Recent riots in the US and the need to respond in force to the ever growing number of terrorist acts happening in the Western Europe has prompted some to worry about the specter of a potential ‘police state’ that might be lurking somewhere in the future.
Those who have first-handedly witnessed what it means to live in a real police state have a dissenting view on this subject:
“I live in a bona fide, real world, living, breathing police state: the People’s Republic of China. I live, in short, in the real thing, not in the cartoonish caricature of a police state that people have in mind when they hear the term. . . . The role of the police in a police state isn’t to control citizens’ lives. That’s a myth that’s almost laughable. . . . The role of the police in a police state is to protect the power structure from change. That is it in its entirety. Anything which doesn’t endanger the powers that be is unimportant to the police. Anything which does endanger the powers that be is brutally suppressed. . . . I have more direct, personal freedoms here in China than I ever had in Canada. So do most Chinese people. The only freedom they (we) lack is the freedom to criticize the government in public. . . . A competent, stable, secure police state doesn’t need brutality to keep itself in power. It’s insecure states (of any kind!) that find the need to brutalize their citizens to ensure compliance.” Michael Richter courageously posting on his FB wall.
Having myself lived for 30 years in a real police state – one that was insecure enough to terrorize its citizens – I can vouch for what Michael Richter tells us.
On the other hand police, in every society, acts like an ‘immune system’. Its job is to maintain the status quo. Basically it tries to maintain the entire ‘organism’ in ‘working order’. And here come the differences.
If that society is a normal one the police tries to maintain an ‘unbiased’ order.
If the society itself is biased the police will favor one side of the society.
Those who are favored by the police will consider this to be ‘normal’. Those who feel the brunt of the police action will reach the conclusion that they live in a ‘police state’.
Evolutionary theory teaches us that living things are able to maintain, for quite long time, a certain level of in-balance. For instance, warm blooded animals are, for most of their lives, either hotter or colder than their environment. And yet they manage to survive.
If the balance is not tilted too much, in either direction.
Same thing with the ‘police state’.
Basically all societies are biased. And all police forces in the world have to guard an in-balance or other.
As I mentioned before, as long as that in-balance is manageable – and the population at large is OK with it – the police can do its job without stepping over too many toes.
But if the in-balance that the police has to maintain becomes unmanageable, more and more people will consider they live in a police state and, at a certain point, something will break. The people’s acceptance of the police, the police-men’s willingness to impose that in-balance over their fellow citizens or even both at the same time.
This is so obvious that even the Ancient Romans issued a stern warning on the subject.
In reality ‘Fiat justitia, ruat caelum’ doesn’t mean “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.” but ‘Let justice be just, otherwise the heaven will fall upon your (collective) head’.