The Police State: War at Home
BY BILL DUNNE
Class war rumbles across the social, political, and economic landscapes. The working class is under unprecedented attack as wages and benefits and services and security are cut, cut, cut in the name of competitiveness and despite a purportedly booming economy. The middle class is being squeezed into a thin buffer between the privations of the proletariat and the opulent excesses of the ruling class. And that tiny ruling class is using the daughters and sons of this majority it victimizes as cannon fodder in imperialist wars of aggression to extend its power to exploit and oppress. Such impoverishment and abuse is a recipe for discontent and the attendant unrest. Hence, along with redistributing wealth and power upwards, the ruling class is reconfiguring the land of the free into a state of the police where agencies of repression hold sway.
The growth and expansion of the various elements of the police state cover a lot of ground. Examples of its broad growth are legion: the U.S. assumption of the role of world police through imperialist wars, corporate imperialism that impoverishes multitudes, and neo-imperialist support of repressive and genocidal regimes; enforcement of corporate fascism’s agenda of a weak, divided, poor and dependent working class through reductions of social services such as health care, education, housing assistance, and more; the expansion of police powers with tactics like the USA “patriot” act and fear mongering; the proliferation of police and prisons in an era of declining crime under the rubric of “homeland” security; the increased use of police power to intimidate and control dissent with infiltration of above-ground organizations, “sneak and peek” warrantless searches, and the caging of protesters with mobile barriers; police agencies fomenting division and distrust by pursuing, arresting and vilifying “foreigners” and other minorities as potential “terrorists” or sympathizers. There are many more equally obvious and more subtle examples of the apparatus of repression’s tentacles working their way into the fabric of society.
Examples of more specific atrocities are also widespread. Individually and as types they illustrate the rise and roughshod ride of the police state. Police have rounded up possibly thousands –we still don’t know how many– of people for no more than being or “looking” middle eastern. There is Guantanamo. The apparatus of repression has mounted many show prosecutions of purported “terrorism” charges, only to have them fall apart or result in only minor convictions for petty offences like being intimidated enough to lie to the FBI–or for nothing, as in false admissions of minor guilt out of fear of an obscene sentence. Police shootings of civilians are a regular feature in the media– always justified, of course, never systemic or evidence of the metastacizing license given to the agencies of repression. Prisoners are abused and killed with virtual impunity. Torture is being legitimized from the highest levels of the “justice” department, and the courts are being packed with right-wing judges likely to defer to executive power and support that trend. “Extraordinary rendition” to torture friendly and accommodating regimes is developing its own airline. The murder and torture of Iraqi and Afghani prisoners by military agents of imperialism is routinely legitimized and/or dismissed as no big deal. Many of those agents will bring that training and attitude to employment in the domestic apparatus of repression, whose enemy is us. And every control unit prison—indeed, every new prison in an era of downsizing schools and hospitals—is an atrocity. Et cetera. Et cetera. Ad nauseam. Each such situation or incident is an indictment in itself; together, they are additional indictments.
Examples that this expansion of police powers into an ever more draconian police state is not accidental but deliberate preparation by the ruling class for its intended new world order can also be discerned through the smoke and mirrors. They, too, warrant consideration. Why does the ruling class now feel it needs yet more control—and control by force rather than by consent borne of a human social contract?
Economic competition among the capitalist elites is sharpening. Irresistably large pools of capital are no longer concentrated solely in the western imperial capital cities. In order to compete—meaning maintain bloated profits for the few—the ruling class must drive down the cost of labor. And that is not only in direct pay and benefits; it also includes the costs of social services paid for by taxes and of regulations like those protecting the environment, consumers, health, and safety.
Then there is the near-future prospect of inter-imperialist oil and resource wars. The middle east is surrounded by oil-thirsty nascent superpowers: the European Union, China, and India. The U.S. is half a world away, albeit militarily superior—at least for now. The ruling classes in all the imperialist and proto-imperialist areas need to prepare their populations for the privations of war, convince their proletariats that distant class brethren and sistren are the enemy, and insure themselves an iron fist of domestic control.
Toward that end, these ruling classes are also fomenting jingoism, using the police state apparatus to create false national identities. That will make it okay to convert turf boundaries into prison walls—but only for poor and working people, not for capitalists and their swag. It also makes it okay to wage war on people who are only so “other” as to be from somewhere else. Divide and rule.
Books could be—and should be—written analysing these and other reasons the police state is lately rampant, the atrocities it is inflicting on we, the people, and the implications thereof. There is not always a clearly visible jackbooted thug. There are a lot of little (and big!) Eichmanns and their masters who prefer to remain behind the scenes and leave the jackboots and trampling to henchpeople. And there are countless consequences of the conversion to cop country besides the shootings, imprisonments, beatings, warrantless searches, arbitrary stops, and other jackbootery. Rising poverty, increasing homelessness, decreasing education, diminishing health care, growing insecurity each covers a host of ills directly traceable to the police state or the reasons for its present rapid infestation of the human landscape.
4strugglemag aims to pull the covers concealing at least some of these consequences that lie beneath the shiny badges and snazzy uniforms of the ruling class’s police armies of occupation.
Bill Dunne (10916-086)
USP Big Sandy
P.O. Box 2068
[address updated April 2010]