Monday, 13 December 2010

A Monopoly Of Violence

In a statement, to the House of Commons, this afternoon, on last week's demonstrations against Higher Education Cuts and rises in Tuition Fees, Home Secretary, Theresa May, talked about Britain having a concept of policing based on consent. Of course, that is the concept that the State has always wanted to present of the role of the police. Even today it wants to present a view of policing similar to that of the 1950's series – written by ex-Trotskyist Lord Ted Willis – Dixon Of Dock Green. But, of course its a nonsense.

Prior to the establishment of the Police the ruling class enforced their rule in a more overt class form through the use of the Dragoons. But, even when the Police were established it was clear that their main function was to protect Capitalist property as a prime function. Anyone who has seen the way the Police are mobilised in that same defence of Capitalist property and Capitalist interests during a strike, can see that prime function remains. May spoke about those on the demonstration who turned up with fireworks, snooker balls etc. being obviously prepared for violence. Undoubtedly true, but this is the usual hypocrisy from the ruling class. What they are really objecting to is that the Monopoly of violence claimed by their State was being challenged. Who was it who came to the demonstration more prepared for violence, those who were armed with a few firecrackers and largely ineffective missiles, or those who came tooled up with effective riot shields to protect them from those missiles, with large amounts of expensive protective gear, with large numbers of riot vans used to barricade roads, and with large horses and baton sticks used to launch cavalry charges against mostly defenceless young people? Is it any wonder that there were far more casualties on the side of the demonstrators than on the side of the police? Is it any wonder that one of those required an emergency brain operation having been clubbed by one of these police? Is there not a big discrepancy between the 43 demonstrators hospitalised, and the number of people arrested, which comes to only half that number?

Anyone who experienced the way the police were tooled up at the Battle of Orgreave, for example, would be daft not to turn up ready to defend themselves.

What is interesting is that according to this post at TCF, even Daily Mail readers are no longer buying the Government line, they continued to support the students by 2 to 1. Its reported that some of the Royal Protection police were armed and only a short time away from opening fire on demonstrators. That would have really shown the hypocrisy of the Tories response, because it would have shown the massive discrepancy between the violence mobilised, and at the disposal of the State compared with that of demonstrators. Some police commentators have said that the police should be commended for their restraint in not doing so, saying that in other countries the police would have opened fire. But, on what basis is it justified to open fire on demonstrators just because they are being aggressive? Charles and Camilla were in a purposefully designed limousine, fitted out at great expense to use the taxpayer with bullet proof glass and other security features. If they choose not to have the window up that is there decision. Its clear that they were not in a life threatening situation, and so there was no justification for police opening fire on anyone. As with many other aspects of reporting it has been hyped up.

But, the FT had another interesting slant on events. It reported in its Weekend issue,

“Police Chiefs have warned repeatedly that the country could see large scale civil disturbances because of the Government austerity measures. Until now, ministers have accused them of scare-mongering as they lobby against budget cuts.

Sir Paul said his force had been 'very, very stretched' by Thursday's events and that spending cuts would have an impact on policing mass protests. 'We are already facing a constrained financial position,' he said.”

In fact, some protesters, quite rightly had attempted to engage individual officers on that very issue during the demonstration. The Head of ACPO has been at pains to make similar comments about the effects of the Cuts. And a few weeks ago after the first demonstration The Guardian reported,

“What must also worry the coalition is the response of police who themselves face pay freezes, being forced into early retirement and job cuts. There is a moment, caught on YouTube, when a trio of police officers is seen striding almost casually away from the entrance to Millbank. Behind them, a crowd of students bawls at the retreating officers. One of them has lost his helmet in the melee. The youngsters can barely believe their luck.”

Peter Smyth, Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, is quoted as saying,

"If the British are not going to protest now, they are never going to do it. You don't have to be an analyst to work out a lot of unions are going to come to the fore, perhaps non-union members are going to get agitated. I think we are in for a lot of marches and I'm sure most of them start with the best of intentions, but some of them will get hijacked. Are we in for more than we saw last Wednesday? It's inevitable."

The Guardian points out that he has also said that cuts could leave up to 40,000 officers out of a job and result in rising crime figures.

See: Guardian.

Sections of the State have been very good at this over the years, allowing just enough of a glimpse of the consequences of actions they oppose to scare Governments off from proceeding. That shouldn't cause us to have any faith in those sections of the State, who engage in such activity for their own narrow reasons, not for ours. On the contrary, their reasons are usually the exact opposite to ours, but we should be aware that these divisions exist, and try to utilise them where we can.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lord Willis was not a Trotskyist; he was a Stalinist entrist in the Labour League of Youth, and he called for their expulsion from the organisation.

Dr Paul