The Third International after Lenin

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A few preliminary notes on crime and punishment


Crime, punishment, capitalism and the struggle for world socialism

  1. Under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie crime is broadly defined as theft or destruction of property.
  2. Marginal areas of the economy are also criminalized to increase both their profitability and the scope of action for cops and courts.
  3. Police and prosecutors are not in the business of solving crimes.
    1. They are in the business of keeping a certain percentage of the working class, particularly from oppressed nationalities, within the jail-to-court-to-prison food chain.
    2. This cows, demobilizes, and intimidates. The social churn and anxiety created pushes us further apart.
  4. Crimes in working class districts and oppressed communities are not investigated and solved a la C.S.I. Cops and prosecutors select people close at hand to become suspects. They are brow-beaten and tortured to confess, then offered plea-bargains to eliminate the risk of taking such cases to trial.
  5. In working class and particularly oppressed communities cops and criminals both prey upon the people.
  6. Criminality has a matrix of causes under capitalism.
    1. Normal workings of the law of value erode social and class solidarity.
    2. Fundamental morality of capital: each against the other; the other is seen as a money resource only.
    3. The individual is taught to regard themselves as both Napoleon and Narcissus, or Robinson Crusoe.
    4. Individuals are taught to negotiate the social geography of class society by the compass of the cash nexus.
  7. The cops are not “ours”.
    1. Cops, no matter their origins, race, or gender, are trained and act upon the ruling class judgement that workers districts and oppressed communities are enemy territory.
    2. Cops carry out punitive harassment, arrests, assaults, and killings with freedom and impunity. They have a “license to kill.”
    3. Cops consistently remind the most marginal and lumpen workers and oppressed peoples of their subordinate position: psychologically atomized and alienated individuals with no horizon to their lives.
    4. The cops cannot be made to become “ours” pr “protect” our districts and communities.
    5. It is not a bureaucratic error or oversight or institutional incompetence that prevents cops from solving crimes and protecting us from criminals. It is not a problem of governance that can be corrected with new city leadership in cop institutions or consent decrees from the courts.
    6. The book, TV, and movie cultural-media monopolies use their outlets to promote sympathy for cops, especially by focusing on cops as profound individualists doing a thankless job for an ungrateful population. Cop and lawyer are the only occupations depicted in dramatic television programs.
  8. Ruling class spokesmen, elected representatives, and cops have ready answers to any criticism directed at them about crime.
    1. Longer sentences for our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers.
    2. We are told to purchase and carry sidearms.
    3. We are told from an early age to narc on our peers and neighbors.
    4. We are told [and told to teach our children] to think of others as strangers and potentially dangerous threats.
  9. An ideological and propaganda campaign pointing out double standards of the cops, courts, and prisons is only the beginning of wisdom. All too often, it collapses back into liberalism, individual solutions, and a psychological social worker or parole officer mentality.
  10. Fundamental components of a working class campaign against austerity and unemployment and to reawaken the struggle for world socialism are also fundamental components of a working class “anti-crime” campaign that needs to be promoted and recruited-to today.
    1. Work or wages for all at union scale.
    2. A massive WPA-style public works program.
    3. Fully funded youth summer employment.
    4. Fully funded employment and social services for returning prisoners.
    5. Fully funded drug rehab.
    6. Fully funded women’s shelters.
    7. A moratorium on foreclosures and evictions.
    8. Legalize Drugs, immediately. The war on drugs is a war on the poor. The same for the "war on gangs."
    9. Fire and jail cops who beat and kill. Creating an environment where cops are afraid to step out of line because they know they will be punished is an important early step.
    10. End the death penalty. The capitalist class should be prevented from using this weapon on anyone, as they have proven time and time again they do not use for "general social good."
    11. As revolutionary struggles by workers and oppressed people for their own socialist government advance, community militias and squads should replace the police forces. Just as corporations have their own "security guards" and there is a move to privatize the military and police forces, the working class and organizations of oppressed people should establish their own courts, security forces, and institutions of dual power.


1 comment:

  1. Hi, Jay,

    Very thought-provoking. I may have missed these points but I feel there could be more on:

    (1) the racist nature of the attack - which at least in part is a conscious strategy to prevent urban uprisings;

    (2) the prison -industrial complex as one of the few profitable sectors which must have "criminals" to make profits (from toilet paper to phones). On top of that there is the enormous surplus value of prison labor paid at a tiny fraction of the prevailing wage. Crews of prisoners work in the mines, the fields and the construction sites, as well as in the public sector, not only shutting down jobs programs but undermining the most highly unionized sector of the economy which is under tremendous attack. This is also true of the vast # of unpaid hours of work known as "community service". Here in OH there are proposals to have "deadbeat parents" work off back child support through unpaid labor as opposed to incarcerating, really only a subtle distinction. The system saves on the reproduction of labor costs by leaving them to fend for themselves in the community, now truly indigent through having their labor gobbled up by the state.

    (3) the use of torture/long-term solitary/beatings and murder to break the spirits of the most defiant, by doing this place in prisons it is hidden away and automatically justified because they're "criminals." Circular reasoning - or not, because the social control aspect is focused on defiance as the worst crime. It has shown to be contagious. This includes some of our most magnificent, brilliant leaders.

    (4) this outline does not communicate the tremendous unity and courage of the massive prisoner actions in the past year. The prisoners are providing a measure of leadership to the rest of us.