In Suburban Defense, I define without the rule of law (WROL) as: the absence of government authority and a reversion to an uncivilized world. This is a situation where police and courts are non-existent; a total collapse of law and order. Criminals will not be arrested and prosecuted. It is the law of the jungle; kill or be killed; only the fittest survive. This situation is essentially lawless and resembles war more than a disaster.
We are not there yet. While some groups can get away with criminal activity due to social and political pressures, the law abiding cannot yet resort to measures that the law does not frown upon. Take for instance Antifa vandalizing businesses or a home of someone that offended the woke mob. You can’t just shoot them or even use civilian-available riot control agents. In most jurisdictions if you act in anything other than immediate self-defense, you will be prosecuted. We saw Kyle Rittenhouse, who was in actual mortal danger, prosecuted and persecuted by a woke DA.
Store owners facing organized snatch-and-grab operations or flash looting mobs can’t shoot the criminals. Yet police don’t arrive in time and might only catch a fraction of suspects. Prosecutors in some sick “restorative justice” scheme may not even press charges, reduce the charges, or offer weak plea bargains.
We live in a society where we’ve determined that using lethal force or certain methods are inappropriate for defending property alone. None of us want to see shoplifter’s hands chopped off, as effective as it might be. Being civilized gives us the advantage of not taking drastic measures against criminals. We revere the justice system, where a dumb kid can get a book thrown at him instead of lead. A lot of adult criminals eventually get it together after some time in jail, even though it might take a couple of trips to Graybar University before they shape up. Old England’s “everything’s a felony” where the death penalty was possible for something like 200 crimes is what this country moved away from.
This “soft” approach to crime requires a civilized society where police are expected to enforce the law, catch criminals, and the criminal justice system actually prosecute and punish crooks. Until this century, our country did a pretty good job of this. The three strikes law really did cut down on crime, but we’ve forgotten all the lessons we learned in two hundred years and threw them out in favor of squishiness.
Squishy police, courts, and laws have brought us to where we are. Poor masses are antagonized into this behavior by those with a political agenda. It is us, the law abiding, who suffer for it. We must standby and be victims. We are told the courts will handle it, but they don’t. If we attempt to deal with it ourselves, we risk legal persecution and being turned into a pariah by the Jacobian media and political elements.
Some call this condition without the rule of law because equal application of the law is being deprived namely to the law abiding. I disagree with this assertion. What we are seeing is the early stages of the rule of law breaking down, not living in WROL scenario. I wouldn’t even say criminals are living WROL because they have always operated outside the law; for most of them legal consequences are a cost of doing business and jail inconvenience no greater than being broken is to the rest of us.
While effective punishment might be off the table, police still provide enough of dissuading force to discourage the worst excesses. People will do what they feel they can get away with and habitual criminals will offend anyway. Until police go away, crime is somewhat restrained. When the restraining influence of police is gone, then we will see the violence and breadth of crime escalate.
A time is coming when police will desert because they aren’t getting paid and conditions are too dangerous, physically or legally, for them to do their job. The police are the enforcement arm for the criminal justice system. Until they are off the job, there isn’t a WROL scenario. The law abiding citizen will then feel free to respond to crime as he sees fit (there will be excesses). When both sides no longer have any restraint and the criminal justice system is functionally, not just morally, ineffective, then we are WROL.
A lot of this is nitpicking in conversation. The rule of law is breaking down; we are not without it. This in between stage, which will get worse, is the hardest part. Law abiding citizens will be subjected to terror and loss with little recourse, either by their own hands or under the law. But in every revolt, revolution, or collapse, a point comes when the law can neither restrain the criminal nor the citizen. That day will be a terrible one. Unfortunately, we must learn hard lessons through experience before we can return to peaceful times.
"And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
Author Don Shift
Don Shift is a veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office and avid fan of post-apocalyptic literature and film who has pushed a black and white for a mile or two. He is a student of disasters, history, and current events.