“The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.”
― Karl Marx (Karl Marx Quotes)
North America is referred to as a “developed” nation compared to nations such as South Africa, Afghanistan and Russia (UN, 2011). However, I feel like this is something that we as Canadians have, directly or indirectly, taken advantage of. I believe we have an attitude that we are invulnerable to any type of large scale political repression. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened for close to 30 years after the 50’s. During this time, the RCMP and the Canadian government put together a list labeled “PROFUNC,” which stood for, “Predominant Functionaries of the Communist party.” This list was to be used to detain all suspected communists supporters and ‘sympathizers,’ including their families, and hold them in any case of a ‘perceived’ national emergency. This list included approximately 16,000 supporters and 50,000 sympathizers***. The RCMP had conducted surveillance of these individuals and is alleged to have even been involved in forms of intimidation to the individuals and their families. To learn more on this subject click here.
This behaviour by the authorities is very obviously deviant as the allegations that justified the disregard for these people’s rights were solely based off of their ‘legal’ opposition to the current government. It is, however, difficult to focus on an individual form of police deviance to really understand it. A form of deviance that best describes this case is the “Ideological combatants” (Punch, 2009). The premise behind this form is that the political influence behind the police is the main driving force behind police actions. The fact that this initiative was authorized by the federal government supports the theory that it was an effort to take extreme measures to prevent a real democratic revolution. The responsibility of the deviance falls on not only the frontline officers, but of the organization and government structure as a whole. Obviously, the orders filter down from the top and end up at the constables who carried out the “beat work.” Just because the officers were ordered to conduct themselves in this way, doesn’t mean it was legally or morally justified. Take the “Nuremberg defense” used by Nazi soldiers after the holocaust, for example. Just because they were “taking orders,” doesn’t necessarily mean they are free from any type of responsibility (Eichmann). Police officers are held at a high standard of ethics regarding the discretion used and when it comes to violating the rights of individuals, politics has no place.
The treatment of Capitalist opposition at the hands of the RCMP from the 1950’s to the 1980’s was a dark time in Canadian policing history. To understand this form of deviance, one must not follow blindly with the ideologies of the ruling class. The individuals affected by the PROFUNC initiative have the absolute right to freedom of speech and the right to think independently. We as Canadians must ensure that we do not take for granted the democratic rights available to us and must make sure to keep all levels of law enforcement and government accountable; as they are ultimately at the mercy of the public, not the other way around.
Eichmann, A. (n.d.). The Trial of Adolf Eichmann. Retrieved 2013, from Remember.org: http://www.remember.org/eichmann/ownwords.htm
Karl Marx Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved 2013, from Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/54019-the-oppressed-are-allowed-once-every-few-years-to-decide
Punch, M. (2009). Police Corruption: Deviance, Accountability and Reform in Policing. London; New York: Routledge.
UN. (2011). Human Development Report. New York: UNDP.