Market Dynamics Make Cop-Hating A Valuable Tool

The state depends on its cops to enforce private property. Without them present, the owners would have to hire private security to protect their property from seizure, and that is (due to economies of scale of which the state takes advantage) massively more expensive on the whole. So, one of the most effective ways to be anti-state would be to decrease the labor supply for police officers — and thus, increase the cost of hiring police officers. The state would then be forced to either spend more on policing or to hire fewer police officers.

There are two obvious ways to decrease labor supply of police: arming the masses and letting cops know that we hate them.

Many radical and even liberal thinkers have written on the importance of maintaining an armed populace, so I won’t say much more on that here. I’ve written about it previously. It is worth noting, however, that there are a lot of homeless people in American cities — and that a shocking portion of those homeless are veterans. We are in no short supply of people with combat experience and every reason to hate the state and capitalism. Guns can be printed. I can’t imagine anything that might undermine the institution of private property more cheaply.

On hating cops, though, there’s also a surprising amount of promise. Being hated gets cops to quit. They go elsewhere or they get real jobs. Either way, there are fewer cops in that particular city. And fewer cops means that the owners need to pay their cops more to ensure that they can recruit enough of them. There are limits to how much they can pay their police, and those limits are defined by how much they can extract from us in economic rents (on housing, IP, ownership of productive capital, ect.) — rents that are fixed by supply, demand, and productivity, and that cannot be easily raised in response to this. In fact, as our ability to fight back increases, they will be incentivized to lower the amount that they collect to avoid our wrath.

If the cost of maintaining private property begins to approach the revenue derivable from owning that property, it becomes less and less worthwhile to be an owner — it will make simple, economic sense for at least some of the owners to give up their ownership and become workers. This would happen at the margins, first, as the small owners find that their taxes are too high for it to be worth it for them to be owners. The only response that the state would have would be to extract less revenue from the small owners, to keep them in business, and thus producing revenue at all. If they do that, the state still ends up with less and less revenue. This also shifts a greater portion of the increased cost of policing onto the bigger and more successful owners, and moves the margin up — causing the cycle to repeat on up the hierarchy of wealth.

The only way that the owners and cops would have around this would be to extract greater and greater taxation from the workers. The problem with this is that it only gives the workers more incentive to move their economic activities outside of state legibility and to give greater social and violent penalties to the cops — that is to say, the state scrabbling to steal more from the workers means that the workers merely hide a greater portion of their income from the state and engage in actions that push the cost of hiring police higher and higher.

However, even if the state managed to extract everything that the workers make, there’s no reason that this would necessarily be enough to cover the cost of policing them. The lower labor-share is —and thus, the higher capital-share is— the less there is for the owner’s state to try to extract from the workers to fund itself. As we all know, the labor-share has been shrinking around the world (and especially in America) since the 1970s. The owners will either have to reverse very long-term trends to our benefit, or they will be unable to extract enough from us to be able to afford to keep us from taking their property. Even if they do the first, that just gives the workers more resources with which to fight back, and less reward for being an owner — leading, again, to owners giving up being owners as simply being not sufficiently profitable.

This process, though, is not a revolution. It does not happen all over the world at once, or even all over the same city at once. This is an insurrection. A single city can have this process active in it, or even —though to a lesser extent— a single neighborhood. As the cost of policing rises, fewer cops will be employed — at least to some extent, unless they temporarily redouble their efforts in a futile attempt to stop our virtuous cycle. Fewer cops employed means slower police response times — and that, when they do come, they come in fewer numbers. This can already be seen in the “bad” parts of cities across the world. Zones of greater and greater freedom can open up, propelled by largely autonomous and spontaneously organized social processes.

Chiapas, perhaps, is something like a look at a mid-way point. In Chiapas, there is certainly still someone who calls themselves governor, and there are still police who say that they patrol the area. They even go in there sometimes! But they don’t stay there. Collection of taxes is difficult, if not impossible. Laws are unenforced. Economic organization is free, or at least free enough.

Insurrection isn’t an all or nothing thing — it is a gradual process, with more immediate gains. We don’t have to topple all the governments at once — we can work on just local ones. We don’t even have to topple them — we can just make them ignore our presence as too bothersome. We don’t even have to do that — we can just make an hour of a cop’s time a dollar more expensive, or even just a cent. Every little bit helps.

The Anatomy of Escape
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
Free Markets & Capitalism?
Organization Theory
Conscience of an Anarchist