Organized Violence


Wouldn’t it be interesting if the outfits were reversed– if it were dark-skinned men with batons and weapons standing in a circle around cowering light-skinned men with their hands clasped behind their heads?

I wish somebody would take that picture.

It’s interesting to think about organized force and violence. Where did the idea of property begin? We were nomadic at some point, hunting and gathering wherever we went. Then some of us become more territorial, when they found certain spaces that were recurringly more valuable to they  than others. They’d have guarded those territories by force– how else do you claim ownership to something? Can you claim to own something if someone can simply take it away from you?

So over time you have walled settlements, with men with clubs and swords and spears guarding them on behalf of everybody.

Today we have police forces, armies, jails. All of these things are simply organized force. Even if 99.9% of society never had to raise a fist at anybody else, the entire functioning depends on the promise of violence against anybody who flouts the rules that the rest agree upon.

Imagine if an alien showed up and decided to simply start killing people and taking their property for fun. Imagine if then the police arrested the alien, and they brought him to court for a trial. Imagine he then uses his alien powers to simply decimate the court itself, vaporizing the judge and jury with his alien powers.

Where are your laws now? What can you do against someone who has simply more sheer physical force than your entire justice apparatus?

I joked with a friend that a mafia mobster who wanted to fry bigger fish should go into banking. My friend replied, “Ah, yes, going clean.”

What’s the difference between clean and dirty?

It’s not as straightforward or substantial as you might think.


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