The police and military
during the revolution
Updated: 21 May 2008, 23:39
Originally written: 27 October 2005
By far, most who call themselves “revolutionary socialists” promote violent revolution, partly based upon the belief that the police and military are, and will remain monolithic, pro-capitalism, anti-revolutionary organizations. That perspective leads them to believe that these agents of the state would slaughter every socialist they could find if socialists won an election and the working class was about to rebuild society for humanity as a whole.
There is much historical evidence which shows that the military and police remain loyal to capitalism. That evidence only applies if you take the Leninist/Trotskyist approach, believing that workers can, and should, be led into socialism, kicking and screaming. That perspective would be laughable if it had not been so deadly to workers. Minority “socialist/communist revolution” is a fantasy to which would-be leaders cling, and for which workers die without establishing socialism.
If, instead of playing to leaders’ bloated egos, we take a rational approach, the situation will be very different. Instead of a minority, there will be a lopsided majority in favour of the revolution for socialism.
The police and military are not composed of other-worldly beings. They are composed of working people — our friends and relatives.
If those people believe that the legitimate authority has commanded them to stop a violent minority from disrupting society, the majority of them will most likely follow their orders. That is the only situation that the faux socialist leaders seem able to imagine. But with a more practical approach, the cops and soldiers (including those in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and every other military arm) will see a different legitimate authority. The new legitimate authority will not be the capitalists and their followers who have garnered maybe a 20 percent vote, but the workers who have a landslide 80 percent. The specific numbers are just to illustrate a lopsided majority.
At least some Trotskyists believe that soldiers and the police are not part of the working class. Soldiers and the police are working people who need jobs under capitalism. They are therefore working class, not some dreamed up class imagined by Trots. Unless the rest of the working class sets out to alienate the cops and soldiers — which is a really stupid idea — they will know that their loyalties belong with their own class: the working class. There is no reason to believe that our brothers and sisters and children and parents and friends in the state’s agencies of cooercion will remain loyal to the small minority capitalist perspective and its obviously defeated government.
Legitimacy is something the faux socialists do not understand. They seem to believe that their supposedly “right-thinking, progressive” minority can be the legitimate authority. They are wrong. Legitimate authority will be the provably huge majority which has captured the state by democratic force (the ballot). That legitimacy will be undeniable. And, the majority of cops and soldiers will be socialists.
The irrational hatred of the people who work in the agencies of state repression must be overcome. The state today — an agent of the capitalist class — has the legitimate authority sanctioned by the majority of the working class which votes for capitalism in every election. The vast majority of the non-voters also acquiesce to capitalism. Given that we live under capitalism, which breeds hatred and civil disobedience which most oppose, it is no surprise that the police and military can attract people to try to keep capitalism at least somewhat orderly. It should be no surprise that those who violently distrupt societ will be targeted by the police and military. The individuals in the police and military forces — as do the huge majority of the rest of our class — see violent disruption of society as something to be stopped.
But even with all that background, soldiers have turned their tanks around when confronted by a single person (remember Tiananmen Square, 1989). Police officers have shown that they are not necessarily anti-worker.
The policies and warped view of the world which come from the faux socialists, turn people away from socialism before people can learn about real socialism. The faux socialists alienate a large section of our class — the majority necessary for the success of the revolution.
The people in the military and police forces are people with the same problems as everyone else. Do not remain trapped by hatred generated by the many very disgusting episodes of the past. Those episodes have not stopped yet, but attitudes are changing — slowly — and we must encourage positive changes by individuals in the police and military organizations. Socialists invite everyone in the state’s repressive machinery, and the rest of the working class, to open their eyes and see that the problems of capitalism really are problems of capitalism, not problems necessarily inherent in human society.
When people begin to understand why capitalism must be replaced by socialism, people outside and inside the state’s agencies of repression will acquire new ideas of what is, and is not, acceptable behaviour for those agencies.
State repression is an inescapable reality of capitalism. Every step closer to socialism, the ability of the state to use its repressive capabilities will diminish. When we are ready to establish socialism, the state will not be able to use the police and military against us.