The Anti-Anarchist Cookbook

Epsilon Theory PDF Download (paid subscription required): The Anti-Anarchist Cookbook

Back when I was in 9th grade – so this would have been 1978 – the older brother of a friend of mine had a copy of The Anarchist Cookbook. I remember the thrill I had just holding it. Such forbidden fruit! I only had a chance to flip through it then, but clearly this was the stuff of legend. This was the stuff of dangerous and powerful men.

I found a copy many years later, when I was in grad school. Of course I bought it. I took it back to my apartment, so excited to read this masterpiece at leisure, on my own.

LOL. What a let-down. Here I was expecting the most insanely great revolution-porn of all time, and it was like a Playboy from the 1950s. THIS is what got so many people like 14-year-old me so hot and bothered?

Look, there’s no doubt that The Anarchist Cookbook is pornography.

Meaning it’s got lots of pictures, it’s enormously attractive even in concept to adolescent boys, it’s stimulative rather than informative, and it’s mostly harmless but not completely harmless to consume. Certainly its production is part of a decidedly harmful and terrible subculture, and if you want to make the argument that consuming porn aids and abets that harmful and terrible subculture, I’ll listen. Yes, I know the William Powell story and I know the documentary, American Anarchist.

But if you think that The Anarchist Cookbook is anywhere near as pornographic or contributory to a harmful and terrible subculture as Recoil magazine, which you can find at every Barnes & Noble in the country, then you just aren’t paying attention.

I thought about The Anarchist Cookbook and Recoil magazine when I saw this now infamous picture of the St. Louis personal injury lawyers defending their Italian palazzo. I’m not going to discuss this case, because no one reading this note will be able to get past that discussion. Many readers will not even be able to get past this picture. We are all highly stimulated by this picture. That’s because it’s quality amateur porn. Nowhere near the production values of a cover of Recoil magazine, but in the tradition of quality amateur porn everywhere, the actors more than make up for that with their enthusiasm for the roles.

If I were a betting man – and I am – I’d be prepared to wager a large sum that the McCloskeys do not own a copy of The Anarchist Cookbook. In fact, if they’re aware of it at all, I’m sure they believe it’s a learners’ manual for Commies and traitors. I’d also be prepared to wager a large sum that the McCloskeys own several issues of Recoil or its ilk, and they believe it’s a wonderful resource for freedom-loving American patriots like themselves.

That’s an even more poignant observation when you consider this. I only remember one line from The Anarchist Cookbook (and for all I know I am misremembering … porn memories are less trustworthy than real world memories). But paraphrasing, it goes like this:

Never point a gun at someone unless you’re ready to shoot them.

Never shoot at someone unless you’re ready to kill them.

NARRATOR: The McCloskeys were not ready.

It’s a good lesson, right? I mean, yes, The Anarchist Cookbook is incredibly boring as far as violence-porn goes. But there’s an authenticity and a realness to The Anarchist Cookbook – frankly, just like there’s an authenticity and a realness to those Playboy issues from the 1950s – that is utterly nonexistent in today’s slick productions of culture-porn and politics-porn like Recoil. Or HuffPo. Or OANN. Or CNN. Or Fox.

And in exactly the same way that your real world sex life will be completely messed up if all you know about sex is what you get from watching Pornhub, so will your attitudes about real world citizenship be completely messed up if all you know about politics and culture is what you get from Recoil. Or HuffPo. Or OANN. Or CNN. Or Fox.

I think that’s what happened to the McCloskeys. I think they got so addicted to the culture-porn and politics-porn of whatever their media sources might be, that they actually believed that the right way to “protect themselves” was to buy military weaponry that they have ZERO idea how to use and then brandish that weaponry in a way that makes the situation MORE dangerous to others AND themselves.

But it’s not just the McCloskeys, of course. It’s all of us. We’re all so immersed in the culture-porn and politics-porn that inundates our dopamine-based economy that half of us believe that the United States is a racist Nazi hellscape and the other half believes that the United States is literally burning as Maoist mobs run amok.

Yep, we’re all porn addicts now.

And social media platforms are our pornographers.

Jack Dorsey and Twitter are today’s Hugh Hefner and Playboy. It’s 90% culture-porn and politics-porn, intentionally toned-down just a wee bit, with 10% non-porn material as a beard … you know, like the interviews were for Playboy.

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, though … man, they’re today’s Larry Flynt and Hustler, all hardcore culture and politics-porn all the time.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Or maybe there is.

Maybe it’s not such a great thing that we’re a nation of porn addicts. Maybe it’s not such a great thing that our most powerful media companies are pornographers. Maybe it’s not such a great thing that our President is a gifted political porn star, and that his electoral opponent is … a less-gifted political porn star.

The answer is not to ban culture and politics pornography. I know that because government-led banning (even chilling) of cultural and political speech, no matter how pornographic, IS ITSELF a form of cultural and political pornography. It is, in fact, THE WORST form of cultural and political pornography, because it is, in fact, the means of production of the (truly) fascist state. The answer is not to limit political speech.

No, the answer is to speak politics better.

The answer is to be more attractive than the porn stars. The answer is to be sexy without being pornographic. The answer is to be authentic and real and human and smart. The answer is to choose your words about culture or politics – to construct your narrative about culture or politics – in a way that is not just stimulative for stimulation’s sake, but stimulative and informative and authentic.

That’s what the rest of this note is about. A specific example of a shift in language and narrative that I think can make a real difference in reducing the culture and politics-porn that is killing our world AND help create actual policy change that yes – burns the existing system down – to replace it with something better.

The first chapter – the first of many, I hope – in The Anti-Anarchist Cookbook.

Police reform is only a start …

Defund the police? No.

Demilitarize and Deunionize? Yes.

The problem with “Defund the police” is not one of policy, but of narrative.

I know that neither the proponents nor the opponents of “Defund the police” will agree with me. Both will say it’s ALL about the policy, either the necessity of the policy (proponents) or the horrors of the policy (opponents). If you’re on the left, you will probably be frustrated with me for saying that “Defund the police” is no longer about policy — no, no, Ben, you just don’t understand. And if you’re on the right, you will probably be angry with me for saying this — no, no, Ben, you just don’t see.

What I understand is how culture-porn works. What I see is its success.

In this case it’s a matter of political entrepreneurs on the right taking the word “defund” and associating it with cardiovascular and hormonal-stimulative images and short phrases (n-grams in the narrative science lingo, engrams in the neuropsychology lingo, memes in the popular lingo) in order to produce the desired behavioral reaction in their followers.

For example, here’s the image Breitbart ran in connection with its “news” article Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Supports ‘Defund the Police’ Movement.

Everything about this, from the insertion of AOC’s name in the headline to the tagging of the image (“far-left-rioters-640×480”), is designed for effective search engine optimization (SEO) and social media distribution to a very specific audience. It’s exactly like a porn site, but designed to stimulate stress hormones rather than pleasure hormones. You can find a hundred examples just like this with even a cursory narrative search of the word “defund”, all with very high production values, in media sources like Breitbart, OANN and Fox. It’s quality porn.

And lest my culture porn-addicted friends on the right think I’m picking on them, I’ve got a million zillion examples of equally high production value culture-porn from CNN and Huffpo and MSNBC and all the rest, mostly of the “Republicans pounce” genre (the missionary position of left-leaning culture-porn production). Increasingly though, as cancel culture marches on, the culture-porn of left-leaning media is of the “every public figure is a Nazi racist” genre, which is – and I mean this seriously – the most liberty-destroying and human rights-damaging political development of my lifetime.

Culture-porn addiction is absolutely a both-sides thing, and it boils down to this: if you spend a significant amount of time on social media, regardless of your political affiliation or lack thereof, you are addicted to culture-porn.

I say this in the clinical sense of the word. This is biology, not ethics. I say this as an addict myself.

The result? Once your narrative has been captured by the culture-porn machine (and that’s exactly what it is … a profit-making, power-accumulating machine) you can no longer “explain” to people what your narrative or slogan “really” means.

Why? Because you are no longer fighting ignorance or apathy, you are fighting neural brain chemicals. You are fighting dopamine and cortisol and noradrenaline. You will lose that fight every time.

Willie Brown, maybe the greatest natural politician of the past 50 years, understood this.

Every minute you’re explaining, you’re losing.

Willie Brown, San Francisco mayor 1996 – 2004, godfather of modern California politics

If you don’t know Willie Brown’s story, do yourself a favor and look it up. He’s Alexander Hamilton-esque, just in a different day and age. You could definitely put together a musical here.

Does “Defund” mean “Disband”? Of course not. But every resource spent explaining that “defund” means a reallocation of resources into community policing and policies that can improve the public safety of ALL Americans is a wasted effort. Worse, it’s actually counterproductive. As Willie Brown said, your act of explanation makes you lose more, as it forces people to engage with the highly stimulative culture-porn that you are earnestly explaining about. “Defund the police” has been captured by the culture-porn machine, and there’s no coming back from that.

If you believe in the goals of this policy initiative – as I do – that’s a sad thing. But the proper response to this sad thing is not to mope. It’s certainly not to make the sad thing even sadder by continuing to fight a lost narrative cause.

No, the proper response is to be more attractive than the porn star. The proper response is to speak politics better, using a narrative that is still sexy (i.e., stimulative) but is also authentic and real enough to be culture porn-resistant. Not culture porn-immune. Nothing is culture porn-immune. But culture porn-resistant … a narrative framing that can be successfully advanced by political entrepreneurs of the CENTER.

Imagine that.

Defund the police? No.

Demilitarize and Deunionize? Yes.

The words “demilitarize” and “deunionize” are stimulative, culture-porn resistant, and authentically descriptive of the real world policy changes that structural police reform requires.

By stimulative, I mean it is possible to create a set of specific images and texts around “Demilitarize and Deunionize” that trigger many of the same brain chemical reactions as culture-porn.

By culture-porn resistant, I mean it is difficult for either the politically entrepreneurial left or the politically entrepreneurial right to create an oppositional set of specific images and texts around “Demilitarize and Deunionize”.

By authentically descriptive of real world policy changes, I mean that “Demilitarize and Deunionize” is contextually accurate and an authentic representation of the policy position I am advocating. Put more bluntly, I mean that “Demilitarize and Deunionize” is not culture-porn itself.

That last one is probably the most important, and it’s my biggest problem with the “Defund” argument. I don’t want to defund the police. In and of itself, that is not my policy reform goal. Frankly, I’m prepared to give the police MORE money in terms of salary and training and personnel if I can accomplish my policy reform goals, which are, in fact, to demilitarize and deunionize the police.

Asking these three questions of any narrative – is it effective on a brain chemical level? is it resilient against narrative counterattack? is it authentic to what you truly believe? – is the right framework to achieve lasting policy success in a modern age of ubiquitous social media and culture-porn addiction.

Let’s look at each of these questions in turn for the narrative I’m proposing for structural police reform: “Demilitarize and Deunionize”.

Is “Demilitarize” stimulative?

LOL, the stories write themselves. Here’s a picture of the 14-ton armored personnel carrier that the Los Angeles school district police acquired in 2014 from the US government’s “1033 Program” – a 20-year-old initiative to distribute military equipment to policing authorities. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up. This is the public school police, prepared to navigate whatever literal minefields might get in their way as they storm the potential terrorist bastion of PS 33.

Oh yeah, they also got grenade launchers.

This particular story is six years old, an evergreen because … c’mon, school police and armored personnel carriers. Give me a day, though, and I could write 100 more stories just like it. Every police department in the country has been flooded with expensive military toys like this, and it’s child’s play to write a sexy story arc about that.

Is “Demilitarize” culture-porn resistant?

I think so. But like I said, nothing is culture-porn immune.

The potential culture-porn treatment of police demilitarization is to get some imagery of armed-to-the-teeth criminals murdering a brigade of unarmed patrolmen, and then to equate “demilitarize” with “disarm”.

For example, here’s a shot from the 1995 movie “Heat”, with Robert De Niro mowing down about a dozen cops. If you were able to get something like that from the real world, it would play. Of course, De Niro is white, so you really don’t get the culture-porn money shot here, but I could see the usual media suspects taking some images from, say, a drug cartel’s assault on a Mexican police deployment and trying to use that. It’s possible, but I think it’s a stretch.

Is “Demilitarize” an authentic representation of my policy goals?

Yes, absolutely.

And let me start by addressing that possible culture-porn counter-narrative that I just mentioned, that Demilitarize = Disarm. Every big city should have a SWAT team. Every big city should have a unit capable of handling anything that criminals can bring to bear. And they do. SWAT has been part of every big city’s police organization for almost 50 years. Hell, I’m old enough to remember the original S.W.A.T. on TV, from 1975. It’s impossible to remove this core militarized unit from a large police organization, and even if you could, I don’t think you should.

I’m all for keeping a militarized unit in a police organization.

What I want to eliminate is a militarized police force.

Why? Because militarization is the antithesis of community policing. Because militarization is not just a matter of equipment and firepower, but more crucially a matter of attitude and training. Because militarization creates distance between police officers and the citizens they are sworn to serve, destroying the empathy that should exist from the police to civilians, and the empathy that should flow back in return.

If you tell yourself that you are an occupying army, if you use the language of an occupying army to describe your tactics and your goals in your own internal conversations, then you WILL become that occupying army. And you will be treated as one.

Narratives always matter, but they matter most in the narratives we tell ourselves.

Ubiquitous military hardware is the scaffolding for that language, for that internal narrative that police officers tell themselves. Take away the ubiquitous military hardware. Take away that scaffolding and watch as an old story takes root once again within your police organization, a narrative not of occupying a hostile territory but of defending a grateful community. An old narrative that becomes new again: Protect and Serve.

Imagine that.

One last point here … “Demilitarize” is a specific enough term (far more specific than “Defund”) to describe my policy goals in regards to structural police reform. It is also general enough to describe adjacent policy goals that I also believe should be part of structural police reform, but do not have a stimulative narrative in and of themselves – policy goals like the elimination of civil asset forfeiture.

The seizure of civilian assets without conviction in a court of law – hell, without charges, arrest or trial – is what an occupying army does. Civil asset forfeiture is an affront to every American who gives a damn about liberty or the rule of law, and it goes hand-in-hand with militarization. They came into our police forces together, and they can be eliminated together. This is the power of a strong, winning narrative like “Demilitarize”.

Is “Deunionize” stimulative?

The potential story arcs around police unions are not as visually arresting, but the stimulative effect on brain chemistry is no less.

This is Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Union, shown here discussing his opposition to releasing body camera footage of a fatal police shooting in 2018, and more recently in the news for his denunciation of the firing (not the arrest … the firing) of the four police officers who killed George Floyd. As the New York Times notes, “Mr. Kroll is himself the subject of at least 29 complaints”, including, as the Wall Street Journal notes, at least 10 complaints of excessive use of force, a letter of reprimand for using police resources to harass an ex-girlfriend, and a settlement paid to five Black police officers who, as part of a hostile work environment suit, said that Kroll wore a “white power” badge on his leather motorcycle jacket.

This is Pat Lynch, president of the New York City Police Benevolent Association, shown here in 2019 denouncing a judge’s decision to recommend the firing of the police officer who killed Eric Garner in 2014 with a chokehold. Lynch railed at the “trampling” of the officer’s “due process rights” (again, this firing recommendation is happening five YEARS after Garner’s death), noting that while the death was painful for Garner’s family, the police officers involved have also “suffered”.

Is it Kroll’s and Lynch’s job to take unpopular public positions like this? Yes, to an extent. But only to an extent. No one forced these guys to make a zealous public defense of the indefensible. They sought it out. There’s a difference between filing a labor grievance behind the scenes and an impassioned public defense of killers and abusers, and it is in that difference where brain chemistry stimulation exists.

As with “Demilitarize”, there are literally hundreds of stories like this across America, stories that write themselves when guys like Kroll and Lynch indict themselves with their own language.

Is “Deunionize” culture-porn resistant?


In fact, I don’t think that the politically entrepreneurial right can touch this at all, as they’ve already made a cottage culture-porn industry out of attacking labor and unions. Again, nothing is culture-porn immune, but I have no idea what the “police unions are great” story arc would be from the right, especially since the other giant public sector union – teachers unions – is the Great White Whale of many an Ahab on the politically entrepreneurial right.

It’s the politically entrepreneurial left that is more likely to gnash their teeth about “Deunionize”, again because of its adjacency to teachers unions, but again I have no idea what the “police unions are great” story arc would be here. All you’ve got are slippery slope arguments – which are about as sexy as a treatise on mold spores – and “it’ll get held up in the courts” arguments – which are even less stimulative, if that’s imaginable.

Is “Deunionize” an authentic representation of my policy goals?

Yes, absolutely.

See, I don’t think that police unions are labor unions at all. I think they’re guilds. I think that the police guild in almost every American city and town has smartly adopted the language of labor unions and collective bargaining to create a narrative shield that is as false as it is powerful.

The reality is that a police force does not exist in the world of Labor vs. Capital that contains true labor unions. The reality is that a police force is a self-regulating organization that is hired by the citizens of a city or town, and paid for by the pooled resources of those citizens, in exactly the same way that citizens used to hire a mason’s guild to build a city wall. This isn’t collective bargaining. It’s just bargaining.

To be clear, I’m perfectly fine with the police in a town or city forming a guild and doing their guild thing, which at its core is to maintain a local monopoly in who can and can’t call themselves “police” in exchange for a reasonably good quality-of-service in that local jurisdiction. I think that policing is one of those rare common goods that lends itself extremely well to citizens granting that local monopoly.

But you’re not a labor union.

And you don’t get to shield your self-interested guild practices – like protecting the jobs of guild members who have betrayed the citizens they swore an oath to serve – with labor law.

By the way – and this is a direct response to those who say it will take 20 years to fight this in the courts – you know what it takes for all of these local police guilds to be stripped of their legal status as unions? A federal law. I know that sounds crazy in this day and age where everyone in the House and Senate is a wannabe culture-porn star, far more interested in that bon mot tweet than actually, you know, being a legislator.

And on that note of meaningful police reform legislation …

Just as “Demilitarize” is both specific enough to be representative of its direct reform goals and general enough to incorporate adjacent reform goals, so is “Deunionize”. For “Deunionize”, that adjacent goal is the elimination of qualified immunity status for police officers.

What’s the connection? Both unions and qualified immunity status provide legal protections for police from the rightful claims and just redress of the citizens they swear an oath to protect. Like civil asset forfeiture, qualified immunity status is an affront to every American who gives a damn about liberty or the rule of law. Like police unions, qualified immunity status can be undone with a single piece of federal legislation. At least Justin Amash is trying. But it’s not working because he put the cart before the horse.

First comes the winning narrative that creates a deep reservoir of popular support for meaningful policy reform from the bottom-up. THEN comes the legislation from the top-down.

That’s the process. That’s how we change the world.

The weapons of The Anti-Anarchist Cookbook are not guns and explosives. They’re words.

Throughout human history, narrative has been used against us by high-functioning sociopaths as they turn us into fodder and feed. Narrative has been used to excuse the inexcusable, to preserve a status quo that subverts our inalienable rights even as it pretends to defend them.


It’s time to turn the tables. It’s time to use our understanding of the Narrative Machine to subvert the sociopaths and their smiley-face authoritarian system of crony capitalism and trickle-down democracy. It’s time to create counter-narratives in service to liberty and justice for ALL.

Imagine that.

We’re going to change the world, you know … you and me.

Epsilon Theory PDF Download (paid subscription required): The Anti-Anarchist Cookbook

To learn more about Epsilon Theory and be notified when we release new content sign up here. You’ll receive an email every week and your information will never be shared with anyone else.


  1. Standing on your lawn waving around a gun sends a powerful message, all right. The message is “shoot me from behind cover and take my gun”. Open carry LOL

    Such an excellent note, full of great metaphors. I think this is a perfect framing, and I hope it gets broad traction.

    I’m generally police-suspicious, but I took a little bit of REDACTED training from some retired SWAT guys who predated the crime bill police culture. One of them remarked once that “the problem with these young cops is that they’re no good at customer service,” which really struck me as a clever way to look at it that I’d never considered. Hearing it put in that slightly different language made a huge difference.

  2. BLM, the progressives, and the conservatives all want change. I want change. Ben and Rusty want change.

    But what is the ultimate goal?

    Progressives want continued progression AWAY from capitalism. Conservatives want to conserve the present system that is partly USSR-inspired (public schools, business controls, money controls) and part capitalistic. And maybe they want to roll back a little bit of the progressive’s previous “progress”.

    Rusty wrote in another piece that he wanted “real capitalism” and “real democracy” but those are of course incompatible, since a real democracy can vote away the rights inherent in real capitalism. (I pointed that out but he didn’t reply.)

    I and many others would like real capitalism and a real republic - a republic with the sole purpose of protecting life, liberty, and property.

    But after all the US police are demilitarized and deunionized, what does Ben want?

    What is the long-term goal?

  3. I’m just approaching my 1-year anniversary of divorcing myself from the 24-hour outrage cycle and a brief retrospective is due. I initially deleted Facebook because I felt that, instead of helping maintain my relationships, it was actively harming them. I’ve never used Twitter (from outside it looks like all rage, all the time, mixed with an unhealthy dose of “Notice me Senpai”, and topped off with eternal permanence of anything one happens to drunkenly fingerblast at 4 am after a few too many Ambien. I’ve never been remotely tempted).

    This was partly due to the fact that in an effort to speak Truth!, or build Awareness!, or whatever, I was putting up a bunch of (sometimes aggressively-) niche memes from my Grey Tribe echo chamber which were obviously irritating my family and friends when anyone engaged at all, and partly because I was getting reciprocally annoyed by the likes and shares from everyone else’s echo chambers. I was struck by a recent trip to visit extended family, most of whom I hadn’t seen in a decade or two, and how… unlike their posts they all were. Facebook was skewing my sense of how reasonable and decent they are, in a strongly negative way.

    I took the plunge and deleted my account. I knew I had to replace the behavior with something and not just try to go cold turkey with anything as stimulative as Facebook, so I resolved to actually pick up my phone and call distant friends and chat with them whenever I felt the urge to go scroll through outrage porn.

    The first thing that struck me a week or two after the deletion was how I didn’t miss Facebook in the slightest. I was expecting to struggle, to feel like I was missing something, to be tempted to rebuild my account… Nope. Not for a second.

    To be fair, there were a couple valuable things Facebook gave me that I knew I had to find other sources for: groups and baby pictures. Groups were easily replaced by Reddit (for the public hobby ones, like woodworking or disc golf), or by email threads or Band for the private ones like D&D coordination. I’ve missed out on a lot of baby pictures, but my wife still makes sure I get to see the best ones, and I can email pictures I take directly to my grandma’s digital photo frame so she’s not missing out on her great grandkids. Problems solved.

    I shook up my outrage exposure in other ways at the same time. I deleted most of my daily news sites, and the ones which I felt like I still needed to monitor for important news went into a folder marked “Sunday”, which I open once a week on (you guessed it) Sunday. The thing that surprised me most about this particular technique was the validation of some quote I can’t find the attribution on: “There’s no cure for reading the news like reading last week’s news”. Even just a few days’ distance reveals 99% of what you find on a daily news site to be woefully incomplete, uninformed, useless, inflammatory, and… pointlessly outrageous.

    These days, most Sunday’s I don’t even bother opening the folder.

    Instead, I’ve replaced my unhealthy outrage porn fixation with more long-form and constructive thought. I highly recommend SlateStarCodex (come back soon, Scott!), Open Source Defense, Handwaving Freakoutery, and, of course, Epsilon Theory.

    For faster non-outrage dopamine rushes, I recommend non-Culture War threads on Reddit as well as Hacker News.

  4. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    I want liberty and justice for all.That’s my long-term goal. Just like we pledged when we were kids.

  5. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    I think Rusty has similarly cut the cord from lots of social media and is similarly delighted with the results. I try, but Neb Tnuh the addict keeps dragging me back in …

  6. Deleting facebook, instagram, & twitter off of my phone at the beginning of june was a great personal decision. I wish I would’ve done it sooner. All of my relationships are healthier and I am more present. Hopefully we can get others to jump on the bandwagon.

  7. If I was going to make a yard sign, it would say “I back the rule of law, it matters.” I figure it’s a concise and subtle way of co-opting the language of both extreme narratives to make an attempt at the Overton window. I don’t back the badge because we’re a nation of laws, not men. Additionally, who knew that “______ lives matter” is inflammatory and divisive with any word in it, including “all”. That one took me by surprise.

    When things get weird you gotta go back to founding principles to find perspective. Nothing should be more universal and holy in this country as “the rule of law”, but who knows these days.

  8. Doctors have ‘social history’ in the medical record. Maybe we could add a question: Do you use tobacco? Do you use alcohol? Do you use social media? That should do it!

  9. Hard same, TJ.

  10. Without Qualified Immunity, police officers will need malpractice insurance and make enough money to pay for it. How is that going to work?

  11. MarketWatch has a piece by ex-mayor of Cincinnati today detailing the “Cincinnati Collaborative Agreement” ( no porn there) which was used to help reform policing practices in that department. Apparently that agreement has had some success.

    I came across Recoil Offgrid a year and half ago on the magazine racks at LAX (guess that publisher has a number of products). As of late January this year it had disappeared from same. Totally agree. “Life Begins At 50 Rounds” was one of the advertising by-lines that has stuck with me. Total porn.

    Why are (the collective here) we are seeking to have our buttons pushed almost .constantly? Maybe that’s the addiction and content is just a matter of personal preference/bias? Is it the buzz of feeling offended or finding cause that is the arousal?

    Rending aid to those in distress is an ethical center almost universally accepted yet something happens in that process when a group “not us” is in distress. That we accept for the “not us” what we would never accept for ourselves is something that requires examination by each person and no amount of shaming by others will bring about real, significant and lasting change. The person in the riptide is still being dragged out to sea and no amount of shouting at each other on the beach is going to save them.

  12. Avatar for Kpaz Kpaz says:

    Brilliant note Ben. Lots of thoughts here but the most important is the changing of the narrative from the grassroots up. I like the BLM chant “no justice, no peace” but it probably is too closely associated to the movement and triggers many. I have also been arguing that we don’t have a police problem, we have a justice system problem. It’s bigger than the point of enforcement. And it’s not that the system is broken, it works exactly as it was designed.

    Changing the things you mention will certainly be a big help. Demilitarize and eliminate asset forfeiture? Absolutely! Deunionize? Needs to happen. How about elimination of cash bail? Hell yes. Decriminalization and dis-incarceration? So necessary. But true justice? Where does that come from? Your local DA, mostly. I have been supporting the grassroots law project and their truth, justice and reconciliation commissions.

  13. An authentic world free of the direct coercion of individual liberty by the state and oligopolistic private institutions, and of the indirect coercion via narrative of the degrees of freedom and optionality for all citizens.

  14. I’m not sure that the underlying premise has been demonstrated, but let’s accept it as a given. It still seems far better to me that we grapple with, say, socializing those costs as part of the real costs of maintaining a police force rather than permitting the arbitrary and unjust concentration of those costs in the lives of the victims of excessive police action as we do today.

  15. Avatar for aa547 aa547 says:

    Kpaz, I think you’re really on to something here.

    I’ve been trying to think of alternatives to ‘defund the police’ myself. I think ‘demilitarize’ and ‘deunionise’ are better but still fall prey to have be explained. However, your comment got me thinking that perhaps a better slogan might one that is more constructive, pointing towards what we want rather than what we want to get rid of. “Democratize Policing”, perhaps? I fooled around with “professionalizing” but the mental images are all wrong.

  16. Everybody seems to have missed it!

    You can not see a honest judge without a dishonest judge.

    You must have BOTH !!! As frustrating as this is. And you can argue it FOREVER but this duality will never change.

    Life as we know it could not exist without its opposite … as cruel as it maybe, sorry.

    You must have poverty to SEE wealth!

    Without a brain to operate on, there are no brain surgeons … and you can go as deep as you wish here - infinitely.



  17. Camden, NJ is a success story of Deunionization. A little history. Camden regularly rotated in the top 3 most crime ridden cities in America (along with Detroit and Newark, NJ - NJ had 2, go figure). I worked in Camden as an employee of Rutgers University and we were doing a lot of construction for several years. We were assigned an armed guard for all construction sites, yes, in the day time. The campus was an “oasis” compared to the surrounding area.

    Finally, someone had the bright idea of getting rid of the union and thus all the corrupt cops. The ones that remained got an increase in pay and more young people wanted to join the force. Now there are more police and they get more pay than in the Union days. They became a part of the community and not an enemy or someone to bribe to look the other way. This was transformational for a severely blighted city.

    I’m not hearing anyone talk about this, but then again I cut the “porn cord”, years ago, so I don’t know if anyone is bringing this up as a model of success. But then again Unions are the backbone of donations for the progressives and the Precariat (precarious proletariat).

  18. I would think that if the agency/city carried the liability policy to cover the officers it would be the best incentive to remove “bad apples” and encourage different behavior.

  19. Ben as Benificent.

    Our school had a tradition where the seniors left a gift behind. My gift to the librarian was “Steal This Book”

  20. In 1976, as a recent college graduate, I stumbled on Soldier of Fortune magazine at a local drugstore. I was still dumfounded by the idea there was such a publication. No doubt it was porn for many Viet Nam vets who felt disrespected.

    Thanks to your 1950’s Playboy analogy, I see how mild it was. But it was a prelude to magazines like Recoil. This subculture has been building for a while.

    Great article.

  21. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    Examples like this are incredibly powerful for making a policy narrative work. Thank you!

  22. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    I didn’t know he said that when I included him in the note! He’s totally right …

  23. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    I remember Soldier of Fortune, too! Amazing that this stuff was commonplace.

  24. Thanks as always Ben for organizing into actual thought some of the things my inner voice can’t… I think we recognize the sensationalism and hot button tactics of nearly all media in 2020 (try watching PBS’s Judy Woodruff and keep your eyes open) but feel powerless against them. Keep up the good work, you and Rusty both.

  25. re: PBS I meant in contrast

  26. terrific analysis.

    I have to think - if you’d been told 10 years ago - that you’d be on the sides of the arguments that you’ve been making for the last 12 months, you would have been floored !!

  27. It appears to me that these costs are already socialized as municipalities are being sued regularly and paying settlements. There would need to be insurance and a mechanism for dealing with the liability if it was at the individual employee level. There also needs to be a way to distinguish between egregious and/or malicious conduct and the good faith mistakes that people make from time to time. The issue needs to be resolved in the union contracts and the disciplinary arbitrations, not in the courts.

  28. Yes!! Anything ‘good’ has a ‘bad’ side effect! In fact there is nothing that doesn’t have a duality of effects unless you are in heaven (the only place where there are no negative side effects!

  29. Apologies to Gil-Scott Heron, the revolution has been televised. The corporations own the government. How is it that Jaime Diamond and Angelo Mozillo and scores of other executives in finance were not hauled away in leg irons in 2008 are now bigger and more powerful than ever? Dennis Muilenberg not in jail and his bonuses not clawed back by encouraging Boeing to build and sell flying death traps? How SWA, Delta, AA and UAL execs got $365 million on stock based comp recently while spending 95% of free cash flow on buybacks? Spending $47 billion then demanding $50 billion essentially free? Why weren’t they just put in a prepackaged bankruptcy shareholders shorn of their investments and assets sold to someone who knows how to run planes on time? Or at least get an equity position for the taxpayers on the gazillions shoveled out the door by Mnuchin et. al? No Tedd how about making America Great again like balancing labor and capital; restoring a link between taxing and spending, discouragin predatory tech giants from ever intrusive scooping up our privacy even if we want to get 4 cents off a can of soup in exchange for a cheek swab or installing that thingy that tracks how and where you drive for a discount on auto insurance? AOC represents nothing. Mitch McConnell and his merry band of pirates have now placed the federal judiciary full of judges who don’t know what a motion in limine is but know how to rule and sit for life. Rule for big business. #BITFD

  30. That’d be true for me just three years ago, I think.

  31. Make awards come from their richly funded pension funds. The code of Omerta among them will bust wide open and bad ones will be driven out.

  32. Avatar for bhunt bhunt says:

    I had the scales fall from my eyes during the GFC, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to my 10-years-ago self. But 20 years? For sure. Oddly enough, my 35-years-ago self would say “what took you so long?”.

  33. Clearly you don’t live in Illinois where “richly funded” does not apply to our pensions. We agree that the bad ones need to be driven out. I think it needs to be done via the contracts and disciplinary arbitrations but that assumes the unions can’t be eliminated completely.

  34. Clearly the inmates are running the asylum. Regaining control will be painful and time consuming. That is why I am part of the pack.

  35. Thanks for posting that. I had never gone to the trouble to learn about it. Interesting, depressing, and scary.

  36. Ben - as you know, this territory has been much on my mind. Language is everything. You have offered language that will open the door for real conversation - versus language that threatens one side or the other and sends everyone into high alert or even attack. Thank you.

  37. Well put. May you achieve your goal of de-bullshitization.

  38. Well written as always Ben. Time for a bit of tough love: after your sideways event …one might have seen how both precious and short life is , and how one will rue all the wasted time spent on social media , or anything that is effecting their happiness or talking time away from those they care about.

    Go ahead a delete the apps —the water is warm ?.


  39. “No Justice, No Peace” goes back way before BLM.

  40. Damn, Ben once again forces me to open my eyes a bit wider.
    And Ben, thank you for that.

  41. 350 members of a militia armed with military grade rifles in Louisville yesterday and warn that if the Attorney General of Ky doesn’t do what they demand they will come back in four weeks and “burn this Mutha Fu%$r down” their words not mine. Let’s say 1000 show up as was expected this time? How much militarization will be required? 2020 is the year of seeing things that were hitherto unthinkable.

Continue the discussion at the Epsilon Theory Forum


Avatar for psherman Avatar for rguinn Avatar for bhunt Avatar for CSWilson Avatar for bostondad Avatar for Victor_K Avatar for tjvillamil Avatar for wirejimmy Avatar for lpusateri Avatar for Mike_G_in_Texas Avatar for Danos7 Avatar for tomtheriault Avatar for tromares Avatar for danielcgoebelgmail-c Avatar for merkava18 Avatar for captalan330 Avatar for PJSPHD Avatar for mckett Avatar for teddpotts Avatar for aa547 Avatar for rodedogad Avatar for jim.miller105 Avatar for nocklebeast Avatar for Atdees

The Latest From Epsilon Theory


This commentary is being provided to you as general information only and should not be taken as investment advice. The opinions expressed in these materials represent the personal views of the author(s). It is not investment research or a research recommendation, as it does not constitute substantive research or analysis. Any action that you take as a result of information contained in this document is ultimately your responsibility. Epsilon Theory will not accept liability for any loss or damage, including without limitation to any loss of profit, which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information. Consult your investment advisor before making any investment decisions. It must be noted, that no one can accurately predict the future of the market with certainty or guarantee future investment performance. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Statements in this communication are forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements and other views expressed herein are as of the date of this publication. Actual future results or occurrences may differ significantly from those anticipated in any forward-looking statements, and there is no guarantee that any predictions will come to pass. The views expressed herein are subject to change at any time, due to numerous market and other factors. Epsilon Theory disclaims any obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statements or views expressed herein. This information is neither an offer to sell nor a solicitation of any offer to buy any securities. This commentary has been prepared without regard to the individual financial circumstances and objectives of persons who receive it. Epsilon Theory recommends that investors independently evaluate particular investments and strategies, and encourages investors to seek the advice of a financial advisor. The appropriateness of a particular investment or strategy will depend on an investor’s individual circumstances and objectives.