loomer wrote: ↑
In reality, no - at least not outside of very small communes. In theory, this is what all ideologies seek, but few can articulate a form of or path to. Anarchistic frames require it as a baseline, though, but they also exclude police as we currently understand them.
The fact that few can even articulate a form or a path to leads me to believe that certain attitudes, such as ACAB, might not be realistic. Though one thing is for certain here. I came into this assuming the ACAB thought process was shallow and formed purely from emotion. I was completely wrong. I had the shallow position.
I've done quite a bit of reading on the subject, still more to do, in an effort to bridge this understanding. This doesn't mean that I agree with the position, especially the ACAB group, but I won't dismiss it like I have before.
I appreciate the time you took to educate me.
This is where most anarchists will disagree with you. Most laws - and thus, police actions - serve only to protect and serve the State and its various unjust systems (e.g. castes, race, capitalism, and so on). Accordingly, most crimes are in fact only crimes because the conditions of living under the State are unjust, and if these circumstances were different, there would be no need for police.
To elaborate, to an anarchist there are usually three categories of crime:
1. Crimes of property
2. Mental illness related crimes
3. Crimes of passion.
Personally, I add a fourth category, which is 'transgression as rebellion' - think teenagers who break the law just to be edgy. It's not a crime of passion, it's not due to mental illness, and it isn't necessarily a crime of property.
All four of these categories would have victims associated with them so how is that addressed?
To be clear on 2 - I am not saying that mental illness by itself is a crime because it is not even under the current system.
All crimes of the first category basically vanish in the hypothetical anarchist endgame, because the necessary preconditions - the inequitable private distribution of wealth leading to social injustice - have ceased to be. Everyone's needs and desires are met, and therefore, there is no need for theft, for smuggling, and so on. There being a number of free associations to live in and move between easily, there is no particular need to import something barred from a particular association into another, and so on. These crimes, then, fade to the level of nuisance - petty individual theft of personal possessions. Such matters do not need a police force to deal with - the other proposed models, which I'll get to momentarily, are largely sufficient.
If the new system replaced the loss in a time efficient manner than I guess you could reduce it to a nuisance but I think it is unrealistic to assume that large scale theft, smuggling, etc would disappear because you would still have people that desire more that are greedy. Even the very rich steal but they do so differently. Just look at Donald Trump.
The second category is, likewise, meant to evaporate. This is a somewhat trickier position as it may still occur regardless, but the basic premise is this: Most crimes spawned by mental illness are a reaction to injustice putting pressure on vulnerable and fragile people, who react badly. In the anarchist endgame, these people are instead protected, helped, and treated - not criminalized. Accordingly, their deeds do not require a police force per se to deal with. This is one I'm uncomfortable with personally to a certain level, but I agree with most anarchist thinkers that the police are extremely poorly placed to prevent or deal with mental illness based crimes.
What if they don't want to be protected, helped, or treated? Mental illness is not a crime under the current system but some of the behaviors that can manifest are such as violence. So, under the anarchist system a mentally ill person that assaulted someone would be protected, helped, and treated - which I do not have a problem with. However, what if they do not want that help and resist violently?
I agree the police are poorly placed to deal with mental illness and so would most cops.
The third category cannot be eradicated, as humans suck. These are murders in a rage, rapes, assaults, etc - your standard crimes of passion. Policing does very little to actually deter crimes of passion, and can only address it after the fact in most cases. In this sense, police are not necessary to address crimes of passion, largely because, well, they can't. Now, you may be thinking 'but what about the times when I've stopped one?', which is valid, and is where we get into the tricky spot of anarchist self-policing.
I mean policing does little to deter crimes of any type because we are limited in number and not clairvoyant. Police are reactionary and always will be. I don't see this changing regardless of whether it is the police or something different charged with handling this matter.
Basically, anarchists (who don't reject all forms of communal government, anyway - some go that far) usually propose a body of volunteers who do much of what police currently do. They stop fights, respond to cries for help, gather evidence, and so on. The distinctions between these and the police as they are currently constituted usually (and with anarchism I'm afraid you can't really get more precise than 'usually', with a few exceptions like 'we don't like the state!', since if you ask a room of five anarchists how something should be set up you'll get seven answers) amount to the following:
1. This group is directly accountable to the collective, without an intermediary body;
How do you avoid mob mentality from taking over then?
2. This group is not specially empowered to use force except in the most serious circumstances;
How do you investigate a scene of a crime with suspects on scene that aren't cooperative?
3. This group does not participate in any other form of action - e.g. breaking strikes - and exists solely to prevent what few crimes remain in an anarchist association and gather evidence on those that have taken place.
No issue with this.
There's sometimes 4, where the members of this group are held to the highest possible standard and, whenever found to do wrongs, are given the harshest punishments the association has collectively assented to. I maintain that one myself and feel that in every society, police and politicans should be exposed to the most severe scrutiny and treatment they would impose on others.
I do as well but with one hangup. Does the current training you are giving these people reflect the standard you are holding them accountable? Don't misunderstand I'm not saying a poorly trained police officer should be let off when they commit a crime. What I am saying is that a poorly trained police officer should not be held accountable when they fail to deescalate a situation.
1 is especially important as a point of distinction, as this direct accountability - manifested usually in the requirement of total disclosure of anything not justifiably non-disclosed (e.g. 'who murdered Tim?' can still be met with 'we can't say just yet - it'd prevent us from taking the proper action') and the ability of the public to discharge, dismiss, and potentially penalize members of the self-policing body. This is a radical departure, and if modern police forces adopted such a policy even under capitalism, I suspect the ACAB position would become less drastic and less popular.
I suspect you are right but again I reiterate my question about mob rule? Policing has training and the best have long training programs which means you typical layman isn't going to be in a position to say if this is right or wrong.
If you need an example imagine being judged as a scientist on climate change by a random group of americans. Sounds dodgy to me and because of this I think accountability systems should be grounded in knowledge and reason.
Now, such anarchist endgames also tend to focus on rehabilitative and restorative justice rather than punitive. This is where the evidence gathering role of the quasi-police enters in, but it has to be understood in the following context. These quasi-police exist to figure out why something went wrong and fix it - not just by handing a criminal to the courts, but by arguing that the conditions of life in so-and-so part of the association are unjust and need to be fixed; by identifying weakspots in mental healthcare; etc. In doing so, they interface with the collective and whatever legal experts exist (and any anarchist association worth its salt is full of them - anarchist endgames are, contrary to opinion, not lawless. Rather, they are communities of the utmost lawfulness - and so there must necessarily be experts in how and why this lawfulness is to be constructed within said communities. This is a point of some contention, however - many anarchists feel (wrongly) that lawyers of every stripe are just as bad as cops.) in order to remedy the situation, make good the harm that's been made, and prevent future harms. In this respect, they are not expected to enforce order, but to actually serve and protect - to be, essentially, proper police rather than the running dogs of the masters.
No issue here.
Basically, the service itself still exists but in a radically altered form. The drive to service is indeed admirable when it's genuine - I went into my field out of a similar one, a desire to see justice done in the world and peoples lives bettered - but the issue most anarchists take is that this drive is easily misplaced. It is very easy to feel that one is doing good when working within an awful system (it may even be true - even a lot of ACABbers will agree that the police do some good now and then) but this does not prevent the system being awful. If the system is so awful that it cannot be tolerated, then no matter how noble the subjective goals, they do not suffice to redeem complicity. I don't mean to Godwin, but I will point out that Nazis felt they were doing a great service of noble purpose as well - it is for this reason that we cannot rely on the idea that service to the extant system is, in itself, sufficiently good to ward off moral criticism and turpitude. I use them because they're a constant reference in this matter rather than for shock value - whether it's anarchists calling all statists fascists or natural law theorists accusing us positivists of being somehow helplessly unable to prevent the rise of the Nazis. People's subjective sense of morality and general desire to do good lead, naturally, to the conclusion that their deeds are - on the whole, if not in specific - moral even when they aren't. That same drive to do good and serve the people can, if not adequately directed and restricted, lead to the most horrific outcomes.
I think there is a difference between emotionally feeling like you are doing good and logically doing good. When I arrest an abusive husband and take him to jail I am logically doing good. When I arrest a drug user because they have something they are biologically addicted to and treat that addiction as a crime then I am logically doing wrong.
To some degree police are given some flexibility in the current system either by intended discretion or just an unavoidable reality of not being totally micromanaged. Like I said I haven't made a drug arrest in a very long time and if I have a choice I won't for the remainder of my career.
We might, if you like, modify ACAB to the following: All Cops Are Bastards, But In An Anarchist Utopia, Their Replacements Are Pretty Okay. Still not quite as catchy or easy to tattoo on your knuckles, though.
Not necessary. I get it. Though like I said above I don't know if an anarchist utopia, or a human utopia of any kind, is a realistic thing. Maybe I'm just a glass half empty type of person.