I read an article about the Paris police who watched mistresses. Basically, classy prostitutes would get a sugar daddy, who would buy them fancy furniture and a nice apartment. When the sugar daddy lost his interest, she went back to a classy brothel until she found another one. It’s a pretty long read, so i summed up the relevant parts.
This article tries to explain why the police were watching at all (because it wasn’t for blackmail or anything, since it wasn’t illegal and the mistresses were supposed to be seen as a status symbol). They speculate that the reason the cops watched the mistresses was because they were watching over the part of society that didn’t have superiors. Like, beggars and vagabonds were also under the eyes of the cops, but most every other part of ‘productive’ society was accountable to a higher ranked person, all the way from commoners to the nobility. In other words, the police were the enforcers of cultural norms. Because those people weren’t accountable to the recognized structure, the police became their direct superiors.
It struck me as such a fascinating idea that I had to share. I think it’s probably still true. Everybody who fits into the normal machine of society is generally ignored by the cops. We have the cops as a reaction to the OTHER elements of society. The cops are here to protect us from the criminals, to watch those who don’t fit into mainstream society.
Whereas the police in Paris used to work for the King Louis the #th to control the frayed edges of society, our police work for the local governments to do that. We seem to have carried over the function. Somehow, although it shifted from royal executive to a democratically elected executive, the underlying mission doesn’t seem to have changed.
So, of course, we must ask ourselves, should it have changed? What’s the real purpose of a police force? Because as far as I can tell, it’s to protect the interests of the wealthy through enforcement of the laws that the wealthy pushed into being.
I wonder what it would look like. I wanna see a police force that’s intended to protect the interests of the powerless. Would it be any different? They would still have the same parameters. It would still be to keep everyone safe. But that thing, where all poor people are potential criminals, how could we get rid of that?