14 July 2013

To Enforce and Correct

They’ve been telling police officers for a generation now that they’re fighting various wars, but it’s also because the patrol car has isolated police officers from the communities that they serve. Police officers who live in the communities they serve is also less and less common.

So when you arm a cop like a soldier, when you dress ‘em like a soldier, when you tell ‘em to fight in a war and then send ‘em out into a neighborhood that he has no stake in and doesn’t consider himself a part of, you get a very antagonistic, us-versus-them relationship between the officer and that community. I think that is really pervasive, and the rise of the stop-snitchin’ movement, whatever you think of it, shows there are entire communities in this country that are more afraid of police than they are of the people that the police are supposed to be protecting them from. That is a pretty terrible development.

Radley Balko: “Once a town gets a SWAT team you want to use it”


This seems endemic in all "systems" approaches.  The people involved have no stake in the tenor of the community--in the health of the community--in the goodness of the community.

The "trader" loses billions with the "incidental" effect of bankrupting whole communities, or the Teach for America "volunteer" targets his or her end of service agreement using the "experience" to become management-ready, or the Enterprise Rental counter-jockey is aiming for middle-management HR anywhere possible.  I'm sure you can name many examples of lives that are not attached to communities as a member of that community but rather as a kind of service or control employee.

The real threat and power, the daily threat, in Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany came from the police.

Then there's that next step.

No government exclusively based on the means of violence has ever existed. Even the totalitarian ruler, whose chief instrument of rule is torture, needs a power basis—the secret police and its net of informers. Only the development of robot soldiers, which, as previously mentioned, would eliminate the human factor completely and, conceivably, permit one man with a push button to destroy whomever he pleased, could change this fundamental ascendancy of power over violence.
—Hannah Arendt, “On Violence.”

The good old days will now be those when you once worried about those Haliburton and Blackwater/Xe mercenaries in other countries and pretending to "do good" post-Katrina.

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