The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Power Concedes Nothing Without a Credible Threat: Riots Work Edition


… a veto-proof majority of Minneapolis City Council members announced their commitment to disbanding the city’s embattled police department

This doesn’t mean “no police” it means get rid of the current bunch, and create a new police department. This was done by Camden, New Jersey, for example…

By the department’s account, reports of excessive force complaints in Camden have dropped 95 percent since 2014.

There’s some stuff about how they did it that I don’t like, but the point that it can be done matters.

More important is something which wasn’t going to happen, disbanding Minneapolis’s police department, is now probably going to happen. Without riots, it wouldn’t have.

Riots are, actually, one of the most effective ways to create change. Politely worded letters don’t work. Completely non-violent protest only works if it shuts things down. Voting doesn’t work if the political system is entrenched, because entrenched political systems know how to co-opt or marginalize actual radicals.

If you want something from powerful people, you have to show you have power of your own. If you don’t have enough power to at least scare them, to show them the limits of their power, why should they give you anything?

Americans are showing the rich and powerful the limits of their power; of what their violent lackeys can do, and the powerful are making concessions. (And they are just that–concessions. They wouldn’t have done these things without the riots. They didn’t want to do them.)

This is also a result of the weakness the US’s current elites; in-touch, wise elites would have given much more to the poor and middle class during the Covid-19 bailouts, instead of letting tens of millions lose their jobs and worry about their rent.

Elites thought Americans were completely whipped. They had reason to believe that, admittedly, but they overplayed their hand.

Always boil the frog slowly, smart evil elites know that.

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June 5th US Covid Data (Final!)


Truly, Truly Good News as Americans Get Serious


  1. WasteMaker

    As an American, I can say I’m quite happy that black folk are seeing such an increase in respect and prosperity. You see, black Americans are just like every American, no distinction needed. They eat garbage food that depletes precious farmland. Their impeccable fashion sense will ensure many more great cargo ships full of disposable garments (from places like Pakistan of course, because fuck China!). They’re quite adept at being image obsessed, ensuring that Americans never have to bother themselves with analysis deeper than the superficial. Perhaps their gains will re-charge our dwindling mall culture!

    I can sense that after these demonstrations, our precious Earth is smiling, and certainly will think twice about sending that next virus or hurricane.

  2. Willy

    The Iron Law of Oligarchy seems the best catchy term phrase we’ve got for that human sociology bit which inevitably creates/allows corrupt self-serving systems to develop, until they become so socially dysfunctional that they must be torn down and completely rebuilt.

    Maybe another name is better? Inevitable Bureaucratic Corruption (IBC)? Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely?

    Why can’t the people learn? Do people always have to be boiled like frogs?

  3. Zachary Smith

    This doesn’t mean “no police” it means get rid of the current bunch, and create a new police department.

    Reading Fox headlines and rants by right-wing bloggers like Lang give the impression the damned liberals want to create a heaven-on-earth situation for criminals. No Police At All! sort of stuff.

  4. Willy

    Most right-wing bloggers are unconscious authoritarians who obsess about the power of government, until they demand the power of government. Might be easier to just try and control the enforcement of Rule of Law for We The People in more consistent ways.

  5. krake

    The “Rule of Law’ is mysticism.

    But first:

    Power is not simple. State power isn’t reducible to violence only. Authority isn’t divisible to quanta of violence and surrender. Force isn’t exclusive to states, nor even to harm.

    Most society – including comunities which are temporary or of intermittent continuity – might best be understood as non-static dynamics of trust, suspicion, symbolism, obscurity, memory, forgetting, conflict avoidance, status, domination, enforcement and consensus. The Gervais Principle (or its earlier form, Pareto’s circulation of elites) is a useful lens.

    “Sociopaths, in their own best interests, knowingly promote over-performing losers into middle-management, groom under-performing losers into sociopaths, and leave the average bare-minimum-effort losers to fend for themselves.”

    ~ Venkatesh Rao

    (Read here:

    If we understand that all groups tend to sort themselves into bosses and staffers, the amorphous status-unresolved middle, and clear losers, we will start to get a better understanding of power, and thereafter the stupidity, the insipid idiocy of the mystical mantra, “the Rule of Law”.

    Power is, while non-simple and often very complex in its channels, levers and concealments, very easy to understand in its totality: power is resources used by persons to make resources exclusive to those persons. Stuff and people are collected, organized and valorized so that the benefits to the organizers will tend towards continuation and concentration of their exclusive use.

    Law is not merely one thing, because there is no one Law, nor one use of legality. In its simplest form, law is codified (lexical, written, remembered/recited, engraved) intention. Law is the recording of intentions, only some of them as rules, in a medium external to immediate relations. This means that law, to be law, must be recorded, and that by being recorded, it ceases thereafter to be immediate, fluid, responsive or dynamic. It fixes in place, in the record or interpretation, that which cannot be fixed in place (immediate, actual human interaction). And those interactions are almost always between people who belong to different status, rank or power concentrations, where the dynamics of power, deference, exclusivity, submission and information determine how the rules and rankings will be preferenced, regardless of the record of intentions.

    Law does not and cannot rule those dynamics. It does not govern those participants, especially the ones with power and preference who can engage and withdraw voluntarily. All law does or can do is record a moment or cluster of intent.

    This is why there is always a non-negotiable disconnect between the past-dated record and the actual distribution of rules, preference, rank and benefit. Status and power pre-exist and pre-determine all law. Status and power alone can fix law into the record. Status and power (and this will often include competing power centers or factions) alone can *enforce* law.

    So that the “Rule of Law” can only serve the powers that bring it into the record and appropriate resources towards enforcement of their own exclusivity as powers.

    Law, the record of intentions (none of them guaranteed to be reliably narrated or honestly decreed, just because of a naive and unproven virtue of lawfulness), does not serve a general, abstract object of those intentions. Law serves the interests of those whose power, rank or position can and does exist without the law, and who by that autarky can afford to allocate resources towards the recording, codifying and enforcement of their will and their (some of them obscured) intentions.

    Law, then, is never the same as rule, or power. Law is never that which distributes power. Law may serve as an accidental and partial history of the changes in the distribution of power. But it never governs. It is not power.

    There can never be a “Rule of Law”. All we can expect, all we have any cause to expect, is that those who rule will record their will (with no promise of sincerity) and thereafter allocate resources to enforce the outcomes they intend.

  6. Z

    Fight fight fight, and keep fighting. Don’t stop. This political and economic system is designed to prevent the working class from having decent, meaningful lives and having a civil society. Instead it entraps us in a cage match with each other in a constant free-for-all for survival while the planet rapidly loses its capability to sustain life.

    Sloppy Joe, The Gourmet Ice Cream Queen Nancy P, and Charley Schumer (D-Wall Street) and the democrats as a whole absolutely can not be trusted, especially with Rahm Emanuel (D-Israel) and the Robber Rubin disciples already swarming around the dementia-ridden Biden.

    If they get in, ramp it up onto another level on the day they get sworn in, no inauguration parties for these evil clowns no matter what they promise. Emanuel will work with the donors and the republicans, and probably be armed with blackmail material from the Mossad, and play the carrot-and-stick trick and water down every damn thing decent the democrats ran on into a lukewarm bucket of piss they deceitfully deem the politics of the possible.


  7. krake


    If only you understood that Israel is a [i]client state.[/i]

  8. DMC

    “Rule of Law” for the capitalists begins and ends with the enforcability of the terms of contracts.

  9. scruff


    HTML commands in this interface use “”.

  10. scruff

    That was supposed to show the greater-than and lesser-than signs, above the comma and period.

  11. Z


    We’ve been through this before and I’m not wasting any more of my time with your nonsense about a “client” state that gets paid by the “host” to do basically whatever it wants while it corrupts “our” government to serve itself through what essentially is a legislative bribery arm named AIPAC.

    Not to mention how Jewish donors who overwhelmingly support Israel dominate the financing infrastructure of both of our political parties:

    You’ve got some reading to do, and some thinking too, if you care to …


  12. Z

    I’m thinking you don’t and never will though.


  13. Z

    I guess we should be grateful that our ever helpful “client” state actually trains our own police on how to deal with their uppity citizens who have the audacity to stick up for themselves and protest …

    We’re all Palestinians now …


  14. Daniel Lynch

    I would like to be proven wrong, but for now I do not share Ian’s optimism. “Disbanding the police” is vague and could mean anything.

    Camden completely rewrote its rules on use of force, something I have long advocated. Camden also consolidated its police with the county, probably a good idea in the sense that it is easier to train and regulate one police department instead of several police departments. It might be a good idea to take that a step further and replace county police with state police, again because it is easier to train and regulate one police department.

    As a result of the protests / riots, several departments are banning neck holds, but the fact remains that police routinely have to restrain rowdy people, so if we limit old school physical force cops may rely more on tasers or even guns, hardly a step in the right direction. Remember when there was an outcry against Bush’s policy of indefinite detention at Gitmo so Obama simply switched to droning suspects instead of detaining them?

    So it’s a tough issue that will require a lot of thought and study. Certainly rewriting use-of-force laws, and possibly moving toward an all-state police system. Decriminalizing drugs would help a lot, too. I don’t envision truly disbanding or defunding police, that’s a libertarian pipe dream, but we could certainly disband and defund the war on drugs.

    I think it is unfortunate that the protests have been made into a race issue. The highest rates of police violence are in places like New Mexico and Alaska, where there are few blacks. Police brutality concerns all races. Emphasizing race is divisive and turns off many whites who might otherwise share the concerns about police violence.

    Also bear in mind that this is happening in the context of an election year. R’s are worried enough to make a few concessions and D’s are opportunistic enough to pretend they suddenly care about the victims. Fine, let’s take whatever election year crumbs we can get. Just don’t expect the politicians to continue caring after the election.

  15. krake

    Scruff, thank you.


    If we are reviewing clues, and I guess we are, the ones which matter, and the strength of those signals of value/matter/worth, do not overlap for us. I see the direction the resources flow, the means to accumulate and deliver them, and the necessity of receiving them as a condition of survival for the receiving party, as the primary indicators of which party is the patron, and therefore, which is the client.

    You appear to see a non-embedded superstructure of control, characterized by a focus on a particular and historically coded identity, which manipulates the larger, better armed, self-sufficient party into being knowingly cannibalized by a smaller, dependent and non-sufficient garrison state, to the pronounced detriment of the much larger and imperial state which is older, stronger and in possession of every strategic advantage.

    It is my opinion that your model fails to describe the actual relationship because your model can only give the illusion of self-regulation. What I mean by this is that the relationship your model produces only works if you are constantly tinkering with the inputs to the model so that the pre-conclusion (a supranational cabal of religio-ethnic peers who possess a hidden but enormous reservoir of resources and agents) becomes the only ouput you will believe or accept.

    Needless to say, but, I think your model is not robust. It does not accurately explain. It does not show. All it seems to do is loop events into a confurmation bias.

    On the other hand, I do not reject that there are wealthy Jews with a vested stake in late-stage capitalism. They are not Jews qua Jews (or Israelis). They are capitalists who happen to be Jewish. And it is historical, but arbitrary, that Israel is a useful garrison extended into a territory that holds or controls the singular fuel source which late-stage capitalist economies and growth require. If the garrison state had failed in ’48, ’67, ’73, ’82, ’87 – ’93 or ’07, the imperial state guarantor of capitalism would have shifted focus to one of a dozen other regional clients.

  16. Z

    Krake … 450 … whatever you call yourself next week,

    I’m not going to bother to slog through your sophisticate bullsh*t. I’d rather throw up organs. The fact that you can’t say it plainly tells me you ain’t got much to say, just bullsh*t to peddle.


  17. Hugh

    We should stay focused on the idea. If you don’t like “disbanding the police,” how about “reconstituting the police.” However, the current entity has to be legally dissolved to get rid of the current force members and their union. Then you can re-hire, re-staff, and re-train into a new force that serves the community.

    The transition would be difficult. It would probably involve asking current officers to work without a contract with the chance of getting a position in the new force.

    It is a tactic of the right to brand and latch on to a word or phrase to discredit the idea behind it. This is what we are already seeing.

  18. nihil obstet

    We need more riots. Our city is fighting to avoid any police accountability.

    In 2015, citizens primarily from the low-wealth African-American neighborhoods formed a police accountability citizen task force. It’s a coalition of civic organizations ranging from Save Our Sons, the Philip Randolph Institute, Muslims for Social Justice, to the Quakers, ACLU, and Amnesty International USA (local chapter). The group ran investigations into police policy, lobbied city council members, held press conferences (especially after each death at police hands), marches, demonstrations, addressed city council month after month. Member organizations worked also through their own projects. ACLU for example ran a voters’ guide with candidates responses to questions on police use of force and accountability.

    I’m the liaison between the task force and the local Amnesty International. National AI did a report on U.S. use of lethal force also in 2015, and found that neither federal nor local law enforcement is meeting the standards of the international treaty that the U.S. is a signatory on and therefore legally committed to. It took on police use of force as a campaign.

    The lengths to which the city has gone to avoid adopting any of the recommendations of any of the groups is a lesson in power concedes nothing. They ran a phony citizen input program, where on-duty policemen and police union representatives showed up in large numbers to speak as citizens about “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and similar folksy pshaws. The discussions were hand recorded and summarized, by police personnel who selected what would be reported back. Then the city announced that they would meet reasonable demands with a citizen advisory board with the power to advise on police policy. No other power at all, not even to see reports much less investigate.

    In response to the riots of the last week, the city has leaped up to say it wants to adopt “8 Can’t Wait”, a set of recommendations from a campaign to reduce violence. If the police followed these recommendations, there would be fewer deaths, but there doesn’t seem to be an enforcement mechanism. Furthermore, from my stance on international standards, the recommendations are significantly less than the standard that the U.S. should be committed to. The task force has argued that the local recommendations that have been worked out over the last four years are better. City officials, of course, are gushing about using national and local recommendations. We expect them to use the “8 Can’t Wait” recommendations to continue avoiding real reform.

  19. Z


    You’re right, opponents to change are already trying to discredit the “defund the police” movement by mischaracterizing it as a one step measure of eliminating the police.

    I agree that they should use a better phrase like your suggestion, “reconstituting the police”, which describes the entirety of the process much better to those who are intellectually honest enough to listen.


  20. Dan

    Thanks for speaking truth, Z. You can’t even use the word Zionism over at NC anymore. What is it now, .2% of world population and what, 30% of the wealth, and that’s obviously low.

    But there is nothing to see here, you rabid anti-semite you.

  21. Dan

    Re: Camden. This is what I wrote over at NC:

    I’m in NJ, about an hour from Camden. Crime has gone down in Camden, but the city is still a mess. The only areas that have seen some revival are, unsurprisingly, near the college and hospital. I imagine not much capital flows into Camden, and I imagine if and when any capital does decide to seek returns in Camden, the police will become, well, more police-like again. I don’t mean to sound negative. I’m glad it’s less violent. But the detractors will immediately point this out, and they’re not wrong. I mean, if you’ve never been to Camden, and you drive through, you’d be hard pressed to see where they spent $10 million razing properties. There are still plenty of open-air drug deals going on, and Broadway in Camden is prostitute central.

    Also, Camden is still very much subject to classic Democratic machine politics. Check out the name George Norcross. And Steve Sweeney, a former union guy though you’d never know it (he’s been working to break the public unions in NJ for years – except for the police unions).

    I don’t know what the answer is.

  22. A large number of cops really do sign up with the intention of being good, and get ground down.

    The job of cop sucks in the US because of the drug war. Until the drug war is shut down, being a cop will suck and cops will be resentful and bitter.

  23. Ché Pasa

    “Riots work.” Well, yes, sometimes they do. Positive, if temporary, change can result from riots. So can negative change. There’s no certainty of what will or can happen.

    Some cities and neighborhoods never recovered from the riots of the ’60s. Nothing like those have happened during the current uprisings. There’s a surprising lack of destruction in fact. And some of it has certainly been instigated and conducted by cops and/or their allies.

    And of course, the cops themselves have been in full riot all over the country. They’re out of control and lack any sort of rational leadership or discipline. They harm their own cause day and night.

    Even the Hong Kong police, despite enormous provocations, don’t behave as brutally and out of control as the US police and allied forces. “Investigations” are a joke. Bad apples are all of them at every level almost all the time. They can’t deal with defiance of their authority. They can’t deal with sassing and insults. They can’t deal with an occasional tossed rock or water bottle. It drives them nuts, and when they’re nuts — as they largely have been throughout much of the last two weeks — they are very, very stupid.

    “Defund the police” is now mainstream — wow, that was fast. People are coming to understand it slowly, but the hysteria is abating, The program has been well thought-out and is hardly the “Oh no! We’re all going to die!!” fantasy that the opponents are trying to make it out to be. In fact, some police departments are coming around. Others, of course, will fight it to the (literal) death,

    Truthfully, I was very surprised at how quickly the media and parts of the Overclass got behind it. On the media’s part, watching their colleagues be beaten, gassed, injured — some severely — and be deliberately attacked by police was (as “Lambert” would say) “clarifying,” It began to dawn on (some of) them that the police aren’t their friends, they aren’t our friends, and they are unable to control themselves.

    I think some of the ruling class are making positive noises about the idea to ensure that they don’t have to deal with the underlying structural problems. If the rabble can be kept engaged with the “policing problem”, then they won’t be paying too much attention to the economic and environmental issues, right? So what if some cops (and rebels) have to be sacrificed? They can be replaced.

    Listen to what nihil obstet says up above. Anybody who has been active in police reform (I go back to 1991) for any length of time knows that the rulers will do as little as possible, often nothing, for as long as possible while lying and throwing scraps (often just information) to the activists and protesters; they’ll buy off or kill the leaders of movements, and they’ll load their police with money and toys to keep them loyal.

    The only thing that moves the dial is making it impossible for them to rule. Riots are one way to do that, not my favored way, but one of a number of ways.

  24. Lex

    I’m guessing that some of the political elite openness to defunding police departments comes from looking at post-Covid budgets. Everything else has already been cut over the neo-liberal golden years. That’s not to say that the protests and even riots aren’t having a real and significant impact on the American psyche. They are. The sentiment behind defunding police is good and the plans are actionable. But I think that the cops are ahout to find out that those they “protect and serve” have no loyalty so the bad will cops built up on the elite’s behalf means their only allies are white nationalists and Donald Trump.

  25. Stirling S Newberry

    I can’t breathe

    Saturday White House
    Surrounded 1.7 miles
    The Nixon Fence returns
    Racism, policism, down at Lafayette
    Assembled thousands
    Homemade bromides
    8:46 Chauvin
    Killed while sleep Black
    Mountain Stone
    Evolution metaphor
    Internationale infamous to the elites
    Protests capital capitol
    Meet the Press
    Pandemic participants
    consistently community completely college
    Unfamiliar South Tekklit
    No justice, no peace.

  26. Steve Ruis

    This is a standard play out of the corporate playbook! The elites can’t complain about dissolving a police force and starting up from scratch because corporations do it all of the time … disencorporate on Friday, re-open on Monday. It is the primary reason to incorporate … to be able to “die” and be reborn without all of those pesky union contracts, debts, etc.

    Camden, NJ may have made mistakes but they were feeling their way along. What we need are some enterprising consultants who will lay out the steps for cities and towns in the U.S. to do it the right way. Since there is money to be made, can those services be far off?

  27. Dan

    Correction: My comment at NC containing the word “Zionism” did get through after some time.

  28. Z

    We got a federal government that doesn’t represent the best interests of the vast majority of this country. Instead it serves as a legislative obstacle course that is booby-trapped with legally bribed (maybe not so legally in some cases) and possibly blackmailed politicians (see Epstein, Jeffrey) who continually engage in clownish kabuki theater to prevent the public from getting legislation approved that the majority of the public desires and direly needs while Wall Street has a drive-up window at the Fed for essentially whatever amount of funds is required, almost no questions asked, to rescue and boost the markets and hence protect and enhance the wealth of the already rich, which include the majority of Congress and their big-money sponsors.

    Because of the actions of the Federal Reserve these rich sponsors and their politicians themselves have been insulated from the the nuts-and-bolts, bread-and-butter economy that we struggle within and the Fed has severed the connection between the interests of the working class and the rich by this backstopping of the markets in which most of the rich and Congress have the majority of their wealth parked. Shoot, why wouldn’t the rich store much of their money in the markets when the Fed has made the markets a wealth multiplier?

    While the working class has suffered during this crisis from stress and financial uncertainty that has led to food insecurity and housing insecurity, among other affordability concerns, we are witnessing the absurdity of the NASDAQ reaching new highs due to the Federal Reserve’s support of the markets while are in the middle of a pandemic with GDP plummeting by over 50%. The markets obviously are completely disconnected from the real economy, one going heavily in one direction and the other heavily in the opposite. Our society is being torn apart by this dynamic.

    The Federal Reserve, an unelected body that has the magic power to create money out of thin air, provides what is basically free liquidity to Wall Street and has invented many ways and instruments to expand upon their mandate to include rescuing the markets and hence the rich. They did it in 2008 while much of the country got stomped on by the banks and they’re doing it again now while they claim that supporting the public is outside their mandate. This one way street of essentially free money to Wall Street has created massive amounts of inequality in our society where wage earners are lucky to get a couple percent annual raise while the Dow has averaged an almost 12% annual return since 2009.

    There is one potential solution to this vicious, immoral mess that we’re trapped in, in the middle of a pandemic mind you, that our political system has shown itself to be completely incapable of handling: March to the Federal Reserve branches by the tens of thousands all over the country and ask, “What about us? Where’s our bailout?” and demand that the Fed invest in the citizens of this country for once instead of just the rich. One could say that they owe us since we are the ones who pay for their actions in many many ways.

    We can call this fund the U.S. Citizen Public Investment Bank and demand that the Fed grants enough money into the fund to cover Bernie’s proposal of $2000 per person per month until the end of January 2021 plus medicare-for-all during this pandemic ( as well as a complete wipe-out of all student debt and medical debt so that our citizens, and particularly our younger generations, can get out from under the burdens of debt and better be able to have a future in this economy rather than being chewed up by it. This should also be coupled with rent/mortgage measures and price controls from the Federal government IMO.

    There’s no reason why the Fed can’t expand their mandate in our direction for once, instead of expanding it against us, to save the real economy and the citizens of this country. They’ve been plenty creative in finding ways to serve the markets and the rich.

    Let’s force this national debate, it’s one that’s well overdue, because if their mandate can’t be expanded to support the overall societal and economic stability of our country, then what exactly is their overall function besides funding the exact opposite?


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