DONATE NOW TO HELP UPGRADE LIBCOM.ORG

Why the Double Standard?

41 posts / 0 new
Last post
D's picture
D
Offline
Joined: 8-06-08
Jun 16 2008 18:06
Why the Double Standard?

To me there seems a clear double standard amongst a lot of the left in regards to the police and the army.

While the police are virtually always regarded as vile, oppressors who could never be considered part of a revolutionary group or potentially comrades

the army as well as being attacked for what they do are often sympathised with as well, seen as victims as well as perpatraitors, and by some are considered potential allies, people who could join the revolutionary movement

Despite these different attitudes I fail to see a substantial difference between the police and the army which would justify allowing one to be part of a revolutionary movement and the other not.

The way I see it the role of the police is to oppress the domestic working class while the army to oppress the foreign working class and advance imperialist aims.

The only slight difference I can see is that throughout history the army has been more revolutionary, yet I fail to see how this would justify treating them differently when they effectly perform the same function as the police and often cause even more harm, killing etc (I know the police do this as well but not on the same scale)

The idea that the army are victims usually is based around the fact they are normally from deprived backgrounds, with little qualifications and opportunities and thus the army is a way out of poverty. While I would agree with that analysis I fail to see how it can be used to have a different attitude towards them than the police. I would imagine quite a few of the police come from working class backgrounds, and if a policeman came from a really deprived background it wouldnt make our attitude to his/her role any different.

One explanation I can think of is that here in Britain, in terms of direct oppression, we are far more likely to see the police doing it than the army

I wonder if we were anarchists in Iraq if the double standard would still be there.

So basically my question would be is there a substantial difference between the army and the police to justify treating one differently to the other? I personally cannot see it but maybe Im missing something

redboots's picture
redboots
Offline
Joined: 10-09-07
Jun 16 2008 18:47

The cops job is to opress the people of their own home community and protect the state. The soldier, while serving the states aims, would seem in my mind more likely to side with the working class if it entered a revolutionary stage. In addition, the idea of an army is a fine one if it is used to defend your homes, destroy the ruling class, or defeat fascists and the like. I would think soldiers would be the best people to start this peoples army in a time of crisis.

Police are not needed. If the revolution occured and they sided with the people all the better. But I bet most would be trying to stop outbreaks of violence and would have to be killed.

However, I don't think anyone here will argue that people in other nations do not have the right to fight back against US soldiers. This does not change the fact that they are potential allies in our struggle.

redboots's picture
redboots
Offline
Joined: 10-09-07
Jun 16 2008 19:27

I'm not saying the current US army is good, but we would want an army of some type I would imagine?

Pepe
Offline
Joined: 26-11-04
Jun 16 2008 19:34

We'd want some sort of police force as well.

888's picture
888
Offline
Joined: 30-09-03
Jun 16 2008 19:40

no

Pepe
Offline
Joined: 26-11-04
Jun 16 2008 19:54

There should be street patrols as well.

Deezer
Offline
Joined: 2-10-04
Jun 16 2008 20:00
Jack wrote:
They'd be totally incomparable to modern police, but there'd still be people involved in detection work. Far fewer than we have now, and operated in a far more accountable way, but there's still gonna be some need due to psychopaths, jealousy, drunken rows etc.

They'd might not be called Police, but they'd fill some "policing" functions that the contemporary police force (are supposed to) do.

Thank you for saving me the effort that I really could not be bothered expending on this discussion - again.

888's picture
888
Offline
Joined: 30-09-03
Jun 16 2008 20:09
Jack wrote:
They'd be totally incomparable to modern police, but there'd still be people involved in detection work. Far fewer than we have now, and operated in a far more accountable way, but there's still gonna be some need due to psychopaths, jealousy, drunken rows etc.

They'd might not be called Police, but they'd fill some "policing" functions that the contemporary police force (are supposed to) do.

Ok, but seeing as their primary role is totally absent and they only retain similarities in the secondary roles of police, they aren't really police at all.

Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
Offline
Joined: 6-11-03
Jun 16 2008 21:26

Mm and it's the army which gets called in to strike-break and scab, the police just play guard.

redboots's picture
redboots
Offline
Joined: 10-09-07
Jun 16 2008 22:09

Still, the military is a far more useful ally in a revolutionary situation, and that is why there is this supposed double standard. The police will be abolished and replaced with some type of community watch. On the other hand we could certainly use the men and women in the military joining us with advanced weapons we otherwise would not have access to. It is overly optimistic to think the state will fall to a general strike alone or that others will not attempt to re-seize control by force.

Then again I don't think the idea of an international revolution is all that practical (at least not in some type of fell swoop) so I think it may very well occur that anarchist or communist nations (or I guess Federations/regions) will need standing armies more complex than just armed workers. We can't just give up the tanks and jets and all that jazz right away I would not think.

But who knows. That is all so far away. Its easier to jaw on about that stuff than make serious headway in the here and now, but I think we need to understand the difference in potential between these two forces.

Pepe
Offline
Joined: 26-11-04
Jun 16 2008 22:29

Police would be a useful ally in countries where they are well-armed. Probably best to get the police (that are still living) to do the patrols, coz theyve had train.ing in dealing with difficult situations. dont see any difference between army and police yet. try harder!

redboots's picture
redboots
Offline
Joined: 10-09-07
Jun 16 2008 22:41

The police are the people in blue?

jeremytrewindixon
Offline
Joined: 6-03-07
Jun 17 2008 01:08

There is a knot that has to be untangled here, breaking up drunken fights and tracking down serial killers etc are necessary tasks in any society. The classic anarchist answer is that these tasks are in fact so obviously necessary that any community capable of overthrowing the state in the first place would be able to perform the comparatively minor task of ensuring security without a machinery being set up for the purpose.

But maybe not. Maybe professional security workers would be needed. The crucial difference between such people and a police force is that anarchist security workers would rely on the armed population for back-up while police rely on the army. The anarchist security workers hold their power from the people, police hold it over the people. Remember that the British police force was created after the Peterloo massacre to create a professional body to control civil disturbances, not for crime control. While the Australian police was based on the Royal Ulster Constabulary, an openly repressive force....the traditional anarchist call to "abolish the police" was directed agaisnt such bodies rather than the older system of JPs backed up in minor matters by a constable or two and by the militia in major ones. The problem with the older system was its class character not the machinery itself and I would imagine an anarchist security apparatus would be a democratised variation of it.

The army itself is a different story. A mass army whether based on conscription or not is a sharply class-differentiated body and in a crisis it is likely to split on class lines. A small elite army like the Australian is a different matter. In either case people become soldiers for different reasons than they become police.

Sean Siberio
Offline
Joined: 3-04-08
Jun 17 2008 05:49
Quote:
i'd imagine we will still need mutha fucka's trained in proper detective work, forensics and the like, unless of course your one of those wanker hippies who imagines communism will never have any crime, murder, rape or such abuses of person, instead our massive cities will simply have some neighbourhood watch shit and everyone will have deeply rooted organice relations with everyone in a city of millions.

No, but it would be comparatively harder to do any of those things. The biggest myth used to sell the necessity of increased beat cops and letting them have free reign is that people are walking targets for random violence. The reality is, most sexual violence, child molestation, and even things like property theft and home invasion, are committed by people you know, even if tangentially.

I don't think its surprising as society (albeit in a bourgeoisie, and half-assed way) has accepted the economic and social inclusion of women, domestic violence, relationship-sexual abuse and rape have finally started to be confronted. No longer is this the day of "mother fuckers" (a term derived from masters abusing slaves) or sexual harassment casually accepted. Given the shift in power structures in a libertarian communist society, the kind of patriarchal power structures, both obvious and subconscious, are easier to attack.

I don't doubt the need for investigative services, but the idea of an increased, or even existing, beat-cop component is ridiculous. They mostly exist to harass, and beef up support and numbers during times of political crisis.

Rob Ray's picture
Rob Ray
Offline
Joined: 6-11-03
Jun 17 2008 08:24
Quote:
mass army whether based on conscription or not is a sharply class-differentiated body and in a crisis it is likely to split on class lines. A small elite army like the Australian is a different matter.

That's the important bit. The UK has the same as Oz, a highly professional, well-paid and motivated force dedicated to maintaining and expanding the state's interests, kept separate from the populace in their own facilities and with their families similarly isolated. That's no coincidence, it's designed to make the soldiers a captive audience and isolate them from the prole life.

What made the Paris Commune different for example was that it didn't have this form as its main armed force, it had a mass militia drawn mainly from the working classes, paid like and living amongst the working classes - which inevitably took the side of the working classes when it came to the crunch.

I don't see this happening given the structure of the British army today, tbh I'd be less surprised if the coppers turned round and revolted.

juozokas's picture
juozokas
Offline
Joined: 5-11-07
Jun 18 2008 10:10
revol68 wrote:
888 wrote:
Jack wrote:
They'd be totally incomparable to modern police, but there'd still be people involved in detection work. Far fewer than we have now, and operated in a far more accountable way, but there's still gonna be some need due to psychopaths, jealousy, drunken rows etc.

They'd might not be called Police, but they'd fill some "policing" functions that the contemporary police force (are supposed to) do.

Ok, but seeing as their primary role is totally absent and they only retain similarities in the secondary roles of police, they aren't really police at all.

just as the revolutionary militia that was being bandied about as a type of 'army' has fuck all in common with the national armies then, no?

Why the fuck people have this retarded phobia of the Police word I'll never know, they don't have the same issue with the term army and yet states have had armies long before they had police.

most people never got a fine from a soldier in the army, or have never been fucked with by them, etc. i have noticed people are constantly looking out for cops, just their prescence makes people nervous. you make some good posts on here but imo all cops are wankers, and the ones that aren't will always side with the wankers

juozokas's picture
juozokas
Offline
Joined: 5-11-07
Jun 18 2008 10:15

also i think people join the police and the army for different reasons, and there is a huge difference between a cop and someone in the reserves

also, i have noticed cops tend to just hang around each other, whereas everyone sorta has been on the piss with someone in the army or who has been in the army.

juozokas's picture
juozokas
Offline
Joined: 5-11-07
Jun 18 2008 14:26
revol68 wrote:
juozokas wrote:
revol68 wrote:
888 wrote:
Jack wrote:
They'd be totally incomparable to modern police, but there'd still be people involved in detection work. Far fewer than we have now, and operated in a far more accountable way, but there's still gonna be some need due to psychopaths, jealousy, drunken rows etc.

They'd might not be called Police, but they'd fill some "policing" functions that the contemporary police force (are supposed to) do.

Ok, but seeing as their primary role is totally absent and they only retain similarities in the secondary roles of police, they aren't really police at all.

just as the revolutionary militia that was being bandied about as a type of 'army' has fuck all in common with the national armies then, no?

Why the fuck people have this retarded phobia of the Police word I'll never know, they don't have the same issue with the term army and yet states have had armies long before they had police.

most people never got a fine from a soldier in the army, or have never been fucked with by them, etc. i have noticed people are constantly looking out for cops, just their prescence makes people nervous. you make some good posts on here but imo all cops are wankers, and the ones that aren't will always side with the wankers

What a US/UK centric pile of shit. Maybe you should widen your viewpoint, maybe consider the role of troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and even Northern Ireland, where a fucking fine is hardly top of your concerns.

im from Australia (ok you win). yeah right so the army serves a diff. function in diff. countries, thanks for the headsup there. still doesn't make it a pile of shit. where i'm from the army doesn't follow you in their car. i know you got a hardon for the police but i could make the argument that was a third worldist pile of shit what you said

Sean Siberio
Offline
Joined: 3-04-08
Jun 19 2008 06:46

Getting back to the point, I think we really need to be clear how the idea of beat cops, and even the idea of a community "watch", needs to be examined. There are numerous "community watch" programs in place in large cities, notably New York, that are nothing more than officially sanctioned racial profiling. Rather than have cops face the risk of a civil lawsuit, or some sort of suspension or dismissal, various ethnic "watch groups" patrol streets and make sure that theres is nothing on "their streets" which is to be read that the undesirables don't creep over the line.

The reality, of course, is that despite these "Watch groups" as much criminal activity goes on as ever in their areas; they're simply not RANDOM. Like I pointed out, the biggest lie used to sell cops (and also armies and other military presence) is that you might get whacked by some random person. Is it possible? Certainly. Are the odds are of it happening? Not as likely as the things that go on behind closed doors.

So the idea of a informal community watch sounds like a self-righteous police force gone wrong. The most "enlightened" police forces have more checks and balances than the average self-righteous local avenger, which is what an informal watch would pander to.

Reverend Tap's picture
Reverend Tap
Offline
Joined: 9-04-08
Jun 19 2008 07:11

I don't see as much of a difference as some. Both organizations (at least here in the US) tend to recruit from the lower-income working class (the military moreso than the police force), both tend to encourage an insulating "us vs them" camaraderie in their members, both serve to further the interests of the ruling class in cases wherein they deem the use or threat of force is necessary. In different local situations, members of either institution might be more or less likely to revolt or accept revolutionary ideas or working-class solidarity; hard-and-fast rules about the way either is going to react seem to me to be rather presumptuous and ill-advised. The only true primary difference I see between the two institutions is that a lot of people in the US/UK have had negative run-ins with police but have had few if any interactions of any kind with members of the military. It's certainly understandable that people who've had such experiences would have a more viscerally negative take on the police than the military, but I agree that there's really no objective factual basis for it.

RoyceChristian
Offline
Joined: 16-03-08
Jun 19 2008 10:51

There is a very objective basis for opposition to the military and the police. The Military is a trained mob of killers and murderers whole sole purpose is to obey orders and kill those they're told to. How can you excuse the nature of their job? Granted, they are often recruited from the 'working class', but they are also formed of people who want the army to pay for their further education as well as another minority who do it 'for their country'. Army training replaces the family as the base unit with a soldiers squad. Killing becomes justified, ever heard the excuse, "we were just following orders"?

Cops on the other hand enforce the specific, narrow, moral code of a minority and if you don't comply they take the fruits of your labour, imprison you or worst case scenario, kill you. The entire purpose of their job is to enforce conformity to the particular views of whomever is in power. This brings into the question of what is a crime, as most people who are arrested are jailed for actions that would should not be considered criminal - tax fraud, drug dealing, prostitution, drug addiction, speeding, drink driving - and when they are jailed they often come out with a predisposition to actual crimes. Real crimes (murder, rape and the like) are rarely prevented by cops, who simply role up after the event happened, which doesn't help much once you're dead. Even if they find the perpetrator(s), they take them to court, lock them up and the victim - assuming they're still alive - is forced to pay for their attacker to stay in prison for the next x amount of years.

However, it is fair enough to discuss the provision of security (through neighbourhood watches, patrols or other organised requested, operated and held accountable by the community/individuals) but both the military and cops are thugs in the employ of the state. You cannot excuse them.

Reverend Tap's picture
Reverend Tap
Offline
Joined: 9-04-08
Jun 19 2008 15:47
RoyceChristian wrote:
There is a very objective basis for opposition to the military and the police....You cannot excuse them.

I'm assuming that was in response to my post.

The last bit I said was rather poorly worded. What I was intending to say was that there's no objective basis for a double standard with police vs military, not that there's no objective basis for opposition to both. Sorry for any confusion.

Sean Siberio
Offline
Joined: 3-04-08
Jun 19 2008 18:24
Quote:
not be considered criminal - tax fraud, drug dealing, prostitution, drug addiction, speeding, drink driving -

While I agree with all of those not being criminal per se, the last one doesn't belong. Are you seriously suggesting that the idiocy of drunk drivers isn't a bad thing? Or even speeding for that matter?

jeremytrewindixon
Offline
Joined: 6-03-07
Jun 20 2008 11:05

RoyceChristian wrote:

Quote:
The Military is a trained mob of killers and murderers whole sole purpose is to obey orders and kill those they're told to. How can you excuse the nature of their job?

, while D in the starting post summarized the typical anarchist attitude as :

Quote:
the police are virtually always regarded as vile, oppressors who could never be considered part of a revolutionary group or potentially comrades

What I want to know is when anarchists became so moralistic and when we can knock it off. I have no particular interest in "excusing" or "not excusing" soldiers or anyone else. I mean what about munitions workers if we are going to look down our noses at soldiers? How can their job be "excused"?......and this has no end. As Albert Meltzer, RIP, wrote in this connection years ago "Under capitalism all our jobs are dirty, when we take over we will make them clean" or words to that effect.

As for the police, I've met some vile ones and some OK ones; likewise anarchists.

There is however a good reason why we should oppose letting police into the workers movement and that is because their work puts them into an enormous and obvious conflict of interest with the workers movement, or with any movement for revolutionary change. Not only is the core purpose of their job to protect the status quo but they are engaged on activities at least closely related to that purpose every day. Soldiers sometimes are likewise, when they are effectively engaged in a policing role, but often are not. There will be occasions then when it will be possible to organise amongst soldiers as soldiers; any "organising" amongst police can only have the character of espionage. That is I think the difference.

Moralism is very dangerous, amongst many anarchists for example it has become impossible to talk sensibly about class because of the bizarre notion that class is a moral category.

RoyceChristian
Offline
Joined: 16-03-08
Jun 20 2008 13:49

Sean,

Quote:
Quote:
not be considered criminal - tax fraud, drug dealing, prostitution, drug addiction, speeding, drink driving -

While I agree with all of those not being criminal per se, the last one doesn't belong. Are you seriously suggesting that the idiocy of drunk drivers isn't a bad thing? Or even speeding for that matter?

Hey, don't get me wrong. Some of the things I suggest, and many more, are bad things and I would not engage in them myself or even advocate that others do them. What it comes down to, in regards to drink driving, is the act of driving a car while drunk isn't a problem unless someone gets hurt. If it is the drink driver, it is their own fault and they must suffer the consequences. In that situation, who cares? If they kill someone or cause damage to something, they must accept responsibility and restore what they damaged either through compensation or some other means. Unless some kind of damage occurs as a result of that persons choice, they haven't done anything wrong.

jeremy,

Quote:
while D in the starting post summarized the typical anarchist attitude as :

Yes, but unless I misread something, there seemed to be others here who are tolerant towards the military and police. That's who I was addressing.

Quote:
I mean what about munitions workers if we are going to look down our noses at soldiers? How can their job be "excused"?......and this has no end. As Albert Meltzer, RIP, wrote in this connection years ago "Under capitalism all our jobs are dirty, when we take over we will make them clean" or words to that effect.

There is a huge difference between workers in a factory producing munitions and a soldier on the street killing in the employ of the state. Munitions can have possible productive purposes outside the military industrial complex. Those workers are not parasites themselves; unlike soldiers and politicians who live off the labour of others, those workers actually contribute to society. In fact it is those workers who are likely in the best position to prevent those munitions being used to kill people.

Quote:
As for the police, I've met some vile ones and some OK ones; likewise anarchists.

I agree to some extent. However, I find if you ever get a cop talking about what it would be like if they were able to enforce the law, their way, it's a remarkably scary thing. Power corrupts.

Quote:
There is however a good reason why we should oppose letting police into the workers movement and that is because their work puts them into an enormous and obvious conflict of interest with the workers movement, or with any movement for revolutionary change. Not only is the core purpose of their job to protect the status quo but they are engaged on activities at least closely related to that purpose every day. Soldiers sometimes are likewise, when they are effectively engaged in a policing role, but often are not. There will be occasions then when it will be possible to organise amongst soldiers as soldiers; any "organising" amongst police can only have the character of espionage. That is I think the difference.

I agree. But I would also add a sort of exception to the rule, veteran cops and soldiers who have resigned because of 'distasteful' experiences within their organisations. For example, there is that whole veteran anti-war movement in the US mainly populated by soldiers who have experienced PTS, seen people tortured/executed and the like. These people have value, they have been to the dark side and come out alive, so to speak.

Quote:
Moralism is very dangerous, amongst many anarchists for example it has become impossible to talk sensibly about class because of the bizarre notion that class is a moral category.

Moralism is dangerous when it becomes dogmatism. Dogmatism is a trap that too many fall into. I believe there should be consistency between theory and practice, but when it descends to fanaticism and inflexibility it becomes, in your words, very dangerous.

Pepe
Offline
Joined: 26-11-04
Jun 20 2008 13:58

Re: drink-driving..... how could the driver possibly 'compensate' the family of their victim?

RoyceChristian
Offline
Joined: 16-03-08
Jun 20 2008 14:02

Reverend Tap

It was in reply to yourself and another, I believe - although I didn't include any names which definitely was a mistake. But if I wrongly targeted you, I apologise.

Django's picture
Django
Offline
Joined: 18-01-08
Jun 20 2008 14:06

Royce,

Quote:
Hey, don't get me wrong. Some of the things I suggest, and many more, are bad things and I would not engage in them myself or even advocate that others do them. What it comes down to, in regards to drink driving, is the act of driving a car while drunk isn't a problem unless someone gets hurt. If it is the drink driver, it is their own fault and they must suffer the consequences. In that situation, who cares? If they kill someone or cause damage to something, they must accept responsibility and restore what they damaged either through compensation or some other means. Unless some kind of damage occurs as a result of that persons choice, they haven't done anything wrong.

So if i ran down the street swinging a chainsaw and no-one got hurt, it'd be ok?

Likely consequences should be taken into account when condemning or condoning personal behaviour, regardless of whether those consequences materialise, IMO.

RoyceChristian
Offline
Joined: 16-03-08
Jun 20 2008 14:10
Quote:
Re: drink-driving..... how could the driver possibly 'compensate' the family of their victim?

Assuming the victim isn't killed as a result of the accident and has some kind of family, I'd say it's justifiable that whomever caused the accident then becomes responsible for ensuring medical care is provided and that the person makes the best recovery possible, as well as compensating for any future discomfort they have created. You can't get much more specific because these things are mostly dependent on circumstances. But I'd much prefer that than the current system where there is a lengthy court proceeding and the driver is locked up, all at the expense of the victim who has no choice but to pay. That's not justice, by any means. I'd also be willing to hear your suggestion.

Pepe
Offline
Joined: 26-11-04
Jun 20 2008 14:32

So you wouldn't mind getting run over and paralysed, as long as the drink-drive paid for your care? If someone is run over and dies, then what?

I think the way it works at the moment is quite good - stigmatisation of drink-driving, and punishment for those who are caught doing it (although of course this would work a bit differently in a communist society).

D's picture
D
Offline
Joined: 8-06-08
Jun 20 2008 14:39
RoyceChristian wrote:
Sean,
Quote:
Quote:
not be considered criminal - tax fraud, drug dealing, prostitution, drug addiction, speeding, drink driving -

While I agree with all of those not being criminal per se, the last one doesn't belong. Are you seriously suggesting that the idiocy of drunk drivers isn't a bad thing? Or even speeding for that matter?

Hey, don't get me wrong. Some of the things I suggest, and many more, are bad things and I would not engage in them myself or even advocate that others do them. What it comes down to, in regards to drink driving, is the act of driving a car while drunk isn't a problem unless someone gets hurt. If it is the drink driver, it is their own fault and they must suffer the consequences. In that situation, who cares? If they kill someone or cause damage to something, they must accept responsibility and restore what they damaged either through compensation or some other means. Unless some kind of damage occurs as a result of that persons choice, they haven't done anything wrong.
jeremy,

I have to say I completely disagree with that poiint in bold. In terms of morals someone who drink drives and is lucky enough not to hurt any1 is just as bad as someone who does the same as has the misfortune of killing someone, often luck determines what may happen and luck cannot be considered a factor as to how bad a persons actions are.

By drinking and driving you are putting other peoples lives at risk, thats why is fundamentally wrong if it was just endangering your life then fine but it isnt.

how would u feel if a car company didnt make their cars adequately safe, if they were lcky enough that no one got hurt would that make their actions any more excusable?