Get PJ Media on your Apple

Belmont Club

A Room of One’s Own

April 20th, 2013 - 3:02 pm

A reader asks ‘suppose instead of big 9/11 type attacks we have a Boston every year or two? What if a couple of guys with homemade bombs paralyzing a dozen cities? Will we have more lockdowns? Will we have TSA agents patting down grandmas in the streets a regular part of national life?’

After the exhilaration of knowing the perps were nabbed dies down, some people will be asking themselves: do I really want my neighborhood turned into Fallujah with tactical stacks of men going room to room?  If Boston’s response is going to be the template response for future incidents then it will be unsustainable for more than handful of incidents a decade.

The answer to the reader’s question probably consists of two parts. The first is that despite everything that has been said against it,  centralized law enforcement  had to rely on public video — store surveillance cameras, cell phone footage etc — to find the cultprits. Without the public video resources the FBI would have been limited to the Russian tip identifying the Chechen suspects and the interrogation by the bureau two years ago.

So like it or not the public video is here to stay.  Therefore entrepreneurs  may soon create apps based on crowd sourcing with feedback loops to law enforcement or media organizations built in. The cell phone and tablet boom has turned the public into one gigantic sensor and news gathering agency. The future of law enforcement and reporting is to tap into this vast sensory organ and respond to it, possibly with financial incentives. The populated public space will soon become surveillable in near real time.

The hunt for the Boston Marathon bombers is possibly a portent of things to come.

The second part of the response is that an outsourced, privatized jihad will probably be increasingly met by privatized security regime based on reputation. With the government unwilling to profile in a increasingly vulnerable public space some entrepreneurs may create members-only events where attendance is limited to pre-cleared individuals who pay to have themselves vetted. Government already does this. It’s called a security clearance that prevents entry to certain facilities or participation in certain meetings without a pre-clearance. If the public space gets out of control in then we can expect a proliferation of restricted private spaces.

“Clubs”, once a feature of class-stratified England, will be back under the impetus of Mumbai-style attacks. Then unless you are clubbable there won’t be any place nice for you to go. A reciprocity between clubs will probably be negotiated to allow high reputation individuals to move more or less seamlessly between equivalent events. It may resemble the visa waiver system now in place between Australia and the United States. An Australian adult planning travel to America currently types in his passport number into a US government webform and pays 14 bucks from a credit card. (It must be a credit card) And if the DHS has nothing on him, then in 5 seconds he gets an visa waiver. This effectively restricts visa-free travel not only to citizens of certain countries but to holders of credit cards.

You can imagine a similar private system working to regulate movement between private spaces. For example, airlines could offer “club” flights and venues can offer club events. Of course, anybody can still board the nondiscriminatory ‘public’ flight or attend ‘public’ events. But the segmentation would have the practical effect of separating the population by race and class. The public flights would be overwhelmingly used by individuals who either won’t or can’t qualify for “club”. Nor will you be able to sit down at certain lunch counters in privatized spaces unless you have the Platinum reputation card. Segregation will be back  in certain respects. In addition to segregation via price we may have it by reputation.

The future may also see private defense agencies eventually emerge. They have been in the theoretical works for a long time. “A private defense agency (PDA) is a conceptualized agency that provides personal protection and military defense services voluntarily through the free market. A PDA is not a private contractor of the state and is not subsidised in any way through taxation or immunities, nor does it rely on conscription and other involuntary methods. Instead, such agencies would be financed primarily through insurance companies, which are penalized for losses and damages, and have an incentive through competition to minimize waste and maximize quality of service.” These agencies have remained in the realm of economic speculation for some time. But they have real theoretical advantages, not in the least because they are potentially more responsible than the government. They are vulnerable to liability suits. And if they don’t provide good service customers will leave them, neither of which can be done with public defense agencies.

In The Market for Liberty, Linda and Morris Tannehill note that a private defense agency would be unlikely to engage in aggression, as it would not only become a target of retaliatory force, but would become the subject of severe business ostracism. Honest and productive individuals would dissociate themselves from it, fearing that it might use its aggressive force against them in the event of a dispute; or that they might become accidental casualties when retaliatory force is used by one of its other victims; or that their own reputation would suffer due to their ties to it. Moreover, the private defense agency’s reputation would suffer and it would be regarded as a poor credit and insurance risk, the latter due to the high risk of claims resulting from its involvement in aggression. The employees and leaders of such an agency as well could face personal civil liability for their involvement, and the agency would not be shielded by sovereign immunity. High-quality employees would presumably be less willing to be involved with such an organization.

The most likely impetus for the emergence of private defense would be the failure of government provided safety. We can actually see this happening. In every places where law and order is perceived to be breaking down gated community communities, private security guards and neighborhood watches  proliferate. Even anti-gun media personalities like Piers Morgan’s property must bow to reality. His home is protected by “Armed Response Security Systems”.

Good for me but not for thee

And if Piers Morgan is already there can the rest of us be far behind?

Thus the sclerotic response of the Westphalian state to private warfare — i.e. “Islamic terrorism” and similar ideologies — combined with the media obsession with controlling the narrative can actually lead to the weakening of both. If they don’t work they won’t survive.

Nor is private defense a completely theoretical matter. Historians cite instances where it  filled in for a unreliable or missing government service. “The common popular perception that the Old West was chaotic with little respect for property rights is incorrect. Since squatters had no claim to western lands under federal law, extra-legal organizations formed to fill the void.”

The land clubs and claim associations each adopted their own written contract setting out the laws that provided the means for defining and protecting property rights in the land. They established procedures for registration of land claims, as well as for protection of those claims against outsiders, and for adjudication of internal disputes that arose. The reciprocal arrangements for protection would be maintained only if a member complied with the association’s rules and its court’s rulings. Anyone who refused would be ostracized. Boycott by a land club meant that an individual had no protection against aggression other than what he could provide himself.

Before Wyatt Earp there was Tombstone Territory where “you’re future’s just as good as your draw.”

The return of clubs would create an interesting dynamic. For one thing it would end the advantages of being “free rider”. Anyone who was unwilling to provide for his defense would be undefended. The Berkeley “gun free” zone for example, would be at liberty to rely on the government to protect it. If that doesn’t work then they’ll emuate Piers Morgan.

The effects of relying on the public sensor network for news are harder to predict. It will probably make the suppression of facts contrary to the narrative harder since the storyline must be imposed retroactively to breaking events. In the Boston Marathon Bombing case the media’s role was unusually restricted to “explaining things”; to admonish the public “not to rush to judgment”. They became commentators and aggregators rather sources of news.

The world is a dynamic place. And reality throws curve balls at us all the time. In the end the world is what it is whatever government and media say.


The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99

Tip Jar or Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Subotai,

You forget that the elite need safety, too. If they find that the government security model is broken, they *will* create and defend an alternative.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We have a hint of the media reaction to private security in the Zimmerman-the-Terrible shooting of the saintly child, Trayvon. Interestingly, that involved DIY working class private security and not the blue ribbon contract service for Piers Morgan, for which the media reaction would have been drastically different, i.e., non-existent.

Only in recent history have we been expected to rely totally on "Peace Officers" without a personal weapon for defense. The public are not helpless. Since 9/11, the dozens of people attempting to disrupt an airplane flight, or just behaving badly, have been pummeled by the passengers, starting with heroic Flight 93.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Snort. The Federal government resources will NEVER take the place of locals that know the people and the terrain. I can't help but think how much more quickly and efficiently neighborhood watch associations could have canvassed the areas. In the end, after all, it was a man outside the search perimeter that found the terrorist hiding in his boat and, as a reward, government representatives riddled his boat.

I really don't know why a tracking dog wasn't brought in immediately. He was on foot and bleeding. The dog would have found him in less than 15 minutes.

If the Federal government can't handle security (and let me say that I was less than impressed), then the state should. If the state can't, the county can. If the county can't, the city or township will. If those fail, then individuals will band together and replace the incompetents in city, county, state, and federal governments.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (37)
All Comments   (37)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
I just waded through Wikipedia's PDA and can't find much difference beween a PDA and a PMC. Free enterprise private security companies already offer most of the services discussed, and the higher-speed, lower-drag companies staffed by former upper tier special operators exist at the mercy of the Federal government's BATFE and the State bureaucracies regulating private security companies, whose forbearance will cease when the private operators embarrass the tax-payer funded, Dunkin' donut munchin' Imperial Stormtroopers.

A Security Officer employed by a private security company has no more rights or powers than any other citizen. On some posts he may be armed, but his Rules of Engagement are very restrictive and any "powers" he may have can only be exercised on the client's property. Once he departs the client's perimeter most companies require him to pass his weapon to his relief and he gets to take his chances driving home like anybody else.

Governments create the legal environment any "PDA" must operate in. They also create the conditions which make "PDA's" seem like a good idea. I know of at least one state that permits and encourages property-owners to hire off-duty Sheriff's deputies to snooze in their patrol cars at the front-gate for $30.00/hour. Tough to compete against that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Annoy has it right. But I don't think a "club" is an appropriate description.

As things start to go down hill, I think you will see like minded neighbors quietly forming their own neighborhood militias.

It appears more and more though, that the two nutjob brothers did not act alone.

The Daily Mirror has a quote from an anonymous law enforcement source saying the bombs were too sophisticated to be created by the brothers. The brothers' apartment was raided and there was not a hint of bomb residue or anything linked to bomb making. So where did those two make the bombs?
Another law enforcement anonymous quote thinks there is a 12 man sleeper cell out there.

To add to Subotai's points from an earlier thread, the FBI was slow, slow slow.

The two brothers would never have been captured if they had split Boston, and gone overseas. They would probably never have been identified if they had worn disguises. The younger one was so clueless that he went to a campus party Wednesday night where people would recognize him. It's hard to imagine in these days of CSI and NCIS that a hardened terrorist would be so foolish. In any case, this time the FBI was very lucky, but the next ( and there probably still a sleeper cell out there), they likely won't be so fortunate.

The two brothers could easily be pawns in a larger game, where the purpose of the bombing was to test the system in preparation for further attacks. If that is the case, your friendly neighborhood militia may come in handy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If one is so inclined, and willing to accept that doing so will get you classified by the coercive organs of the State as being an "Enemy of the State"; involvement with the movement to defend the Second Amendment would be a start. If one was willing to be tagged with the same title by the Institutional Republicans, add involvement with any of a number of TEA Party groups, Conservative groups, etc.

And be sure that in a time of demonstrated weakness by the regime; the Chechens will not be the only ones attacking us. Keep thine codpieces buttoned.

Subotai Bahadur
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I assume the government will try to interfere in the latter development as much as possible.

As for video... the imminent debut of Glass means that in a few years Google alone may have a significant number of networked eyes at every public gathering. How far is real-time facial ID of strangers on the street?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sparklesalt - Yes, the Mark I eyeball is the sensor of choice. But who is the owner of that magic eyeball, and how is it networked into an intelligent node that can act?

One of the final expert witnesses at the BP oil spil trial made a very strong point about connecting the eyeball to intelligence to action. He noted that the Captain of the Deepwater Horizon saw drilling mud raining down out of the mud/oil sperarator on the derrick onto the deck of his ship, but he failed to push the big red STOP button on the emergency disconnect system.

Had the captain pushed the STOP button, the blowout preventer would have activated the blind shear ram, which would have sheared the drill pipe and shut in the well, as the riser disconnected from the BOP.

Only in the in the fantasy world of Clintonian diplomacy, does a big red button mean RESET, rather than STOP.

When things are going to hell with a machine, the first thing you ought to do is push the big red STOP button. That is so basic that even an IDIOT ought to be able to understand it.

If Captain Kuchta had pushed the big red STOP button when he first saw mud raining down on his deck, there would have been no oil spill from the wellhead.

ZERO, ZIP, NADA!

But "connecting the dots" seems to be way outside the capabilities of many, many people, including Captain Kuchta, but also not least the Government.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment


There is another common term for these clubs, it is called a militia.

The idea of a private defense agency based on insured claims probably has a precedent in the Pinkertons’. The problem with insurance based agencies is that by necessity its concerns are narrow in focus and not the least in matters of public order. The club more directly follows the model of small government. There is a loss of mission in the case of sprawling government. When big government has become obsessed with the little details like neutral sexuality, preferred skin color, what people say when committing a crime, or whether or not they choose to protect themselves by the force of arms, such a government cannot secure its borders or make its cities safe. They become rulers of an artificial morality made up in progressive institutions and driven by deconstructionism and moral degeneracy.

The idea of the club is a half-step from central bureaucracy toward self-sufficiency and personal responsibility. It is a step back to the church pew where such clubs existed in society. The club is protection from the aberrant individual as well as the willfully neglectful national agency.

A government transfixed on the trivial is a government too big to protect any other than itself. There is the case of Los Angeles Police Department that has vowed to serve and protect itself first foremost in time of public peril. In a city over run by federally funded armed militias in the form of eM, Mexican Mafia, La Florencia, et al, these are the clubs that serve their members best. The LAPD serves and protect themselves to live out their million dollar pensions, benefits I do not begrudge them. But we have this situation where we must look to ourselves, our clubs, our militias because the federal government stopped serving the interest of its citizens as it sought to do what was right for the worlds poor. It has failed at its primary responsibility of preserving our borders and hence forth our democracy and way of life.

They have necessitated the need to join armed gangs because they have sued the states, sued the counties, sued the cities, and sued the individual who have had the audacity to protect their property from foreign criminal gangs. The existence of armed gangs in our prisons is the crux of the failure of the American government.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Private defense clubs of one sort or another seem to always arise in chaotic times, when there is a lack of central authority (Although what's wrong with the sheep in Cyprus and Greece, who just sit there and take whatever their "better's" dish out to them?)

But the long recurring problem with them in every age is that they have no accountability to anyone outside themselves, and they go bad quickly as they are always taken over by their most violent members. The Italian self defense club in NYC a little over a century ago, created to help Italians from being victimized by the English speakers, quickly turned into La Cosa Nostra.

And land clubs! Rather quaint, the phrase that those who didn't obey were "ostracized." It went quite a bit farther than that - read up on the famous Lincoln County War in New Mexico, in which the Cattlemen's Association brought in gunfighters for hire to chase off the farmers/squatters who were moving in on the range. Gave Billy the Kid his start, among other things.

Along that line, when private armies get crosswise with each other you get something like the Hatfield's and McCoy's. The prime function of the government is to create and maintain a monopoly on violence - when government loses its authority and functionality, violence becomes the normal mode of conflict settling. We don't have to wonder what that's like, just look at Libya and Syria today to see how that works out.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Clubs described are 'Reaction Defensive'. The defenders have to receive the first round and thus take casualties (and/or property damage), before being able to respond.
A counter poise is the 'Offensive Defense' of seeking out the enemy and executing a first strike.
Using the insurance company model, would not risk carriers find it useful to mitigate exposure by, say, hitting Islam hard and often, at much lower cost than being reactive?
Since Letters of Marque are no longer used, these preemptive forays would be extra legal. Then the government would take sides, either militarily or via law enforcement. Private security cannot work without complicit acceptance by a host government.

You will have noticed there have been no terrorist attacks in Mecca or Medina or even by the besieged Israelis.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"divide et impera"

In politics and sociology, divide and rule (or divide and conquer) ... is gaining and maintaining power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into chunks that individually have less power than the one implementing the strategy.

This is the basic dynamic behind identity politics. You basically cannibalize the country so you can rule over the ruins. See Curley Effect. See Coleman in Detroit.

Eventually you sell 'protection' to the smaller factions who are by that time living in fear. Ed Koch and Alan Dershowitz thought they bought protection only to find they were double-crossed. Well if its any consolation, everyone, including the Muslims and the African Americans, perhaps especially the African Americans will be double-crossed.

Like the character in the Unforgiven said, "we all got it coming."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So, basically, you see us turning into Latin America, North.

Great.

In other bad news: In New York City (Thursday), a wild melee erupts as the NYPD arrests a muslim for attacking a Jew on the subway train: you have to see this video to believe it:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/c9l3lxd

watch the whole thing, and for God's sake stay off the 3 train in Brooklyn; this is scary as hell.

the cops are barely in control
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In a Balkanized state the "King's Justice" is often less powerful than factional justice. The Lebanese Army and police for example, will dissolve quickly in a civil war as each tribe returns to its own militias.

And what is Balkanization but another name for identity politics. The cost of identity politics is the destruction of the idea of America and its replacement by a plethora of hyphenated Americas. The consequence of Balkanization is that the state gradually deligitimizes itself as it becomes a vehicle for tribal warfare.

Unless the process is stopped there will eventually be no "King's Justice". Just tribal retaliation.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 2 3 Next View All

One Trackback to “A Room of One’s Own”