorities, it is perfectly natural for the next level up to get involved.

    The kind of hard and fast lines you keep trying to draw don’t exist. When cases are obstinately controverted they either are resolved by higher authority or they lead to war. Those are the choices, and you can’t – shouldn’t – expect any good sovereign to tolerate open warfare inside his domain.

  • Mike T says:

    That may be so, but there needs to be some formal recognition that parents are not just authorities, but the primary authority in their children’s lives. That should, for example, mean that if a police officer sees a woman spank her child in public and hauls her into court that the judge not only dismisses it but orders the officer prosecuted for an assault on her lawful authority as a mother. To some extent, lower agents of the sovereign should live in modest fear of meddling with non-state authorities.

    (As a rule of thumb, if the sovereign were to put fear into the hearts of busybodies and moral crusaders, a good sovereign would save himself a lot of resources in preventing many “controversies” from arising)

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    There is a germ of truth in that, but I would put it like this:

    The pretense that every complaint has an equal right to be heard naturally escalates into concentrated micromanagement by the sovereign, who is forced by the eruption of trivial petitions to become deeply involved in the details of the everyday lives of commoners.

    This is not the fault of the sovereign though, except to the extent he tolerates liberal principles: it is produced by the liberal commitments of the people. As I’ve described any number of times in other posts, insisting on liberal principles results in a monolithic micromanaging sovereign overseeing a vast panopticon hive of “free and equal” insect-subjects in their tiny social and physical prisons.

  • And we are once again back to discussing abuse of state authority.

  • Mike T says:

    And we are once again back to discussing abuse of state authority.

    No, what we’re talking about is what can be done to prevent others from abusing state authority to protect the rights of other authorities. As bad as CPS often is, many of its abuses are driven by outside “concerned parties” that should swallow a big dose of STFU and mind their own business.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    How is that different from saying that when bad people and good people petition the sovereign, the good people should win, the bad people should lose, and bad people should be discouraged from petitioning the sovereign for their bad purposes?

  • It’s interesting to me how it’s almost unfathomable that any other person besides a government official could hold authority over a government official in some capacity. In the mechanized liberal leviathan we have now, the father, the Church, etc. have authority only in name only, as any of their actions can be condemned by the state and the only recourse they have is to the courts.

    The liberal bogeyman is the absolute monarchy, and one way to define that would be a monarchy where the only recourse for an abuse of authority is to the state. That may be the liberal bogeyman, but then they created it, and then took away all personal responsibility from those in charge through imposing a mechanical impersonal government.

  • Mike T says:

    TimFinnegan,

    If you haven’t, read Robert Peel’s Principles of Policing. Peel was the Prime Minister of Britain who established what we know as modern policing. Point #7 is particularly important and one of the principles we lack the most today. Reasserting those would go a long way to fixing the problem.

  • I thought actually that most were good except for numbers 5 and 7.

    5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws

    7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

    I don’t think injecting heavy doses of liberalism and legal positivism into the police force is how we avoid an immoral police.

  • Mike T says:

    I don’t think injecting heavy doses of liberalism and legal positivism into the police force is how we avoid an immoral police.

    Keep reading:

    who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

    In English tradition, every male subject was bound to support the sovereign in this capacity. Even in the US we saw it frequently used, famously in the “posse” assembled to hunt down a criminal.

    If you think that’s liberal, you are just illustrating that you are part of the very problem you described in your second to last comment.

  • Mike T says:

    I will grant you one point. The police should be held to an even higher standard per #7 because of their formal training and station. If a cop and a male come to blows over the law and the cop is wrong, his punishment should be much worse than if it’s the other way around.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    Your periodic anti-police ranting might generate good feels for you, and it is certainly true that sometimes the police (like all authorities) abuse their power. But why would any self-respecting man choose to be a policeman under conditions where he knows that the sovereign doesn’t have his back? If you foster culture and law founded on suspicion and disloyalty like that, what sort of men are you going to get as police?

  • Mike T:

    If the police are an arm of the public and not an arm of the State then it either means that the State’s own authority to enforce laws derives from the public (which is incoherent) or it means the police don’t actually have the authority to enforce the law. If however the police is an arm of the state, then how is “everyone in the public is the police, just some do it full time” any different from the idea tht the only authority is that of the State’s?

    Thinking some more about my comment we don’t actually only have recourse to the State; parents do actually wield some effective authority over their children in our society, and same with the Church, but the ability for these to be effective has been obviously diminished. I would modify my statement to say that the problem is when any controverted case can be taken to the State, not when any controverted case can’t be taken anywhere but the State.

    If you watch A Man For All Seasons, it’s amazing to see how people in the government, people in the Church hierarchy, and commoners knew each other and how natural those relationships were. I think these personal relationships are really the only way to effectively enforce one’s authority outside of raw physical strength, and a lot of those relationships have been lost or become unnatural. This goes back to Zippy’s point of authority as a fractal of the family.

  • Mike T says:

    If you foster culture and law founded on suspicion and disloyalty like that, what sort of men are you going to get as police?

    If you read Peel’s Principles it becomes quite clear that this is an absurd characterization. Peel started with the assumption that everyone, able males in particular, has a duty to the sovereign to uphold (both by obeying it and playing a role in enforcing it) the law to the best of their ability. So suspicion was never a factor and disloyalty is a red herring. The sovereign had their back to the extent they were obeying the law like any other subject, and when they didn’t other subjects were quite competent to bring them to the authorities to be held accountable.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    I didn’t read that and wasn’t talking about it. I was talking about your consistently adversarial rhetoric about police.

  • Mike T says:

    If the police are an arm of the public and not an arm of the State then it either means that the State’s own authority to enforce laws derives from the public (which is incoherent) or it means the police don’t actually have the authority to enforce the law.

    Or option #3, the authority to investigate and make arrests (which is all that police can actually do) was widely held by every able-boded subject and held as part of a duty to the sovereign to participate in keeping the realm safe. So the public wasn’t acting as We the Sovereign People, but as We the Subjects of the Crown under Peel’s Principles.

    And why do you think 19th century Britain had much more limited government on many fronts? Because the sovereign could sit back and know that his/her (have to since Victoria was sovereign for much of it) subjects had their back and were keeping the peace in their little piece of the realm.

  • Mike T says:

    I didn’t read that and wasn’t talking about it. I was talking about your consistently adversarial rhetoric about police.

    So in other words, you weren’t responding to what I was saying, but were vaguely responding to something else.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    So in other words, you weren’t responding to what I was saying, but were vaguely responding to something else.

    It is true that I wasn’t responding to someone else’s specific words to which you linked. I was raising an entirely distinct, and yes much more general, point.

    I’ve noticed that over time – and not just in this thread – you like to talk in strident language about punishing police, and not even hardly at all about supporting the police — one of the most local arms of authority. And I asked you to consider what sort of men would want to actually be police if your general attitude became embodied in law and culture.

    I know that I wouldn’t, and that I wouldn’t recommend it to others. Brotherhood, respect, nobility, and having each others’ back is a necessary element of any profession but is especially needed in professions of violence like policing and soldiering. Without them you end up with cowardly ignoble mercenaries and violence-perverts.

  • Or option #3, the authority to investigate and make arrests (which is all that police can actually do) was widely held by every able-bodied subject and held as part of a duty to the sovereign to participate in keeping the realm safe.

    Except that in many cases investigating and making arrests are either lawful or unlawful depending on when ther or not you are the police. If the police qua police have no special authority over and above the regular joe blow, and yet are to be held to a higher standard of duty and valor than the average man, then why should anyone become a member of the police?

    I do think citizens ought to aid the police in making investigations and arrests, but their ability and authority to do so is not the same as the police, and that’s as it should be. The everyone is the police mantra also becomes very problematic when it is combined with #5 where the police are to enforce the law whether or not doing so is just.

  • Mike T says:

    I’ve noticed that over time – and not just in this thread – you like to talk in strident language about punishing police, and not even hardly at all about supporting the police — one of the most local arms of authority. And I asked you to consider what sort of men would want to actually be police if your general attitude became embodied in law and culture.

    When my parents met, they were both IG agents. That should give you some idea of why the environment I was raised in had absolutely no tolerance for police who break the law and expect to get away with it or be given an administrative slap on the wrist.

    The rest is a function of my belief that if the public is to be shown no mercy and excuse, that should apply to those of “highest station” even more so. If ignorance of the law is no excuse for a pleb with an 8th grade education, I don’t even want to hear it uttered by a trained police officer because station and training matter.

  • Mike T says:

    Tim,

    Except that in many cases investigating and making arrests are either lawful or unlawful depending on when ther or not you are the police.

    This is mainly a function of the liberal state obsessing about formal procedure. Liberal elites are terrified that somewhere, someone might be victimized by a bad citizen’s arrest. Meanwhile, every day someone is getting arrested by an incompetent or ignorant cop when they shouldn’t. You cannot legislate away ignorance, incompetence and imperious personalities.

    What you can do is create a legal system which teaches the enforcing authorities (all of them) that they ought to have a “when in doubt, don’t” attitude. If they are not rationally confident in the validity of their claim that an arrest is backed by the sovereign’s law, they ought to err on the side of caution and not do it.

    People often forget that an arrest is not a civil and peaceful thing because they see most people being sufficiently law-abiding (or too possessed of self-preservation otherwise) to resist. However, it is always an implied or real act of force backing authority. That is why unlawful arrested used to be treated as very serious acts by anyone who committed them. It is quite easy for someone who is making arrests to forget that if the arrest is not really warranted AND backed by the sovereign’s authority, it can cause a much bigger breach of the peace than currently exists.

  • Mike T says:

    Zippy,

    Also because “discriminating authorities” frequently take things like this and let them slide. Warning: that video is essentially watching the police commit cold-blooded murder of a man literally begging for his life and trying to comply with their orders.

  • You cannot legislate away ignorance, incompetence and imperious personalities.

    I get that, but the solution is not to completely do away with the difference in authority between the police and regular citizens. I don’t deny that there are such things as citizens arrest, but I don’t think citizens are equal to the police in this regard.

  • T. Morris says:

    Mike T., I don’t know why, but I’m speechless after seeing that video.

    Here is a police officer’s take on the incident you might like to watch if you haven’t already seen it.:

  • Mike T says:

    Tim,

    The point is not whether they are equal, but why are they no longer equal to the police because at one point they were. And that was before the deep progression into liberalism. Prior to that, a crime was a crime and the important thing was getting the criminal to the judicial authorities to answer to the king’s justice, not proceduralism about who can make what arrest and when.

  • Mike T says:

    T Morris,

    That’s a kinder version of what my dad said when I sent him the video. He sent it to some other retired law enforcement he knows and “murder” was the consensus; not a single one felt the shooting was even remotely justified.

    To me the real issue is not necessarily the abuse of authority, but the fact that what change in law that Tim is defending has done is to ensure that there is no one beside the bad actors on the scene who has the authority to decisively stop the crime in progress. No one but other police could have stopped the sergeant for threatening to murder him if he didn’t act like a trained circus animal under duress.

  • Mike T:

    I’m not trying to defend a legal status where in every situation the only ones with the authority to stop a criminal are the police, I am against a legal status where in every situation cops and civilians are on the same authoritative playing field, which seems to be what you are advocating for unless I’ve misunderstood you. I don’t think it’s good to have situations where formal procedure is everything, but “no formal procedure at all” seems like an equally terrible standard.

    And even if #7 isn’t objectionable, #5 is highly objectionable.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    Also because “discriminating authorities” frequently take things like this and let them slide.

    How very continent of you.

    I don’t recall anyone suggesting that police never do anything wrong. But even if BLM were substantively right and the police are always out there murdering blacks for no good reason other than racism, that doesn’t really address the point. (In fact it leads to the question of why that might be the case).

    I’ll leave it to you to figure out what the point was.

  • *Not equally terrible, just also terrible

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    … is to ensure that there is no one beside the bad actors on the scene who has the authority to decisively stop the crime in progress.

    Precisely who besides the police were on the scene, in the video you posted, and in a position to do anything about what was happening?

  • Mike T says:

    Precisely who besides the police were on the scene, in the video you posted, and in a position to do anything about what was happening?

    In that video, no one, but that’s not the point. The point is that even if there were a dozen armed men surrounding the cops, no one could lawfully tell the sergeant to stand down after it became clear he had lost his damn mind and was acting like he was out to kill someone.

    In many cases where the police break the law, there are plenty of folks around them who could overpower them and detain them. Questions of authority should not be relevant in such cases. Worrying about who can make what arrest when the whole point is to detain someone who committed a serious criminal act is just worshiping procedure.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    In that video, no one, …

    Then why did you post it given that it doesn’t support your argument?

  • Zippy says:

    To summarize:

    You (Mike T) did not post the video because it substantively supports your position: you posted it to elicit an emotional reaction while hoping readers fail to notice the disconnect.

    Your position, as best as I can tell, is virtually identical to the position of Black Lives Matter: citizens should be much more willing to shoot the police, and courts should be much less willing to support the police in those incidents.

  • Mike T says:

    Your position, as best as I can tell, is virtually identical to the position of Black Lives Matter: citizens should be much more willing to shoot the police, and courts should be much less willing to support the police in those incidents.

    Read the link to Peel’s Principles and try to not pigeon-hole them like Tim did.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    Forget Peel’s Principles and talk about Mike T’s Principles:

    What you can do is create a legal system which teaches the enforcing authorities (all of them) that they ought to have a “when in doubt, don’t” attitude.

    We already have that kind of anti-authoritarianism, good and hard. The legal system (higher authority) regularly calls into question and punishes husbands and fathers (lower authority) to the point where the latter have to take a “when it doubt, don’t” approach.

    So we demand more and more that everything must be micromanaged by higher authorities to ensure freedom, and then are outraged that everything is (dysfunctionally) micromanaged by higher authorities thereby destroying freedom.

  • From the Wikipedia article:

    The Home Office in 2012 explained this approach as “the power of the police coming from the common consent of the public, as opposed to the power of the state.

    Please tell me again how these aren’t liberal principles for policing.

  • T. Morris says:

    So we demand more and more that everything must be micromanaged by higher authorities to ensure freedom, and then are outraged that everything is (dysfunctionally) micromanaged by higher authorities thereby destroying freedom.

    It’s madness!; madness born of a refusal to be wrong.:

  • Mike T says:

    We already have that kind of anti-authoritarianism, good and hard. The legal system (higher authority) regularly calls into question and punishes husbands and fathers (lower authority) to the point where the latter have to take a “when it doubt, don’t” approach.

    Fitting the facts to the narrative, I see…

    The police powers are a specific delegation of authority from the sovereign that apply to particular things. They are not a broad grant of authority like the judicial power. That is why “when in doubt, don’t” is necessary for the police. Every time they claim to exercise authority over everyone else they must be rationally confident that the sovereign has actually given them authority to do so.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    I don’t see how that’s different from any other subsidiary authority. “Use wisdom to make sure you act within your jurisdiction,” seems like good advice all-round.

    Or were you making some different point up-thread, perhaps? Something about mechanistically deciding whether or not police have jurisdiction over some action, perhaps…

  • Mike T says:

    Rhetocrates,

    I made several points, none of which were about mechanistically determining jurisdiction. It’s not a dichotomy, but a “yes, and.”

    Again, one of the facets of the liberal state is that it will accept no authority outside of itself. That includes private law enforcement that answers to public authorities.

    If don’t want that sort of state, you have to accept the notion of a broadly distributed police power. Other authorities have to be able to literally police those under them or they’re not authorities in a meaningful sense.

    The defining difference trait of a vigilante is that they arrogate to themselves the judicial authority of the state, not the police powers.

  • Gabe Ruth says:

    On the blessed day when Zippy is crowned our philosopher king, he’s going to brick up the gate of that motte you’re holed up in for good and be done with all this nonsense.

    Just STAWP POASTING!

  • Rhetocrates says:

    So…

    You aren’t saying something other than ‘rulers should rule with wisdom and justice’?

    Then why all the words?

    Also, this:

    If don’t want that sort of state, you have to accept the notion of a broadly distributed police power.

    No I don’t. Most states in history have functioned perfectly well without any police power whatsoever.

  • Mike T says:

    Most states in history have functioned perfectly well without any police power whatsoever.

    If you mean that without an organized police force, you’d be correct. If you mean that they claimed no authority to keep the peace through moderate coercion and arrest suspected criminals you wouldn’t be describing any real government.

    You aren’t saying something other than ‘rulers should rule with wisdom and justice’?

    You’re doing a reverse motte and bailey now.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    If you mean that without an organized police force, you’d be correct.

    This is exactly what I mean.

    You’re doing a reverse motte and bailey now.

    No I’m not. I’m asking you a question. I’m not making any argument whatsoever.

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