>>> Wojtek Sokolowski <sokol at jhu.edu> 01/24/00 05:07PM >>>
At 03:14 PM 1/24/00 -0500, Charles Brown wrote:
>CB: The U.S. ruling class covered this for itself during McCarthyism when
the Communists were jailed or removed from jobs, and all the left and communist led unions were purged in Reutherism. Then radical unionists are weeded out by the opportunists who have dominated the AFL-CIO for fifty years. Also, the bourgeoisie have
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Charles, I argued that the while the left's critique of the crimizal justice system was justified in the past because that system was used to suppress working class movement - that critiqu is NOT justified today, because the crimnal justice system is not used in that capacity anymore. Thus, the left is fighting the battles of the past without realizing that today very few people symptahize with that cause.
CB: Yes, I understand you are arguing that way, but recent history is causally connected to the present. The current lack of need for the U.S. ruling class to use heavy elements of the STATE police and prison repressive apparatus is a result of their doing the job in the McCarthy era. The bourgeoisie have the virtue of knowing how to mix liberality with tyranny in a way that they take propaganda advantage of the periods of liberality. It is not a matter of fighting the battles of the past , but pointing out that the bourgeois gross violations of bourgeois civil liberties in the McCarthy period is the reason they don't have to use it today, so their not using it today is not due to an improvement in the fairness and justice of the bourgeois criminal justice system, but a result of the success of its injusts. However, there are also, today, repressions of labor ( I described them briefly) not in the classic state methods.
If the Left does not make historical arguments and train the masses and working classes to think historically, we cannot win the class struggle. So, your disdain of connecting historical events to the present is against the interests of the working class. Presentism is a bourgeois psychology.
In your statement you cite the examples of past usages of the criminal justice system, which seemt to support my position.
CB: They seem to contradict your position.
My rhetorical question was, however, about CURRENT usage of the criminal justice system as a toll of political oppression - and I know that there is no such systematic usage.
CB: Confining your analysis of the present to the present is a methodological error. The present must be analyzed in historical context. What I described was some of the historical context for the misimpression that the bourgeoisie of the U.S. have not viciously repressed the working class and trade union movement in the U.S. , today's more hidden and lessened repression notwithstanding to the contrary. Dare I say the repression of labor today is more Gramscian hegemonic, though it has a necessary state apparatus/violent premise. Also, the police show up at every significant labor picket, so the steel fist is not fully covered up by the velvet glove.
Again that is not to say that the criminal justice system is not politicized, used to muster support, bestow political favors etc. etc. - but that is different from political repression.
CB: More recent than McCarthyism there is a lot of political repression of the U.S. working class and labor movement. The violent and imprisonment repression of the Black Panthers, was a repression of the working class. The busting of the PATCO union was political repression. The federal government takeover of the Teamsters. Right to work for less laws in many states are government repression of labor. If this thread continues , I will come up with a lot more examples of U.S. government repression of labor. The Simpson-Mazzoli bill against migrant labor is a repression of labor.
Also, your are missing importantly, that capitalist countries the capitalist enterprise owners have the ability to punish or repress on a level like the state. There is public and private repression of labor.
You are missing a lot of the repression of labor in the U.S.