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The dogs of war

"Political Policing" means pulling your punches

15 February 2015

Three sociologists attend a conference in Dublin.

"I'm here to see how political policing works" said the first.
"There's no such thing as political policing" said the second.
"That's how it works" said the third.

The wave of repression against water charges activists and political representative and the branding of protests as major crime has seen the revival of the term "political policing."  

The term was invented by Sinn Fein in the early days of the peace process. They had accepted that the British state would act in a neutral way to facilitate equality. Yet the British used the police to pressure Sinn Fein and their supporters and conciliate loyalist reaction.

"Political Policing" meant that the state and police were neutral forces being diverted from their proper function by sinister forces. The Shinners went on to invent the term "securocrat" to give flesh to this imaginary group.

Yet there are hundreds of years of working class history, libraries of Marxist theory, all of which tell us that the cops, the judiciary and the state are instruments of capitalist rule.

Why then has Paul Murphy, eirigi and the Irish left resurrected the term? It carries exactly the same connotation, that the state and the police are neutral and that some sinister individuals are perverting them from their normal function.

The fact is that the Socialist Party has always believed that the state was essentially neutral and that if the socialists could win a parliamentary majority then they could make the state serve the workers.

In fact a whole series of disclosures show the Garda as an utterly corrupt, brutal force, servants of an utterly corrupt gombeen capitalism. The left's reformism left it at arms length while TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace led the exposures.

Paul's fellow TD, Ruth Coppinger, was much closer to the truth when she provoked general outrage by saying that the government had "let lose the dogs (of war)." 

We are not facing an isolated event of "Political Policing," that can be dealt with through statements of condemnation. We are dealing with the first skirmishes in a state war against water charge campaigners.

That requires an open mass democratic movement that sets out to mobilise the majority of the working class in its own defence.

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