Our rulers would like us to believe that police spying all about keeping the community safe from “extremists” and “terrorists.” Governments regularly invoke the “public interest” as the reason for increased police budgets and expanded police powers. Meanwhile schools and hospitals are starved of money – in the “public interest,” cops were being given new weapons.
After the Victorian Police were exposed for spying on community organisations and activists, Commissioner Neil Comrie predictably trotted out the “public interest” excuse. It didn’t wash. Widespread shock at the extent of the snooping turned quickly to anger. Why were so many members of the community being investigated by their “protectors?”
Here’s why. Police have never been protectors of the community, but armed agents of those who run the boardrooms and stock markets. This thickening blue line protects a tiny ruling class against the community – the masses of poor and oppressed whose land and labour are pillaged for profit. The fortunes of this class are nosediving steeply. This means the fundamental conflict between the community – us – which produces society’s wealth, and them, who plunder and hoard it, is sharpening. No wonder the spying is so extensive and the fattest files are those of unions, Aboriginal organisations and socialists.
To combat the snooping, the Abolish Political Police campaign has been established. The important movement must strive to be broadbased, actively involving all the targets of police investigations. It must also focus on the core of the problem – the police force itself. How about forming elected, community-controlled bodies – independent of the police – with the power to discipline and sack officers? This would greatly undercut their power. Make the police answer to us!