Our “Police State”
January 5, 2015
Make no mistake about it: Our “police state” is showing its colors. Here [link below] are many of those labeled “New York’s Finest,” and even some police not from New York, protesting Mayor de Blasio who was attending and speaking at a funeral of one of the slain policemen in New York City recently.
In my mind, there is nothing very important about the protest in itself, just as there is nothing very important about most protests in our political order. Although not many would agree, I think that protests solidify rather than undermine the prevailing alignment of political forces. They might make the protesters feel good, feel powerful, but what they demonstrate is their relative powerlessness. As someone wrote somewhere, angry blacks protest, even violently at times, while angry whites elect the likes of David Duke, Ronald Reagan, or George Wallace. Who’s got the power? Not the protesters.
And I believe these protests demonstrate the same phenomenon. Many are upset at the police for their behavior but why? What does this protest demonstrate? That a lot of the police don’t like de Blasio? Well, we knew that already. And what is the effect of this protest? The police decide to make fewer arrests, as if that demonstrated their power! Think about it: They demonstrate their power, allegedly, by not using their power. Would that the Freikorp in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s had demonstrated their power this way. This seems to me to be somewhat analogous to those who would “shut down government” as a way of demonstrating their power, only to find out this tactic doesn’t work and that they lose power in the bargain.
The police think they are protesting de Blasio but, in fact, they are protesting, as all protests do, the prevailing alignment of political forces. As a result, they are demonstrating just how politically powerless they are. They can no more change the basic alignment of forces in New York City by their “show of force” than the American military could change the basic alignment of forces in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan. To change that alignment requires political action, not military or military-like actions. You would think that, after several wars that seem to change very little, this would be obvious to more people.
So, let the police protest, just as other protesters should be allowed to protest. Neither set of protesters are a threat to the prevailing political situation. Neither is a threat to our “civil” society.