But your statement 1 is, in absence of anything else, not correct. Yes, I agree that the police forces in the United States have as one aspect oppression. I might be sympathetic to the argument that this is one of their most important aspects, even the most important.
But the fact is that real crimes happen — crimes that would happen anyway because people are a mixed bag. Some crimes are prevented by the police. Some actually bad people are punished for crimes they have committed.
It’s unscientific to speculate if the police prevent more injustice than they perpetrate, or what modern society would look like in the absence of a corrupt police force.
To say, “1. The police are an institution of oppression,” the end — that’s a sophomoric viewpoint, a reductionist viewpoint, and it is essentially incomplete.
It’s a statement of fact. The police are, in fact, an institution of oppression. You can qualify and elaborate on that all you want, but that’s still a fact, and each member of a police force is a willing participant in a system of oppression.
Now, you are also missing a statement 1.5 which renders your argument so much sawdust. Statement 1.5 would have to say something like, “People who join the police forces are completely aware of the truth of statement 1 before they join the cops.”
In other words, if people don’t know statement 1. is true, your whole argument falls. And I believe they do not. Indeed, I believe they are recipients of a lot of propaganda that makes the police seem much better than they are.
You could make that same argument about poeple who join the KKK. Some of them really do believe the white race is superior and racism is a good thing. In many cases, they think they are working to prevent crime from spreading to their neighborhoods. They think they are doing good work. If you’re prepared to excuse ignorant police officers, are you also prepared to excuse ignorant KKK members? In my view, both of these groups — the KKK and the police — exist to prop up white supremacy and perpetrate oppression, yet many people within these groups really do think of themselves as the good guys. The thing about that, though, is they’re not the good guys.
Statement 2 is also bogus. Oh, sure, in some fundamental sense everything we do is “voluntary” but a large number of individuals have in practice no real choice about what they do for a career. If your entire family is in law-enforcement, if you have no particularly interest or talent for academic things, if you’re athletic but not quite good enough to get a sports scholarship, then you really don’t have much choice — particularly when you also don’t have much information.
Nobody is forced to be a cop. Now you’re trying to paint the police as victims, more or less infantilizing them and suggesting they had no choice but to join the force, and that these adult human beings can’t figure out there’s a problem and just keep on being cops for decades. There are a lot of ways to be a public servant or take up many different types of non-academic jobs that don’t require a badge and gun. When it comes to participating in oppression, is ignorance an excuse? I don’t think so.
Statement 3 is a restatement of (1 and 2). Waste of good electrons.
It’s a conclusion based on the first two premises. You can skip it if you already put two and two together on that.
Statement 4 is the culmination. It depends on the previous errors, so is already worthless, and more, there’s an additional assumption — that no one joins an oppressive organization to effect positive change.
Positive change is eradicating oppressive institutions, and I already allowed for that possibility. Someone who joins the police specifically to undermine and dismantle it from the inside could potentially be a good person, but they would also instantly be fired if they were found out.
I’m a pretty radical guy. Yes, I consider some large number of US cops to be individually bullies and overall, the US police system to be a force for oppression.
But to say that everyone in the system is a bad person is logically wrong.
I’m not seeing it. You may as well say there were good guards at concentration camps, good slavers, and good Klansmen. It’s all the same thing. It has already been demonstrated that the American prison industrial complex is essentially modern slave labor, and the first line of filling out those ranks are the police who arrest people. They are modern day slavers.
More, you’re going to alienate almost everyone except a few impractical radicals that way. Most people, even radical leftists, are going to say, “A state without any law enforcement at all, the logical consequence of your argument, is going to be even worse than this oppressive state.”
People can decide for themselves the truth of this. I believe it is a logical conclusion to say that every KKK member, every human trafficker, every modern day slaver, and, yes, every cop in the United States is bad and part of the problem. Every last one. If there are cops working clandestinely to usurp police departments because they view them as the engines of injustice they are, I’ll give them a pass, but I’ve never encountered one of these types and I don’t even know if they exist.
In most cases, all they have to do to stop being bad is stop being part of the problem and do something else, maybe even something that works to educate people about the evils of the police in America. There are numerous instances of former police and military whistleblowers turned activists who have done just that.
Regarding your last statement, you’re both jumping to a conclusion about the logical consequence of my argument (you can have law enforcement without cops), and making non-scientific conjecture. The only fact we have is that the police are an instrument of oppression. We don’t know if things would be better or worse with zero law enforcement. We have no way to determine that. I imagine it would be better for all the prisoners who are locked up that shouldn’t be, all the innocent people who were executed, and all the people who were murdered by cops, but worse for the private prison industry and, of course, catastrophic for badge manufacturers.