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Why America has militarized its police and crushes protests

16 August 2014

Summary: Journalists have dissected the events in Ferguson, and now turn to the important question of police militarization during the past 20 years. We see the standard analysis: pictures of their equipment, pictures of SWAT in action, excessive focus on the details, and faux outrage over the story they ignored for so long. Here we ask the question they ignore: why? Why the militarization of police? Why brutal crushing of protests?

“When I was sixteen, I went to work for a newspaper in Hong Kong. It was a rag, but the editor taught me one important lesson. The key to a great story is not who, or what, or when, but why.”
— Elliot Carver, in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

SWAT

In your dreams

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Contents

  1. New police for a new America
  2. An alternative theory, if the police are not fools
  3. Deductions about activities of our new police
  4. Conclusions
  5. For More Information

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(1)  New police for a New America

Now the next phase of the Ferguson drama begins: journalists explain what the police should have done.

  1. After Ferguson, how should police respond to protests?“, Radley Balko, Washington Post, 14 August 2014
  2. Policing Protests Like Soldiers Makes Everyone Less Safe. Even Police“, Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, 15 August 2014 — “Yet Americans perpetuate the military approach by recruiting for and celebrating it.”

Both conclude that militarization of police and their massive use of force to suppress protests are stupid mistakes. It’s over my pay grade to assess their conclusions as right or wrong, but it’s clear that both commit a serious analytical error by assuming that the police leaders — civilian and uniformed — share their goals and values.

What are the goals of those running our police forces? How can we infer the goal of an individual or group? First, see the effect produced. Assume that what they got is their intended result. Is that logical?

Second, as a check on this, consider the analysis of critics like Balko and Friedersdorf. They say the police committed obvious errors. They are journalists, and so easily assume that police leaders are mouth-breathing neanderthals. That’s a false assumption, and voids much of their analysis.

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(2)  An alternative theory, assuming the police are not fools

A Minister of State goes to his king and says: ‘Sire, in your new budget I notice you spend billions for weapons and not one penny for the poor.’ The king replies: ‘Yes, when the revolution comes, I’ll be ready.’

— From Go Tell the Spartans , Jerry Pournelle and S.M. Stirling (1991)

America’s police bulked up, with DoD’s assistance, on military equipment. They developed units trained and equipped in military-style tactics. They oriented their departments’ recruitment and training around application of force. It forms a consistent picture of organizations evolving from community-based law enforcement to security services whose primarily focus is maintaining public order — with protests by minority or politically dissident elements as inherently illegitimate and potentially violent.

Order not justice is the new goal of our police (a shift in emphasis). As such, massive displays of overwhelming force are a logical way to deter protests. Should they occur despite this, then massive use of force is a logical way to prevent their re-occurrence. The crushing of the Occupy Movement’s camps and the Ferguson protests are the natural result of new policing in our New America. As so often the case with the evolution of societies in history, new forms have precedents from that people’s past (people often build new futures by rearranging elements from their past).

The New America is a multi-cultural society designed for high and rising inequality, plus low and falling social mobility. Our elites are not fools. Preparing for large protests was a prudent (even prescient) precaution.

That does not imply that the police over-reaction in Ferguson was planned, down to the arresting and assault on journalists. An effective strategy does not imply that the resulting tactics are well-executed. Maintaining control of rioting police requires excellent organization and command skills. The Ferguson PD failed at this, and created a public relations defeat.

SWAT

(3)  Deductions about activities of our new police

We can make some deductions about the methods of our new security services. They’re probably using the tools security services have usually used:  widespread surveillance and agent provocateurs (there is anecdotal evidence of both across the country, and during the Occupy protests).

Another difference between law enforcement and security services: a greater desire for secrecy. Security services are secret services, as they do things the regime prefers that the “inner party members” (i.e., the politically active middle classes) can pretend not to know. The proles are on the receiving end of the security services actions, and so know them quite well.

(4)  Conclusions

America is changing. The America-that-Once-Was is dying, with a New America being erected on its ruins. We prefer to close our eyes to this in order to minimize cognitive dissonance — the conflict between our desire for an easy life — and our responsibility to preserve the Republic that our forefathers fought (and often died) protecting.

As I have documented in scores of posts on the FM website since 2008, our actions show which side of our natures is winning.

(5)  For More Information

(a)  Other posts about the events in Ferguson:

  1. Our elites smile at events in Ferguson, MO. They’ll cry if it pushes Blacks to try 4GW., 14 August 2014
  2. Will the Ferguson protest force development of African-American leaders?, 15 August 2014
  3. Why America has militarized its police and crushes protests, 16 August 2014
  4. The protesters at Ferguson might have won, but choose to lose, 18 August 2014
  5. Events from Ferguson explain why we are weak, 19 August 2014

(b)  About police in America:

  1. Fear the enemies within America more than those without, 21 December 2011
  2. How to Fund an American Police State (aka Weaponizing the Body Politic), 5 March 2012 — Militarizing the police
  3. We are alone in the defense of the Republic, 5 July 2012
  4. Do not talk to the police (important advice in New America), 4 August 2013
  5. Look at the protests in Wisconsin to see how America has changed, 31 August 2013
  6. Murder by police. If these incidents do not anger us, then what will?, 19 January 2014

(c)  About the Occupy Movement:

  1. Occupy Wall Street, another futile peasants’ protest, 5 October 2011
  2. Occupy & Tea Party are alike, both saving America through cosplay, 18 October 2013
  3. The last prosecution from the Occupy movement: guilty! Reformers beware – suppression works., 6 May 2014
  4. Lessons from the failure of Occupy Wall Street, its lasting legacy, 7 May 2014

(d)  About protests:

  1. How to stage effective protests in the 21st century, 21 April 2009
  2. How do protests like the TP and OWS differ from effective political action?, 26 October 2011
  3. Look at the protests in Wisconsin to see how America has changed, 31 August 2013
  4. The Million Vet March, a typical peasants’ protest. Does it portend more serious protests in our future?, 13 October 2013

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Dessenter permalink
    16 August 2014 12:12 pm

    “An effective strategy does not imply that the resulting tactics are well-executed. Maintaining control of rioting police requires excellent organization and command skills. The Ferguson PD failed at this, and created a public relations defeat.” And there in lines a chink in the man’s armor, for enough of them could be mouth breathing, knuckle draggers that a PR offensive could be the first form of push back. But, who would lead? (Incidentally, my wife and I are constantly overtly surveilled by local PD and Feds … since 2000. Have years worth of videos documenting threatening vehicular menacing that only our Feds could provide w/our endless tax dollars.) Cognitive/dissonance? The new America is here! Can’t wait to see how the proletariat reacts when they catch PD recon drones gathering tactical intel at their daughter’s pool party. A very scary world to be living in if one believes their lying eyes.

    Like

  2. 16 August 2014 12:55 pm

    Reblogged this on Centinel2012 and commented:
    An excellent take on the current events and the use of force!

    Like

  3. 16 August 2014 4:42 pm

    We prefer to close our eyes….desire for an easy life….

    These are to me the most important pieces to this Post. Fascinatingly America is all about our eyes wide shut and a deep desire for ease. A submissive and passive people. Evidenced almost everywhere in the mundane daily lives

    Americans actually for the most part never consider even “breaking” the speed limits!

    Whereas our Keepers are smoothly and aggressively seeking dominance in their lives continuously.

    Good decent people failing to speak is all that we see. And one day the reality will situate itself right smack dab in their daily life.

    Pitiful.

    Breton

    Like

    • 16 August 2014 6:13 pm

      Breton,

      I don’t know what history books you read, but what you describe is the norm. It’s disappointing performance for us because we hold ourselves to the higher standards set by our ancestors.

      But even there, let’s not romanticize the past. We tolerated slavery for a century, then tolerated Jim Crow discrimination & segregation for another century. During the late 19thC the 1% used deflation induced by the gold standard — and their control of the government and financial system — to break the craftsman, farmer, and small business classes, which Jefferson saw as the foundation of the Republic — and suppress wages of workers in the industrial organizations which replaced them.

      So we can be disappointed, let’s not despair. We can do better than we are doing, and can do better than the often low performance of our forefathers.

      Like

  4. 16 August 2014 7:02 pm

    Let’s keep our eye on the ball. Occupy was a reaction to the bank bail outs. Ferguson is poor people getting restless as their situation becomes untenable. If us smart guys start playing small ball and failing to see the connection between the debt overhang and events on the ground we are well and truly screwed. What’s happening is bad but as you say the important question is: Why?

    Like

    • 16 August 2014 7:16 pm

      Sorry. But sometimes I feel like I’m living below sea level, and there are puddles everywhere, and everyone is bitching that the government needs to distribute more free mops and paper towels. No. We need to fix the dikes and levees.

      Like

  5. slapout9 permalink
    16 August 2014 9:01 pm

    The local intelligence Fusion Centers are just as much a threat to the local community as the militarization of equipment and procedures!

    Like

  6. Thomas More permalink
    16 August 2014 11:54 pm

    Despite FM’s explanation, the strategy of massive militarization of police and brutal suppression of non-violent protests is still stupid.

    Clearly FM is arguing that these policies are designed to sustain and extend the current colossal economic inequality in American society, now greater than during the Gilded Age. But history shows that such extreme economic inequality cannot be sustained in any society that professes a belief in equality. It was possile to maintain such inequality for centuries in Rome because the Romans didn’t believe in equality in any way, shape or form. The Romans followed Aristotle’s edict that “90 percent of the population are natural slaves.”

    But we don’t teach that in America, and our society is not designed to reinforce that cultural message. So modern liberal industrial democracy is simply not compatible with the kind of extreme economic inequality we now see in this society. Unless FM wants us to believe that our elites can successfully transition away from free elections, an open society, a free market and universal socialized education to some sort of military-enforced tyranny without freedom of speech or free association, following a rigid caste system with a crony financial system rigorously controlled by elites, in which eduction is withheld from the bottom 90% of the population and allowed only for the elite, the policies he describes of massive militarization will not work.

    In fact, those policies will lead directly to a violent society-wide revolution. And the crunch point will come when the American elites give their paramilitary security forces to open fire on their own wives and children in the protesting mobs. That’s when the security forces break and the regime collapses.

    Like

    • 17 August 2014 3:54 am

      Thomas,

      “Despite FM’s explanation, the strategy of massive militarization of police and brutal suppression of non-violent protests is still stupid.”

      My entire adult life has been lived listening to liberals and leftists explaining why conservatives are so stupid — while the Right wins and wins and wins. Perhaps the pleasure of superiority they get from mocking the Right compensates for their defeats.

      Like

  7. 18 August 2014 3:10 am

    Your whole life is not all that long FM.
    Granted America has been a struggle against the “Right”
    But progressives weren’t always so silly
    Or we’d all be eating Cake

    You’re cute at times in the Comments
    But not all that convincing
    😉

    Breton

    Like

  8. gairman permalink
    19 August 2014 6:49 am

    One of the more alarming trends is that swat team raids have risen exponentially in recent years with many of them being totally unwarranted. It’s as if there is an increasing mania and paranoia in law enforcement. Are they having it drilled into there heads that the public is a dangerous enemy or where is this perception coming from?

    Like

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