We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Origins of the police

Click here to access article by David Whitehouse from Libcom.

This is a quite lengthy history not only about the rise of modern police forces but it also includes historical material about the rise of the capitalist ruling classes and worker history. I read most of it as of the time of this posting. I consider myself well-read about the history of this period, but I still learned more. This is essential reading for most of us who have only been exposed in schools to capitalist perspectives which have omitted and distorted the history of workers. 
We’ll see that, in the North, the invention of the police was just one part of a state effort to manage and shape the workforce on a day-to-day basis. Governments also expanded their systems of poor relief in order to regulate the labor market, and they developed the system of public education to regulate workers’ minds. I will connect those points to police work later on, but mostly I’ll be focusing on how the police developed in London, New York, Charleston (South Carolina), and Philadelphia.