Friday, July 15, 2016

Steve Martinet — The “Fundamentalism” in Police Operations

Sociologists talk a lot about "culture" and "institutions." Institutions are social constructs that are created by societies and embedded in the culture of the society. Moreover, every institution is itself a social group that has its own subculture that reflects aspects of the culture of the society of which it is an institution. 

Societies and their cultures are not monolithic but rather amalgams of different groups that are united by the societies institutions, such as the political system, the legal system and so forth.

In a modern society a large and complex security apparatus underlies national security, that is, the military and paramilitary institutions such as the intelligence services, and domestic security, that is the national, regional and local police and surveillance forces.

For example, in the US the national security apparatus includes "the deep state" that provides continuity to US foreign and military policy and enforces it externally. The domestic security apparatus was unified for the first time in the history of the United States under a cabinet level department, the Department of Homeland Security that coordinates all branches of domestic security, national, state, and local.

All of these institutions are permeated by a "security culture" based on "law and order," which implies exerting control of the population in the interest of the welfare of the state, which is equated with government of the people, by the people and for the people in a liberal democracy. That is a fiction that is serves as justification for an apparatus designed to control elements and subgroups of a society. It also has the potential control the whole of society, especially when it is coordinated at the top level, that is, by the ruling elite that control the reins of power.

Security is both necessary for liberty and antithetical to liberty. A free society cannot be free without security that maintains order under the rule of law. However, individuals cannot be free if the security apparatus impinges on their freedom.

While laws are put in place to restrain the security apparatus from abusing its power, and rights enumerated to protect minorities, institutions are further controlled and determined by their cultures.

Furthermore, the nature of security as enforcement attracts people who are enforcers by disposition. This favors authoritarian personalities. The authoritarian personality is based on paternalism, control and punishment.

The natural tendency of security organizations is authoritarian and paternalistic rather than either nurturing or simply protective. The creates a paradox of liberalism and raises the challenge of controlling the controllers and enforcers.

History shows that law and rights are insufficient to the task. Culture and subculture are capable of thwarting the expressed will of the people and violating liberties and rights with impunity.

The “Fundamentalism” in Police Operations
Steve Martinet

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