Of course Blackberrys and social media can also be used to ask neighbors for help or to request police assistance. But when ordinary citizens are forbidden to act on their own initiative (“let the police do the job”), they are essentially deprived of community, which is in a way not quite, but similar to being deprived of the right to assembly. The law-abiding citizen becomes an atomized individual with only one legitimate relationship: the subordinate one to the all-powerful state. Brian Micklethwait described the problem: when the seconds count and the police are only days away, how can you be a bystander while your house burns?
The trouble with “letting the Police do their job” is that in the precise spot in which you happen to live, or used to live, their job probably won’t start, if it ever does start, for about a week. In the meantime, letting the Police do their job means letting the damn looters and arsonists do their job, without anyone laying a finger on them, laying a finger on them being illegal. This is a doomed policy. If most people are compelled by law to be only neutral bystanders in a war between themselves and barbarism, barbarism wins. The right to, at the very least, forceful self defense must now be insisted upon. The Police, as we advocates of the don’t-disarm-the-victims-of-crime policy have been pointing out for decades, can’t be everywhere. They cannot instantaneously attend every crime, and magically prevent it. Only the potential or actual victims of crime can sometimes immediately prevent or immediately punish crime, provided only that they not forbidden to.
The problem with the modern welfare state is that the only political constituency it responds to are voters whose loyalties are bought. The rest — those whose loyalties are given gratis — are taxed to pay for the voters who must be compensated for obeying the law. Since there is too great a correspondence between those who pay taxes and obedience to the law, the government can realistically forget about the taxpayers. Like sheep they will do what they are told even when their homes are burning. By elimination that leaves only the the rent-a-votes to worry about.
That is probably why British Home Secretary Theresa May was at pains to ask the “Community” to help quell the riots — something you might have thought was the job of the police. “Community” is one of those special terms which say more by who is excluded than by who is included. To belong to one of those reserved groups, which alone seem to have the right to act in times of civil unrest, you have to be on a list which can never be enumerated under pain of being accused of bigotry. But membership does have its privileges. As the Home Secretary told the press, policing is largely a matter of getting cooperation from community leaders:
“The way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon,” Home Secretary Theresa May told Sky News. “The way we police in Britain is through consent of communities.”
That phrase expresses the ultimate power reversal of the welfare state age. The political elite is now dependent on its rented voters to stay in power. The price the “all-powerful state” has to pay for power is to constantly be at the beck and call of its least servile citizens. That’s the bargain and it’s a devil’s bargain. Those who pay for the farce remain bystanders, strangers in a strange land.
The Reservation is ultimately a trap for everyone. Yet door away from it remains open, barred only by the meme with the flaming sword.