Transcript: In conversation with Adam Elliott-Cooper
Luke de Noronha: Hello, I’m Luke de Noronha, lecturer at the Sarah Parker Remond Centre here at UCL and I’m really happy today to be in conversation with Adam Elliott-Cooper. Adam is Fellow in Sociology at the University of Greenwich and will be joining Queen Mary University as a lecturer in politics from September 2021. He researches and writes on policing, anti-racism, colonialism and post-colonialism, and his first book, which is a wonderful book, Black Resistance to British Policing, was published by Manchester University Press in May of this year; it focuses on resistance to racist state violence in 21st century Britain but with a particular interest in how this resistance is shaped by histories of imperialism and anti-imperialism. He’s written a lot journalistically as well, his writing has appeared in The Guardian, Verso Blog, Raw, Open Democracy and The Voice, and Adam also regularly appears on podcasts and broadcast news discussing policing, racism and anti-racism in Britain. Adam also sits on the board of The Monitoring Group, an anti-racist organisation challenging state racism and racial violence and he’s also, of course, a Visiting Research Fellow at the Sarah Parker Remond Centre. It's great to have you on the podcast, Adam, thanks so much for speaking with me today.
Adam Elliott-Cooper: Thanks for having me on, Luke, looking forward to it.
Luke: I wanted to start by asking you perhaps a question that’s too broad, given what’s been going on in the last couple of years, but what’s been keeping you busy politically and intellectually this year in 2021?
Adam: I think in the last 12 months so much has happened politically, so much that’s been unpredictable, so much that’s been difficult for people, but also so much that’s brought hope and potential for progress and change. And since we saw the largest anti-racist protest in British history in the summer of 2020, I think a lot of people like myself were worried, concerned, occupied by the possibility of the energy of those mobilisations dissipating; people getting exhausted or fed up or burnt out or disinterested but that’s not been the case at all, there’s been plenty to keep us occupied. I think one of the first things that happened about six months ago was there were two quite high profile killings of people of colour in Wales, and I think one of the legacies of those mobilisations in the summer of 2020 meant that there were big protests in Cardiff and other parts of northern Wales as well in response to these deaths at the hands of the police, and a really clear and confident articulation of these being connected to the wider systems of racial violence that people had been protesting in the summer. And I thought that mobilising in Wales, which isn’t necessarily as well-known as other parts of Britain as being the centre for anti-racist struggle, I thought was a really powerful sign of how influential this mass movement has been.
But, of course, we’ve seen other things as well, with this Government doubling down on its position on state power, authoritarianism and racism, both through its new policing bill where it’s attempting to criminalise protest, Gypsy Roma Traveller communities, as well as so-called gang violence which disproportionately affects Black communities, but also erode peoples’ civil liberties and rights to assemble and to protest as well. There’s been mass mobilisations against that. We’ve seen feminist struggles arising out of the police killing of Sarah Everard, which has also, I think, galvanised people into resistance against policing.
So, I think what we’ve really seen happen since the mobilisations of 2020 is an expansion of what was taking place, in that where the more radical elements of these mobilisations were demanding a defunding of the police, an abolitionist vision, not simply the kinds of tired, ineffective reforms that we see rolled out every year since the 1970s and '80s for diversity initiatives and consultancy committees and extra training and education. And we’ve seen that argument for a different kind of world, different kinds of social relations coalescing with these feminist uprisings, these resistance movements against this policing bill, the solidarity movements with the Gypsy Roma Traveller communities, and these waves of action I think have kept all of the people who are interested in resisting the policing very, very busy.
I guess the last thing that has kept us busy, as if that wasn’t enough, are, of course, the Conservative government’s dire attempt at identity politics by recruiting as many Black and brown Conservatives as they could to publish a report denying the existence of institutional racism, and the widespread critical response to that from vast sections of both the liberal and radical left commentary, commentators and journalists and activists. And, of course, most recently we’ve seen some of the largest Palestine solidarity mobilisations in British history as well, and I think those are also connected to the mobilisations a year ago, and we’re seeing a lot more young people coming out onto the streets and becoming part of this wider solidarity movement as well.
Luke: Thank you, that’s a really good kind of overview of the moment we’ve been in in the last year and I agree with you, that it’s felt both terrible and hopeful. I kind of wanted to draw you out on two points there. The first is the street politics that we’ve talked about before, we saw the intensification of certain kinds of street politics around the Brexit Referendum, with both sides on the streets outside Parliament; we saw XR; we saw earlier iterations of BLM and school strikers and other environmental movements taking up space in the centre of cities. But I’m just thinking here about the street politics and what you’ve noticed, if any, from someone who’s probably been at protests against war, against imperialism, against police killings for over a decade now, just to reflect a little bit on how intense the street politics is, and say a little more about perhaps Kill the Bill and about Palestine, because I think some of the listeners won’t know much of what happened with Kill the Bill and won’t quite realise the scale of the Palestine demos in the last couple of weeks, we’re speaking at the end of May.
Adam: Yeah, I think you’re completely right. There’s been really interesting developments and, I guess, galvanisation of street politics over the past 12 months in a way that we haven’t seen for a long time, and it’s difficult to say why exactly that is and maybe part of it is the fact that being in lockdown has meant that people have to congregate outside rather than indoors. I think also what’s really powerful about it is that we’re seeing, I guess, a connection between the different kinds of street politics that have emerged in the last 12 to 18 months. So, we’re seeing schools, for instance, not simply having Black Lives Matter related demonstrations against policies or practices that the schools are implementing, making demands for changes in their curriculum, with challenging the racial disproportionality in school exclusion and those types of things, but we’re also seeing school students protesting in solidarity of Palestine. We’re seeing them articulate a connection between these different forms of racism and legacies of colonisation and imperialism.
And I think that’s one of the really amazing things that we’re seeing being mobilised, these connections being made, not simply by commentators or academics but by people on the streets, learning in these more kind of participatory, organic ways. I think Kill the Bill is one of the key ways in which we’ve seen those connections most vividly articulated because this policing bill that I mentioned, which seeks to criminalise Gypsy Roma Traveller communities, is likely to disproportionately affect Black and other working-class communities through an expansion of police powers into public sector institutions and other public bodies. The erosion of peoples’ right to protest through criminalising the ability of people to have protests which are disruptive or noisy, and even the proposals to criminalise people who intervene in a stop and search have brought in a wider coalition of activists, the widest coalition of radical organisations I think we’ve maybe seen in this country for a generation, from Gypsy Roma Traveller groups, including socialist ones, to radical feminist organisations like Sisters Uncut to, of course, Black Lives Matter organisations and similar groups of that ilk and lots of youth led groups like the 4Front Project or No More Exclusions. This has also, of course, brought in more mainstream activist organisations like trade unions and civil liberties organisations and certain NGOs that work with migrants and people who are undocumented.
And it’s this broad coalition that I think has been a really inspiring form of street politics and street mobilisation, across a relatively wide spectrum of different political organisations, but it's being led by a very radical contingent, arguing not simply for this Bill to be repealed and for certain aspects of police and prison power to be eroded but instead is, in fact, arguing for a far more radical agenda. It’s arguing for an agenda which seeks to erode the power of policing and prisons as we know it and invest in communities instead. And it’s that language of defunding the police, which I think was re-popularised or further popularised a year before, that I think is really enabling the movements that we’re seeing today to remain committed to a more radical resistance to police and prison power.
Luke: Yeah, and we’re talking about the last 12 months but how would you situate it in relation to 2019, the General Election, because I’m kind of thinking there that what was interesting about the Labour Party under Corbyn was that social movements kind of found that many of them were involved in and invested in campaigning for one of the main parties and that kind of possibility seems to have been shut down for many of those groups you described - of people affiliated to them, of young people concerned about state violence or about nationalist chauvinism, concerned about police and prisons and forms of exclusion from schools, for example - probably feel like the Labour Party under the helm of forensic Keir Starmer is not a place that offers them any kind of home. So I’m wondering if you’ve got anything to reflect on that, because I suppose what I’m hearing you describe so well is new constituencies forming with very radical demands and perspectives on the world, overwhelmingly of younger people, which seems to prove the emptiness of both the kind of diversity politics of the Right and of big business and the police, which you mentioned briefly and you talk about really well in the book, and, of course, the limitations of party politics in this particular system and with particular kind of petitioning to imaginary working class constituencies in the so-called Red Wall. So, any thoughts on taking us back to 2019 and what turned out to be that horror show and how it plays into all this?
Adam: I think you’re completely right. It’s difficult to know when to begin and there probably is no beginning for that reason, but I think, thinking back to the General Election of 2019 in which we had a Labour Government under Jeremy Corbyn offering, relatively speaking, a radical manifesto but in the context of Western Europe a fairly centrist manifesto, against a Conservative Party that came to power on a three-word manifesto, 'Get Brexit Done'. And I think the kind of grassroots movements which brought Corbyn to the leadership of the Labour Party, which was in many ways more radical than the Labour party itself and more radical I think, I would say, than the manifesto that they offered, saw a retreat from the centre ground and it meant that there was a clear Left constituency and a clear Right nationalist constituency, I think quite different to the kind of battle over the centre ground that we associate with the days of David Cameron and Gordon Brown and Tony Blair.
So, with the decline of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, I think that there are a lot of people looking for a political home, looking for a new kind of grassroots movement, and I think it’s really telling that the two or three key issues which Corbyn’s Labour administration didn’t consider to be a priority for them, the question of prison and police expansion, the question of borders and, of course, therefore connected to that the question of anti-racism, is one of the key issues which people are now mobilising around on the streets. So I think that what we’re seeing today is simultaneously both a result of the success of the Corbyn Labour Party bringing a lot of young people into the political arena for the first time, but at the same time, there’s also the result of the failure of the Corbyn project to really speak to the demands of this generation of young people who yes, wanted to end austerity, wanted an end to tuition fees and a return to investment in housing and others areas of the welfare state, but they also wanted to roll back the power of the authoritarian states that had been built up since the rise of Thatcherism in the 1980s, and that was the section of Corbyn’s Labour Party which had been neglected, and it’s this that people are really beginning to mobilise around in the years that followed.
Luke: That’s really interesting. Let’s move onto the book, Black Resistance to British Policing, which as I said, we’re speaking at the end of May and this book’s just come out and I’m holding my copy and I’m very excited to see it in print. Based on years of work, both the political and academic work of yours. I think you’ve already set it up quite well, I was thinking as you were speaking about the last 12 months and the coalition of forces and the ways in which they’re developing radical understandings, I feel like your book’s come at the right time to kind of situate some of the current mobilisations in a longer history of anti-racist resistance in the UK and, of course, tracing that back to anti-imperial and anti-colonial struggles. Let’s just get into it. Maybe you can tell us briefly what the book is about and one way to start that would be to just kind of talk us through what kind of historical period it covers, I know it moves chronologically but maybe you can start us there.
Adam: The book really for me begins in 2011, and that’s where the real meat of the book begins. And it begins in 2011 partly because there are, I guess, three key moments that lead to significant Black uprisings, I would say, or forms of Black resistance to British policing. The first is the police killing of Smiley Culture in February 2011, quite a well-known Reggae artist. The second is a Black man called Kingsley Burrell, who died at the hands of the police in Birmingham in the West Midlands and finally, perhaps most well-known is the police shooting of Mark Duggan in the August of that year. I was quite concerned about the ways that people, commentators on the Left and the Right, were talking about these riots, these urban rebellions as a mobilisation which was somehow unconnected to politics or signified the decline of Black politics. And for me, I didn’t consider these urban rebellions to be disconnected from the protests that took place in the February and March of 2011. I didn’t see it as disconnected from the community march to Tottenham Police Station, which was the prelude to the first sight of the riots which began in Tottenham in North London; and I also didn’t see it disconnected from the protests which happened in October of 2011, led by the United Family and Friends Campaign, the coalition of families of people who have died at the hands of the state. And I certainly didn’t see it in isolation from the community organising that was taking place in the immediate aftermath of the rebellions, which sought to defend people, particularly young people, from the increase in arrests and searches and raids and cases of brutality that was the state’s response, a very political response, I might add, to these urban rebellions.
So, I really was interested in thinking about the rebellions in this wider political context and, crucially, street politics, which was taking place, and I think what doing that has enabled me to do is to better situate our current moments, with the rise of Black Lives Matter in Britain which began four to five years later, 2014-16, to our current moment today; and thinking about how this period of Black British history in 2011 needs to be re-examined in order for us to understand that current moment. But the other thing I try to do in the book is further contextualise 21st century Black resistance to British policing, and I guess the way in which I do that is kind of out of a bit of a frustration with being someone who’s interested in the history of Black politics in Britain and being overwhelmed with literature from the US, and certainly being only really able to access a really small amount of quite liberal Black British literature on organising and activism and struggle.
What I really wanted to do was to think about Britain in its global context because, of course, as I’m sure all of our listeners are aware, Britain had the largest empire the world has ever known. So, connecting anti-racism to anti-colonialism helped me to think through a different kind of Black British history and certainly a different kind of Black British resistance to policing, thinking about the different forms of Black resistance to British policing that hasn’t taken place in the British mainland - it’s taken place in the Caribbean, it’s taken place across the African Continent - and how these patterns of radical politics and mobilisation and organising came to shape Britain’s radical Black movements on the British mainland in the latter half of the 20th century. And I think that’s a really crucial, for me anyway, context, not only for understanding the history of Black Britain but also, of course, for understanding Black politics in the 21st century.
Luke: That’s really helpful and I think one of the key interventions is also to productively offer an alternative to the kind of easy lifting of US narratives, not to just critique that vaguely, which I think sometimes we can be guilty of, a general critique of importing US based narratives to here where they’re somehow not quite accurate enough or not historically specific enough, and I think you do that really well.
I wanted to ask you a question and this is a two-part question. One is, why do you think it’s important to look at the history of colonialism and colonial policing and counterinsurgency to understand contemporary policing, because the book does also focus on those histories of policing practices themselves? And the follow up question is, why have you focused, despite writing about policing and histories of policing, on primarily Black resistance to British policing? Because that is a decision, it’s not a book about policing and resistance, it’s called Black Resistance to British Policing. So, I wanted you to talk a little bit about that decision to centre and orbit analysis around the resistance rather than the racism.
Adam: So I might answer your second question first, if that’s alright? I guess one of the reasons why I became really interested in resistance is because it was work that I’d been involved in or been affected by. I was a youth worker for a couple of years in Hackney and then a few other places in North East London, and so came into contact with a lot of organising groups in 2010-12, including Tottenham Defence Campaign and The Monitoring Project, that were doing really interesting work around the criminalisation of young people, both during the riots of 2011 but also during the Olympics of 2012. I realised not very many people were writing about it and I saw my frustration with such little literature being available on the history of Black struggle in Britain as being a kind of impetus to being like, I’m going to try and write about what’s happening now then so that people who are reading and trying to learn about things in 20 or 30 or 40 years’ time can have something to read to which isn’t US focused, which isn’t centring the African-American experience.
But I think also the other reason, I guess, I focused on resistance is partly because it’s quite difficult to write about pain and suffering and authoritarianism and violence every single day for as long as it takes you to finish your PhD. So I partly also write about resistance because it’s what gives me energy, it’s what gives me hope, it’s what inspires me, and I think it’s what has enabled me to pursue an almost decade long writing project without losing my will to live.
The other part of your question about the importance of colonial policing, I think this again is really crucial for demystifying Britain’s self-image that it projects, both around the world, as well as internally, as this liberal place in which racism has only become an issue since the so-called Windrush generation, where significant numbers of people from Britain’s Caribbean colonies migrated to the centre of empire in the 1940s and '50s and, instead, identify the fact that for most of Britain’s history, the vast majority of its policing has not taken place on the British mainland, it’s taken place in its colonies. And, therefore, in order to better understand policing today, from Prevent and their so-called counter-extremism policing, to its anti-gangs policing which disproportionately affects Black communities, to its border regimes and forms of deportation, can be far better understood in this colonial context. And we can see it connecting to the British mainland partly through the people who shaped British policing in the 20th century; people like Sir Kenneth Newman and Frank Kitson who started their careers in Britain’s colonies, including Palestine, Malaya, Kenya and elsewhere, and ended up, for Frank Kitson it was Northern Ireland and for Sir Kenneth Newman, it was Northern Ireland and then eventually London. But we can also see it in the tactics and the kind of material tactics that were used, particularly in the 1980s, where we see, via Northern Ireland, forms of counterinsurgency policing making their way to the British mainland and being justified or rationalised in the public eye, and by governments because it’s being used to repress the Black violence of St Pauls in Bristol, of Toxteth in Liverpool, of Moss Side in Manchester, of Tottenham in North London and Brixton in South London. Following these colonial roots of policing, I think, is really useful, for reasons for better understanding both policies and practices as well as ideas.
Luke: Thanks for that. I asked two difficult questions but you dealt with them really well. The first part on why resistance, I don’t know how you feel about or whether you identify as a scholar activist, how do you feel about that term?
Adam: I’m not big on labels but I guess it’s something that I wrote in my PhD maybe because I felt like you’ve got to label things and categorise things in a PhD, but I’m less enthusiastic about writing it in a normal book.
Luke: You don’t say it in the book and, I don’t know, the term feels a bit fraught and maybe a bit icky in some ways, but I think that whatever it’s supposed to refer to, I think you embody and that comes through in the book without it being necessarily your primary emphasis. And I think it’s important to say to those who are interested in buying the book that this kind of emerges out of lots of work, lots of ongoing conversations that you’ve been part of and a commitment, a political and ethical commitment, which I think shows in the book; you do write yourself in in some of the interviews you do and stuff but it’s not the kind of central style. So, props for that. I think it comes through and I think it’s important to say that that’s kind of how this work needs to be done, not for every project but for this particular one.
And coming out of that, I want to think more about the politics, the political intervention, and what you are trying to say about the fact that this is the most diverse Cabinet that we’ve had, that the Tories do representation better than the Labour Party most likely, at the moment at least, that we have a South Asian Home Secretary who is kind of cartoonishly evil, that we had a report recently basically arguing that institutional racism is used too freely and actually it’s not really what’s going on, chaired by Tony Sewell who’s a Black British person, Conservative Party Mayoral candidate being Shaun Bailey. You write about these two latter men a bit in the book and I’ll just give you a chance to vent, or to say what it is that you find frustrating about that and what you think this book is trying to argue against, what aspect of that politics this book kind of seeks to get us out of?
Adam: I think that I found the Conservative Party’s use of identity politics and this kind of liberal representation quite frustrating to begin with, but now it’s got to the point where I almost find it quite satisfying, because I feel like the people who’ve been criticising this kind of superficial representational politics perhaps maybe feel slightly vindicated now, because particularly following MacPherson, the MacPherson Report in 1999, in which the Metropolitan Police were found to be institutionally racist, and there was a huge wave of reforms which demanded greater diversity in public institutions, diversity training and consultancy, as well as, of course, anti-racist polities and practices. This led to very little improvement, of course, for the vast majority of people experiencing racial inequalities. And I think, therefore, maybe we should be unsurprised that the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, who are experiencing, of course, a similar kind of pattern of liberal representation in politics as they arrived during the Presidency of Barack Obama, implicitly reject this kind of reformism, implicitly reject this kind of liberal representation, because we’ve done everything the liberal, anti-racist told us to do. We’ve put a Black person as our head of state and as the Attorney-General in the US, we’ve got our senior politicians here in Britain being people of colour and we’ve got this Black-led commission on racial and ethnic disparities and this is what it’s brought us.
So, I think what it helps us to do actually is extinguish once and for all, I hope, these demands for more diversity, for more commissions and trainings and consultants and unconscious bias workshops, and all of the other things which for the last 20 or 30 years have helped to dominate the anti-racist landscape, I think displacing many of the more radical demands that we might associate with Britain’s Black Power movement in the 1970s and early 1980s. But also, of course, empower people, those which you have mentioned that have rose to prominence not in the more left of centre Labour Party but in arguably the most extreme right Conservative Party this country has ever seen. So for that reason, I think this is one of the reasons why it is that the Black Lives Matter mobilisations, which of course came to a crescendo in 2020, made almost no demands at all for greater diversity. It was almost impossible to see people articulating the kind of demands for accountability and representation which were more common, I think, in the two or three decades that came before and, instead, they were making demands which, I think the key slogans that we saw coming out of these protests were 1) the UK is not innocent, because the UK loves to imagine that racism is an American problem, 2) that racism is steeped in imperialism, which is why we see statues of slave owners, imperial advocates and other icons of empire being targeted by these mobilisations and 3) of course, defunding the police, not demanding for liberal reforms to these institutions of power and of violence and of coercion, but actually for the erosion of their power and greater investment in the community led forms of organising which can create more safety and strength for those most affected by harm and violence within our society.
So I think, in some ways, the logical conclusion of liberal identity politics has come to fruition. People who are racialized as Black or people who are people of colour, those with the most racist and reactionary politics have been put in positions of power by a racist government. I think it being so stark now, it being so obvious now that this kind of politics is an utter failure, in fact, this kind of politics is an utter embarrassment to anti-racism, that means that more radical proposals are being having to be taken more seriously.
Luke: Thank you. Let’s hope that they have overplayed their hand and have made it seem so ridiculous that we, therefore, build more radical and transformational forms of anti-racism. I want to close up with one question which is about the last substantive chapter of your book, and I think we touched on some of it but we have to end with it because again, as you say, it’s hopeful, and I think it’s also where you make some of the key political arguments that you want to make and tie them together. The chapter’s called Futures of Black resistance: disruption, rebellion, abolition. I wanted to pause on the last term, abolition because we’ve had a lot of conversations on the Left and among anti-racists about abolition, about this concept of abolition, a lot of webinars and stuff, especially in response to George Floyd’s murder and the global uprisings, that has kind of become a banner or an umbrella under which we think about these politics that you’ve outlined so well.
So, the broad part of the question, what do you take from abolition? Why did it prove useful for you to tie up this book? And I suppose that also raises the question of transposing from US context of literature and organising on prison and police abolition to the UK context, as well as other challenges of transposing from the US. And then also to say we haven’t talked about the kind of gendered analysis and the feminist arguments that you make, drawing on traditions of Black feminism and of feminist mother- and women-led campaigns against police violence. I just wanted to say that’s a big thread throughout the book, particularly in chapters two and three but one, two and three, I think you have a lot of gender analysis and that also, of course, permeates the politics and the writing of abolition. So, if there’s any way to put the kind of feminist angle in there, then do but otherwise, the broad question is kind of why abolition for you, and does that raise challenges or opportunities when it comes to working with a concept developed, again, over the pond?
Adam: I think there are maybe two or three reasons why I think the politics of abolitionism is so important. I think one of them is historical. Of course, abolitionism isn’t a new concept. It was, of course, popularised by people like Angela Davis and others in the 1970s, and what I think abolitionism is for me, it is how, I think, the 21st century articulation of Black politics is envisioning revolutionary change. I think for the Black Power movements in Britain in the 1970s it was a politics of revolution. I think for their radical equivalents in the 21st century, it is a politics of abolitionism and I think that there are a lot of similarities but also a lot of differences between these two visions. I think the reason people talk about global revolution in the 1970s and '60s was because global revolution seemed like a potential thing that could happen, with the rise of decolonising nations and the Cold War raging, and the potential of a different kind of anti-capitalist world and, of course, we don’t really have that potential in the same kind of way, anywhere near the same kind of way today, unfortunately.
So, therefore, I think identifying abolitionism as how we articulate our revolutionary vision has been what people are latching onto, with this, I guess, concurrent rise and expansion of police and prison power. The prison population in Britain has more than doubled since the 1970s when people were talking about revolution in the British Black Power movements and I think that we should be, therefore, unsurprised that Black politics is responding to this expansion in police, prison and border power, with a language which is focusing on resisting this form of state violence.
And the second reason that it's such an important movement or idea or concept is because abolitionism doesn’t simply reduce resistance to policing to the protests and the rebellions and the legal campaigns that we might more formally or easily associate with resistance to policing, because of course, defunding the police requires investment and building in communities. We can’t defund the police unless we invest in the kinds of social and cultural and community led infrastructure which is necessary to replace society’s reliance on the police and prison system. So, people and organisations and community groups, which might not necessarily have considered themselves to be part of a resistance movement to policing or maybe consider themselves to be on the periphery if they run mental health provision, or youth work, or if they’re a teacher who genuinely cares about their students, all of these different kinds of community led practices are integral and central to an abolitionist movement against policing. It is not something which centres the protests and rebellions and uprisings which have this direct confrontation with the police; it is also this kind of community building which is just as important, and I think that's also one of the reasons why abolitionism is so important. It enables us to use resistance to policing which is consistently the issue which leads to large Black mobilisations of resistance across history, to open up a conversation about what kind of world it is we want to live in and what kind of communities we need to build in order to get closer to it.
And I think maybe the third reason it’s so crucial is because it’s also a global vision. The movement of abolitionism cannot be confined to states’ borders, not only because abolitionism is against borders but, crucially, it is fundamentally against the kind of militarism and imperialism which is connected to policing, and it understands militarism and policing to be a continuum rather than two separate entities. And while peace campaigners very often will argue that if there are problems in a part of the world that our governments are saying need to be solved with invasions and interventions and militarism, in fact, what would be a far better and more productive solution to the problems that may exist in other parts of the world would be investment in social infrastructure and community led infrastructure and education and health, and all of those types of things which people need to live a meaningful existence, and those very same arguments against imperialism and modern forms of militarism can be applied to arguments against policing today. What we need to do in order to address harm and violence within the most oppressed communities in our society that are all around us is not more violence from the state but investment, social and community led investments. So I think bringing that historical and that international, as well as those community potentialities, I think is what makes abolitionism such as compelling idea for so many activists, but also such a politically urgent idea for both the people writing as well as those involved in the work on the ground.
Luke: Thanks so much, Adam, this has been great. Thanks for bringing the hopeful analysis in your book to life in this conversation, I feel energised by thinking about all of this and by hearing you articulate and theorise some of the energy that we’ve seen on the streets for the last 12 months and, of course, longer. So we will leave it there but I would encourage everyone to buy the book, it’s brilliant and congratulations again on the achievement, we’re still in the month of the book’s publication so you should be celebrating. I know you have a book launch event tonight and this podcast will be coming out a bit later but congratulations and I hope you’re managing to enjoy being a published author in this way, it’s an amazing book.
Adam: Thank you so much, Luke. I really enjoyed the conversation and yes, I count this as part of those celebrations.
Luke: Take care, bye everyone.