Riot police stand in the way of peaceful marches wearing military gear

In all this extremism, can abolition work?

As a sociologist and an anthropologist who study social control in the United States, we know that punishment can radicalize and further alienate people, while social policy and grassroots community building can defuse potential violence. The abolitionist philosophy is precisely what is missing from the current conversation.

…[A]bolitionists do seek to create a future world in which police and prisons are obsolete, but such long-range commitments do not preclude practical harm-reduction efforts or collaboration with less radical allies. Abolitionists work for incremental improvements, especially interventions that set the stage for more radical change.

…More generally, abolitionists would endorse a broad analytical scope for diagnosing the problem, and for designing interventions. 

Addressing root causes of the attempted coup means actively working to transform the political and economic conditions that have allowed ethno-nationalist and scapegoating ideologies to fester… [Nonetheless p]assing Medicare for All will not keep insurrectionists from storming state capitols during the Biden administration.

…abolitionists have long been trying to design root-cause-informed immediate interventions. A wealth of research on gun violence, and the experience of grassroots organizations, shows that targeting those at risk of violence can stop retribution from flowing through entire social networks…

Source: Can Abolition Work in an Age of Right-Wing Extremism? – The Atlantic


  1. Dear “Maggie”

    Excellent points, and thank you for pointing out the umbrella nature of the abolitionist project. Project Do Better is a similar umbrella project, working to build a community of communities for long term targeted empathy and participatory process tool building that can further the abolitionist work, if we all work together.

    I hope we can share one another’s work.

    Best Regards,
    Shira Destinie Jones, MPhil

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