Police and State


The police; the fuzz; the man; cops. Our self professed guardians or shepherds. Those among us who have been granted by the State direct, physical control over the rest of us. It's a dirty job, does it really have to be done to us?

Almost everywhere there is great ambivalence or outright hostility to the cops. Even the staunchest 'law and order' man scoffs when he himself gets a traffic ticket. 'Don't they have anything better to do?' In many communities, the cops are seen as direct oppressors, physically and violently imposing the order of the State.

The job description itself calls out to those who enjoy using force on others. Criminals and psychopaths are given a license to do what they want. I once worked with a guy who told me he wanted to be a cop so that he could 'crack some niggers' heads and show them their place.' Thank God he failed the psych exam and was not hired. But maybe he kept trying until he got through, and I bet he was not the only one. They even have a toolkit: a uniform that commands obedience or fear from many people, and guns and training, along with a team of compatriots who will naturally take another cop's side first, in what they see as a battle of 'us and them.'

To be fair, a lot, and I optimistically feel most, become police with at least good intentions ' to help defend people, promote 'safety' and other lofty goals. They see the police force as an appropriate means to accomplish this. And after all, why wouldn't they? Most things that people see or hear heralds self sacrifice and duty to others as the highest aims. People are taught that crime would be rampant and threaten their daily lives were it not for the State. Working for the State is perceived to be noble, and who in their right mind does not want to be noble, especially when that idea is only vaguely defined ' it just means good, right? They aren't teaching Human Action or The Road to Serfdom in the State's schools.

Many times individual police really do act nobly, they save lives, defuse dangerous situations, rush in to help. These occasions are usually explained as 'just doing my job,' or 'all in the line of duty.' This idea furthers the positive image of the job. But this is wrong. 'Just doing the job' means writing parking tickets to boost the State's revenues, smelling people's breath to see if they've been drinking--which the State has determined they can only do so much of--dragging scofflaws and hoodlums into the iron clutches of the State, so the taxpayers can at least feel safer, for a little while. Those other times are instances of people acting heroically in bad situations (which civilians often do, also.)

But the dark side of the job is always there, inevitably. The fundamental nature of the job is imposing someone else's order on people who could live their own lives, in order to maintain the stability and the lurking presence of the state in people's minds. This necessarily implies the use of force, and those unwilling to submit must use force to resist. This leads to escalations of police force, which leads to more hostility, thus escalations in resistance force, which leads to more police force which leads to . . . . And here we are today.

The violence that police use in the service of the State begets more violence. People see the police murder someone and they are drawn to revenge, even to stalking and assassinating the cops who did it. The State then can justify more police. 'Look at how violent our streets are, we need more police.' Sometimes resistance is necessary. The more out in the open, in front of regular folks this can be done, the better. But the thirst for vengeance on cops who've gone over the line leads to some other questions.

Imagine this scene. The avenger has a cop down on his knees in a dark alley, revolver to his neck. This is the cop who senselessly gunned down an unarmed kid the other day. People saw his face and his badge. Now you have him, ready to get some payback, to make a real example of this cop. Is it justice, or Power now calling the shots? Who is it that passes judgment on people, locking them away or executing them to make an example? It's the State.

Were we there when the person who became the cop was making his decisions? Did we introduce the ideas of liberty when his teachers at school, and nearly everyone else was teaching him the ideas of the State? Were we with him when he made his decisions, to urge him toward the right path? Can we know what was in his heart and mind when he acted?

As an action towards liberty, this will fail. Killing cops will lead more people to become cops, make them angry and scared, and strengthen the hand of the State, which feeds on fear. When you have to defend yourself, you have to defend yourself, wherever that may lead. But passing the ultimate judgment, deciding the fate of another human being, no matter how miserable they may seem, requires absolute knowledge, which we humans do not possess. It must be known, exactly and correctly, what happened and why. It must be known that this person has nothing else to offer the world, that no redemption is possible. It must be known absolutely that this is the time for this person to die. Anything else is plain murder.

The only way to defeat the State is by getting humans to turn it away, to shut it out of their minds. By becoming ourselves like the State, we ultimately make it stronger. To defeat the police, people need to believe that they are not necessary, as manifested by the State. (There used to be the concept of the constabulary, someone on the same level as the people he works for whose job is to defuse situations and help maintain the peace. This could work in a private law system, where the constable was hired by customers in an area, but the State places him over the people, turning him into police.) A true victory for liberty: convince a cop to renounce his power and return to real, human life.

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John Spain's picture
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