Monday, December 3, 2007

Support your local Sheriff!

At the bottom of the Glen Road in West Belfast a large sign has been erected reading “No bail for Killers”. At one level this represents a call for vengeance from a local family against young thugs accused of the murder of a local shopkeeper, and in many parts of Britain and Ireland would be totally unremarkable.

At another level it is a totally astounding statement, representing an astonishing collapse of political consciousness by the republican base in the area and more generally across the North. This is a community that for three decades organised and fought against a whole series of repressive laws, that saw the judicial and state apparatus as the enemies of freedom, that suffered internment, torture and random killings by the state forces and their paramilitary supporters. Now this community not only looks unthinkingly to the state and judiciary to protect it, it calls for the state to have more repressive powers and for the rights of defendants to be restricted.

There is of course a third level that helps explain the others and that rests in the cynical manipulation of Sinn Fein. The sign was not written by the bereaved family or by the community at large. It was written by those responsible for most of the signs and proclamations in the area – the local Sinn Fein cumann.

The Provos, having cynically justified their support for the police on the ludicrous claim that they would “put manners” on them, have no choice but to justify their turn by offering unconditional support to the state and to become the party of law and order, bringing forward the police and repression as the solution to the social ills arising from the failures of their own struggle and the social decay they left behind. Their shift to the right is best illustrated by their proxy paper, the “Andersonstown News”. Following weeks of centre-page interviews with the local RUC/PSNI, the paper picked on a hapless local hood, gave him front page status and demanded that the police “do something” about him, crowed victory when the cops came up with an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) and then urged their readers to inform if their target was seen outside in curfew time. One reader obliged and the hood ended up behind bars. No-one complained that the ASBO system is a way of jailing people without having to prove that they have broken the law.

Any examination of a standard capitalist society will tell you very quickly that the police, still less the RUC/PSNI, are very definitely not there to protect the working class. The reason they continue to attract support is that shoring them up and demanding that workers kow-tow to them is one of the primary duties of capitalist politicians and the institutions of the state. The Sinners are doing their job – supporting the local sheriff, Its up to socialists to demonstrate the futility of their reactionary politics.

Rud eile.

Just when you thought the Andersonstown News couldn’t get any worse, their columns fill with reactionary denunciations of striking classroom assistants. Did I mention the role of the capitalist media in the protection of property rights and the suppression of the workers?

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