Much of the social confusion Americans experience today stems from a single meta-change: the concepts of ‘public’ and private’ are collapsing to a singularity.
We are witnessing the privatizing of just about everything. The result is a rolling breakdown in communal living, government, and public dialogue–especially since many people are resorting to private definitions for a host of words (“racism,” “violence,” “history,” etc.).
When Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender was famously asked what a resident should do after the police in the city have been abolished and a burglar tries to break in, Bender came back with the non sequitur that the question itself came from “a place of privilege.”
privilege, n. : a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor
derived from the Latin privus (“individual” or “private”) + legis (“law”)
With the word “privilege,” Bender was calling up a favorite leftist article of faith. That is, the police amount to a private security force for Americans of European descent. According to this myth, the police oppress, ignore, shoot, and beat everyone else–especially Americans of African descent.
Moreover, by using the word “privilege,” Bender also implied that public laws against burglary are really ‘white laws’–that Americans of African descent and other racial minorities somehow do not believe burglary is really a crime, so police should not be enforcing such private laws against them.
The racialist priors in Bender’s beliefs are really spectacular, when you unpack them. Her insinuations are self-evidently insane to anyone who regularly goes outside and looks at the world–or speaks with Americans of African descent, who by and large don’t like their stuff stolen, either.
There is dark humor in the efforts of Bender and like-minded activists. As public police forces are neutered by lawmakers and starved of resources, Americans are certain to turn to *actual* private security forces for safety–a common practice in places like Brazil and South Africa already. Exploring the future of private security in Human Events, Emma Freire writes:
If the trend [to defund police] continues, no matter what alternatives to the police the government provides, middle-class Americans will eventually start to rely on some form of private security. We’re already seeing this in fact—consider what’s happening in Seattle, Washington. According to the media, private security officers proliferated the area in and around Capitol Hill, which was occupied by activists for most of June. During that time, one private security company told the Seattle Times it was receiving 200 calls a day from local businesses in need of security services.
Don’t be fooled into thinking the European-American middle class and rich alone are moving toward private security. Leftist paramilitary forces (Antifa being just one among many) amount to private security forces for identity groups. These ‘alt-police’ are consciously taking on the role of protection and enforcement for racial minorities and anyone else who fits their definition of “historically oppressed.”
In places like Portland and Seattle, what we are watching is not rioters versus police; rather, we are watching private, social-justice police versus public police. We may see this same conflict in many other locales before too long.
The rush to privatize stands out in policing, but the same pattern runs through all of American life today. Denizens indulge in private (or “personalized”) news feeds; private gated communities; private education; private entertainment; private travel; private platforms for dialogue (social media); private sexual customs (pornography, gay marriage, polyamory); private gyms and recreation; private definitions of language; and private religion (boutique and new-age spirituality).
American lawmaking, jurisprudence, politics, culture, technology, and wealth have all coincided to supercharge the privatization of American life. Commonly held public norms, morals, and in-person assemblies are ferociously delegitimized and vanishing–including impersonal and society-wide standards of justice, often called “rule of law.”
Instead, we have actual “privilege”–that is, different government treatment for different individuals or groups:
Different access to justice for the wealthy and the poor (a heinous transgression of the Jewish God’s law, incidentally). Different standards of prosecution for the managerial class and the non-managerial (e.g. James Comey and Roger Stone). Different college requirements for Americans of African and indigenous descent compared to those of Asian or European descent. Different assembly standards for BLM protesters and churchgoers. Different anti-trust enforcement for tech oligarchs and other industries.
Paradoxes proliferate on the square as the hunger for privacy and privileges eats up public spirit. When everything is private, then everything is public, too. All useful and meaningful distinctions evaporate.
Private property rights and protections erode. Spies and busybodies flourish, in order to expose “bad” private views to the censure and punishment of the world. Individuals associate themselves with poorly defined, private “identity groups” to achieve a factitious “public” spirit–even when this spirit fuels itself by attacking the public as a whole (“down with the oppressive United States!”).
To get a sense of the mechanism at work, imagine a fellow living in a cabin, who is so private he won’t go out to get firewood. Instead, he maintains his hyper-privacy by tearing apart the walls of his cabin and feeding them into the stove for warmth. Pretty soon, his privacy is destroyed by his efforts to rigidly maintain it. He winds up standing in the woods next to a useless stove, in full view of everyone, with nowhere to relax or keep warm.
That’s where America is headed, if we are not careful.