On January 23, 2023, Jaahnavi Kandula's life was cut short by a very fast police car. She was a student from Bangalore, India. She was 23. And had she safely made it across that South Lake Union street, she would certainly have obtained her goal—a Master of Science in Information Systems from Northeastern University, which has a Seattle campus.

Earlier this week, Seattle and much of the world heard SPD Officer Daniel Auderer mocking and belittling Kandula on the night of her death.

Officer Auderer peddled some dumb explanation for his unmistakably heartless comments on Jason Rantz's far-right radio show. Let's not give that nonsense any attention. We shall not disrespect the dead in this post. 

What we need to consider instead is this: How did Officer Auderer come to see himself as very high above the rest of society? Something of the kind (this super-inflated sense of importance) is not found among other public servants: firefighters, school teachers, those who deliver the mail. But these services are in the main more important than those provided by the police. And I mean that. A good teacher is far more valuable to an "at-risk youth" than the best cop ever. The social value of a cop is, in the most important sense possible, the democratic sense, very low.

Furthermore, the training to become a police officer is nowhere as impressive (socially and intellectually) as the education Kandula was receiving in data systems. Let's imagine it in this way: 1) Kandula informs her relatives in India that she is in the US to study policing; 2) Kandula informs her relatives in India that she is in the US to study data science. Which do you think will really impress the relatives? The answer is so obvious. Anyone anywhere can become "a bloody copper." There is nothing really special about this line of work. But Officer Auderer is the one who sees "limited value" in Kandula. How is this even possible?         

Officer Auderer's video went viral at the same time as the video of Tim Gurner (the Australian CEO who complained about “millennial avocado toast” a few years back) hating on workers. Gurner told an audience at some recent event that the workers of today are just too uppity and need to be put back in their proper place. He blamed the pandemic for this sorry state of affairs. It gave the hoi polloi too much power. The solution? High unemployment.

This, "the sack," to use words in Michał Kalecki's famous essay "Political Aspects of Full Employment," would make things right again. (By the way, it's not controversial to hold Gurner's view on these matters; it's precisely this feeling that's driving interest rates up and up—"Fed’s Powell warns of more pain ahead.") Nevertheless, there is nothing surprising about Gurner's position on those below him. He is super-rich. He doesn't need a union. Cops, however, do because they are as measly as the rest who need wages to make ends meet and unions to make more than ends just meeting. Gurner's attitude is not justifiable, but it does make sense. He is the natural enemy of the people. He has capital. We only have labor to sell. We can get why he would describe Kandula as being of "limited value." Money (its social power) is all that makes sense to this kind of person. 

But how did Officer Daniel Auderer come to feel that he is in the same social position as a super-rich CEO? Why does this ordinary person see ordinary people as far beneath him? How did this come about? "[J]ust write a check - $11,000..."? But surely that kind of money means something to Auderer (it, of course, means nothing to a Gurner).

My point: We can agree that the monetary mechanism that organizes our class system cannot be really applied to Auderer in a sensible way. Officer Auderer is not financially out of the bucket that wage earners are in. He is right here with us. But apparently, he can't see this fact. The illusion that he is above it all possesses his mind. What we must find in the unfortunate episode is an answer for Auderer's form of madness. 

One of the most curious and telling scenes in the 1982 movie Blade Runner concerns the android (who thinks he is not an android) getting the lowdown about his society from the captain of LAPD's Blade Runner Unit, Harry Bryant. If he is not one of them (those in power), then he is one of them (the "little people"). Here we have the point of the image and the real meeting on the surface of the mirror. The fictional Officer Bryant meets Officer Auderer. For the latter, Kandula is not one of us; she is one of Bryant's little people.

The fictional and real are of one mind because the actual law enforcement community sees itself as having a much greater social worth than it has in reality, in real and measurable terms. This is the deeper meaning of the defund the police movement. We want not only a smaller police force but one whose self-image is not bloated to the comically heroic proportions of a superhero. If police officers are to improve their usefulness in society, they must become as down-to-earth as the persons delivering our mail or repairing our electric poles after a storm.