Paul Anthony Ciancia: What He Did Was Wrong, But Not For the Reason You Might Think

Easily the most persistent question that arises when we endure another shooting such as the recent one at LAX in which a TSA agent was killed and others injured is “Why?” It appears that the shooter, 23-year-old Paul Anthony Ciancia, had one thing in mind: Killing TSA agents. He did not appear to want to kill civilians, and he allegedly had “anti-government” materials with him at the time of the incident.

Anarchist, of course, note the state’s claim to a monopoly on violence, and observe that TSA agents are known for things such as racial profiling, sexual assault and other forms of aggression. Their very jobs are facilitated through state aggression. It should come as no surprise, then, that someone reacted with retaliatory violence toward the TSA, as Paul Anthony Ciancia apparently did.

But why is it still wrong?

The violence of the state creates ripple effects across our communities at large. From public schools to the war on drugs, we are surrounded by statism. Its violence pervades our social arrangements. I would argue that at the core of violence in our communities is allegiance to the state. That allegiance creates a culture in which it is considered acceptable, nay virtuous, to aggress against others in order to meet our social and economic ends.  At least, as long it is the political class doing the aggressing. Yet, when people fight back, they are abhorred. This is not to say that what Ciancia was moral or virtuous; it’s just that statism creates a strong layer of cognitive dissonance. The fact that Ciancia committed an act of violence against the state is not, broadly speaking, wrong. But he failed to take into account that the state, being pervasive, can technically make just about anyone, from a teacher to a fireman, one’s enemy. He joined the state in its game of violence, and not only did he lose, but more than likely the TSA will become more violent and aggressive.

Paul Anthony Ciancia has made things worse.

Note that this is not an argument against violence, per se, but rather to the fundamental flaw of violent revolution: The state is simply better at violence.

What could people like Paul Anthony Ciancia do instead of playing the state’s game? I am no techie, but one idea I have is developing open source, black market methods of air travel. If drug dealers can do it, why can’t other people? Perhaps there are people out there smarter than I who could develop cloaking devices for larger planes. The point is, there are plenty of things the state is bad at, and dealing with decentralized workarounds to its systems is one of the areas where it is the weakest.

Put simply, capitalize on something the political class doesn’t understand: Peace.

Citations to this article:

Free Markets & Capitalism?
Markets Not Capitalism
Organization Theory
Conscience of an Anarchist