From capital's point of view, the colonisation of America represented extraordinary progress, as did the generalisation of slavery. The same goes for the war economy, the accumulation of value, technological development and the militarisation and effective control of the population. The World Wars, or more recently the Vietnam and Gulf wars, were yet further milestones on the road of capitalist progress and barbarity.
At the same time, the State - that is capital concentrated into a force of oppression and domination - has also made much progress, such as the generalisation of the vote, the massive development of prisons, police control of whole populations, the unionisation of the working class, the widespread obligation to carry an I.D. card and the scientific analysis of fingerprints... In the same way, the State has reinforced its role not only by deepening the historical separation between producers and their means of production - so that every being depends on the sale of his labour force, to an ever-increasing extent - but also by controlling and officialising a large number of activities that were previously performed in a particular way. The progress of capital and the State cannot be summarised by the fact that the inhabitants of the tropics today consume Coca-Cola rather than coconut milk or that they eat rice rather than fish: that the common run of people give birth in hospital, are forced to register their children, feel obliged to have a church or a civil wedding and can no longer even bring up their own children as, in order to be able to go to work, they have to leave them in a nursery.
All these types of progress have a mutual influence on each other. The more capital develops, the more it opposes humanity and the more necessary oppression and dictatorship become. Throughout antiquitity there has never been any king, any tyrant who had such vast control over his subjects or such an enormous repressive apparatus as does any "small" State today (1). To believe that modern society could ever manage with less police or less prisons, or that one day everyone might work of their own free will, is an incredible delusion that has been refuted by reality a thousand times over. On the contrary, the more this society of exploitation and oppression progresses, the more indispensable direct mechanisms of repression and oppression become to maintain humanity as a labour force for capital.
Slavery was never wiped out, but merely disguised. Forced labour has been developed on the basis of other, more modern, mechanisms such as the generalisation of wage labour, but without abandoning forced labour itself. The big concentration camps organised by capital proved to have far greater potential than was ever developed by the mode of production exclusively based on slavery. Moreover, slavery itself (at the same time as wage labour) continues to be a reality in this world, in all its modernity, in numerous countries, including certain areas of the US (2) and in all prisons across the world.
The progress of capital is such that all prisons and every police force in the world are no longer sufficient for its purposes. The more capital progresses, the more its opulence and misery grow, the more its wastefulness develops and even the most basic needs fail to be met... so the police, courts and prisons become more and more indispensable.
In this article we want to highlight some remarkable advances made more recently by capital and the State, which are clear confirmation of what capital holds in store for us - more repression and barbarity - because they represent appreciable progress in the usual mechanisms of repression.
For instance, according to the Ansa news agency: "The state of Alabama has reestablished the use of chains for its prisoners, reintroducing a method that had not been used for over 30 years (only!!!) in the US. The new prison chief, Ron Jones, declared that "to see the prisoners in chains will make our young people think and will convince them that crime does not pay!"
Even before the television screens of the whole world had transmitted this sordid show of chained prisoners escorted by police and being submitted to forced labour, the Ansa agency had reported: "During the coming weeks, 400 prisoners will be forced to work on the roads and fields outside the prison, and one will again witness the spectacle of prisoners being chained together five by five, just like in some old films."
In another state of the USA, during the same period (February-April 95), fierce argument was raging as to whether those who had committed "serious sexual crimes" should be castrated or not.
In an international telegram dated March 29th 1995, Ansa reported: "A proposal to castrate those found guilty of serious sexual crimes provoked fervent debate even before becoming law in the state of Texas. The bill, approved by a large majority of the Senate of this state, offers such prisoners the choice between castration or prison."
Senator Royce West (Democrats) became indignant, describing it as barbarity: "What will be the next step? To cut off thieves' hands?" And "why not?" we ask. Are there not "other States" supported by these same capitalist factions that practise precisely such methods? Do not torturers and killers in the pay of the police across half of the planet receive instruction and training from the same police forces that the Democrats and Republicans applaud in the USA? And is the State that chops off hands in some parts of the world not the same, in the end, as the one that is planning to cut off balls in the US?
Let's listen to the arguments of the republicans in Texas. This is what the Republican Senator Teel Bivins had to say when referring to those who, according to his judgment, should be castrated: "Such persons often fall victim of uncontrollable instincts, several have asked for surgery voluntarily so as to put an end to their sexual appetite and start living a normal life at last."
"A normal life" !!!? "A normal life" ???!!!
We sincerely hope that the proletariat will not delay in inflicting, in public, this kind of "normal life" on him!
But let's return to his argument. Mr.Bivins maintains that this new proposal will leave criminals the liberty to choose whether to be castrated or not: "The decision to amputate the testicles will be totally voluntary." As always, behind freedom of choice, lies the stick; and in this case, moreover, blackmail. As far as the revolutionary proletariat is concerned, it will not stoop to the level of blackmailing the honourable Mr.Bivins, but will definitely not leave him the "right to choose"!
Mr. Bivins adds further that he has "carefully evaluated studies on castration in certain European countries, which show that castration enormously reduces the chances of repeating sexual crimes."
It is important to realise that this bill has already been approved by the Senate, which shows to what extent this way of reasoning and acting, more often attributed to the Middle Ages, is coming back into fashion, corresponding to increasingly modern and necessary forms of State oppression, not only to the barbarity of "Islamic States", as Western democrats are fond of repeating.
The Ansa news agency ends its report by commenting that for the bill to become law it has to be approved by the Texan Lower Chamber, and then signed by the Governor...
Even if this may be upsetting to many progressivists, we assert that this constitutes major progress for capital, for State control of life, an impressive development of the mechanisms of repression on which our enemies can count from now on.
"The promoters of this project regard it to be the most revolutionary tool at the disposal of the police since the introduction of fingerprinting, nearly a century ago (3). The Home Office has welcomed this exciting development that puts Britain at the forefront of the struggle against crime."According to this news report, it will take only 7 days to compare the information in the file with any evidence found at the scene of a crime and to establish who's guilty (providing that person has already been put on file). The margin of error will be less than one in several million. The cost of such an operation, sample analysis and comparison with the file, will be extremely cheap, around 65 dollars.
"The file... is located in Birmingham (centre of England) and its access is under strict security controls. It registers the DNA-code of people who have already been convicted or of those simply questioned during an investigation by analysing some saliva or a strand of hair."
"Since last year, the law has allowed such genetic samples to be taken from all suspects, even without their agreement. The police's aim is to put 135 000 British men and women on file in the first year, mainly in cases of murder, sexual assault and violent robbery. Ultimately, 5 million files will be stored, ie. 10% of the British population. Sixty full-time police officers and scientists will be taken on to manage the files."
Even the most appalling Orwellian predictions have become trivial compared to the progress of this marvellous world we live in. Here are two more examples of the progress made by the State in Great Britain.
During the same period, we realised, while reading Belgian newspapers, that the English State is not as much at the avant-garde of repression as we might have been led to believe. The newspaper Le Soir wrote: "In Belgium, filing is also in full swing. After encoding fingerprints and photographs of suspects and detainees, genetic fingerprints are being entered into the National Institute of Criminology's (INC) computers. This is a slow and progressive process that is being carried out under the watchful eye of the December 1992 law concerning the protection of private life." All this comes complete with their guarantees for the protection of democratic rights!
on the 10th of April 1995, the same day that the genetic file became operational, a new provision of the penal code was approved, which scraps "... the sacred right to remain silent, which is supposed to have benefitted all those taken into custody. Henceforth, any refusal to answer police questions will be held against the accused during a future trial."
Le Soir continues: "This filing is authorised by a royal decree determining the INC's tasks. The computer system was installed recently and about a month and a half ago they started to encode the results of genetic reports provided by several official laboratories" ... "The genetic fingerprints come from analysis of blood, sperm or human tissue samples (skin, hair...). These allow a genetic fingerprint to be determined specific to each individual and partially similar to one's parents. This technique often used in cases of murder or rape, when it is possible to find some sperm or blood originating from the presumed perpetrator. These samples will allow, by way of the file, to establish a link with other cases in which the accused's guilt has already been established. But only a magistrate -the director of the file- will be allowed access to make any link between a print and a person. (This is where they tell us that we don't need to worry, that we are protected by law!) This protection stems from the law of 8.12.92 on the protection of private life. This law authorises the constitution of files (the individual does not own the information concerning him and cannot oppose it) but imposes some restrictions on files allowing personal identification... Nevertheless, the law is more permissive where judicial or administrative police enquiries are concerned." (This should come as no surprise to us!)
And as if this wasn't enough, Le Soir also informs us that not only judges and police are interested in the files, but bosses as well: "If genetics can be useful to judges, it could be that it will soon be exploited... by employers. Researchers from the School of the Sociology of Health at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), have started a study polling bosses and unions in order to find out their opinion... Will bosses soon discard a CV if a perfect health certificate does not accompany it?"
And we will still be told that it is not science itself that is bad, but the way it is used to oppress; that we shouldn't challenge genetics just because it is being used by the police. This point of view is common to all "progressivists", as much to the bourgeois right as to Stalinism, Trotskyism or more generally, the whole of social-democracy. This ideology is just a particular application of a much more general conception that considers productive forces to be neutral, at the service of either barbarity, or humanity, according to who is using them and how they are being used.
But what is forgotten in this conception, is that it is capital that conceives the productive forces; the rate of profit determines what science researches or produces. It is not the neutrality of research but the market that directs genetics or science; it is money that rules laboratories and "inspires" scientists, it is subsidy, and therefore the central State apparatus, that have the last word in what type of research is to be undertaken. And so the cycle is completed: not only does the police use science, but science itself is entirely conceived as an agent of the State, as a police department.
And since bullets are not enough, they use other means: progress of course, but also the drug mafia, religious sects, new social services,... This is how, following the wave of struggle of 1989, they set up police stations and aid centres in different areas of Caracas to control the population, to detect and chanel sources of rebellion and more generally, to get the population used to repression. In the same way, all over the world, children are put into files starting from school, even from nursery school. In these institutions, different kind of social assistants operate: it is their job to investigate and, in general, are efficient agents for prevention and policing on behalf of the State. Lately, we have learned that in different countries of Latin and non-Latin America (and we presume that it is the same on other continents), humanitarian organisations, always so preoccupied with health problems, are freely distributing Valium and other diazepam-derived hypnotics in the hospitals they set up or run. Even worse, in certain shanty-towns more than half the population are dependent upon these hard drugs... and comrades who live in these areas consider this to be one of the main causes for the general mood of passivity.
But one cannot stop progress! All of this is no longer sufficient. In the US they are preparing a law to make the use of neuroleptics (4) compulsory for the "homeless".
In concrete terms, Senator Nancy Kassebaum, elected by the State of Kansas and president of the Labour and Human Resources Committee, has worked out a draft law that, according to David Oaks (5), proposes "to apply the status of IOC ("Involuntary Outpatient Commitment") to the homeless". This report explains that the IOC are patients allowed to leave psychiatric hospital on the condition that they attend on a regular basis to be given injections of neuroleptics that keep them permanently drugged.
"I.O.C now exists in more than half of the U.S. States. It usually amounts to this: people living out of their community, not at that time violating any law or hurting anyone, must report regularly to their community mental health facility for injections of long-acting neuroleptic drugs, such as Haldol or Proxilin. They can be locked up simply for refusing this chemical. The effect of this "depot injection" in the butt lasts weeks! ... When your name comes up on the computer, and you didn't report for your injection, sometimes a "mobile aggressive treatment team" is sent out to find you and inject you on the spot. These goon squads are known by some on the streets as "needles on wheels".....Pharmaceutical fundamentalists have embarked on a chemical crusade to forcibly inject us -especially homeless Americans- with powerful neurotoxins, sometimes for life, wasting taxpayer millions to create dependent people... our country is on the brink of accepting a Brave New World "final solution" to poverty."The same organisation DENDRITE denounces a collection of "side effects" of such drugs:
"The following item was in today's newspaper, 19th July 1995, via the Associated Press of Chicago, concerning the heatwave just experienced by much of the USA: "In Milwaukee, officials said the heatwave caused or contributed to 60 deaths. Among them were about 18 people who were taking anti-psychotic drugs which block the body's ability to release heat, said Medical Expert Jeffrey Jentzen. "Before seeing this, just yesterday, I had posted some letters giving seven arguments against forced "outpatient" psychiatric drugging (Involuntary Outpatient Commitment or I.O.C.). The first argument I gave was that during heatwaves, forced neuroleptics can kill..."
2. See the article in our central review in Spanish ComunismoNo.7, June 1981: "The capitalist mode of production is still developing slavery as one of its subsidiary forms today: an example of the USA".
4. For several decades tranquillisers have been divided
into two groups:
a/ Anxiolytic agents or "minor" tranquillisers, subdivided into barbiturates, benzodiazepines and others (chloral hydrate, meprobamate...).
b/ Anti-psychotic, neuroleptic or "major" tranquillisers which are subdivided into phenothiazines (piperazines), butyrophenones, diphenylbutylpiperidines, thioxanthenes and substituted bezamides... Note that the classification between "major" and "minor" tranquillisers cannot be all that clear, because these terms are put in inverted commas even in scientific books on the subject.
5. The information that we publish here, comes from the CHRP-internet - David Oaks, 18th July 1995, address: <firstname.lastname@example.org> that also produces information on a group called Dendrite ("No forced drugging of homeless people"). Their address is as follows: <email@example.com>.
6. The situation has reached such a worrying stage in Europe that, on several occasions during recent summers, the authorities have advised against physical exertion outdoors and have limited traffic in certain towns as the levels of ozone considered to be breathable have been way surpassed.