“During the period that British capitalism was able to send its products into the world’s market and successfully compete with the then rising industrial nations, like Germany and America, and when the industrial and political situation was running smoothly, it was possible for the ruling class to adopt a policy of paternal benevolence towards the workers. But when imperialist capitalism began its fierce internecine struggle over markets, zones of influence, sources of raw materials and trade routes, the attitude of the British employers towards the workers was increasingly sharpened.
“Side by side with this intensification of the class conflict the capitalists conducted a strenuous campaign to popularise their views and ideas among the workers. It was at this point that the all-importance of their control over the press made itself felt. From that moment the press has been one of the most aggressive weapons in the interests of capital against labour … Journalism has ceased to be a profession. It has become an engine of commerce for digging up dividends.” (William Paul, Capitalism, Labour and the Press, 1925)
The exposure of News Corporation’s routine criminal practices has surely created many a headache for the company’s employees – especially those in the Metropolitan Police and government offices! For the past couple of years, they have been forced to maintain a charade of ignorance as practices they have been entirely aware of and complicit in have been revealed to the general public – from hacking the phones of murdered children and bomb victims to bribing the police and politicians.
While this has somewhat upset Murdoch’s cabal, with the resignations and subsequent arrests of Rebekah Brooks (chief executive of News International), Andy Coulson (former managing editor of News Of The World and, until recently, the director of communications for the prime minister) and Sir Paul Stephenson (Metropolitan Police Commissioner, surprisingly not arrested), to name a few, the farcical investigation has made no real impact on Murdoch’s empire. After all, his police and government connections surely haven’t disappeared with the sacrifice of a few high-profile employees!
Even Murdoch thinks little of the powers of the law and the capabilities of the police. He was recently caught on tape claiming that the investigation into his media empire’s practices is “a disgrace” and that “the cops are totally incompetent”, and has vowed to “strike back when the time is right”. Fortunately for his criminal crew, he’s pledged to support them even if they’re convicted, and has implied that their jobs at News Corp are safe, even when he hands over his empire to one of his sons or another protégé.
If there’s any more evidence needed that the apparatus of our ‘democratic’ state serves the interests of the wealthy and powerful, you don’t have to look far. The Independent Police Complaints Commission was recently described in a Home Affairs Committee report as having “neither the powers nor the resources that it needs to get to the truth when the integrity of the police is in doubt”.
Indeed, despite some 400 ‘deaths’ at the hands of the police over the past decade, no policeman or woman has been convicted even of manslaughter, never mind murder. Likewise, none of the bankers whose self-serving actions contributed to the recent financial crisis (albeit that they are just one more cog in the wanton exploitation and robbery carried out daily by capitalist imperialism) have been prosecuted. Rather, they have been rewarded with bailouts and massive bonuses courtesy of the taxpayers.
There are no checks and balances for the powerful; no repercussions for the wealthy. All the tools of ‘law and order’ we are told to rely on for ‘justice’ are firmly in the clutches of those they were designed to serve – the capitalist ruling class. The programme of the old Communist Party of Great Britain, Class Against Class, put it this way:
“The law is based upon property and the protection of property interests. The organisation of the forces for the administration of the law is in the hands of the people of property. The police forces are headed with officers of the propertied class. The army and navy are officered by ‘people of means’. The air pilots are drawn from the same class. The press is owned by the lords of property, and they mould the news of the day in the interests of property.”
Without a revolutionary working-class party, guided by the most advanced theory, the political agenda and overall understanding of large sections of the working class, as well as of the leadership of many workers’ organisations, will be set by a powerful media machine held firmly in the hands of the bourgeoisie.
This explains why the unions, as well as the leaderships of various anti-war, anti-racist and anti-cuts campaigns (with a few honourable exceptions) have such a reverence for the rules and institutions of our bourgeois state. This is why we are continually asked to confine our strivings for liberty to ‘demonstrations’ outside No 10 (at a date and time approved by the police), and to respect the decisions of capitalist courts – or, at the absolute outside, to challenge them in yet another (higher) court of bourgeois law!
The truth is that the leaderships of most ostensibly working-class and ‘progressive’, ‘anti-capitalist’ or ‘anti-imperialist’ movements in our country are being monopolised and run either by those who have been hoodwinked by bourgeois propaganda or, worse still, by those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. A few people are making very nice careers for themselves, and reaping handsome rewards, for misdirecting the people. For the rest of us, ‘respecting’ the institutions whose job is to oppress the working class simply serves to legitimise and empower them, enabling further control of the potentially revolutionary masses.
True change that favours the people will not be delivered to us at the hands of a state that serves the billionaire class. News Corp cannot be ‘reformed’ under the conditions of capitalism. The IPCC and other ‘independent’ bodies will not suddenly start to manage the institutions of the state in a ‘neutral’ way, and certainly not in the best interests of the people! Justice will not be won following a peaceful demonstration in a pre-designated area; nor can it be bought by enrolling the masses into a major political party whose main loyalty is to the system of imperialism.
The state’s tools of oppression must be destroyed, the state’s demands for obedience must be ignored, and the state’s streets must be filled with a million cries of “Revolution!”