The State Beefs-up Its Repressive Apparatus, The Better to Confront the Working Class

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A central element in the current ideological offensive of the ruling class is the aggressive effort to gain public acquiescence in the strengthening of the repressive apparatus of the state, and the erosion of “civil liberties.”Of course this isn’t totally new.The Clinton administration had already presided over the greatest repressive offensive in a generation.The strengthening of the police forces around the country by the transfer of 100,000 laid off soldiers to local police agencies during the 1990s; the increase in the number of criminal offensives punishable by death; the closing of the doors to political exiles from oppressive regimes in South America and the Caribbean; repressive rulings by the Supreme Court that expanded police search and seizure powers, limited appeals by defendants; the explosion in the percentage imprisoned in the nation’s jails -- are all examples of this strengthening of the repressive apparatus overthe past decade.

In response to the attack at the Trade Center, the bourgeoisie is experience considerable success in gaining public acceptance for the imposition of road blocks, police check points, the shutdown of bridges and tunnels.One of the central elements in the current media campaign is the constant reminder that “things will never be the same,” that Americans will have to accept inroads on their traditional “civil liberties.”Already the government asks the lifting of legal restrictions on wiretaps and electronic surveillance, that had been enacted in the aftermath of the excesses of the Vietnam War and the Watergate crisis.The use of immigration law to detain people being questioned about their possible knowledge of the terrorist plot is hailed in the media, despite the fact that only one or two of these people have actually been arrested – and those as “material witnesses,” not conspirators.

The government even proposes to detain and deport people caught in its drag net without having to present evidence.The idea of imposing a system of identity cards for citizens and non-citizens has been broached.Proposed under the cover of the popular uproar over the Trade Center disaster, these repressive tools will serve the ruling class well in its future confrontation with the working class and its revolutionary minorities, for it doesn’t a rocket scientist to appreciate the basic lesson of history that its not a handful of terrorists—no matter how bloody and horrifying their actions—that poses the real threat capitalism, but is the working class, the only revolutionary class in society today.

Now matter how horrifying the events of September 11th, the strengthening of the state’s repressive apparatus offers nothing positive for the working class.The state does not exist as an institution reflecting the interests and needs of all of society, but rather it represents the dictatorship of the dominant class in society.The state exists in order to control a society wracked by social contradiction and class antagonisms, and ultimately to repress the social forces that threaten it historically.Cynically, the bourgeoisie uses the current disaster, which was provoked in the first place by the decomposition of its own system -- its own social and political relations-- more and more into the ravages of open barbarism against the working class.

The existence of such barbarism is demonstrable proof that capitalism is no longer fit to rule humanity, but paradoxically it is used by capitalism to propagate the notion that its rule needs to be strengthened, that even more repression, more capitalist dictatorship, is necessary for the safety and welfare of society. This hideous campaign seeks to gain acceptance for the increasing intrusion of the state of our class enemies into our daily lives, supposedly for our protection, when in the final analysis what the state is doing is strengthening its ability to suppress proletarian opposition and resistance. For the working class, the historic task is the destruction of the capitalist state, and its replacement by working class rule.The working class has nothing to gain from the strengthening of the repressive apparatus of the state, no matter what guise the bourgeoisie uses to serve it up.

Jerry Grevin