Consider law enforcement agents for a moment. What is their primary task? Most people would say protecting the public is the primary task of law enforcement but the truth lies in their name: law enforcement. The primary job of law enforcement officers is to enforce the state’s laws. Some of these laws revolve around activities that harm others such as rape, murder, and assault. Most of these laws revolve around activities that don’t harm others such as smoking marijuana, tax evasion, and producing distilled spirits. What the latter category of laws create is a revenue source for the state. Being caught smoking marijuana often involves fines. Evading taxes deprives the state from its stolen goods. Distilled liquors are heavily taxes so producing your own, even for personal consumption, stands to deprive the state of more stolen goods. Effectively law enforcement agents are gloried tax collectors.
Why do law enforcement agents ever protect anybody? It’s not because they’re required to. They offer minor protection because it’s the only way people will put up with them. Think about it. Would you put up with a gang of thugs roving your neighborhood and forcefully taking money from individuals that partook in activities that the gang didn’t approve of? Most people would not and without the support of public opinion the state would be unable to inflict its tax collectors on society. On the other hand people like to be safe so selling them protection is fairly easy. Instead of claiming law enforcement agents exist to expropriate wealth from the people the state sells them as protection officers.
What are they protecting people from? They are primarily protecting people from imaginary threats. The state is very good at making up threats or exaggerating threats. One example of these made up threats is the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) numerous arrests of agency-created terrorists. Even though the threat of terrorism in this country is very low the state spends a great deal of time propagandizing the populace into believing terrorism is a common threat. Another interesting example of a state-create threat is hitchhiking:
Before the Second World War, it was a common practice for people in all walks of life. Hollywood films often had cute hitchhiking scenes like the one in “It Happened One Night,” where Claudette Colbert flashes a leg to get a ride. Magazines like Sports Illustrated declared it fun to thumb a ride and, during the war, picking up soldiers was nothing less than a patriotic duty. Even the etiquette doyenne Emily Post gave hitching a green light in the 1940s, offering tips on how to keep the conversation light and impersonal.
But it was the ’60s and ’70s counterculture that embraced hitching as an anti-consumerist, pro-environment celebration of human interdependence. Students were hitchhiking to antiwar demonstrations. Civil rights advocates thumbed rides to register voters in the South. The American automotive industry, by then, had gone into overdrive: there were more cars than ever on the road. Yet an entire generation of young people, it seemed, was on the move without buying them.
This, apparently, irked local police officials, as well as the F.B.I. First, in the late 1950s, the F.B.I. began warning American motorists that hitchhikers might be criminals. A typical F.B.I. poster showed a well-dressed yet menacing hitchhiker under the title “Death in Disguise?”
Demonizing hitchhikers was likely a precursor to stranger danger, another very minor risk exaggerated by the state. Most people naturally fear the unknown and therefore it’s easy for the state to exploit this fear in order to justify its own existence. Hitchhiking, ultimately, can be viewed as a form of mutual aid. Those unable to afford automobiles can cooperate with those who can afford automobiles. High school and college students are well aware of the fact some people can’t afford automobiles. To get around this lack of automobiles many students offer to exchange something; be it gas money, alcohol, or food; for transportation. Through the miracle of cooperation students with automobiles and students without automobiles can come together and benefit one another. Hitchhiking is similar but introduces the risk of unknown persons.
It’s the risk of the unknown that the state exaggerates in order to create fear in the populace. We’re told by law enforcement agents that hitchhikers are dangerous individuals who usually have murder in their hearts. According to the state hitchhikers aren’t looking for a ride, they’re looking for somebody to rape, murder, or torture. By exploiting this threat the state is able to create fear and offer a solution to alleviate that fear, law enforcement. While a majority of law enforcement activities revolve around issuing traffic tickets and enforcing other finable offenses, the people welcome the presences of officers because it alleviates their fear of the unknown.
Fear is one of the state’s most powerful weapons. Because of this they constantly create new fears and then claim they are the sole protection from that fear. We’re constantly told about the dangers of terrorism, strangers, poisonous products, diseased food, greedy capitalists, and other assorted boogeymen. The state then offers to protect us from these dangers, an offer most people gladly accept. Sadly most people can’t see through the propaganda and are doomed to submit to the state’s tyranny for their entire lives.
Consider this thought exercise. Have you ever been the victim of non-state terrorism, assault, or theft? For those of you who have how many times have you been the victims of such crimes? Now, how many of you have been the victims of a speeding ticket, parking ticker, or a tax audit? For those of you who have how many times have you been the victims of such crimes? In all likelihood more people of members of the latter group or, perhaps, both groups. What is more dangerous then? Threats exaggerated by the state or the state itself?