Police are already positioned to make a relatively smooth transition into a role as “knights” in a post-globalized, disintegrated United States. Their vocation has afforded them a high visibility and a societal normalization that few occupations can match—their existence has become irrefutable and self-evident. There are parodies and hatreds at the margins, but in “times of seriousness” there is a common public consciousness (and servility) that their presence is above questioning and deserving of honor. One thousand overweight D.A.R.E. officers would be invited to speak to an assembly of youth before a single anti-corporate revolutionary would. They have an active and deep rooted fraternal structure evidenced by the PBA pay-to-play scheme. How can anyone be against cops when you are in a friendly relationship by two degrees of separation or less with one? (I can name three cops that friends of mine have as friends). If the government were to make an honest attempt to downsize ahead of the financial calamites headed our way, police will be the last and fewest to be trimmed. Their pervasiveness is astounding, at roughly 800,000 strong, more visible for sure in the densely populated states (spiders hiding behind trees, ready to pounce on speeding cars). And of course, there are a few “bad apple” cops out there, but they were rotten individuals, their badness never stemming from their profession.
It’s these common notions that exist at the ground level—not in need of reiteration or reporting—that will persist, regardless of which large systems implode and erase abstract authority and control. In addition to their presumed powers that come with the badge, their individual and institutional skills at controlling areas tactically and through the blunt threat of force give them a situational advantage. Many police officers will already be well aware of their power in the dynamic situations confronting our society in limbo, while others will catch on later and realize their prominent role in guiding affairs as people look to them for answers and protection.
As the crisis starts surfacing, on an institutional level the police force will be an active presence before their necessity can be brought into question. As the crisis drifts towards an unstable feudalism, they will remind us, perhaps through curfews or bulletins, that there are marauding gangs and opportunistic raiding and looting parties out there. Their power will attract to them sycophantic opportunists (and family ties) which will further solidify their roles at the top. “Knowing” a cop will carry a lot of weight, positively for that person and negatively for any enemies. All the while we who would rather not be ruled over by the police-turned-lords won’t be given the chance to assert, or the opportunity to discover, that we also have powers of defense and deterrence and don’t really need this parasitic group that will drag on us in an already dire scenario. They will insist that we need to support them, and they will keep us safe, and for their more honorable contribution they expect the utmost praise and privileges. In short—the beginnings of a modern feudal relationship. Police, like the nobles of the middle ages, will insist that they should not be taxed or forced to labor their share, as they are already providing a public good in the form of protection. Those who join with them will provide under-scaffolding, propelling them beyond mere knights to barons.
A few generations in, all memory of this life we are now living will be lost. The former rights and horizontal relationships will be gone, and its on to serfdom for those outside the cop circles. Unless… we begin our vigilance and assertiveness, break free from dependence… and we begin now!