Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Are We Asking the Right Questions?

All the indications suggest that the PTB are not about to budge with regard to the increasing levels of police violence against the population. So long as they -- the PTB -- feel protected from the Rabble by the police the killing and brutality and mass incarceration consequent to the various "wars" against the Proles will continue. It will arguably increase in bloodlust and cruelty.

There is no indication at all that the protests have had more than a marginal impact on the increasingly bizarre and freakish and murderous behavior of police in this country. In some cases we've seen the police redouble their violence against the Rabble and even on occasion use their snipers and armaments against the lower levels of the High and the Mighty.

Those who complain that the police behave like an occupying army have a point, but from the responses of elected and appointed officials in the face of these complaints, behaving like an army of occupation is the point of modern day "progressive" policing. We see it everywhere. It is now the standard.

What must be done to change it?

Obviously, what has been done so far has not changed it.

Oh, make no mistake. Police culture has changed over the years, especially since 9/11, but it's not because of any demand or requirement by the People. The change has come due to the demands and requirements of the High and the Mighty themselves. They are so frightened that the Rabble might rise, that the poor and suppressed minorities might revolt, that the shrinking middle class might wake up from its torpor and arrange a real revolution, that they insist the police in their employ use whatever force they deem necessary to neutralize any perceived threat.

So long, that is, that the threat is seen to be Out There -- among the Rabble.

Having been given this sort of free rein, however, the police see threats to be suppressed everywhere. Everyone is a potential threat in their eyes, and neutralization is necessary in their eyes more and more often, despite the lack of crime, the lack of resistance, the lack of opposition. Yet the killing goes on and on, the brutality and cruelty is enhanced. This is emblematic of a broken system spiraling out of control.

The intervention of the Department of Justice is not intended to reduce the killing and brutality, it is intended to professionalize it.

What can the Rabble do about this state of affairs?

I argue that there is not much the Rabble can do directly beyond what is being done. The protests and lawsuits bring needed attention to the problem, but so far they have not had a positive effect on police behavior toward what they regard as threats.

There are those who say that the Rabble has to start shooting back. That may happen, but I doubt it, simply because the people are so massively outgunned. A killing spree -- far greater than the one under way now -- would ensue. There might be a positive outcome one day, but for the duration, there would be an overt civil war between the police and the Rabble (rather than the covert one we see now.) 

Instead of shooting back -- which would be attacking the symptom not the problem itself -- the answer may be in stepping back and stepping aside.

The police serve a necessary function on behalf of their employers -- and those employers are not the People. Police, by and large, are not supervised or controlled by elected officials. They are almost all under the authority of city managers and county executives. Those people, by and large, serve powerful local economic interests and very powerful national political and economic interests. They regard the People -- the Rabble -- with hostility and contempt. Often their hostility and contempt is quite openly expressed.

They are the ones who need to be confronted, but they will generally only respond to confrontations by people they consider their peers or superiors. Confrontations by people beneath them are ignored or dismissed.

The people they consider their peers and superiors are not elected officials. They are instead the "movers and shakers" in their communities, and the very richest and most powerful players in the markets. What those people demand is what their employees do, generally without objection or resistance.

The Rabble play no part in that game. At best, they are seen as little more than pawns, exploitable and expendable.

Consequently, when the Rabble rises, as they will from time to time, the initial response by Authority is bewildering in its excess and inappropriateness. That excess and inappropriateness can be used to de-legitimize police and civic authority, but what happens then?

So far, no one has quite figured out what to do then.

Perhaps a more important question than what to do, is  "What kind of community do we want?" And then to ask "How do we get that kind of community?"

De-legitimzing authority that is not serving the people has a role to play in answering the second question, but the first question often doesn't get asked at all, or if it is asked it is in the context of preserving the status quo, and responses are limited to stakeholders -- who often are not the ones who are being victimized by the out of control occupation force that the police have become.

What are the common interests between the so-called community stakeholders and the victims of police violence? I've never heard that question asked in the forums I've attended on the issue of police violence. To me, it is a key question, because it represents the "space between" where solutions can be found.

It's obvious that the police have no intention to listen to the victims of police violence and be responsive. They don't believe they have an obligation to do so. Given that city managers and county executives -- who are actually in charge of police forces -- are so frequently and so openly contemptuous of the people in general, it's no wonder police feel no obligation to the general public. The police don't serve them. The police serve the people in charge, starting with their chief -- who is often no more than a figurehead -- then the city or county executive, then the rich and powerful people those people serve.

Those are the ones who have to tell the police to back off.

I suspect they can and will do it when the victims of police violence expand beyond the Rabble. It's already begun.

Of course the High and Mighty protecting one another from police violence doesn't do much to protect the common people. That is only likely when it is in the interests of the elites to do so and order the police to stand down.

Getting to that point will require the elites to value the lowly and common folk much more than they do today.

Next time, I'll try to explore some ways to do that.

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