Growth of repressive laws expresses the decay of the system

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The strengthening of the state is a characteristic of all decadent societies and this is particularly true of decomposing capitalism. What Tony Blair calls the new situation of ‘modernity’ is in fact senility and decay. It is no longer a question of the state intervening in this or that aspect of the economy and society here and there, but of an overall increase in state control in order to shore up a tottering system. This is a permanent and deepening characteristic of the decadence of capitalism that can only become more accentuated as capitalist society rots on its feet. The reinforcement, to absurd levels, of restrictive laws, of the apparatus and tools of coercion, the integration and control of the whole of social life, is the job of the state, whatever political party is in government. And these laws, these repressive measures, can only protect the interests of the ruling class against the exploited and oppressed majority.

The development of restrictive legislation has been fast and furious these last few years; the Civil Contingencies Bill, 2001; Anti-Terrorism Act; Crime and Securities Act; Crime and Disorder Act; Anti-Social Behaviour Act; Police Act, 2005; Criminal Justice Act, 2003 and the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill, largely increasing the unscrutinised powers of the executive almost without limit.

All these overlap each other, and on top of previous legislation, limit, even eliminate, the right of movement, expression, assembly, protest, publication, intent and even, potentially, thought.

Add to these the collation of fingerprints, facial recognition and DNA databases, including 24,000 innocent children, ubiquitous CCTV surveillance, proposed ID cards, government agencies actively encouraging informers and spies, increases in phone taps and mail interception, the extension of MI5 and MI6, the increases in surveillance, spying and ‘tracking’ at work, and we are now living in a world that makes Orwell’s 1984 look childishly archaic.

In this atmosphere of increased repression based on the decay of the system, the police have unashamedly set up and used their own death squads. Innocent people have been executed for being in the wrong place at wrong time, carrying chair legs in carrier bags, having Scottish accents, being the wrong colour, mentally ill, or being taken into custody. Add to this can be the increasing number of innocents run down and maimed or killed because they weren’t quick enough to get out of the way of souped-up police cars racing around the streets with impunity.

For Tony Blair and the ruling class the development of an ever-more repressive apparatus is all about the “modern world”. In an article in the Observer of February 26 (where, incidentally, he also boasted of the “true record” of him having “introduced transparency into political funding and restricted the Prime Minister’s right to nominate to the House of Lords”!) he talked about “modern crime” being “really ugly”, the “modernity” of global terrorism (opposed to good, old-fashioned IRA bombs presumably) and the “modern world … different from” the world of inadequate court processes.

This massive increase in repressive laws would seem unnecessary when one thinks that during the miner’s strike of 1984 parts of Britain and the whole of the media were under virtual martial law without a single new law being necessary. But it is important to see that the present increase in the repressive nature of the state underlines its essential weakness and the fact that the economic infrastructure is in a state of advanced decay. The bourgeoisie is preparing its weapons for class struggle.

Behind the whole range of repressive measures being proposed, enacted and updated by the Labour government lies the whole of the ruling class, cohering in the face of the collapse and decay of the economy and the upheavals that will flow from it. The laws against Blair’s “modern criminals” and the “modernity” of terrorism will come into their full force when aimed against the working class as it is forced to fight for its life against the decay of capitalism. Terrorism, “modern” or otherwise is just an excuse. We know from its experiences in Ireland that the British state has used double agents, criminals, murderers and bombers in its domestic and international campaigns. And while the ‘old-fashioned’ terrorists of the IRA and the paramilitaries of Loyalism take tea and biscuits in Downing Street, the British state has been active in setting up and using Islamic fundamentalism in pursuing its imperialist aims around the globe. Reference its role in the setting up of the madrassas in Pakistan, the use of the Islamic GIA and FIS against French imperialism in Algeria, the safe haven for terrorists that earned the British capital the name of “Londonistan”. A cursory reading of the recent trial of Abu “the Finsbury Park Hook” Hamza, showed that he was working for British intelligence and was only taken in when the US threatened to interrogate him.

Thus the myriad of repressive laws currently proposed or enacted by the British state is not designed to punish criminals, the biggest of which can easily buy their way through the legal processes. Nor is it designed to counter terrorism, because the same state sets up and actively uses this terrorism – and this when it is not indirectly spreading terrorism through its imperialist wars (Iraq, Afghanistan), the brunt of which is murderously felt by innocent civilians.

“Faced with this state of (economic) crisis, in which the ruling class is unable to ensure its political power in the same way as before, the apparatus of order, the State, the ultimate crystallisation of the interests of the old society, tends to become strengthened and extend its jurisdiction to all areas of social life” (ICC pamphlet, The Decadence of Capitalism).

Fear, police, law, repression, surveillance and spies, this is the “modernity” of a decaying and decomposing system that has no answer to its increasingly deepening economic crisis, unemployment, uncertain and shaky future.

In an economically healthy society there is no need for ever-increasing, all pervasive law, surveillance and repression. But as a society enters into crisis legislation proliferates, but this time from the necessity to strengthen police work, and all the other forms of repression. This comes from the necessity of the ruling class to shore up its historically obsolete system. All the multiplicity of measures are aspects of the growth of its unproductive expenditure and typical of the symptoms of a bloated, gangrened and decaying state capitalism.   Eddie, 25.3.6