The Protectors of Society
It is instructive to have a look occasionally not only at the
military machine which professedly is for the protection of society
against enemies from the outside, but at the civil machine which
is assumed to protect it from enemies on the inside.
American policemen have not appeared
to distinguished advantage during recent critical days. If anarchy
is what they declare it to be—contempt for law—there is enough of
it in the police  force to bespeak
attention. The police have violated every law of nation and state
intended to conserve the right of the individual against unjust
treatment; arresting and throwing innocent people into jail at their
own sweet will. From contemplating the temper of the “lovers of
law and order,” however, it is evident that the lawlessness of the
police may in the case of the Chicago anarchists have done a real
service. Thus good sometimes comes out of evil.
The anarchists on the police force,
by unlawfully confining the anarchists from Carroll avenue, saved
the latter from the violence of the anarchists among the “good citizens”
who wanted to lynch somebody—innocent or guilty, it mattered little.
It will not serve greatly to lessen
the anarchists’ contempt for government that at the very time of
their incarceration and insulting examinations by those who were
anxious to fasten a crime of conspiracy upon them, their accusers
themselves were about to undergo investigation for connivance with
saloons and houses of ill fame to rob the city, otherwise organized
society, of its share of the annual plunder of these social aids
to public morality. The arrest and examination of Deputy Commissioner
Devery of New York at the same time, and the public exposition of
his vileness, is a fitting accompaniment to the Chicago police investigation.
It serves to put the police into a class by themselves, a very vulgar
and disreputable class, indeed.
And it is by no means remarkable that
this is so. The indifference of those good citizens who love “law
and order” leaves every great city at the mercy of the political
vultures who are driven to prey upon society by the business methods
of the good citizens themselves. When a man is driven out of business
he usually goes into politics. Most men if they cannot live honestly
will live as thieves, and under the present complexion of society
a political existence is precarious; it is easy to be a thief and
hard to be honest. Forced out of their legitimate occupations by
capitalistic monopoly of opportunity, there gradually accumulates
about the city hall of every municipality a horde of job-seeking,
hungry men, who will do anything to gain a living. These are the
heelers and other human driftwood which see that the elections go
“right,”—in the interest of the machine. Payment for this service
is rendered by the machine in jobs in public employment. The police
force is recruited from the ranks of the faithful.
It is thus that we make the dregs
of a vicious society the guardians of the moral and physical welfare
of such society.