Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Right said Fred

Present-day society, which breeds hostility between the individual man and everyone else, thus produces a social war of all against all which inevitably in individual cases, notably among uneducated people, assumes a brutal, barbarously violent form — that of crime. In order to protect itself against crime, against direct acts of violence, society requires an extensive, complicated system of administrative and judicial bodies which requires an immense labour force. In communist society this would likewise be vastly simplified, and precisely because — strange though it may sound — precisely because the administrative body in this society would have to manage not merely individual aspects of social life, but the whole of social life, in all its various activities, in all its aspects. We eliminate the contradiction between the individual man and all others, we counterpose social peace to social war, we put the axe to the root of crime — and thereby render the greatest, by far the greatest, part of the present activity of the administrative and judicial bodies superfluous. Even now crimes of passion are becoming fewer and fewer in comparison with calculated crimes, crimes of interest — crimes against persons are declining, crimes against property are on the increase. Advancing civilisation moderates violent outbreaks of passion even in our present-day society, which is on a war footing; how much more will this be the case in communist, peaceful society! Crimes against property cease of their own accord where everyone receives what he needs to satisfy his natural and his spiritual urges, where social gradations and distinctions cease to exist. justice concerned with criminal cases ceases of itself, that dealing with civil cases, which are almost all rooted in the property relations or at least in such relations as arise from the situation of social war, likewise disappears; conflicts can then be only rare exceptions, whereas they are now the natural result of general hostility, and will be easily settled by arbitrators. The activities of the administrative bodies at present have likewise their source in the continual social war — the police and the entire administration do nothing else but see to it that the war remains concealed and indirect and does not erupt into open violence, into crimes. But if it is infinitely easier to maintain peace than to keep war within certain limits, so it is vastly more easy to administer a communist community rather than a competitive one. And if civilisation has already taught men to seek their interest in the maintenance of public order, public security, and the public interest, and therefore to make the police, administration and justice as superfluous as possible, how much more will this be the case in a society in which community of interests has become the basic principle, bind in which the public interest is no longer distinct from that of each individual! What already exists now, in spite of the social organisation, how much more will it exist when it is no longer hindered, but supported by the social institutions! We may thus also in this regard count on a considerable increase in the labour force through that part of the labour force of which society is deprived by the present social condition.

1845, Frederick Engels: Speeches in Elberfeld

To understand isn't to condone, or encourage, but the beginning of amendment. Socialists are not in a war with the police, but seek to render them unnecessary by other means.

Interestingly, listening to some of the rioters (well, the looters), a meme of them "getting something back" seems to be running through, claiming their 'reclaiming their taxes' - that might be worth future study. A mix of a feeling of entitlement and of being put upon.

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