Statement on the recent strikes in the Military Police in Brazil

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Statement on the recent strikes in the Military Police in Brazil
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The discussion that follows was prompted by the article: Statement on the recent strikes in the Military Police in Brazil. The discussion was initiated by Fred.
Below is the discussion so far. Feel free to add your own comments!

The class nature of the

The class nature of the police - as being for the bourgeoisie and against the proletariat - has always been one I have accepted with reluctance. (A reader may be forgiven for uncontrollable mirth here, but it's the case.) As this statement explains, the police tend to be recruited from the poorer elements of society, and they are wage earners. But as the statement goes on, we must see beyond this economic fact to the ultimately political role they play for the bourgeoisie. They are a repressive force capable of serious violence against the working class - we've even seen this in peaceful democratic England! (imagine the surprise of someone like me lol) - and, particularly in the Brazilian case, they are a class of murderers. Do I hear you say "what's new?" In Brazil they also have leftist support. Their final condemnation.

So what about the army? You can read this for yourself. But included here is Trotsky's exquisite description of a couple of workers approaching potentially marauding Cossacks with a plea for help. Caps in hand: "Brother Cossacks" they start, "you can see how the Pharaohs treat us, please help." Trotsky comments on the psychological insight of the cap in hand; the improvisational technique of workers seeking solidarity, and thinking on their feet. (Oh how one longs to see and experience things like this for one self, as the working class finds its confidence to challenge the ruling class not just for economic sustenance but politically as well. )

And this statement from Brazil comments on that too. " The proletariat is a social class whose interests are antagonistic to those of the class of capitalists, and its struggles for demands are a link in the chain of struggles for its emancipation, which will lead it to a confrontation with the bourgeoisie and its state."

So from simple economic demands for more wages - the struggle for daily survival as this continually intensifies under austerity - we are drawn to a political consciouness that only the destruction of the system of wage labor itself will provide our emancipation.

I am not sure what to think

I am not sure what to think about some of the assertions put forward here. The article talks about the "interests of the police," as if the hierarchy and the rank and file all had the same interests. I am not sure this is the case. Moreover, I struggle to see a distinction between those who "choose" to join the police and "agree" to defend law and order and those who "choose" to join the military and defend imperialism. Is it that in the past, the military was largely comprised of unwilling conscripts? This is not the case today in the US, where it is a totally volunteer force--although, it is true that the bulk of the ground troops are comprised of those subject to something like an "economic draft."

It seems unlikely that any revolution could ever be successful without winning over significant elements that currently find employment within the repressive apparatus--especially since it has swelled in size since 9/11. This might not be easy, but to totally dismiss the rank and file as people who have betrayed the proletariat seems moralistic to me. Of course, it is also important not have illusions that these elements are natural allies either. Certainly, the introduction is right to point out the illusions the Occupy Movement has about the police: that since they are subject to the same politics of austerity, they can be rationalized with in the heat of the moment to not crack skulls.

I remember John Reed putting forward a proposal for a report on the class struggle in the US to the Comintern that would have included a section on the Boston police strike of 1919. I suppose it would be good to go back and see what revolutionaries of the time thought of that movement.


police strike

All from (a failing) memory.

There was a strike by police in the UK around 1918 I think, in the UK centring on the major towns and cities, highest in working class conurbations. After the strike was over the British bourgeoisie had a complete clear out of anyone remotely radical and introduced new conditions, rules and regulations that effectively stamped the police force as a force for the state, as an anti-working class institution. I should imagine that every major capitalist country took their lead from the intelligent action of the ruling class in the UK, ie, to insulate the police against the working class and to have them available as force against the working class - in a way that the army could not be. This was demonstrated during the miners' strike in Britain where the police became a paramilitary force with carte blanche and where picket lines and demonstrations were joined by soldiers on leave - the bourgeoisie very quickly ruled out any question of using the army against the strike.

I agree with jk that the police force will have "dissolve" duirng a revolution but I don't see any proletarian basis for the police - on the contrary.

They are undergoing job cuts and  a certain "flexibility" but the woes of the police are as nothing compared to the sectors of the working class - they are still  very well paid and cosseted by the state. We've seen their corrupt relationship with the media; there were figures last week under Freedom of Information showing thousands of fraud cases in the police with about twelve cases coming to court. Committing a serious crime doesn't mean you get chucked out of the police forces and despite hundreds of deaths in custody (and on the streets) police are rarely investigated and charged let alone convicted.

I essentially agree with

I essentially agree with Baboon. I don't see any proletarian basis to the police as an institution either. I think the individuals that make up the rank and file might be another story. For me, the jury is out on that one at the moment.

Bolivian Police Strike

It appears that there is now a police strike in Bolivia, which may pose a threat to Morales' Presidency. This article describes it as being of "rank and file" police officers.