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In an age when 9/11 burst the floodgates of war - and military budgets blow through the roof - the abolition of war seems like a long shot. But before we despair at militarism spiraling out of control and militarizing even the police, we should take the time to commemorate the birth of what may be the greatest peace movement of all time. It put an end to the war waged on the weakest and smallest specimens of humanity for thousands of years. It induced millions to lay down their arms and become homegrown pacifists. And as the first truly revolutionary milestone in man's historic quest to move beyond a dark ages of violence and aggression, it should be celebrated by music and dancing breaking out in the streets, jubilant crowds and confetti parades!
I refer to the epoch-making ban on violence against children. For millennia children were feared as wild little savages. And the traditional method of taming them was to go to war with them with sticks, switches and whips. Brutal forms of violence were sanctioned in the name of discipline. Spare the rod, spoil the child was the watchword for this bloodthirsty, age-spanning military campaign against the weakest, smallest, most helpless members of the human family. The 100 Years War and 80 Years' War came and went. Clashes between royal houses and ideologies, gory massacres to subdue this or that rebel faction or indigenous tribe, faded into the pages of history. But the militant campaign to beat our children into submission went on relentlessly for millennia, until, finally, in the 1960s, the tide began to turn with publications like The Battered Child, and within a decade, violence against children was declared against the law.
The significance of this shift lies not just in disarming parents and mothballing traditional weapons for pacifying children - rods, canes, ferrules. It lies in the revolutionary insight that children do not need violence to be kept in line. Once they are seen for the human beings they are, it is crystal-clear they need nurture and love to actualize their humanity. Violence traumatizes the young and leaves them too wounded to be themselves. Their brains need tactile comfort, solicitous cues and tender strokes to mature. Corporal punishment crushes their spirits and leaves them too broken to grow. Worse still, it doesn't just frustrate their prosocial development - it steeps them in so much resentment and rage that it increases their risk of antisocial behavior. Discipling children with force and violence produces antisocial beings within a hair trigger of going ballistic, lashing out at others in the same way they were once innocent targets of abuse.
This train of logic leads us to to a far-reaching discovery. Children treated with dignity and respect, whose feelings are taken into account, turn out to be kind, decent souls who do not suffer from disciplinary problems. The best-kept secret in child psychology is that children who were never spanked are among the best behaved. By the same token, victims of battery turn out to be walking timebombs. Repeat offenders who go on winding up in prison invariably come from families where horrific forms of abuse were rampant. These children harbor a murderous rage because they were never treated with the kindness and compassion that is their rightful due.
Once we connect the emoticons here, we get the picture. The penal system is a continuation of child abuse by other means. Kids who grow up to be a death threat to society are robbed of their birthright of unconditional love. If these children come from a background of force and violence, by what calculus do we think the best way to deal with them is to hand them over to authority figures whose stock in trade is violence and force? How can we take children already inured to abuse and hope to make them better with a penal system that treats them with greater abuse? Really? Is the best we can do for children who were raped and molested to warehouse them in prisons where they are at further risk of being raped and sodomized? Is the remedy for victims of parental wrath in the home to be locked up in a Big House that is a monument to the vengeance of society? Is capital punishment really the final solution to corporal punishment?
Once we realize children need empathy and understanding, not neglect and torture to become their best selves, it takes a cockamamie form of wishful thinking to institutionalize the practice of child abuse in society - because of course we all know how well child abuse worked out in the home. We shouldn't be going around carelessly paying tribute to the importance of love in raising fully actualized human beings. For once we do, we have basically opted out of a system where authority figures carry batons and tasers to enforce discipline on grownups. How can we unthinkingly allow the police to wield the same rod on grown-ups that parents know better than to wield on children? Shouldn't we be staggered by this level of cognitive dissonance?
Violence doesn't work on kids who barely reason. Why would it work on adults whose reasoning capabilities are more developed? A culture of violence and coercion is obsolete in the home. Why is it still going strong in our criminal justice system? We don't want humans acting like animals, so we stop brutalizing them as children. But it's OK to go on brutalizing them as adults? If antisocial people were treated to a remedial course in parenting to resolve their inner demons and be at peace with themselves, there would be no call for the police to rely on force and violence to keep the peace. If we understood the role of empathy and understanding, compassion and kindness in raising children aligned with their humanity, it would no more be necessary to wield force and violence to keep grown-ups line than it would be to keep children in line.
It should be a no-brainer by now. We have good reason to cringe when we see cops beating up peaceful protestors. It is like watching parents beat up a crying child. The child is already unhappy at being treated cruelly or neglectfully. Is the solution for the parent to say: "If you don't stop crying right now, I'll give you something to cry about!" In the same way, protestors are out there protesting violence in its myriad institutional forms, including poverty, which is arguably the worst form of violence of all. Is the solution for the cops to say: "If you don't stop protesting right now, we'll give you something to protest about!" How rational or mature is that?
Parents know the rod is history! We are conscious of what children need to develop their prosocial nature. It is not the violence and abuse that has been de rigeur for ages. The power structure, like Rip van Winkle, has not awakened to this fact! It is still operating on an institutional level with the barbaric mentality that it has outlawed in a domestic setting! Why is the intuitive wisdom now normative in millions of homes not become the norm in society at large?
There is a reason for this. And it is not the reason that passes for received wisdom. We don't need a police force to keep law and order. Normal people don't go on a rampage and loot and kill without a police presence. Under certain dire circumstances, those who live lives of quiet desperation may provide a specious confirmation of this notion, but in the overall scheme of things, it is patently absurd. Children don't need to be whipped and beaten to keep domestic order. Grown-ups don't need to be cuffed and cudgeled to keep social order. That is a myth that has already unraveled in the home, and we have to understand why it hasn't unraveled in society.
As we ask the question, it begins to answer itself. Biological guardians want what's best for their children. Institutional guardians rarely want what's best for their constituents. They generally want what's best for themselves. From the dawn of history collective guardians have preened themselves as an 'aristocracy'. Aristos, best + cracy, rule. The 'aristocracy' doesn't represent the rule of the best. It represents a class of rulers that monopolizes the best for itself.
The ruling class is notorious for feathering its own nest. It builds itself the finest palaces, consumes the finest foods, wears the finest attire, lives in the finest style. Nothing but the best for this 'aristocracy'. And it insists on grabbing the best of everything, even if it means the people under its care have to go naked, hungry, homeless and sick. Centuries of progress have not altered this invidious arrangement that much. There are improvements here and there, thanks to technology, but the basic disparity is the same. It fact, it is more gaping than ever before. .01% of the population now controls more of the world's resources than the other 99.9 % put together.
Here is the core difference between parents and institutional guardians. Parents see the disparity between the helpless baby and big strong adult and instinctively know the function of parenting is to minimize that gap. It is to feed, support, nurture the child until the child grows up to be as strong as an adult and in turn becomes a parent who has children of his own. For institutional guardians, in contrast, the gap between themselves and the people is not something to be minimized. Rather, it is to be maintained, or better still, it is to be maximized to the nth degree.
When a child cries, because it is frustrated in its need for love, parents understand their role is to respond to that cry. Only by giving a child what it needs can it grow out of nonage to become a fulfilled human being. When the people cry because their sense of fairness is frustrated, or because they are forced to do without the essentials of life, and sometimes without life itself, the ruling class is loath to respond to that collective cry. It begrudges parting with even a part of all it has. Not only has it historically mired people in illiteracy, denying them the knowledge and critical thinking skills to emerge from nonage, it lives to exacerbate the gap between have-it-alls and have-nothings. Rather than being motivated to respond to the people's cry for help, it has a vested interest in shutting up that collective cry and shutting down the public right to protest. To this end, riot squads and armed militias are mobilized to crack down on protestors.
Intuitively we know this to true. The knee-jerk reflex of the ruling class is to turn a deaf ear to people's cries of protest - to placate them if needs be by tossing them a rattle, or throwing them a bone, but never by redressing their burning grievances, much less fulfilling their need to live life to the full. But we shrink from drawing the logical conclusion. The ruling class maintains its dominant status by consistently treating people unjustly and unfairly. It is human for victims of injustice and exploitation to express anger and frustration. And the real reason cops are needed is to prevent that popular anger and frustration from gathering steam to kickstart the machinery of real social change. The ruling class exists by denying people their fair share of the goods of society. It is deathly afraid that without the cops to stifle their protests, people will rise up and voice their grievance until it blows away a house of cards built on injustice and inequity!
After all, we are many, they are few. One way to offset this scary disparity in numbers is with an eugenics agenda to shrink the world population. Another sure-fire way is with organized shows of force. The official reason for a police force is to prevent the 99.9% from stealing from each other. The actual reason is to facilitate the pillaging of our collective wealth by the .01%. The official reason for law enforcement is to prevent the 99.9% from committing crimes against neighbors. The actual reason is to enable the .01% to perpetrate crimes against humanity. Law enforcement has always been a standing rebuke to the innate goodness of man. It is rooted in the superstition that people are not to be trusted, that they routinely scheme to rob and kill their fellow man for a pittance. Meanwhile we are not supposed to notice that the lion's share of wealth doesn't go to these petty cutthroats and thieves. It ends up in the kleptocratic hands of the .01 %.
The cold sober truth is We the People don't need cops to serve and protect us. The ruling class needs armed cops to protect and serve it! The cover story is that police exist to enforce our debt to society. The reality is the police ensure that those who enslave and exploit mankind never pay for the consequence of their actions. If it were about keeping a few disturbed or deranged souls from acting out, society could easily take care of that by giving them their share of TLC as children and their share of the good life as adults. But it is about protecting a few psychopaths from being called to account by the masses of people whom they plunder, murder and exploit.
It is said that behind every great fortune is a great crime. Without the cops to protect the hyper-criminality of the ruling elite, it could not amass its obscene fortunes. Were it not for the Thin Blue Line, the ruling class would not be at liberty to run riot as a class of superpredators that bleed the human race dry while systematically enriching itself. Cops are not there to deter murder. They are there to enable the plutocrats to get away with murder! Cops are not there to deter petty robberies. They are there to permit the plutocrats to get away with highway robbery against society! Cops are not there to keep us from ransacking neighbors' homes. They are there to empower the plutocrats to get away with the wholesale looting of our entire global commons!
How come we never noticed it before? Ordinary people don't require riot squads to keep them in check. They live to fulfill basic human needs like food, shelter, family, companionship, play and work to make them feel like contributing members of society. The elite need a police force to run interference for them, because they are driven by insatiable greed to swallow up as much of the world as possible by trampling on everyone else's right to find their place in the sun.
At last the scales fall from our eyes. When you think about it, why would ordinary people dwell in fear of their neighbors? As long as they enjoy their birthright of love, and fair share of the good life, they are more than content with what they have. No, if anyone needs an armed force to defend them, it is those whose license to be parasites on the body politic whip up a massive backlash of resentment, frustration, rage. If anyone needs a phalanx of law enforcement to protect it 24/7, it is not the mass of ordinary people who find fulfillment enough in their lives to live in peace. It is the ruling class, compulsively driven to wholesale looting and killing, for no matter how much they already have, they have to go on lusting for more wealth, more privilege, more power. Force is superfluous when we know there is enough to go around to satisfy all our needs. But when we cannot trust there is enough to satisfy our greed, to what lengths do we not go to police land, sea, air and space to feel secure? Without the police to protect a handful of crime families, there would be nothing to stop us from uniting to rejoice in the family of man.