The anarchist perspective of this election is different to that of the mainstream left. This election will not politicise policing, as policing is already political. The police act to enforce the status quo, they defend the state as an institution which claims legitimate use of force in an area and in light of the criminalisation of squatting and other laws defend the rights of absentee property owners over the most vulnerable people. As anarchists, we are always aware of the police’s role in limiting protest, infiltrating activist groups and criminalising the act of dissent. When we hear liberal friends talk of this politicisation, we remember our times in kettles, our times running from the police at protests, our comrades who are interrogated and harassed by the police for believing in a world without hierarchy. As such, we refute the mainstream left’s opinion that this election “politicises” the police.
There is however, an issue which has largely been ignored – the powers these officials have in tackling crime. The Police and Crime commissioners have no power to tackle the root cause of much crime – the economic inequality inherent in capitalism. Instead, the powers they have been given are reflective of the authoritarian nature of the main political parties – powers to “crack down” on crime, to stop “anti-social” behaviour (including begging) without ever examining the root causes of these issues.
Within the context of York and North Yorkshire, police harass and criminalise the homeless for begging or squatting in empty buildings. Both of the candidates have refused to change this current policy, even in light of cuts to funding to homeless services and increasing numbers of homeless people in our city. This shows how the state and capitalism act against the most vulnerable in society, further supporting our belief that these problems cannot be solved by the factors which cause them.
Because of this York Anarchists are abstaining from this ballot, or spoiling our ballots. We believe in a world without states and governments, and the coercive relation between the state and ordinary people cannot be abolished by the ballot. No matter who wins this election, we are ungovernable.