Police brutality is only the other face of bourgeois democracy
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 17; Spring 2021)
The November 21st police beating of the music producer Michel Zecler, due to not wearing a mask and being black as well as the brutalities against the teenagers present in the studio, coming after the brutal police dispersals two days earlier against the asylum seekers gathered in the Place de la République, has aroused legitimate indignation. The police officers having accused the producer of rebelling and attempting to take their arms, had placed him in police custody with the police office of Paris; without the surveillance video which established the officers’ lie, he would have been harshly condemned, as happens regularly in similar cases: the judges always have faith in the word of the police officers. It is the same as when the death of Cédric Chouviat, the delivery driver strangled by police during a questioning in Paris on January 3rd, happened - a video allows the police’s recounting of events to be destroyed.
It is precisely in order to guarantee the maximum impunity to the police that the planned law called “global security” desires, among other things, to prohibit the distribution of images that put the police under question and to control the work of journalists who cover demonstrations.
The latest outbursts of police violence as a matter of fact add themselves to a long series that would be too tiresome to count up; it is enough to recall the Adama Traoré affair, the 24 year-old young man killed by police after a questioning in July 2016, that the continued rallies of his relatives has demanded justice not to be buried, to pass by the unchained repression against the “gilets jaunes” (11 deaths and hundreds of injuries), against many different protesters, against the youth in proletarian neighbourhoods, etc.
The current batterings are therefore not the exception, the work of “black sheep” or of “stupidly recruited violent elements” (as the “leftist” politician Mélenchon says); they are the inevitable consequence of the defense of the capitalist system; because the bourgeois order is based on the exploitation of the greatest number, it requires a constant repression of all of those who threaten or challenge this exploitation, of all of those who represent even the least potential threat against the established order and the organisations which assure its continuity.
In the periods of economic prosperity and social calm, this repression, although always violent and present, only appears sporadically. Democracy, which is the political system most adequate for bourgeois order because it obstructs class struggle by pretending to bypass social antagonisms through the ballot, thus presents a peaceful and relatively “benevolent” face.
But in periods of crisis, democracy reveals its true face in exclusive service of capitalist domination: repression manifests itself overtly, taking on a systematic character, evermore violent and “arbitrary”. This is the situation which we are in; the government has used the pretext of a health crisis in order to maximise, with the implicit or explicit accord of every political and trade union force, bourgeois totalitarian domination over society in general and over proletarians in particular. The ruling class knows that the ravages of an economic crisis without precedent cannot avoid arousing sooner or later the reaction of proletarians who are its first victims (according to the November 25th issue of the Macron-aligned weekly Challenges, “The executive is paralysed by the risk of a social explosion”). It is this which fundamentally explains the latest “repressive turn” of the government noted by the media, and not terrorist threats. This “turn” manifests itself most notably through the aggravation of measures against immigrants and asylum seekers, pointing them out as scapegoats for the rest of the population, that through the new security law, coming after so many others: the government, which in reality has never hesitated to use repression to date, thus prepares itself for future confrontations.
But there is another wing to this anti-proletarian preparation, and it is the work of those who claim to oppose it, the trade unions and so-called parties “of the left.”
The rage of tens and tens of thousands of people (2) who manifested on November 28th against police violence has been in fact deflected by the organisers of “Liberty Marches” (from trade union confederations like the CGT, FSU and SUD, to left parties, like the PS, PCF, Insoumis, Greens, NPA, etc.) to a mobilisation against an “attack on democracy” (per the joint declaration by the trotskyist NPA, France Insoumise, and others) and for the defense of the “rule of law”. Of course all of these people do not want to say that the state is the pillar of bourgeois order, charged in this respect with repressing proletarian struggles, and that democracy only serves to mask the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. They do everything possible to consolidate the shaking illusions with regard to the State and democracy, therefore providing irreplaceable assistance to the ruling class. Moreover, when some of them were in government, they have not only served capitalism the best that they could, but they have also actually led for years a repressive escalation against militant workers, youth in struggle and protesters in general (3). Proletarians have already been able to observe innumerable occasions where they have played the part of their adversaries.
The response to aggression, brutality and police crimes can only be effective if it is led in a manner independent of the orientations of the partisans of social peace and agents of collaboration between classes. Only a struggle conducted on class orientations, clearly anti-capitalist, can make the government and the bourgeoisie to back off by mobilising proletarians. This applies as much for defense against police violence as the defense of wage levels, the struggle against dismissals, against the repression of asylum seekers or undocumented workers.
Down with bourgeois democracy, long live the united class struggle of proletarians against capitalism and the bourgeois state!
(1) In the video you can distinctly hear Cédric cry to the police officers who are applying a stranglehold against him: “I’m choking!” It is this which the Minister of the Interior (Minister of the Police) Darmanin will speak of later: “I choke on myself when I hear talk about police violence”...
(2) 135,000 according to the police, 300k to 500k according to organisers.
(3) The former president François Hollande has had the nerve to add his voice to the critiques of the security law in discussion, he who covered up all of the police excesses committed under his mandate, and whose “socialist” Minister of the Interior, Cazeneuve, said in November 2016 with regard to the murder of Adama Traoré: “What I can no longer accept is to permanently put under question [...] the work done by the forces of order, theorising the consubstantiality of police violence.”
International Communist Party