Democratizing the State Apparatus: The Case of the Police

In the context of its research program “Radical Left and the Transformation of the State”, the transform! network seeks to commission the writing of a research essay.

Ways of dealing with the various sections of the neoliberal authoritarian state’s apparatus is or should be at the core of the discussions of all European Left parties, when designing their political strategy for the transformation and the emancipation of society. Nobody would deny that police is one of the main pillars of this apparatus, used by the governments as a shield of protection against all those who want to change the existing neoliberal order of things in Europe. Tackling this problem is a very difficult task for the Left forces, since the officially declared object of the police, i.e. preserving the safety and security of all people living in a country rightly is considered as a “democratic right”, a “common” which should be respected by those who want to change society.
In a nutshell, we are searching for proposals not to smash, but to transform the police, taking into consideration “best practices” of democratic structures and behaviours of police forces in various countries of Europe or elsewhere. In fact, what we need is a critical study based on comparative experiences from the past and the present, as well as the author’s personal proposals.
Building upon the aforementioned remarks the research essay is to be structured around three principal issues:
1) Organizational paradigms of various police forces
2) Specification of the goals being pursued in the context of these different organizational paradigms
3) Patterns of democratic control of the police

Based on the aforementioned issues, some of the questions, which should be answered in the research essay are the following:

  • Which are the most common organizational features of police forces?
  • Do different models of organization correspond to different political rationales? If yes what features make for a neoliberal vision of Law enforcement and to what extent can the latter be counterbalanced by more progressive initiatives?
  • What are the particular policies the police is adapting to quell organized crime?
  • Which are the relations of the police forces with Far right extremist groups and how this can be dealt with?
  • Which is the best practice to block the possible formation of “advocacy coalitions” inside police forces running against the democratic modus operandi of the force in toto?
  • Which are the different patterns of democratic control of the police force and how this can be implemented without obstructing the latter’s operational capacity?

The length of the research essay will be 20.000 words, is expected to be completed by 15 April 2014 and will most probably be completed during a workshop organized by transform! until the end of the year.
The author will work in close collaboration with the Nicos Poulantzas Institute and there will be an imbursement of 3.000 Euros.
Applicants should be chosen by the transform! Managing Board on the basis of CVs, plus samples of their work in the specific or relevant fields, if available. References are welcome.
Application should be sent to the e-mail address until 30 November 2013.

Haris Golemis, legal representative of transform! and responsible for the project “Left Strategy”
Walter Baier, coordinator of transform!