Police Reform Is Not Enough – The Atlantic


Massive excerpting. Hope they don’t mind.

«When I explain that achieving such a world would require us to enact a number of redistributive policies and educational programs aimed at providing for everyone’s basic needs and reducing violence, both interpersonal and state-sanctioned, I’m asked why I don’t lead with that rather than the potentially alienating “Abolish the police.” And my answer is that I believe in stating, in clear language, what you want, because otherwise you are beholden to the current state of consciousness and accepted wisdom. I want a world in which the police do not exist, and there is no clearer way to say that.


Justice is not revenge. Rather, justice is a proactive commitment to providing each person with the material and social conditions in which they can both survive and thrive as a healthy and self-actualized human being. This is not an easy thing to establish, as it requires all of us to buy into the idea that we must take responsibility for one another. But it is the only form of a just world.

[Sounds almost biblical, doesn’t it?]


As a country, we obsess over the election of one person who is a part of one branch of our federal government. We become content to hand over the reins of decision making to one person, whom we exceptionalize out of necessity, because we must believe that this person is the most deserving caretaker of our national present, and can personally bring about a better national future. (Liberals placed this misguided faith in Barack Obama and now seem poised to do the same with Joe Biden, positioning him as the savior of democracy.) Then we are left to panic when the country chooses wrong.

For liberals shocked and outraged by the election results of 2016, it became popular, when speaking of Trump, to dismissively refer to him as “not my president.” This is an empty rhetorical move, but one that allows the speaker a perceived moral high ground: She is not responsible for the current state of affairs, because this president does not belong to her.

I suppose I shouldn’t begrudge people their small acts of sanity preservation. But this one in particular reveals a deeper problem with Americans and our relationship to the presidency: the sense that in choosing the “correct” person for president, we have fulfilled our democratic duties. The sense that we don’t need to invest in constructing bonds of collective power and community outside the office of the presidency, because electing the “right” person is enough to ensure that the country will see real change. Flattering ourselves like this is part of how we ended up here. It’s why all of our so-called progress has been hollow. It’s why the so-called progress is so easily undone.


This restructuring would also require a massive public investment in the general welfare—safe housing, healthy food, free education, free health care, a basic income. For those harms that would still occur in such a world, abolition asks that we find ways of addressing them that do not include the further violence of punishment, but prioritize the needs of the victimized to be made whole, and require the perpetrator to make proper restitution and to be rehabilitated so he doesn’t commit harm again.»

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