Thursday, September 25, 2014

Police powers: Never overlook the class nature of the state

Vanguard October 2014 p. 3

The Australian ruling class is using the current circumstances of a raised level of alert in relation to domestic terrorism to strengthen the powers of the state.

A debate around “freedom” and “security” is occurring, namely, how much of the former should be surrendered in order to guarantee the latter.

Assurances are offered by supporters of newly increased ASIO and police powers that such measures will be “narrowly targeted” and “rarely used”.

This was the line trotted out by Attorney-General George Brandis.

Speaking on ABC radio’s AM program on Monday September 22, Brandis said: “The Coalition in its DNA has a suspicion of state power…I have approached it (new powers) in the manner of someone who is suspicious of state power.”

This only makes sense by remembering that the state is an instrument for the suppression of one class by another.

The essential function of the capitalist state is to prolong the rule of the rich and protect them from any challenges to their wealth and privilege.

On the one hand, people like Brandis clamour for “small government” and “deregulation” and profess to have a “suspicion of state power”.

But that is only when popular pressure forces the state to place minor constraints on the activities of the big corporations and their allies and servants.

Then they want limits on government activities and restrictions on the power of the state.

But when the interests of the capitalists and imperialists conflict with those of the people, then they want all the powers in the world to be given to state agencies so that they can curtail the struggles of the working class and its allies and servants. Then they no longer profess to be “suspicious of state power”, but instead emerge as champions of the “rule of law” and of “tough measures” to combat “industrial lawlessness” and community campaigns that “interfere with and threaten the rights of businesses to operate”.

The irreconcilability of the contradiction between the ruling class and the working people can get overlooked in a dispute around increased and “rarely used” powers to deal with a “narrow target”.

We condemn terrorism.

But we condemn in the first place its causes – imperialist-created poverty and imperialist interference, bullying, armed aggression and invasions throughout the world.

Strengthening the repressive powers of the state, nominally directed at terrorists, is also increasing the power of the state to carry out its class function on behalf of the ruling class against the vast majority of working Australians.

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