Note — Jul 19, 2020

‘Defund the Police,’ ‘Cancel Rent’: The Left Remakes the World

Amna A. Akbar, law professor at The Ohio State University, who studies leftist social movements shows how the movements to defund the police, cancel rent, and a Green New Deal are connecting, feeding into each other, and presenting a new leftist perspective that is advocating structural change, not incremental adjustments.

[T]he people making these demands want a new society. They want a break from prisons and the police, from carbon and rent. They want counselors in place of cops, housing for all and a jobs guarantee. While many may find this naïve, polls, participation in protests and growing membership in social movement organizations show these demands are drawing larger and larger parts of the public toward a fundamental critique of the status quo and a radical vision for the future. […]

The demand for defunding calls into question the fundamental premise of policing: that it produces safety. It urges us to take collective responsibility for collective care, repair and redress. […]

Leftist movements today see our crises as intersectional. Police violence, global warming and unaffordable housing are not disconnected, discrete problems; instead, they emerge from colonialism and capitalism. Organizers recall these histories, and tell stories of freedom struggles.