All governments, as St. Augustine observed, begin as criminal bands that achieve dominance over a territory. Even after such syndicates claim the title of “government,” their behavior remains indistinguishable from that of common thieves; the gangs that call themselves “governments,” Augustine emphasized, distinguish themselves from ordinary robbers “not by the renouncing of aggression but by the attainment of impunity.”
Elaborating on that true principle, Albert Jay Nock pointed out that government police agencies do not fight crime; instead, they seek to enforce a monopoly on crime:
“Everyone knows that the State claims and exercises [a] monopoly of crime … and that it makes this monopoly as strict as it can. It forbids private murder, but itself organizes murder on a colossal scale. It punishes private theft, but itself lays unscrupulous hands on anything it wants, whether the property of citizen or alien.”
The insights of Nock and Augustine are fully vindicated wherever we find a small-down speed trap, and the tiny village of Hampton, Florida might be the definitive case.
The criminal clique in charge of Hampton converted a 1,260-foot stretch of a busy interstate into one of the country’s most lucrative speed traps. With the revenue it acquired, the municipal government built a police force of nearly 100 officers to patrol a population of about 480 people. The cops were deployed on lawn chairs at roadside, using radar guns to harvest revenue from motorists, thereby dispensing entirely with the pretense that they were at all interested in protecting persons and property.
Since everything the state has is stolen, every political government is a kleptocracy, and Hampton was one of uncommon purity. A recent municipal audit discovered that as much as $1 million in city revenue had simply disappeared. Abuse of official credit cards and cell phones was rampant. City officials were appointed on the basis of nepotism and wildly overpaid. The last mayor, Barry Lynne Moore, exploited the criminal enterprise called drug prohibition by operating a narcotics ring with the connivance of city police until he was arrested by sheriff’s deputies (who acted as representatives of a more powerful criminal organization).
The Florida state legislature seeks to dissolve the municipality, offering it as a scapegoat on the altar of civic piety.3:00 pm on March 11, 2014