Saturday, September 5, 2020

Law and Order: The Politics of Injustice

Law and Order: The Politics of Injustice
Peter Schultz

            Question: Why are Biden and Trump responding similarly to the protests in US cities? Answer: Their responses are similar because neither one is primarily concerned with justice, with the justice of protesters grievances. And when there isn’t a concern with justice, the only policy remaining is “law and order,” a policy that masks the accepted irrelevance of justice.

            This is, actually, a phenomenon that elites in the US replicate over and over. It is one of the reasons that those elites may be called, accurately, “power brokers.” They deal in power, not justice. And “law and order” is essentially and deeply a power play. Again and again, when protests and disruptions against injustices occur in the US, the elites, the power brokers’ embrace “law and order.” So, while sympathizing with the protesters’ grievances, former President Obama said: “Violence is never justified,” a sentiment repeated by Biden. But such a sentiment only makes sense when the protester’s appeals to justice are ignored or considered irrelevant. As anyone who thinks about human history for thirty seconds realizes, violence in the face of injustice is often justified.

            This is, however, a scenario that US elites, both “left” and “right,” don’t want to consider. And they don’t want to consider it because once they do, they would be forced to admit that the prevailing order is marred by, perhaps even based on injustice. In other words, elites avoid, even suppress questions of justice in order to protect the status quo and the power and the authority the status quo confers on them. To question the status quo threatens the current elites, while “law and order” does not. In fact, “law and order” reinforces, fortifies those elites and their power, their authority.

            Bottom line: Embedded in the American political order is a deep antipathy toward justice. Concerns with justice are ignored, hidden, even suppressed in order to reinforce, fortify the reigning political order, thereby disguising the fact that that order is permeated with injustice. And when this fact threatens to become visible, the reigning elites must double-down on “law and order;” that is, double-down on their injustices.

            As Niccolo Machiavelli taught us long ago, those who wish to succeed in this world “must learn to be able not to be good.” Whatever justice exists in this world rests on injustice or, as Machiavelli also put it, that justice rests on “inhuman cruelty.” Or as a more recent commentator put it, that justice rests on “the management of savagery.”  

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