There was an article posted over on Rolling Stone which was just too tempting not to respond to.
But police are not a permanent fixture in society. While law enforcers have existed in one form or another for centuries, the modern police have their roots in the relatively recent rise of modern property relations 200 years ago, and the “disorderly conduct” of the urban poor. Like every structure we’ve known all our lives, it seems that the policing paradigm is inescapable and everlasting, and the only thing keeping us from the precipice of a dystopic Wild West scenario. It’s not. Rather than be scared of our impending Road Warrior future, check out just a few of the practicable, real-world alternatives to the modern system known as policing: –Rolling Stone
Okay I’m listening. I’m used to many arguments against government based security let’s see what Rolling Stone has to offer.
- Unarmed mediation and intervention teams
Unarmed but trained people, often formerly violent offenders themselves, patrolling their neighborhoods to curb violence right where it starts. This is real and it exists in cities from Detroit to Los Angeles. Stop believing that police are heroes because they are the only ones willing to get in the way of knives or guns – so are the members of groups like Cure Violence, who were the subject of the 2012 documentary The Interrupters. There are also feminist models that specifically organize patrols of local women, who reduce everything from cat-calling and partner violence to gang murders in places like Brooklyn. While police forces have benefited from military-grade weapons and equipment, some of the most violent neighborhoods have found success through peace rather than war. –Rolling Stone
This sounds like the sort of thing you’d expect out of an aging hipster. I don’t know anything about the author but this is pure platitudes. Just because some people are willing to get in harms way does not make them effective at stopping crime. How effective would these people be in the absence of police? Criminals are not known for being pro-social, I doubt social methods of crime fighting are going to be very effective in the absence of police, though I don’t doubt they might have an impact on the margins. The local patrol of women happens in Brooklyn. Last time I check some woman walked around New York and she was still getting cat called, looks like your feminist patrols aren’t really working.
What’s especially interesting is that in homogeneous neighborhoods where women stay home they do in fact enforce social norms. Back when civil society was strong women would have hassled and chastised cat callers and misbehaving youths. Also there would have been more people, most people in fact, who grew up in a two parent home and learned proper etiquette. Yes police aren’t the only solution to violence, but bringing in feminists is ironic considering they are partially responsible for the destruction of the very social institutions which used to reduce crime. Yes let’s bring in the agitators who caused these problems in the first place, just more rent seeking behavior from the Cathedral’s favorite interest groups.
- The decriminalization of almost every crime
What is considered criminal is something too often debated only in critical criminology seminars, and too rarely in the mainstream. Violent offenses count for a fraction of the 11 to 14 million arrests every year, and yet there is no real conversation about what constitutes a crime and what permits society to put a person in chains and a cage. Decriminalization doesn’t work on its own: The cannabis trade that used to employ poor Blacks, Latinos, indigenous and poor whites in its distribution is now starting to be monopolized by already-rich landowners. That means that wide-scale decriminalization will need to come with economic programs and community projects. To quote investigative journalist Christian Parenti’s remarks on criminal justice reform in his book Lockdown America, what we really need most of all is “less.” –Rolling Stone
Oh no after cannabis was decriminalized it started to be dominated by people who were good at managing capital. I will shed no tears for the urban Dindus who are loosing business to responsible and successful people. The author insists we need to help these criminals with economic programs and community projects, as if they suddenly are going to be responsible law abiding business men once marijuana is decriminalized. While I didn’t use to understand the drug war, I understand it is a useful excuse to lock up dangerous people who for the most part are already committing crimes. There is a correlation between the buying and selling of drugs among the poor and other crimes. When the police are under pressure drugs are a convenient heuristic to crack down on other forms of crime.
- Restorative Justice
Also known as reparative or transformative justice, these models represent an alternative to courts and jails. From hippie communes to the IRA and anti-Apartheid South African guerrillas to even some U.S. cities like Philadelphia’s experiment with community courts, spaces are created where accountability is understood as a community issue and the entire community, along with the so-called perpetrator and the victim of a given offense, try to restore and even transform everyone in the process. It has also been used uninterrupted by indigenous and Afro-descendant communities like San Basilio de Palenque in Colombia for centuries, and it remains perhaps the most widespread and far-reaching of the alternatives to the adversarial court system. –Rolling Stone
Again communities only work when they are allowed to form and not incinerated by perverse incentives. While I’m not against the concept of local justice, I doubt that Detroit is ready for such a thing. Common law is a good example of more local justice, but without community and pro-social citizens you are just asking for trouble. Also given the blatant tribalism (and counter productive tribalism at that) of many poor communities it is doubtful that communities would hold rulings on the side of order. The lack of agency in poor communities is both omnipresent and accentuated by progressive pandering and paternalism.
- Direct democracy at the community level
Reducing crime is not about social control. It’s not about cops, and it’s not a bait-and-switch with another callous institution. It’s giving people a sense of purpose. Communities that have tools to engage with each other about problems and disputes don’t have to consider what to do after anti-social behaviors are exhibited in the first place. A more healthy political culture where people feel more involved is a powerful building block to a less violent world. –Rolling Stone
Again diversity, incentives, public schools, working parents all prevent community. The left has been implicitly and explicitly destroying communities for over a century. Given the smoldering crater which is the modern black family police are needed more than ever. Not that with the black family intact we wouldn’t need police we would just need them less. Direct democracy also works better at a community level but I suspect we need more centralized hierarchical solutions at the moment. Liberty comes after you have a working society not before.
- Community patrols
This one is a wildcard. Community patrols can have dangerous racial overtones, from pogroms to the KKK to George Zimmerman. But they can also be an option that replaces police with affected community members when police are very obviously the criminals. In Mexico, where one of the world’s most corrupt police forces only has credibility as a criminal syndicate, there have been armed groups of Policia Comunitaria and Autodefensas organized by local residents for self-defense from narcotraffickers, femicide and police. Obviously these could become police themselves and then be subject to the same abuses, but as a temporary solution they have been making a real impact. Power corrupts, but perhaps in Mexico, withering power won’t have enough time to corrupt. –Rolling Stone
Community patrols have racial overtones because of the demographic sloshing and white flight. Blacks move to get away from the dregs of their own community and whites leave as soon as there are too many blacks and the schools go to the dogs. The cycle repeats itself over and over. Police are often the last to leave an area as it is their career not just their chosen home. If blacks want to police their own community fine, but they have to police it and that requires passing police exams and actually having and interest in order. Not something we are probably going to see an increase of in the coming future.
Ironically self defense would be much easier if militias and guns were more common. This author in this section is two degrees of separation from the average libertarian or ancap. I hope they didn’t hurt themselves on all that cognitive dissonance. The government should be the only one enforcing the law and people are too stupid and irresponsible to defend themselves. But wait the police are racist and evil so the people should police themselves because they are less corrupt. Pick one. Although I suspect the author would really just prefer nothing at all because real order will hurt peoples feelings and stuff.
- Here’s a crazy one: mental health care
In 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed up the last trauma clinics in some of Chicago’s most violent neighborhoods. In New York, Rikers Island jails as many people with mental illnesses “as all 24 psychiatric hospitals in New York State combined,” which is reportedly 40% of the people jailed at Rikers. We have created a tremendous amount of mental illness, and in the real debt and austerity dystopia we’re living in, we have refused to treat each other for our physical and mental wounds. Mental health has often been a trapdoor for other forms of institutionalized social control as bad as any prison, but shifting toward preventative, supportive and independent living care can help keep those most impacted from ending up in handcuffs or dead on the street.–Rolling Stone
I’ll pull out and interesting section “but shifting toward preventative, supportive and independent living care can help keep those most impacted from ending up in handcuffs or dead on the street” How can you prevent mental illness? I mean you can treat it, but much of it is genetic. I suppose you could reduce environmental factors, but again that would require repealing most of the “progress” from the last century. If we ever did get serious on mental health issues I’m sure the progressives would change their mind as soon as half of their feminist and communist agitators ended up in treatment. Not to mention we might actually need functioning definitions of mental health instead of celebrating every broken little snowflake. I am for institutional help for the crazies. I think it would be a good thing to have the public house and segregate these people from the rest of society.
To summarize we still need police and platitudes aren’t going to fix our issues. The author comes close to some decent solutions but hits the wall of progressive cognitive dissonance before he could actually come close to something workable. Civilization is scary for liberals. They should let the adults handle enforcing law and order and go play utopia in the corner.