On working with the Armed Forces

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at SPAMtao.ca
Tue Jun 20 01:44:27 MDT 2000

> I have seen police in the streets of Havana and their interaction with
> local neighborhoods is more intimate than in New York or Eugene, Oregon.
> But people in Havana have more say through their CDRs (Committees in
> Defense of the Revolution).  Neighborhoods have nothing like CDRs in
> the USA and Canada.  No one in a neighborhood can be arrested by the
> Havana police without the permission of the CDR of that neighborhood.
> That includes those human rights protesters (some of whom have had
> their CIA covers blown).

This brings to mind two points I would like to make, the first being that
the level of control the population in Cuba enjoy over the police in the
streets. Such demands are often raised in a slightly different context but
with the same impetus, here. Some left or left-leaning individuals (and
probably the CPUSA) would like to see the police directly elected. While a
fantastic idea in principle, could a police force such as the NYPD ever
function like this? It would strip away their class allegiance, and as such
is, while interesting in concept and a definitely democratic demand,
dreaming. Police in cities such as NY, and while I know Chris doesn't like
it this cut and dried, essentially the first line of defense for the
capitalist state. If I lived in NY, I would be very much in support of
someone, like an Al Sharpton for example, going out to force the issue. But
what victory we would really gain from it is the peoples understanding that
such a demand will be unattainable.  Which brings us to Cuba. I arrived in
Havana expecting to be fully appreciative of many things, but surpassed in
admiration by others. Cuba is a workers state. As such, it is the only form
of a state where the population can actually "control" the police; the
police do indeed work for them. This is no simple quibble, if one needs to
have the interests of the state protected in Cuba, then it is *by
definition* part and parcel of the population as well.

What was so truly striking to me was my reaction. I am a left wing activist
who has spent a lot of time in the poorer areas of Vancouver. As such, I
have built up a very healthy distrust of the police. Unless I am in a
situation where I cannot, I generally avoid any contact with the police.  As
such, I took my instincts into Havana with me.
Me:   "I mean, yeah sure, they are communists and all, but they are still
cops right? Wait... the population at large isn't treating them like
that..." I was watching a few instances where people would come out,
sometimes running, from their homes to stop this or that officer, catch up
on the days events, give a quick hug and continue on with their day. Even
people here, in middle class neighbourhoods who think the police are their
friends don't act like that. It really threw me. I couldn't comprehend it
being anything other than the expression of what a workers state and it's
police force are, especially as opposed to the one I live in.

> But even in Cuba, the police are the hands-on controllers of a society.
> They break up fights, chase robbers, intervene in activities that
> go against the dominant order.  Still again, even in Cuba, the police
> are not the ones on the rafts.  They stay while professionals,
> academics, and star sports opportunists strive to gain by betrayal of
> the homeland.

Of course. And the police here will be the last ones to cross the
barricades. The police in Cuba are defending something that is brought down
by the people on rafts.

> The police are the guardians of the established order.
> Change the laws, change the order, but police are by definition
> anti-revolutionary, even in a revolutionary society.

I don't agree here. By definition, police defend the status quo, and the
class interests that are represented by that state. As such, who is
revolutionary... a thug tossing a molotov at the Plaza de la Revolucion, or
the officer who is killed defending it? Defending a state like the Cuban is
indeed a revolutionary act, no matter what the motivation is in doing so.

> The goal of a revolutionary socialist society is to obviate the
> necessity of police.  People who would be police in former social
> setups, instead of chasing "crooks" would be free to pursue other
> interests.


Macdonald, also

> Chris Brady

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