Robocop Is Necessary Watching For Libertarians
The boringest thing about Robocop is the robot cop walking around shooting bad guys. Everything else about the shitty future version of Detroit is way more interesting. First time watching, it’s some lefty bullshit about corporations running government. But it’s criticism of business-government partnership has valid points refutable only by more purely anarchist arguments.
Dick Jones Will Always Murder Bob Morton
The movie craps over the idea that government would be run more efficiently by corporations, and they are right to. But I assume the filmmakers wanted viewers to walk away thinking that government is fine just the way it is. The movie inadvertently illustrates the way government systematically attracts those most likely to abuse its power.
In the movie, Omni Consumer Products runs the Detroit police, and corrupt executive Dick Jones is head of the ED-209 program to put armed robots on the streets to arrest criminals. Early in the movie, the market seems to prevail when, after a deadly accident with the ED-209 prototype, rival executive Bob Morton gets approval for his Robocop program over the ED-209. Robocop is so effective that it saves lives, arrests mob boss Clarence Boddicker’s gang, and attempts to arrest Dick Jones for his involvement with the gang. But Dick Jones is part of the government, so not only is Dick immune from arrest, but he also frames Robocop as being dangerous and out-of-control, gets Clarence’s gang out of jail to hunt Robocop down with military weapons, and would have finally pushed through his ED-209 program if Robocop hadn’t eventually saved the day.
Because he’s working within a corporation that has the power of a government, Dick Jones has fewer constraints on his greedier tendencies. If he were selling a product to normal consumers, a product’s failure (especially if as gory as ED-209’s) would hurt him financially. But when it comes to running the police, OCP are not selling products to consumers. Instead they are nominally tasked with “serving the public” so the connection between performance and reward is much weaker. If ED-209 will make more money, that is the only consideration.
It’s important that, despite Bob Morton making a better product, Dick Jones has Morton killed and then attempts to discredit and destroy his creation. In government, people don’t rise because they do the best job. They rise because they can bilk the most out of their exclusive rights and therefore fight hardest to keep and expand their powers.
You should take away from Robocop the idea that, even if we had angels to run our governments, the Dick Jones’ of the world will murder them and send bazooka-toting gangsters in 6000 SUX’s to hunt down their creations. Those angels are getting in the way of Dick’s schemes, and he’s not about to give up making this money. The only way to permanently stop such abuse is to abolish the power entirely.
Bob Morton Made A Good Product, But He’s An Asshole
Bob Morton is no angel, by the way. He bitches out the police officers, acts callously about the coworker killed during the ED-209 demonstration, and does blow with unattractive whores. Besides how evil Dick Jones is, Dick is more likable than Bob Morton. If the actors switched roles, it would be easy to buy Miguel Ferrer as a young punk who has no ethics, while Ronny Cox is wiser and is not as driven by greed.
But I like that Bob Morton is kind of a piece of shit. The only thing that should matter is if his product works. Depending on what it would cost, businesses and citizens might voluntarily purchase a Robocop for their protection. Nobody but governments would want to buy an ED-209.
The movie refutes the idea that greed is what makes market economics work. By doing so, it illustrates how the constraints of market economics in the absence of government power are what harness greed for the betterment of society. It also illustrates how government is inevitably used by the most greedy to bypass the market’s constraints to enrich themselves at the cost of society.
If you think about it, free market economics is like a roving Robocop, shooting the dicks of the Dicks who want to rape the Detroits of the world.