From the Left: Do not accept the police state
Published: Friday, September 27, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 27, 2013 02:09
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
Sinclair Lewis spoke these words in 1935, but they seem to have a disturbing validity today, especially in the post-9/11 era where we seem so ready to give up all of our freedoms to the ever-growing police state. It does not matter if the politicians use sensationalist rhetoric and emotion into scaring you to give up your freedoms in the name of “national security;” there is nothing as sacred as freedom, in the most radical and literal sense of the word. Do not let it be taken from you, whether the politician in question is a big-government, war-loving Republican or a politically correct Democrat.
The police state has been growing, little by little, since World War II. By its close in 1945, many of the major world powers were in shambles. Europe was decimated and Japan was reeling from two atomic bombs. This meant that the United States had little international competition; it could safely assert its political and economic supremacy over countries that were shattered by Nazi atrocities. Since that historical moment - that period of absolute, undisputed world dominance - our government has systematically turned their unconstitutional wartime practices into everyday law.
Examples are abound. The U.S. Patriot Act expanded phone wire-tapping and made it easier for the state to seize and search your bank records. The Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvements Act, known by some as the “Anti-Occupy Act,” allows federal authorities to declare certain areas as protest-free zones, erasing the right of assembly from the books. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which allocated Defense Department spending last year, happened to contain a clause that would legally allow the indefinite detention of an American citizen in the name of “counter-terrorism.”
We don’t have to accept the police state. We don’t have to accept having police everywhere that we go, having them zooming back and forth on their segways around our campuses, airports and cities. We don’t have to live in a world where the NSA reads our emails and the FBI wiretaps our phones. Imagine what this country would look like if “war on terror” legislation was repealed, the NSA was abolished, and the FBI prosecuted the corporate aristocrats (oh, excuse me, “job creators”) who crashed the world economy. And then imagine what America would look like if we spent all of our imperial war spending on education, healthcare and anti-poverty programs.
Question the role of police: What is the sociologic, political and economic space that they occupy? Do they serve a universal, cosmic justice? Or do they, more often than not, serve as the foot soldiers of the state, breaking up workers’ strikes and constitutional protests (Occupy Wall Street, anyone?) in the name of totalitarian property laws? Is their political function to protect ‘human rights,’ or to enforce social conformity and perpetuate the economic supremacy of the bourgeois class?
The police serve the political function of being an organized instrument of state repression, an enforcer for the capitalist class. They are the facilitators of an economic dictatorship and the perpetuators of the State. We Marxists identify the state as being the hegemonic organ to facilitate class rule, which arises out of irreconcilable class conflict. The economic conflict between the “have” elites and the “have-not” workers creates political and sociologic friction; if left to build, that friction might grow enough to burst into violent revolution. But the state - the courts, police, army, culture and everything else that the bourgeoisie uses to keep us wage-slaves in line - can be seized democratically, through the ballot box, by a true working-class labor party and turned around to serve the economic interest of workers.
The police are the last resort of the state to enforce political conformity - any dictator would prefer to rule through non-violent means, but they are not above using force if the situation demands it. Normally, the revolutionary friction gradually dissipates - piecemeal, compromise “reforms” sate the workers’ desire for change; the “media” manufactures a particular political atmosphere; and a patriarchal, nationalist culture ostracizes dissenters more effectively than any Orwellian thought-police. But if capitalism fails to peacefully purge any potential revolutionary zeal, then it calls in its “justice” system to violently legitimize its dominion and restore order.
Do not ask for “change” or “reforms.” Instead, demand revolution. Demand a radical, fundamental change in all social and economic relationships. Demand a whole new economy that is geared in the direct material interests of the working class: single-payer healthcare, public higher education, cooperative business enterprises, gender-sexual liberation, and a political system that truly is run by and for the people through federations of decentralized, democratic workers’ councils. Do not fall for the bourgeois nonsense of social-contract theory, liberal democracy, and conservative morality - after all, when did we sign the social contract? When did we agree to be born, live and grow inside this system? When did we explicitly consent, and when did we agree that we wanted to sacrifice unnumbered natural freedoms in order to build a collectivist state? When did we agree that hetero-normativity, cis-gender supremacism, racism, and nationalism were the cultural ethos that we wanted to live by?