THE tactics weaponry and ammunition used in the town of Ferguson, St Louis, by the police and Missouri National Guard, have led to accusations that the police forces of the USA, from the big cities to the smallest towns have, for some reason (usually said to be the drug trade), become completely militarised.
In fact, the forces used against Ferguson residents have led to comparisons of their conduct and equipment with that of the US army of occupation in Iraq.
Many US workers and youth now regard ‘their’ police as part of an army of occupation of their towns and cities ready to kill them at the least provocation.
Ferguson residents have been subjected to the use of tear gas, very heavy armoured vehicles, last used in Iraq to withstand IED (Improvised Explosive Device) explosions, rubber bullets packaged in cluster grenades, flash bangs, smoke bombs, sound cannons known as Long Range Acoustic Devices, bean bag guns, pepper spray, wooden batons, and police equipped with machine-guns, night vision goggles, laser guided automatic rifles, and at least three fighting daggers.
They have also been subjected to the issuance of a no-fly zone over the town.
In fact they are already in the same trench as the Palestinian masses – the makers of tear gas canisters being fired at Palestinians also supplies the Missouri and numerous other US authorities.
Many people have been shocked by what they see as a massive change, and lament that US police forces that were established, they say, to be part of the community and belong to the community model allegedly envisioned by Sir Robert Peel, have become the community’s ruthless persecutors.
The police, as part of the capitalist state, were always in the USA, as well as in every capitalist country, ‘the product of the irreconcilability of class antagonisms’ and an instrument for maintaining the exploitation of the oppressed class by the ruling class.
The core of the capitalist state is made up of bodies of armed men whose job it is to see that the ruling class remains in power, whatever the situation of society.
This state apparatus is constantly prepared and organised and reorganised to carry through the highest form of the class struggle, that is a civil war, to smash the oppressed class, when it is driven forward by the crisis of capitalism to challenge the right of the ruling class, the bosses and bankers, to rule the country and the world.
The police force and the National Guard of the USA have always been armed, and have always used those arms to kill when the ruling class felt that the system was under threat.
This is what happened when the Black Panthers were murdered, and when at Kent State University in Ohio on May 4, 1970, during the Vietnam War, the Ohio National Guard fired 67 rounds and killed four students who were protesting against the war.
There was a huge response with a student strike of four million students. The Vietnam war was a time when US capitalism was staggering from the defeat it was suffering, and could not tolerate the rapidly developing opposition.
Today, US capitalism is in a desperate economic and political crisis after the 2008 banking crash with its position as the number one capitalist world power under serious threat.
Whole cities like Detroit have been gutted and bankrupted. Tens of millions of US workers have no full time jobs and work for very low pay. The US ruling class of bosses and bankers is now hated and loathed by many tens of millions of people. The ruling class is losing its ‘right to rule’.
The ‘militarisation’ of the US police force is its preparation to hang onto its power through force of arms and civil war! The beginning of this can be seen in Ferguson as in the nationwide support for the protesters.
Marx and Engels analysed the class basis and role of the capitalist state.
They also worked out that this state could not be reasoned with or reformed and would have to be overthrown by a socialist revolution, that would completely smash it, and impose in its place the dictatorship of the proletariat, the rule of the overwhelming majority of the people and socialism.