The 5,000-Life Question


“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” -Mahatma Gandhi

The police state in America is coming to an end. And while its end may still be far off, we’ve passed the point of no return.

With horror stories about police misconduct abounding, law enforcement’s reputation is taking a mighty beating (pun absolutely intended). From the murder of Eric Garner and the targeting of the man who filmed the incident, to Walter Scott’s murder and attempted police coverup, to even petty incidents such as Philadelphia cops vindictively targeting college kids after losing a basketball game, the case against law enforcement is steadily growing. Add that to the more that 5,000 civilians killed by cops since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and it’s easy to see why more and more people are viewing the police’s very existence as a net negative.

So much so that the police are caught in the awkward position of defending their very existence. The editor-in-chief of PoliceOne, the premier pro-law enforcement site and online community, recently penned an article on what a world without police would look like. As to be expected, the piece’s tone is condescending and its arguments are basic, but the real point of interest is the fact that this article has been written at all. It illustrates the growing reality that police are now having to justify not only their actions, but the entire premise on which their jobs rest: that we need cops.

Re-read the quote from Gandhi at the top of the piece. More than just a one-off nugget of wisdom and wit, it outlines the linear progression of an idea whose time has come as reflected by its opposition: First the issue goes unaddressed, then it is addressed mockingly, then seriously, followed finally by the issue’s victory in the war of ideas. We’re past ignoring the problem, and are witnessing the transition between ridicule and opposition from the law enforcement establishment. The final phase, where the idea of a world without police wins over the hearts and minds of the people, is coming up next.

The evidence is out. The arguments have been made. The question has been asked: has the last decade or so of police services been worth the over 5,000 lives they have claimed? Now all that remains is to wait for the consensus to land upon the inevitable answer: no.

Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela
Joël Valenzuela is the editor of The Desert Lynx. He is also the founder of the Rights Brigade, a mover for the Free State Project, and a martial art instructor.
  • Dante

    The quote isn’t from Ghandi, it’s taken from a 1918 speech by trade unionist Nicholas Klein.

    • In that case it’s one of the most misattributed quotes in existence.

  • Sam Spade

    The “police state” might metastasize and change order and shape, but will never end unless or until a critical mass will eschew monopoly state and embrace anarchy — until perhaps 70 to 80% of what have come to be called “eligible voters” learn to abstain from beans: .

    Until a very large segment of the unwashed masses come to recognize the science of rulership (“science” should read “superstition” — listen to this: ) and reject it out of hand.

    Scary thought, because as of now it appears that the vast majority of generally honest, hard-working folks have an addiction to being ruled. Most can’t even imagine being totally responsible for their own actions and welfare — even in light of the fact that’s what they’re already doing.

    An eerie superstition indeed. Sam

    • That’s exactly why I would never advocate for an overnight collapse of the state: people would scramble to build another one. As tyranny grew one small step at a time, so must liberty. Gradually, the people see that they can deal without certain aspects of the state.

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