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Fascist laws will not deter struggle

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Nick G.

Fascist laws like those proposed for WA are a sign of the weakness of the ruling class.  They will not deter people’s struggle but will compel activists to search for explanations as to the need for increased repression and penalties.  They will also lead to new and stronger alliances in defence of basic rights and liberties.

The WA legislation is similar to, but in some respects even more repressive than, laws passed in recent times in Queensland (the G20 anti-protest laws), Tasmania’s 2014 anti-protest laws (on-the-spot fines and mandatory jail sentences for people who trespass on workplaces), and Victoria’s 2014 anti-protest law (“Impeding lawful access to premises”, “causing others to have a reasonable fear of violence”, and “engaging in behaviour likely to cause damage to property”).

The WA laws are aimed to prevent any action that might cause “lawful” activity to stop.  They are aimed to stop union pickets and community protests, and even to prevent farmers from “locking the gates” against mining and coal seam gas extraction on their own private property.

The laws will:

•    Criminalise what has been the right to peaceful protest.
•    Allow peaceful protesters to be jailed for up to 2 years or fined up to $24,000.
•    Reverse the onus of proof – accused people would have to prove that they are innocent.
•    Make it illegal to carry a “thing” that police may suspect could be used to stop work.
•    Treat convicted persons worse than rapists, murderers and white collar criminals by requiring them to pay for police time and attendance.

The state: instrument of class repression

The new legislation will involve votes by politicians in the WA parliament, police to enforce it, and the courts to uphold it. These are essential components of the state as an instrument of the ruling class against the people.  Behind these components stand the armed forces.  They represent the monopoly that the ruling class claims as its own right to exercise against those who “protest” and challenge the system that the state upholds.

And it is not as if the various instruments of the state do not have enormous powers already.  People being forced – legally! – from their homes in remote WA communities set up a refugee camp on Perth's Matagarup (Heirisson Island) and a Nyoongar Tent Embassy.  On Friday March 13 mounted police and the dog squad– legally!- violated the Swan River island sanctuary, dismantled and seized tents and  other valuables (photos above and left).  This is a direct continuation of the force and violence enacted by European unsettlers to illegally seize First Nations land in WA in the first wave of colonisation.

So why this wave of intensified legal repression?

The ruling class is worried about any further widening or intensification of people’s struggles.

Huge demonstrations of tens of thousands of people have occurred ever since Abbott took office.  The ALP, historically the fallback provision for a ruling class in trouble, has been largely ignored and discredited as the people create their own agenda and their own direct means of pursuing it. And the large-scale spread and early victories of the anti-coal seam gas movement have seen new alliances between quite disparate social groups. 

Internationally, the casino house of cards that is the international financial order looks so shaky that some financial commentators have warned that the pikes and the tumbrils are on the horizon –a reference to the upheavals of the French Revolution. 

Because of the widening and strengthening of alliances to protect and defend basic rights and liberties, and because the ruling class fears the inability of parliamentary misleaders to restrain and control the masses, efforts are put into strengthening the powers of the police and increasing the penalties to be thrown at dissenting citizens.

While outwardly this is a sign of the strength of the state, it clearly reveals the internal weakness of the ruling class.  Any dampening of enthusiasm for lifting the level of struggle in response to these laws will only be temporary.  People will adjust to them and be more daring in their challenges and their mobilisations.

Nazi-style repression will breed a sentiment for resistance.

In the end, fascist laws will not deter, but rather encourage, struggle.


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