Sunday, 24 October 2010

ConDem Cuts

At a recent meeting of the Manchester Branch of the National Shop Stewards Network, I was criticised for having the temerity to suggest that endorsing a progressive penal policy, including supporting the release of many thousands of prisoners who have been locked up for minor and trivial offences,  is the right approach. Apparently the Prison Officers Association sponsor the NSSN, and my comments were deemed as "out of order" since they implied a cut in Prison staff and the closure of prisons.

As an anarchist I have a somewhat nuanced perspective of the campaign against the cuts. Any significant cuts in the state bureaucracy and moves towards a small state should surely be welcomed. Statist socialists, either of the Marxist or Fabian hue, seem ready to oppose any diminution in the State sector including the Army, Navy, Airforce, Defence and Armaments, Police etc.

I would like to posit a rather iconoclastic perspective which hopefully will lead to an informed discussion about the cuts: why not put forward our own deficit reduction plan, i.e. Anarchist Cuts. Lets cut Defence spending by 80% and focus on civil defence rather than wasting tens of billions on useless armaments and war fighting. Lets cut the spending on the Courts, Police, Prisons and the whole apparatus of "Law and Order".   Furthermore lets cut the massive State Bureaucracy, especially the managerial and elite strata.

Anarchists need to be creative and proactive in response to the current economic situation. Knee jerk reactions by the traditional authoritarian left in opposing any cuts at all solves nothing. It's important to put forward a vision for the future which entails models of workers and community control from the bottom up based on social co-operation and mutual aid. The antiquated paradigm of state control no longer has any resonance given the experience of the Soviet Union and its satellites. Laissez-faire capitalism or the free market has also manifestly failed at the present time.

The historical experiences of the CNT in Spain during the Spanish Civil War provide an example of the way forward Workers Control, not state control,  offers an answer to the current economic and social quagmire. Anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists need to be bold and be prepared to argue for their ideas and translate them into practice.


Anonymous said...

The irony of this is that, at a meeting of the Trade Union Co-Ordinating Group early this year, the POA leadership said they supported measures to reduce the prison population, as well as greater investment in offender education, rehabilitation and probabation rather than prison. They reiterated pretty much this position at the TUC - what they oppose is the move of any more work in the justice sector to private industry and the removal of work currently done by private companies from their profit-seeking hands.

Ilyan said...

Prison Officers might not lose any work if Magistrates started liberally dishing out two week prison sentences. At That point the Deterrent Effect is maximised. Over two weeks and people become acclimatised, adapt, and can even commit offences to get back inside when released.

The first two week sentence should bear no more weight on peoples' record that does a Community service order.

There could be a National benefit from having many more people aware of what it is like in Prison. Too many people use the democratic voting process to dictate how things should be when they are totally ignorant of the relevant field.

The answer to the Economic Crisis is cuts and increases. Learn from the Labour Coalition Government that cut Naval Officers pay by 3.5% and Able Seamans pay by 25% and caused the Invergordon Mutiny (Read Wincott). Do it the other was around, or better, introduce a Progressive Tax on Wealth sufficient to clear the National Debt.

That would revalidate Keynes Theory as a way to avoid the internal contradiction in Capitalism described bt Marx. It would also start us on the road to Fair Shares of Poverty which might do most to reduce Criminality.

The problem for the Left is that the Labour Party became Thatcherite, and the Tories are thieving all the socialist clothes. Yesterday they bought the OAP votes.

The problem for Society is that people have no idea how to create a new society based on freedom and justice and fair shares.