On the matter of police abolishment, I consider myself “moderate”, for now. I see the argument and I sympathize but I am not sure about it yet. And I believe my indecisiveness is not that much a matter of principle as it is a matter of my own insecurity and lack of knowledge. It is a journey for me, as I try to find my place in this discourse as well as in the political spectrum as a whole.
My indecisiveness is a form of self protection actually. I don’t want to preach abolishment and then being asked “alright, and what happens next?” and be stuck for an answer. What I can absolutely agree on is that police is unnecessary when it comes to keeping “law & order”, an expression which in itself became a meme at this point. I might be an idealist, but checking on neighbors (see, the concept of komšiluk, which I might cover in a future blog post), financial support, and assistance in health care issues can realistically be organized on a grass roots level and proactively cover at least the “order” part of police duties.
Speaking of relieving police of some of their tasks, the mere idea of abolishment seem to be contested anyway. Some say “abolish” but mean “defund”, and some even claim that “nobody” really wants to abolish the police. If we focus on defunding only, that is the easier task and by far the easier one to put forward in discussions with conservatives. Funds could be allocated to extend the budget for social programs, nursing, eldercare, mental health programs and so on. Social work is unfortunately a field with a severe shortage on workforce. But it can thrive, if we improve it with fair payment and working conditions. The people in need would profit as well, as we get rid of desperate employment methods and pro forma training.
I think, this new community work will probably entail some kind of policing in form of public safety, but wouldn’t this eventually lead back to a system we already have now? Maybe I’m just so indoctrinated to think in terms of institutions that it is indeed – borrowing the words of Slavoj Zizek – “easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of … policing”.
In left-wing circles you often hear overwhelming statements about the state, church, economy, and how all that must be abolished. I mean, there must be at least something good about hierarchies, right? Or is all our freedom and stability a miracle, because it exists despite our institutionalization. Maybe there is something I have yet to learn. The reason I wrote this article is to invite you to join me on that quest. Maybe point me to further resources, or save me from that rabbit hole. I started reading “The End of Policing” by Alex S. Vitale (On the publisher’s website you can get the e-book for free). I hope it will answer some of my questions and lead me to closer to a conclusion which I will share with you in the second part of this article.