By Eric Peters | Another World Is Possible
Ever wonder how come there are men (and women) in costumes policing the rest of us?
Most people accept this relationship as both given and eternal. That there have always been men (if not always women) in costumes policing the rest of us. But, in fact, its a relatively novel thing. Think back to your schooldays. Do you recall any mention of police when you were learning about the colonial era and the American Revolution? There were sheriffs, yes and the local militia. But these were concerned mostly with keeping the peace that is, stepping in when someone harmed someone else. Up to and even during the Civil War a titanic struggle between the fading remnants of the old republican idea and the centralized, omnipotent state that took its place the idea of police as we know it was essentially unknown. It is a modern concept one developed out of the company town idea.
You may or may not recall the company town. It is a place once upon a time, a very real place in which the company not only employs nearly everyone but also controls nearly everyone. During work hours and most relevant in terms of the discussion at hand the rest of the time, too. This is achieved by paying the workers not in specie, but in script or tin coinage or some other form of fiat currency issued by the company and good at the company stores in the company town where all the company workers live. Even the workers homes are company homes. In the company town, everything you did was the companys business. And to keep it all nicely organized, there were company police. - Sound familiar?
Examples of these paternalistic and authoritarian communities include Bournville (see here) founded by Cadbury Chocolate King George Cadbury which was gently paternalistic. And also the less gently paternalistic Pullman, Chicago. You may recall the Pullman Railroad strike of 1894 which got ugly, quickly. The cattle oops, Pullman workers had become recalcitrant. - They were more firmly dealt with.
Often, they were dealt with by badged and costumed goons hired by the men who owned the company town. For example, the infamous Pinkertons pinks, as they were once called.
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