As Britain prepares for the possibility of new outbreaks of rioting this
weekend, the courts have been hard at work dispensing bosses’ justice
to those unfortunates picked up by the police in the wake of the
disturbances over the last few days.
As Britain prepares for the possibility of new outbreaks of rioting this weekend, the courts have been hard at work dispensing bosses’ justice to those unfortunates picked up by the police in the wake of the disturbances over the last few days.
Magistrates have been passing sentences all day and all night as part of David Cameron’s call for a "fightback" by the mass ranks of the bourgoisie. Indeed he has used this fightback word so often in the last few days that it cannot be considered as accidental. The impression he is trying to give is of the forces of Torydom arriving back from their villas and beaches to take control and dish out some revenge – like Charles Bronson in Death Wish. The sickening sight of those MPs in their pin-stripped suits and expensive haircuts standing up to shout forth demands for action and comdemnations for all involved was indeed in the tradition of that class. Since the dawn of time the ruling elite have justified their actions by generalising the working masses as lazy/workshy/vice-ridden/prone to criminality/unable to take responsibilty/ etc (delete as applicable). On this basis they morally legalised their position as rulers of one class over another. Although they pretend otherwise, such attitudes still exist in their ranks today. They explain the actions of the rioters through the logic that they are all part, in their eyes, of one criminal class that must be controlled with force. Needless to say, they are quite happy to link the riots first to the student protests and then to the strikes and picket lines of workers in struggle. For them it is all one outrage against their rule and privledges. Any attempt to tie the riots to the crushing grip of poverty, social despair and the cuts has been met by howls of contempt both by Tories and even some Labour representatives. Sadly Labour has decided to just concentrate on the issue of Police numbers and the proposals to cut them as part of the austerity measures.
This issue – which has developed into a full-sized row inside the Tory party – is worthy of comment. Cameron has attempted to deflect concerns over the handling by suggesting, in effect, that things were only sorted when the politicians arrived back from holiday to take command. Police chiefs have replied that, in their opinion, this is rubbish. This division reflects the anger in police ranks over the cuts in staffing as well as the same ‘reforms’ to pensions now being faced by other public sector workers.
Marxists have long explained that, in the final analysis, the state can
be reduced to armed bodies of men in defence of private property. The
ruling class know this to be true too. However, this only works if you
have the armed bodies of men available in the first place. Thatcher, in
the 1980s, understood this and ensured that police numbers were not cut
and saleries were always raised. No wonder sections of the Tories are criticising the cuts both to the armed forces and the police. Some of them remember how usefull the police were during the miners strike and the Wapping dispute and fear that they may not have a same resouces available to use now.
Cameron is now in a quandry. If he reverses the cuts in the police force on the grounds that the service they provide is "necessary" to maintain control then people will ask why is the same not being done for other public services under attack which are equally "necessary?" If he takes no action then anger will continue to grow, both inside the police and without, as the reality of these cuts takes effect. Many of the cuts, across all parts of the public sector, have been explained away by the arguement that frontline services will not be hit – just pen-pushers with gold-plated pensions sitting around on huge salaries doing nothing but attending seminars on health and safety. Away from Daily-Telegraph-fantasy-land nothing can be further from the truth. In reality, the police already knew that before last weekend their numbers had already been dangerously depleted – many forces have not recruited for nearly a year – and would struggle in the face of widespread disturbances across a large geographical area. Hence the decision to hold back in some areas and not others. For the ruling class, things are now a bit tricky. We, however, should understand that in the end the police will not provide any useful help or support to local communities in pain because that is not their job – they are there to enforces bosses’ law and people know it.
Westminster is starting to believe that the worst may be behind them now. In the short-term they may be right – we shall see. But the problems which led to the riots have not gone away. A mood of anger exists still on the estates of Britain. This autumn, the focus will turn again to the industrial front as millions of workers take action over attacks to their jobs, pensions and wages. Public sector workers will be joined by those from the private section. The hoped-for upturn in the economy, with its promised jobs to replace those lost, is looking less and less likely. Before the pin-stripped suits got going yesterday, they had to hear a report from the chancellor that predictions for the economy would have to be downgraded. This is not a recipe for social calm.
In the midst of all the Victorian sentencing which has been going on, a glimmer of reality showed itself when a court in session became concerned that one 14 year-old girl had turned up for trial without any member of her family or a gardian being present, even though she had travelled half way accross town to be there. Court officials were instructed to ensure that someone was brought to court to ensure her safe return home after she was granted bail. For many youth in Britain today, in the "sink" estates of our big cities, this is the reality of life. Any support or help they might have had has been removed by the cuts, with more to come. No talk of fightbacks by Cameron will solve this nightmare. That is why the youth must join up in the fight against capitalism and for a socialist future that will remove the real rioters and looters within society – the boss class and their rotten representatives.
SOCIALIST APPEAL MEETING
LESSONS OF THE RIOTS
17 AUG 6.30pm start
Conway Hall, Red Lion Sq, Holborn, London