„Cops are cops everywhere“ - campaign

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Joined: 16-02-09
Feb 17 2009 09:39
„Cops are cops everywhere“ - campaign

Arrests, disappearances, torture, repression, violence and human rights abuses by the state authority are increasing everyday, all over the world. Some of the newest examples are the murders in Athens and Moscow.

Capitalism operates globalized and so does its protecting organ, the police, which is unifying more and more. The police education in different countries is adapting to one another. For example, the EU mission “EUPOL COPPS” has been educating the Palestinian police for three years.

The new police generation hides its true colours behind pretended democracy and protection of human rights. Capitalist countries use to pretend their own police to be more human and to disguise its true function, sometimes even successfully (unfortunately). But in fact, there can’t be a “better” oder “worse”, a “good” or “bad” police, because the police always and everywhere represents authority and repression. Cops are cops, worldwide, only the manner of police power expresses itself differently. In some countries, brawls and arrests happen quicklier; in other countries assaults are avoided, but secret files are kept and mass surveillance is the order of the day. Is it better then, to be arrested, beated up and set free after two days or is it better to be kept under surveillance all the time and everywhere, which means never ever being free? To approve one of them would mean to choose between open and hidden violence, instead of opposing all kinds of repression.

The “cops are cops” campaign shall make us aware of the exigence not to accept this sham anymore and to expose what’s behind the curtain. Many people have become accustomed to the brutality of the police and have started to find it not that bad anymore. But getting used to something leads to its acceptance and to silence. The less we resist, the more brutality and violence affords the authority. It’s about time we sensitize again to the state repression they’re trying to get us used to, that we fight it and that we don’t allow the cops to step further, but force them, to back away.

We appeal for thematizing the topic “police power and repression” worldwide by using reports, pictures, photographs, videos, poems, songs – anything. Let your creativity run free to reveal each kind of authority of the state; against the method of the state, which collects also information about us and keeps secret files.

Our intention is to collect all datas on a common website to share and use them, so that we can work more consciously and antinational networked, define our aim clearlier and finally offer practical resistance.

This is the e-mail address you can send the datas to: worldwide.anarchy@hotmail.com

The website is under construction; we’ll inform you, as soon as it has finished.

Stay with anarchy and solidarity,

Karakök Autonome turkey/switzerland

Joined: 20-04-08
Feb 17 2009 12:41

I know this article won't be popular with many readers but what the hell !!

All Coppers are Workers

Are the police paragons of virtue or fascist bastards? Certainly they are abused as fascists by many leftists who , with their customary lack of originality , have also seized upon the American term “pigs” which is used endlessly in their various journals such a Red Mole and International Times. At the demonstrations against the Industrial Relations Bill earlier this year , the police were denounced as enemies of the working class and many placards showing a Bobby as “your next personnel manager” were on display .

Is this attitude justified ? Of course the police are not in any trade union and they are sometimes seen in conflict with strikers , besides students and other protesters; so how different are policemen from other wage earners in their general outlook?

Obviously , the nature of their job as part of the state machine ensures that the ruling class will try to ensure that the police cannot strike . Add to this the fact that throughout its history many of the force have had a background of military discipline , and the possibility of a police trade union looks bleak indeed . And yet there was such a union - The National Union of Police and Prison Officers , formed in 1913.

Earlier attempts to obtain better pay and conditions through organisation were made in London in 1872 and 1890. Both were quickly crushed by dismissing the men’s spokesmen. However, during World War One the police were no longer well paid in relation to other workers - were even worse off. Cancellation of leave-days plus many other irritations saw the rapid growth of the illegal union with constables Marston and Thiel as Chairman and Provincial Organiser respectively. When the authorities tried the usual victimisation tactics almost the whole of the Metropolitan Police Force , numbering 19000 men , struck . During the strike pickets clashed with blacklegs and special police, just like other workers in a similar situation.

The authorities , caught unprepared , had to climb down and the men’s demands were met with on important exception - the guarantee of union recognition . Soon after the strike the union claimed it had over 40000 paying members . In some cities the union was influential in the Police Representation Boards - in Liverpool it was able to have men promoted who had been unfairly passed over. Meantime the authorities were preparing for a showdown and in this they were helped not only by granting better pay and conditions , but by the union leadership which was far too militant for its members.

When the union was outlawed by the Police Act of 1919 a national strike was called despite the fact that less than half the police were members ; also , there was no strike fund and no likelihood of support from other unions . This time in London only 1113 came out , but in Liverpool 932 out of 1256 struck. Riots took place there in Liverpool , Birkenhead , as looting mobs battled for days with soldiers and specials while a battleship and two destroyers steamed from Scapa Flow to the Mersey . The strike collapsed and every single striker was dismissed , never to be reinstated . For many it meant , besides unemployment , eviction from home and loss of pension. Many who had been opposed to striking nevertheless did so out of loyalty to the union or because they had given their word . Today there are still survivors of this little known episode in working class history who proudly possess a card which proclaims that they are “ still on strike”(1).

Nor is the British experience unique . The same things happened in Boston , USA , in 1919 with similar results - all strikers were dismissed . In 1963 the Helsinki police impressed the urgency of their case on the authorities by resigning en masse on the same day ! In March this year Paris police stopped work twice on the same day for several hours and distributed leaflets outlining their grievances , amongst which was their dislike of being sent to quell campus disturbances ( leftists take note!). Also , many New York police struck for several days last January .
Nowadays the police in Britain , from inspectors to constables , are organised in the Police Federation , formed in 1919. Although forbidden to strike , the Federation negotiates pay and conditions with the authorities in much the same way as a trade union . The separate Scottish Federtion has been demanding the right to strike and its secretary , Dan Wilson , commented that the government in refusing this “…are only burying their head in the sand if they deny the police the same rights as other workers . We are , after all , only workers" (Guardian 28/11/70).

So the police record in recognising their class position in society isn’t as bad as some people may think. They have , from time to time, shown considerable courage in the face of tremendous opposition from the authorities - and from public opinion . And their response to attempts by their employers to squeeze extra work from them is the same as that encountered in factory , mine or office . Some years ago when the Chief of Police in New York attempted to increase the men’s productivity , a police captain observed that

“ The Chief makes the decisions and then the locker room makes decisions”

. In short , the men themselves regulate their work rate .

That policemen regard their work in much the same way as other workers can be seen from the numbers who leave the Force for jobs offering better wages and hours. In harsher times a job in the Force was a sinecure and much sought after , and men were prepared to accept the strict discipline. With the coming of “full employment” after 1945 there was a mass exodus of police into better paid industrial work and they were joined by those police who had been in the armed forces . By 1959 almost as many trained men were leaving as recruits were joining . 25000 joined between 1960-64 but 17000 left in the same period. In 1964 seventeen recruits meant a net gain of two. As J.P. Martin and Gail Wilson put it -

“ For many the police service is no longer a lifetime commitment”


The argument is often advanced that in the event of a socialist majority attempting to establish Socialism democratically , the police will be used , along with the armed forces , to suppress that majority . This is an argument which assumes that policemen have political and moral ideas which are very different from those of society in general . Stuart Bowes , in his attack on the police (4) supports this view -

“Anti-democratic sentiments , pro-fascist sympathies and racialist antipathies are commonly revealed by individual policemen”

. Perhaps Bowes hasn’t noticed that the same can be said of other workers too - the dockers and market porters who marched in support of Enoch Powell in 1968 are obvious examples.

Bowes quotes many instances of police attacks on strikers and demonstrators , especially during the Depression years The sad fact is that politically ignorant workers , fearful for their jobs in hard times , will be more inclined to perform despicable acts and obey savage orders . Police brutality during the 20s and 30s can be largely attributed to this , and Bowes has to admit that police violence during the post-war strikes has been little.

Michael Banton , in his book Policeman in the Community , points out that “

The policeman obtains public co-operation and enjoys public esteem , because he enforces standards accepted by the community”

. In other words , if the police are “pigs” then they are only a reflection of a society of “pigs” : they simply do its bidding. The policeman lives in the community and desires to be part of it and have its respect . He needs , as a social being , the moral support of the community in doing his job and will often disregard the law if it is in conflict with what the community thinks is right. For example , in a society with a high proportion of automobile users like America , the point has been reached where the police often avoid booking for traffic offences because of the loss of respect produced by such action .

The police themselves know the situation. The Federation’s Newsletter has stated that “Without the confidence , approval and support of the public , the police machine as we knowit today would become incapable of fulfilling its function…the history of the police force shows [that] clearly” Exactly . Imagine how the Royal Ulster Constabulary would fare if it tried to hunt out IRA men in the Republic ? Or remember how hopeless was the task of the police in Cyprus and Aden when faced with hostile populations? Anyway , policemen who will draw the line at handing out a traffic ticket because of public disapproval are unlikely to be willing to try quelling a majority determined upon changing society .

Do not misunderstand us about the police : this is not whitewash job . Undoubtedly many policemen have obnoxious Political and Social ideas , and there can be no denying that some of them are prone to use violence . But if they sometimes behave brutally towards students , demonstrators , etc, think how many other workers with all their prejudices would behave towards these , if only they had the policeman’s authority and opportunity.

It is long since time for leftists and radicals to stop being hysterical about the police and to have a saner look at the subject .In the Number 6 issue of Ink , one writer , Peter Laurie , has shown just such a welcome approach when in an article describing his past and present attitudes towards the police , he concludes

“We feel that there are forces of liberation at work in our society and that they are being held up and obstructed by blocks like the police. It seems to me now that the police are no more than an organic expression of the mind of industrialised man : we will not change them until we change the way everyone thinks , until we demolish the great inhuman system that divides us and uses us all”

. Could this be the light at the end of the tunnel?

Our case is that policemen have much the same attitudes as other workers since they are conditioned by the same economical , social and historical forces operating in society. Eventually, the world’s workers , will respond to capitalism’s inhumanities to the extent that they understand and desire the socialist alternative - production for use and the end of exchange relationships. Then Socialist ideas will be just as prevalent in the minds of any policemen who may still be around . They will be for the revolution , not against it .

V.V. Socialist Standard August 1971

1 For a history of the police strikes of 1918-19 se “The Night the Police Went on Strike” by Reynolds and Judge 2Western Socialist number 5 1965
3The Police- A study in Manpower
4The Police and Civil Liberties

red youth crew's picture
red youth crew
Joined: 12-02-09
Feb 17 2009 12:51

A fundamental difference between police and workers however, is their duty to protect property and capital. I remember laughing at talk in a supermarket job, of stopping theft; I was under no obligation nor intention to do so, whilst for coppers, it is mandatory.

Joined: 29-09-06
Feb 17 2009 13:53

Cops are unionized in Poland.
On Feb. 19, police will be organizing a protest in Krakow during the NATO meeting to maintain their early retirement. (The can retire after 15 years. Government wants to make it 25.) On Feb. 20, workers from the military industrial complex, who are on strike, will also be protesting. Apparently they haven't been getting enough orders for their guns, tanks and other tools of destruction.

Some professions belong in the dustbin of history. No support from me.

Joined: 24-08-08
Feb 17 2009 15:12

An anti-cop campaign wouldn't get very far in a peacefull developed country. In times of low class struggle cops are mainly doing helpfull stuff. The people who hate the cops most, apart from lefties, are drunken thugs and junkies who hate the fact the cops stop them from bashing whoever they want.

laureakai wrote:
On Feb. 20, workers from the military industrial complex, who are on strike, will also be protesting. Apparently they haven't been getting enough orders for their guns, tanks and other tools of destruction.

In Melbourne the (privatized) public transport ticket inspectors have the power to detain people until the cops arrive, like if a fare evader refuses to give his details to them. There was the bizzare situation last year where the union was calling for ticket inspectors to be given handcuffs! http://www.greenleft.org.au/2008/752/38887

Maybe the "Cops are Cops" article should mention something about private security and the division of labour of repression.

Joined: 13-10-05
Feb 17 2009 18:50
In Melbourne the (privatized) public transport ticket inspectors have the power to detain people until the cops arrive, like if a fare evader refuses to give his details to them.

this sounds like citizens' arrest (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizen's_arrest)
which, come to think of it, sounds like an anarchist way of doing things. until it was abused. which would happen the first day.
i'm sympathetic to ajjohnstone's position. cops get badges and think they're gods, but what if they came over?

this bit though:

if the police are “pigs” then they are only a reflection of a society of “pigs” : they simply do its bidding. The policeman lives in the community and desires to be part of it and have its respect . He needs , as a social being , the moral support of the community in doing his job and will often disregard the law if it is in conflict with what the community thinks is right.

is idealized (even though the example following it is true enough). there is a very strong internal culture (the 'blue wall'), they do things all the time that are strongly disrespected by communities and get away with it, because they're answering to each other as much as to anyone else. and often enough the community will define 'acceptable' by what the cop does.

Joined: 20-04-08
Feb 17 2009 20:01
none of this cops are working class trot-nonsense though

Whether nonsense or not the SPGB analysis is certainly not derived from any form of Trotskyism .

An article about the ICC from the 1980s reiterates the SPGB position

“We say that the working class is composed of all those who are excluded from ownership and control of the means of production and who are consequently forced, in order to live, to sell their mental and physical energies for a wage or salary, irrespective of the job they do. The working class thus includes office workers and civil servants as well as factory workers and miners and, yes, policemen and members of the armed forces. Indeed, it is partly because we know that the state machine is manned largely by members of the working class that we are confident that the socialist working class majority will be able to establish socialism peacefully. For, when socialist ideas begin to spread among the working class it is most unlikely that those in uniform will remain unaffected. When a majority of workers generally are socialists, so will most of their fellow workers in the armed forces [ and the police forces] be.


cantdocartwheels's picture
Joined: 15-03-04
Feb 17 2009 23:51
weeler wrote:
An anti-cop campaign wouldn't get very far in a peacefull developed country. In times of low class struggle cops are mainly doing helpfull stuff.

Correct position, none of this cops are working class trot-nonsense though!

Well to be fair they are working class, since they have to sell their labour power to pay the rent. The problem with that SPGB article was more that it tried to argue that police are just some sort of expression of a facet of social conciousness, which is just mindless collectivist nonsense that removes human beings of any material agency. Its the same arguement used to excuse criminal or anti-social behaviour on the basis that capitalism made them do it. or war crimes on the basis that people were institutionalised into comitting atrocities.
Still the bit about the 1919 strike and dismissed members still claiming to be on strike years later rings pretty true, my great grandad lost his job in the strike and he always proudly claimed to still be a policeman afterwards when he was asked. Given that he lived in southwark, its not surprising that most of his neighbours just found it amusing.