I came upon an article by Chad Nelson, The Inherent Flaw of the Criminal Justice System. It is from the Center for a Stateless Society. Their slogan is, “A left market anarchist think tank & media center.” I just want to give them a big wet kiss and pat them on the head. They are so adorable! They are also deeply pernicious. These are the kind of guys that I was when I was a libertarian. And just as I was then, they are now fooling themselves. Who thinks that if you get rid of government all will be well? It takes studied ignorance to think that absence of government wouldn’t create a power vacuum filled by organized business interests that would be totally unaccountable. Neo-feudalism, here we come!
The article at hand is about how there is a conflict of interest when police officers are being prosecuted because the prosecutor’s office works so closely with the police. This is true. It is hardly the biggest problem with prosecutors in this country, but it is definitely a troubling issue that we should give serious thought to. But according to Nelson, this is just a sign that the government is out of control. The different branches of government don’t keep each other honest because they are all dedicated to the same government. Did you catch that?
Because there is a problem inside one branch of government, the different branches of government can’t work to limit power grabs. That’s kind of like saying, “My home network is down; the internet doesn’t work!” But what Nelson is really saying is that he hates the government and any part of the government will understandably support the idea of government and so this is bad. But he doesn’t come right out and say it because it sounds stupid. Because it is. Basically: the government is bad because I think the government is bad.
What Nelson thinks should have happened is that Michael Brown’s parents should have hired their own attorney to prosecute Darren Wilson. But where exactly the court for such a case would come from is not clear. Would the Brown family have to purchase a legal system on the free market? And if that was the case, why would Darren Wilson feel that he was bound by its findings? So that can’t be what Nelson thinks. Instead, it must be that like most libertarians, he thinks that the legal system is one proper governmental function. But given that he thinks that the government is completely useless in all other ways, why should we accept that collective action would work in terms of the courts?
As with all things libertarian, it only takes the slightest scratching to find gaping holes. If we can work with a government court system, we can certainly make the different parts of the larger court system work. In this case, it is hardly necessary for the Brown family to have their own lawyer (especially since in Nelson’s utopia, they would have to pay for it). What the Brown family actually asked for would have been far better: a special prosecutor. The problem in this case was that democracy didn’t work. It wasn’t that government didn’t work.
The problem here is that Chad Nelson, and I’m sure everyone at the Center for a Stateless Society, thinks that government is always the problem. Like voters in a general election, he really ought to grow up. The question is not between government and his utopia. It is between this government and the other that we would necessarily get. And history shows us that we are a whole lot more free than we would be under the rule of Walmart.
See also: There Are No Libertarian Republicans