Friday, July 15, 2016

Opposing the repressive US State. Or Guns and Butter.

US Cops In Body Armor. Prepared to take on the US working Class. 
Sean O’Torain.

In the recent struggle for the nomination to be the Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party the word “revolution” was thrown around by the Sanders campaign. This should be looked at.

History shows that revolutions, social upheavals where one class overthrows another and a new and different society is established, do not come about by voting. They come about by mass movements of struggle. A revolution in the US would be where the minority ruling capitalist class, sometimes referred to as the 1%, was removed from power and their capitalist system, which is based on the anarchy of private ownership and profit, was replaced with a society based on collective ownership, where decisions would be taken democratically by the majority, that is, the working class. And on this basis a democratic plan of production and distribution would be drawn up.

Any step in this direction would meet ferocious opposition from the capitalist class. This opposition would take many forms. They would continue with their struggle to dominate the consciousness of the working class through their vast propaganda machine and to convince the working class that there is no alternative to capitalism, that the working class cannot act independently and build a new society. However this is not the only way the ruling capitalist class would defend their ownership and control. We can see this by recent events such as the police murders.

There are times when sections of the working class and youth and minorities can no longer bear the yoke that capitalism puts on their neck. At such times there are uprisings and attempts by these forces to take things into their own hands. It is in these times that the capitalist class moves on from their propaganda struggle to dominate the consciousness of the working class, youth and minorities and instead moves on to use the fist. We are increasingly seeing this in the US at the present time.

US capitalism, or US imperialism, that is the dominant corporations that run the country, has hundreds of military bases around the world. Some estimates put the number at 800. It has its Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air force and Coast Guard. US imperialism accounts for 39% of the world’s military spending yet it only has 5% of the world’s population. This is a huge drain on the finances of the US state. Yet it needs these resources and spending to defend its wealth and resources and influence abroad. This is where the major contradiction comes in at this time. US imperialism needs to maintain these huge military resources, in fact it needs to increase these as it is more and more challenged by China and other powers. However the problem is that increasingly, US imperialism cannot afford to maintain, never mind increase, these huge military forces.

When British imperialism was the dominant world power it reached a similar position where it could no longer afford its military forces, could no longer afford the necessary fist to maintain its empire. This led to the expression that British imperialism could no longer afford guns and butter; could no longer keep its own working class at home at the living standards to which it was accustomed and at the same time maintain its military power internationally. Something had to give. The butter had to be reduced. The working class had to have its living standards cut. 

This is the situation in the US at present. US imperialism can no longer afford guns and butter. It cannot afford the huge military expenditure it needs to maintain its number one position in the world and allow its working class at home to continue with the same living standards. The butter has to be cut. This is the basis of the attacks on the working class for the past decades. The butter is being cut.

How is this related to what we see in the streets of the US at present, the increased militarization of the state apparatus, the cops having body armor and military vehicles, the increased killings of African American and Latino youth?

The US ruling class is aware that US workers will resist being driven to third world status. They have not forgotten the Battle in Seattle in 1999 where workers and youth shut down the WTO meeting. The US ruling class know that US workers will fight back.  And while the 12 million or so workers organized in unions have yet to enter the fray in major way, being yet unable, or unwilling to break through the obstacle of their own class collaborationist leadership, the US is experiencing protests and resistance to austerity on a continuous basis. 

We have had the Occupy Movement and the various isolated direct action struggles against everything from environmental disasters (fracking) pollution (Flint), to education, health care, housing and other social issues. The rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the general growing resistance to police violence and a racist and corrupt justice system won’t go away. The revolutionary potential of the black working class is a worrisome issue for the folks in Washington.

So US imperialism has been and is strengthening its state apparatus at home in response to these struggles in the streets and communities. It knows it must take on its own working class and cut the butter. It is driven to do so by the laws of the market and the class balance of forces at home, and the balance of forces between it and its rivals overseas.  This is why we see the increased militarization of the police, the body armor, the military vehicles and ahead we will see what drones are really for. 

These two aspects of US capitalism’s strategy, a beefing up of state security and racism and racist oppression with the killings of young African American and Latino youth go hand in hand. The former to strengthen the state to be able to physically beat the working class as a whole off the streets and to accept lower living standards, the latter to focus on and in particular beat down the most oppressed sections of the working class, the African American and Latino minorities, and as part of this to increase division amongst the working class to try and divide and weaken the working class to make it easier to defeat the working class as a whole. The fist and divide and rule.

Understanding that this is what is going on is crucial to defeating the offensive of the US capitalist class against the working class. Part of this understanding is the need to unite the working class to take on this offensive as a united class. The other aspect that is necessary if this assault on the working class is to be defeated is to understand the role of the state and how this force can be dealt with.

There are, depending how you count them, between 80,000 to 120,00 cops in the US. This is a huge force. US capitalism will use this against the working class. If there is to be a successful revolution in the US, and global capitalism cannot be defeated without one, this issue has to be dealt with. The irresponsibility of those political leaders such as Sanders in talking about revolution without looking at this reality is to be condemned. To carry through a revolution in the US and end capitalism will mean confronting the state apparatus.  Calling its members names will not work. It will have to be divided, neutralized and at least sections of it won over to the side of the working class and the working class revolution. 

There are sections of the state apparatus that will be impossible to break from the capitalist state. This applies to some of the most racist and indoctrinated elements. However this does not apply to all. There are people in the state, cops etc., who took their positions as a job and are not totally brutalized. There are also African American organizations within the cops themselves who organize against racist discrimination. The cops too are subject to cuts in living standards and to the crisis of capitalism which makes their economic conditions and the economic conditions of their families difficult. And of course there is the climate change and that they and all humanity will be wiped out by climate change, nuclear war, pollution etc., unless capitalism is ended.

As well as organizing against the racism, sexism and brutality of the state apparatus and the cops, a genuine mass working class movement can appeal to the cops to see that their future also is one of catastrophe if capitalism lasts. Capitalism will destroy life on earth.

As such an appeal is made, the issue of cops organizing will come up and does come up. The cops union the FOP plays a reactionary and racist role. It supports the cops who murder people daily especially young African American and Latino youth. This has to be discussed. It is my position that I do not support the existence of the FOP. That it should not be recognized and especially not recognized by the trade union movement. Yes the cops and the members of the state apparatus can have a union but with certain conditions. Their union or unions have to commit themselves in their constitutions to never break strikes. They have to commit themselves to outside investigation, that is investigations by local community based bodies, of allegations of police brutality, racism and sexism, of how they relate to mass protests and movements, and any members who do not cooperate could not stay in their jobs.

Of course US capitalism will not sit back and allow their armed bodies of men and women who defend their private property and their profit based capitalist system to be run on this basis. However the forces that are heroically fighting the brutality and racism and sexism of capitalism’s state apparatus through mass direct action need more than just calling cops names and need more than just marching and lying down in the streets to try and stop the repression.

One so-called socialist was heard saying that the shooting of the cops in Dallas was a “revolutionary act”. This is wrong; it was a counterrevolutionary act.  It was the actions of a desperate man, a man with no hope for the future. The Dallas shooting shifted the mood of sympathy and support that has been growing against the murder of black people by the police to the police themselves. It has helped strengthen the hold the capitalist class has over the police. It strengthened the struggle of the capitalists to dominate the consciousness of the working class. It has strengthened the forces that run the country and are responsible for all the problems in the first place, and at the same time it  weakened the mass movements against police brutality.

The forces that are fighting state repression and brutality need to see that their efforts will only be victorious through building a mass movement and that this mass movement needs ideas and proposals which can get an echo in the heads of the men and women who make up the state apparatus and that can make them think about what they are doing. In this way, splits can be opened up within the state apparatus making victory more likely and during moments of great struggle make possible the winning over of sections of the state apparatus and also of the scientists and technicians in the nuclear silos and military centers of US imperialism.  

This is the way forward.

1 comment:

G de Leon said...

agree that desperate one person assaults on the slave patrols are not revolutionary political acts. nor will they result in advancing the various movements against the ongoing assault on African Americans and our fellow citizens in general. in the main, they are not political and as such are not "counter revolutionary". let's not label these acts in the manner meant to please the mainstream media or the one percenters. until such time as the slave patrols are abolished and a community based model of safety & crime prevention is in place, we understand and empathize with the frustration & desperation represented by these individual's reactions. i've heard some decent proposals that could lead to a community based model of safety & crime prevention: shut down the for profit prison industry. eliminate laws against "victimless" crimes. the immediate and unconditional recall/ termination of any public officer including slave patroller that assaults a citizen. the expulsion of slave patrol members from the union movement though the door should be open for the return of those who obtain "rightful" employment.