23 May 2021

Constructions of security

 The overt rise of private police has any number of people making distressed noises.

There's three practical ways to manage insecurity in general.  ("Attain enlightenment" is reported to be effective, but it's not practical.)  You can have control; you can believe that events are predictable; or you can trust that you're included in a collective system to produce security.

Nobody believes they're in the collective system; pick at least one of obviously unjust, indifferent, ineffective, overtly oppressive, unaccountable, and obviously owned.  Whoever the system is for, it's not you.

Control doesn't work; it's a popular approach, you can decide you know what's really going on or you can decide to believe you have enough money (you don't) or something, but there's one of you and a whole lot more in the way of just other people.  Control is not an option.

Predictability, well.  The reliable predictions are things like "the weather will get worse for at least the next century" and "there will be another plague".

The fallback, in a mammonite culture, is money; if I have enough money, I can get what I want,  and often "I want" is to remove the fear of uncertainty.  The fix for this is simple -- income and asset caps; if you can do that, it's not a mammonite culture -- but then you have to do something about membership in a collective something able to produce security.  Which would require a generally accepted construction of justice.  Which in turn requires replacing the extant power structure with something more just and better able to win systemic fights.

Which the people successful in the current system actively don't want.  So you get the effort to sell the illusion of security via a means unable to actually produce any such thing.


Shoulderless said...

That seems even less effective than private fire brigades, which were already bad enough.

Graydon said...

Lots of folks been pointing out that the cost/benefit from conventional police isn't so great. I'd expect this to be pretty terrible in those terms, but it's also not really about effectiveness; it's about finding some way to believe that you're safe.

That's not a sensible objective, so of course there are no sensible ways to achieve it.

(known risks, managed risks, etc., sure. Safe, though; that's not especially possible.)

Moz said...

#mapswithoutnewzealand appreciates your shoutout.

Nobody believes they're in the collective system

Even in the US I don't think this is true. The whole "thin blue line" movement is based on the idea that those people are inside the system.

There's a 3½ option too: try to fix the system. This is where the campaigns for police reform and inclusive policing come from. And they do work to some extent for many people. Back in the day I committed a major crime (repeatedly and enthusiastically) but then they decriminalised homosexuality after a hard-fought campaign. These days the fight is largely about just how accepting the police need to be before it's legitimate for them to march in the gay parade{1}.

The fight against racist policing in Aotearoa is ongoing and slow, but it exists and I think improvements have been made. Australia less so but still happening. This is not the "we're not shooting you in the streets so STFU"{2} argument, to be clear, but an attempt to point out that if the current rate of improvement is maintained we should have pretty even-handed policing in Australia within a couple of millennia. There's some hope for it within 100 years, if the voluntary human extinction movement's infiltration of the right wing parties worldwide continues to be successful... no people, no racist police!

{1} http://thespinoff.co.nz/society/21-02-2021/two-years-after-the-breakup-what-does-pride-in-auckland-look-like/
{2} http://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-16/bullets-women-march-4-justice-scott-morrison/13251804

(WTF <a> is allowed, but you can't put https or http in them?)

arborman said...

Most of us are happy to proceed in a general assumption of safety. Almost always people are found to generally trust their neighbours and people they know.

Where things break down are usually two areas.

1. Wholly preventable petty crime. Crimes of desperation, usually rooted in addiction. Wholly preventable in that addiction is a mental health issue and should be 100% dealt with by a civilized society, at least to the degree that a person's addiction doesn't spill over into causing harm to others. Yes, that means prescription supply and well funded treatment facilities with redundant capacity. (By redundant capacity I mean that there should always, in all cases, be a spare bed for someone who needs it, when they need it.)

2. Random and unexpected statistical outliers that shatter the ability to assume safety. A violent crime in or near a community. A child murder or abduction. A mass shooter.

Again, much of that could be dealt with by developing and funding effective health care and mental health care, as well as putting effort into prevention on identification of risks prior to action.

Instead we get reactive policies. Anger and revenge based justice systems rooted in 'punishment' rather than prevention.

Back in the Stone Age my grad school work was on political psychology and the development of political opinions. Scared people have been shown to be more likely to listen to people they perceive as 'strong'. This has been effectively weaponized by the mammonites in most countries.

Meaningful and effective countermeasures are harder to develop. Embracing fear as a motivator is only going to result in becoming that which we despise - see almost every violent revolution ever for historical examples.

Graydon said...

And for social constructions of safety, that works, and is reasonable, and hey, we're darn near eusocial. Social constructions of safety we're pretty good at, by and large.

For material constructions of safety, that doesn't work at all. The only things that matter right now are how fast we can cease any and all fossil carbon extraction, one, and two, obtain food security, despite the lack of fossil carbon inputs and despite having to rebuild the entire transport infrastructure and despite the loss of predictability in (and general worseness of) the weather, on the other. Which would be plenty enough tough to do if it didn't run directly counter to some other eusocial primate's social statuses.

arborman said...

History is littered with various primates who undertook great effort to assert something along the lines of 'Look on ye mighty and despair!'. Invariably reality ignores such assertions, and in fact hubris might be a built in self destruct mechanism for overreachers.

Whether we can survive the fall of the current round of high status primate dominance is another question, but historically those falls tend to be sudden and extreme. Failing that, time is relentless - no matter what fantasies a certain ex-political leader might harbour about a return to greatness and power, age and senescence will take their toll (and appear to be doing so already).

As in all points in human history, creativity and common bonds are in fierce competition with hubris and selfishness to determine success and outcomes. In my opinion the former have an edge, so I am a bit more optimistic than you seem to be.

Not that I don't think things are going to be difficult for us all in the coming century. I do think there are paths through the wilderness though. A lot of that is rooted in the social constructions of safety we are talking about here.