By William Norman Grigg (1963-2017)
When you see a cop — or, more likely, several of them — beating up on a prone individual, do you instinctively sympathize with the assailant(s) or the victim?
If it’s the former, you’re an authoritarian, irrespective of your partisan attachments or professed political philosophy.
If it’s the latter, you’re an instinctive libertarian, whether or not you are consistently guided by that impulse in your political decisions.
It may later be demonstrated that the figure on the receiving end of the beating had committed some horrible crime. However, such a disclosure wouldn’t invalidate the results of the Tom Joad Test, because that test reveals a subject’s default assumptions about the relationship between the individual and the state.
Do you assume that the state is entitled to the benefit of the doubt whenever its agents inflict violence on somebody, or do you believe that the individual — any individual — is innocent of wrongdoing until his guilt has been proven?
This could be considered a reverse application of Lenin’s famous political formula, kto kogo? — broadly translated as “Who does what to whom?” Lenin and his followers sought and acquired the power to be the “Who” in that formula, which meant that millions of those consigned to the “whom” category were imprisoned and slaughtered.
Ironically, many law-and-order conservatives come uncomfortably close to Lenin’s view of the state when they reflexively take the side of agents of state coercion — the “who” in the typical encounter between police officer and citizen. The American view of rights, however, is overwhelmingly weighted on behalf of the latter, even when the “who” is a winsome and well-dressed policeman, and the “whom” is a scruffy and unappealing individual.
Source: The Plague of Punitive Populism
Who was William Norman Grigg? Read his Pro Libertate blog and find out.
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Dum Spiro Pugno.