The Pathos of Politics (112) Police


There’s a lot of law at the end of a nightstick. ~ American politician Grover Whalen

Police ostensibly act to keep order and apprehend those who violate property rights, especially violence against persons. In modern states supposedly governed by rule of law, policing illustrates the nature of a nation. The illustration of law and order painted by the police is seldom flattering.

Police feed the system with accused criminals; a minority of whom are convicted, but all of whom are traumatized and economically spent by the experience.

Meanwhile, most crimes go unsolved. The epidemic of violent sex crimes that plague all societies show how useless the police are, especially for the fairer gender. The frequent crimes perpetrated by the police are never even recorded.

By not solving crimes and creating more crime than they prevent, police are societal parasites: harassing and brutalizing the populace, particularly the underclass and dark-skinned; and filling their coffers through seizure and extortion, most frequently by stopping motorists for insignificant or imagined infractions.

Who will protect the public when the police violate the law? ~ US Department of Justice official Ramsey Clark

Despite the harsh critique, few doubt that their society would be better off without a police presence. That the police are as much a criminal element as they are the supposed solution does not detract from the fact that societies are rent with criminality, even as most people are law-abiding to a great degree.

The police are simply symptomatic of a much larger problem: societies are not organized to produce humane, orderly people. Capitalist economies acting as inequity machines is largely the culprit; pathetic parenting with regard to morality is another factor, though it pales in light of a global culture ridden with greed as its main modus operandi, incentivizing crime. That societies function at all owes to ill-founded perpetual optimism, and resignation when hope falters.

To state that the socialization process is insufficient underwhelms the issue. People may be largely institutionalized, but they remain insufficiently civil. The shortcomings of the police reflect the inadequacies of humanity generally.

In some ways, it is misleading to talk about the criminal justice ‘system.’ The word system suggests a certain amount of order. ~ Lawrence Friedman