First of all, I’m not going to say much about the cry to “defund the police” because I’m not sure what it means. If by “defunding” they mean entirely removing its budget, that’s identical to disbanding; if not, it means they’re talking about what they did in LA, which is reduce it’s budget by a tiny fraction, probably causing them to drop their “community outreach” programs that never did anything anyway.
What struck me about the other demand, to disband the police, is its contradictory nature.
When it is put forward by capitalist politicians, it means, “We are going to totally remove the police department and replace it with one that is identical except for cosmetic changes and we hope this will make you people shut up and quit trying to actively change things.”
But when it is put forward by masses of outraged protesters, it has a revolutionary content. They are not thinking cosmetic change, they are talking—no matter to what degree they consciously realize it—about striking at the violent coercion that permits the existence of class society, particularly capitalism.
The danger, then, is obvious: that the desires of millions of protesters will be harmlessly funneled into a dead end producing apathy and hopelessness. But simultaneously, the opportunity for true revolutionary change—worldwide, as are the protests—has never been greater.