Below is a presentation by Rose City Copwatch members talking about a world without police. I recorded this on September 29th, 2010 at the anarchist Red & Black Cafe in Portland.

During the Q & A section (6th video) someone comments that police are seen as beneficial in many ways because they have a monopoly on, but nonetheless provide resources for, conflict resolution. People rely on police to intervene in domestic violence cases, for example. In my opinion this is probably the biggest barrier preventing us from seeing that a world (at least neighborhoods) without police is possible.

Like road rage and job rage, domestic rage is really a new phenomenon and a result of mass society and mass alienation. A thousand years ago people did not rely on police or nightwatchmen to settle household disputes, and police did not patrol communities with high-powered rifles. Walls in the city protected the inhabitants from outside invaders, not so much to protect itself from internal threats. This is a monstrous shift in consciousness. Today we rely on armed officers to resolve internal threats, but who ironically put ourselves and our neighbors at risk if and when they called to intervene in their fits of alienated rage. It comes down to the fact that alienated work and disconnected “communities” can only really produce alienated leisure — disconnected from the many-sided spider webs of social bondage.

The police, who have no social connection to these people either, are likely to arrest both parties in a domestic violence call, or in some cases tazer or shoot someone. If the police had to shoot someone in the home, the neighbors are always the first ones to say “what a good guy” he was on the Evening News, even though they didn’t really know him at all.

This is a horrible picture, but true. If the police arm of the state is seen as the only legitimate conflict resolver, we have to change that perception. There are ways to connect neighbors to one another. “Safe(r) spaces” can exist so people have a space to retreat to if there is domestic trouble happening. The more contact and moments of passing there are with neighbors, the more rapport is built and the more they can share resources, even time. Ideally, in a situation where neighbors know each other very well, no neighbor is going to want to “call the police” when there is a disturbance with another household. After a certain threshold, there is no longer any use for the police.

In the perfect neighborhood this is more easily said than done. People first need time to develop these connections — which is increasingly difficult as the dromology of labor exchange, rental and home-ownership turnover are all increasing and the distances people  migrate and even commute is further than ever before. We are exploited from every possible angle, so our tendency is to explode in all directions, to sublimate onto anything. Aside from that, people have to “want” to get to know the neighborhood, and in mass-alienated society “getting to know the neighborhood” has become a specialized feature of the police and social workers. In this situation there is little reason to think people will have anything in common, much less have a common, (and with the education system the way it is) much less know what “the commons” was and what the “tragedy” of it was.

Against this background it’s amazing people call themselves anarchists today, that people still dream of the better world and how to move in that direction. Not towards “police accountability” and not towards “improving the police force.” But towards improving themselves. The first step is finding each other.

The commune is perhaps what gets decided at the very moment when we would normally part ways. It’s the joy of an encounter that survives its expected end. It’s what makes us say “we,” and makes that an event. What’s strange isn’t that people who are attuned to each other form communes, but that they remain separated. Why shouldn’t communes proliferate everywhere? In every factory, every street, every village, every school.

– The Coming Insurrection

Part 1.

Part 2.

Part 3.

Part 4.

Part 5.

Part 7.