In their own words – SP on the capitalist state

The AAA have now posted the speeches from the Cork public meeting and in reviewing those I’ve looked a bit more closely at one issue where what the SP/AAA outline as a political problem is completely at odds with the concrete programme they propose for dealing with that problem.

Here is Paul’s speech to the meeting followed by some quotes from various points in it:

…it isn’t new for the state to be used to defend the interests of the rich, of the elite, of the powerful in society. That’s what happens, that’s the role of the state in our society.

Paul gives various examples of working class activists facing imprisonment for standing up for workers’ rights and then repeats the same point on the role of the state:

…so this happens – fundamentally the state operates to defend the interests of the rich.

Later on Paul returns to this issue in more detail:

…in many respects the different arms of the system are doing the work of socialists right now, they’re exposing themselves right now, they’re exposing the reality of how we do not live in a free and democratic society. How we live in a society, precisely as Joe said, that is a dictatorship of the markets, a dictatorship of the rich.

One of the other factors that they hate, because it exposes that reality, is they hate it when we say political policing, when we say political judging. Because it cuts right through the legal formalism at the heart of how politics is taught, and how democracy is taught. It’s this idea, that nobody in the real world actually believes right, but the politicians believe it even though they act against it, and sections of the media believe it. It’s the idea that we have the Dáil over here, the government over here, the Gardaí over here, the judges over here and that they’re completely separate from each other, they all operate completely independently. Everybody knows that’s not what happens because we expose it by calling it out, by saying political policing, by saying political judging.

That it doesn’t mean that Joan Burton has to lift the phone to get onto the Garda Commissioner to say come on here, arrest Paul Murphy, he’s bothering me in the Dáil at the moment. That’s not how it has to work because it’s one rotten system, different arms of the same rotten system, people who come from the same class, they represent, they have the same world view, the same outlook of the economic and political establishment in this country. It’s not an accident the top Gardaí are appointed by the government, the judges are appointed by the government, and so they all reflect the outlook of an establishment that is incredibly scared of what’s happening and is looking to use repression to cut across it.

This is all a pretty accurate representation of social reality in my view – under capitalism policing and judging is always political.

The logical solution for any revolutionary socialist (as the SP describe themselves) would therefore surely be to call for replacing this rotten institution with a new one based on the democratic organs of working class self-organisation that Paul correctly counterposes to the fake democracy of capitalism elsewhere in his speech.

But how does the actual programme of the SP/AAA deal with this problem of the role of the state in defending the interests of the capitalist’s dictatorship as part of that state’s intrinsic nature?

Instead of a revolutionary Marxist position the underlying reformism of the SP comes to the fore so instead they propose tweaking the governance of the Gardaí within the existing capitalist framework. As if this could overcome the fact the Gardaí are one arm of the rotten capitalist system and their policing is therefore inherently pro-capitalist:

We demand that this political policing is brought to an end. The Gardaí should have no role to play in policing community campaigns and struggles by working class people. Democratic community control over the Gardaí is needed as an alternative to the Gardaí being run as a centralised force led by a Government-appointed Commissioner.


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