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Empty Victory; Police, State and Students (1970)

Empty Victory

Some people are under the impression that the Wednesday march up Waterdale Road was a success. It was not. It was the collapse of the movement arising frown the suppression of the Friday llth demonstration. This does not matter particularly since many demonstrations will be suppressed in the future, but it does matter that some "marxists" have so mis-analysed the situation.

Last Wednesday's demonstration was no threat to the States at any time they like to the police and government may let you march down the street, equally they may decide not to. The.situation arising out of the previous marches - the spreading of the knowledge that the government and police were quite happy to bludgeon boys and girls into the ground - could have been a threat. At least it would have added new recruits to the battle against the State. Wednesday's demonstration stuffed all that :genial police and genial student "leaders" showing everyone that k whatever had happened before was an isolated incident, a mistake, probably on by the students themselves.

It was entirely predictable that the government would order the police not to attack the march while it was proceeding as planned. The march was no threat and the police's publicity from the previous marches was adverse. The police were not intimidated; the State was not shaking. The 100 police were there to smash any breakaway march.

Some of the Head Marshalls had seen the police. The police knew the route and they knew that some of those marching would be apolitical students and staff i.e. precisely those people who should not have been allowed to see the Wednesday 16th beatings. Any deviation from the route or trouble with the march would be, by definition, due to "extremists" from Monash or the Wharfies, i.e. those people who may be beaten-up. The Head Marshalls undoubtedly assured the police of their tacit support if any action against breakaway groups was "required".

The State is not so much interested in smashing demonstrations as in smashing demonstrators. It wants to put out of action, by harassment, beatings, fines or jail, those who could implement a viable left-wing strategy when such is developed. Hence the violence on the 11th and the l6th. The State does not mind sheep; it is after what it imagines will become wolves.

Police, State and Students

There was nothing unusual about police behaviour on the 11th and the 16th; what was unusual was that students were the recipients. The police usually make a clear distinction between the middle class and what Graham Greene in "Our Man in Havana" calls the "torturable class". Only rarely, and then only to selected individuals, do police deal out the treatment to members of the bourgeoisie.

The actual meaning of the call for an inquiry and the march from Northlands on Wednesday is that police should recognise the student's claim to be bourgeois, either in fact or in embryo. The cry "No Cops on Campus" is simply the bourgeois demand that the police leave the middle class alone and oppress the working class alone.

It is unfortunate that this has been allowed to happen since it means that a new generation will come and pass through University without learning what the police are about.

In general only police in the Vice, Drug or Breaking Squads make much money. The policeman on the beat is underpaid. What then attracts him to the job? The answer is that the policeman is compensating for his lack of control over his own life - a condition arising jointly from his class background, low intelligence and rejection of a proletarian counter-culture i.e. acceptance of bourgeois society's self-image. He compensates for this lack of control by acquiring power over other people; he acquires the right to interfere with other peoples' lives and the right to pursue sadistic modes of behaviour without punishment. The characteristics of a policeman then are the following; acceptance, more or less in toto, of ruling class ideology, usually sadistic or psychopathic tendencies and a tendency towards aggressive behaviour directed towards his class, which he partly rejects, this rejection arising from feelings of social inferiority.

Given these characteristics it is not necessary for the government to order the police to be violent. They will be so independently of the party in power. Police violence is an effect of the hierarchical structure of society; the same form of social organisation that calls them into being determines their chief characteristic. Why should we expect anything different? But independently of whether police do perform a real function in keeping down crime, and legitimate doubts have been raised about this, they also are one of the major props of the system that created them. We must abolish police and the State together. As shown in Barcelona in 1937, the revolution must abolish the police force or the police force, in the hands of the new rulers, will abolish the revolution.

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