DONATE NOW TO HELP UPGRADE LIBCOM.ORG

Why do socialists demonize the police?

125 posts / 0 new
Last post
Khawaga's picture
Khawaga
Offline
Joined: 7-08-06
Jul 18 2011 16:47

This might be interesting for this thread. I guess it shows that a position on the police cannot be universal.

3arabawy wrote:
Central Security Forces conscripts in Dekheila, west of Alexandria, went on mutiny yesterday, staging protests, firing into the air, then tried storming Dekheila’s police station, setting fire to two police cars, after an officer assaulted a conscript in the camp.

Residents in the area according to eyewitnesses joined the conscripts, who were chanting “We are soldiers. We are oppressed” إحنا عساكر مظلومين which lasted for hours before senior officers convinced the soldiers to return to their barracks, as the interior minister announced the suspension of the officer and opened an investigation into the incident.

This is not the first time the CSF conscripts go on strike since the outbreak of the revolution. I recall on the 29 of January, during our failed attempt to storm the interior ministry, that the man next to me was a CSF conscript who told me he had escaped from his camp on the first day of the uprising and decided to join the protests. I also met in Tahrir two days ago a CSF conscript from Menya, who told me he refused to shoot protesters on the Friday of Anger and allowed some of the detained activists he had in custody to escape, only to be punished by his officer with electric shocks and imprisonment for ten days.

The above mentioned two cases are my own personal experiences. Other activists I know, almost all of them, encountered at some point during the uprising similar cases of CSF soldiers on mutiny joining in.

Moreover, local media reported on a number of occasions in the recent months cases where CSF conscripts went on strike in their camps over ill-treatment by the officers or over their work conditions. In those strikes, conscripts usually assaulted their officers and destroyed their offices.

The CSF are the interior ministry’s slave army. We have to confront them when they attack, but we should always do our best to win them over at the same time. It’s not an easy job, but they, not the officers, are our allies.

From here.

Baronarchist
Offline
Joined: 22-06-11
Jul 18 2011 17:13

Mass imprisonment surely isn't a option?
Isolation for the rare cases would be a better soloution...

subprole's picture
subprole
Offline
Joined: 29-01-11
Jul 18 2011 17:27

workers state, workers police, workers prison, workers psychiatry, workers camp etc.: in all of this great "post-revolutionary" institutions will probably by a place for the revolutionaries you will continue to fight all this mechanisms of social and class domination.

RedEd's picture
RedEd
Offline
Joined: 27-11-10
Jul 18 2011 17:30

I think accompaniment and monitoring is a much better way of dealing with pathological behavior than isolation. I'm thinking of people with really bad anger problems or paedophiles, who need to be socialised more productively and need help managing their behaviors rather than to be isolated. Plus isolation tends to be so incredibly resource intensive.

yourmum
Offline
Joined: 9-03-10
Jul 18 2011 17:44

oh yeah id like to have some monitors that hold my anger problem in check. let me dig for something i wrote a while ago here, the topic was quite the same, it was actually my first statement on libcom, thats why i remember:

a discussion is always about something in the world and being informed about that issue is a necessity if you want to explain something. this also goes for people running around with iron sticks and beating up others. why do they do it? the only suggestion you got is because they are psychopath. now what does that say? they are not normal... not much information in there. there are actually reasons to go out and slap around iron bars.. im not saying they are valid reasons for us, im saying they do it for a reason. if you want to explain why they do it, you have to get involved with their reasoning. you will not only be able to criticize their thinking, but also explain where it comes from.. why does everybody here seem to think slapping people with iron bars is something that would still exist in an anarchist society? the only explanation i can find is that people here think psychopaths are somekind of natures necessity.

Ellar's picture
Ellar
Offline
Joined: 1-11-09
Jul 18 2011 17:48
Quote:
I think accompaniment and monitoring is a much better way of dealing with pathological behavior than isolation. I'm thinking of people with really bad anger problems or paedophiles, who need to be socialised more productively and need help managing their behaviors rather than to be isolated. Plus isolation tends to be so incredibly resource intensive.
.

I think your absolutely right, there are numerous examples of people with severe and even dangerous psychological problems being treated using various forms of therapy so that they can be a more functional member of society rather than locking them up. If you want to deal with problems like peodophilia rather than just sweeping them under the rug then society has to look into effective treatment rather than completely inneffective forms of punishment.

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Jul 18 2011 17:58
Quote:
What would any socialist or anarchist do if they saw an elderly frail person being beaten up by thugs? They would go to their assistance (the elderly person), not call the police, because collaborating would dis-empower the very beingness of the socialist or anarchist intent.

I mean, I would help the person, but then I'd call the police.

subprole's picture
subprole
Offline
Joined: 29-01-11
Jul 18 2011 18:04
Quote:
society has to look into effective treatment rather than completely inneffective forms of punishment.

what kind of "effective treatment" do you have in mind?

Ellar's picture
Ellar
Offline
Joined: 1-11-09
Jul 18 2011 18:54
Quote:
society has to look into effective treatment rather than completely inneffective forms of punishment.
what kind of "effective treatment" do you have in mind?
.

Well when it comes to people with psychological problems that mean their a danger to themselves or others their sectioned. Which means their held in a secure ward of a hospital and observed (during their time under the section they are effectively powerless and can have all their freedom removed through sedation). This can go one for varying degrees of time until their deemed safe to leave. Personally, in the instances were I have observed this practice of greatly restricting peoples freedom and essentially imprisoning them away from their home is not the most helpful solution, in fact it can make things far worse for that person.

However once a person in this situation is deemed safe to go back into society they often then have a nurse visit them everyday in their home to talk to them about how things are going and assess the situation more. This to me appears far more helpful and does not rely on imprisoning people away from home, I would also say that if that person is a danger to others then their family and friends need to be aware of this so that their is a community of people who can prevent that person from causing harm to others if necessary.

There are also various forms of psychological therapy, therapy would be the key since most people with psychological problems who abuse or are violent have also suffered abuse or violence at some point. You can have a situation were somebody is expected to attend continous therapy sessions to help control their problems.

If these kinds of practices (which focus on allowing a person a certain amount of autonomy while also monitoring their general condition) don't work then theres always the option of using the kind of technique I mentioned with the sectioning and keeping people in secure wards. However they could still be improved by trying to emulate within them a community so that the people there can learn to live within society rather than being isolated from it. The psycho therapist R.D Laing attempted to create spaces were people with severe mental illness could live in communitys and were respected by doctors rather than being punished.

Having said all this I must say that I myself am not a doctor and I don't believe for a second that I know how to deal with ALL the varying issues surrounding mental health and violent behaviour. I'm can only speak from my experiance and belief that the system as it stands can be improved on and their are alternatives to complete restriction of peoples freedom.

subprole's picture
subprole
Offline
Joined: 29-01-11
Jul 18 2011 19:43

sorry, but this sounds just like psychiatric detention "with a human face".

Ellar's picture
Ellar
Offline
Joined: 1-11-09
Jul 18 2011 19:53
Quote:
sorry, but this sounds just like psychiatric detention "with a human face".
.

neither of the two most favourable situations that I suggested involved any form of detention
the first paragraph is about what the current system involves and the fact that I disagree with it.

subprole's picture
subprole
Offline
Joined: 29-01-11
Jul 18 2011 20:27

ok, then it was a misunderstanding. but then i would still like to know to what extent you propose coercion (even medical one?) in this therapy.

Ellar's picture
Ellar
Offline
Joined: 1-11-09
Jul 18 2011 20:42

I would propose as little coercion as possible, ideally none whatsoever but ofcourse it depends on the individual situation. In the case of something as serious as predatory peodophilia (as opposed to the majority of peodophilia which is committed sadly by a childs family member) then I think a certain amount of coercion would be justified in order to protect children but this coercion would only need to continue until that person is not in a situation were they can abuse children, this is a extreme example obviously.

batswill
Offline
Joined: 8-07-11
Jul 18 2011 20:50
Matt_efc wrote:
See if I'm being totally honest and I saw an old person getting kicked in by a group of "Thugs", I wouldnt go and offer myself as sacrifice, thats not my liberation. I'd do what I needed to do to preserve the life of the person getting attacked not to get 2 lives ended.

Idealistically, I'd convene a mass meeting of parties interested in defending the old person , allowing the no votes to leave the meeting before everything is unanimously agreed on, and then proceed to clean up the scene of a murder. While being full in the knowledge that at least we had made the deicision the right way, even if the old person died. But then thats why I'm not an idealist. I really would not have an issue with ringing the police If I saw someone being beaten up so badly I feared for thier life. I dont think that makes me any less of an anarchist

Ideally, I would convene a meeting of elderly people, allow the timid ones to leave, arm the remaining ones with baseball bats, and go down to your meeting and confront the no voters emerging from your meeting, knowing that the police wont respond to the phone-call you made, because they don't venture down to that part of town, its only inhabited by the institutions depleted and damaged members.

Matt_efc
Offline
Joined: 13-02-07
Jul 19 2011 00:22

Well thats a totally different kettle of fish then isnt it, the point was being made that somehow by our personal choices over whether or not we phone the police when someones life is under threat from a group of "thugs". I.e the implication being that somehow allowing the "natural" course of events to take place being preferable over using an institution you disagree with. Its a flawed logic that I think anarchism can have a tendency to fall into. Hence why I said I'd do what it took to preserve lives, if I think the police can stop someone getting kicked in on a street corner in a random attack I'm not going to let that person die because unless you're some kind of crazy street fighter you arnt taking out a group of "thugs" by yourself.

I just think its that kind of "demonisation" of the police that is off the mark, I mean theres enough to critique the police about (your point about it being in a part of town they wont respond is a good example) without getting to the point where you wouldnt phone them if they would help and someone was getting attacked...which is what it seemed like you were suggesting - Somehow as anarchists we should catagorically not use the police, for fear of treading on someones "autonomy"

yoda's walking stick
Offline
Joined: 6-04-11
Jul 19 2011 00:40
revol68 wrote:
ofcourse in communism there will be bodies entrusted with the enforcement of laws and yes there will be laws, only the most naive muppet who wishes to see a return to some mythical organic communalism of small settled communities could hold otherwise.

an inability to deal with the need for the enforcement only paves the way for the formation of state and proto state mechanisms, and by that I am using the Marxist definition of the state as an instrument of class rule not some embarrassing anarcho liberal shite about any body with authority.

the idea that all crime and anti social behaviour will end with capitalism is the kind of childish crap that sees communism as some reactionary return to an organic nature, an organic "true" society that has always been there just perverted by an outside agent, be that the state, capital or in the fascist fantasy the Jew.

On the otherhand the drive to set out blueprints of communism from the present is to miss entirely that communism will develop from actual struggle and the organs thrown up to meet those needs.

This. And can I just say that I get such a vicarious thrill reading Revol68's rants (when they're not aimed at me!) that manage to communicate what I want to in a far more articulate and furious way than I could ever manage?

I'm not an anarchist, but some of the "anarchism" of some of the people on this site is one step above the punk skateboarder scrawling the anarchy "A" in his geography book. Like, fuck authority, man.

Quote:
embarrassing anarcho liberal shite

Yeeeeessssss.

Ethos's picture
Ethos
Offline
Joined: 6-07-11
Jul 19 2011 01:12
yoda's walking stick wrote:
revol68 wrote:
ofcourse in communism there will be bodies entrusted with the enforcement of laws and yes there will be laws, only the most naive muppet who wishes to see a return to some mythical organic communalism of small settled communities could hold otherwise.

an inability to deal with the need for the enforcement only paves the way for the formation of state and proto state mechanisms, and by that I am using the Marxist definition of the state as an instrument of class rule not some embarrassing anarcho liberal shite about any body with authority.

the idea that all crime and anti social behaviour will end with capitalism is the kind of childish crap that sees communism as some reactionary return to an organic nature, an organic "true" society that has always been there just perverted by an outside agent, be that the state, capital or in the fascist fantasy the Jew.

On the otherhand the drive to set out blueprints of communism from the present is to miss entirely that communism will develop from actual struggle and the organs thrown up to meet those needs.

This. And can I just say that I get such a vicarious thrill reading Revol68's rants (when they're not aimed at me!) that manage to communicate what I want to in a far more articulate and furious way than I could ever manage?

I'm not an anarchist, but some of the "anarchism" of some of the people on this site is one step above the punk skateboarder scrawling the anarchy "A" in his geography book. Like, fuck authority, man.

Quote:
embarrassing anarcho liberal shite

Yeeeeessssss.

I get a kick out of reading 'your' posts. I've lurked this forum for about a year and I've never seen a "newbie" display such a high level of arrogance and confidence in his positions. Didn't you 'just' finish Capital on audio book a couple of months ago? Have you read any capitalist literature (Friedman, Hayek, Keynes, etc) yet? Who knows, you may be a capitalist and not even know it. wink

yoda's walking stick
Offline
Joined: 6-04-11
Jul 19 2011 01:34
Ethos wrote:
I've read more than you, and that makes me a better communist!!!

Right, because only book worms are allowed to embrace radical politics.

Ethos's picture
Ethos
Offline
Joined: 6-07-11
Jul 19 2011 02:28
yoda's walking stick wrote:
Ethos wrote:
I've read more than you, and that makes me a better communist!!!

Right, because only book worms are allowed to embrace radical politics.

C'mon, dude. :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_attribution

RedEd's picture
RedEd
Offline
Joined: 27-11-10
Jul 19 2011 02:47
yourmum wrote:
oh yeah id like to have some monitors that hold my anger problem in check. let me dig for something i wrote a while ago here, the topic was quite the same, it was actually my first statement on libcom, thats why i remember:

a discussion is always about something in the world and being informed about that issue is a necessity if you want to explain something. this also goes for people running around with iron sticks and beating up others. why do they do it? the only suggestion you got is because they are psychopath. now what does that say? they are not normal... not much information in there. there are actually reasons to go out and slap around iron bars.. im not saying they are valid reasons for us, im saying they do it for a reason. if you want to explain why they do it, you have to get involved with their reasoning. you will not only be able to criticize their thinking, but also explain where it comes from.. why does everybody here seem to think slapping people with iron bars is something that would still exist in an anarchist society? the only explanation i can find is that people here think psychopaths are somekind of natures necessity.

I kind of take your point. A lot of what is considered deviant in current society seems fair enough to me, from making a living by nicking stuff from shops to taking amphetamines in order to be able to last your shift. But some people (including myself, I'm not making suggestions from outside) really do have problems with behaviours that they know are harming themselves, others, or both and want help getting over that. My particular problems with rather tedious mental ill health mean that I really would like people to help me monitor and modify my behaviour patterns so as to be more generally productive. That doesn't, of course, happen under capitalism much, but in a more human community I'm guessing it would. But for more 'morally questionable' types, the same very often applies. Many serial paedophiles aren't best pleased about the fact they harm children, and want help not doing so. And there's plenty of evidence supporting the claim that providing that help is the best way to stop re-offending and integrate these people back into society. Similarly, people with serious anger problems often hate the fact that they fly of the wall from time to time, and want support helping them to not do so, and to be stopped when they do. Seriously, few people are proud of the fact they beat up their family.

Of course there are reasons people do what they do, but they are not always good reasons, and sometimes the reasons are based on really irrational shit like the amount of adrenalin or serotonin produced by glands. And people are not internally consistent in the sense that they think that the things they have done are the right things to do. The people I am talking about are people whose harmful behaviours are at odds with what they normally think is ok.

The people I am not talking about are muggers, football hooligans and drug dealers. These people do not necessarily have problems relating to the world around them in ways that are consistent with their own values and self-interest. They have social pathologies, not personal behavioural pathologies (if the two can be satisfactorally separated, which is difficult). One of the aims of socialism is to overcome such social pathologies. So the extent to which your "people running around with iron sticks" continue is the extent to which socialism is not doing its job right.

subprole's picture
subprole
Offline
Joined: 29-01-11
May 16 2014 15:46

-

batswill
Offline
Joined: 8-07-11
Jul 19 2011 08:55
Chilli Sauce wrote:
Quote:
What would any socialist or anarchist do if they saw an elderly frail person being beaten up by thugs? They would go to their assistance (the elderly person), not call the police, because collaborating would dis-empower the very beingness of the socialist or anarchist intent.

I mean, I would help the person, but then I'd call the police.

If you helped the person, well why bother calling the police then, you've done their job voluntarily. Good on you.

Ed's picture
Ed
Offline
Joined: 1-10-03
Jul 19 2011 08:56
yoda's walking stick wrote:
This. And can I just say that I get such a vicarious thrill reading Revol68's rants (when they're not aimed at me!) that manage to communicate what I want to in a far more articulate and furious way than I could ever manage?

Oh god, you've done it now.. revol probably got a semi reading that.. wink

batswill
Offline
Joined: 8-07-11
Jul 19 2011 09:09
Matt_efc wrote:
Well thats a totally different kettle of fish then isnt it, the point was being made that somehow by our personal choices over whether or not we phone the police when someones life is under threat from a group of "thugs". I.e the implication being that somehow allowing the "natural" course of events to take place being preferable over using an institution you disagree with. Its a flawed logic that I think anarchism can have a tendency to fall into. Hence why I said I'd do what it took to preserve lives, if I think the police can stop someone getting kicked in on a street corner in a random attack I'm not going to let that person die because unless you're some kind of crazy street fighter you arnt taking out a group of "thugs" by yourself.

I just think its that kind of "demonisation" of the police that is off the mark, I mean theres enough to critique the police about (your point about it being in a part of town they wont respond is a good example) without getting to the point where you wouldnt phone them if they would help and someone was getting attacked...which is what it seemed like you were suggesting - Somehow as anarchists we should catagorically not use the police, for fear of treading on someones "autonomy"

Exactly, its a categorical call, because autonomy, whether individual or collective, is sovereign, it should not involve the forces of the enemy. We have to start somewhere if we wish for a non-capitalist society, and sometimes it means putting oneself in dangers way. There may be honest, ignorant God fearing compassionate, or vicious glorified sociopathic ones, but none of them should be sought for assistance, we must fight our own battles and issues without compromise, without selling out.

CRUD's picture
CRUD
Offline
Joined: 11-04-10
Jul 19 2011 10:36

Police are the hall monitors of capitalism. Without them and the global police (military) Capitalism could not exist. It takes force for a minority to subdue and control the majority- the police are one of the weapons used against the masses. It's not that hard to figure out.

Crime in general is usually rooted in scarcity...not crimes of passion and sick serial killers of course but those are the minority of "criminals" that fill American prisons. Take away the false scarcity and poverty capitalism creates and the need f or police to chase down purse snatchers and such diminishes. Berkman addresses this in his ABC's of Anarchism. Obviously some sort of social hierarchy will still exist in an anarchist society so people would fight over ego and such...some violent crime would still exist no doubt and there would be perpetual attempts by some people to accumulate wealth and control others but Kropotkin addresses that in chapter 4 of Conquest Of Bread.

http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/kropotkin/conquest/ch4.html

Berkmans main point was justice would take on a whole new form in an anarchist society- the "human nature" argument (saying it's human nature to plunder/murder and destroy) is bullshit. The stage is set and the actors play out their roles....if the stage is one of scarcity/poverty then "crime" is going to be a problem- provide material abundance and the prisons will mostly be empty. There would be a need of some new form of community policing, perhaps a rotating voluntary police force but the nature of the police would be drastically different. Nothing like the paramilitary goon squads we see today and any form of community policing would be directly answerable to the community itself not capitalists or the capitalist state.

Picket's picture
Picket
Offline
Joined: 20-12-10
Jul 19 2011 23:55
revol68 wrote:
yes a bourgeois state without the bourgeois, value, wage labour, private property and in place of parliamentary democracy there are various organs of direct democracy really would be an improvement, of course then it would neither be bourgeois or a state.

But oh no there will be laws passed by these organs and they might even enforce them from time to time, boo hoo, if I can't have my adolescent fantasy of doing anything I want went I want then you're just as bad as my fascist parents.

Funny that this dream of total transgression, of self fulfillment/development with no regard to laws or rules has always been the fantasy of capital.

I don't post much here just now but I read a lot. I don't yet have enough confidence in my beliefs and ideas to engage in much debate, or my ideas are not sufficiently formed to do so with any conviction. However I'm confident in my ability to follow an argument.

You obviously have conviction, but you rely on rhetoric which frequently comes across as patronising. Why do you rely on putting people down with exaggerated caricatures, rather than presenting a logical argument? It doesn't convince and it looks like bullying. It's a bad habit to have, because you can have your mind closed by the illusory power of your own rhetoric.

Samotnaf
Offline
Joined: 9-06-09
Jul 20 2011 04:59

You're right, Pikel (though I wouldn't call it "patronising"): it's called "strawmanning" - falsifying another's argument in order to easily fit it into a contemptuous put-down. Doesn't revol question himself from the simple fact that yoda cites him as confirming what is essentially yoda's Leninist perspective, a State by any other name, and ideological falsification by any other name. I haven't noticed anyone who opposes the cops here claiming everyone's going to be an angel "after the revolution". Yet this is constantly claimed by those who believe that some form of specialism in keeping proletarian order is necessary. The opposition has been to specialists in order, just as an opposition to politicians is an oppostion to specialists in power. In fact, it's precisely because "power corrupts", that people are not angels, that i wouldn't trust revol, yoda or cantdocartwheels as the future anarcho-cops (nor would i want to be in such a position myself, for that matter).

Khawaga mentions an interesting and significant revolt by conscripted cops, as evidence of why we should nuance our critique of the cops. But they were conscripted - they didn't choose to become cops. Also, even some cops who choose to be cops will change sides, I hope. If those we oppose never get influenced by social movements then there's never going to be the slightest possiblity of a successful revolution. But until they do - treat them as enemies: it's not what abstractly someone "could" become but on their contribution to class society &/or to its opposition that one should judge people . And no ifs or buts (as the SPGB tries to do with its citing of the 1919 police strike in ajohnstone's link, stuck as they are in the long lost foggy past; reminds me of a Trot who'd recently converted from Catholicism to Trotskyism - he shouted to the cops as they were beating people up on the anti-Bloody Sunday march in '72 in Whitehall, "Remember the 1919 police Strike!" as if that would somehow convert them - "Right lads, down truncheons - we'll stop striking the Irish and strike ourselves instead").

ajjohnstone
Offline
Joined: 20-04-08
Jul 20 2011 07:16

Another historic event that i could have mentioned was the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 when police demonstrated their working class loyalty by voting to strike, but were asked to continue their duties by the strike committee until the ruling class sacked them all for their pro-strike sympathies. I am sure a trawl of working class experience can provide similar examples.

Contemporary workers can learn something from historic examples, can they not, Samotaf? Or should we simply forget our past and refuse to pass it on, even it is along with ifs and buts...

CRUD's picture
CRUD
Offline
Joined: 11-04-10
Jul 20 2011 07:27
ajjohnstone wrote:
Another historic event that i could have mentioned was the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 when police demonstrated their working class loyalty by voting to strike, but were asked to continue their duties by the strike committee until the ruling class sacked them all for their pro-strike sympathies. I am sure a trawl of working class experience can provide similar examples.

Contemporary workers can learn something from historic examples, can they not, Samotaf? Or should we simply forget our past and refuse to pass it on, even it is along with ifs and buts...

Recently in Wisconsin the PIGS only stood by state workers because the PIGS pay was on the cutting block next. As far as private sector workers these PIGS have no solidarity.

yourmum
Offline
Joined: 9-03-10
Jul 20 2011 08:43

Pikel: I don't yet have enough confidence in my beliefs and ideas to engage in much debate, or my ideas are not sufficiently formed to do so with any conviction.

Totally wrong way to look at it. You need to trust your rationality, not your knowledge. if theres wrong stuff in your head theres no better way to get rid of it then to discuss it with other people. So if you do have any ideas, sputter them out and find out if they hold against whats put against them. Because who is going to win most if your ideas are wrong? I guess that would be you! Dont treat an idea like it is your property or a part of your personality. unless it is, duh wink