There are broadly three groups of enforcers: police, secret police (spies), and the military. All three have a tendency to attract people who are reactionary, and who enjoy having authority and causing fear. The great attraction of being an enforcer, for many people, is that you get to make other people do things, and hurt them, and they can’t fight back.

Police, in particular, are always making choices as to what laws they enforce and how, and how strictly they enforce them. There’s a lot of discretion in the job. It’s long been noted that some people are treated far more harshly, for the same infraction, than others. Indeed, what can get you beaten up and arrested by cops if you’re part of a group they don’t like, or you irritate a particular cop, can also be ignored if they like you, or you’re part of a group they like.

This was a common complaint during the BLM protests, where right-wing protesters would be protected by cops and not arrested for actions for which they would have come down hard on the BLM protesters. In Canada, during the “trucker” protests, it’s been noted over and over again that indigenous and left-wing protesters would never have been treated so leniently by the police for so long — and indeed, it was only when protesters blocked trade between the US and Canada that any serious action was taken.

The most critical part of that action was financial. Chrystia Freeland announced that accounts would be frozen and that truckers’ insurance (without which you cannot operate a rig in Canada) would be terminated. That’s interesting, because these are administrative actions that don’t require the cops to actually do much, beyond report who’s there. There’s no going in with the horses and riot gear and tear gas and beating people up like they do to the indigenous and G7 protesters.

At least when dealing with local cops, and especially in Ottawa and Windsor, it seems like the police basically refused to do their jobs or even, in Ottawa, follow direct orders from the police chief (who has since resigned and who also seemed, initially, very friendly to the protesters).

As I’ve noted before, there are normally three requirements for revolution: an elite faction in support of the revolution, a popular faction in support (at a higher percent than the “truckers” have, about 25 percent to 30 percent), and the refusal of enforcers to protect the current regime.

So, enforcer willingness to act against any threat is important.

But it’s also worth noting that enforcers aren’t a monolith. Police aren’t secret police, who aren’t cops, and even within, say, police, there can be splits. In the US during school integration, local cops usually wouldn’t protect school integration, so the federal police (FBI) were sent in and they did. The FBI traditionally had bad relations with local cops and were happy to stick their thumb in.

This leads to one of the main rules of running enforcers. You want them to hate each other. You want the feds to hate the state/provincial local police. You want the military to despise the spies and look down on the police, state and local. You want the local police to hate the state/feds for horning in on them, and loathe the secret police for keeping track of them and you want them to think the military are out of touch.

You also don’t want them cross-training. They do different things, and what is appropriate for police is not appropriate for secret police or military, and vice versa. As a rule, you should not allow someone who has worked in one branch to apply to have jobs in the others — no vets into the police or secret police and vice versa. You don’t want them thinking of themselves as one group — and in any case, militarized police are always a mistake and militaries that do police and occupation work always become incompetent, weak, and fight worse. This is what turned the Israeli army from one of the best in the world into crackers who get their asses handed to them by Hezbollah and are scared of even fighting it.

This is also why, in the military, there shouldn’t be one “military,” but multiple services. Anything you gain from combining them into one service is more than counterbalanced by the danger. (And, it’s clear, in many ways, they perform better when they feel competitive, in any case.)

The next problem is one of the oldest in history: Demobilizing armed men. This is one of the hardest things to do. Because it’s clear that the Ottawa police, for example, are no longer under civilian control, the majority of them need to be let go and replaced with people who will obey orders.

Doing this is hard. They would probably strike and become even more unwilling enforce laws, and it’s quite likely they would threaten elected officials. Once you’ve given a group a semi-monopoly on force, breaking that monopoly is difficult. This is why you need a divided enforcer class. While you’re disarming and firing, say, the spies, you need to be able to use the federal or provincial police, or in a worst case scenario, the military (who should only be used for policing in emergencies — they’re bad at it, and it’s bad for them, as previously discussed).

Finally, while you will always need some police, we need a lot less. Various cities have experimented with unarmed crisis response teams: If someone’s having a mental breakdown, sending non-police almost always leads to better outcomes, and if force does turn out to be required, someone trained in the sort of violence in which orderlies sometimes need to engage (restrainment) is far better than a police.

Take away all the miscellaneous activities from armed police, and you’ll have a lot less trouble. Make the traffic enforcers a completely different organization, the mental health guys different, expand the paramedics, etc. The less men with guns and a propensity for violence, the better.

Also, while you may never hear me say this in the case of anything else, I don’t think armed men should also have unions. Police unions always seem to be the worst of the worst. There’s a reason the military doesn’t allow unions and it applies to police, too.

There is also a selection issue, and we need to find a way to not select for reactionaries and bullies in the enforcer class. In the military, this was traditionally done by a draft (which I hate but tentatively endorse). In the police and the secret police, we have to find out a way to do it as well.

In Canada and the US both, the police are out of control. They are gangs, the most dangerous gang wherever they operate, and they despise and look down on civilians, including the politicians who are their nominal superiors. They need to be replaced en-masse, and the new police forces need to be much smaller. Police militarization needs to end, and rivalry between different police forces, the military, and the secret police (spies) needs to be encouraged, while the actual number of police needs to be cut at least in half to a third by giving many of their roles to other groups who are unarmed — or at the very least, don’t have guns, tazers, and so on.

This would be true no matter what type of government you ran. The enforcers are always dangerous, and they always have to be kept divided, and they are always ripe for abusing their power due to impartiality.