A FEW WORDS: On Some Recent Events
Just a few weeks ago on a bridge about four blocks from my house, the city police pulled a car over. They took the man who was driving into custody because there was a warrant for his arrest. The woman who was in the car climbed into the driver’s seat hoping to get away. One of the cops who had pulled the car over jumped in and shot the woman. A few moments later, she was dead.
This story is not unusual. The cops stop people all the time, and if they are too poor to afford legal assistance, particularly if they are not white, there is a good chance that they will be arrested or beaten, even shot and killed. This only surprises those who prefer to live in the illusion that democracy has anything to do with freedom or that rights are anything more than a bribe used by those in power to buy our obedience.
As with so many of the horrors this social order perpetrates upon those it exploits, it would be all too easy to treat this as an isolated incident, an aberration in an otherwise healthy social system. But this is not an aberration. Events like this happen constantly across the globe, and they do so for a reason.
Perhaps one of the greatest deceptions that has been perpetrated upon us is that the job of the police is to uphold the law. This is only true to the extent to which the law carries out its real function – to protect the interests of the ruling class. The primary task of the police is to maintain the social order. If carrying out this task requires them to act in an “unlawful” manner because the law does not adequately provide for what they need, there will be all sorts of loopholes they can use to exonerate themselves.
Of course, among those responding to this shooting there have been the various political vulture. They may even be sincere, but what they sincerely desire is the maintenance of the order in which they have their little bit of power. They seek to channel the anger of those who are tired of living under constant threat into acceptance of the leadership of the “good” politicians, into government-sanctioned programs for policing the police, into petitions and appeals to the authorities. Even the mayor is apparently now expected to announce a “community review” to examine the shooting – indeed isolating this one event from its social context and examining it precisely on the terms of those in power.
The social order we live under, in fact, requires laws and police precisely because it serves the interests of a few at the expense of the rest of us. If it is true that most people most of the time resign themselves to being exploited, to having their lives consumed in the interest of an exploitive and increasingly poisonous social system, there are always those few eternal rebels who refuse passivity and those incendiary moments of insurgence through which almost no one can sleep. This is why the rulers of this world need to occupy more and more social space with their armed guards and the machinery of surveillance.
We are living in the midst of a social war. We must not let ourselves be fooled into negotiation. Those who rule us have already stolen our capacity to create our lives on our own terms. We can only steal this back again in open revolt against them and the social order they create. By becoming aware of the real enemies and attacking them relentlessly, and by finding our accomplices, those who share our awareness regardless of whether they define themselves as anarchists or not, and acting with them, we can begin to transform the social war into social insurrection with the aim of overturning every ruler and every lackey.