The authors of this blog have been continually pointing to the increased militarization of the US state. At the time of the Occupy movement the cities were occupied not only by youthful protesters but by cops in full body armor. We have asked our readers to think a bit more about this. Where did these full body armored cops come from? They did not appear out of thin air. A decision had to made to equip these cops in this way. This decision is rooted in the overall economic, political and military crisis in which US capitalism presently finds itself.
US capitalism, or to be more precise, US imperialism has military bases in close to 200 locations round the globe. It is increasingly challenged by rivals such as China. It is bogged down in wars and proxy wars in Central Asia and elsewhere. It needs to maintain and even increase its huge military arsenal to meet these challenges. This costs money.
But the problem is this. US capitalism is increasingly sinking into economic crisis and debt. It can no longer afford guns and butter. So it has made a decision. It is going to cut the butter. That is it is going to cut the living standards of its own working class at home in order to try and maintain its military power and reach abroad. Cheyney has stated this explicitly. He bluntly says that all spending such as on food stamps, social security, health care must be cut and the money saved shifted to the military. This is what is going on. This is the reason for the increased militarization of the US state.
As US capitalism moves to carry cut the butter it knows that at some stage its own working class will rise to its feet and fight. That is why the cops are being equipped with full body armor. But it is not only full body armor. Under a federal program called 1033, the government has authorized the distribution of $4.3 billion in surplus military materials to local police departments. This equipment includes pistols, automatic rifles, stun grenades, silencers, armored drones and armored vehicles used in Iraq and Afghanistan. These vehicles are known as MRAPs. (for Mine-Resistant Armored Protected) Police departments that want one of these only have to fill out a one-page form.
According to a report from the ACLU it is not only a question of the physical arming of the state machine. This report explains: “The militarization of American policing is evident in the training that police officers receive, which encourages them to adopt a ‘warrior’ mentality and think of the people they are supposed to serve as enemies…” It is not only body armor but it is also brain washing that is going on. This is what we see in the increased aggression of the cops and their increased killing and shooting of people especially young African American men.
Take a look at Ferguson. Between 2010 and 2013, St. Louis County law enforcement agencies received twelve 5.56 mm rifles and six .45 caliber pistols from the Department of Defense. Most recently, Ferguson received two military vehicles, a trailer and a generator under the program. Hardly a person in the country could have missed seeing the sniper on the top of the MRAP in Ferguson. And in recent years, the St. Louis County Police Department and the St. Louis Police Department — along with local, state and federal agencies — have received counterterrorism training by the Israeli National Police and Israeli Defense Force, which have years of experience occupying Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and suppressing their rights. This is incredible. The forces that are slaughtering in Gaza are training the cops that murdered the young African American man in Ferguson.
The US working class must look at what is going on. It must break from this illusion that things will go on as before and it will be able to get by. US capitalism has been preparing for some time now to put its own working class on rations. At the moment the most vicious of the repression of the US state is aimed at the minority populations and especially the youth of these populations. But US capitalism cannot cut enough butter from these sections of society. Very soon the increased repression, the brutal aggression, the drones and the MRAPs will be headed for the suburbs.