Workers Vanguard No. 966

8 October 2010


The Fight Against Capitalist Repression

(Quote of the Week)

In the name of the “war on terror,” the government has massively reinforced its arsenal of police surveillance and terror in a wholesale assault on democratic rights. More than 80 years ago, Victor Serge, an anarcho-syndicalist who was won to communism under the impact of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, showed how the bourgeois legal system serves to protect capitalist rule against the workers and the oppressed. As Serge stressed, the proletariat must see the fight against the bourgeois rulers? attacks on democratic rights and other gains as a necessary part of its struggle against the capitalist order.

In every country, the workers’ movement has had to win, in over half a century of struggle, the right to associate and the right to strike. Even in France this right is still not conceded to state employed workers nor those in industries considered to be of public utility (as if all industries aren’t), such as the railways.

In the conflicts between capital and labor, the army has often intervened against labor—never against capital.

In court the defense of the poor is nothing short of impossible, because of the cost of any judicial action; in effect, a worker can neither bring a case nor defend one.

The overwhelming majority of crimes are directly caused by poverty and come into the category of attacks on property. The overwhelming majority of prison inmates are from the poor....

To respect legality such as this is to be fooled by it. Nonetheless, it would be equally disastrous to ignore it. The advantages for the workers? movement are the greater the less one is fooled. The right to exist and to act legally is, for the organizations of the proletariat, something which must constantly be re-won and extended....

We believe that in countries where the reaction has not yet triumphed, destroying the previous democratic constitution, the workers will have to fight to defend every inch of their legal position, and in other countries fight to regain it.

—Victor Serge, What Every Revolutionary Should Know About State Repression (1926)