Foseti’s theory of crime and punishment

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Foseti’s theory of crime and punishment has evolved from a libertarian concern for rights to a reactionary priority on law and order first:

The link above tells the tale of nice, law-abiding woman walking home from the grocery store on a lovey November day in DC. The unfortunate woman’s route took her past a group of “youths” (interestingly, this phrase is seemingly used in all countries and societies to describe the class of people that commit nearly all the crime, so in the US it refers to young black males) who live in a housing project. (The houses that surround the project sell for $500,000+, creating an interesting dynamic). Anyway, while this woman walked by the “youths” one of them randomly punched her in the face, breaking her jaw in a couple places. The “youths” then fled into the project, where escape from consequences is defining characteristic of life.

This is the sort of activity that I am “worried about.” It was no more caused by the illegality of drugs than it was caused by rising level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The war on drugs is for libertarians like original sin is for the Catholic. (If you’d like my — non-religious — opinion, the Catholics have the better of the choices here, by far).

Worse yet, these “youths” will likely not be caught and if they are, they are unlikely to stand trial for their crime. Even if they do, they’ll be back on the street in a matter of days or weeks. If we’re lucky, they’ll get caught holding some drugs in the near future and spend some real time behind bars, however insufficient. Perhaps there is some injustice in the fact that they are in prison for the wrong “crime,” but I will lose roughly zero minutes of sleep for this particular injustice. The real injustice is that the modern “justice system” is completely incapable of providing justice for this particular type of crime. Absolutely no one actually expects the “youths” to get caught and punished in any manner that even approximates justice.

If I were in charge, the war on drugs would end immediately, and many drugs would be legalized. I would, however, not expect the result to be a utopia in which there was no more drug-related crime (let alone no crime at all!). Drugs, after all, would still cost money and be addictive. These facts combined with the fact that persistent drug use makes it hard to hold a normal job, mean that many drug addicts will resort to crime (regardless of the legality of drug use).

However, if I were in charge, policing methods (and the justice system) would radically change prior to any changes in the drug laws. I think that libertarians must shoulder a lot of the blame for the decline in the quality of policing and prosecuting. Virtually all responsibility has been taken away from individual police officers. Instead they are required to follow ever-more complex guidelines and procedures, which are designed to protect the guilty and guard against even the possibility that someone, somewhere might say, think or do something racist.

So again, when we analyze the libertarian position carefully, we conclude with Moldbug that, “[j]ust as Newtonian rules only make sense at low speeds, Misesian [i.e. libertarian] rules only make sense in a secure order.” You cannot both demand the police strategy that we now have and demand and an end to the war on drugs. Well, you can, but you’re demands are incoherent at best, and deadly at worst


  1. And about this point somebody chimes in with a pointer to the History and Moral Philosophy class in the novel Starship Troopers, and the example of techniques to housebreak your dog.

  2. Isegoria says:

    I recommend letting the dog do what it wants, until it gets out of control. Then, of course, you have to shoot it. (Excellent reference, Winchell!)

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