"Welfare and Warfare: How the State Works" What is the State? A defining feature of Marxism, which sets it apart from other political trends, is its theory of the state and its program and policies for dealing with it. But what is the state?
The Welfare State: State Intervention in the Economy
IN MODERN society, the term “state” is used in many contexts. Probably one of the most frequent is in “the welfare state” or “state intervention,” for example, to shore up failing companies. This really refers to central provision by government of an infrastructure, a framework for the development of society.
Even such provision as the welfare state bears the marks of class society. The various services and benefits were conceded by the ruling class because of the need, particularly in times of full employment, for a healthier, more exploitable population. Welfare provision was also conceded, after the second world war especially, when the capitalist class feared a more far reaching working-class movement if concessions were not made.
However, the welfare state has always been an area of conflict. The working class has seen the welfare state as a vital safety net, which provides basic health, education and security. The capitalists use such provision to discipline workers, for example, by withdrawing benefits from strikers.
They also use different wings of the state to uphold their capitalist ideology, for example, the government criticisms of single parents or the continual harassment of the long-term unemployed, implying that they are lazy. In this way the ruling class attempts to deflect blame from themselves onto the victims of their system and undermine the support and confidence of those who campaign for better benefits.
But also, state intervention has been used in the past to provide cheap utilities such as gas, electricity and transport to private industry to maximise their profits. These state utilities were also important to the quality of life of working-class people.
Any society needs provisions of this sort. In a socialist society, they would be massively expanded, run for human need not profit, and subject to democratic control by workers and users. The resources would be provided by a planned, democratically controlled economy.
However, the main sense in which Marxists use the term 'state' is to describe the institutions by which class rule is maintained. We live in a class society where the ruling class does not represent the interests of the whole population, where a tiny minority maintains its power and privileges by exploiting the majority. They have to persuade the majority to accept this situation.
They do this partly through their control of ideas, for example, through their ownership of the mass media, their general control of education and other institutions. They try to persuade people that their system is the only and best way of organizing society, almost to the extent of being "natural."
But their ideas and system clash with the interests of working-class people. For example, if the working class believed the news and political commentators, they would never go on strike. But workers find that without organization and a willingness to take action, they cannot maintain living standards.
So, when propaganda and conditioning fail and working-class people and even sections of the middle classes oppose the ruling class, the ruling class use the police, the courts, the law and sometimes the army to defend their profits and power. They did this, for example, when they evicted the Occupy Wall Street occupations, assassinated Civil Rights leaders, and suppressed Black Lives Matter demonstrations and other major protests in the past.
The capitalist class need a special apparatus to ensure that their class rule continues. The core of the state, the part which it falls back on to ensure its rule when all else fails, is the repressive apparatus - the police, the army, the courts and the various intelligence agencies -- the CIA, FBI, NSA, etc. (Engels described the state as ultimately being "a body of armed men"). Carrying through the transition to a socialist society inevitably includes major strategic and tactical problems in defeating these agencies which exist to defend capitalist class rule.
Has the 'state' always existed?
IF YOU never read another work of Marxism again, you should read Lenin's brilliant pamphlet The State and Revolution. Lenin explains that the state arose when society first divided into antagonistic classes.
For centuries humans lived in egalitarian societies, what Karl Marx and his co-thinker Friedrich Engels referred to as “primitive communism,” where all people were dependent on one another and co-operation was the guiding principle of society. However, as labor became more productive, society produced a surplus beyond its immediate needs.
This created the conditions for class society - the minority who came firstly to administer and then to control and own this surplus, and protected their right to it by force. The class with economic dominance and power, the ruling class, created the state to protect itself, hold down its adversaries and guarantee that its will was implemented. This is a very important point because the reverse is also true. When classes themselves disappear, as a classless socialist society comes into being, that same force will no longer be needed. In a famous phrase of Marx, the state would begin to”'wither away.”
Class society based on the private ownership of the means of producing wealth has taken different forms. When the capitalist class in England began to develop, for example, they had to wage a Civil War in the 1640s against the existing feudal state to establish a new state that would serve their own capitalist, class interests. They became the new ruling class.
Different Forms of Capitalist State
THE TYPICAL form of state in the advanced capitalist countries today is capitalist ('bourgeois') democracy. Governments are elected by general election, and there are wide democratic freedoms - although in many countries these are under threat. Bourgeois - that is, capitalist - democracy hasn't always existed: workers and the oppressed have carried out long struggles to win democratic freedoms such as the right to vote, to organize and the right to strike.
In many ways bourgeois democracy is more convenient for the capitalists, enabling them to maintain their domination without risky and unpopular dictatorial measures. In the last 60 years, the capitalist class has had some nasty experiences with non-democratic forms of rule. For example, fascism in Germany and Italy cost a world war and massive destruction.
In the last analysis however, if the capitalists feel threatened by the growing power of the working class, they will resort to other forms of capitalist state. In the 20th century typical alternatives to capitalist democracy have been military dictatorship (such as existed in Greece after the colonels' coup in 1967, or Chile after the military coup in 1973) and fascism, such as existed in Germany under Hitler and Italy under Mussolini. In both military dictatorships and fascist regimes, democratic parliamentary rights, trade union and political rights, are abolished and the ruling class gives power to a small group which governs by coercion and terror. Contrary to a common misconception, Hitler did not win the German election of 1933; he was handed power by the ruling elite.
The type of regime which emerges in each historical period depends on how confident the bourgeoisie feels to grant democratic rights.
But every ruling class will revert to authoritarian forms of rule if it has to. The ruling class in the U.S. is no exception. In 1970 when the working class of Chile elected a reformist Socialist president, Salvador Allende, the U.S. and Chilean ruling elites attempted for three years to undermine the workers’ movement through various means -- economic sabotage, media propaganda, and legislative obstructionism. When those tactics failed and only served to deepen and radicalize the working-class revolution, in 1973 the ruling class resorted to imposing a brutal dictatorship led by military general Augusto Pinochet and supported by the U.S. state. In the following years until 1990, Pinochet’s regime murdered at least 5,000 political opponents and tortured hundreds of thousands of Chileans. Among them was the popular folk guitarist, Victor Jara, who continued to lead the resistance, singing inside the prison that the regime set up at the National Stadium. Jara was silenced after his fingers - and then his back - were broken, prior to execution.
U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger revealed the United States’ willingness to ignore the democratic elections of the Chilean people when he said “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.”
Here in the U.S. in 1934 during the Great Depression, when millions of workers were laid off and the socialist movement was growing, a group of wealthy industrialists backed a plot to install a military dictator in the White House (although the plan was foiled by U.S. Marine Corps General Smedley Butler). Today, the widespread surveillance of most Americans’ phone records by the National Security Agency provides a glimpse of the ruling class’s willingness to dispense with democracy if they believe it’s necessary.
Is capitalist democracy really democratic?
PRO-CAPITALIST POLITICAL theorists say there are two forms of state - “dictatorship” and “democracy.” Both of them are ways of ensuring that the ruling class stays in control. Marxists defend democratic rights but say that real democracy cannot exist so long as economic and social power is in the hands of a ruling capitalist class.
Capitalist ideologues say the system is “democratic” because of the right to vote, and (within limits) there is the right of free speech and of political organization. A typical argument is that “if you want to change things, you can always run for office.” In reality things are a bit more complicated. Under bourgeois democracy, the capitalist class keeps its power in the following ways:
The capitalist class controls the economy:
This, of course, is the basic, most important source of capitalist power, giving it vast resources to ensure the continuation of its rule. Through their control of the workplaces and financial institutions they can decide, for example, that thousands of workers are laid off, evict thousands from their homes, destroying entire communities.
The capitalist class dominates ideologically:
As Marx and Engels said:"The ruling ideas of any epoch are the ideas of the ruling class." The means of communication (newspapers, television, etc.) are either directly owned by the capitalists or controlled by their political representatives. Capitalist ideas - although sometimes challenged by Marxists - are reproduced in the universities and many other institutions.
The capitalist class controls the judicial and executive branches of government:
Upper management in all levels of government from the federal to the local level earn high salaries and live the same lifestyle as many capitalists. They often rotate in and out of jobs between industry and government, including the government agencies that are supposed to regulate private industry, such as the Environmental Protection Agency.
Most of the upper management of executive branch agencies, such as the Federal Drug Administration, keep their jobs, regardless of whoever is elected. These officials decide what information is presented and what options are available to politicians. They are recruited from the same private schools and Ivy League colleges as leading capitalist politicians and the judges.
Law is not just made by Congress; it is also made by judges, who are overwhelmingly elderly white men from a wealthy background. This doesn't mean that all judges necessarily take a uniform view. There is a growing debate about the justice system’s bias against the poor and people of color, and some judges have to win elections. Some judges are concerned about the credibility of their system and are therefore prepared to admit to some mistakes and release some people. They are trying to create an image of "impartial justice,” which will make it easier to use their powers against more fundamental challenges to the capitalist system.
The capitalist class controls official politics:
In fact, the whole “democratic” structure is designed to keep working people out. Politics for most people is confined to voting once every few years. Most leading politicians are professionals - lawyers, journalists, doctors, company directors, etc. - and many politicians are themselves capitalists.
Using the “democratic” system is much easier if you have power and money, if you have access to the press and television. This makes it much easier for the capitalists than for working-class organizations - although, as we discuss below, socialists try to take advantage of every democratic opening that capitalism allows.
The U.S. Congress is a millionaires club and there’s a revolving door between elected members of Congress and corporate lobbying firms. There is a tendency to absorb any working-class leaders or reform-minded Congressional representatives through the political system’s conventions and privileges. Even the salaries and expenses of members of Congress allows them a lifestyle far above what most people can afford. In this way they are insulated from the effects of their policies.
That’s why Socialist Alternative adheres to the policy that any elected representatives should live on the average wage of the workers they represent. Socialist Alternative Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant takes only $40,000 of her $120,000 salary and donates the rest to building social justice movements.
There can be no real democracy without economic democracy, no real democracy without ordinary people having access to decision-making. The only real democracy is socialist democracy.
Repressive Apparatuses of the State
EVERY FORM of class rule, every form of capitalist rule, involves various forms of coercion. Even under bourgeois democracy, where there are lots of formal democratic freedoms, the bourgeoisie utilizes repression, sometimes in vast quantities. A good contemporary example is the penal system in the United States. At the time of writing, of nearly two million prisoners, 60% are black, overwhelmingly young men. The system is, at least in part, an instrument of repression against the black community.
Here, we shall briefly look at the different repressive branches of the U.S. state:
The Legal System
In any society there tends to be a body of rules or laws which are broadly accepted by society. These outlaw anti-social behaviour such as murder, physical attack, theft etc. It’s through such laws and their enforcement that the state acquires its reputation as a neutral regulator of society.
However, law under capitalism is class law. It exists to enforce the rights of the propertied class. This is the case both with the civil law, which concerns itself with things like enforcing debt and contract, and also with the criminal law.
Marxists, of course, are not opposed to legal sanctions against anti-social crimes - domestic burglary and crimes of violence, for example. However, the way in which even the criminal law is applied is class-biased: if you're working class, if you're black, if you are a working-class woman, then you stand a much greater chance of being convicted or going to jail. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three black men will go to prison in their lifetime.
Marx explained the so-called neutrality of the law is undermined by inequalities in income. For example, it is a crime for both rich and poor to steal food. But the poor are much more likely to be forced to steal than the rich who can afford to buy all the food they want.
In addition, there is a series of blatantly political, class laws, relating to things like public order and industrial relations - most notoriously the Taft-Hartley Act and various anti-union laws which make it more difficult for working-class people to fight the attacks of the bosses.
In many ways these laws are designed to intimidate and prevent working-class people from taking action. Yet, as many movements show, the law cannot restrict the scope of working-class struggle once united action and solidarity come into play. The system of Jim Crow segregation was codified into the law in southern states until the massive Civil Rights Movement forced the ruling class to dismantle it.
In putting forward anti-union laws, the ruling class, echoed by the leaders of the labor movement, appeal to workers to “follow the law.” They rely on the general consensus that may exist for the laws dealing with crime in order to persuade workers that they must abide by political laws.
Although this can have an effect in holding back the movement for a time, these appeals begin to fall on deaf ears when they come into conflict with the need of workers to defend their working and living conditions. A great example is the 1989-91 Anti-Poll Tax movement led by Socialist Alternative’s sister organization in Britain. The movement’s leaders called for mass non-payment of the poll tax bills. 17.5 million people refused to pay the tax for at least three months, defying the threat of court action. The tax became uncollectable and British Prime Minister was forced to withdraw the tax. This movement popularized the idea that unjust laws can be successfully defied.
The introduction of repressive laws against the right to protest, for example, cannot be seen as a sign of strength but weakness. It indicates the ruling class are losing the consensus which allowed them to rule with less expense and trouble in the past. It also reveals the real character of capitalism to working-class people.
It is this tactical consideration which has led to splits amongst the ruling class themselves and amongst those responsible for administering the state machine. At the top of society this is a tactical issue. They fear a loss of authority if the state doesn't appear neutral. At lower levels of the state administration, these measures heighten the conflict between the political use of the state and the commitment, for example, of many probation officers, social workers and some prison officers, who see their job as making a practical contribution to society through the rehabilitation of offenders.
The police, together with the army, constitute the central "body of armed people" which is at the center of the state apparatus. They are the first line of defence against anything which disturbs the public order of capitalism. In the last 20 years, as social tensions have increased, the myth of the friendly neighborhood cop, rescuing lost cats and helping the elderly across the road, has vanished.
The thinking of leading policemen today - a time of increasing political and social tension - indicates that they well understand their basic function in defending capitalism. A former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester in England, James Anderton, once said: "I think that from the police point of view that my task in the future... that basic crime as such - theft, burglary and even violent crimes - will not be the predominant police feature. What will be the matter of greatest concern to me will be covert and ultimately overt attempts to overthrow democracy, to subvert the authority of the state, and in fact to involve themselves in acts of sedition designed to destroy our parliamentary system and the democratic government in this country."
The large-scale involvement of the police against strikers and demonstrators, rather than against traditional “crime,” shows where the real policing priorities currently lie.
The Black Lives Matter movement and the British miners’ strike of 1984-85 revealed the class nature of the police. At one miners’ protest outside Sheffield in Britain on June 18, 1984, 4,200 police officers organized into 181 teams, with 58 dogs and 50 horses tried to intimidate and break the spirit of the miners. The fierce repression of the miners’ strike and the poll tax demonstration of March 31, 1990 were not aberrations, but a more open return to the traditional “priorities” of the police.
Some sections of the working class and even the middle class, especially young people, are antagonistic to the police. But working-class people are also worried about crime, which they are the main victims of. They feel the police are needed to deal with situations they cannot tackle themselves.
The police use this fear of crime to build support for themselves and demand more power and resources. We campaign for the accountability of the police. After all, if their role really is to protect people from theft and physical attack, what possible objection can there be to being accountable to those they are allegedly protecting?
Socialist Alternative campaigns for a democratic check on the police; for elected committees to have the right to hold them to account and to determine priorities and resources. Not only should such committees be elected but groups that face political policing, like the trade unions and people of color, should have direct representation. We also campaign for a fully independent complaints committee, an independent forensic evidence system, weeding out racist officers, reversing recent attacks on due process, and fully funding public defenders’ offices.
Boston Police Commissioner, Robert Di Grazia once said: "We are not letting the public into our dirty little secret that those who commit the crime that worries the citizen most, violent street crime, are, for the most part, the products of poverty, unemployment, broken homes, rotten education, drug addiction and alcoholism, and other social ills about which the police can do little, if anything."
He denounces the politicians who "get away with law and order rhetoric that reinforces the mistaken notion that the police, in ever greater numbers and with ever more gadgetry, can alone control crime."
The U.S. armed forces has over 1,000 military bases worldwide to protect U.S. corporate investments around the world. The armed forces are vital for the security of the capitalist state against other capitalist states. And of course, the common law that one should not kill or steal has never applied to the use of the U.S. armed forces to conquer and maintain its empire, or to the more recent foreign wars of intervention! But the army is also the last line of defence against revolution and civil disorder. The main reason the U.S. National Guard was created in the first place was to suppress working-class strikes and protests.
The U.S. military was used extensively against workers throughout the industrial revolution and the Great Depression. Even Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt, the “friend of labor,” used the National Guard to break strikes 73 times. In 2002 the National Guard was used (unsuccessfully) against the International Longshore and Warehouse Union slow-down of west coast ports. State troopers have been used against practically every major demonstration outside the Republican and Democratic National Conventions every four years.
Major disturbances, which the police were unable to handle, would again see the attempted used of the army. However, with the semi-militarisation of sections of the police (riot squads, SWAT teams, etc.), this would probably require a higher threshold of disorder than before.
The Political Police
Every capitalist state operates one or more secret police services, which are in large part aimed at following and disrupting what they call "subversive elements" (i.e. political movements like Socialist Alternative, militant trade unionists, and radical activists of every kind who oppose their policies and their system). In the 1960s, the FBI created its CO-INTEL-PRO (Counter-Intelligence Program) to attempt to infiltrate, divide, and disrupt many organization in the civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the socialist movement, etc.
More recently the BBC program True Spies claimed that MI5 had sent agents into organizations like Militant, the former name of Socialist Alternative’s sister organization in Britain, and also recruited trade union leaders as agents in order to keep radical ideas in check. The state’s activities did not stop Militant from leading a successful struggle to defend jobs and services in Liverpool City Council and the massive campaign that defeated Thatcher’s hated poll tax.
Peculiarities of the British state
THE BRITISH state today is obviously a form of bourgeois democracy; but it has its own peculiarities, which are not shared by other major bourgeois democracies like the United States and France. These mainly stem from the fact that Britain is a monarchy and not a republic.
The British government, although in practice elected, is "His/Her Majesty's government." The monarch has to sign parliamentary bills before they become law; has the right to appoint the prime minister and the government (irrespective of who has the parliamentary majority) and has the right to dissolve Parliament. Members of Parliament (MPs), army officers, judges and, indeed, all senior government officers, swear loyalty to the Crown and not Parliament. This means that in a time of crisis, the monarch could dismiss the parliament, and if necessary utilise the armed forces against the will of Parliament.
It was the Queen's representative in Australia, Sir John Kerr, who dismissed the Labour government of Gough Whitlam in November 1975. In November 1994, as the government of John Major faced collapse and Major threatened a general election, Tory right-wingers dug up the "Lascelles Memorandum" written by a senior civil servant which pointed out that the monarch had the power to call elections, not prime ministers.
The unique constitutional role of the monarchy, and its potential value in a crisis situation, is one reason why sections of the ruling class are so worried about the undermining of the standing of the monarchy through scandals like the Burrell affair. Demands for the abolition of the monarchy are not just about chucking out a few parasites; they involve basic democratic rights.
The British state is also unusual in having a non-elected second chamber, the House of Lords. At a time of heightened class struggle, if a socialist majority was elected in the Commons, the Lords could and would obviously be used to sabotage socialist measures.
The Capitalist State and the Marxist program
Marxists fight for:
(a)The retention and extension of democratic rights under capitalism
Just as we fight for economic reforms under capitalism such as an increase in the minimum wage, we support every democratic gain that can be made by working-class people and their organizations. Trotsky called the rights of working-class political and trade union organization "embryos of proletarian democracy" within capitalism.
Democratic reforms limit the power of the capitalists and increase the rights and ability to mobilize of the working class and its allies. Thus we fight, for example, for the repeal of all anti-trade union legislation, racist immigration laws and other forms of repressive and discriminatory legislation.
We support the abolition of the Electoral College, restrictions on corporate campaign funding, lowering the voting age to 16, Instant Run-off Voting, etc. And, we support democratic reform of the legal system, for example, abolishing mandatory minimum sentences.
(b) Using democratic rights
Marxists attempt to utilize every possible avenue to get their ideas across to recruit people to the struggle against the bosses and the fight for socialism. We have stood candidates in elections to convince people of the need for socialism and also to organize a fightback now to maintain the living standards of the working class.
(c) Undermining the repressive apparatuses of the state
We demand the total abolition of domestic spying and spying agencies - the NSA,FBI, CIA, etc. We also raise the demand of the abolition of special police units, such as riot police and SWAT teams, whose function is to attack legitimate protests. We also call for an end to the racist police harassment facilitated by policies in some cities known as Broken Windows or Stop and Frisk.
These democratic demands correspond to the increasingly radicalized consciousness of wide sections of more politicized workers and young people. However, despite our understanding of their objective role, simple demands for the abolition of the police and army would be out of line with the consciousness of many of the most politically conscious layers of the working class. We attempt therefore to raise demands which are not too in advance of current consciousness but which seek to reveal and undermine the state's repressive function.
But it is not enough to reform the state or to fight a continuous defensive struggle to maintain democratic rights won in the past. The basic attitude of Marxism to the capitalist state is summed up by Lenin in the above mentioned pamphlet, The State and Revolution. Lenin points out that Marxist revolutionaries, as opposed to reformists, say that the existing bourgeois state cannot be seized ready-made and used in the interests of the working class. It must be broken up, smashed, and replaced by a new workers' state. This lesson was drawn by Marx and Engels out of the experience of the Paris Commune of 1871.
No ruling class has ever given up power without a fight
CAPITALIST RESISTANCE to working-class struggles and socialist change could take various forms, such as attempts at economic sabotage or attempts to use the police and the army to repress the workers. The answer to both would be mass mobilization and mass solidarity.
It would also be completely wrong, having understood what the state machine is capable of, to draw purely pessimistic conclusions or to even believe that the socialist transformation of society is impossible because of the well-armed state. The Shah of Iran was the most heavily armed dictator in history but Rolls-Royce engined Chieftain tanks didn't stop his overthrow in the 1978 revolution. Similarly, in 1975 the workers and peasants’ revolution in Vietnam defeated the most powerful military in the history of the world, the United States.
In each revolutionary movement, the working class decides that it cannot go on in the old way - that those in power are holding back society. As they move to take control, a crucial turning point arises. Either the working class goes forward to take control of the economy and destroys the repressive apparatus which protects the ruling class and constructs its own institutions for running society democratically, or the leadership attempts a compromise, allows reaction to reorganize itself and move to crush workers and their organizations.
At this point the opportunity arises for the leadership of the revolutionary movement to try to split the forces of the state, and it is necessary to make an appeal to the lower levels of the state apparatus, the rank-and-file soldiers. We take this attitude not because Marxists are naive about the character of the state. We recognise that many rank-and-file soldiers and police, under normal reletively peaceful conditions, will have adopted the outlook of the ruling class and identify politically with it.
On a practical level we have learned to defend our own activities from the attacks of the police and would do so in future. But in periods of heightened struggle, when the authority of the ruling class is in question and a victory by the working class is on the agenda, it would be irresponsible not to try to minimise the impact of state forces. History provides many examples of the rank-and-file of the army being won to a determined revolutionary movement. For example, in the Arab Spring in 2011, rank-and-file soldiers ignored the order to massacre protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt. The determination and unity displayed by the working class is vital to an appeal to the lower ranks of the military.
The working class would need to form its own democratic organizations of struggle to mobilise its power against that of the capitalists. Historically, during the Russian, German and Spanish revolutions, these organizations have taken the form of workers' - or peasants', or soldiers' - councils. How these types of organization would develop in an advanced capitalist country we cannot exactly predict.
In the confrontation between the rival powers of the working class and the bourgeoisie, the force used by the ruling class can only be minimized by a mass, well organized and determined movement of the working class. We should remember that in the Russian Revolution only 40 people were killed. Today the working class (a much more cohesive force than the peasantry who were the largest proportion of Russia's population in 1917) is much stronger.
The fall of the Stalinist dictatorships in Eastern Europe showed the power and determination workers in those countries had, defeating powerful and feared state forces such as the East German Stasi or secret police. However, that power was not harnessed at that stage to carry through a successful socialist revolution and completely defeat the ruling class. A successful socialist revolution needs a clear strategy and leadership. Prevarication, attempts at compromise, illusions in the democratic credentials of either capitalist politicians or those who run the army allows reaction to reorganize with devastating consequences, as the example of the coup against the Allende government in Chile in 1973 showed.
Withering away of the state
SOCIALISM IS government by the vast majority both through economic planning and management and through social development. Working-class communities in the first instance would be involved in preventing sabotage and disruption of the new socialist society by any disaffected group in the former ruling class. Racism, sexism, and anti-social behavior would not die away overnight.
This is not just a question of material conditions such as poverty, which we could begin to tackle immediately. It's also a matter of repairing and then preventing the psychological damage done by capitalism and the power relations and abuse it promotes. Increased equality will reduce much crime. An end to capitalism as a social system which, for example, has discriminated against and condoned the treatment of women as the property of men, will undermine crimes of violence such as rape and domestic violence.
Neither repression of any sabotage by the representatives of the dispossessed ruling class, nor the need to deal with anti-social behaviour requires a special force unaccountable to the majority of society.
As the rational use of resources and the generation of higher levels of production meets people's needs, as people are freed to participate in the running of society and more equal social relations are established, the need for even these two functions will be reduced and eventually disappear.
One final point: Trotsky was able to write his 'History of the Russian Revolution' by consulting the former secret police records; the socialist historian of the future will probably have the immeasurably simpler task of playing back the tapes!
The State: A Warning to the Labour Movement (CWI - Britain, 1983)
The State and Revolution (Lenin 1917)
The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (Engels)
The Revolution Betrayed chapter 3 (Trotsky 1935)
The History of the Russian Revolution, Volume 1, chapters X & Xl (Trotsky)
The Spanish Revolution 1931-39, documents 45, 53, 56, 59, 64 & 75 (Trotsky)
The Iron Heel (Jack London)
A Very British Coup (Chris Mullin)
The Enemy Within (Seumas Milne)