Police and Anarchism

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wojtek
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Jan 11 2011 02:14
Police and Anarchism

Hi all, I've been reading lots of anarchist literature at the moment and it's all very inspiring stuff, but I've hit on a snagg. The level of crime and thus the need for policing would decrease drastically in the event of a libertarian communist society being established. Most petty crime and violence would be gradually phased out, due to people's needs being met and libertarian education (abolition of 'gender' as a concept, anti-homophobia/ racism, etc.)

However, wouldn't there still be a need for some sort of 'police' to deal with varying degrees of assault, manslaughter, lone cranks, peadophilia, etc.?

And if so (assuming they'd be armed) wouldn't that mean that everyone would need to have guns to ensure that they don't stage a coup?

I am aware that anarchists aren't that keen on set manifestos for reasons of democracy and spontaneity.

Many thanks

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Juan Conatz
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Jan 11 2011 02:42

good place to start
http://wiki.infoshop.org/Anarchist_FAQ_on_Crime,_the_Police_and_Prisons

wojtek
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Jan 11 2011 11:31

very helpful cheers!

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StreetWalker
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Jan 12 2011 18:15

Hi in a anarcho-primitivist society, we go back to the state of nature , when the unit of control and habitation would be a village, Just like the gaulish village from the asterix books. So it will be walled up to protect against invaders. Inside crime would be rare because everyone would be known to everyone, its as if a crime happening within a family,if you ever experienced getting caught by your wife or mom by the very look in your face.

So crime would be rare, the police could be dispensed with. For heinous crimes, it might be a possibility that mob behavior might kick in and quick and violent justice might be dispensed.

Invasion may not be seen as a crime but. If I live in a village and my neighboring village lives by the river and has access to irrigation, I would just raid in one night and capture a part of their land, if my village is strong enough. But in a post modern anarchist society, where knowledge is universal, the encounter would be as non violent as possible, since other means of calculation and negotiation becomes possible.

This I speak from a moderate anarcho-primitivist point of view. Hope it is not entirely irrelevant

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back2front
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Jan 12 2011 23:37

One of the dangers of anarchism (apart from wild-eyed, black-caped bombers) is the notion of the anarchist state.

An anarchist state is a contradiction in terms.

Anarchism is in perpetuum - constant, it is a theory applied to here and now - which is why theoretical anarchism can often be found elsewhere....

wojtek, your post incurs a number of responses but the above is paramount.

We need to define what is crime, and we need to define to what extent that 'crime' is caused by capitalist society. In the absence of capitalism would people need to thieve off each other, murder each other, live off the backs off each other, rape each other etc etc. We then need to define 'police' - the notion that as citizens we watch out for each other and act accordingly and relatively, does not mean that we are cops.

Anarchism is a philosophy applied to every given moment in which we attempt to prevent hierarchy in its exploitative sense.

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Lumpen
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Jan 13 2011 12:10
StreetWalker wrote:
Hi in a anarcho-primitivist society, we go back to the state of nature , when the unit of control and habitation would be a village, Just like the gaulish village from the asterix books. So it will be walled up to protect against invaders. Inside crime would be rare because everyone would be known to everyone, its as if a crime happening within a family,if you ever experienced getting caught by your wife or mom by the very look in your face.

By this definition of "nature", anything human beings do is natural and therefore "primitivist". I would say what you describe is, in fact, the opposite of the kind of society anarchists want – we do not want to return to feudalism, or reinvent a nicer one. There is no such thing as a coherent "anarcho-primitivism" because anarchism and primitivism are incompatible and divergent ideas. The tendency to hyphenate anarchism is itself based on a misconception of anarchism. The "anarcho" in anarcho-primitivism refers exclusively to a small-scale and decentralised society. Neither of these things are inherent or primary features of anarchism and it is therefore a misnomer. The idea that you can whack "anarcho" as a suffix to "primitivism" might stem from "anarcho-syndicalism", which is (sometimes) hyphenated to distinguish itself from the broader tradition of syndicalism that existed simultaneously when it was being developed as a strategy to achieve anarchy (as was, and to a lesser extent, insurrectionary anarchism). Anarcho-sydicalism and anarchism are synonymous in a way that "anarcho-primitivism" can not be. /rant

On the OP's question, when property is abolished and the individual is free, most of what is currently considered criminal will be considered absurd, most are in agreement on that. I also agree that after a generation or so of libertarian education and living, most petty divisions would probably disappear.

wojtek wrote:
However, wouldn't there still be a need for some sort of 'police' to deal with varying degrees of assault, manslaughter, lone cranks, peadophilia, etc.?

And if so (assuming they'd be armed) wouldn't that mean that everyone would need to have guns to ensure that they don't stage a coup?

The police are a very modern invention. It stands to reason that the particular form and constitution of modern policing is determined by the needs of the ruling class at the time. Therefore, a standing, permanent armed force is likely not the ideal institution for preventing the crimes (such as assault etc) that you describe in a classless society. However, I think that having permanent detectives, whose jobs are to gather evidence, is not incompatible with anarchism. I would hazard to say they might be seen as we see microbiologists and would not be delegated to police the boundaries of social behaviour.

Also, police today do not prevent sexual assaults or murders and so on. The reduction of a largely self-referencial crime is a corollary of maintaining social order, not the primary purpose of a standing police force. By "self-referencial" I mean crimes such as sedition, speaking against authority, vagrancy, assaulting police, etc.

Much of the crime you describe would be best dealt with institutions that do not have a monopoly on violence. An armed, permanent police force is clearly not the best way to deal with assault, lone cranks (do you mean the violent mentally ill?) and you are right that such a group would pose a danger to a libertarian society. I'm not saying such a force is unthinkable, but it is both unlikely and undesirable. "If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail", as they say.

There are a lot of interesting strategies for dealing with hostility without relying on police. These range from active training for collective/self-defense and the resolution of disputes, although there are limits to this practice because of the small scale of anarchist groups. That said, I think in the case of serious crimes, not relying on these strategies would be entirely understandable. For example, if some crazy person was at the front of my house and brandishing a weapon, I would call the police, albeit reluctantly.

wojtek wrote:
I am aware that anarchists aren't that keen on set manifestos for reasons of democracy and spontaneity.

This is not the universally the case and, afaik, not even the majority position amongst anarchists. Most anarchist organisations have aims and principles. The ones who do not are, well, usually shit. It is perfectly acceptable to have and insist on common goals as a condition of membership in an anarchist org. I've heard similar lines from insurrectionist anarchists about spontaneity. I disagree, although I agree that anarchists can not be dogmatically programmatic. Although there are very valid criticisms of platformism, it is still well within the boundaries of the anarchist tradition, imho.

wojtek
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Jan 14 2011 04:02

Again thanks alot - snag conquered.