A curious little piece of news came out in the French press, which was picked up by a few sources but largely ignored: Amsterdam’s top police officer has warned the city in the Netherlands is incapable of dealing with rising lawlessness.
Amsterdam is one of the most liberal cities in the West, with open and free drug laws and red-light districts. That has resulted in the city becoming a den of chaos. Tourists come from all over Europe to take advantage of lax drug and prostitution laws. Many don’t respect local police, nor care about local customs, hygiene, or safety.
European police, including those in Amsterdam, are so neutered they are not allowed to carry weapons or use force. This results in miscreants freely defecating or urinating in public, even on police cars. European police are also gender-neutral, which has resulted in comical footage of three or four officers trying to capture one strong male suspect.
Other footage of miscreants overpowering female police officers is less comical and more horrifying. In Paris recently, a female cop was sent by her superiors to tackle an African migrant gang. Again, the result was exactly what one might expect (violence warning).
Violent crimes have increased. There are turf wars between drug gangs. Illegal taxis thrive, and street races are plenty. In the words of the officer, “the city centre becomes an urban jungle at night.” The officer added that the police are powerless to do anything.
Similarly, in a setback for libertarianism, England’s first privately run prison had to be taken over by the government after it emerged that there was total anarchy within. “‘Fearful’ staff have taken to locking themselves in their own offices after being targeted by inmates,” The Telegraph reported.
It appears prisons are better managed and manned by hardcore ex-armed forces with batons and tasers than with 50-year-old grandmas asking inmates to read Deepak Chopra for holistic development. In Sweden, in one night, gangs of “youths” torched 80 cars in social-media-coordinated, military-style attacks in several cities, leading to a hapless Swedish prime minister pleading on the radio for the violence to stop and asking, “What the h-ll are you guys thinking?”
No one asked him what Sweden was thinking when it accepted millions of military-age men from different cultures, while simultaneously turning its own forces effete and gender-neutral. Western societies in general and western conservatism in particular are undergoing a crisis of masculinity. For decades, the binding principle in the West had been tilted in favor of liberty, for good reason. Conservatives and libertarians came to a tacit compromise to face off the menace of totalitarian communism. That reality has changed, and the balance is lost.
As liberals merge with former communists to shift ever further left towards democratic socialism, the conservatives have lost touch with one of the cornerstones of conservatism: central authority and order against anarchy. Given that scenario of generic lawlessness, not just in the Netherlands but in Sweden, and the United Kingdom, it is understandable that Jordan Peterson’s book emphasizing personal responsibility and good boundaries is a best-seller.
Of course, one cannot spend a day without reading about the abuse of authority in totalitarian countries, such as in Chinese and Filipino anti-drug campaigns, or the Chinese crack-down on Islamic terrorism and Uighurs as a population. There’s an entire cottage industry in western media devoted to coverage of police over-stepping boundaries in non-Western countries.
Unfortunately, less importance is given to a massive backlash in the West against a liberal push for too much liberty, without authority or responsibility. The Western elite has largely doubled down on concepts of justice based on rehabilitation, and not punitive deterrence.
In the United States, for example, liberals are determined to abolish the authority of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Drug Enforcement Administration, and even prisons, which leads to electoral defeats. In the UK and Europe, the push against authority is even worse and has resulted in a complete neutering of police. Their uniform color has changed from what might inspire confidence or fear towards more comical fluorescent colors and gender-neutral uniforms, like baseball caps instead of helmets.
Naturally, in the complete absence of law and order, there’s anarchy in certain sections of society. As Hobbes once said, authoritarians rise in anarchy, which is evident in the rise of the far right and even some far-left parties, on the platform of law and order. Second, even within Europe, cultural difference is noticeable. In some conservative U.S. states, there’s a massive push by libertarians to legalize drugs and open borders. The old-fashioned concepts of nation states and guarded borders and stern men in uniform guarding law and order and meting out justice are anathema to this utopian view of society.
Unfortunately, conservatives face this Machiavelli’s paradox. In Machiavelli’s terms, rule by love has its limits, and too much liberty leads to chaos, which might turn citizens to the arms of a strong man who will bring back order. Hobbes echoes this idea, that sometimes the fear of righteous justice is needed in society, or else people prefer the Leviathan.
Common, civilized people like order and authority. It’s a natural inclination of humans to be governed, as David Hume wrote, to be in a system where they feel safe, and where the law is supreme. People typically prefer anyone and any system which provides them with safety.
The recent appeal in Europe for authoritarian political parties strict on law and order show how much the needle has shifted, as people realize that boundless liberty as a concept, without any responsible checks and balances, or punitive authority, is incoherent and more often than not, dangerous. It should be a lesson for American conservatives not to fall in that circle.