Authority and Property

13 Dec 2011

Caleb Crain, for The New Yorker:

I find it hard to imagine myself plumply saying “No” to a police officer’s request, even if the request seems less than fully justified. The incident reminded me that the police have no authority except insofar as they are enforcing the law.

I do not accept Caleb’s premise that the systems that came before worked any better than the system we have now – although that is not to say that we are living within the best of all possible societies. Inequalities of race, of sexuality, of wealth exist a thousand-fold.

Still, the connection that he traces between police and property is an interesting one. I am not convinced that I have enough economic background to be able to understand the arguments behind it, but the premise is worth putting some more thought into.