Prison officers unofficial action spreads

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posi
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Nov 23 2009 16:21

OK, clearly I should have checked back on this thread sooner. I said that the strikes should be supported. In its most basic sense, this just means that we would regard it positively if the strikers won. It does not necessarily imply even one of these things:

Ret Marut wrote:
Yeh definitely - all anarchists should get right behind this strike and encourage prisoners to show solidarity with their guards - then eventually they can take over the prisons and self-manage them together as anarchist collectives. (Just like Durutti advocated.) Libcom should give prison officers their own forum here and we should forge close links with them and set up support groups. All anarchist organisations should offer them membership and help them set up industrial networks. Some of you should also strategically insert yourselves in the industry by taking prison jobs to build up these industrial networks. And the same goes if any cops, intelligence service agents, bailiffs or similar 'class comrades' go on strike. Which side are you on? It's us and them.

Do we have to advocate a perspective of self-management for every sort of capitalist workplace, in order to back strikes by workers there? Obviously not.

Do we need to give space on a communist website to every group of workers whose strikes we support? Nope.

Do we have to get involved in "colonisation" in any industry in which we support strikes? Not that either, no.

I haven't had time to read the rest of this thread, so perhaps there's a better case been made against supporting the strikes than that. But I don't think that's very strong. What if someone you knew was considering scabbing on the strike? Personally, I'd try to persuade them not too. Perhaps Ret would be indifferent, I don't know.

There is, furthermore, no sense in which support for industrial action in a given area involves support for the industry itself. Consider workers in factories that manufacture armaments. We could go further than Ret's list, which also includes intelligence service agents and bailiffs, and include, as well as workers in armaments factories, people working in the dole office (for harassing claimants), the housing office (leaving people homeless), who assess immigration applications (having them deported from the country), and on and on and on.

It is not necessary to discard a critique of any of these roles in order to support a strike of workers in them. And relating to any such strike without being honest and upfront about a critique of - e.g. prisons - would be dishonest. In fact, you'd probably find that many prison officers would be able to supply much of that critique themselves: but that, like most people, they assume prisons such as they are to be an eternal and natural product of human society, never to be superceded.

For me, and I think for most of us, there is a basic relation between taking militant collective action, and establishing the confidence, not only to make a critique of the system, but to move toward making that critique "concrete", acting against the system. That relation is not as simple as some people make out: there is no automatic connection from one to the other. However, a critique of work, of capitalism is something that some people discover in the process of being on strike. I am in favour of prison warders, police officers, soldiers, and so on having the chance to discover such a critique.

One argument often rolled out is that the sort of anti-working class activity engaged in by the prison officers is "direct", whilst other sorts (manufacturing armanents) are "indirect". For me, this is a pair of words chosen to justify a division which is neither relevant nor clear. Is it really better, from a class point of view, to help make a cluster bomb than help deliver it? Does the "directness" of one make it worse than the other, from a class point of view? Are the makers of riot shields strightforwardly proletarian, while the holders of them are straightforwardly not? I don't see why.

Bolsheviks ("humanistic liberals", in Ret's view) joined the Tsar's army, and sparked a revolt that became a revolution. The Spartacus rising was prompted by the sacking of the USPD chief of the Berlin police. The lessons from periods of high class struggle is that moralistic attitudes toward certain jobs of work fade away in favour of the concrete value of having people making communist propaganda in all areas of public life. Encouraging a revolt amongst the "praetorians" would be a necessary part of any social revolution.

I don't speak for my group, and I have no idea what others think about it. The Commune has no position, and would be open to people independent of their view on the question.

I'm open to persuasion. This has been discussed on libcom before. The above is what I came away thinking.

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Nov 23 2009 16:08
Samotnaf wrote:
Farce said:
Quote:
Samotnaf wrote:
Quote:
Killing scum is not the same as capital punishment.

The exact difference being that?

Capital punishment is a cold-blooded ritual conducted by the State, which as everyone on these forums well know, is directly and indirectly complicitous in far far greater crimes than even those of Fred and Rosemary West. During the revolution in South Africa collaborators with State murder were often given the 'necklace' - i.e. a tyre was put round their necks and set light to. Unpleasant, but a fairly good incentive to other collaborators to not continue with their collaboration. It's not a model for post-revolutionary society but it was not capital punishment. It was rage. During the French revolution the mob would often kill aristocrats or defenders of the nobility spontaneously until Robespierre etc. took control of the situation and introduced the public spectacle of the guillotine (which clearly was capital punishment). Cold blooded mathematically calculated killing is not the same as hot blooded revenge. I far prefer the summary justice meted out to Mussolini than the spectacle of State 'justice' performed at Nuremburg.

I also prefer the summary justice meted out to Mussolini than the spectacle of State 'justice' performed at Nuremburg. But then, I also very much prefer the spectacle of State 'justice' performed at Nuremburg than the mob lynchings of black Americans suspected of some kind offence in the Deep South, even though the former was cold-blooded state killing and the later was a crowd of working-class people spontaneously acting out their rage. So I think the situation's a little more complex than "trials and courts bad, mobs going apeshit and killing people good".

Samotnaf
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Nov 23 2009 16:38

I agree that

Quote:
the situation's a little more complex than "trials and courts bad, mobs going apeshit and killing people good".

Sorry for being simplistic: I was talking about 'killing scum' not racist scum killing blacks. I was trying to distinguish between social justice during movements we can identify with, justice involving something that challenges the status quo, and the spectacle of justice by the State (though mobs permeated with insane ideologies can also function as an arm of theState). Whilst I have no problem with Himmler etc. being killed I find it sick and hypocritical that the killing should have been done under the auspices of a ruling class that also committed (and continues to commit) atrocities ( and one of the intentions of Nuremburg was to make a distinction between Nazi savagery and the mixture of democratic and Stalinist 'civilisation'; although I don't think democracy or Stalinism is/was qualitatively the same as German fascism, that's a question that really is off-topic).

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Nov 23 2009 16:53

What a lot of silly posturing there is on this thread.

If you aren't interested in splitting the ranks of the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state then you aren't interested in having a succesful revolution. No matter how much you blather about class struggle, you are in essence a lifestylist or at best a militant reformist.

It isn't even necessary to get to the theoretical idiocy which separates out cops and prison officers out as moral untouchables while not doing the same with soldiers. Or traffic wardens. Or TV licence inspectors.

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Nov 23 2009 17:23
IrrationallyAngry wrote:
It was great hearing the leader of the Prison Officers' Association speak at Socialism 2009. Shame he didn't have time to get into the issue of compensation culture giving prisoners too many rights or tell stories from his time putting down the Strangeways riot.
posi
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Nov 23 2009 18:27

I have been reading more about this. Apparently the POA was alot stronger - and as, if not more reactionary - up until the late '80s, when their strength began to be diluted by a combination of work process changes and privatisation.

So clearly it isn't simply the case that a stronger union automatically leads to any greater attitude of solidarity with prisoners. Reading stuff from prisoners, it's clear there's alot of legitimate emnity toward screws and the POA as an organised force. However, I still think you can be in favour of the strikes as such winning, without "supporting the POA", or any slogan like that. I still doesn't make sense to me to think that it would be in any way positive for the government to defeat the strikers.

Interview with Caton and commentary by FRFI.

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=169319480999

Andros
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Nov 23 2009 19:27

One can't be a member of capitalism's repressive apparatus and part of the workers movement at the same time. It's ridiculous to talk about better pay and better benefits while carrying out the barbarous agenda of the capitalist prison system.

Samotnaf
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Nov 23 2009 20:28

Irrationally Angry:

Quote:
If you aren't interested in splitting the ranks of the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state then you aren't interested in having a succesful revolution.

The only time I can think of when there developed some splits in the ranks of the repressive apparatus of the UK capitalist state is after the 1981 riots, when possibly thousands of cops resigned the force because their situation had become impossible (there was even a joke in the forces about a PC running back from the frontline confrontation with the rioters and saying to his superior, "Sarge - I can't take it any more"; the superior says "Superintendant to you, sonnie"; the PC replies "Bloody hell - I didn't think I'd run that far back)." Which says it all: encouragement to develop splits comes from class fury, not some wimpy "You should realise you class position entails solidarity with those you're oppressing" crap - or whatever proposed leaflet or whatever IrrationallyAngry and posi fantasise handing out to cops. The "workers in uniform" crap used to be laughed at when the SPGB spouted it in the late 60s - but the counter-revolution in the UK and elsewhere has now given this political posture some pretension to "class consciousness". Posi, like the Leninist he obviously is, claims:

Quote:
Bolsheviks ....joined the Tsar's army, and sparked a revolt that became a revolution.

What a liar! Most workers and peasants joined (not Lenin, though) - had to join - and the revolution was not sparked off by some infiltration into the army but by, amongst other things, a mass mutiny by a conscript army (it obviously included Bolsheviks but also anarchists, Social Revolutionaries etc. and hundreds of thousands of others who weren't alligned). Typical Leninist distortion - you have to believe that a specialist avant-garde can launch a revolution (even the mass murderer Trotsky said "the masses were a thousand times to the left of the party"). That's why you believe that you can win specialists-in-order (cops and screws) over to the class war - they're the mirror-image of your specialism. And all this is in your head - what leaflets have you ever handed out to cops or screws and it's made the slightest blind bit of difference? You probably haven't even tested your theory of how to split "the ranks of the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state". I'm not saying a day might not come where cops and screws aren't faced with a choice "for or against' like this again, but this will be down to individuals - not their collective identity.
Andros is plainly right

Quote:
It's ridiculous [my emphasis] to talk about better pay and better benefits while carrying out the barbarous agenda of the capitalist prison system.

Really - any repeat of these utterly ridiculous "arguments" are not worth replying to.

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Nov 23 2009 21:32

And that organisation is?

raw
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Nov 23 2009 23:00
Jack wrote:
Socialist Party, as I'm sure you are aware. Your point? Whatever you think about the SP, the fact they've recruited the POA General Secretary rubbishes the claim that "agents of state repression" can't be won over.

I don't think recruiting screws is a winning tactic, but on that point Sam was clearly and unambiguously wrong.

They can be one over as you say, to political parties that base their strategy on gaining power over people. Its obvious the SP won't have a problem with recruiting cops and screws because they have no problem with cops and screws full stop. The only problem they have with them is that they aren't all in the SP.

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Nov 23 2009 23:22

That's what happens when you give the benefit of doubt to Leninists - they turn out to be even worse than you thought.

Samotnaf
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Nov 24 2009 05:56

Yes - I'm

Quote:
clearly and unambiguously wrong.

But I was not aware of IrrationallyAngry being a member of the SP at all, nor that they'd recruited the head of the POA (what next _ the head of the Police Federation?). Must remember not to get involved in pseudo-dialogue with irrationally angry people again - they're only angry in defence of their ideology, of their sad political roles. Rational anger comes, amongst other things, from attacking all that irrational Leftist crap.

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Nov 24 2009 08:35
posi wrote:
OK, clearly I should have checked back on this thread sooner. I said that the strikes should be supported. In its most basic sense, this just means that we would regard it positively if the strikers won. It does not necessarily imply even one of these things:

So if this "support" is entirely in the realm of what we'd like to happen, what relevance does it have to working class politics? Either you make some kind of effort to provide workers in struggle with material support or you're not really supporting them at all, just standing on the sidelines and speculating.

posi
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Nov 24 2009 11:39

madashell, I don't agree. I'm sure we've all said to people that we support such and such a struggle, meaning that we oppose (for example) the line taken in the bourgeois press on strikes, always arguing that they are illegitimate, that they hurt everyone, that they are irresponsible etc. In contrast, we argue with people that they should see the strikes not as a threat to themselves, but a part of the workers' movement, with which they should have a basic solidarity. And, "practically", if you liked, I would argue with someone against crossing a picket line. I think, if you were prepared to intervene in an honest way, that showed real solidarity with prisoners, you could provide other forms of support.

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Nov 24 2009 12:34
posi wrote:
Do we need to give space on a communist website to every group of workers whose strikes we support? Nope.

Do we have to get involved in "colonisation" in any industry in which we support strikes? Not that either, no.

Perhaps you are taking my sarcasm a bit too literally, but - no we don't have to or need to do those things, but there is no special reason not to if you think a strike worth supporting. If you think it worth supporting, why treat it differently from other strikes? Maybe I've misjudged, but I think there would some unease giving those kinds of public support, even from those who theoretically support the strike. (Having now read Jack's post about Irrationally Angry's organisation, maybe I'm wrong.)

The point of view of those on the receiving end, such as prisoners, (never mind people shat on by some job centre workers) is rarely if ever taken account of in these arguments or any support expressed for them. I suppose if there was a prison riot some would criticise the rioters for fighting screws, 'scabbing on their class comrades' - ie, for making a very practical criticism of the guard role.

posi wrote:
One argument often rolled out is that the sort of anti-working class activity engaged in by the prison officers is "direct", whilst other sorts (manufacturing armanents) are "indirect". For me, this is a pair of words chosen to justify a division which is neither relevant nor clear. Is it really better, from a class point of view, to help make a cluster bomb than help deliver it? Does the "directness" of one make it worse than the other, from a class point of view? Are the makers of riot shields strightforwardly proletarian, while the holders of them are straightforwardly not? I don't see why.

You seem to be trying to counter what you assume is a moral argument with what is a moral argument itself. In a moral sense, maybe there's some 'equivalence' between a cop and a munitions worker. But class struggle and class relations are not primarily moral encounters - we have to deal with opposing forces as they affect us in our lives where we struggle. The only way we can treat the diverse roles you mention as equivalent is from an abstract moral evaluation. But if we deal with them as they impact on us and our struggles we immediately have to evaluate and respond in diverse ways. So the "directness" of cops is what we deal with as a conflict in our lives - while the munitions worker we could generally only 'oppose' morally (as do NGOs, middle class activism). (Of course if you never expect to expect to deal with the cops and screws except as fellow citizens/comrades then the distinction is irrelevant...)

If you treat the relationship of cops and screws to the working class as an abstract theoretical (or moral) question then your position may seem more credible. But looked at in the light of the historical experience of the working class and its struggles it makes no sense at all to me. It doesn't even make any sense in light of my personal experience. This historical experience has, and - still does to some degree - express itself partly as collectively held values, traditions and principles; much the same as 'no forgiveness for scabs', the institutionalised class scabbing of cops and screws has been ostracised. Most of them have come from working class backgrounds and that is another reason for such feelings. This is not a "moralistic" or "theoretical" position but one based on the assessment of a long lived historical experience - yet, IMO in itself more considered, historical and analytical than the opposing positions here.

irrationally angry wrote:
If you aren't interested in splitting the ranks of the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state then you aren't interested in having a succesful revolution. No matter how much you blather about class struggle, you are in essence a lifestylist or at best a militant reformist.

If you think giving support to this strike and developing closer links will now contribute anything to "splitting the ranks of the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state then" I will have to disagree and ask you to get a little sense of scale. So you've recruited a union boss, a screw one at that. As has been said, why stop there, why not cops too? I consider that little or no better than scabbing (call that 'moralistic' if you like - I call it principled). I think I've stated a clear case as to why I think some demarcation between some primarily repressive social roles/jobs and others is necessary (but I'm not going to keep repeating the same points in every post) - if you disagree, OK, but lame dismissals don't convince otherwise. If I don't agree with supporting screw strikes then "you are in essence a lifestylist or at best a militant reformist"? That is one of the more stupid and arrogant comments I've read on here. I also think it's dishonest to post on this thread without revealing that your organisation actually has screw members.

irrationally angry wrote:
It isn't even necessary to get to the theoretical idiocy which separates out cops and prison officers out as moral untouchables while not doing the same with soldiers.

Especially if you condemn and dismiss without responding to previously stated explanations - which are not very recognisable when compared to your distorted description. You couldn't even describe the views of this "theoetical idiocy" accurately - so who's the idiot?

So the SP have "won over" a screw union boss to join up. That hardly qualifies as splitting "the ranks of the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state". Perhaps it should be no surprise that those locked up in the prison of leninist/social democratic ideology should seek the company of screws to do their sentence.

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Nov 24 2009 12:49
Ret Marut wrote:
So you've recruited a union boss, a screw one at that. As has been said, why stop there, why not cops too?

iirc the SP line is that cops are "workers in uniform" so i doubt they'd have a problem with that. they're wrong*, but to be fair they're consistent.

* well it may be literally true, since cops are dispossessed of capital (if not power), but clearly the role is an anti-working class one.

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Nov 24 2009 14:23
posi wrote:
madashell, I don't agree. I'm sure we've all said to people that we support such and such a struggle, meaning that we oppose (for example) the line taken in the bourgeois press on strikes, always arguing that they are illegitimate, that they hurt everyone, that they are irresponsible etc.

Support of that sort is entirely a passive paper exercise though. It's not going to influence the outcome of the strike one way or the other.

Quote:
In contrast, we argue with people that they should see the strikes not as a threat to themselves, but a part of the workers' movement, with which they should have a basic solidarity. And, "practically", if you liked, I would argue with someone against crossing a picket line.

Frankly, I don't see anything the POA does as "part of the workers' movement", precisely because of their failure to show solidarity of any kind with an entire section of the working class.

Solidarity is a two way street. If I or anybody else on here were to find ourselves in prison, we couldn't exactly count on screws to show any solidarity with us, why should we show any solidarity with them? It just doesn't work that way.

posi
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Nov 24 2009 15:31
Ret wrote:
This historical experience has, and - still does to some degree - express itself partly as collectively held values, traditions and principles; much the same as 'no forgiveness for scabs', the institutionalised class scabbing of cops and screws has been ostracised.

Do people really think it's generally true that the police are socially ostracised? Of course it happens in some places, to an extent. But in general? I'm not sure, I'm really asking.

Anyway, the collectively held traditions we have are not the product of "historical experience" in a general, they are the product of specific and limited historical experiences, by the fact that people's experience is nationally grounded, and only reaches back so far. The 1919 police strikes in Britain, or the communist committees working for revolt in the German army at the end of WW1 do not influence working class culture in general, but are nonetheless worth taking into account when taking a political stance.

posi
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Nov 24 2009 15:34
madashell wrote:
Support of that sort is entirely a passive paper exercise though. It's not going to influence the outcome of the strike one way or the other.

no, it's political.

Quote:
Frankly, I don't see anything the POA does as "part of the workers' movement", precisely because of their failure to show solidarity of any kind with an entire section of the working class.

just as long as we're being consistent with immigration, housing and dole officers, and security guards... fine.

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Nov 24 2009 16:35
posi wrote:
Do people really think it's generally true that the police are socially ostracised? Of course it happens in some places, to an extent. But in general? I'm not sure, I'm really asking.

No - not generally - and less so after a period of 25 yrs of low class struggle. But amongst some sections of the working class, then and now, certainly. In my childhood it was quite a common occasional prank to 'throw stones at the police houses' where coppers lived, indicative of a certain cultural attitude towards cops. (I don't think police are provided with tied accommodation anymore.) Maybe the fact they don't share accomodation now has lessened this, but I think the 'canteen culture' spills over from the workplace and coppers have often tended to socialise predominantly with each other, with various police leisure/sports institutions for doing so.

A year after the end of the Miners Strike I remember a bunch of hefty guys asked me on a tube train how to get to Wapping - which was where I was going, to the printers picket. It turned out they were miners from a Yorkshire pit village the London Met police had occupied and trashed during the strike (complete with "You have just met the Met" stickers left on wrecked cars and buildings). They explained that, apart from repaying solidarity with the printers, they'd travelled down as ever since the strike they took any available opportunity to have a go back at the Met.

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Nov 24 2009 20:32
posi wrote:
no, it's political.

It's also ultimately irrelevant.

Quote:
just as long as we're being consistent with immigration, housing and dole officers, and security guards... fine.

With the exception of immigration officers (who, at the risk of being accused of moralism, are actually scum), that's a completely different thing. The primary function of prison officers is the discipline of working class people who've broken laws set up to protect capitalism, this includes class struggle prisoners who we should be supporting as a matter of priority.

IrrationallyAngry
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Nov 25 2009 00:28
Ret Marut wrote:
If you think giving support to this strike and developing closer links will now contribute anything to "splitting the ranks of the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state then" I will have to disagree and ask you to get a little sense of scale.

I see that you don't dispute my comment that anyone who is uninterested in splitting the ranks of the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state is uninterested in a social revolution. Is that you think that we should only start attempting to do so during an actual revolution?

Ret Marut wrote:
That is one of the more stupid and arrogant comments I've read on here.

You clearly haven't been reading this site very closely.

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Nov 25 2009 15:22
IrrationallyAngry wrote:
Ret Marut wrote:
If you think giving support to this strike and developing closer links will now contribute anything to "splitting the ranks of the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state then" I will have to disagree and ask you to get a little sense of scale.

I see that you don't dispute my comment that anyone who is uninterested in splitting the ranks of the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state is uninterested in a social revolution. Is that you think that we should only start attempting to do so during an actual revolution?

Samotnaf wrote:
The only time I can think of when there developed some splits in the ranks of the repressive apparatus of the UK capitalist state is after the 1981 riots, when possibly thousands of cops resigned the force because their situation had become impossible (there was even a joke in the forces about a PC running back from the frontline confrontation with the rioters and saying to his superior, "Sarge - I can't take it any more"; the superior says "Superintendant to you, sonnie"; the PC replies "Bloody hell - I didn't think I'd run that far back)." Which says it all: encouragement to develop splits comes from class fury, not some wimpy "You should realise you class position entails solidarity with those you're oppressing" crap - or whatever proposed leaflet or whatever IrrationallyAngry fantasises handing out to cops.

I think Samotnaf gets a lot of things wrong, but he does seem to have a point here.

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Nov 25 2009 16:13

Yeah, that's the crucial point. When soldiers become militant, they don't stop shooting and demand more pay to start shooting again, they mutiny, and they desert. Applying the same criteria to cops, (obviously a different situation, but there are clear parallels), the radical thing to do is not to take industrial action as cops but to stop being cops.

~J.

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Nov 25 2009 21:17

Within a massive wave of strikes in Britain, 1919, J. T. Murphy a militant of the shop stewards movement wrote: "... the Police Strike against the Government Bill prohibiting trade unionism in the police force took place. This strike was provoked by the Government for the purpose of ridding the police force of radical elements. The strike was only partial and centred in London and Liverpool. The Government was therefore easily able to 'cleanse' the force of the strikers and proceed with measures for its re-organisation as a more 'loyal' body.
This was the beginning of a process which has culminated in the Trenchard measures of 1933 for the transformation of the police into a 'class' proof militarized arm of the state."

And that is what it is today even more so. Individual police can resign, or there could be mutinies, but outside of these the police force is a repressive arm of the state against the working class and not even potentially part of it.

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Nov 26 2009 07:33
BiglittleJ wrote:
Yeah, that's the crucial point. When soldiers become militant, they don't stop shooting and demand more pay to start shooting again, they mutiny, and they desert.

I don't think its quite that straightforward, e.g.:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invergordon_mutiny

posi
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Nov 26 2009 09:25
BigLittleJ wrote:
Yeah, that's the crucial point. When soldiers become militant, they don't stop shooting and demand more pay to start shooting again, they mutiny, and they desert.

Not necessarily Sometimes that's how it is, but not always.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8230793.stm

Edit: didn't see Django's post, but yeah...

vanilla.ice.baby
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Nov 26 2009 12:17

Irrespective of whether we "like" or support prison officers or coppers (or soldiers) we should recognise that every time they take industrial action or threaten it - it causes problems for the state, and opens up opportunities for radical politics.

Beyond that, I certainly think we should offer support to individuals in reactionary jobs, who are becoming disillusioned and are prepared to quit over principles, and maybe even join the class struggle, there was a former copper in the SWP, and he was sound, he had quit for sound reasons and had a good analysis, probably better than many of his comrades.

I do think that for security reasons we cannot give the benefit of the doubt to former members of the security services, but apart from that, we don't turn away former fascists, or people who put heads in fridges, so I wouldn't automatically turn away a former screw, or one who wanted to quit for the right reasons. We may demand more evidence of their change of heart than we would others, but other than that.

Jason Cortez
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Nov 26 2009 19:49

Yes Posi, but the South African Defence Force soldiers are in open conflict with the state in a manner, far removed from the 'wildcat' strike by the screws. In the cases of mutiny, the risks are far greater than for even striking pigs, so by their very nature tend toward a rupture with the status quo. Life is indeed messy and where to draw the line around issues repressive agents of the state can be complicated and to a degree arbitrary but abandoning this process for what is little different to the 'workers in uniform' position is pragmaticism as ideology.

Vanilla wrote:
Irrespective of whether we "like" or support prison officers or coppers (or soldiers) we should recognise that every time they take industrial action or threaten it - it causes problems for the state, and opens up opportunities for radical politics.

Whilst it may cause some problems for the state, they are rarely significant and so almost never open any opportunities for radical politics, this is just wishful thinking

posi
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Nov 26 2009 20:25
Quote:
Yes Posi, but the South African Defence Force soldiers are in open conflict with the state in a manner, far removed from the 'wildcat' strike by the screws.

Obviously there's a differencein the intensity/violence of the conflict, but both qualitatively set the state and its legal apparatus at odds with the striking workers concerned.

Althoug, anyway, I don't see what that does to undermine that example, or Django's as a falsification of LBJ's point.

Quote:
Life is indeed messy and where to draw the line around issues repressive agents of the state can be complicated and to a degree arbitrary but abandoning this process for what is little different to the 'workers in uniform' position is pragmaticism as ideology.

Well, in a trivial sense obviously the prison officers are obviously "workers in uniform": they work, they bear the same "economic category" as other workers, they wear the uniform of the state. The problem with the SP position as I see it is that they see them as <i>only</i> workers in uniform; i.e. they abrogate a critique of the role of prison officers as such, they ignore the struggle of prisoners as an element of the struggle of the proletariat, the general acknowledgement of the repressive role of the police (etc.) is abstracted from the problems of the concrete confrontation that emerges in the struggle, that pits said uniformed workers against the rest of the proletariat.

Anyway, why don't you gve us a bit of help in saying where <i>you</i> draw the line, and what criteia you use to do so?