Wednesday, January 7, 2015

And Another Thing -- Imagining a World Without Police

Tens of millions of Americans have been forced into poverty since the implosion of the economy in 2008. Millions continue to be forced into poverty by economic design and government policy. As many have come to realize, this is happening because the government of the US -- and most of the rest of the world as well -- is captive to a tiny and shrinking cohort of super-wealthy, the nearly god-like 1% (it's actually a much smaller cohort than that), against whom the 99% have been struggling for years.

The impoverishment of so many in part to maintain the power and wealth of the very few has meant that the police function has been modified to ensure the Rabble never rise in rebellion enough to jeopardize the wealth or power of those very few who rule.


The police don't just suppress crime, or what they call "crime," they actively enforce rules that maintain those in power against any serious opposition.

Since the economic collapse and the subsequent impoverishment of so many millions, the role of the police in suppressing the Rabble's many rebellions has been highlighted at home and around the world. Part of the process of suppression involves killing designated Others on a fairly regular, almost routine, schedule.

The killing is a form of psychological warfare which can be effective, at least in the short term.

It's primary purpose is to put the fear of lethal consequences in the masses by periodically demonstrating what the police are capable of. It has the appearance of arbitrary killing -- which is the point. Fear is a means of control.

The idea is for the People to become docile and obedient sheep.

But what happens when the sheep say, "Stop it! No more!"

We've seen over the past nearly a year now -- since the demonstrations against the killing of James Boyd in Albuquerque -- that those in power and the police who serve them are flummoxed. They don't know what to do -- except to do more of what they've been doing, which makes things worse, not better.

So they try the opposite accommodationist tack which backfires because nobody believes them.

Now we're in a situation where there is a national movement to curb police violence, over policing and mass incarceration (all are related) and on the margins, at least from appearances, individuals are taking matters into their own hands to impose some of the arbitrary violence on police that they have been imposing on communities for ages.

This situation has the makings of an open civil war.

Some people, of course, would get off on such an eventuality, but at any given time, most people would be deeply opposed. It is unlikely that the People would win a direct confrontation in any case.

Instead, I believe something subtler is necessary.

Start with imagining a world without police, without the brutality and burden of over-policing, and without the systemic abuses of mass-incarceration.

Admittedly, this is not a mainstream vision at all, though there have been many working on envisioning such a future for many years.

Angela Davis has written (65pg pdf) and spoken extensively on the topic of prison abolition.

Her sister, Fania Davis, is a strong advocate of Restorative/Reparative Justice as an alternative to the punitive justice system that is so grossly out of whack and destructive today.

Peter Gelderloos is an anarchist theorist and writer who sees the that time is right to end the regime of cruelty and destruction that the police have become and abolish them altogether.

"Another World Is Possible." 

Isn't it?

There are plenty of non-police community-based models for handling disputes and certain crimes which are being employed more or less widely in parallel with, often in collaboration with, the mainstream justice system -- which more and more is being seen as a system of gross injustice.

Alternatives to prison are widely employed as well. It is not as if we don't have any means to break the stranglehold of violent policing, over policing and mass incarceration, it is more that there is a deeply entrenched power-and-money interest in maintaining things just the way they are -- or increasing the destruction caused by the current system.

It's a terrible cycle to be on. The only way off it that I know of is to break free. Refuse to be part of it.

To be successful, refusal has to come from many directions at once, and that is a part of what we're seeing in the #BlackLivesMatter movement which came to national attention after the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO last August.

Many threads of rebellion and resistance are being woven together.

Alternative paths are being found.

Many of those involved are still dependent on police and the system they are part of and support, but many others are exploring alternative means and methods of defining and finding


Authority is scrambling for relevance without resorting to -- too much -- violence and brutality, but their tool-kit has been deliberately restricted to sadistic repetitions of scenes of brutality and bloodshed. 

When they see use of force as the only option, they have basically lost the contest, much as American troops have done in their various wars and occupations overseas. 

They may win battle after battle, but they cannot with the contest with the violent means they have chosen and they seem unable to imagine (that word again) anything else. Doctrine forbids it.

The People, however, are under no such restriction to violence alone, and in fact, for the most part, the People won't resort to violence at all.

Instead, they will do something else -- they will refuse, reject, and rebel against the continuation of the destruction brought on by the current models of policing. They will adopt and utilize alternatives. They will demand the reform or the abolition of the police as we know them. They will march and protest and demonstrate and demand. 

And some will imagine a world in which the current system of injustice is gone.

"A Better World Is Possible."

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