Not that it happens often, but some people make the decision to use defensive force against cops or TSA agents. All force against cops and TSA agents is defensive. If you know me it might not seem like it, but I am torn on how to react to these people. I want to honor them as much as possible, read and post their work if they have any, mock the targets, and say cold shit like referring to the dead targets as a traffic inconvenience. It just seems like the right thing to do. Admittedly, none of these brave men have been anarchists who decreased the number of cops in the world in the name of the NAP. Some of them had probably just had enough. But they have to know that this is a suicide mission, and it strikes me as a mission deserving of respect not contingent on my uneducated opinions on military strategy.
But at the same time I don’t want to encourage bad strategy, and respect and veneration have whatever market value it is that they have. Though its not a NAP violation and not otherwise immoral, shooting cops is a bad plan. Because, as too many people fail to recognize, there is a difference between philosophy and strategy. Lots of things that aren’t NAP violations are a bad idea and are things that you should not do. Shooting heroine is like shooting cops in that way- it’s not a NAP violation, but it’s a bad plan and you should not do it. Starting a battle, or escalating a war, that you do not conceivably have the numbers to win is bad strategy. There is something that seems not quite right about praising someone for following through on a bad plan.
I have a problem with failing to give someone the respect that they deserve because I disagree with them on strategy. The overwhelming majority of anarchists are even willing to call these people “murders” or accuse them of “ruining the movement” even though none of the shooters have been a part of the movement, and this is a level of disrespect more befitting of someone wearing a badge than it is of someone who has given their life ridding the world of oppressors. There are no NAP or other moral concerns, and so these people should not be treated as if they are heinously immoral. I find it atrocious the way these people, or their memories, are treated by people who purport to support liberty.
As much as I think that its horrible strategy, I also don’t feel any particular right to tell someone else what strategy to use. Especially when that person is willing to actually do something about it, and for the most part I’m not doing anything. I sure as hell am not incurring the kind of personal costs, that can only be incurred by using lethal defensive force against cops. As a whole it is absolutely not anywhere near time to shoot State agents. I’d say we’ve got about 200 years to go as an optimistic guess if everything goes exactly right. But we know nothing of their situations. I don’t know what any of these people had to lose, what their oppression tolerance was, the relative value they placed on life and freedom, or how done they were. Neither I nor anyone else has any right to tell someone that they have to have place the same relative value on life vs freedom as we do or that they can’t defend themselves if we don’t like the PR implications. “Sorry, you aren’t allowed to defend yourself against your aggressor because I don’t like how it looks. Also, I value life more than freedom and so you have to too. I believe in self-ownership though.” This seems wholly inconsistent with anarchist philosophy.
In the distant future, when we do have a viable chance to dissolve the State, I don’t want the entire culture to hold nothing but contempt for people who dared defend against cops in the past. Using defensive force against State agents is bad strategy now. Hopefully it won’t always be. I don’t particularly think that people in the future will make decisions based on what we are saying now, but if we devolve to be a bunch of pacifists who are convinced that the State will go away if we ask nicely and wish real hard, then it is likely that that is what our descendants will be. I do think it is valuable to keep the idea alive. Sure, sooner or later someone will figure it out, but I don’t want to rely on that happening at the same time that it is good strategy, and it just seems easier to be intellectually consistent now. It seems to me that being intellectually consistent includes both honoring brave people and criticizing strategies.