Law enforcement and prison: their origin during the Great Expropriation and their role in the return to primitive accumulation. – By Mal Content.

C.W. racism, slavery.

To put law enforcement and the prison-industrial complex in their historical and social context, these are very recent innovations, hastily constructed by the ruling class in response to a crisis.

This is the way ruling classes have worked pretty much since records began. They create a disastrous state of affairs and introduce drastic measures, then persuade their subjects it was unavoidable.

What is striking about these institutions is their absolute continuity of purpose since their inception during the Great Expropriation. We had been ripped from the land that supported us from prehistory, robbed of our means of subsistence and forced into alienated labour in the factories, workhouses, and prisons.

Factories and prisons developed in parallel for the same purpose, to use our bodies for the augmentation of capital.

Look at a Victorian prison, workhouse or factory and spot the difference. Workers who had hitherto been disciplined only by the sun and the seasons were chained to the clock and the machine, forbidden to speak or associate freely, housed in overcrowded, unhealthy slums.

One of the consequences of the creation of ‘free proletarians’ was that the iron discipline of the machine age ended at the factory gates. A mass of very unhappy people were being trained to think and act as a unit rather than as individuals then turned loose every night; how would they react when threatened?

There were no prisons in late mediaeval society.

There were dungeons for political prisoners and captured soldiers. There were local lock-ups for unruly characters, those awaiting trial or held hostage pending payment of a debt or fine. By far the most common reason for incarceration was debt, and this was a simple extortion racket.

The first state prison was Millbank, built in 1816, in the white heat of the Great Expropriation, three years after the Luddite insurrection. The land enclosures were a fait accompli but there were revolutions on the continent. Across the Atlantic there were slave uprisings in the Caribbean and the plantation states.

Law enforcement came first.

Anglo-Saxon communities were protected by the concept of frankpledge (frith-borh) or collective accountability, based on the tithing, a voluntary association of ten households, grouped into hundreds, then into shires. Members of the tithing swore to be responsible for each other’s good conduct and to offer up or stand surety for any member accused of an offence. Each was obliged to raise hue and cry and to assist in the pursuit and apprehension of the offender. Mutual responsibility was ultimately underwritten by the hundred’s land holding. The Norman Conquest turned land into property held in feudal title by lords; so serfs could not offer surety, making the lords responsible for justice on their Manors, administered by constables and sheriffs (shire-reeves).

The system of mutual social obligation gave way to the values of one class being imposed on the other by force.

Prompted by the French Revolution and threats of invasion, yeomen cavalry were raised, low-grade gentry who were given a uniform, a horse and free grog then turned loose on the Working Class, as in the Peterloo massacre of 1819. In the cities there were hired ‘thieftakers’ and professional perjurers called ‘strawmen’, and stipendiary magistrates, petty bourgeois dispensing summary punishment.

The architect of modern law enforcement was Napoleon Bonaparte’s police minister Joseph Fouché, the ‘butcher of Lyons’, former enforcer for the revolution’s National Convention.

What the butcher gave Napoleon was his innovation of ‘high and low’ policing. On the one hand political surveillance by a network of undercover cops, paid informers and agents provocateurs. On the other what he contemptuously called “the policing of prostitutes, thieves, and lamp posts” which was best left to the lower orders. ‘Workers in uniform’ who were explicitly not to be selected for their intelligence, initiative or integrity. With the uniform comes a baton, a foolish swagger and a fantastic sense of entitlement.

The Peterloo massacre led to outcry even amongst the petty bourgeoisie. The class interest of the yeomanry was too obvious. Robert Peel introduced Fouché’s system lock, stock and barrel with the formation of the Metropolitan police in 1829.

Peel wanted the Working Class complicit in its own oppression.

Peel said things like: “workingmen (sic) must be disciplined by workingmen”. “The police are the public and the public are the police” But what exactly did Peel mean by the public? He was opposed to the people’s charter and universal suffrage, and only about nine percent of the population of England and Wales had any say in the laws that made crime a matter of survival for the rest.

The Met was used as a de-facto riot squad from the start, even being dispatched to Birmingham to take on the Chartists. In February 1832 it inserted Sergeant William Popay under a false identity into the National Political Union, as a spy and agent provocateur. It was more than a year before he was unmasked, in a routine that will be familiar to the reader, Popay was dismissed as a ‘loose cannon’ and it was business as usual for the rest.

In 1819, the year of the Peterloo massacre, the government of South Carolina established mandatory slave patrols.

These were a form of yeomanry. Since 1671 there had been slave patrols that brought back runaway African-Americans to be tortured and killed. Once a plantation worker had escaped they were considered worthless as a slave so the agenda was to inflict on them grotesque punishments from which they would inevitably perish.

Prompted by two attempted insurrections, the new law compelled all white, adult males to serve in the patrols, so that the whole of white society was deputised into the subjugation of the majority (in the Carolinas) African-American population. Patrols were given carte blanche to enter dwellings, detain slaves and dispense summary justice.

Carolina’s constitution, the first document to enshrine human chattel slavery in law, had been co-written by the philosopher John Locke, ‘father of Liberalism’ and originator of the ‘Social Contract’, whereby citizens consent to be governed in return for a measure of security and utility. Locke’s theory of property derived from ownership of the ‘self’. He managed to work justifications for conquest and slavery into his philosophy, as he had a great deal of money invested in them.

The constitution defined the slave as one who could not own property. In Locke’s terms, this applied to a slave’s own flesh, time, their productive and creative abilities. Other articles created hereditary nobility and serfdom, and a hierarchical voting system based on land ownership.

When the United States government ‘abolished’ slavery in response to the Civil War, it left itself a loophole. The Thirteenth Amendment allows for the enslavement of prisoners “as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted”. All that was necessary then, to retain people as slaves was to get them duly convicted. The remainder would be proletarianised with incarceration as a penalty for refusal.

The US plantation to prison-industrial system evolved smoothly from the Louisiana Purchase to the present day – we all know the Parchman Farm blues. Even the Civil War was barely a shudder. Modern US prisons are full of black and brown bodies generating surplus-value at maximum efficiency.

Proletarianisation is incarceration.

Simply because it makes the survival of our bodies dependant on their availability to augment capital and reproduce capitalist power relations.

The indignity of wage labour, of submission to command, of maintaining a pretence of deference and servility in return for not much more than the reproduction cost of your labour-power, is a gross violation. It sits on a sliding scale that leads logically to prostitution and enslavement. It forces you into complicity, not only with the reproduction of capitalist power relations, but with the maintenance of racial, gender and class roles written for you by the hegemonic group.

The line between legal slavery and legal freedom is in the subtle distinction between power based on a right to take life, and the capacity to restrict access to the necessities of life. The advocates of chattel slavery understood this all along, perhaps even better than their opponents:

“Mr. President, if we recognize no law as obligatory, and no government as legitimate, which authorizes involuntary servitude, we shall be forced to consign the world to anarchy; for no government has yet existed, which did not recognize and enforce involuntary servitude for other causes than crime. To destroy that, we must destroy all inequality in property; for as long as these differences exist, there will be an involuntary servitude of man to man. … Your socialist is the true abolitionist, and only he fully understands his mission.”

– Virginia Senator Robert M.T. Hunter, March 25, 1850

My italics.

The modern state maintains social relations by putting the means of production, and thus all the products of social labour, behind the barrier of private property. All citizens have the same rights to acquire and dispose of property, but having the legal right to do something does not give you the means to do it. The state decrees that the barrier may only be accessed by exchanging its currency for the property-right, and that its subjects must compete for this social access by excluding others. The state would be buggered if people stopped competing for its currency.

The money economy is not concerned, as economists often claim, with allocation of scarce resources, but with the regulation of human activity by limiting access. We are all, for practical purposes incarcerated; there are no exceptions. In the modern prison-industrial system you are either a cog in the machine or the grease, you are a generator of surplus-value or raw material to the industry that profits from managing your inability to do so. A raw material that, if carefully managed, need never be consumed.

As technology makes wage labour ever less profitable and more futile, bourgeois society relies increasingly on fictitious capital, that which augments itself without the medium of commodity exchange, threatening to force us all into precarity, pauperage and prison. Capitalism returns inevitably to primitive accumulation, as wealth inequality reaches Pharonic proportions, slavery is back with a vengeance.

We are ceasing to be productive forces and becoming raw materials. The cohorts of petty managers, the DWP, cops, courts and probation, security firms and private mental hospitals that charge a grand a day, all have a vested interest in keeping you on their books. Yet another industry is dedicated to making us fear one another, creating suspicion and hostility among our Class, and feeding off the resulting misery. Now the media make us complicit in our own oppression.

If you’ve even been locked up, even briefly, subject to the whims of guards and warders, part of you remains incarcerated; for as long as there are locks and turnkeys, your agency is on loan to you. Once you’ve looked down the barrel of a gun you understand viscerally that the state stands always ready to kill, that the gun was at your head since the day you were born. The rich slaughter us in droves but the prisons are full of poor people.

Either side of the prison walls the engine runs on material inequality and imbalance of power, white supremacy, ableism and patriarchy. The violence bred by poverty and exclusion, and the fear of it, the jealousy and hate that are the inevitable companions of status and hierarchy give rise to every malevolent act, legal or illegal.

Without these aberrations, the only cause of ‘crime’ would be a malfunction of the brain, a grave misapprehension, a temporary loss of control. No law or penal system ever stood a chance of preventing or remedying such an event.

Justifications for prison fall into four categories, in no particular order:

Deterrence, Rehabilitation, Punishment or Removal for public safety. However, there is no consensus among prison advocates/apologists on the validity of any of these concepts or their relative importance.

Deterrence is a preposterous idea that flies in the face of everyday experience, most of us learn early in life that the people you’re afraid of aren’t afraid of you. If crucifixion and scaphism didn’t put them off, prison isn’t going to do it either.

Rehabilitation is demonstrably ineffective, wishful thinking.

Punishment is a metaphysical concept, a sort of abstract revenge; the law actually calls it ‘retribution’. However, the state can’t take revenge because it doesn’t represent any people, only a mode of production. Crimes against the person are merely breaches of the state’s monopoly on violence so the victim is not a protagonist but a witness and/or a piece of physical evidence. Retribution is reserved for the ruling class, unless you’re a member of that class it offers you nothing but a pathetic schadenfreude.

The last one applies in a vanishingly small number of cases and only defers the problem.

It’s a weird kind of argument to say “one or more of these propositions must be true but we’re not sure which ones”

The abolition of wage labour and the abolition of incarceration are inseparable.

Transaction and coercion are two sides of the same coin. Coercion is a negative transaction; it makes no sense to do away with one and keep the other. Where free people associate voluntarily to their mutual benefit, they will agree codes of conduct and remedies for transgression. They will reserve the right of self-defence against predation, but such actions will be mandated by the entire community, not by a select cadre of bureaucrats or professional thugs.

It will be an issue for the autonomous community how it arranges these matters, but I have not the slightest doubt that a free association of liberated, self-confident individuals, will come up with better solutions than the bourgeoisie. Especially to problems created by the residue of bourgeois values. The left may love their gulags, but there will be no prisons in a real communist society, for none may be free until all are free.

Senator Hunter can spin in his grave, we’ll consign the world to anarchy.

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Red And Black Telly: PRINCE ANDREW – RAPIST, NONCE, OR BOTH ?

Street Medics — Keeping Our Movements Healthy and Safe

medium.com

This is the third segment in the Lawyers, Lockboxes and Money series, a project that explores the role shared social movement infrastructure has played in social movement uprisings and how this infrastructure has evolved over time, moving across issue areas and geographies to knit together a shared fabric of progressive social movements.

Over the past decade, people across the US and around the world have taken to the streets in wave after wave of popular uprising. They have camped out in city centers and remote construction sites through hot summers and cold winters. They’ve faced down militarized police forces with their chemical weapons, fire hoses, tasers, clubs, and rubber bullets. And in each of these uprisings, teams of medics have mobilized alongside protestors, warriors and protectors, to keep our movements healthy and safe and in the streets.

DC Medic Collective

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AWSM Archives: “No Blood For Water”?

Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement

AWSM Note: Here we re-post an article that first appeared on our previous site in July 2013. It was written by our long term guest contributor ‘Pink Panther’ and looks at the geopolitical situation in Syria at that time.

Since 1975 most of the major military conflicts – Lebanon, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Afghanistan and Libya – have been civil wars. Regional or super powers have intervened supposedly to save lives and resolve each conflict. They supposedly try to do this by removing the “bad guys” but have ended up leaving the country they came in to ‘save’, an even bigger mess than it was before they intervened. Often, this is because the intervention is driven by profit or a power obsessed ideology, rather than any understanding of the real situation.

In Vietnam the conflict was not just about the imperialists/capitalists on one side and the communists on the other. It was also a war between the people who lived in the highlands and those who lived in the lowlands, a war between the Catholic minority that dominated political life in South Vietnam and the Buddhist majority and a war between a Soviet-backed elite in Hanoi and a U.S-backed elite in Saigon (today Ho Chi Minh City). Only the ideologues on both sides believed it was a war of freedom or liberation. For most people it was a pointless and incredibly expensive bloodbath that left millions of Vietnamese civilians dead and deadly ordinance lying around everywhere, which still kills hundreds of people every year.

The war in Afghanistan in the 1980s was also portrayed in a breathtakingly simplistic manner by both its supporters, who painted it as a war against communist tyranny and liberation, and one waged over gas and oil by its opponents. It was actually more a civil war between tribal groups, warlords and a puppet government backed by the Soviet Union. It was also an ethnic and sectarian conflict. In what would later rebound badly, the United States backed the Muhajadeen’s war against the communists. The superpower did this by using the Muhajadeen’s Islamic religion as a motivator to encourage a fight against the infidels in the country. The Muhajadeen not only slaughtered the more moderate elements of Afghan society but once the Soviets were gone, they imposed a theocratic regime that was far worse than anything done by the Soviet Union.

Cue forward twenty years and the United States has found itself bogged down fighting the children of those Muhajadeen fighters they trained to fight the Soviets in the 1980s. In response, the same tiresome slogans have been trotted out by liberals and elements on the Left, while the supporters of the war claim it’s a war against the bogeyman of terrorism. This is done even though none involved in the terror attack used to justify the invasion of Afghanistan – the 9/11 attacks – were Afghan nationals. Most of those involved in the attacks were from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan.

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Red and Black Telly: FRIDAY 13th ANTI-TRUMP DEMO

The state’s resources will be stretched to the limit protecting this buffoon. Think globally, fuck locally. Unlucky for some.

President Erdogan is as dangerous as President Trump. By Zaher Baher

From zaherbaher.com where you can also find it in Kurdish.

The system is always able to create dangerous people but the real danger is the system itself. The system also makes the people powerless, helpless and slaves too through its dark forces of which the Media is one.

Media is a part of this system, portraying heads of state, powerful people and celebrities as either good or bad. In this way Media does a great job in protecting and preserving the system. It does this by diverting people’s attention from real problems. It is always better for the state, the United Kingdom (UK) that its people do not take important issues they are facing seriously. Health services, education, housing and homelessness, immigration, racism, the railways and Brexit are just a few of them.

Since Trump came to power, Media almost everywhere tries to discredit him and dismiss him as the most dangerous man in the world and call him any name. There is no doubt that most of what the Media says about Trump is right but no doubt the system from time to time needs people like him.

Is president Trump dangerous and a real threat to the world?

Many of President Trump’s polices from beginning to the present are wrong and inhuman from cutting health care, racist and inhuman immigration policy, continuing the global “war on terror”, withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, abortion restrictions, cutting taxes on the rich and corporations, withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran nuclear agreement, to moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in recognition of Israel’s claim to Jerusalem as its capital.

He is an extremist, sexist, bigoted, prejudiced, anti-Islamic and can be fascistic too. He is the most powerful person in the world and the head of the most powerful state as well.

Many of us because of the above reasons think he is the most dangerous person and is a major threat to the world and peace. Certainly he can be. But the words ‘can be’ are very much different from ‘is’ and also we should know that he is very fragile and weak although he became powerful through the election process. And his support can be limited by the wealth of corporations and only extends to a certain degree. At most, his power may be extended to six more years while there is the possibility of having only two more years as it is doubtful that he will be elected again even that is what he wants. Whatever he wants he still cannot reshape the fate of the Middle East as a whole let alone of the world.

How about President Erdogan? Is he less dangerous or less of a threat to the world or at least to the Middle East?

Let me remind the readers about him and his polices and the actions of his political party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), then I leave it for the readers to make their own judgement.

President Erdogan from the very beginning was an extremist and fanatical as he came from an Islamic background and described himself as a conservative democratic. He was the Mayor of Istanbul form 1994 to 1998. He was stripped of his position, banned from political office, and imprisoned for four months, for reciting a poem that promoted a religious point of view of the government during a speech in 1998.

He founded the AKP in 2001 and won three general elections in 2002, 2007 and 2011. He was the Prime Minster from 2003 to 2014 and then became the President of Turkey.

Like Trump he is a sexist, bigoted, prejudiced, extremist and racist. He is fanatically religious, nationalist and certainly a vicious dictator and fascist. He and his National Intelligence Organisation, (MIT) is the creator of Islamic State with the help of Qatar and the US.

He tried to expand his Kalifate beyond Turkey and dreamt of bringing back the times of the Ottoman Empire. He intervened viscously in Syria and Iraq and tries to play a major role in the whole region to consolidate his power. He abused his power to restart war not just with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) but with all Kurdish people in Turkish Kurdistan (Bakur) after two policemen were killed in June 2015 which the PKK always denied. He banned active members and supporters of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and the PKK. Thousands of activists and politicians including many HDP MPs and both heads of the HDP are in prison. Since July 2015 so many Kurdish civilians have been killed or injured, over 400,000 people displaced from their own homes and so many towns and villages destroyed.

He justified the military coup of July 2016 in order to imprison many thousands from the military, politicians and civilians including judges, prosecutors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, academics and journalists and dismissed many more thousands from their jobs. On 16th April 2017 he held a constitutional referendum to approve 18 proposed amendments to the Turkish constitution in order to create an executive presidency and presidential system. This would allow him to stay in power as head of the state until 2029. On January 20th, of this year he ordered an attack on Afrin, one of the Kurdish Cantons in the North of Syria, a most peaceful place, commonly known as Rojava. It was invaded after 58 bloody days of fighting, on 18th of March. Recently he brought the Turkish general election forward from Nov 2019 to 24th of June fearful of losing power.

While he still supports terrorist groups, especially Isis, financially and logistically he is a very big threat to innocent people in the US, UK, the rest of Europe, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan and also to peace in the Middle East. So the longer his stay in power the more dangerous it will be for Turkey, the region, Europe and the US.

The question here is why a man with this character and terrible record is not seen as being dangerous? Why was he not faced by hundred of thousands of angry protesters when he visited the UK on 13th of May?

Of course he should have been made unwelcome by a huge number of angry protesters. But the Media and the State in the UK did not want that to happen to avoid embarrassing both the Prime Minster and President Erdogan. The Media here usually silent or only very covers the atrocity that has been going on for so long against Kurdish and activists in Turkey.

As for the Prime Minster and her government, it was not just a matter of being silent about Erdogan and his government. It was business as usual. In fact, the failed coup and suppression of the Kurdish and others by the state of Turkey were beneficial for May’s government. On the same day, she met Erdogan she made a declaration of support for him and denounced the Kurdish as “terrorists” and, since 2016, the UK sold over £1bn of weapons to Turkey.

For those of us who did not know before, we should now know it is not in the interests of the UK to denounce Erdogan as Turkey is one of the strongest members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), of being an important key ally in the fight against “terrorism “and an indispensable partner for future trading in a post-Brexit world.

So the recent demonstrations and protests against the visit of Mr Erdogan on 15th May and of his government have been left for the Kurdish, Turkish and a tiny minority of leftists, Trade unionists, socialist and anarchists. I am not surprised.

Zaher Baher, May 2018

Red And Black Telly: TRUMP-THE HYPOCRISY CONTINUES.